What are the biblical proofs that we do not go to heaven when we die?
The idea that we will go to heaven after death is an entirely unbiblical concept. It is derived from paganism.
As Lewis Brown explains in “This Believing World”:
“In very early times that idea flourished not alone among the Babylonians and Egyptians, but also among the barbaric tribes in and around Greece…these mysteries [came] down from Thrace or across the sea from Egypt and Asia Minor… they declared that for every man, no matter how poor or vicious, there was a place in heaven. All one had to do was to be ‘initiated’ into the secrets of the cult.”
The Hebrews did not believe that we go to heaven when we die. Neither did the early Christians. But in time, the concept developed within the Roman Catholic Church that one will be saved and go to heaven when one has been baptized into the church as a little baby.
The Bible does not teach this. Much confusion exists because many do not understand that the Bible speaks of more than one heaven.
When the Bible speaks of “heaven,” it may refer to any one of three different locations. See Update #97. The first heaven is the atmosphere, surrounding the earth, where birds can fly and clouds move (Genesis 1:20; 27:28). The second heaven is the universe, with all its galaxies, suns, stars and planets (Psalm 8:3).
It is possible for man to reach these two heavens—at least, to a limited extent. But man cannot reach the third heaven, where God dwells—where His angels live and where His throne is located. It is spiritual, not physical. Physical beings cannot enter it—except in a vision—and we won’t go there after our death, either.
According to the biblical testimony, the only Being who entered the third heaven after death was Jesus Christ. Others saw the third heaven in a vision—such as Daniel (Daniel 7:9), Paul (2 Corinthians 12:2), Stephen (Acts 7:56) or John (Revelation 4:2), but they did not enter heaven in bodily form, or as spirit beings.
Christ said in John 3:13 that no human being–except He Himself –has entered the third heaven. The original German Luther Bible wrote: “And no one goes to heaven except for the Son of Man…”
This rendition sets forth accurately the intended meaning of Christ’s words to Nicodemus. Christ explained to him the significance and nature of being born again and the Kingdom of God, and He pointed out that only Spirit beings can enter or become part of the Kingdom, and that they won’t enter the Kingdom or Family of God in heaven, but that the Kingdom will be ruling here on earth.
Most translations render the passage as, “No one has ascended up to heaven…”, but even then, it is at least clear that no one before Christ ever went to the third heaven. This means that contrary to popular belief, Elijah and Enoch did NOT enter God’s third heaven. See Updates #128 and #130.
The same must be true, then, for Abraham, the father of the faithful and a friend of God; Noah; Moses; Samuel; Job; the major and minor prophets, including Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel; as well as King David, a man after God’s own heart who will rule in the Millennium under Christ over the nations of Israel and Judah. The Bible stresses expressly that David did NOT go to heaven when he died (Acts 2:34, 29).
The Bible compares death with a dreamless sleep without consciousness, out of which one must awake. Compare John 11:11-14; Ecclesiastes 9:5-6, 10; Psalm 6:5.
Man is not nor does he have an immortal soul. Man IS the soul that can and will die (Ezekiel 18:4, 19-20), and that must be resurrected from the dead. In order to enter into eternal life and the Kingdom of God, man must be changed to immortality (1 Corinthians 15:51-52; Job 14:14-15; Philippians 3:20-21).
The very fact that man is mortal and that he must be brought back to life through a resurrection from the dead PROVES that he does not go to heaven when he dies. Martin Luther asked the pertinent question, why there should be a resurrection from the dead if the dead are already living in heaven. He concluded: “The fact that there is a resurrection from the dead proves that man does not go to heaven when he dies.” Sadly, today’s Lutheran Churches have totally rejected the words of their “founder.”
God promised man the gift of eternal life (Titus 1:2)–here on earth (Matthew 5:5). Abraham was promised eternal life on the earth as an inheritance (Romans 4:13; Galatians 3:29). Until now, no one has inherited the promises of eternal life and rulership on the earth (Hebrews 11:13, 39-40).
When the righteous enters into eternal life, he will reign under Christ during the Millennium. However, he will not reign from or in heaven, but he will reign ON the earth and over the earth (Revelation 5:8-10; 11:15; Daniel 2:44; 7:13-14, 21-22, 26-27).
Christ will return to the earth—His feet will stand on that day of His appearing on the Mount of Olives—and He will sit on the throne of David… here on earth (Zechariah14:1-2, 4, 8-9, 11, 16-19; Isaiah 9:6-7; 2:1-4; Jeremiah 23:5). We read that all nations will appear before the judgment seat of Christ… here on earth (Matthew 25:31-34,41).
Some claim that we will “rule” in heaven for one thousand years, while the entire earth will be empty and void—with no human being alive at that time. This is the viewpoint of the Seventh Day Adventists, but as we have seen, this position is unbiblical. Please note too that the earth will not be without inhabitants during the Millennium. Christ told us that the days will be shortened just before His return so that NOT everyone would be destroyed… some WOULD survive. Isaiah 24:6 tells us that a few men WILL be left. Compare, too, Isaiah 11:1-12, 16. During the Millennium, the survivors will be “fruitful,” bear children and multiply, and everyone will live in peace and prosperity (Micah 4:4).
Why do the Seventh Day Adventists teach that the saints will be in heaven for the duration of the Millennium, and that the earth will be destitute and constitute the habitation of demons?
The reason lies in the person of Ellen White. On April 7, 1847, she claimed that she was transported, in a vision, to heaven, where she saw, in combination with subsequent visions, the righteous ruling for 1,000 years in heaven, while the earth was “emptied of its inhabitants” and “the home of Satan with his evil angels for 1,000 years.”
The Seventh Day Adventists regard Ellen White as a prophetess and accept her visions as godly revelations and as the truth–contrary to the clear teachings of the Bible. However, visions and revelations, which are in opposition to the Word of God—the Holy Bible—must be rejected. They must never be used to establish “new” understanding.
The biblical understanding is not complicated, but pure and simple, and very easy to comprehend: When a man dies, he is dead, but he will live again through the resurrection from the dead. Until then, he will sleep a dreamless sleep, without any consciousness. He will not go to heaven when he dies, nor will he suffer in a purgatory or “hell.” Rather, he is asleep, until Christ awakes him out of his sleep. And He will, because as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all will be made alive (1 Corinthians 15:22).
(To Be Continued)
Lead Writer: Norbert Link