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You say heaven is the reward of the saved. Are you certain? Have you sought proof?
Almost all professing Christians believe the saved go to heaven upon death. Why? What assurance do they have? By what authority have countless millions believed that they are bound for heaven when they die?
Be honest. You probably consider yourself a Christian. You certainly want to be saved. You have probably also been assured that you will go to heaven some day. Should you not demand proof that heaven is really what you seek—and where you will go?
It is about time you know if you will spend all eternity in heaven!
Romans 10:9 states, “That if you shall confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus, and shall believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved.” Verse 13 adds, “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
Certain popular verses are routinely cited to validate the simplicity of just believing in Christ to be saved. This makes salvation seem routine and easy. Heaven becomes little more than an assumption in a formula that virtually every professing Christian takes for granted: “Believe in Jesus, go to heaven.”
Yet when a famous evangelist was asked, “What will we do when we get to heaven?” he answered, “I don’t know, but it will be wonderful.” Such ignorance!—and if he does not know, how can he “know” it will be wonderful?
Answers like this are why people assume that they will “ride clouds in heaven”—“walk the streets of gold in front of the pearly gates”—“play harps”—“grow wings”—or generally “roll around heaven all day.” All of these ideas are man-made, fiction. The Bible teaches none of them—yet almost everyone believes them as fact.
So, let’s get the facts—the truth—of what God teaches.
We have many booklets explaining in detail the real reward of the saved. Though this article will address some of the truth on this matter, it will not and cannot cover everything about the truth of salvation. This is not the purpose or focus here. This article is written to examine whether heaven is the destination of the saved.
One of the fundamental rules of Bible study is to always start with the clearest scriptures on any subject. Then fit all less clear scriptures into the basic overall picture that has been established.
The subject of going to heaven is a classic example of the need to start with the most plain, obvious verses. We will examine a number of them. After doing this, we will examine all the supposed “proof texts” about going to heaven. They will be correctly understood and the false idea of the saved going to heaven will collapse!
Perhaps the plainest scripture in the Bible about going to heaven is in the Sermon on the Mount—and it does not even mention the word heaven. While most know of this Sermon, few know of this most important verse. Christ said, “Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth” (Matt. 5:5).
Have you ever heard even one minister say that God’s purpose for Christians is to “inherit the EARTH”? I doubt it. And yet there it is—at the very beginning of the New Testament.
What may be more amazing is that Christ was quoting Psalm 37:11. It states the exact same thing. It would not have been strange for Him to reference Psalms, since all His listeners would have been familiar with this scripture. To have said that “the meek shall inherit heaven” certainly would have been strange to their ears!
Let’s examine another plain scripture, which adds another element.
The apostle John recorded the following: “And has made them [the saints] unto our God kings and priests: and they [the saints] shall reign on the earth” (Rev. 5:10).
The reward of God’s saints is to inherit future rulership “on the earth”—as “kings and priests.” This is plain!
I’ll ask again: Have you ever heard a minister say that God’s purpose for you is to “reign on the earth,” as “kings and priests”?
Be honest—of course not! You must at least admit that becoming a king is more appealing than riding clouds, playing harps or rolling around heaven.
Now, will you believe the plain words of the Bible—or continue in popular but baseless assumptions?
Now go to the Old Testament. The prophet Daniel, amplifying the saints’ role as kings and priests, writes about the Return of Christ and the establishing of God’s kingdom on earth. Before examining three key verses, some background is important.
Before Christ’s Return, God will officially grant Him the authority to rule the world. Notice: “And there was GIVEN Him [Christ] dominion, and glory, and a kingdom” (Dan. 7:14).
Where will this kingdom be? Daniel answers, “…that all people, nations, and languages, should serve Him: His dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and His kingdom that which shall not be destroyed.”
It will be on earth.
But how will God rule the peoples and nations of earth? Daniel explains: “But the saints of the Most High shall take the kingdom, and possess the kingdom for ever, even forever and ever” (vs. 18). The Christian’s ultimate destiny is to join Christ and share rulership in the kingdom of God over all nations and peoples ON EARTH!
Now read verse 22: “…and judgment was given to the saints of the Most High; and the time came that the saints possessed the kingdom.” And verse 27: “And the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people of the saints of the Most High, whose kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey Him.”
Christ and the saints will rule peoples and nations on earth.
You have surely heard Christ referred to as “KING of kings and LORD of lords.” Now you know why!
Let’s confirm where this rulership takes place. Christ states, “And he that overcomes, and keeps My works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations: And he shall rule them with a rod of iron; as the vessels of a potter shall they be broken to shivers: even as I received of My Father” (Rev. 2:26-27). A few verses later, He adds, “To him that overcomes will I grant to sit with Me in My throne…” (3:21).
Christians are overcomers. They do not sit idle, “just believing” in Jesus and waiting for heaven. They recognize that they are in training to become teachers and rulers! This is why the apostle Jude wrote, “And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord comes with ten thousands of His saints, To execute judgment upon all…” (vs. 14-15).
Did you notice Christ “comes” to earth rather than we “go” to heaven? And the saints assist Him in “executing judgment.”
The phrase “in My throne” (Rev. 3:21) is used because Christ understood that His throne is on this earth—unlike the Father’s throne, which is in heaven. Luke 1:32 shows that Christ will sit in Jerusalem on the throne of David.
Now notice Revelation 20:4, 6: “And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them…and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years…Blessed and holy is he that has part in the first resurrection: on such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years.”
What could be plainer than these verses? When Christ returns, the saints rule with Him! Together, they will reign over the entire world!
Let’s turn the coin over. We have seen what Christ says IS the calling and reward of a Christian—but did He ever say what it is NOT? Did Jesus make any plain statements about men in heaven? He did—in stunning clarity!
He said, “And no man has ascended up to heaven, but He that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven” (John 3:13).
There it is! Jesus did address people going to heaven. Take this verse for exactly what He said, neither adding to nor taking from it. He said, “NO MAN” (not a single one) has gone to heaven!
Do you believe Him? Or do you believe the ministers of this world who virtually suggest, with their ideas about salvation, that Christ was misleading or did not know what He was talking about?
Now think of all God’s servants who had lived during the 4,000 years prior to Christ’s statement. Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Joshua, Samuel, David, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, and many more, cannot be in heaven. So says Christ!
If heaven is the reward of the saved, then none of these men made it. They all must have FAILED! Every one of them missed out on salvation.
But, of course, they did not fail. Heaven is not the reward of the saved—inheriting rulership over earth is, as we shall learn.
Notice that verse 13 comes only three verses prior to the most universally quoted passage in the Bible—John 3:16: “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
Why is almost everyone willing to believe this verse while virtually no one believes what is said just three verses earlier?
Now ask: If all the above men are not in heaven, where are they?
King David reigned over the nation of Israel about 1,000 years before Christ. Christ knew exactly where David was when He made His statement in John 3. He was not confused or misinformed. Since we know David was not in heaven, then where was he?
Here is plain proof.
The apostle Peter answers this question in his sermon delivered on the day Christ built His Church: “Men and brethren, let me freely speak unto you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his sepulchre [tomb] is with us unto this day” (Acts 2:29).
David is literally “dead and buried.” You have almost certainly heard this common phrase. It comes from this verse and is a reference to David’s whereabouts!
Some believe Peter’s statement was incomplete or he just forgot David was in heaven. This is a ridiculous twisting of the verse. Here is what he said five verses later, removing all doubt: “For David is not ascended into the heavens…”
This is a direct statement. David is not in heaven. Yet God said that David was “a man after Mine own heart” (Acts 13:22). If heaven is the reward of the saved, and David did not make it, then nobody is going to make it.
David is in the grave awaiting the resurrection of the dead, when the just receive their eternal inheritance.
The Bible is quite specific about David’s coming resurrection—and his position as a ruler over the tribes of Israel. It adds further proof that David is not alive now but is, in fact, “dead and buried.” Centuries after David died, the prophet Jeremiah said he would be resurrected: “But they [the twelve tribes of Israel] shall serve the Lord their God, and david their king, whom I will RAISE UP unto them” (30:9). To “raise up” is to resurrect.
The prophet Ezekiel also foretold David’s resurrection: “And I will set up one shepherd over them [the tribes of Israel], and he shall feed them, even My servant david; he shall feed them, and he shall be their shepherd. And I the Lord will be their God, and My servant david a prince among them; I the Lord have spoken it” (Ezek. 34:23-24). Also see 37:24.
Carefully read this verse with the whole chapter. It is obvious that Ezekiel 34 is talking about the physical tribes of Israel (vs. 2, 3, 30, 31) and how David will shepherd them after he is resurrected from the dead.
Consider the twelve apostles. They heard Peter’s sermon (Peter was the lead apostle, so he gave the sermon). They knew what their own role would be after the resurrection.
Christ had previously explained to them “That you which have followed Me, in the regeneration when the Son of Man shall sit in the throne of His glory, you also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel” (Matt. 19:28).
The apostles knew that they will report to David in the kingdom of God. Each will rule one tribe, with David over all twelve tribes.
Much more needs to be understood—but first read where you may some day fit in.
When God calls people to repentance, and they are baptized, He gives them His Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38). It is God’s Holy Spirit within the mind that makes one a Christian. Paul stated, “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God” (Rom. 8:14).
This much is clear. What is NOT so clear—or even known—to most is what Paul added in verse 17: “And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.”
A true follower of Christ and the Bible is an heir with Christ! Heirs are not yet inheritors. An heir is one who later inherits what has been promised to him.
We have read that Christians are to “inherit the earth”—and “rule with Christ.” How, when, where and why does this take place? Once the answers are known, the counterfeit salvation about heaven, taught by almost every professing Christian church, collapses for the fiction that it is!
But how does one become a “joint-heir with Christ”? (To learn more, read my booklet Do the Saved Go to Heaven?)