Not one person has ascended into Heaven except Jesus – according to Jesus!

I would like take issue with the traditional view that faithful Christians go to heaven when they die. Truly, our treasures/rewards and our future bodies (dwelling places) are kept safe in heaven, and I acknowledge the angels, the armies of heaven, the book of life and so on, are in heaven, according to scripture. But, nowhere in the scriptures are we told plainly that we will reign in heaven or even live there. Jesus said, “No one has ascended into heaven except he who descended from heaven, the Son of Man”(John 3:13). That is quite self-defining, don’t you think?

Then there’s the oft stated theology that after Jesus was raised from the dead, all the people of the Old Testament were transferred from Hades/Sheol to Heaven or Hell at that time. Where does scripture say that?

Peter declared on the day of Pentecost (many days after Jesus’ ascension) that David had not yet been raised from the dead and was therefore still in his tomb (Acts 2:29-34). The New Jerusalem is shown as descending from heaven to the New Earth in Revelation 21. That does not infer that we will live with God in heaven, but that God will dwell with us in some fashion on the New Earth (2 Peter 3:13). The early Christians emphasized the resurrection of the dead as the future Christian hope, where the Western view has become so Platonic that the resurrection has become an afterthought. Why does scripture tell us to hope in and look for the resurrection to life when one is already judged (which would be a prerequisite to entering heaven anyway) and possessing an eternal spiritual “body”? According to what many believe, people who have died have already been judged and given a new body. But, according to scripture, if there is no resurrection of the dead, then those who have died in Christ have perished (1 Corinthians 15:16-18). How could that even be a consideration if a person is already safe in heaven? Peter says God will “judge the living and the dead” at the same time (John 5:28, 1 Peter 4:5)

I got started on this after seeing so many books and supposed personal accounts of visits to heaven and hell that are available on the internet. If Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ, heard things that cannot be repeated (2 Cor 12:4), how can people later be allowed to repeat them? I absolutely believe all these published reports are pure bunk!

I don’t believe a word of anyone who claims to have visited either place. The Bible states plainly that every person will die and after that comes the judgment. The judgment is clearly going to occur on “the day of the Lord”, a day when everyone, small and great, will both see God (Rev 1:7) and assemble before the throne to be judged (Rev 20:12) for the deeds done in their bodies (2 Cor 5:10, 2 Timothy 4:1).

What is the purpose of being judged? In our world and the next, it is to determine your ultimate fate, is it not? Therefore, just as we hold persons in jail to await judgment (this being an ordinance of God), surely this foreshadows the reality in the eternal realm. Jesus promised the thief a place in Paradise; not heaven. Lazarus was raised from the dead, not called back from heaven! Jesus said, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep.” (John 11:11) which I believe is what scripture proves happens to those who (as in the ancient view of Daniel 12:2) fall asleep in Jesus.

The parable of Lazarus and the rich man was meant to show the Jews that their view of who was accepted by God was skewed by their thinking that being blessed in the “here and now” was indicative of God’s being pleased with a person. On the contrary, a man they considered cursed because of some secret sin found himself in Abraham’s bosom while the man who was “blessed” found himself rejected by God. And please consider that if a man was being tormented by literal flames, he would hardly prioritize a drop of water on his tongue! Again, this was parable, and was a story used to illuminate the truth of the law to the blind. I could go on about parables, but that would involve a lot of other digression.

If anyone were qualified to tell us what lay beyond the veil, it would be Lazarus, or Tabitha, or any number of others who were raised from the dead, including Samuel! But none of these have l;eft any record of this transition from life to heaven and back, have they? Because, as scripture says, “The dead do not praise the LORD, no do ANY who go down into silence.” (Psalm 115:17)

If the dead in Christ will be raised first, that fulfills Paul’s declaration that the living believers will not precede those who have died in Christ. Scripture says, “Christ will bring with Him” those who have died in faith, but where is He bringing them from? There is no reason to believe they are being brought from heaven to be united with their bodies. Rather, there is every indication that the words “also bring with Him” simply means that ALL believers will be brought with Christ to where we will be with Him forever: the New Earth and New Jerusalem.

Jesus says that those who are qualified to partake of the resurrection to life (Luke 20:35) will be “like the angels in heaven”. But, that does not infer they will be IN heaven!

Quoting Mark 12:27, where Jesus says, “He is not the God of the dead, but of the living. You are quite wrong.” does not mean that the dead in Christ are in heaven rather than the grave. Jesus simply means that those who are in Him are not really dead, but have already secured the promise of eternal life. This is what scripture affirms (Luke 20:37-38, John 3:16) even though it is obvious that their bodies have died/perished. But, if their bodies will be raised, then their bodies are an intrinsic part of who these people are. Else, why is there a resurrection of bodies at all? Paul goes further and says, “For to this end Christ died and lived again, that he might be Lord both of the dead and of the living.” (Romans 14:9)

Paul states to the Jews when he was arrested, that he was on trial “with respect to the hope and resurrection of the dead” (Acts 24:21, 26:8), not the doctrine of going to heaven when one dies.

When Jesus rose from the dead, it is easily proved that he did not go to heaven. Peter says He went and preached to the spirits in prison. Jesus told Mary that he had not yet ascended into heaven when she saw Him the day He arose from the dead. So where was he for three days and nights? In Hades/Sheol, the place of the dead.

Matthew tells us that many people rose from the dead (not from Paradise, Heaven or hell) when Jesus died on the cross. Yet we know that these people did not rise to eternal life, but only restored to mortal life for a short time, since scripture assures us that Jesus is the first of those raised from death forever (Acts 26:23, Romans 6:9) and is “…the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep“(1 Cor 15:20).

Lastly, what does the Bible say about our souls? Are they ever referred to as being immortal? No! In fact Paul says that it is our bodies that will be changed into imperishable vessels. So, it follows that our souls need a body to dwell in. Without a resurrection of the body, the Bible leaves no clear alternative for where our souls reside after death. Even the mention of the souls of the dead being kept under the altar in John’s Revelation, indicates that these souls are held in some form of containment “until the number of their fellow servants and their brothers should be complete” (Rev 6:11). What were these souls told to do until the consummation of these things? They are told to “rest” which is synonymous with “sleep”.

Simply put, the resurrection makes no sense at all unless it is the Great Hope of the Christian, a resurrection with only two options: eternal life or eternal death and only as a result of that final resurrection and simultaneous judgment.


13 responses to this post.

  1. Good points there brother! God bless you!

  2. Thanks, brother! I may be wrong about this, but I really don’t see it any other way. I get really tired of the fairy tales people put out as bible truth, is all!

    Hope to see you again, soon. Anytime you’re around downtown, give me a holler and we can try and meet up somewhere. Love to break bread with you!

    Take care and God bless.

  3. A lot of what we hear when someone passes away are sayings of comfort, such as, “he or she is with God now”. Or “they are in heaven now etc. In the natural, one would want to think that, instead of asleep and waiting for the last judgment. Common thoughts or sayings which have been passed down over the centuries
    OK, breaking bread sounds good to me.

  4. Great work brother! did you mean that we are not told that we gonna live there?

  5. I know that people read the idea of living in Heaven into the statements Jesus makes about the Kingdom of Heaven. However, that only pertains to what is of God and we already have citizenship in heaven, so we are part of the Kingdom of Heaven now. But, we are not living there, are we? Read Revelation 21 where we are told that the New Jerusalem will be how God dwells with man, not the other way around. This huge city descends DOWN and OUT of Heaven to the New Earth which is our future home.

    Thank you for your comment, Willy!

  6. Posted by Frank Z. on October 29, 2012 at 3:26 pm

    I keep coming back here hoping for a new post! In the meantime, my daughter saw one of those YouTube videos about a boy who supposedly went to heaven and came back, and she asked me what I thought. I answered her, and posted the article here:

    It agrees entirely with what you have expounded.

    What I find interesting though, is that Jesus plainly said (in the parable about Lazarus and the rich man) “neither will they believe though one came back from the dead.” And yet now, supposedly Jesus has changed his mind, and is trying to convince the world of Christianity by sending people back from the dead! This should set off the warning bells that something is amiss here.

    There is a place for miracles however. I can think of a few reasons: first, to comfort the faithful when faced with trials or important decisions that God is with them; second, to give supernatural authority to an unpopular message, so that people have double evidence that it is from God, because of the power in the words to lay open the sins of the heart, and also because of the outward signs.

    The intent of the outward signs is always to lead to faith in the unpopular message. Jesus was disappointed when people just followed him for the “loaves and fishes”, that is, for gain or reward, and not because they wanted to be reshaped into God’s character.

    The apostles expressed a better faith when they said, “where else shall we go? You have the words of life.” It was not the miracles they were after, but the words of life that slew sin and brought peace and transformation to their hearts.

    If you search on the word “miracles” you will find that in the final book of the Bible, it is only used in the sense of “false miracles” used to deceive people.

  7. Thanks, Frank!

    I have been amiss in not checking out your own blog. I see there is a lot I need to read there!
    I have read your article and agree with it, quite a lot. I also read the article on Christian Perfection and left a differing opinion.

    I appreciate your faithfulness in blogging, but I am so involved in other godly pursuits that I rarely find time to write articles any more. Perhaps I should “unload” some more knots?

    Take care and God bless you and yours!

    Steve Foltz

  8. Posted by Frank Z. on November 3, 2012 at 9:32 pm

    I appreciate your comments and visit to my site. I somehow lost your last email, so I will reply here.

    To me, “Christian Perfection” means wanting to be like Christ, and that means forgetting myself, and therefore, not walking around boasting about some supposed righteous attainments. But I think the issue is important enough to discuss because of all the excuses Christians are making today for not living holy lives. The righteousness of God is something much higher than we can reach with our own efforts. Then let’s lift up that standard so that people are led to give up their own righteousness.

    Many folks in my church have also questioned whether writing and posting on the Internet is of much value, since we live in an age when “talk is cheap”. Should we rather be busy “doing” instead of “talking”? So I understand that.

    However, don’t underestimate the power of words. Many great men were moved to action by something they read or heard. Ideas (and especially good ones!) are great motivators, and help to purify and clarify actions so they are more effective. They are the spark that sets of the fire.

    There is a need for voices like yours, who have the ability to reason calmly and purely.


  9. Dear brother Frank,

    I completely agree that the standard for Christians has been consistently lowered. Too much milk and not enough exhortation or rebuke in the church today.

    Everyone likes to repeat the unscriptural mantra, “God loves us unconditionally” and forget the reminder, “our God is a consuming fire” and all the “keep watch” scriptures.

    I appreciate your own ability to talk about these things with the goal of encouraging godliness without hypocrisy.

    The Lord bless you! Steve Foltz – Mobile

  10. We see the Lord, in John 3:13 speaking regarding this matter.

    He said that no man has ascended into heaven, except the son of man (Himself), who came down from heaven.

    Some believe that when the Lord was resurrected, he took the believers who were being held in Abraham’s Bosom and transferred them to heaven. Doctor C.I. Scofield saw in the word that Hades was made up of 2 parts. He shared on this matter of a transfer, but the word DOES NOT support this theory. Hebrew 11:1-16 & 32-40 they with us (the church) cannot be made perfect

    Even after the Lord’s resurrection and ascension, we have brothers like Paul being caught away to “Paradise” 2 Cor 12:4 and witnessing things there.

    “That he was caught up into Paradise and heard unspeakable words, which is not lawful for man to utter.

    We also see Peter in the Book of Acts 2:34 declaring ” David did not ascend into the heavens” This was spoken of by Peter AFTER the Lord supposedly transferred all the dead saints to heaven, including David.

    If David, A brother who was a man after God’s own heart did not ascend to heaven? Why would Peter declare this, so long after the Lord’s ascension?

    If all the believers in Abraham’s Bosom were transferred to heaven when the Lord resurrected them Peter would never say this regarding David?

    Also there is just the matter of the “Dead in Christ rising first” in 1 Thess 4:16 when the Lord returns.

    ” But the Lord Himself will with a shout of and with the voice of the archangel and the trump of God will DESEND FROM heaven and the dead in Christ WIIL RISE first.

    There is a meeting point.. in the “air” of the Descending Christ and the ascending saints who are in Abraham Bosom.

    If these dead are in heaven and still not in asleep, then there is no need for them to ascend. They would be there in heaven already.

    Upon His resurrection our Lord Jesus saw Mary and spoke with her. Where were these countless ones that He was supposed to be transferring at that time?

    He said that to her in John 20:17

    ” Jesus said to her, touch Me not for I have not yet ascended to My Father, but Go to My brethren and say unto them I ascend to My Father and your Father and My God and your God”

    He was very much alone yet in His resurrection we were all included in Him as His Body. But this does not mean that the saints were transferred to heaven. Peter and Paul indicated this much in their writings.

    So dear friends, the dead in Christ are still awaiting the sound of the trump of God inorder to rise. Then we shall meet the Lord in the AIR… notice that the bible does not say “heaven” but “air”

    Other than that, it is unthinkable to believe that there are dead believers lying unclothed ( without their glorified bodies) before God. There is a principle of being “clothed”with the glorified transfigured bodies that most of those who say that there are believers in heaven right now, did not stop to consider. Its improper to be unclothed before God, especially in this spiritual sense.

    The Lord needs to present us fully sanctified as seen in 1 Thes 5:23 which says.
    “And the God of peace Himself sanctify you wholly and may your spirit and soul and body be PRESENTED COMPLETE, without blame at the COMING of our Lord Jesus Christ.

    Our dead sisters and brothers are yet unclothed and are not ready to be presented before God. So we need to stand with the Word and say that the dead believers are still awaiting the resurrection from the dead ( Phil 3:11) Asleep in Abraham Bosom, from where they will be resurrected by the power of God, be transfigured and received their glorified bodies and then taken Glory heaven real paradise With Christ.

    Grace be with your spirit ,.
    The visible clouds Sky up in the mountains may be considered the first heaven.

    Where the Sun, Moon and Stars where the second heaven.s is

    The third heaven must be the heaven above the heavens, the hightest heaven as seen in Deut 10:14 and Psa 148:4… where the Lord Jesus and God are today ( Eph 4:10, Hebrews 4:14; 1:3)

    Erika comments

    Jesus went to hell to take the keys of death from satan. No, he didn’t suffer there. His suffering was done here on earth.
    He had sinned, (The Sins of the world laid on him & made a curse for us, my addition added )and God had to punish sin. He disobeyed God. Until Jonah had asked for forgiveness and obeyed God-God couldn’t bless him.

    All the scriptures are referring to is of God had to punish sin because of their disobedience to Him. So, he could not bless them until they had asked Him for forgiveness or obeyed him.

    The only time that God didn’t look at his Son, Jesus, was when he had all the sins of man laid on him on the cross. He still loved him most definitely, as he does us when we sin, but he is too Holy to look at sin. Remember when Jesus said, “Father, why have you forsaken me.” This is when God turned his head from him because of all the sins of this world resting on Jesus. But, he never suffered when he went to hell to take the keys of death away from satan. See, all this was kept secret from satan. He really thought that Jesus, the Son of God, was gonna been killed forever and that he could have all the authority here on earth, but he was so wrong. He had not known God’s plan. This is so great!

    • 4

    • Comments (0)

    chapel247 answered 6 years ago

    You forgot to mention that HE (JESUS) made a show of the devil openly, and took keys from him before HE rose. This would indicate that HE was in Hell, which makes perfect sense, because HE had to pay that price so you and I wouldn’t have to go there ourselves! Remember, HE took on the sins of the whole world! HE became sin, that we might become the righteousness of GOD! It was that sin that required punishment, that freed us from experiencing it. JESUS, before experiencing that separation from HIS Father, said; “If there’s any other way, never the less, not my will but thine be done.” What happened to JESUS, between HIS death and resurrection, is the eternal separation (Hell), that would have happened to us all.
    Thank You JESUS, for paying the price for us!!!

  11. Did the Thief on the Cross go to Heaven?
    The thief on the cross has many Christians believing that they go straight to heaven when they die. The problem is, they ignore some key important points regarding this issue. So in this Bible study we will look at these points and find out the real Bible truth about what happened to the thief on the cross.
    First, let’s look at the Bible text itself about Jesus and the thief … Luke 23:42-43 …’And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when Thou comest into Thy kingdom. And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, Today shalt thou be with Me in Paradise.’ … So, where is paradise?

    Revelation 2:7 …’To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the Paradise of God.’

    Revelation 22:1-2 …’And he showed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb. In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river was there the tree of life.’
    So paradise is where God dwells, which is in the highest heaven. So the question is, did the thief go to paradise with Jesus THAT day as the Bible verse in Luke 23 suggests? And is the thief now dwelling with God in heaven? Well, we know that Christ died on the cross and then was buried in the tomb, but did He rise again THAT same day and go to heaven? Let’s take a look:
    1 Corinthians 15:3-4 …’Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures; and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the scriptures.’ … So according to this Bible verse, Christ didn’t rise from the dead until the THIRD day after His death on the cross. Do you now see the problem with the statement: “TODAY you will be with Me in paradise”? Well, maybe Christ went to heaven when He died? The answer to that question is found in the next verse:

    John 20:17 …’Jesus saith unto her, Touch Me not; for I am NOT YET ascended to My Father.’
    So Jesus had risen from the dead on the third day after His death, and meets Mary and says to her, “I have NOT YET ascended to My Father”. So do we have a contradiction with what Jesus said to the thief and what actually happened? We know we cannot question the truthfulness of Christ, because He is without sin and perfect. So we must look for harmony between His statements.
    What was really the request of the thief on the cross? … Luke 23:42 …’And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into Thy kingdom.’ … Now when did Christ say that He would take His followers to be with Him in His kingdom? … John 14:2-3 …’In My Father’s house are many mansions, if it were not so I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you, and if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto Myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.’ … Do you see? It is at the second coming that Jesus takes His people to be where He is. If Jesus didn’t come back again, then we couldn’t be with him, as Jesus confirmed above when He said, “I will come again… SO THAT you can be where I am.”
    We can also confirm this in the following Bible verse … 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 …’For the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God; and the dead in Christ shall rise first: then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air; and so shall we ever be with the Lord.’ … We will meet the Lord WHEN HE RETURNS at the second coming in the air, not before. It is also during this time that the thief on the cross will be remembered by the Lord and given a place in His kingdom.
    So why Did Christ use the word “today” when saying that the thief on the cross would be with Him in paradise? Well, the original scriptures that were inspired by God did NOT have punctuation marks. They were ADDED by man later on. So could the comma be in the wrong place? Let’s take another look at the verse with the comma in another place:

    Luke 23:43 …’And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee today, shalt thou be with Me in Paradise.’
    Wow! We now have harmony with what Jesus said to the thief on the cross and what He said to Mary about not yet ascending to paradise. Jesus was basically saying to the thief, “This is what I’m going to CONFIRM TO YOU TODAY, you WILL be with Me in paradise.” Do you see this truth? The comma comes after the word today, not before. The inspiration of the scriptures has nothing to do with punctuation marks, they were added by man and should never be used to establish the meaning of scripture. We must use other scripture to interpret scripture. The thief on the cross is not in heaven, he is in his grave awaiting the second coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and the resurrection of the saved. THEN he will be with Jesus in paradise.
    If Christians would just understand the Bible teaching of what happens when we die, then there would be no need for confusion over this subject of the thief on the cross. The plain truth is, we return to dust when we die and wait in our graves until the resurrection at the second coming of Christ Jesus. And this is where the thief on the cross is, in his grave (asleep). Awaiting THAT DAY when he will be with Jesus in Paradise.

    2nd Comment

    Let us read the words of Jesus to the tortured pris-oner at his side once again: “I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in Paradise.” If we look at the comma after “I tell you the truth[,]” there is one thing we may know for sure; this comma was never part of the original text. That text was written without any punctuation, that is, without things such as commas, colons, or periods. Not until centuries later did someone copying the text insert it, as it agreed with his own opinion! Let’s see what happens if we take the liberty of moving the comma a little bit, and from a linguistic point of view, this is both fully possible and fully correct:
    “I tell you the truth today, you will be with me in Paradise.”
    Suddenly the words of Jesus give a different impression! No longer is he saying when the criminal will be with him in paradise but that he will, and he says it today—today, in the middle of the unbearable pain; to-day, when it looks the darkest; today, facing the inescapable end.
    Using the word “today” as an intensifying word was not unusual in Biblical times, as did, for example, Moses: “See, I have set before you today life and good, death and evil, in that I command you today to love the LORD your God…But if your hearts turn away so that you do not hear…I announce to you today that you shall surely perish…I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death.” Deut 30:15-19, NKJV.

    3rd Comment

    We know from comparing other verses that Jesus did NOT go to “paradise” that very day

    The verse as in Luke 23:43, reads: “And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise.”

    I, and thousands of true Christians KNOW that the comma is in the wrong place,
    it should read:”And Jesus said unto him This day , Verily I say unto thee, thou shalt be with me in paradise.”

    May God bless you as you study His Word

  12. You’re surely preaching to the choir, brother!

    But it is self evident that when Jesus says that He had not yet ascended to His Father, that no one else had, either!
    All the tripe that is offered as evidence of people going to heaven or hell is just baldfaced lying or serious self-deception and misunderstanding.

    What’s the point of Judgment Day is a person’s reward(s), good or bad, are achieved at death? What point the Resurrection of ALL the dead at Christ’s visible and clear return?

    God bless, and thanks for chiming in!

  13. Erika is incorrect to state that Jesus sinned. There are far too many assertions in the New Testament that declare otherwise.

    Chapel247 is incorrect about where Jesus went. He went to Hades (the grave), not Hell. Peter says He preached to the spirits in prison, that is, in Hades. Hell, as described by so many as a place of torment and demons torturing souls, has no support in scripture. It is a Roman Catholic fantasy based on Greek mythology.

    Jesus suffered death for us, so that in all things he would be a partaker of our humanity. And He is the Firstborn from the dead. For a divine person to experience death is beyond terrifying, I’m sure.

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