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“‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? God is not the God of the dead, but of the living” (Matthew 22:32).
Here, Jesus is talking to the Sadducees who believed “there is no resurrection” (Matthew 22: 23). Regarding the resurrection, Jesus told them “You are mistaken, not knowing the Scriptures nor the power of God” (Matthew 22:29). Jesus was confirming the surety of the Resurrection and calling those things that are not as though they are- He is calling the dead as though they are living.
And likewise, Paul called the future heavenly promises as though they are happening right now “But God, who is rich in mercy… made us alive together with Christ … and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:4-6). Although the believers have not yet reached heaven, they can by faith rejoice in this hope.
The Bible teaches that the dead are sleeping to be awakened at the Resurrection Day. Jesus said about Lazarus who died, “Our friend Lazarus sleeps, but I go that I may wake him up” (John 11:11). After death a person: returns to dust (Psalms 104:29), knows nothing (Ecclesiastes 9:5), possesses no mental powers (Psalms 146:4), has nothing to do with anything on earth (Ecclesiastes 9:6), does not live (2 Kings 20:1), waits in the grave (Job 17:13), and continues not (Job 14:1, 2) until the Resurrection Day. There would be no purpose in a resurrection if people were taken to heaven at death.
People receive their rewards at the Second Coming of Christ not before “Behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be” (Revelation 22:12). Then the saints will be raised and caught up to meet the Lord in the air. “The Lord himself shall descend from heaven … and the dead in Christ shall rise … and so shall we ever be with the Lord” (1 Thessalonians 4:16, 17). Paul confirms that at His coming, “the dead shall be raised incorruptible…For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality” (1 Corinthians 15:51-53). Only at His coming, the righteous dead will receive immorality.
The Bible also mentions that the prophet David has not yet ascended to heaven “For David did not ascend into the heavens“ (Acts 2:34). He is waiting with the rest of the saints to be resurrected at the Second Coming of Christ “All that are in the graves shall hear his voice, And shall come forth” (John 5:28, 29).
In His service,
The BibleAsk Team