Does the believer ascend to heaven at death?

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The scriptures teach that the dead are sleeping waiting to be resurrected at the Resurrection Day. The Bible resembles death as a state of “sleep” (John 11:11-14; Psalms 13:3; Acts 7:60; Job 14:12; Daniel 12:2).  The dead sleep until the great day of the Lord at the end of the world. Jesus said, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, the hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live” (John 5:25).

In death, humans are totally unconscious with no activity or knowledge of any kind. 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.

Paul adds, “Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed—in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed” (1 Corinthians 15:51). Paul further clarifies, “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” (1 Thessalonians 4:14-17).

There would be no purpose in a resurrection if people were taken to heaven or hell at death. If a saved individual dies, the next conscious thought he has is to be with God. It’s like a moment, the twinkling of an eye, instantaneously he is caught forth from his graves to go to heaven.  So, to be absent from the body for him is to be present with the Lord because it’s his next conscious thought (2 Corinthians 5:8).

And we read in Acts chapter 2:29,34  “David, that he is both dead and buried, and his sepulchre is with us unto this day… David is not ascended into the heavens.”  Although David is a righteous man he is not in heaven yet. David died 3 thousand years ago – for him it will seem like one second and he’ll be resurrected and caught up to heaven when Jesus comes.

In His service,

BibleAsk Team

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