Since God is the God of the living, are the righteous in heaven?

Author: BibleAsk Team

The God of the Living

God is the God of the living, in the sense that He has power over the grave and over death. The righteous are not in heaven now. They will be raised at the day of Resurrection at the end of time. Mark 12:26, 27 says:

“And as touching the dead, that they rise; have ye not read in the book of Moses, how in the bush God spake unto him, saying, I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob? He is not the God of the dead, but the God of the living: ye therefore do greatly err.”

Here, Jesus was speaking about the resurrection when He spoke about “God being the God of the living.” He gave no indication at all that Abraham, Isaac and Jacob were living in heaven now.

All rewards and punishments will be given at the resurrection not at death. In John 5:28, 29 Jesus said, “Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation.”

Jesus made it very clear that the righteous would be given immortality at the resurrection, and the wicked would be punished for their sins at the time of their resurrection. Obviously, no one can be punished or rewarded until after the judgment takes place. Even an earthly judge would be considered very wicked to send a man to his punishment before having his trial and hearing the judgment.

In 2 Peter 2:9 we read: “the Lord knows how to deliver the godly out of temptations and to reserve the unjust under punishment for the day of judgment.” To interpret this verse to mean that sinners after death and before the judgment are under punishment is contrary to the whole message of Scripture (Luke 16:19; Revelation 14:10, 11).

The Dead Sleep Until the Resurrection

Millions believe the soul possesses a natural immortality but not even one time in the Bible is the soul referred to as being immortal or undying. According to God’s Word, man is mortal (Job 4:17). Only God is immortal (1 Timothy 6:15, 16).

The Bible tell us that when a person dies, he sleeps (John 11:11; Daniel 12:2; Psalm 13:3) in the grave until the great day of the Lord at the end of the world. In death, a person is totally unconscious with no activity or knowledge of any kind.

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) till the Resurrection (Revelation 22:12; 1 Thessalonians 4:16, 17; 1 Corinthians 15:51-53) when he will be given his reward or punishment (Revelation 22:12).

Solomon the wise described what happens at death, “Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it” (Ecclesiastes 12:7). And since death is the opposite of life. Let’s look at what happens at creation, “And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul” (Genesis 2:7). This same term “breath of life” is also used for animals in Genesis 7:21,22.

  • body (dust) + breath (or spirit) = life (soul)             
  • body (dust) – breath (or spirit) = death (no soul)

The soul is simply the conscious life which resulted when God added the breath or spirit to the body. Notice that the words “breath” and “spirit” are used interchangeably (Job 27:3; Psalm 104:29, 30; James 2:26).

Therefore, when Solomon described the spirit returning to God, he was referring to the breath, because that was what God gave in the beginning, and it was the only thing that could now “return” to the One who gave it. The spirit that returns to God at death is the breath of life or the divine spark of life. Nowhere in the Scriptures does the “spirit” have any life, wisdom, or feeling after a person dies. It is the “breath of life” and nothing more.

For a Bible study of the State of the Dead, check: The Intermediate State

In His service,
BibleAsk Team

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