Do Saved People Go Immediately to Heaven at Death? Part 1
In the course of my lifetime, I have spent a great deal of time at funeral homes, funerals, and graveside services. As we get older it appears to me that we spend more time in those places than when we were young. Solomon actually tells us that this experience is for our good. It is better to go to the house of mourning, than to go to the house of feasting: for that is the end of all men; and the living will lay it to his heart (Ecclesiastes 7:2 KJV). As we spend time sharing grief with family, friends, neighbors, and our brothers and sisters in Christ, God intends for that to profit us. It causes us to think seriously about the brevity of life and our need to prepare for eternity. It is very common to hear preachers declare to the audience that their departed loved one is now with Jesus in heaven. When their loved one died Jesus was at the gates of heaven to welcome them into their eternal home. There is seldom any scripture offered with the exception of Paul’s statement about his desire to depart from this life. For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better (Philippians 1:23 KJV). Does this statement by the apostle Paul teach that a saved person goes directly to heaven at the point of death? This will be the subject of our present study.
It amazes me that so few people know about the place called SHEOL or HADES. “Hades” is defined as the region of departed spirits, both of the lost and the saved. When a person dies, his or her soul goes to “Hades” and is either blessed or tormented according to their works. Hades is mentioned ten times in the New Testament scriptures (Matt. 11:23; Matt. 16:18; Luke 10:15; Luke 16:23; Acts 2:27, 31; Rev. 1:18; Rev. 6:8; Rev. 20:13-14). When Jesus died His soul went to Hades while His body lay in the tomb (Acts 2:27). Jesus was raised from the dead the third day before His body saw corruption. He seeing this before spake of the resurrection of Christ, that his soul was not left in hell (Hades), neither his flesh did see corruption (Acts 2:31 KJV) Jesus won the victory over Satan and the grave. When a person dies they do not go immediately to heaven or hell (Gehenna), rather to “Hades” to await the resurrection of the dead and the final judgment.
I do not believe, nor do I teach, that the souls of saved people go directly to heaven at the point of death. I would have to contradict Jesus’ teaching to make that statement. Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. 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 (John 14:1-3 KJV). Jesus informed His disciples that He was going to leave them and return to His Father. He promised to return and receive them so they could be with Him in heaven. Jesus portrays the great judgment scene in Matt. 25:31-46 where He will separate the lost and the saved at His coming (Matt. 25:31-32). And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left. Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world (Matt. 25:33-34 KJV). How can someone inherit something they have already received since the day of their death? What right does any man have to tell folks they can go to heaven before the return of our Lord and before the judgment? To do so is to disregard the teaching of our Lord Jesus Christ.
To be continued … From “The Brownsville Messenger”, Issue 44, March 2022