Last week we discussed the different heavens: the atmosphere, celestial heaven, and paradise or the intermediate heaven where God resides and where believers reside before receiving their resurrected bodies at the rapture. The term “intermediate” is used to distinguish from the eternal state which is the new heaven and the new earth.
The question we’ll address today is, do Christians immediately go to heaven at death?
As we mentioned before, Jesus has gone ahead of us to prepare us a place.
C.S. Lewis wrote, “Your place in heaven will seem to be made for you and you alone because you were made for it…made for it stitch by stitch as a glove is made for a hand.”
It’s that wonderful. The last words of the great evangelist, Dwight L. Moody was “God is calling.”
The author of Hebrews writes, “It is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment.” (Hebrews 9:27) Many people fear death, and the unknown, but for the believer, they can wait with joy and anticipation.
There is much debate regarding whether the Christians go immediately to heaven or as some suggest, they “rest or sleep” in their grave. I believe the Bible states, that we immediately go to heaven. Paul wrote to the Corinthians, “We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord.” (2 Cor. 5:8) Other scriptures are Philippians 1:23, Mark 16:19, 1 Cor.15:51-52, and Luke 24:51. Therefore, Jesus Christ is now with God the Father in heaven and heaven is where the spirits of Christians will go immediately after their mortal body dies.
Another scripture supporting the assumption that we go immediately to heaven is Luke 23:42-43. You remember the death bed confession by the criminal on the cross next to Jesus. The scripture states that one of the criminals being crucified with Jesus Christ asked Him to “remember me when You come into Your kingdom,” and that Jesus replied, “Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise.”
There is ample biblical evidence that, before the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ, people were justified by faith in God and went to paradise (or Abraham’s bosom). There is overwhelming biblical evidence that the spirits of Christians go immediately to heaven when they experience physical death.
However, I need to point out heaven is not the place where Christians and others who have been justified by faith will ultimately spend eternity. They will spend eternity in the new heaven and the new earth.
Isn’t it wonderful to know that when we leave this earthly body behind, we shall be ushered to the presence of Jesus and the wonderful glory of heaven? Friend, if you are reading this, and you have not surrendered your heart to Jesus, stop and confess your sins to Jesus. He will forgive and you can have the assurance of heaven as well.