The Eternal Destiny of Christ Believers
By Arthur J Licursi
It is not uncommon to hear unbelievers scoff about the idea of heaven, especially when they are told it is a prepared place for a prepared people… according to Bible teaching. Unknown to the ‘God haters’ their ultimate destiny is certain. The fact is this at the 2nd coming Christ in wrath, all who refuse to believe and receive reconciliation with God, made possible only through faith in Christ, will literally be ‘consumed.’
Jesus said; “[He, Jesus at His 2nd coming] Whose fan is in his hand, and he will throughly purge his floor [the earth], and gather his wheat [the genuine believers] into the garner [the security of His ‘barn’]; but he will burn up the chaff [the unbelievers] with unquenchable fire.” Matthew 3:12 (KJV)
“I [the Lord] will utterly consume all things from off the land, saith the LORD. 3 I will consume man and beast; I will consume the fowls of the heaven, and the fishes of the sea, and the stumblingblocks with the wicked; and I will cut off man from off the land, saith the LORD… 6 And them that are turned back from [faith in] the LORD; and those that have not sought the LORD, nor enquired for him.” Zephaniah 1:2-3, 6 (KJV)
These unbelieving lost souls will later, after the Millennium, be raised again to ultimately appear at the “Great White Throne” Judgment (Rev 20:11-13) which will result in their 2nd death in “everlasting destruction” (cf. 2 Thessalonians 1:9).
In the end only believers will eternally exist in their sphere of faith, either on earth or in heaven. So there is a blessed eternal hope to be realized in Christ by all genuine believers of all the ages.
Yet, precious few accept God’s terms for immortality and new life in ‘resurrection.’ Jesus said; “ Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat:” (Matt. 7:13-14).
So, most unbelievers today stumble at God’s free offer of eternal life based upon faith in Christ as Savior. The common reaction of many is seen in cynical retorts which go something like this: “While you Christians are pushing clouds around looking for one another, all us sinners will be having a real good time down below!”
In the Bible there is a fair amount said about new life in ‘resurrection’ for all believers, and about heaven for some believers. The Bible does clearly lead us to believe that eternal life… whether on the renewed earth or … in the renewed heaven, will be so wonderful that we would not be able to comprehend its glory even if it was fully described for us now.
Let’s now examine the subject the three spheres of eternal destiny for the three sorts of believers by considering a few pertinent questions and the Bible’s answers:
Who will go Where?
The teaching of man’s religious tradition (which are not in accord with Scripture) is that all believers of all dispensations will be included in a first resurrection. A great number of believers find their unbiblical theology in their church hymn books. One such hymn is titled, “When we all get to Heaven.” This will not happen for all believers.
The Scriptures teach that there actually are three spheres for the three sorts of believers;
- To “appear” in the “Heaven of heavens” (Psa. 68:33) that is “far above all heavens” (Eph. 4:10) is the hope of the members of the invisible church that Paul called “The Body of Christ,” as taught in his prison epistles, most clearly in Ephesians, Philippians, and Colossians.
- Other believers who have looked for “the kingdom of heaven” to “come on earth” will be ‘raised incorruptible’ (resurrected) as citizens in the New [renewed] Earth, that follows the devastation of the Tribulation judgments. This will be their heaven on earth.
- Many of the remnant ‘Nation of Israel’ specifically will have their eternal residence in the eternal city of the New Jerusalem as their heaven on earth … co-reigning with Christ as His agents (Rev. 5:10, 20:6).
When will this be?
Believers will realize their particular ‘hope in resurrection’ when their sphere of blessing is ready for habitation. (For more detail see: https://artlicursi.com/articles/three-eternal-realms-0.)
The members of the Dispensation of “the Mystery,” “His body,” will realize their hope first, before the 2nd coming of Christ to earth.
“When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory [heaven].” Colossians 3:4 (KJV)
“Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ;” Titus 2:13 (KJV)
And this will happen about the time that God reverses the decree of Acts 28:28 when the Nation Israel was temporarily set aside or “cast away” during this Gentile age (cf. Rom. 11:11-12, 15, 25).
Then God will also begin raising the other dead believers ... Every Believing Man “IN HIS OWN ORDER. (1 Cor. 15:23). This verse clearly cancels out the idea of one great general resurrection.
It is a good question to ask; Why does God bother to condescend to freely save and purify such poor, weak, and sinful humanity through faith alone in the cleansing shed blood of His Son?
Answer: God has had His eternal plan from “before the world began” to be realized. He desires a people who of their own free will humble themselves to believe, trusting in the Son of God as Savior.
Among these believers, He will have two people groups co-reigning with Christ as His agents in the two spheres of “the heaven and the earth: (cf. Gen 1:1):
- He will have His earthly people, Israel, as His agents on the earth. (Rev. 5:10, 20:6)
- The “body of Christ” will be His agents in the glorious sphere of “the heavenly places… in Christ” (cf. Eph. 1:3), “far above all.”
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath [already] blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ:” Ephesians 1:3 (KJV)
“And what is the exceeding greatness of his [Christ’s] power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power, 20 Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own righthand in the heavenly places, 21 Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world [Gk. aion, this current dispensational age], but also in that [age] which is to come:” Ephesians 1:19-21
He will have restored “the heavens and the earth” that had been corrupted by fallen Lucifer.
Eternity will reveal and unfold the full answer, but the answer is summarized best here in Ephesians;
“That in the dispensation [age] of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him [in Christ]: 11 In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will: 12 THAT WE SHOULD BE TO THE PRAISE OF HIS GLORY.