Part 1 – The Eternal Destiny of Believers

This Article is part of a multi-part Study Series called Who Will Go To Heaven?.

Most Christians claim they will ‘go to heaven,’ but then many also claim they will return to earth with Jesus to be in the Kingdom on earth. Which is it? It’s clear then that unnecessary confusion abounds in Christendom since most Bible truth has been corrupted and obscured by man’s religious traditions that most often contradicts the basis for believers today to attain a home ‘in heaven.’

Our titled question not only involves who will go to heaven, but also when, and how that could occur.

Let’s look at an overview noting some Biblical believers who would represent those who have lived throughout the Biblical ages of mankind in order to answer our titled question from the Scriptures as to “Who Will Go To Heaven?”

What about Adam, the first man?

Was Adam given the promise of heaven? No, never!

When plans for Adam’s creation were laid by the Godhead in Gen. 1:26-31 we see that Adam was to have ‘dominion” over the earth and over the things of the earth.

“And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.” (Genesis 1:26 (KJV)

But as we know, Adam disobeyed God’s one command and thereby fell to Sin, thereby losing his dominion as God’s representative and agent upon earth. We know from Scripture that today Adam is dead and like all dead men he is in his “grave” (cf. Eccl. 9:10).

In answer to our titled question, Jesus has said;

“And No Man Hath Ascended Up To Heaven, but [except] he [Jesus] that came down from heaven, even [that is] the Son of man which is in heaven.” (John 3:13 (KJV)

Recall that after the fall of Adam to Sin, God gave him the promise that ‘One’ of Adam’s descendants would come and crush the head of the Serpent [the Devil]’ – to destroy the Devil who had usurped dominion over the earth from mankind.

“And I [God] will put enmity between thee [the Serpent] and the woman, and between thy seed and her [Eve’s] seed [Christ]; it [her seed, Christ] shall bruise thy head [the Devil’s headship over humanity], and thou shalt bruise his [Jesus] heel [at the cross].” (Genesis 3:15 (KJV)

Adam, having seen God’s answer as to how Adam and Eve’s sins were covered with the skins of an animal, through the shedding of innocent blood, no doubt must have then continued to make blood sacrifices for sins. We get a sense of this when we note how that Adams firstborn son, Able, who was killed by his brother Cain, also made a good innocent blood sacrifice that were accepted by God. We can suppose then that Able must have learnt of innocent blood sacrifice for sins from Adam and Eve’s experience in having their sin covered through the shedding of innocent blood. From this we could say that Adam was a believer who was saved in accord with the salvation standard of that daybelieving God’s demonstrated words.

What about Enoch? Didn’t he go to heaven? No!

As late as AD64 when John wrote in John 3:13, still no man hath ascended up to heaven (1Cor. 12:2) except the Lord Jesus Himself. Please note that there are the three (3) Biblical ‘heavens’; 1) the atmosphere, 2) outer space, and 3) the highest heaven which is “far above all heavens” (Eph. 4:10), the place of ‘the throne of God.’

Because all the days of Enoch were three hundred sixty and five years” (Gen. 5:23). Not just part of his days, but all his days! If Enoch did not die — if he were changed to immortality — and thus continued to walk with God, then his days would have been more than three hundred and sixty-five years. But the Bible plainly says that all his days were just that many, and no more!

This expression “all his days” is used in the same fifth chapter of Genesis about a dozen times and always it means that the person lived for that length of time only “and he died.” So Enoch lived no more than three hundred and sixty-five years because “all the days of Enoch were three hundred and sixty-five years.” As he lived only for this length of time then ultimately he must have died!

What about Elijah? Didn’t he go to heaven? No!

Again, we must defer to John 3:13 And no man hath ascended up to heaven. Yes, Elijah was caught up in a whirlwind [a ‘tornado’ in the 1st heaven, the atmosphere] that displaced him (2 Kings 2:11-12). After the tornado took Elijah from the Kingdom of Israel and Elisha was left in his place (2Chron 21:12). Please note that Elijah survived and later wrote a prophetic letter to Jehoram, the awful King of Judah (2Chron. 21:12-15).

What about Abraham? 

Abraham is dead but ‘counted with God as though living.’ (cf. Matt. 22:32). Recall how when Jesus was speaking of the resurrection with the Sadducees, He remined them that God had said “I am the God of Abraham and the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob.”  Abraham was promised a land on earth, not any part in heaven. All those who are the children of Abraham, by descent, have no part in heaven, but rather a part in God’s promises to Abraham who was promised a specific land on earth.

What about David?

In Acts 2:29 Peter makes this emphatic statement. “Men and brethren, let me freely speak unto you of the patriarch David, that He Is Both Dead And Buried, And His Sepulchre Is With Us Unto This Day.” Acts 2:29 (KJV). David had and has no such prospect of heaven.

What about the dying ‘thief on the cross’?

Believing, he asked for a part in the “kingdom” which was expected to come on earth. He was denied that, but he was promised a part in ‘paradise,’ which refers to his resurrection to the New Earth after the Millennial kingdom concludes. 

What about John the Baptizer?

He was numbered with the prophets (cf. Matt 11:13) who spoke of the “Kingdom,” beginning with the Millennial reign of Christ here on earth. John the Baptizer knew nothing of going to heaven. In John the Baptist’s time no such hope of heaven existed for anyone.

What about the 12 Apostles?

No Israelite has ever had any promise or hope of heaven. The Twelve Apostles preached Jesus’ “gospel of the kingdom,” which concerned the physical, literal, “Kingdom of [from] heaven” to come here on earth with King Jesus ultimately sitting on “the throne of David.”

Though long-dead and in their graves, “The Twelve” will be among those of ‘the 1st resurrection (i.e., rapture)’ of Rev. 20:6, 1Cor. 15 and 1Thes. 4., when King Jesus comes again to earth to set up His Millennial Kingdom. The resurrected kingdom “saints” that time will co-reign on earth with Jesus (Rev. 5:10, 20:6, Matt. 19:28). Later, sometime after the end of the Millennium, “the New Jerusalem” will come down from the third heaven to the “New Earth,” bearing the names of “The Twelve” written in the foundations of its walls (see Rev. 21:14).

What about Paul the Apostle?

Up until the end of the Acts period, during Paul’s 1st ministry which was to “the Jew first (cf. Rom. 1:16-17), he wrote the epistles of Romans through Galatians, chronologically. During that time Paul had no other hope than that of the 12 Apostles.

Paul preached about and referenced Christ to come FROM heaven to earth (cf. Rom. 10:6) and his own vision of being caught up “to paradise,” (2Cor. 12:1-5), which is to ultimately come down to be on earth. Paul preached the Kingdom to come on earth in the same way as the Twelve. He looked for the so-called Rapture (resurrection) and the King to bring the Kingdom on earth.

In Part 2 we will address the major change in Paul’s ministry that occurred after Acts 28:28.