The Philadelphia Trumpet, in conjunction with the Herbert W. Armstrong College Bible Correspondence Course, presents this brief excursion into the fascinating study of the Bible. Simply turn to and read in your Bible each verse given in answer to the questions. You will be amazed at the new understanding gained from this short study!Why, if the righteous go to heaven, did Jesus say: “No man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man [Jesus Christ] which is in heaven”? (John 3:13).
If the saved go to heaven when they die, why did Peter say that King David, a man after God’s own heart (Acts 13:22), “is both dead and buried, and his sepulchre is with us unto this day. … For David is not ascended into the heavens”? (Acts 2:29, 34).
What a paradox! Millions today believe the saved go to heaven, yet righteous David didn’t go there!
And if the saved go to heaven when they die, what need is there for a resurrection from the dead? Why a resurrection if they have already “gone to their reward”?
Isn’t it about time these puzzling, yet vitally important, questions were answered?
To Inherit the ‘Kingdom of God’
1. What message did Jesus Christ proclaim during His ministry on Earth? Mark 1:14; Matthew 9:35.
Comment: Christ preached the gospel—the “good news”—of the coming Kingdom of God.
2. Will all the righteous men of old be “in” the Kingdom of God? Matthew 8:11; Luke 13:28.
Comment: The promises God made to the fathers included entrance into the Kingdom of God!
3. What did Jesus say Christians should strive to enter? Matthew 6:33; 7:21.
Comment: Notice in Matthew 7:21 that it is the Kingdom “of” heaven—not in heaven! It is the Kingdom of, or owned and ruled by, heaven, in the same sense that the Bank of Morgan was not in Mr. Morgan—but was owned and managed by him.
Matthew uses the term “kingdom of heaven” to express exactly the same idea that Mark, Luke and John express as “kingdom of God.” But the expression “kingdom of heaven” does not mean a kingdom in heaven, any more than it means a kingdom in God! But it does mean a kingdom owned and ruled by God, whose throne and dwelling place is in heaven.
4. What did Jesus say the “meek” shall inherit? Matthew 5:5. But what did He say of the “poor in spirit”? Verse 3.
Comment: Is this a contradiction? Of course not! The “meek” and the “poor in spirit”—in other words, humble Christians—shall inherit the Earth for an everlasting possession, and shall enter the “kingdom of heaven,” which will be on Earth! As is explained in our free booklet Just What Do You Mean Born Again?, the Kingdom of God, which Christ will establish on Earth at His return, is the divine Family of God, which will rule by the government of God!
To enter into—or “inherit”—the divine Kingdom of God is a destiny of such marvelous glory that the human mind cannot really grasp it! We mortals have no concept of what is really in store for those who obey God.
As we read in 1 Corinthians 2:9, “Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.” The full extent of the inheritance God has promised true Christians cannot be even remotely imagined by the natural mind of man—but God does reveal it to us “by his Spirit” (verse 10).
5. What does Matthew 6:10 also tell us about God’s Kingdom?
Comment: Christians today are to pray earnestly: “thy kingdom COME”! The word “come” implies it will come to Earth. Christ did not tell us to pray, “Let us go to heaven”! Obviously God’s Kingdom has not come to the Earth yet.
6. Where is the Christian’s inheritance being kept? 1 Peter 1:3-4; Matthew 5:12; Luke 6:23.
Comment: These verses do not say, “Great is your reward when you get to heaven.” They do not tell us when or where Christians will receive their inheritance and rewards—only that they are now being “reserved” for them in heaven!
7. When will the righteous inherit the Kingdom of God? Matthew 25:31-34. Is this also when the rewards reserved in heaven will be conferred? Revelation 22:12.
Comment: Clearly, it is when Christ returns that Abraham and his children through Christ will become inheritors of the promises and receive their reward! But notice what else will happen at Christ’s coming.
Importance of the Resurrection
1. Can anyone inherit the divine Kingdom of God while still a mortal flesh-and-blood human being? 1 Corinthians 15:50.
2. What did Paul say must happen to our mortal bodies in order to inherit—to actually become a part of—that spiritual Kingdom? Verses 51, 53. When will our bodies be changed—converted from flesh to spirit? Verse 52. Does that trumpet sound at the Second Coming of Christ? 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17. Is this when Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, David and others will inherit the promises? Same verses. What did Jesus tell Nicodemus about this change? John 3:6, 8. And if we are “born of the spirit,” can we finally “see”—enter—the divine, spiritual Kingdom of God? Verse 3.
Comment: At Jesus Christ’s Second Coming, all the dead in Christ will be raised with new spirit bodies. Those Christians still alive at His return will be instantly changed into the same kind of spirit bodies—bodies that will then be in the Kingdom or Family of God. Our present flesh is corruptible, subject to death and decay. Spirit beings, however, are eternally new—immortal, incorruptible, never subject to death or decay!
3. Did Jesus declare that Abraham, Isaac and Jacob will—in the future—be resurrected? Matthew 22:31-32.
Comment: This text is often twisted and perverted in an attempt to prove that Abraham is not dead—that he went to heaven when he died—just the diametric opposite of what Jesus used this illustration to point out.
God is the God of the living, not the dead. God sometimes speaks of things that are to be as though they have already happened (Romans 4:17). Jesus was speaking of their future resurrection to immortal life! For He plainly said, in context, “As touching the resurrection of the dead ….”
We can now see why Abraham and his children through Christ have not, as yet, inherited the promises. They simply cannot come into their eternal inheritance until they receive eternal life! This, as Paul explained, will happen at the resurrection from the dead!
Without a resurrection, the dead would never live again (1 Corinthians 15:16, 18); therefore, the resurrection of the dead is central to God’s plan. And, unless Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and all deceased Christians are resurrected from the dead at Christ’s coming, they cannot inherit the promises!
How different the plain truth of God’s Word is from the ancient religious fables and myths the world embraces today!
Heaven on Earth
After studying the Bible carefully, we see that the plain truth is that heaven is not the “reward of the saved.” Christians do not go to heaven when they die, or when resurrected.
The surprising truth is that heaven is coming to the Earth. The Earth will eventually become the very headquarters from which the Father will rule His vast creation!
Will you dwell on that new Earth? Will you be a part of that glorious world?
When Jesus Christ returns, He will say, “Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you …” (Matthew 25:34). May God help you to be among those who will inherit the Kingdom of God along with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob!