"Behold the days come saith the Lord God, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord." (Amos 8:11)
Matthew 13:13-15, "Therefore I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand. And in them the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled, which says: 'Hearing you will hear and shall not understand, And seeing you will see and not perceive;' For the hearts of this people have grown dull. Their ears are hard of hearing, And their eyes they have closed;"
Why did only 120 people believe what Jesus said when He was on earth while the Jewish religious majority did not? Why don't most Christians believe what the Bible says today? Just like in Jesus' day people see what the Bible says but don't perceive it. They hear the truth from Scripture but don't understand it. Consider this question today with an open heart, open ears and open eyes. What does the Bible actually say about people going to Heaven when they die?
According to recent figures almost 80% of Americans believe that going to Heaven is the reward for the saved. Almost every church teaches that saved Christians go to Heaven immediately after they die, and unsaved sinners go straight to Hell. Does the Bible actually say this? Does the Bible say anyone has ever gone to the angelic Third Heaven where God lives? Not according to Jesus!
John 3:13, "No one has ascended to heaven but He who came down from heaven, that is, the Son of Man ... "
Jesus is plainly saying that no person who has ever lived has been in Heaven, except Himself. This verse requires no interpretation. It's not symbolic language. No one needs to say "What He means is....". The Bible is plainly saying that no human being who has died has ascended to Heaven.
Just think, none of the men like Elijah, Elisha, Moses, Abraham, Job, King David, or any of the men of faith in the Old Testament went to heaven when they died. Each one is still dead, awaiting the promises.
Heb 11:13, "These all died in faith, not having received the promises...."
Heb 11:3, "And these all, having obtained a good report through faith,received not the promise."
What promises are these verses talking about? What is this inheritance that was promised to these righteous men? Was it going to Heaven?
Romans 4:13, "For the promise, that he should be the heir of the WORLD, was not to Abraham, or to his seed, through the law, but through the righteousness of faith."
Isaiah 60:21, (speaking of the time of Christ's reign on earth)...."Thy people also shall be all righteous: they shall inherit THE LAND forever."
Psalm 37:11, "... the meek shall inherit the EARTH;"
Have any of these righteous men ever eternally inherited the earth? None of these righteous men have received the promises. Since none of these men have received their inheritance, they, like other believers, remain as heirs to the same promise.
Gal 3:29, "And if ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise."
Romans 8:17, "And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ;"
The resurrection of these men and the fulfillment of these promises to inherit the world is yet to occur in the future. None of these men have received God's gift of eternal life upon the earth.
The Bible says that King David, a man after God's "own heart" (Acts 13:22), is "dead and buried" (Acts 2:29), not alive in heaven.
Acts 2:29, "Men and brethren, let me freely speak unto you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his sepulcher is with us unto this day."
The Bible is plainly saying that the person, King David, was still in the grave. It doesn't say just David's body is dead and buried. It says DAVID, the complete person who lived and thought and reasoned and loved was dead. David is included among those who died in faith in Hebrews 11:32. If anyone should be in heaven it would be him. The Bible says he isn't. He is still asleep in his grave, not alive in heaven.
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The Bible likens death to a state of sleep. The Bible says the dead are simply unconscious and have no knowledge of what is going on around them. Just look at all of these verses concerning what the Bible says about death.
Ecclesiastes 9:5, ".... the dead know not any thing...."
The Bible says the dead "sleep in the dust of the earth". (Psalm 13:3) and "sleep the sleep of death" (Deut 12:1-2) "and they shall not awake, nor be raised out of their sleep" (Job 14:12)..."unto the coming of the Lord" (1 Thess 4:13-15)
If they, or any spiritual part of them were alive in Heaven none of these Scriptures would make any sense. This is what the Bible says about death.
Deut 31:16, "And the LORD said unto Moses, Behold, thou shalt sleep with thy fathers."
Concerning King David:
2 Sam 7:12, "And when thy days be fulfilled, and thou shalt sleep with thy fathers"
Psalm 13:3, "Consider and hear me, O Lord my God: lighten mine eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death"
Acts 13:36, "For David, after he had served his own generation by the will of God, fell on sleep, and was laid unto his fathers, and saw corruption."
Job 7:21, "And why dost thou not pardon my transgression, and take away mine iniquity? for now shall I sleep in the dust; and thou shalt seek me in the morning, but I shall not be."
Job 14:12, "So man lieth down, and riseth not: till the heavens be no more, they shall not awake, nor be raised out of their sleep. "
Concerning the Saints at the End Times:
Daniel 12:1-2, "And at that time .....many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake...."
1 Corinthians 15:51, "Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed."
2 Peter 3:4, "And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep , all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation."
Concerning Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead:
John 11:13,"These things said he: and after that he saith unto them, Our friend Lazarus sleepeth; but I go, that I may awake him out of sleep. Then said his disciples, Lord, if he sleep, he shall do well. Howbeit Jesus spake of his death : but they thought that he had spoken of taking of rest in sleep."
1 Corinthians 11:30, "For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep.
1 Corinthians 15:6, "After that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep."
1 Corinthians 15:17-18, "And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins. Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished."
1 Thessalonians 4:13-15, "But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not precede them which are asleep"
1 Corinthians 15:20-21,"But now is Christ risen from the dead , and become the firstfruits of them that slept. For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead."
Christians believe that the Bible teaches a resurrection from the dead, which is absolutely true. Yet most think that the believers soul rises from the grave at death and goes to Heaven ahead of the body. The Bible says that ALL are in the grave and ALL will hear His voice while in the grave, not in Heaven. It is only THEN that they shall come forth in the resurrection and receive their reward or judgement. Until that time all are simply alseep in the grave.
John 5:28-29, "Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation."
The Bible doesn't support this confusing belief that everyone goes to Heaven or Hell when they die! Do you know why this confusion exists? It's because scriptural support for the doctrine of you, or your "immortal soul" going to heaven when you die cannot be found in the Bible. The doctrine of an immortal soul apart from the body is not biblical.
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Many Christians believe they go to heaven because Jesus sometimes used the phrase "Kingdom of Heaven." Matthew is the only book in the New Testament that uses this term. All other writers used the term Kingdom of God. Both of these expressions mean the same thing. They simply define ownership. They tell us who the kingdom belongs to, (God) and where it originates from (Heaven), not where it will be located after Jesus returns. Other scriptures plainly tell us where the Kingdom will be located.
If you look carefully at Jesus' words you will see He didn't teach His followers that they would go to heaven. Jesus taught that the Kingdom belonging to God and originating in heaven, which is where he would go to prepare it, would come to this earth and be established here when He returned in glory.
Jesus spoke repeatedly of the Kingdom of God which would be established at His second coming. In the Lord's prayer believers are told by Jesus to pray for this.
Matthew 6:9 "Thy kingdom come"
Daniel 7:14, (speaking of the Messiah)"And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed."
Matthew 25:31-34, "When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory.....Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, you blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world."
Luke 21:27-31, "And then shall they see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory... So likewise you, when ye see these things come to pass, know you that the kingdom of God is nigh at hand."
The Bible says Jesus will come again to earth and establish the Kingdom of God here, not up in Heaven.
Daniel 7:27, "And the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people of the saints of the most High, whose kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey him"
Notice the Kingdom is under heaven, not in it. It is an everlasting Kingdom that is given as a reward to the saints. God is giving believers HIS ETERNAL KINGDOM on earth as their reward. The Bible says this is their eternal reward, not going to heaven and sitting around on a cloud playing a harp and watching God. The Kingdom of God will come to the earth and should be what every Christian seeks, not going to Heaven. Jesus plainly tells Christians what they should be seeking.
Matthew 6:33, "But seek ye first the kingdom of God"
The righteous men and women of the Old Testament who are dead and buried will finally receive the promises when Jesus returns, and will be in the Kingdom of God.
Luke 13:28, "....ye shall see Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, and all the prophets, in the kingdom of God,..."
In the Gospel of Luke Jesus spoke of Himself in a parable.
Luke 19:12, "He said therefore, A certain nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom, and to return." The "far country" is Heaven. Jesus will bring the Kingdom of God to earth from Heaven at His return.
Zechariah 14:4 and 9 speaks of the day when Jesus' Kingdom will be established on the earth. " And in that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, which faces Jerusalem on the east ... And the LORD shall be King over all the earth"
In Matthew 5:5 the Bible says, "Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth."
Why should the meek get stuck with the earth and everyone else gets to go to Heaven? It doesn't make sense to dump them here if Heaven is the real reward. The truth is the meek will be in a perfect earthly paradise with Jesus. It's the ultimate eternal reward. Jesus is plainly telling believers that their eternal reward shall be on the earth, a new earthly paradise. So, what will believers do on this earth when He gives them this Kingdom?
Revelation 1:5-6, "And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, And hath made US kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen."
Revelation 20:6 "Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years."
The Bible says believers shall reign with Christ as kings and priests in the Kingdom of God. And where will they reign with Christ? Up in Heaven?
In Revelation 5 speaking of the resurrected saints, the Bible says.....
Revelation 5:10, "You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God, and they will reign on the EARTH" (NIV).
Where will they reign? What will they be? What is the eternal reward for the saved? God has an incredible, active reward for believers as kings and priests reigning with Jesus right here on a recreated earthly paradise with a fresh new sky and enough land for all people throughout the world.
Revelation 21:1 , "And I saw a new heaven and a new EARTH: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea. And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, COMING DOWN from God OUT OF HEAVEN, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband."
John 14:2-3, "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 you may be also. "
Jesus has gone to the Third Heaven (2 Corinthians 12:2-4) to prepare paradise for His Elect. He is preparing the new Jerusalem filled with many mansions. He brings it all down from Heaven with him to a new earth when he returns. He tells believers that where He is they will also be. Jesus will be on the earth. Paradise will be on the earth. God will be on the earth not up in heaven. The Bible says the reward for the saints is eternal life with Jesus and God the Father in the Kingdom of God right here on earth. The tabernacle of GOD will be on the EARTH!
Revelation 21:3, "And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them...."
Revelation 21:23, "And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof."
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The Bible repeatedly refers to Christians as heirs. They are to inherit the promise of eternal life in the Kingdom of God. They are inheritors right here on earth where they will reign with Christ. This is what the Bible says.
Romans 4:13, "For the promise, that he should be the heir of the world, was not to Abraham, or to his seed, through the law, but through the righteousness of faith."
Psalm 37:11, "But the meek shall inherit the EARTH;"
Psalm 37:9, "For evildoers shall be cut off: but those that wait upon the LORD, they shall inherit the EARTH."
Psalm 37:22, "For such as be blessed of him shall inherit the EARTH";
Revelation 5:10, "And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the EARTH."
Isaiah 60:21, (speaking of the time of Christ's reign on earth)....."Thy people also shall be all righteous: they shall inherit THE LAND forever."
Matthew 5:5,"Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the EARTH." .
How many times does the Bible have to say believers will inherit the earth before people accept it? Should Christians keep clinging to their traditional beliefs about going to Heaven? Will believers allow the Word of God to correct them?
Mark 7:9, "Full well do you reject the Word of God that you may keep your own tradition."
34 years ago a minister offered a $1,000 chucrh donation to anyone who could show a verse in the KJV Bible that promised going to Heaven as the reward for the saved, or that Christians go to Heaven to actually receive their reward. The burden of proof is on all who believe the Bible says Christians go to Heaven as their reward. These are valid questions that need a Biblical answer. Where are the verses that say their inheritance is going to Heaven? Where does the Bible say that they go to Heaven as their reward? What Scripture says the Kingdom of God will be in Heaven for all eternity? Is there even just one verse of scripture that promises that going to Heaven is the promised reward for the saved? The $1,000 has never been claimed and never will be.
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What about the "yeah buts", the few scriptures that people think say that someone has gone to Heaven or that saved Christians go to Heaven as their reward. The Bible has already plainly spoken on this in so many verses that the truth is undisputable. Any verse that appears to contradict what the Bible plainly says needs to be looked at carefully for a correct understanding. A more in depth look at these scriptures is necessary to see how they are misunderstood.
Some will point to the parable of Lazarus and the rich man in Luke 16:19-31 as proof that the dead go to Heaven and the wicked sinners to burning Hell fire. This parable is not an affirmation about what happens to the dead. Jesus already plainly said in John 3:13 "No one has ascended to heaven", which means no bodies with fingers, bosoms and tongues were in heaven. Heaven and Hell are not the context of this chapter. Heaven isn't even mentioned in this story. Those who try to say this is a literal account that shows what happens to the dead can only do so by taking it out of context. It's an allegory and nothing more. If you believe what the Bible plainly says in John 3:13 you cannot take this illustrative story as literal, factual Biblical proof of the afterlife. It is clear that this is only an allegory and when compared to other scriptures that plainly state that "the dead know nothing" (Ecclesiastes 9:5) and that even King David, who "is both dead and buried," (Acts 2:29), has not ascended to heaven. If David, a man after God's own heart, isn't in Heaven neither is Abraham nor Lazarus!
"I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after mine own heart" (Acts 13:22)
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What about the thief on the cross?
Luke 23:42-43, "And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom. And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, Today shalt thou be with me in paradise."
The problem here concerns the translation done by men. Specifically where men placed the comma before "today". There is no punctuation in the original New Testament Greek manuscripts . The original Greek text without punctuation is the inspired Word of God. It was hundreds of years before the addition of punctuation and it was done with theological preconceptions and bias. It is important to understand that punctuation was determined by biased men. It's not part of the God inspired text! The translators, influenced by 900 years of Greek teachings and beliefs about death, placed the comma before the word "today" because it agreed with their own perceptions of man's eternal reward. This does not agree with the rest of the Bible. Consider what the Companion Bible says in it's appendix concerning this.
Appendix 173. "TO-DAY" (Luke 23:43).
"The interpretation of this verse depends entirely on punctuation, which rests wholly on human authority, the Greek manuscripts having no punctuation of any kind till the ninth century."
Appendix 94 adds to this.
"Punctuation also, as we have it to-day, is entirely absent. None of our modern marks of punctuation are found until the ninth century, and then only in Latin versions and some cursives. From this it will be seen that the punctuation of all modern editions of the Greek text, and of all versions made from it, rests entirely on human authority, and has no weight whatever in determining or even influencing the interpretation of a single passage.
Brother Curtis Dickinson made this observation concerning Luke 23:43.
"The Greek adverb here rendered 'today' appears in the Septuagint and the New Testament 221 times. In 170 of these places the adverb follows the verb it modifies. For example: 'I declare to you this day, that ye shall surely perish' (Deut. 30:18). Therefore, it would be natural to punctuate Luke 23:43 as follows: 'Truly I say to you today, you will be with me in Paradise.' Paul uses a similar turn of phrase in Acts 20:26 -- 'I testify to you this day, that I am innocent of the blood of all men.'"
Someday the thief will be in the Kingdom of Heaven with Jesus just as He so clearly promised. It just wasn't the day he died.
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What about Elijah? Wasn't he taken up to heaven by a whirlwind?
Absolutely! The Bible says he was.
2 Kings 2:11, "And it came to pass, as they still went on, and talked, that, behold, there appeared a chariot of fire, and horses of fire, and parted them both asunder; and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven."
No, this is not a contradiction. This is not an interpretation issue but a clarification question. The Bible mentions three different places called heaven. The question is simply which heaven did he go into?
The first heaven is the lower atmosphere, the sky, where we find birds, clouds and whirlwinds.
Psalm 104:12,"By them shall the fowls of the heaven have their habitation, which sing among the branches."
The second heaven is what we call "space". It's where we find the sun, moon, planets, and stars.
Psalm 8:3, "When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars, which You have ordained...."
The Third Heaven is the highest Heaven and is the most important one. This is where we find God's throne. This is God's domain where Jesus said no human has ever ascended.
John 3:13, "And no man has ascended up to heaven,"
Psalm 115:16, "The highest heavens belong to the Lord,"
2 Corinthians 12:2-4, " I knew a man in Christ above fourteen years ago,....such an one caught up to the third heaven ... How that he was caught up into paradise"
What actually happened to Elijah? Into which heaven did he go?
The Hebrew word "shamayim" used in this verse and translated "heaven" means "the sky". Many scholars mistakenly ASSUME that Elijah was changed to spirit and went to the angelic Third Heaven to be with God. The sons of the prophets obviously didn't assume this. They knew otherwise. They understood the whirlwind, which occurs in the lower atmosphere, had simply taken Elijah up into the sky (shamayim) and that he was moved to another place. They believed that he had been taken away to some mountain or valley and were very concerned about where Elijah had come down. They were worried about his safety right here on earth as we see in 2 Kings.
2 Kings 2:16, "Look now, there are fifty strong men with your servants. Please let them go and search for your master, lest perhaps the "Spirit (Hebrew, "ruwach"- wind) of the Lord" has taken him up and cast him upon some mountain or into some valley"
The son of the prophets did not believe Elijah went to Heaven. They saw a whirlwind in the sky carry him off somewhere and were concerned, so they sent out a search party. (2 Kings 2:17). God did not want Elijah to be found so they returned without knowing where he was. God had effectively retired Elijah. His prophetic office had been transferred to Elisha. Elijah's work was finished except for one final letter.
How can you know conclusively that Elijah did not go to the Third Heaven? The Bible says that Elijah wrote a letter to King Jehoram of Judah. Several years after the whirlwind trip through the sky Elijah wrote to the king warning him about his sins. This letter is found in 2 Chronicles.
2 Chronicles 21:12-15, "And there came a writing to him from Elijah the prophet, saying, Thus saith the Lord God of David thy father, Because thou hast not walked in the ways of Jehoshaphat thy father, nor in the ways of Asa king of Judah, But hast walked in the way of the kings of Israel, and hast made Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem to go a whoring, like to the whoredoms of the house of Ahab, and also hast slain thy brethren of thy father's house, which were better than thyself: Behold, with a great plague will the Lord smite thy people, and thy children, and thy wives, and all thy goods: And thou shalt have great sickness by disease of thy bowels, until thy bowels fall out by reason of the sickness day by day."
This prophecy came true shortly thereafter. This letter is even more proof that Elijah was still very much alive on this earth years after he was taken away by the whirlwind. He continued to live somewhere else for several more years as this letter clearly indicates and then he died like all men.
Hebrews 9:27 "it is appointed for men to die once."
Heb 11:32, "And what shall I more say? For the time would fail me to tell of ... the prophets:" ......Verse 39, "And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise."
Elijah the prophet died in faith, not having received the promise. Elijah still has not received the promise. He is still dead!
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What about Enoch who was "translated" so he didn't see death?
Genesis 5:24, says "And Enoch walked with God: and he was not; for God took him."
Hebrews 11:5 says "By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him:"
The Greek word for "translated" is "metatithemi" and it means "to transfer, (literally) transport, carry over, change, remove, translate." It primarily means to transfer, or transport. The same Greek word is used in Acts 7:16 as "carried over". In Galatians 1:6 it is "removed". Enoch was actually removed and transferred by God to another location where he eventually died. The Bible doesn't say why Enoch was removed. It doesn't say where God took him. We don't want to make assumptions about him going to Heaven when the Bible simply doesn't say where he went.
Again, men just ASSUME that Enoch never died but went straight to Heaven. Does this verse mean Enoch never died ,or does it simply mean that he didn't get killed AT THAT TIME? Was he changed to spirit and taken directly to Heaven, or was he removed just like Elijah to another place on earth for his protection? Did Jesus lie when He said no man has ascended to heaven?
Hebrews 11:13, in referring to Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, etc. says that "these all died in faith, not having received the promises." The Bible says they all died including Enoch! They are still awaiting the promise, their reward, at their resurrection when Christ returns. Enoch may have been transfered that day so he didn't see death but the Bible says he eventually died.
Did God take Enoch to Heaven? Absolutely not! Jesus Himself plainly said that "no one has ascended to heaven ..." Enoch neither ascended to heaven nor received the promised eternal reward. (Heb 11:13) The Bible makes it clear that Enoch ultimately died.
Genesis 5:23, "So all the days of Enoch were three hundred and sixty-five years."
Enoch lived 365 years and then he died. He isn't alive today. He isn't in heaven. He has not received the promises. Enoch was no exception. He didn't see death that day because God took him away.
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The next time you hear a preacher say from the pulpit, "The Bible says, 'when we all get to heaven'.....(fill in the bank)", ask him where it says that in Scripture? Ask him where the phrase, "When we all get to heaven", is written in the Bible? Ask him to find even one verse anywhere in an authorized version of the Bible that promises that going TO heaven is the reward for the saved. He won't be able to do it! It's simply not there! This belief is not from Jesus. It's not taught in the Bible. It's origins are from Greek, Egyptian and Babylonian religious beliefs.
It should be clear by now that the Bible does NOT say going to Heaven is the reward for the saved. Is it important for Christians to know the reward for the saved is the Kingdom of God! Does it really matter if you know this? The truth is more wonderful, more exciting, and more incredible than anything you could have previously imagined. Consider your choices. Men say you will go to heaven and sit around watching God forever. God wants you to know that you will be crowned as a King and Priest, and rule with Jesus in His Kingdom, an incredible, perfect, paradise for all eternity. You can either plan on sitting around on a cloud doing nothing, or you can look forward in joyful anticipation to what the Bible says. You can experience an eternal lifetime in the Kingdom of God, reigning and living with Jesus forever.
This is what the Bible says!