According to Scripture, the righteous go straight to heaven. The apostle Paul stated, “I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven…was caught up to paradise…” (2Co 12:2-4). This was important for Paul to experience this because it put him as an eye witness to the fact the righteous today (i.e., those who have put their faith in Jesus Christ for their eternal future) go straight to heaven confirming the fact that the righteous were transferred from Sheol to Heaven. As we stated before, Paul called it paradise because Jesus Christ now resides there. Just as Enoch, Moses, and Elijah served as a tangible hope for the Old Testament saints that their future with their Messiah was secure, Paul’s experience serves as our hope we will also one day be with Christ. This is why Paul also stated, “We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord” (2Co 5:8).
We are talking about the righteous here, but what about the unrighteous? They still go to Sheol (Hades). There is nothing in Scripture to suggest they have changed their location. Actually, Scripture states they will remain there until their final judgment: “…death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what he had done” (Rv 20:13).
What are people like in heaven? Scripture seems to suggest souls have similarities with a type of body. In Revelation, when the souls of those martyred for the cause of Christ were described, Scripture states they were able to speak, wore white robes (which would indicate some type of solid body), were told to wait and, therefore, were able to understand, reason, and comprehend time (Rv 6:9-11). This description is not the same as the resurrected body they would receive later. This description in Revelation is either talking of an intermediate, temporary body, or this is the normal characteristic of souls. It could even be that souls in our world appear as spirits but may not appear so in the spiritual world.
Of course, Christ is in Heaven today. Christ has three roles:
- Prophet – His role on earth during his first coming: “The LORD your God will raise up for you a prophet like me [Moses] from among your own brothers. You must listen to him” (Dt 18:15).
- Priest – His current role as our high priest and mediator: “Therefore, holy brothers, who share in the heavenly calling, fix your thoughts on Jesus, the apostle and high priest whom we confess” (Hb 3:1). The author of Hebrews also states, “…because Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood. Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them” (Hb 7:24-25).
- King – His future role after his second coming: “…He will rule them [the nations] with an iron scepter…on his robe and on his thigh he as the name written: King of kings and Lord of lords” (Rv 19:15-16).
Christ’s birth made him human. Yet, he was unique: 100% human, 100% God: “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth” (Jn 1:14).
Christ’s resurrected body is still that of a man (100% man; 100% God): “Look at my hands and my feet. It is I myself! Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have” (Lk 24:39).
Christ is forever man (100% man; 100% God) to identify with us: “For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” (1Tm 2:5).
Christ agreed to change his relationship with God the Father forever – for us! How amazing it that! That really shows how much he loves us. Would you do that for someone? That would be a really hard decision, to be willing to give up so much for someone else. Yet, that is what Christ did for us. Can you now see why Sheol for the righteous was relocated? He loved us so much and wants to be with us, but the only way he could do that was to pay the sin debt and, by doing so, stopped being a spirit so he could save us and identify with us forever. We can never say he is cold and indifferent and doesn’t care. No one cares more than He does for us.
Next time we’ll look at heaven between now and our Savior’s second return. Stay tuned.
Sheol & Hades
Heaven for the Bride