"Awaiting Judgment Day"
Letter to the Editor:
PASUGO, April 1998, p.2
WHEN I HAPPENED to read your magazine and noticed your letters section, I decided to write you regarding this: The Bible teaches that there are people who have gone up to heaven. Is this a proof that a man indeed goes to heaven or hell right after he has died?
Joveno de Mesa
Pasay City, Philippines
Indeed, the Bible states that there are persons who have gone up to heaven such Enoch, Elijah, and the Lord Jesus Christ (cf. Gen. 5:22,24; Heb. 11:5; II Kings 2:1, 11; Acts 1:11). But it must be noted that except for Christ, the other two went up to heaven without having experienced death.
After he begot Methuselah, Enoch walked with God three hundred years, and had sons and daughters. So all the days of Enoch were three hundred and sixty-five years. And Enoch walked with God; and he was not, for God took him. (Gen. 5:22,24, New King James Version)
By faith Enoch was taken away so that he did not see death, “and was not found, because God had taken him”; for before he was taken he had this testimony, that he pleased God. (Heb. 11:5, NKJV)
And it came to pass, when the Lord was about to take up Elijah into heaven by a whirlwind, that Elijah went with Elisha from Gilgal. ( II Kings 2:1, NKJV)
who also said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven.” (Acts 1:11, NKJV)
In the case of the Lord Jesus Christ, He did not remain in the grave because God had risen Him from the dead and took Him up into heaven after 40 days (cf. Acts 1:3-4, 9).
to whom He also presented Himself alive after His suffering by many infallible proofs, being seen by them during forty days and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God. And being assembled together with them, He commanded them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the Promise of the Father, “which,” He said, “you have heard from Me; Now when He had spoken these things, while they watched, He was taken up, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. (Acts 1:3-4, 9, NKJV)
The Lord ascended into heaven to prepare a place for His servants (cf. Jn. 14:1-3) The fact that He is to PREPARE such place is a clear proof that man does not immediately receive his reward or punishment upon death.
“Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. 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 to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.
(John 14:1-3, NKJV)
The Bible also makes it clear that only on the second advent of the Lord Jesus Christ that everyone will be judged—only then will man accept the reward or punishment for all his deeds, whether good or evil (cf. Rev. 22:11-12; Jn. 5:28-29). On that day, those who died in Christ will be risen first and together with those true Christians who still live, will be gathered to meet the Lord in the air (cf. I Thess. 4:16-17).
"He who is unjust, let him be unjust still; he who is filthy, let him be filthy still; he who is righteous, let him be righteous still; he who is holy, let him be holy still.” “And behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to every one according to his work." (Rev. 22:11-12, NKJV)
"Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice 29 and come forth—those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation." (John 5:28-29, NKJV)
"For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord." (I Thess. 4:16-17, NKJV)
Note: Verses in smaller font were added for clarity.
Bible Study Suggestion: If you have further questions, please feel free to visit the Iglesia ni Cristo congregation nearest you. A minister or an evangelical worker would be happy to answer any biblical question you have in mind.