Pastor David B. Curtis

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The Second Coming & Eternal Life
Or
Where Are The Dead?

Mark 10:30

11/14/1999

When a Christian dies, where does he go? Now, you might think that that is a stupid question because everyone knows that Christians go to heaven. Right? Since when? When did Christians start going to heaven when they died?

Several weeks ago my 11 year old daughter, Lindsey, asked her Christian school teacher this question, "If you were to die right now where would you go?" The teacher responded, "To heaven." Lindsey then asked her, "How could you go to heaven if Jesus has not returned yet?" Her teacher said, "Well, different people believe different things." Lindsey said, "They sure do!"

I think that all Christians believe that when a believer dies, they go to heaven. But why? If you pinned them down and asked for some Scriptural proof, they might share two verses with you.

2 Corinthians 5:8 (NKJV) We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord.
Philippians 1:23 (NKJV) For I am hard pressed between the two, having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better.

Most Christians would say, "Paul is teaching here that to be 'absent form the body' or 'to depart' (physical death) is to be with Christ in Heaven." I would agree with that but only because I believe that the second coming of Christ has already happened. Prior to the second coming of Christ, as Lindsey pointed out to her teacher, believers didn't go to heaven - they went to Hades to await the resurrection from the dead. So, if the Lord has not yet returned, then believers do not go to heaven at death. The Bible teaches that apart from the resurrection, nobody goes to heaven. Let's see if I can prove this biblically.

As Christians, we believe that the Scripture is the self-revelation of God. In it the mind and heart of God is laid bare on many matters. With a knowledge of Scripture we learn who God is and what he values. In the Bible, God reveals Himself. For this reason the study of the Bible should be a serious pursuit of every one of us.

In order to interpret the Bible correctly, we must have some understanding of Hermeneutics. Hermeneutics is the science of biblical interpretation.

Luke 24:27 (NKJV) And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself.

The word "expounded" is the Greek word diermeneuo, which means: "to explain thoroughly, expound, interpret."

The purpose of hermeneutics is to establish guidelines and rules for interpreting the Bible. Any written document is subject to misinterpretation and thus we have developed rules to safeguard us from such misunderstanding.

God has spoken and what He has said is recorded in Scripture. The basic need of hermeneutics is to ascertain what GOD MEANT BY WHAT HE SAID.

As we read the Bible, we must keep in mind the hermeneutical principle of "audience relevance"which seeks to discover what the original audience understood a passage to mean. The concern of the evangelical interpreter is to understand the grammar of a passage in light of the historical circumstances and context of the original audience.

This morning we want to look at several areas of Scripture that we must understand in order to correctly understand when the dead were raised. The first thing we want to look at is that all through the New Testament we see two ages in contrast: "This age," and the "age to come."

Matthew 12:32 (NKJV) "Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man, it will be forgiven him; but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit, it will not be forgiven him, either in this age or in the age to come.

The word "come" at the end of the verse is the Greek word mello, which means: " about to be." We could translate this: "the age about to come." About to come for who? For the original audience, which was those in the first century.

Ephesians 1:21 (NKJV) far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come.

Here again, we see the two ages. So, the New Testament speaks of two ages, "this age," and "the age to come." The understanding of these two ages and when they changed is fundamental to interpreting the Bible and understanding when the dead went to heaven.

The New Testament writers lived in the age that they called "this age." To the New Testament writers, "the age to come" was future, but it was very near because "this age" was about to end.

1 Corinthians 2:6-8 (NKJV) However, we speak wisdom among those who are mature, yet not the wisdom of this age, nor of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing. 7 But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God ordained before the ages for our glory, 8 which none of the rulers of this age knew; for had they known, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.

The wisdom and rulers of "this age" were coming to nothing because the age was passing away. He is speaking of the Jewish leaders and the Old Covenant system. The rulers of "this age" crucified the Lord. These rulers would shortly have no realm in which to rule because "this age" was about to end. Think about this, If the Jewish age ended at the cross, as so many claim, why were they still ruling the age?

1 Corinthians 10:11 (NKJV) Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have come.

Paul said very plainly that the end of the ages was coming upon them, the first century saints. "This age," along with its wisdom and rulers, was about to end.

1 Peter 1:20 (NKJV) He indeed was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you

Jesus came during the "last days" of the "this age" that was the Old Covenant age, the Jewish age. That age came to an end with the destruction of the temple in AD 70. So, the New Testament writers lived in what the Bible calls "this age."

"This age" of the Bible is the age of the Old Covenant that was about to pass away in the first century. It should be clear to you that "this age" is not the Christian age in which we live. In the first century, the age of the Old Covenant was fading away and would end completely when the temple was destroyed in AD 70.

Hebrews 8:13 (NKJV) In that He says, "A new covenant," He has made the first obsolete. Now what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away.

The book of Hebrews was written at around 65-69 AD. At this time, the Old Covenant was still in effect but it was ready to pass away. It passed away in AD 70 in the destruction of Jerusalem. The "this age" of the Bible is now ancient history.

Alright, "this age" was about to end, and at the end of the Old Covenant age several things happened:

1. Christ returned:

2 Timothy 4:1 (NKJV) I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will (mello: about to come) judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom:
Hebrews 10:37 (NKJV) "For yet a little while, And He who is coming will come and will not tarry.

2. The resurrection occurred:

John 11:24 (NKJV) Martha said to Him, "I know that he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day."

This was the "last day" of "this age," "the age to come" has no last days. So, the resurrection was to happen at the end of the Old Covenant age when the Lord returned.

3. The judgment occurred:

Matthew 13:40 (NKJV) "Therefore as the tares are gathered and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of this age.

Since the "present age" of the Bible ended in AD 70 with the destruction of the temple and the coming of the Lord, we must be in "the age to come." And if we are in "the age to come," then the resurrection has already happened.

Notice what Jesus said the believers would receive in the age to come.

Mark 10:29-30 (NKJV) So Jesus answered and said, "Assuredly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands, for My sake and the gospel's, 30 "who shall not receive a hundredfold now in this time; houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions; and in the AGE TO COME, ETERNAL LIFE.

If eternal life was a condition of the "age to come," then does this mean that the New Testament saints who lived in "this age" did not yet have eternal life? Or we could ask the question this way, "When did believers receive eternal life?" To answer that question, we must know what "eternal life" is. Prior to Jesus' messianic work, no one went to Heaven.

John 3:13 (NKJV) "No one has ascended to heaven but He who came down from heaven, that is, the Son of Man who is in heaven.

If prior to Jesus' messianic work, no one went to Heaven-- where did people go when they died? They went to a holding place of the dead and waited for the atoning work of Christ and the resurrection from the dead. In the Old Testament, the Hebrew word for where they were prior to the resurrection is Sheol. In the New Testament, the Greek word is Hades. What this place amounted to was a waiting area for disembodied spirits.

God had promised to redeem His people from the grave.

Hosea 13:14 (NKJV) "I will ransom them from the power of the grave; I will redeem them from death. O Death, I will be your plagues! O Grave, I will be your destruction! Pity is hidden from My eyes.
Psalms 49:15 (NKJV) But God will redeem my soul from the power of the grave, For He shall receive me. Selah

These verses express the hope that God will provide salvation beyond the grave, one of the few Old Testament references to life after death. This verse anticipates the clear New Testament teaching of life after death, and eternal life, and salvation from God.

Resurrection is: "resurrection from the dead." To understand death, we need to go back to the book of beginnings, Genesis. In the book of Genesis, we see what death is.

Genesis 2:15-17 (NKJV) Then the LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to tend and keep it. 16 And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, "Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; 17 "but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die."

God warned Adam, regarding the fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, "The day that you eat of it, you shall surely die." Adam disobeyed God and ate of the tree. Did Adam die that day? Not physically! Adam lived at least 800 years beyond the day he ate the fruit. But, God said he would die the day he ate, and we know that God cannot lie. Adam did not die physically that day, but he did die spiritually. He died spiritually the moment he disobeyed. Spiritual death is separation from God.

Isaiah 59:1-2 (NKJV) Behold, the Lord's hand is not shortened, That it cannot save; Nor His ear heavy, That it cannot hear. 2 But your iniquities have separated you from your God; And your sins have hidden His face from you, So that He will not hear.

Because of his sin, man was separated from God. He was dead in trespasses and sins. The focus of God's plan of redemption is to restore through Jesus Christ what man had lost in Adam.

1 Corinthians 15:21 (NKJV) For since by man came death, (spiritual death) by Man also came the resurrection of the dead (eternal life).

Because of Adam's sin, we are all born dead, separated from God. But through Jesus Christ came the resurrection from the dead. Jesus Christ came to redeem man from death, to resurrect man back into the presence of God. The Bible is God's book about His plan to restore the spiritual union of His creation. Resurrection is not about bringing physical bodies out of the graves, it is about restoring man into the presence of God.

To be taken out of Sheol and brought into the presence of the Lord is what the Bible calls the resurrection. Daniel spoke of this in -

Daniel 12:2 (NASB) "And many of those who sleep in the dust of the ground will awake, these to everlasting life, but the others to disgrace and everlasting contempt.

For believers, the resurrection is to be given everlasting life. When was this resurrection to happen?

Daniel 12:13 (NASB) "But as for you, go your way to the end; then you will enter into rest and rise again for your allotted portion at THE END OF THE AGE."

Jesus' answer to the Sadducees about the woman who had seven husbands indicates that the resurrection was to occur at the changing of the ages.

Luke 20:34-35 (NKJV) And Jesus answered and said to them, "The sons of this age (the Old Covenant age) marry and are given in marriage. 35 "But those who are counted worthy to attain that age, (the New Covenant age) and the resurrection from the dead, neither marry nor are given in marriage;

The resurrection was not something that was available to them in "this age" (the Transition period, AD 30 to AD 70) but would be available to them in "that age" (the New Covenant age), implying that the resurrection would occur at the beginning of the New Covenant age.

So, the resurrection was to happen at the end of the Jewish age, the Old Covenant age. We know that this happened in AD 70 with the destruction of the Jewish temple. To be resurrected was to be given eternal life and to be in the presence of God.

We must understand that those saints who lived in the transition time did not have salvation, justification, or eternal life in its consummated form. Notice what Paul says:

Philippians 3:12 (NKJV) Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me.

What was it that Paul had not yet attained? The Greek word used here for "attained" is lambano. It means: "to receive, to grasp, to seize, to acquire." Paul is saying, "I don't have it yet." What is it that he doesn't have yet? The verb lambano is transitive, but the object is not expressed. Is it the resurrection that he mentioned in verse 11 that he has not attained? Yes, the resurrection is included, but it is more than that, Philippians 3:4-11 are a unit speaking of justification. The key verse being:

Philippians 3:9 (NKJV) and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith;

I think that what Paul is saying is that his justification had not yet been consummated. That would mean that eternal life had not been consummated. That might not fit your theology, but it fits the context of what Paul has been talking about. Paul was saying, "Not that I have already attained, or have already been justified."

Jesus Christ took our sin and bore its penalty on the cross, and he gives us his righteousness.

2 Corinthians 5:21 (NKJV) For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

We have been declared righteous by God for all eternity. It will never be reversed or changed. Christ's righteousness has been imputed to our account. Justification involves the imputation of Christ's righteousness. But at the time of Paul's writing, righteousness was still a hope. Now, you might ask, "Didn't Paul and the New Testament saints already have the righteousness of God?" Yes and no. The futuristic perspective of God's righteousness was clearly expressed by Paul.

Galatians 5:5 (NKJV) For we through the Spirit eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness by faith.

If righteousness was already a fulfilled or completed event, Paul made a big mistake in making "righteousness" by faith a matter of hope. You don't hope for what you have.

Romans 8:24-25 (NKJV) For we were saved in this hope, but hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one still hope for what he sees? 25 But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with perseverance.

If righteousness was a present reality, why would Paul hope for it? But Paul also talks as though it was a present possession.

Romans 4:5 (NKJV) But to him who does not work but believes on Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted for righteousness,

Did Paul have Christ's righteousness or was is still future to him? Yes! He had it, but it was also still future to him. How can this be?

Paul lived in what the Bible calls the "last days"- they were the last days of the Old Covenant. Those "last days" began at the time of Christ and ended at AD 70 when the Jewish temple was destroyed. We now live in what the Bible calls "the age to come,"which is the New Covenant age. The forty year period, from Pentecost to Holocaust, was a time of transition from the Old Covenant to the New Covenant. In this transition period, the New Covenant had been inaugurated but not consummated. It was a time of "ALREADY BUT NOT YET."

Galatians 5:5 (NKJV) For we through the Spirit eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness by faith.

The words translated: "eagerly wait" are the Greek word apekdechomai. This Greek word is only used seven times in the New Testament, and every one of them is in reference to the Second Coming. Thus, righteousness comes at the second coming.

Salvation was not a completed event in the lives of the first century believers, it was their hope, they looked forward to its soon arrival.

Romans 13:11-12 (NKJV) And do this, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep; for NOW OUR SALVATION IS NEARER than when we first believed. 12 The night is far spent, the day is at hand. Therefore let us cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light.

He equates their salvation with the "day" which was at hand, referring to the day of the Lord. "Knowing the time" is the Greek word kairos, it means: "season, a special critical strategic period of time." It is used of a season of great importance in redemptive history. The completion of redemptive history was at hand, and with it would come salvation.

Peter also states that their salvation was not yet complete:

1 Peter 1:5 (NKJV) who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.

Salvation was ready to be revealed, when? In the last time, which would happen at the return of Christ.

1 Peter 1:7 (NKJV) that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ,

In this same way, "eternal life" was not a present possession, but a hope. Please remember the "already but not yet" character of the transition period. They had eternal life positionally, but it would not be theirs in fact until the Lord returned.

Titus 3:5-7 (NKJV) not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, 6 whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 that having been justified by His grace we should become heirs according to THE HOPE OF ETERNAL LIFE.

Again, you don't hope for what you already have.

Jude 1:21 (NKJV) keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.

The NIV makes this verse much clearer:

Jude 1:21 (NIV) Keep yourselves in God's love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life.

They had the hope of eternal life (already), but they did not have it as a present possession (not yet). Eternal life was something that was to come to them at the Second Coming, in the "age to come."

Mark 10:29-31 (NKJV) So Jesus answered and said, "Assuredly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands, for My sake and the gospel's, 30 "who shall not receive a hundredfold NOW IN THIS TIME; houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions; and IN THE AGE TO COME, ETERNAL LIFE. 31 "But many who are first will be last, and the last first."

Eternal life was a condition of the age to come!

The incompleteness of believers during the transition period, 30-70 AD, does not contradict Paul's affirmation, "Ye are complete in Him" (Col. 2:10). The certain completeness of Christ's work was the basis and confidence of the transformation already at work, with the future fullness drawing near.

I think that it is safe to say that most believers think redemption was completed at the cross. But this is not what the Bible teaches, redemption is tied to the second coming.

Luke 21:27-28 (NKJV) "Then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. 28 "Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near."

When Christ returned, he brought redemption. As long as the Old Covenant existed, the believers were not perfect and did not have access to God.

Hebrews 9:8-10 (NKJV) the Holy Spirit indicating this, that THE WAY INTO THE HOLIEST OF ALL WAS NOT YET MADE MANIFEST WHILE THE FIRST TABERNACLE WAS STILL STANDING. 9 It was symbolic for the present time in which both gifts and sacrifices are offered which cannot make him who performed the service PERFECT in regard to the conscience; 10 concerned only with foods and drinks, various washings, and fleshly ordinances imposed until the time of reformation.

Under the Old Covenant, they were never made perfect. And because they were not perfect, they could not enter God's presence. The incompleteness of what they had is seen in the fact that even though they had eternal life, they still needed to be raised up at the last day.

John 6:40 (NKJV) "And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day."
John 6:44 (NKJV) "No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day.
John 6:54 (NKJV) "Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.

Remember, resurrection is: "being brought into the presence of God."

What the saints had in the transition period was the down payment of the perfection that was to come.

Ephesians 1:13-14 (NKJV) In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, 14 WHO IS THE GUARANTEE OF OUR INHERITANCE UNTIL THE REDEMPTION OF THE PURCHASED POSSESSION, to the praise of His glory.

The word "guarantee" is the Greek word arrhabon, which means: "a pledge, i.e. part of the purchase-money or property given in advance as security for the rest:- earnest." We see this same idea in -

2 Corinthians 1:22 (NKJV) who also has sealed us and given us the Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee.
2 Corinthians 5:5 (NKJV) Now He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who also has given us the Spirit as a guarantee.

The transition saints had in pledge what we now have. They had a guarantee of what was to come. We have it all.

Well, if the transition saints did not go to heaven, then what does Paul mean in -

2 Corinthians 5:8 (NKJV) We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord.
Philippians 1:23 (NKJV) For I am hard pressed between the two, having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better.

I think that if you study the context of these two verses, you will see that Paul was talking about himself in the Philippian passage and in the Corinthian passage the "we" most likely refers to Paul, Timothy and Silas. Paul is saying here that if he or his companions died, they would go directly to heaven.

Could Paul go to heaven apart from the resurrection? No, but Paul knew that if he died for the witness of Christ and the word of God, he would be part of the first resurrection. During the transition period, those believers who died a martyr's death were part of the first resurrection. Look with me at Revelation 20.

Revelation 20:4 (NKJV) And I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was committed to them. Then I saw the SOULS OF THOSE WHO HAD BEEN BEHEADED FOR THEIR WITNESS TO JESUS AND FOR THE WORD OF GOD, who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received his mark on their foreheads or on their hands. And THEY LIVED AND REIGNED WITH CHRIST FOR A THOUSAND YEARS.

These are clearly martyred believers from the transition period. They didn't worship the beast or take his number.

Revelation 20:5 (NKJV) But the rest of the dead did not live again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection.

No matter what your theological persuasion, there is a problem in this verse. If those of verse 4 lived and reigned with Christ for a thousand years, then how can those of verse 5 be the first resurrection? They can't be. The simple solution here is to see that they put the verse number in the wrong place. Verse 5 is a parenthesis that he will take up later in the chapter. It should read like this:

Revelation 20:5 (NKJV) But the rest of the dead did not live again until the thousand years were finished.

So the martyrs lived and reigned with Christ during the transition period (the thousand years) but the rest of the dead, everyone else who died, did not live again until the end of the transition period. Let's leave verse 5 out and read from 4 to 6.

Revelation 20:4 (NKJV) And I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was committed to them. Then I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their witness to Jesus and for the word of God, who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received his mark on their foreheads or on their hands. And they lived and reigned with Christ for a thousand years.
6 This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection. Over such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years.

So, the martyrs of the transition period went to heaven as part of the first resurrection. But everyone else went at the general resurrection at the end of the age. These first resurrection martyrs went to Heaven, but they were not in the Holiest of all, the presence of God, until the temple was destroyed in AD 70.

Hebrews 9:8 (NKJV) the Holy Spirit indicating this, that the way into the Holiest of All was not yet made manifest while the first tabernacle was still standing.

Then at AD 70, when Christ returned, the believers in Hades (Old Testament saints and transition saints) were resurrected into the presence of God, and those in heaven went into the presence of God.

When Paul was comforting the Thessalonians about their deceased loved ones, notice what he said:

1 Thessalonians 4:13-17 (NKJV) But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have FALLEN ASLEEP, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope. 14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus. 15 For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede THOSE WHO ARE ASLEEP. 16 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. 17 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.

Paul doesn't say, "Don't worry about your loved ones who recently died, they're in heaven. Remember what I taught you, 'to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord.'" What Paul did say was at the second coming their dead loved ones would "rise," they would be resurrected.

Believers since AD 70, have immortality.

1 Corinthians 15:51-54 (NKJV) Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed; 52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and THE DEAD WILL BE RAISED INCORRUPTIBLE, AND WE SHALL BE CHANGED. 53 For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. 54 So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: "Death is swallowed up in victory."

When Christ returned with the sound of the trumpet, the dead were raised, and the living were changed. All believers put on immortality, and death was swallowed up - no more Hades.

Believers, we are no longer living in the "already but not yet" of the transition period. We are living in the New Covenant age in which righteousness dwells. We are not living in the age of "hope," we are living in the age of "have." The righteousness of Christ is ours, eternal life is ours, immortality is ours. For us, to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord.

For someone to believe that Christ has not yet returned and yet believe that Christians go to heaven when they die is to be very inconsistent. Nobody goes to heaven apart from the resurrection.

Luke 14:12 -13 "But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind. 14 "And you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you; for you shall be repaid at the resurrection of the just."
Matthew 5:11-12 (NKJV) "Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. 12 "Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

"Your reward in heaven" is the same as " you shall be repaid at the resurrection of the just." When you are resurrected, you go to heaven, and not until. If Christ has not come and the resurrection has not happened, then all those who died in Christ are in Sheol.

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