Many sincere Christians believes that those who have done one good deeds or the other during their stay here on earth were instantly taken to heaven to be with Christ in holy bliss when they die. In fact many denominations teach that there is a transition of life after death to another world. We would not be focusing on other denomination other than The Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG). This is not the first time a rebuttal would be written against the false teachings of life after death. In November 29, 2015, a short article entitled “Pastor Adeboye false claim: The Bible or his claim, which is true?” was written by the same author against the false claim of Pastor E. A. Adeboye who, at a private prayer session with the family of late Mrs. Hannah Awolowo, the wife of Chief Obafemi Awolowo, openly said:
“By the special grace of God and because of my interaction with Mama (Mrs. Hannah Awolowo), I have no doubt at all that she is in HEAVEN NOW.”
I previously thought this statement was made as a result of his personal conviction not as a general belief of the world church. But to my surprise, this statement is a reflection of what the World Church of the RCCG teaches. The following statement was taken from their statement of belief number 30 about the dead in Christ which says:
“THE DEAD IN CHRIST: We believe that a brother who sleeps in the Lord is with Christ already – Phil. 1:21-23; I Cor. 5:1-9. Paul said that it is better to come out of this flesh and be with the Lord forever in our Heavenly home. Further still he emphasizes that ” But I would not have you to be ignorant brethren concerning them which are asleep that ye sorrow not even as there which have no hope” I Thess. 4:13-18. Therefore all members should separate themselves from the things of this world in worshiping the dead by which we become idolaters – Deut 14:1.”
The Church believes that a brother who dies in Christ is already with Christ in heaven. This is not what the Bible teaches. But on the contrary, the Bible teaches that: “The wages of sin is death. But God, who alone is immortal, will grant eternal life to His redeemed. Until that day death is an unconscious state for all people. When Christ, who is our life, appears, the resurrected righteous and the living righteous will be glorified and caught up to meet their Lord. The second resurrection, the resurrection of the unrighteous, will take place a thousand years later.”
Let us carefully search the Scripture to know what the truth is pertaining to this topic. This would not be an in-depth study but enough to ignite in the studious student a desire to dig deeper into the Scripture to know truth for him or herself. I would direct us after studying this article to download a PDF study guide that deals with this issue thoroughly at the bottom if the article. Those who are interested in the previous article written in relation to this topic can be viewed by clicking here. If you are also interested in reading the first open letter we can click here.
WHERE DO WE GO TO AFTER DEATH?
The question one need to ask is this: Where do we go to when we die? Do we go to heaven, hell or another world?
Job said, “Yet shall he be brought to the grave, and shall remain in the tomb.” Job 21:32. The Psalmist wrote about the predicament of all sons of Adam. He said, “What man is he that liveth, and shall not see death? shall he deliver his soul from the hand of the grave? Selah.” Psalms 89:48. All born of Adam shall surely die the first death. This death is different from the second death which would be accrued to all who had chosen the side of Satan before they died or before the second coming of Christ. No man shall deliver his soul from the hands of the grave; all shall experience the first death and they shall go to the gates of the grave. (Isaiah 38:10)
Whether righteous or wicked, we all shall make our bed in the grave until we are called forth to either receive eternal life or eternal damnation. It is said of the wicked, “That the wicked is reserved to the day of destruction? they shall be brought forth to the day of wrath.” Job 21:30. Take note the phrases, “the day of destruction” and “the day of wrath,” for these seemingly two events are in fact one. It will occur after the millennial reign. At this point, only the wicked shall be resurrected for eternal destruction in hell fire. The righteous will not take in this destruction for at that point they are already in the new Jerusalem with Christ and His Holy angels. “So man lieth down, and riseth not: till the heavens be no more, they shall not awake, nor be raised out of their sleep.” Job 14:12. Man shall not awake from the grave where he sleeps until Christ comes again to reward man for that which he has done while he lives here on earth.
What about the righteous or those who have lived good and acceptable lives?
Righteous Job said, “O that thou wouldest hide me in the grave, that thou wouldest keep me secret, until thy wrath be past, that thou wouldest appoint me a set time, and remember me! 14 If a man die, shall he live again? all the days of my appointed time will I wait, till my change come.” Job 14:13-14. Job whom the Bible recorded as being perfect, upright, one who feared God and hating evil is not taken to heaven after death but will remain in the grave until the resurrection morning when the voice of Christ shall call him from his grave. Paul also noted this point when he wrote to the believers in Corinth about what we shall be like when Christ shall be revealed the second time. He said, “Behold, I shew 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 trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.” 1 Cor 15:51-52. Those that are asleep in Christ shall be raised incorruptible and be given immortal flesh. But those who shall not see death or fall asleep are those who would be alive when Christ shall come the second time. During this period, when the last trumpet of Christ voice shall sound, both the death in Christ and the righteous living in Christ shall be changed and be given an incorruptible flesh.
The order of this event is given by Paul. He said, “For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. 23 But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming.” 1 Cor 15:22-23. Christ the firstfruits was the first to resurrect, then followed by those who had lived a Christlike life before their death and those who would be alive when He shall come in the cloud of glory. Adam gave nothing but death to his posterity while Christ gives all who are in Christ abundant life but now and eternally. Only those that are in Christ are eligible to receive this incorruptible flesh. Though the gift of immortality is available to all but only they that are in Christ would experience it. It is only God, through His Son Jesus, that has the prerogative to determine who is entitled to this gift. No man in this side of life is given the power to determine who is to be with Christ or not in the heavenly mansion. Therefore, Pastor Adeboye’s claim of knowing where Late Mrs. Awolowo is false.
IS DAVID IN HEAVEN?
We have previously read what Job didn’t go to heaven when he died, he would remain in the grave until the resurrection morning. Let us take David as another example. For it was declared of him as “the son of Jesse, a man after mine own heart, which shall fulfil all my will” Acts 13:22. When David died the Bible emphatically made it clear that David didn’t go to heaven. “For David is not ascended into the heavens: but he saith himself, The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand” Acts 2:34. Where David is presently was pointed out to us by Peter when he gave an evangelistic sermon on the day of Pentecost. Peter said, “Men and brethren, let me freely speak unto you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his sepulchre is with us unto this day.” Acts 2:29. He is in the grave sleeping just like any other believer in Christ from the time of Adam until today except for some whom we would study about later on. In fact it was also written of David that “after he had served his own generation by the will of God, fell on sleep, and was laid unto his fathers, and saw corruption” Acts 13:36. The Bible in Basic English translated this verse beautifully. It reads: “Now David, having done God’s work for his generation, went to sleep, and was put with his fathers, and his body came to destruction” Acts 13:36 (BBE). David’s body was destroyed and he is sleeping with his fathers. Please take note of the phrase “with his fathers.” Who are the fathers? These are those of the lineage of Abraham, Jacob, Isaac, Judah etc. The Bible said they are all sleeping, waiting for Christ second coming.
“For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first” 1 Thess 4:16. The dead in Christ from Adam to David and from David to this day shall hear the voice of Christ and shall be the first to rise and be transformed. This is a great blessing. After this transformation, the righteous living shall follow and both groups shall be caught up together to meet with the Lord in the cloud of glory while the brightness of Christ coming shall instantly kill the wicked until their final destruction after the millennium reign (1 Thess 4:17). God shall wake the dead with a great sound of trumpet. This trumpet is the voice of Christ shall call forth the dead in Christ. (Matt 24:31; John 5:28, 29). Jesus said both the righteous and wicked that have died are in the grave. It is these all that are in the graves that shall hear is voice. (John 5:28).
DEATH IS SLEEP. SLEEP IS DEATH.
The Bible often uses the word sleep to refer to death. In the case of Christ, he referred to Lazarus as one sleeping while in reality he was dead. “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. 12 Then said his disciples, Lord, if he sleep, he shall do well. 13 Howbeit Jesus spake of his death: but they thought that he had spoken of taking of rest in sleep.” John 11:11-13. Sleep is death, death is sleep. Therefore, to Christ, all that have died in Christ are only but sleeping to be awaken at the resurrection morning by the voice of Christ. David also illustrated his own death in like manner when he writes, “Consider and hear me, O LORD my God: lighten mine eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death.” Psalms 13:3. Paul, as we previously quoted, wrote, “Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed.” When Paul was describing those who had died after seeing Christ ascension, he used the word sleep to signify death. “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 Cor. 15:6. He said the some of those that saw Jesus ascending have fallen asleep while the greater part remain with them. For more examples see 1 Cor. 11:10; Eph 5:14; 1 Thess. 4:13-15.
If there were no resurrection of the dead in Christ, “Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished” and their faith in Christ is in vain. 1 Cor 15:17, 18.
DOES THE DEAD KNOW ANY THING WHEN THEY DIE?
The Preacher said, “For the living know that they shall die: but the dead know not any thing, neither have they any more a reward; for the memory of them is forgotten.” Eccl 9:5. The dead knows nothing. Mrs. Awolowo is unconscious of that is going on here on earth. She is neither in heaven or hell. He has fallen asleep, waiting for the Lord to either call her up in the first resurrection or second resurrection. About the feelings and emotions of dead it is written that “their love, and their hatred, and their envy, is now perished” “His breath goeth forth, he returneth to his earth; in that very day his thoughts perish.” Eccl 9:6; Psalms 146:4. While we are alive we are to praise the Lord and give him glory for the dead cannot praise Him in the grave. “While I live will I praise the LORD: I will sing praises unto my God while I have any being” Psalms 146:2.
Psalmist said, “The dead praise not the LORD, neither any that go down into silence.” Psalms 115:17. If the righteous dead are in heaven they should obviously be praising the Lord, but the Bible said these people go down to their grave in silence. The dead cannot and does not praise the Lord. King Hezekiah, in his prayer of thanksgiving, said, “The living, the living, he shall praise thee, as I do this day: the father to the children shall make known thy truth.” Isaiah 38:19. “For in death there is no remembrance of thee: in the grave who shall give thee thanks?” Psalms 6:5.
WHAT ABOUT MOSES AND ELIJAH? Luke 9:27-36
On the mount of transfiguration, “two men … Moses and Elias … appeared in glory.” These where not spirits or disembodied souls, but “two men.” Elijah never died. He was translated without seeing death. 2 Kings 2:11. Moses “died” and was “buried.” Deuteronomy 34:5-6. Yet the book of Jude reveals that Michael came from heaven and, “contending with the devil he disputed about the body of Moses.” Jude 1:9. Moses was also raised, that’s why the devil protested. Then Michael said, “the Lord rebuke thee.” Hence it was a living, resurrected Moses and a living, translated Elijah that appeared on the mount. Immediately prior to this appearance, Jesus told his disciples that they would soon “see the kingdom of God.” Luke 9:27. On the mount they saw God’s kingdom in miniature. Jesus was there, so was Moses (representing all resurrected saints), and Elijah (representing all translated saints at the Second Coming). Both groups are described in 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17.[i]
MY PEOPLE PERISH FOR LACK OF KNOWLEDGE
Am not writing this article to judge any minister but to awaken the curious Bible student to start questioning what they were thought from their childhood using the Scripture and through prayer. For many shepherd have gone out to deceive soul and to lure them into eternal damnation. The Scripture emphatically warned that many false Pastors, Prophets and Teachers shall arise in the last days, they shall come “after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, 10 And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish” they shall deceive men, women, young, old, wise and the foolish “because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. 11 And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: 12 That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.” 2 Thess. 2:9-12.
A writer, commenting on this verse, beautifully wrote:
“The time is coming when Satan will work miracles right in your sight, claiming that he is Christ; and if your feet are not firmly established upon the truth of God, then you will be led away from your foundation. The only safety for you is to search for truth as for hid treasures. Dig for the truth as you would for treasures in the earth, and present the word of God, the Bible, before your Heavenly Father and say, Enlighten me; teach me what is truth . . . You should store the mind with the word of God; for you may be separated, and placed where you will not have the privilege of meeting with the children of God”— Review and Herald, April 3, 1888.
“Hear the word of the LORD, ye children of Israel: for the LORD hath a controversy with the inhabitants of the land, because there is no truth, nor mercy, nor knowledge of God in the land . . . My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to me: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children.” Hosea 4:1, 6. Many shall perish not because the information for knowledge is lacking at their disposal, but because they have refused to make use of the information given to them from heaven through the Scripture. To the Law and to the Testimony, all truth and teachings must be tested. (Isaiah 8:20). The Gospel would be hid to them that are perishing, but to them that are searching daily from the mines of the Bible and drinking daily from the Spirit of Christ; the Gospel shall be Power to save from sin and darkness that has envelop this world. (2 Cor. 4:3, 4; Rom 1:16)
The most important truth we all need to take from this is that those who haven’t loved the truth while they were living shall not have the opportunity to repent in the grave or hope for truth to save them. The gospel Prophet wrote, “For the grave cannot praise thee, death can not celebrate thee: they that go down into the pit cannot hope for thy truth.” Isaiah 38:18. Truth must be received here and now. We all must live the according to truth as it is in Christ Jesus. Solomon the preacher gave the following advice as we live our lives here on earth. He said:
“Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest.” Eccl 9:10
For thorough and in-depth study of this topic especially the study about the Abraham, the rich man and Lazarus, and other misapplied text in the Bible download a PDF version of an article entitled, “what happens when we die?” by clicking here.
[i] What happens when we die? http://www.what-happens-when-we-die.com/WhatHappensWhenWeDie.pdf