I received the following questions:
Many of my friends are arguing with me about the reason we are resurrected is for our heavenly bodies but not because we are not in heaven when we die (sheol). I don’t really know what to say to this?
I’ve been reading in Hebrews that Hezekiah was pleading not to die, but if he thought he was going to heaven when he died why would he plead to not die, right? Does this make sense for an argument against not going to heaven when you die?
Any help please?
Your friends are arguing, not based on Bible truth, but on the doctrines and traditions of men. Satan told Eve, “You will not surely die.” Genesis 3:4. Literally in Hebrew, this reads, “Dying you will not die.” Eve believed him…that dying, she would not be dead, but be in some other state, “like God.” (verse 5.) And the vast majority of people on earth, including most Christians, still believe what Satan said rather than what God said. They refuse to believe that death results in being dead, instead insisting that the dead are still very much alive.
Your friends have no evidence that resurrection is anything but the return of dead men to life. The verses usually discussed by people who insist this are II Corinthians 5:8. “We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord.” This is usually misquoted, “To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord.” Then, they claim that this proves that the dead aren’t really dead. You and I discussed this verse together, when I explained to you that it was talking about being an ambassador. “Absent” in Greek means “absent from the people,” and “present” means “present with the people.” Paul was an ambassador, so even when He was present with his own people, it was like he was with some strange people because he was speaking to them as a representative of God, not as one of them. The other verse they use is Philippians 1:21. “For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” I explained in my message on “Is It Christ To Live? Is It Gain To Die?” that this is talking about Paul’s possible death, that Christ would gain whether he lived or died. This is clear by looking at the verse before it, “20. according to my earnest expectation and hope that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ will be magnified in my body, whether by life or by death.” So neither of these verses is really saying anything about people not being dead when they die. Yet these verses are set against all the rest of the Bible, and what it teaches about death. People use these verses to get out of believing what the Bible really teaches about death. They point to these verses to justify many, many ideas that are not contained in the verses at all.
The claim that resurrection is to give people heavenly bodies after they have already been in heaven for a long time is an attempt to explain the problem that is caused by the Bible’s teaching that resurrection is our hope, when people are claiming instead that dying and going to heaven are our hope. This makes resurrection unnecessary, and makes the Bible look silly when it talks about how great resurrection is. They decide to make the resurrection then about us being given bodies. Yet what is so great about that, if we have gotten along fine without them for a long, long time? If we don’t really need bodies, why go back to having them? Most importantly, this idea is never, never taught in Scripture. Resurrection is not being put back into a body, but is coming back to life, returning from death. They have made a joke out of the resurrection by this teaching.
I think you mean either II Kings or Isaiah for the story of Hezekiah, since I don’t think Hebrews talks about this. Yes, that is a good argument that you do not “go to heaven” when you die, since Hezekiah clearly wasn’t expecting this to happen. Another good one is Acts 2:29, 34a.
29. “Men and brethren, let me speak freely to you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his tomb is with us to this day.
34. “For David did not ascend into the heavens,
If David is dead and buried, if he did not ascend into the heavens, then who has ascended? David clearly did not go to heaven when he died! Can they point out anyone who DID go to heaven when he died?
I hope these things are helpful. You have to understand that death is a very emotional subject with most people. They believe what they have been taught, and they often believe it with a great deal of conviction, even though they don’t have any real Biblical evidence. Some people who are willing to listen to the Bible will hear you, but many have closed their minds to God’s Word unless it agrees with what they already think, and they are unlikely to listen. All you can really do is try to show people the truth. Whether they will listen to you or not is between them and God.