In the biblical series entitled Our Fathers Who Are Not in Heaven, Iain MacMillan challenges one of the most influential unbiblical doctrines that have been broadcasted throughout the centuries. This widely accepted doctrine has had a powerful influence how many Scriptures are interpreted. What is this teaching? It is that a believer has an immortal soul and that it ascends into heaven where it continues to live immediately after death of the body without the necessity of the resurrection.
This series of messages examine the overwhelming weight of scriptural evidence that the dead are dead. The Scripture heralds the dead that belong to Christ are wholly dead UNTIL He raises them from the dead on "the last day" when He returns to inaugurate His Kingdom on earth in the age to come. As an example, the apostle Paul writes that when someone dies, they are "asleep" until the resurrection.
"20 But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21 For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. 22 For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive 23 But each in his own turn: Christ, the firstfruits; then, when He comes, those who belong to Him" (1 Corinthians 15:20-23).
This common euphony to describe death as "sleep" is used elsewhere in the Scriptures to depict those who have died. Only a few examples are cited below.
"Consider and answer me, O Jehovah my God: Lighten mine eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death" (Psalm 13:3).
"After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep" (1 Corinthians 15:6).
"So man lies down and does not rise; till the heavens are no more, men will not awake or be roused from their sleep" (Job 14:12).
"Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt" (Daniel 12:2).
"11 After he had said this, he went on to tell them, 'Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep; but I am going there to wake him up'. 12 His disciples replied, 'Lord, if he sleeps, he will get better'. 13 Jesus had been speaking of his death, but His disciples thought He meant natural sleep. 14 So then He told them plainly, 'Lazarus is dead'." (John 11:11-14).
The almost universal belief that people do not actually die, but instead, their immortal soul ascends to "heaven", has no scriptural support. In fact, if this was true, our Lord would be a liar, for He categorically states during His discourse with Nicodemus:
"No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven-the Son of Man" (John 3:13).
Since no one has ever ascended into heaven except for Christ, then where are the dead? The scriptural teaching is that they are in their graves and remain there UNTIL the resurrection.
Finally, this series examines some of the scriptural passages used to support that believers have an immortal soul and it immediately ascends into heaven and continues to live after death.
PDF notes are available for each lesson.