Heaven is a Literal Promise for Every Spiritually Birthed Son
Heaven is a literal place of fellowship with every Spiritually birthed son, immediately following their death in this life, or the Pretribulation rapture of all saints. What does the Word of God teach concerning soul sleep? If Paul is correct about being absent from the body and present with the Lord, then how to bodies come out of the grave at the rapture? This is a sacred cow to quite a few. Please look at this with me objectively in God's Word and do not be offended at the truth. What are the two important reasons the Midtribulation and Posttribulation views are contrary to scripture and the eternal plan of God? Let us look into God's Word and let the Holy Spirit speak to us.
By Dwight Davis
"And I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea. Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband" (Rev. 21:1-2, author's translation).
First, John Was Called Up to a Literal Heaven to See Things in the Future
John certainly looked and beheld, "a door standing open in heaven" (John 4:1). The voice of either the Lord or an angel called him to come up into heaven to see the things that must take place after the church age (John 4:1). I mmediately, John was in the Spirit and beheld "a throne set in heaven, and One sat on the throne" (Rev. 4:2). It is the Lord God Almighty who is sitting on the throne, whom every creature is honoring and thanking (Rev. 4:8-9). Thank God, we are serving an Almighty God, who is eternal and not bound by time, space, or matter. The new heaven is a definite place and it is not of this church age. There might be some who spiritualize heaven and most every verse of Revelation 4:1-22:21, saying that all things are already fulfilled. However, there is so much within this that clearly has not yet been fulfilled and will be literally fulfilled one day soon. Yes, there is a literal heaven, and the literal Lord God Almighty sitting on the throne. There are literal creatures, 24 elders, and multitudes in heaven.
Second, When We Die We Immediately Go to Meet the Lord in Heaven
Paul states, "The first man (Adam) was of the earth, made of dust; the second Man is the Lord from heaven" (I Cor. 15:47). Christ is the Lord from heaven. We are Spiritually rebirthed by the Holy Spirit coupled with our belief in the heart, to receive the Lord of heaven to live in us. However, we still have the same old earthly body and still live in this same earthly environment. One of these days, "this corruption must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality" (I Cor. 15:53). Paul also declares, "that if our earthly house, this tent, is destroyed we have a building from God, a house not made with hands in the heavens" (II Cor. 5:1). Our earthly house or this tent which is our physical body will be changed in a split second when we go to be with him (I Cor. 15:51-52). If we die before the rapture, this will happen a split second after our death, for "to be absent from the body" is "to be present with the Lord" (II Cor. 5:8). There is no such thing as soul sleep, but a transformation from the earthly to the eternal in body (II Cor. 15:51-54). We will immediately go to be with the Lord in heaven.
Third, Those Who Are Alive Will Meet the Lord in the Air to Go to Heaven
If we have already died before the rapture, we are not dead in the ground. No we are instantaneously transformed and provided an incorruptible and glorified body and are alive in full incorruptible Spirit, soul, and body with the Lord in heaven. That is clearly what Paul teaches in II Corinthians 5:1-8. We must rightly divide the word in this area and get rid of any sacred cows. The already transformed ones (past death) will be coming back with the Lord in the air at the rapture (I Thess. 4:14). Those still alive will not precede or go to the Lord before these, but be caught up to meet the Lord in the air to go to heaven.
Fourth, Pretribulation Saints Raptured to the Marriage Supper of the Lamb
The remaining alive members of rebirthed sons will join with the Lord and the transformed saints, who have been with the Lord in their glorified bodies since death. This is the Pretribulation rapture of the entire church. Some believe in a Midtribulation or Posttribulation rapture, or a partial rapture at various intervals. However, the Midtrib and Posttrib beliefs are contrary to "imminence" – as taught throughout scripture. Jesus can come back at any time, with no prophecy left to be fulfilled. Also, both the Midtrib and Posttrib beliefs are based on Christ needing to first purify His church on earth. Do we not know that this is a slap in the face to the complete and finished atoning work of Christ on the cross for us? We are righteous and holy ONLY because Christ is now in us following our Spiritual Rebirthing. "We shall be saved from wrath through Him" (Rom. 5:9). Paul told us "to wait for His Son from heaven" (that’s the Pretribulation rapture) "who delivers us from the wrath to come" (I Thess. 1:10). This wrath is clearly talking about the Great Tribulation period to come after the rapture. Where is the church during the Great Tribulation period? The raptured church is now called the "wife" and we are in heaven at the marriage supper of the Lamb (Rev. 19:7).
Fifth, John's Description of the City of Heaven as He Saw It in Revelation
Following the rapture, we are in heaven with the Lord. John sees the new heaven, the holy city, the New Jerusalem, as a bride coming down out of heaven (Rev. 21:2,10). As you read on you find John fully describes this new heaven in details and calls it "the city," which is a cube 1377 miles on each side (Rev. 21:14-19). John sees Christ, the Alpha and Omega, sitting on the throne in heaven (Rev. 21:5-6). Again John sees "the bride, the Lamb's wife" (Rev. 21:9). The city had a 216 foot high jasper wall around the square, or 5,508 miles of wall (Rev. 21:16-18). The wall of the city had twelve (12) foundations, with the names of the apostles of the Lamb (Rev. 21:14). Each of the twelve (12) foundations of the wall of the city were adorned with twelve (12) different precious stones, one type for each of the twelve (12) foundations (Rev. 21:19-20). There were twelve (12) solid, single pearl gates with the names of the twelve (12) tribes of Israel on them (Rev. 21:21,12-13). The construction of the city was like clear glass of pure gold (Rev. 21:18). Even the street (singular) was like transparent glass of pure gold (Rev. 21:21).
Sixth, The Lord is the Literal Light in a Literal Heaven with Literal People
There is no temple in the city of heaven. The Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple (Rev. 21:22). There is "no need of the sun or of the moon to shine in it, for the glory of God illuminated it, and the Lamb is its light" (Rev. 21:23). Again, some have attempted to spiritualize heaven as a picture of the bride of Christ. However, this would negate the literal truth of God being the glory and light of heaven. John also declares that the nations of those who are saved shall walk in its light. It also talks about the kings of the earth bringing their glory and honor (even of the nations) "into it," speaking of the city (Rev. 21:24,26).
Seventh, The End Time Events will Culminate with New City of Heaven
After the great tribulation (in Revelation chapter 19) there is: (1) The millennial reign of Christ; (2) Satan released; (3) His rebellion destroyed; (4) Satan cast in the lake of fire; and (5) The Great White Throne Judgement. Old heavens and earth will burn up (II Pet. 3:10-13), and the new city of heaven will come down.