Besides the steadfast, not to be questioned, but quite incorrect doctrine that the dietary and festival laws have been abolished, taught by mainstream churches, another obviously incorrect doctrine of theirs is that saved Christians ascend immediately to heaven after death, remaining fully conscious during and after this transition. The following is the first example of 6 commonly misunderstood, misinterpreted verses they use, displaying a callous disregard for the true meaning of the original Greek words in the verses and/or for what other relevant verses say:
1) Luke 23:43: “Assuredly, I say to you, TODAY YOU WILL BE WITH ME IN PARADISE.” (NKJV)
This is a favorite verse of mainstream preachers who, incorrectly, try to make Christians think they will go straight to heaven immediately after death. With my own ears I have personally heard a well known, elderly TV personality of the 700 Club, using the above verse, repeatedly telling the public that Christians go immediately up to heaven after their death, never losing consciousness (after they emailed him questions about verses describing the resurrection of the dead). In the FIRST place, the New Testament was originally recorded in day-to-day, non-literary Koine Greek in which words were usually written with no punctuation. Commas were not used. The words simply ran together completely. Translators therefore have always had to guess where commas should go or deliberately place them where they wanted them to appear, which was a huge mistake in this verse as you will see. SECONDLY, John 20:17 reveals that Jesus, three (3) days after He was crucified, told Mary Magdalene “I have not yet ascended to My Father,” which means that Jesus had not returned to heaven on the day that He was killed.
JOHN 3:13: “AND NO MAN HATH ASCENDED UP TO HEAVEN, BUT HE THAT CAME DOWN FROM HEAVEN, EVEN THE SON OF MAN WHICH IS IN HEAVEN.” (KJV)
THIRDLY, John 3:13 above “spells out” in usually dark print on lightly colored paper that NO HUMAN BEING HAS EVER ASCENDED TO HEAVEN (which obviously would include the thief), except Jesus Christ, who was once human. ONE MORE TIME, CONCERNING EARTHLY HUMAN BEINGS, NOBODY BUT NOBODY HAS EVER GONE TO HEAVEN, YET. So to conform to what other relevant verses reveal, and to make better use of commas if they must be used, a more correct translation of Luke 23:43 would be as follows: “Assuredly, I SAY TO YOU TODAY, you will be with Me in Paradise.” In other words, on that particular day Jesus told the thief that he would EVENTUALLY be in Paradise with Him. To read more about this go to http://www.ucg.org/beyond-today-daily/doctrinal-beliefs/thief-cross.
A second example of a verse most preachers misinterpret, thanks to poor translation, is John 11:26, attempting to make people believe that they will ascend to heaven right after they physically die. While many translators deserve some degree of blame, mainstream Christianity should also take the time and effort to check the original Greek in controversial verses like this one to make reasonably certain that it confirms a particular doctrine. John 11:26 says in most of the English translations
2) “and whoever lives and believes in Me SHALL NEVER DIE. Do you believe this?” (NKJV)
While most popular translations render John 11:26 as saying that Christians will never die, the literal Greek reveals that they will not die forever, a huge difference. Here is what three Greek to English interlinear translations say:
Interlinear Greek New Testament: “…… in no wise shall die forever ……”
The Interlinear Bible Hebrew Greek English: “….. in no way shall die forever ……”
A Conservative Version Interlinear: “….. will die no not into tho age ……”
The Greek word for “die” is apothnesko, Strong’s number 599, which refers primarily to a PHYSICAL death. To say that we never experience a physical death would be an obvious mistruth, so this verse cannot be translated as saying that people never die, because they do die, of course. The Greek for “forever” or “age” in the above interlinear translations is aion, Strong’s number 165, which overwhelmingly means basically “forever” according to Joseph H. Thayer, world renowned Bible word expert. Since the literal Greek says “and everyone living and believing in Me in no way shall die for ever……,” the Greek then obviously leaves as wide open as the GRAND CANYON the possibility of a prolonged state of death or unconsciousness before being granted life again and possible immortality in either the first resurrection or the implied second resurrection (Revelation 20:4-16). “In no way shall die forever” clearly explains that death, for the righteous, will not last forever.
Besides the 3 above interlinear, literal translations, the following also say literally or basically that Christians will not die forever:
The Message, John Wesley New Testament, Thomas Haweis New Testament, Douay-Rheims Bible, Lexham English Bible, exeGeses Companion Bible, Green’s Literal Translation, and the Analytical Literal Translation.
A third verse popular ministers usually misinterpret is 2 Kings 2:11:
3) “Elijah WENT UP by a whirlwind INTO HEAVEN.” (NKJV)
The Biblical “heaven” can refer to three general areas depending on the context, and the gaseous atmosphere surrounding our planet is one of them. After the whirlwind removed Elijah to another location on the earth, Elisha became the leader of Elijah’s students and followers. 2 Chronicles 21:12-15 proves that Elijah was still alive on the earth several years after the high speed circular winds carried Elijah away to another place on the earth, not to the third heaven where God resides. Verses 12-15 above record a letter written, years after the whirlwind incident, by Elijah to Jehoram, the wicked king of Judah, telling him of impending dire consequences for his sins. John 3:13 settles the matter even more firmly by saying “no one has ascended to heaven but He …….. the Son of Man.”
If mainstream churches can be so INCREDIBLY SHALLOW AND INCOMPETENT in their interpretation of the three verses above, and if mainstreamers can interpret, again, in such an INCREDIBLY SHALLOW AND INCOMPETENT way the 7 verses in the 7 VERSES MAINSTREAMERS CLAIM ABOLISH THE FOOD LAWS page to supposedly help prove the dietary laws have been done away with, how in the world can you attach any credibility to their claim that most Mosaic laws have been abolished?
Many, even dozens of verses mention “sleeping” Christians (the dead) or discuss the first resurrection in which saved Christians will come to life again, arising from their graves. If those Christians really are already in heaven talking and consciously moving around, how in the world can they be resurrected from a prolonged sleep? Duh?
4) 2 Corinthians 5:6-9: “Therefore, being confident at all times and knowing that being at home in the body we are away from the Lord— 7 for by faith we walk about [fig., conduct ourselves], not by sight— 8 but we are confident and PREFER RATHER TO BE away from the body and to be at home with the Lord! 9 And so we ambitiously strive, whether being at home or being away from home, to be acceptable [or, pleasing] to Him.” (Analytical Literal Translation)
2 Corinthians 5:8: “we are of good courage, I say, and are WILLING RATHER TO BE absent from the body, and to be at home with the Lord.” (English Revised Version)
2 Corinthians 5:8: “We should be cheerful, because we would RATHER leave these bodies and be at home with the Lord.” (Contemporary English Version)
2 Corinthians 5:8: “So I say that we ·have courage [or are confident]. We really WANT [would PREFER] to be ·away [absent; or exiled] from this body and be at home with the Lord.” (Expanded Bible)
2 Corinthians 5:8: “So I say that we have confidence. And we really WANT to be away from this body and be at home with the Lord.” (Easy-To-Read Version)
2 Corinthians 5:8: “We are full of courage and would MUCH PREFER to leave our home in the body and be at home with the Lord.” (Good News Translation)
Many to most mainstreamers try to compress 2 Corinthians 5:8 into the statement “to be absent from the body IS TO BE present with the Lord” as support for the idea that Christians consciously ascend to heaven right after they die. The words “…… we are confident and PREFER RATHER to be away from the body and to be at home with the Lord” above show that “wide awake immortality with the Lord immediately after death” is a PREFERENCE, and is something that we ARE WILLING TO DO and WANT, not necessarily the next immediate event after physical death. Verse 8 in the original Greek does contain the word meaning literally “prefer or willing.” Likewise, to be WILLING RATHER TO BE rich or to PREFER RATHER TO BE rich does not necessarily mean that you will become rich soon or even ever. The words “to be” in “to be at home with the Lord” also can very well be interpreted as referring to a hoped for event in THE DISTANT FUTURE. Ecclesiastes 12:7 does show, however, a certain kind of literal truth in these 2 Corinthians verses in that our unconscious minds, or “spirits” return to the Lord after physical death, to be stored or reserved until the resurrection when live spiritual bodies (first resurrection) or live physical bodies (second resurrection) will be united with our “spirits” or unconscious minds to bring us back into consciousness again. Remember, 1) John 3:13 CONFIRMS that “no man” has ascended to heaven and 2) Ecclesiastes 9:5 reveals that the “dead know nothing.” The dead do not know anything because they need to be connected to a healthy, live physical or spiritual brain to be conscious. That is why people who have been comatose for months remember absolutely nothing during those months, and why people who have had part of their brains destroyed by disease or accident often display radical, devastating changes in their personality or memory. Surely many Christians had already died when John made his verse 3:13 statement, and we should be able to confidently assume that he was not deliberately lying to us about no human having gone to heaven yet. Therefore far, far too much reasonable doubt prevents 2 Corinthians 5:8 from proving that Christians go to heaven, fully conscious, immediately after their physical death. To better understand 2 Corinthians 5:6-9 please visit http://rcg.org/books/dtsgth.html and read the upper one third and lower one third of that page.
5) Hebrews 9:26-28: “otherwise, it would had been necessary [for] Him to suffer often from [the] laying of the foundation of [the] world, but now once for all [time], at [the] completion of the ages, He has been revealed to put away sin through His sacrifice. 27 And just as it is laid up [fig., destined] FOR PEOPLE TO DIE ONCE, AND AFTER THIS [COMES] JUDGMENT, 28 so also Christ, having been offered once to bear [or, take away] the sins of many, will appear a second time without [reference to] sin to [bring] salvation to the ones eagerly waiting for Him!” (Analytical Literal Translation)
Many ministers use Hebrews 9:27 as “proof” that judgment comes immediately after death, and that the verse therefore also proves Christians travel consciously to heaven right after they die on the earth or remain conscious somewhere after their physical death. Yes, the verse definitely is evidence that judgment follows or eventually follows death. However, notice that the concise discussion of the death of Jesus and His return in these verses actually involves a substantial amount of time, thousands of years, between the two events. Similarly, the expanse of time between the death of a Christian and final judgment could, quite reasonably, also be expected to be possibly great in the context of this particular discussion. This abbreviated, highly condensed, concise verse 27 is not really good proof, beyond reasonable doubt, that there is no gap of time between death and final judgment, especially when taking into consideration DOZENS of related verses concerning “sleeping” (dead) Christians and the first and implied second resurrection. Again remember what John 3:13 and Ecclesiastes 9:5 say, which very strongly contradict any idea that Christians somehow travel right away to heaven upon their death or remain fully conscious in some place after death. For further study of Hebrews 9:27 please visit http://rcg.org/questions/p076.a.html.
6) Luke 16:22-26: “…… the beggar died, and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s bosom. The rich man also died and was buried. 23 And being in torment in Hades, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. 24 Then he cried and said, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.’ 25 But Abraham said, ‘Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things; but now he is comforted and you are tormented. 26 ……” Note that Lazarus was not transported to heaven by the angels, but rather to Abraham’s bosom. Remember that John 3:13 tells us that no human has gone to heaven. The togetherness of Abraham and the beggar has to occur after Jesus has returned and when the angels gather the dead in Christ during a resurrection (Matthew 24:30-31). Since Abraham was righteous, he will be in the resurrection of the just. Hebrews 11:13 reveals that Abraham and other people of faith all died “not having received the promises.” They are still “asleep” (unconscious) in their graves waiting to be resurrected. Since this parable shows Abraham and Lazarus alive and together, this must be after the resurrection of the just.
(editing, will be completed by 3-30-18). Remember, this is only a parable created to emphasize a certain point (that you cannot serve both Mammon and Jesus Christ).
So I ask you, how in the world can you trust ANYTHING mainstream preachers say about important matters such as the salvation process and especially the issue of law keeping? Answer: You can’t. Therefore you need to do a little reasonable, at least brief research to Biblically corroborate a doctrine. Even the Bible warns us to prove all things. A good place to start would be to read this site’s page LIST OF MAJOR VERSES THAT MAINSTREAMERS USE TO TRY TO MAKE YOU THINK THAT THE FOOD, FESTIVAL, AND SOME OTHER OT LAWS HAVE BEEN DONE AWAY WITH.
For good reasons this page is this site’s most frequently read page. Since the Bible actually COMMANDS Christians to do at least a little evangelizing (Jude 1,22,23), why don’t you put the following link for this page on other websites to let others finally have, for a change, an accurate understanding of the verses quoted here? http://www.GracePlusLawKeepingSave.Us/71-2/ Start storing up some spiritual wealth that you can take with you after your physical body dies. Daniel 12:3: “Those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the firmament, and those who turn many to righteousness like the stars forever and ever.” (NKJV)
The Church of God, a Worldwide Association, the United Church of God, an International Association, or the Living Church of God may have a local congregation near you in case you are searching for a safe haven church. Do not hesitate to email questions to their letter answering departments.
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.