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" Who/What Goes to Heaven? "

Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does corruption inherit incorruption. Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed; in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal...immortality. (1Cor15:50-53)

Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. (1Jn3:2)

The plain fact of the matter is, that no human reading this right now is going to heaven. Ok, I can hear the exclamations, "What!?! Didn't Jesus promise to come and 'receive us to Himself?'(Jn14:3) '..where He is, there we would be? What do you mean, 'We don't go to heaven?'"

Paul teaches us "flesh and blood CANNOT inherit the kingdom of God." What is "flesh and blood?" These human BODIES. God "formed man from the dust of the ground... & man became a living soul."(Gen2:7) We are "of the earth, of dust." (1Cor15:47) When a dead body is committed back to the ground, it is common practice to recite, "ashes to ashes, dust to dust." Then, it rots.

What kind of things can enter heaven? Well, we know by the oppo- site of what CANNOT enter. "But there shall by no means enter it anything that defiles, or causes an abomination or a lie.." (Rev21:27) Paul bewails, "O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?"(Rom7:24) This is the same man who wrote most of the Church doctrine. He writes of the "blessed hope and glorious appearing" of Jesus Christ.(Tit2:13)

You see, our bodies are merely our "earthly tent."(2Pt1:14) The "covering" in which we dwell. We do not take them with us. These bodies are all disease-ridden. Subject to mortality. They are the source of all sorts of lusts, and because of fulfilling their pleasures, we commit sin. People dress up their bodies, use the latest beauty products, and critique each other based on "how well" they made their bodies appeal- ing. Commercials, sit coms, business, socializing...all base their agendas on the BODY.

Even after the soul/spirit of the person becomes "new" in Christ (2Cor5:17), he is still in the corrupt "earthly" body. How can such cor- ruption appear before a holy, righteous God? It cannot! Such as we are now, is NOT how we will appear before God when Christ receives us.

When we came to God in repentance, and received Jesus Christ as our Savior (Acts20:21,Jn1:12) because of Jesus' "one-time" sacrifice (Heb9:28), while our salvation was "secured" and "sealed" (Eph1:13); it was not "completed." Our salvation is fully completed when Jesus comes to "receive" us to Himself so that we are "with" Him.(Jn14:3) When we are next to that river of life, where God has wiped away tears, etc.(Rev21:4) But, it is obvious to any astute observer that we are not yet there. "For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now. And not only they, but we also who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan...eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our BODY." (Rom8:22-23)

So, while we are saved "in the Spirit"(Rom8:9) and our minds are being "renewed" (Rom12:2); our "bodies" must yet be transformed before we can see the "kingdom of God."(1Cor15:50)

How will this happen? And what will be the nature of the new body? We do not fully know now. But we are given glimpses. Hints.

John says, "we shall be like him [Jesus]."(1Jn3:2) When Jesus came the first time, He came as "water and blood."(1Jn5:6) Since human bodies are over 90% water, this agrees with "flesh and blood."(Heb2:14) And the "life is in the blood."(Lev17:11) He came "physically constructed" just as any other human.(Phil2:7-8,1Jn4:2) As such, along with His "Deity", He was the perfect sacrifice for sin.

Then, when He died and rose again (1Cor15:4) He fulfilled the requirements as the "firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep."(vs20) Jesus' resurrection is the "hope of eternal life,"(1Pt1:3) and is the basis of the Gospel(Acts4:2,1Co15:1)

Not only that, we are told "For You will not leave my soul in Sheol, Nor will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption." (Ps16:10) Here we have the basis for Christ also being the firstfruits of the "Rapture." If a body was dead four days, it had begun to decay.(Jn11:39) But Jesus was dead only three days.(Mt12:40) He did not undergo decay. So, His "change" also led the way for those who will be changed, without dying. (1Cor15:51,1Ths4:17)

How will the change occur? Instantly. "In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye."(vs52) What do we do to effect the change? We don't. When it says, "we shall be changed," this is an action which will be done "to/upon" us.

What will we become? Well, this is part of the "mystery."(vs51) Paul had been discussing the various kinds of bodies and flesh. It will not be the same kind of flesh we now have.(vs39) Right now we are merely in the "seed" stage. (vs37)(1Jn3:9) While we humans tend to glorify the body; when the seed "dies"(vs36) it actually sprouts and becomes a comparatively large plant.(Mt13:31-32) Thus, too, the Believer will become something SO MUCH MORE. From corruption to incorruption. Dishonor to glory. Weakness to power. Natural body to spiritual. Now we are like "Adam." Then, like the "Lord from heaven."(vs47,49)

Will we still "recognize" each other? Quite likely. Jesus' voice was recognized by Mary.(Jn20:16) The disciples in the closed room knew Him. And He even retained the scars from the crucifixion. (Jn20:20) However, there are some differences to consider. When He was showing Himself to the disciples He referred to His "flesh and bones."(Lk24:39) And later, Paul writes of the Church being part of His body, "his flesh and bones."(Eph5:30) And since humanity is "flesh and blood" the speculation is that Jesus' resurrected body does not have "blood." And as such, neither will ours. This mystery I prefer to "ponder in the heart."(Lk2:19) And then, what of His constant habit of simply appearing and disappearing.(Jn19,Lk24:31)

While we see these glimpses, "it has not yet been revealed [fully] what we shall be, but we know..we shall be like Him."

Seeing these little hints, what should be our attitudes? Spending our time rejoicing and speculating further as to what "we" will be like? And all the wonderful things in store for "us"? No!!!

"Everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure."(1Jn3:3) Keeping "unspotted from the world."(Jas1:27) As we see the work of Christ in conquering corruption and mortality, as God "gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ" we should "therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord."(1Cor15:57-58)

Amen!

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