How Can Christians "Inherit The EARTH"
If They're Taken "in the Clouds" to HEAVEN?
1. Inherit the Earth
Jesus said, “Blessed are the meek: for they shall INHERIT THE EARTH” (Matt. 5:5). The apostle John recorded the following: “And has made them [the saints] unto our God kings and priests: and they [the saints] shall REIGN ON THE EARTH” (Rev. 5:10).“And NO MAN has ascended up to heaven, but He that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven” (John 3:13). “For David is NOT ascended into the heaven” (Acts 2:34).
2. Children of Abraham
“Know you therefore that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham” (Gal. 3:7). Understanding the phrase “children of Abraham” is key to understanding what Christians will inherit. Long ago, God made a promise to Abraham. Notice: “Now to Abraham and his seed [children] were the PROMISES made” (Gal. 3:16). This speaks of specific promises made to Abraham and “his seed”—his children. Here is how this is tied to Christians: “And if YOU be Christ’s, then are YOU Abraham’s seed, and HEIRS according to the promise” (3:29). “Now I say that Jesus Christ was a minister of the circumcision for the truth of God, to CONFIRM the PROMISES made unto the fathers” (Rom. 15:8). We will see how Christ’s sacrifice did this. But first we must identify who the “fathers” are. Acts 3:13 answers: “The God of Abraham, and of Isaac, and of Jacob, the God of our FATHERS, has glorified His Son Jesus.” The fathers referred to are Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. You will inherit whatever was promised to THEM.
3. The LAND of Promise
Whatever God told Abraham to do, he DID. Abraham OBEYED God. Because Christians also faithfully obey God (Acts 5:32), this is another way in which he is a father, in type, to them. “Now the LORD had said unto Abram, Get you out of your country, and from your kindred, and from your father’s house, unto a land that I will show you” (Gen. 12:1). "So Abram departed” (12:4). Obedience qualified Abraham to inherit the promises—and it can qualify you, too. The promises become more specific in the next verse: “And the LORD appeared unto Abram, and said, Unto your seed [children] will I give this LAND: and there built he an altar unto the LORD, who appeared unto him” (Gen. 12:7). The promise involves LAND! But how much land? The answer to this question develops in stages: “And the LORD said unto Abram, after that Lot was separated from him, Lift up now your eyes, and look from the place where you are northward, and southward, and eastward, and westward: For all the LAND which you see, to you will I give it, and to your seed FOREVER” (Gen. 13:14-15). “In the same day the LORD made a covenant with Abram, saying, Unto your seed have I given this LAND, from the river of Egypt [the Nile] unto the great river, the river Euphrates [present-day Iraq]” (Gen. 15:18). This is specific! The Nile River bisects Egypt—and the Euphrates River divides Iraq almost directly down the middle, from northeast to southwest. This is LAND on Earth, not HEAVEN. And any map will show you that it is much LAND. It is more than Abraham could see. But the amount is even far greater than this. Many scriptures explain that the ENTIRE EARTH was the LAND to be given to Abraham. As Romans 4:12-13 says, “Our father Abraham…For the promise, that he [Abraham] should be the HEIR OF THE WORLD”.
4. Obedience Is Required
God’s promise to Abraham was conditional. Abraham had to prove that he was obedient. “And the angel of the LORD called unto Abraham out of heaven the second time, and said, By Myself have I sworn, says the LORD, for because you have done this thing, and have not withheld your son, your only son: That in blessing I will bless you, and in multiplying I will multiply your seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea shore; and your seed shall possess the gate of his enemies; And in your seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; BECAUSE YOU HAVE OBEYED MY VOICE” (Gen. 22:15-18). At this point, the promise became unconditional. Why? “Because that Abraham OBEYED My voice, and kept My charge, My commandments, My statutes, and My laws” (Gen. 26:5).
The Bible plainly says, “Sin is the transgression of the law” (I John 3:4). Abraham kept this law, and so must you to inherit what was promised to him.
5. Isaac and Jacob Included
“And the LORD appeared unto him [Isaac], and said, Go not down into Egypt; dwell in the land which I shall tell you of: Sojourn in this land, and I will be with you, and will bless you; for unto you, and unto your seed [Isaac’s sons], I will give ALL THESE COUNTRIES, and I will perform the oath which I swore unto Abraham your father; and I will make your seed to multiply as the stars of heaven, and will give unto your seed ALL THESE COUNTRIES; and in your seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; Because that Abraham obeyed My voice, and kept My charge, My commandments, My statutes, and My laws” (Gen. 26:2-5). “And God appeared unto Jacob...and blessed him. And God said unto him, Your name is Jacob: your name shall not be called any more Jacob, but Israel shall be your name: and He called his name Israel. And God said unto him, I am God Almighty: be fruitful and multiply; A NATION [the United States] and A COMPANY OF NATIONS [British Empire] shall be of you, and kings shall come out of your loins [Queen Elizabeth II]; and the LAND which I gave Abraham and Isaac, to you I will give it, and to your seed after you will I give the LAND” (Gen. 35:9-12).
6. Gentiles Are Included
God promised that “all nations” would be blessed through Abraham. This means the promise of salvation is open to all, including Gentiles. Paul wrote this to the primarily Gentile congregation at Rome: “But glory, honor, and peace, to every man that works good, to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile” (Rom. 2:10). The promise was “to the Jew first.” The covenants and the promises of God are clearly made to Israel. This is also found in Romans: “Who are Israelites; to whom pertains the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, AND THE PROMISES” (9:4). But if the promises are only made to Israelites, how are Gentiles included? Paul explains this in his letter to the Ephesian congregation. The Ephesians were mainly Gentile-born Greeks: “Wherefore remember, that you being in time past Gentiles in the flesh” (Eph. 2:11). Paul explained that the Ephesians were only Gentiles “in the past.” Upon conversion, they became spiritual Israelites. The next verse makes this clearer: “That at that time [before conversion] you were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of PROMISE, having no hope, and without God in the world” (v.12).The truth of the Bible is that Gentiles must become spiritual Israelites. But God’s truth seems upside down to the world (Acts 17:6). “But now in Christ Jesus you who sometimes were far off are made near by the blood of Christ” and “Now therefore you are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God” (Eph. 2:13,19).
7. When Do We Receive Our Inheritance?
Recall that Christ said in John 3:13, “no man has ascended up to heaven.” In John, He twice confirmed this by telling His disciples “Whither [where] I go, you cannot come” (8:22; 13:33). Moments later, He added, “I go [to heaven] to prepare a place for you” (14:2). “And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again” (v. 3). He will first come for his saints, then “come again” to Earth with his saints. The rest of verse 3 removes all doubt about where Christians will be: “that where I am, there you may be also.” We will be with Christ. He will be ON EARTH. Jesus says that after His Return to EARTH, He will “sit upon the throne of His glory: and before Him shall be gathered all nations” (Matt. 25:31-32). Christ is pictured in this parable of the sheep and goats as ruling all the nations of the EARTH. At that point, He says to the saints, “Come, you blessed of My Father, INHERIT the KINGDOM prepared for you” (Matt. 25:34).
8. Abraham Has Not Yet Inherited
“By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing where he went. By faith he sojourned in the LAND OF PROMISE, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the HEIRS with him of the same PROMISE: For he looked for a city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God” (Heb. 11:8-10). “These all died in faith, NOT having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth” (v.13). The land that Abraham, Isaac and Jacob sojourned in never became theirs during their lifetimes. They died “in faith,” but they did see God’s promises “afar off.” “And he said, Men, brethren, and fathers, hearken; The God of glory appeared unto our father Abraham, when he was in Mesopotamia, before he dwelt in Charran, And said unto him, Get you out of your country, and from your kindred, and come into the land which I shall show you. Then came he out of the land of the Chaldeans, and dwelt in Charran: and from there, when his father was dead, he removed him into this land, wherein you now dwell. And He gave him NONE INHERITANCE in it, no, not so much as to set his foot on: yet He promised that He would give it to him for a POSSESSION ” (Acts 7:2-5). “Abraham is dead” and “the prophets are dead” (John 8:52-53). Christians are HEIRS in this lifetime. Like Abraham, they see God’s promises “afar off.” Also like Abraham, when they die, they are dead. They wait in the grave to become INHERITORS upon Christ’s Return. Paul wrote, “Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot INHERIT the kingdom of God; neither does corruption INHERIT incorruption” (I Cor. 15:50). Fleshly human beings cannot enter the kingdom of God—the Family of God, ruling over the entire earth—“all nations”! Christ told Nicodemus that, “Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” When Nicodemus was confused, Christ said, “That which is born of the flesh is flesh” and “that which is born of the Spirit IS spirit” (John 3:3-6). A resurrection of the dead occurs at Christ’s Return. As Paul explained, “Now if Christ be preached that He rose from the dead, how say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen: And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain; you are yet in your sins [understanding the resurrection becomes serious!]. Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished” (I Cor. 15:12-14, 16-18). “Behold, I show 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 trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be CHANGED. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality” (I Cor. 15:51-53). “But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep that you sorrow not, even as others which have no hope” (1 Th. 4:13). Now let’s see when this resurrection occurs. Notice: “For the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord” (1 Th. 4:16-17). Christ said, “I WILL COME AGAIN” (John 14:3). The prophet Isaiah wrote this, “Behold, the Lord GOD will COME with strong hand, and His arm shall RULE for Him: behold, His reward is with Him, and His work before Him” (40:10). Of that time, Daniel said, “And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake [from sleep]…to everlasting life” (12:2). “And His feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east, and the mount of Olives shall cleave in the midst thereof toward the east and toward the west, and there shall be a very great valley; and half of the mountain shall remove toward the north, and half of it toward the south” (14:4).
9. The Kingdom OF Heaven
Does the Bible’s many references to the "kingdom OF HEAVEN" mean that Christians are going TO HEAVEN? Matthew 7:21 says: “Not everyone that says unto Me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; But he that does the will of My Father which is in heaven.” Christ and the apostles taught the gospel of the kingdom OF GOD or the equivalent phrase “gospel of the kingdom OF HEAVEN.” The phrase says, “OF HEAVEN,” not “IN HEAVEN.” It is heaven’s kingdom, and this is a big difference. Just as kingdom OF GOD means God’s kingdom, not the kingdom IN GOD, the same is true of the kingdom OF HEAVEN, or heaven’s kingdom. The preposition “OF” denotes possession. The phrase kingdom OF GOD is synonymous with kingdom OF HEAVEN.
10. “Great is Your Reward in Heaven”
Matthew 5:11-12 says, “Blessed are you, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for My sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward IN HEAVEN: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.” This verse is found just seven verses after Christ said, “the meek shall inherit the EARTH.” Did Christ forget what He had just said? Or did He teach two separate rewards—one for the meek and another for those who are persecuted for following Him? What does this scripture mean? Notice: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fades not away, RESERVED IN HEAVEN for you” (I Pet. 1:3-4). It is the REWARD of Christians that is RESERVED IN HEAVEN, to be “revealed” (i.e., salvation) “in the last time” (vs. 5). Revelation 22:12 states, “And, behold, I [Christ] come quickly [back to EARTH]; and MY REWARD IS WITH ME, to give every man according as his work shall be.”
11. The Spirits of Just Men Made Perfect Are in Heaven
Hebrews 12:22-23 says, “But you are come unto…the HEAVENLY Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels…To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written IN HEAVEN, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect.” Does this verse prove that there are immortal souls of “just men made perfect” in heaven? The Bible does teach that Christ, many angels and the spirits of men are in heaven! It plainly says that there is a spirit in every person—but it is not an immortal soul (I Cor. 2:11; Zech. 12:1; Prov. 16:32; I Cor. 6:20; Job 32:8; Prov. 20:27, all reference this spirit in man. Humans do not have immortal souls—see Gen. 2:7; Ezek. 18:4, 20; Matt. 10:28; Rom. 6:23; etc. At the end of a converted person’s life, God returns his or her human spirit to Himself. In it, He has preserved a complete, detailed record of all that pertained to that person’s life. This is the plain teaching of scripture. Notice: “And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Th. 5:23). The spirit, soul and body represent all that was the person. The personality, experiences, accumulated knowledge and character of each human being is reflected in the human spirit. This is why it returns to God at death. “Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it” (Eccl. 12:7). And Ecclesiastes 3:21 states, “Who knows the spirit of man that goes upward, and the spirit of the beast that goes downward to the earth?” You now know what few know—that there is a spirit in man that returns to God at death. “And they stoned Stephen, calling upon God, and saying, Lord Jesus, receive MY SPIRIT. And he kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge. And when he had said this, he fell ASLEEP” (Acts 7:59-60). Hebrews 12:22-23 is amazing, revealing that the God “of all spirits” (Num. 27:16), of all “just men made perfect,” keeps all these spirits with Him. The “spirits of just men made perfect” are human spirits containing the stored character, knowledge, personality and experience of every converted person who has ever lived. Heaven—the heavenly Jerusalem—is where the spirits of all God’s saints from the last 6,000 years are held—are preserved intact—awaiting their coming resurrection.
12. But Didn’t Paul Want to “Depart and Be With Christ”?
Philippians 1:23-24: Paul stated, “For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better: Nevertheless to abide in the flesh is more needful for you.” Then in 2 Timothy 4:6-8, Paul says, “For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at THAT DAY: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love HIS APPEARING.” When is “that day”? Recall Revelation 22:12 stated, “behold, I come quickly; and My reward is with Me, to give every man” (see also I Cor. 15:52 & Dan. 12:2-3, 13). Christians do not die and go to heaven. They wait (in the grave) for Christ to return to this earth. Paul knew the dead who “sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake” (Dan. 12:2). He also understood Ecclesiastes 9:5-6,10 and Psalm 146:4. These verses show that when a person dies, his thoughts perish, and he is unaware of the passing of time. Paul knew that his next waking moment would be in the resurrection, and would seem as though it happened immediately, not 2,000 years later.
13. Is Paul Now “Present With the Lord”?
In 2 Corinthians 5:1-8, Paul speaks of being “at home in the body” and “absent from the Lord” (v. 6), and then “to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord” (v. 8). This passage is similar in principle to Philippians 1:23-24. All of 1 Corinthians 15 explains that Christians have two bodies: one physical (the first body), then a spirit body (at the resurrection). Paul was speaking of this spirit body, which comes later at the resurrection.
14. Were Enoch and Elijah Taken to Heaven?
Genesis 5:24 and 2 Kings 2:11 don't teach that Enoch and Elijah were taken to heaven. That would contradict John 3:13, which says, “no man has ascended to heaven.” Where then were they taken? Enoch, who was the seventh of eight preachers of righteousness (Gen. 5; 2 Pet. 2:4-5), "walked with God: and he was not; for God took him” (Gen. 5:24). Enoch “walked with God”—faithfully obeyed God for 300 years (vv. 21-24), until his death. He “was not” in the sense that he “was not found” (Heb. 11:5). Verse 5 explains that God “translated” him; here, the Greek term for “translated” means “to transfer or transport.” God removed Enoch’s body to another location for burial just as He did with Moses (Deut. 34:6). The same Greek word for “translated” is also used in Acts 7:16 to describe Jacob’s body being transported to Sychem for burial. Enoch is awaiting his resurrection with the other servants of God (Heb. 11:5, 39-40). Regarding Elijah, 2 Kings 2:1 states, “And it came to pass, when the LORD would take up Elijah into heaven by a whirlwind, that Elijah went with Elisha from Gilgal.” Verse 11 continues, “And it came to pass, as they still went on, and talked, that, behold, there appeared a chariot of fire, and horses of fire, and parted them both asunder; and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven.” When the Bible uses the word "heaven," it is used to describe three locations: First, there is the atmosphere around the earth; this is the first heaven. Next, outer space is referred to as “heaven,” or “the heavens”; this is the second heaven. Finally, the location of God’s throne is specifically called “the third heaven” (2 Cor. 12:2). We already know that no human being has ascended into heaven—to God’s throne in the thirdheaven. Therefore, only two possibilities remain for Elijah: outer space or the earth’s atmosphere. Since human beings cannot breathe in outer space, Elijah must have been taken up into the atmosphere. Clearly, this is the only logical alternative. In contrast to Enoch, Elijah was taken to another location on earth, where he lived the rest of his life. A few years after he had been taken away, Elijah wrote a letter to Jehoram, king of Judah, rebuking him for not following God as his father Jehoshaphat did (2 Chron. 21:12). Only people on Earth send letters! Hebrews chapter 11 summarizes the future reward of Enoch and Elijah as having part with the patriarchs and other servants of God throughout the ages: “These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth” (v. 13). Also read verses 39-40: “And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise: God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect.”
15. Souls Under the Altar?
Revelation 6:9-11 says, “I saw under the altar [in heaven] the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held.” The context continues with the souls asking God a question. Some cite these verses to validate both the immortal soul doctrine and that the saved go to heaven. This description is symbolic, not literal, as is the rest of the book of Revelation. Notice the four horses (of the apocalypse) described earlier in this same chapter. Surely, no one believes that such “souls” are literally required to remain under any kind of altar in heaven. In vision, John saw before him a scroll sealed with seven seals. As Christ opened each seal (Rev. 5:5), John was shown a preview of a future event -- “hereafter” (4:1). Since John was “in the spirit” as the seven seals were opened (v. 2), the events he witnessed were not actually occurring when he saw them. They were heavenly previews of things that would happen later on Earth. Upon opening the fifth seal (Rev. 6:9), John “saw under [at the base of] the altar the souls of them that were slain.” In Matthew 24:9-28, Christ had shown a parallel that confirms the meaning of the seven seals. The fifth seal symbolizes a coming Great Tribulation, which will occur on Earth. In the vision, John was shown the future, with a long period of martyrdom having taken place (up to and through the Middle Ages), and a later one (the Great Tribulation) that is yet to happen in our time. The souls who were “slain” (martyred Christians throughout the ages) were told (v. 11) to “rest yet for a little season, until their fellow servants also and their brethren, that should be killed as they were, should be fulfilled.” Many of those who have died will continue to “rest” (remain “asleep” in their graves—Eph. 5:14; I Cor. 11:30) until others are also martyred. The “souls” (dead saints) crying “avenge our blood” (v. 10) is akin to Abel’s blood (his life -- Lev. 17:14) crying to God from the earth (Gen. 4:10). Since neither blood nor the dead talk (Ps. 115:17; Eccl. 9:5, 10), the meaning is symbolic, not literal. Therefore, the “souls under the altar” represents a future martyrdom of saints.
16. Who Are the 24 Elders?
Revelation 5:8-10: “And when He had taken the book, the four beasts and FOUR AND TWENTY ELDERS fell down before the Lamb, having everyone of them harps, and golden vials full of odors, which are the prayers of the saints. And they sung a new song, saying, You are worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for You were slain, and have redeemed us [them] to God by the blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation; And have made us [them] unto our God kings and priests: and we [they] shall reign on the earth.” Some falsely claim that the 24 elders are taken from saved human beings. This idea comes from a mistranslation of the italicized words. These should be replaced by the words in brackets. See the Revised Standard Version, and also the margin of the New King James Version, which both render them correctly. These elders are spirit beings created by God to be His counselors. They were probably created before the physical creation, along with the cherubim (Michael, Gabriel and Lucifer [who became Satan] are the only three mentioned in the Bible), the seraphim, the four living creatures and the billions of other angels that serve God. It is impossible that the 24 elders are resurrected saints. Christ stated, “And no man has ascended up to heaven, but He that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven” (John 3:13). Only when Christ returns in glory to Jerusalem will Christians be given immortality (1 Cor. 15:23)! The 24 elders rule with God in heaven and have been given an advisory role to Him. The resurrected saints rule on Earth (Rev. 20:4; Matt. 5:5; Dan. 7:27).
17. Moses and Elijah in Heaven?
Matthew 17:1-3 says, Peter, James and John saw Christ in glory “transfigured” and appearing with Moses and Elijah. But verse 9 explains that it was a “VISION”. It was not addressing where they were literally.
18. Did Paul Visit Heaven?
Paul said in 2 Corinthians 12:1-7, “It is not expedient for me doubtless to glory, I will come to VISIONS and REVELATIONS of the Lord (v. 1). I knew [know] a man in Christ above fourteen years ago, (whether in the body, I cannot tell; or whether out of the body, I cannot tell: God knows;) such an one caught up to the THIRD HEAVEN (v. 2). And I knew such a man, (whether in the body, or out of the body, I cannot tell: God knows; [v. 3]) How that he was caught up into paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter” (v. 4). This question arises: Does verse 4 prove that Paul went to heaven, because “he was caught up into paradise,” and that this is our reward as well? Revelation 2:7 does, in fact, prove that paradise is near God’s throne in the third heaven: “He that has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says unto the churches; To him that overcomes will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God.” There is no doubt that this account refers to Paul and no one else. He uses the pronoun “I” fourteen times. It is also clear that this event was a VISION. In verse 7, Paul added, “And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the REVELATIONS, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure.” Verse 2 shows that Paul’s experience was so real to him, he could not discern if it was a vision or something that really happened! The word “knew,” in verse 2, should be translated “know.” Paul was speaking of himself. Paul could not have literally gone to heaven, because Christ said, “No man has ascended up to heaven, but…the Son of man which is in heaven” (John 3:13). This unusual experience was given to Paul for a reason -- so that he would have the special strength to endure all of what he would be required to suffer over the course of his ministry. In the previous chapter, 11:23-33, Paul describes the terrible and seemingly endless trials and persecution that he experienced. His ability to endure all these difficulties required special encouragement from God. This was why Paul was allowed to see his future glory after being resurrected—when he will actually receive salvation. Verses 5-6 show that Paul described himself indirectly so that people would not think too highly of him. He realized that some could begin to view him as a special person merely because of the vision God had shown him. So this is what he said: “Of such an one will I glory: yet of myself I will not glory, but in mine infirmities. For though I would desire to glory, I shall not be a fool; for I will say the truth: but now I forbear, lest any man should think of me above that which he sees me to be, or that he hears of me.”
19. Conversation in Heaven?
Philippians 3:20 says, “For our conversation is in heaven; from where also we look for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.” The word conversation is the Greek word politeuma. It should be properly translated CITIZENSHIP. The word politics derives from it. Christian “citizenship” is held in heaven, not on Earth. It also explains why Christ said, “My kingdom is NOT OF THIS WORLD” (John 18:36). This is because it belongs to another place -- heaven. Christians are ambassadors for another government (2 Cor. 5:20) and citizens of the kingdom of God. This is why they do not participate in man’s systems of government. Their citizenship derives from and is held by a different authority—HEAVEN! The citizenship of Christians comes FROM heaven by the authority of God IN heaven. Recall that Revelation 22:12 shows that Christ brings our reward with Him! Verse 21 of Philippians 3 shows that it is speaking of the resurrection (see 1 Cor. 15), when our bodies shall be changed. Matthew 6:19-23 shows that Christians can store eternal reward in heaven where “neither moth nor rust doth corrupt”. The analogy is that a Christian’s citizenship is held in heaven also where no one can destroy it. Finally, Philippians 3:20 uses the phrase “FROM where” in describing Christ’s Return. He comes here with His reward, not the other way around!
20. Are the Fathers Alive?
Matthew 22:31-32 says, “But as touching the resurrection of the dead, have you not read that which was spoken unto you by God, saying, I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob? God is not the God of the dead, but of the living.” Does this say Abraham, Isaac and Jacob are alive? Christ is speaking “touching [concerning] the resurrection.” He is not speaking of these men living in heaven now, but rather about who must be resurrected in the future, since God is the God “of the living.” This is the subject He is explaining—the RESURRECTION! Abraham, Isaac and Jacob are dead. Therefore, the God of the living must resurrect them back to life at some point in His Plan.
21. Caught Up Together in the Clouds -- Taken Away By A "Thief" -- Return With Our Lord
Finally, our Lord will come secretly "as a THIEF in the NIGHT" "FOR his bride" Leah on the "LAST TRUMP." When "heaven opened" (Rev. 19:11), Yeshua may graciously catch up "we which are alive" (1 Th 4:17) to become immortal. Heaven will open for the "CLOUD of [living] witnesses" (Heb. 12:1) to be "caught up together" (1 Th. 4:17) with the risen dead "in the CLOUDS" (1 Th. 4:16-17) to the "place prepared" (John 14:2) which is defined as "the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world" (Matt. 25:34). The kingdom of heaven is presently IN heaven (Matt. 7:21). We are invited to the "marriage SUPPER of the LAMB" (19:9). The honeymoon will continue a "week" (Gen. 29:27) of seven years. Therefore, we will be raptured to heaven. "The Son of Man will come when LEAST expected" (Matt. 24:44; Luke 12:40). Then our Lord will return and "EVERY EYE shall see him" (Rev. 1:7) "WITH his bride" (Jude 14-15; Zech. 14:5; 1 Th. 3:13; Rev. 19:14) on the "GREAT TRUMPET" for Rachel (Gen. 29:28). In order to return with Christ, she has to be STOLEN or taken away first. Our Lord said that "if the goodman of the house had known in what watch the THIEF would come, he would have watched, and would not have suffered his house to be broken up" (24:43). The Leah saints become "the armies which were in heaven (who) followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean" (Rev. 19:14). Our reward is presently IN heaven (Matt. 5:11-12; 1Pet. 1:3-4). The spirits of just men made perfect are presently IN heaven (Heb. 12:22-23). Our citizenship is presently IN heaven (Phil. 3:20). And, yes, as spirit beings the saints will go TO heaven at the resurrection. But we come back to earth. We don't stay there.