Where Are the People That Died Before Jesus? Heaven or Hell?

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Where Are the People That Died Before Jesus? Heaven or Hell?

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Understanding how God is working with people to grant them eternal life in His coming Kingdom is a most important and precious truth. Jesus, the Son of God, came to the earth as a human to die for our sins and to preach this message. Believing in Jesus and the message He brought makes it possible for us to become God’s children and receive everlasting life (John 1:12 John 1:12But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:
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; 3:16). When we repent of our sins and are baptized, we receive God’s Spirit—the promise that we will receive eternal life in the future (Romans 8:9-11 Romans 8:9-11 9 But you are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his. 10 And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. 11 But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwells in you.
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). The Holy Spirit is thus the identifying key as to who belongs to Christ and who will receive eternal life.

Prior to Jesus coming to this earth, the Bible reveals that only a very few had God’s Spirit. These included some of the prophets and individuals, such as David, with whom God specifically worked (1 Peter 1:10-11 1 Peter 1:10-11 10 Of which salvation the prophets have inquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come to you: 11 Searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow.
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; Psalms 51:11 Psalms 51:11Cast me not away from your presence; and take not your holy spirit from me.
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).

Now we must determine when people enter the Kingdom of God. Many people today assume that people who have died with the Spirit of God are now in heaven. But the Bible reveals that this is a mistaken assumption.

In A.D. 31 on the Day of Pentecost, the apostle Peter said of David, “that he is both dead and buried, and his tomb is with us to this day” (Acts 2:29 Acts 2:29Men and brothers, let me freely speak to you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his sepulcher is with us to this day.
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). Years later, Paul wrote that the dead in Christ (those who had died with God’s Spirit) would be resurrected (brought back to life) when Christ returns a second time to this earth (1 Thessalonians 4:17 1 Thessalonians 4:17Then 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.
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). The Kingdom of God will thus be established when Jesus returns to this earth at some time in the future (Revelation 11:15 Revelation 11:15And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever.
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).

The Bible reveals that no human beings have yet ascended into heaven (John 3:13 John 3:13And no man has ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven.
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). All humans who have died (even those who have had God’s Spirit dwelling within them) are waiting in their graves for the return of Jesus Christ to establish the Kingdom of God on earth. If you would like to learn more about this subject, we recommend reading our free booklets: Heaven & Hell—What Does the Bible Really Teach? and What Happens After Death?