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; 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). 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; Psalm 51:11).
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). 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). The Kingdom of God will thus be established when Jesus returns to this earth at some time in the future (Revelation 11:15).
The Bible reveals that no human beings have yet ascended into heaven (John 3:13). 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?