For countless centuries many 'believers' have been comforted by the teaching that when they die their 'immortal souls' go to heaven. We know that the Bible teaches that no one has an immortal soul, or any spark of immortality and that no one goes to heaven and nor does any part of them, neither their body or what folk think is their soul.
HOW DID THE HEAVEN GOING 'THEORY' DEVELOP?
When the Lord, as a preamble to His Sermon on the Mount, recited what has become known as the 'beatitudes', He said to the disciples, in Matthew 5:10... "Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven". Then in :12 he adds.. "Rejoice and be exceeding glad, for GREAT IS YOUR REWARD IN HEAVEN."
When death stares a person 'in the face' so to speak, it is an enormous comfort to have those words repeated to them or used at a funeral and it is quite usual to hear an officiating Parson claim that because the Lord Jesus promised the 'reward in heaven', then we can be assured that the 'immortal soul' of the person being buried has already found its way to heaven and no doubt is looking down on the funeral ceremony. That the Bible does not teach such simplistic ideas never occurs to many who hear them. Not only so, but it is also often said that the soul of even a terribly wicked person has gone to heaven.
Many present day Christians are under the impression that their 'immortal soul' goes straight to heaven at death and there it praises the Father for all time.
However, a study of the Scriptures shows that the disciples and Apostles believed the teachings of their Scriptures, that all life and memory and thoughts ceased at death and man went back to the ground, from which he was created in the first place and the breath of life given to him at his birth, went back to God who gave it. (Ecclesiastes 12:7)
WHAT THEN IS THE STATE OF MANKIND IN DEATH?
The beliefs of the Christian Church developed from the beliefs of the Jews, many of whom formed the basis of the early Church. The Jews of the days of the Lord Jesus learnt their beliefs from the Old Testament and thus you find no arguments against the teachings of Jesus on the important matter of the death state. Their belief was that before the child breathes at birth it is a dead soul but immediately God gives the child the breath of life it becomes a "living soul" (Hebrew is Nephesh= 'a breathing creature' Genesis 2:7). It can only be obvious that when that person dies the situation is reversed... it becomes a dead soul, or person, as it was before the breath of life came into its nostrils. King Solomon wisely pointed out, "The living know that they shall die but the dead know not anything" (Ecclesiastes 9:5)
The Jews of every century since the times of King David, have always revered this wonderful King of Israel and his teachings in the Psalms. In Psalm 104, David speaks of many of the living things the Father created and he says, (:30), "Thou sendest forth thy spirit, they are created" and in :29, "Thou takest away their breath, they die, and return to their dust."
In Psalm 6:5, the great King David relates death to the grave and writes.. "In death there is no remembrance of thee; in the grave who shall give thee thanks?" Obviously King David's perception of death was simply that of which he spoke in Psalm 115:17, "The dead praise not the Lord, neither any that go down into silence (the grave)." Surely if David was indeed a 'man after God's own heart', he would know the truth about death and 'life after death'. He did.....his view of death was very clear and is expressed in Psalm 146:4, "His breath goeth forth, he returneth to his earth: in that very day his thoughts perish." These simple truths show clearly that when man dies he goes back to the ground to silence, not to heaven to praise God. The Apostle John made sure we learn of this by writing, "No man hath ascended up to heaven" (John 3:13).
The Apostle Peter preaching on the Day of Pentecost with the Disciples, plainly declares... "David is both dead and buried and his sepulchre is with us unto this day.....David is NOT ASCENDED into the heavens" (Acts 2:29, :34). Peter was saying that David's bones were still in the sepulchre in Israel and that NO part of him was in heaven.
DOES ANY PART OF MAN GO TO HEAVEN AT DEATH?
Solomon tells us that the only part of man that 'goes to heaven' at death, or, to the Father, is the breath of life He gives us in the first place. "The Spirit (Hebrew ruwach= breath) shall return to God who gave it" (Ecclesiastes 12:7).
The Bible says nothing about Abraham going to heaven... Genesis 25:8 says "he was gathered to his people"...where were they? In the same place as he was...in the grave, certainly NOT in heaven. Genesis 35:29 says the same about Isaac and Genesis 49:33 the same about Jacob. Like David they all went to the grave and David said, "O God...Thou shalt quicken me again and bring me UP AGAIN FROM THE DEPTHS OF THE EARTH" (Psalm 71:20). Surely if David thought he was going to heaven he would have asked God to bring him down, NOT UP!
The prophet Daniel apparently did not believe people went to heaven at death ....he believed people were in the grave and said.. "Many of them that SLEEP in the dust of the earth, shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt." (Daniel 12:2)
The Apostle Paul did not teach that people had immortal souls, which would go to heaven praising the Father eternally. No, he said that when the Trumpet blows at Christ's return, "this mortal must put on immortality" (1 Corinthians 15:53), showing that no man or woman possesses any spark of immortality...no immortal soul dwelling in heaven, in other words.
The Apostle John apparently did not believe that the "saved' went to heaven either, for he wrote the following words of Jesus... "No man can come to me except the Father which hath sent me, draw him; and I will RAISE HIM UP AT THE LAST DAY." (John 6:44). Why would Jesus say He would RAISE people UP, if they were in heaven. Obviously He did not teach they would be in heaven, but rather, in the grave, from which they would be raised.
One of the last messages of hope the Lord Jesus left was, "Behold I come quickly and my reward (eternal life) is with me to give every man according as his works shall be." (Revelation 22:12). If a person is in heaven enjoying the reward of immortality, what is the use of the second coming of the Lord Jesus and the resurrection of the body? The simple truth is that no part of man goes to heaven...he sleeps in the grave until called forth by the Lord Jesus, as he did when He resurrected Lazarus, who 'slept' in the grave, not heaven (John 11:11).