Most people are surprised when they learn that the Old Testament, though three times as large as the New, does not contain one single promise about going to heaven. God’s people, in Old Testament times, looked forward to a glorified earth, with Messiah as its Ruler.
This was so even when our Lord was on earth and continued to be so through Pentecost. Peter, addressing his kinsmen just after Pentecost, said in essence: “Repent, and God will send Jesus down here” (See Acts 3:19-20), but Paul, in his epistles, says by divine inspiration: “Believe, and God will take you up there.”
This apostle of grace teaches us that God has already given believers in Christ a position and “all spiritual blessings” in heavenly places in Christ (Eph. 2:4-6; 1:3). And he teaches further that at the close of this dispensation of grace “the dead in Christ shall rise” and “we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together …to meet the Lord… and so shall we ever be with the Lord” (I Thes. 4:16,17).
Thus it is that Paul, God’s special apostle for our day, declares that “our conversation [or citizenship] is in heaven” (Phil. 3:20) and writes of “the hope which is laid up for you in heaven” (Col. 1:5). Thus it is that he encourages persecuted saints, saying: “Ye…took joyfully the spoiling of your goods, knowing…that ye have in heaven a better and an enduring substance” (Heb. 10:34). And thus he writes even of death:
“For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dis- solved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens” (II Cor. 5:1).
“…to die is gain….to depart and to be with Christ…is far better” (Phil. 1:21,23). source