• The Watchtower (2011)
  • Do All Faithful Christians Go to Heaven?

Our Readers Ask . . .

Do All Faithful Christians Go to Heaven?

▪ Many have read Jesus’ comforting words: “God loved the world so much that he gave his only-begotten Son, in order that everyone exercising faith in him might not be destroyed but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16) Did Jesus mean that all faithful worshippers of his Father, Jehovah God, would go to heaven to enjoy everlasting life in true happiness?

Note Jesus’ thought-provoking statement: “No man has ascended into heaven but he that descended from heaven, the Son of man.” (John 3:13) This implies that faithful worshippers in the past, such as Noah, Abraham, Moses, and David, had not gone to heaven. (Acts 2:34) Where, then, did they all go? In brief: The faithful of old are in the grave, sleeping in death, unconscious, awaiting resurrection.—Ecclesiastes 9:5, 6; Acts 24:15.

The Bible’s first reference to heavenly life after death was also by Jesus. He told his apostles that he would prepare a place for them in heaven. (John 14:2, 3) This was something new for God’s people. The apostle Paul later explained that after Jesus’ death and resurrection to heaven, Jesus ‘inaugurated for his disciples a new and living way’—a way no other human had traveled before.—Hebrews 10:19, 20.

Does this mean that from then on all faithful ones would go to heaven? No, for resurrection to heaven is closely related to an assignment given only to some humans. On their last evening together, Jesus told his apostles that they would “sit on thrones to judge” in his heavenly Kingdom. Thus, ruling with Jesus in heaven was to be their assignment.—Luke 22:28-30.

Besides the apostles, other humans would also be given this marvelous commission. In a vision, the apostle John saw Jesus with a group of resurrected ones in heaven described as ‘a kingdom and priests to rule over the earth.’ (Revelation 3:21; 5:10) How many of them were there? As in every government, only a limited number govern. So, too, with this heavenly Kingdom. Jesus, the Lamb of God, rules with 144,000 corulers “bought from among mankind.”—Revelation 14:1, 4, 5.

True, 144,000 is a small number compared with the number of all faithful ones, past and present. But this is understandable because the 144,000 are resurrected to heaven for a specific sacred assignment of work. If you were to build a house, would you contract all the skilled builders in your area? No. You would need only as many as were required for the job. Similarly, not all faithful ones are chosen by God for the unique privilege of ruling with Christ in heaven.

This heavenly government will accomplish God’s original purpose for mankind. Jesus and his 144,000 corulers will oversee the transformation of the earth into a global paradise, where an untold number of faithful ones will live forever in happiness. (Isaiah 45:18; Revelation 21:3, 4) This will include those in God’s memory, who will be resurrected.—John 5:28, 29.

Every faithful worshipper of Jehovah—past or present—can receive the marvelous gift of everlasting life. (Romans 6:23) A few will receive life in heaven for a special assignment, and the great majority will receive life on earth in a global paradise.