This site uses cookies to provide you with more responsive and personalized service and to collect certain information about your use of the site.  You can change your cookie settings through your browser.  If you continue without changing your settings, you agree to our use of cookies.  See our Privacy Policy for more information.

2022-01 Daily Devotional - Learning from God - plant shoots growing in the ground with a green background. 2022-01 Daily Devotional - Learning from God - plant shoots growing in the ground with a green background.

Questions and Answers | When do We go to Heaven?

When we die, do we go directly to heaven or wait for the final judgment day when God judges the living and the dead?

Although our souls are immediately conducted to either heaven or hell at death, John described a “great white throne” judgment (Rev. 20:11–15), in which everyone stands before Jesus Christ.

This final judgment at the end of time is the conclusion of divine justice, when God’s “righteous judgment will be revealed” (Rom. 2:5). On that day, unbelievers will receive degrees of punishment “according to what they had done” (Rev. 20:12). Believers will receive rewards according to their good works in Christ (2 Cor. 5:10; Rev. 11:18); and fallen angels, whom God “bound with everlasting chains for judgment on the great Day” (Jude 6), will be sentenced to absolute punishment (see 2 Peter 2:4). In fact, we are told that believers will participate in the judgment of angels (1 Cor. 6:2–3).

Believers are not subject to punishment. Jesus said, “Whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life” (John 5:24); and so, Paul taught that “there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 8:1). Nonetheless, nothing will be hidden at His judgment. The Lord “will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of the heart. At that time each will receive their praise from God” (1 Cor. 4:5). Knowing this encourages us to “do it all for the glory of God” (1 Cor. 10:31).

BY Sanjay Merchant

Sanjay Merchant is Professor of Theology at Moody Bible Institute and a teaching pastor at Northshore Christian Church in Everett, Washington. He earned his Ph.D. from Claremont Graduate University School of Religion, and Master’s degrees from Biola University. He enjoys helping his students wrestle with hard questions of the faith, teaching courses on philosophy, theology, and apologetics. Sanjay and his wife, Erin, have four children and reside in Roselle, Illinois.

Find Questions and Answers by Month