Though we may die, Jesus says, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live” (John 11:25). We will receive immortality when Jesus comes again (see 1 Corinthians 15:51-54). The Bible says that all those who have died—both righteous and wicked—will be raised to life in one of two resurrections. The righteous will be raised to life at Jesus’ second coming. “For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first” (1 Thessalonians 4:16, NKJV). According to this verse, the righteous do not to go heaven when they die. They remain asleep in the grave until Jesus returns and raises them to immortal life (see 1 Corinthians 15:50-57).
The wicked are raised to life in a separate resurrection—the resurrection of condemnation. Jesus said, “Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice and come forth—those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation” (John 5:28, 29, NKJV).
The prophets never mention in the Bible that the righteous immediately go to heaven or the wicked go to hell when they die. Neither did Jesus and His apostles teach it. When Jesus was about to leave His disciples, He did not tell them they would soon come to Him. “Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also” (John 14:1-3, NKJV).
When He returns, our loved ones asleep in Christ will awake from their tombs. No matter how long the time has passed, be it long or short, will seem but a moment to them. By the voice of Jesus, they are called forth from their deep slumber they will begin to think just where they ceased, awakening to a glorious immortality.
“For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible…So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written:
‘Death is swallowed up in victory.’”
The last sensation was the pang of death, the last thought, that they were falling beneath the power of the grave, but then, imagine, when they arise from the tomb, to the shout,
“O Death, where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory?” (1 Corinthians 15:55).