Gathered To Your People

By Dr. Ken Matto

There seems to be some confusion on the part of many Christians concerning what happens when a Christian physically dies. Now I am not speaking about the rapture on the last day, which Christ mentions five times in the book of John. (John 6:39; 6:40; 6:44; 6:54; 11:24) Some Christians feel that when a Christian dies there is a waiting time or they go to a place called Abraham’s Bosom which is sort of a holding place for true believers until the last day. However, the Bible is very clear on what happens to the believer when they physically die. We do not have to concoct any scenarios because the Bible is plain. Before we get into the promotion of the believer to glory, we must know why the believer is able to go directly into the presence of the Lord upon physical death.

Every person on earth has sinned and there is no question about that. However, when a person becomes a Christian by the electing grace of God, something happens to them internally. The flesh or our physical body has not been redeemed but will continue to decay until it finally dies and then it is buried where the body will continue to decompose until it is finally gone. There will come a time on the last day when our body will be raised in the resurrection. 1 Corinthians 15:42 (KJV) So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption: The physical body corrupts but the soul is eternal and cannot corrupt.

The change that the believer experiences is in the soul. Our physical body is laden with sin and one can see the struggle the Apostle Paul had as he details it in Romans 7:14-25. Before a person is saved, the soul of that person is dead and will go along with whatever the flesh wants to do. Ephesians 2:5 (KJV) Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) This is why as unbelievers, we did not have a problem committing sin because our dead soul and flesh were in agreement. Now I want to take Ephesians 2:5 a little deeper because the real person is the soul of a person and not the flesh. Romans 7:17 (KJV) Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. The apostle Paul had a deep understanding of this situation. He states that when he sins that it is no longer him that does it but sin that dwells in him. When a person becomes saved, as I stated before, their physical body has not been redeemed and that is where the sin lies. When Paul states that it is no longer him that does it, he is referring to the real him which is the resurrected soul that he received at the moment he was saved. We must be very careful that we never equate the dying physical body with the resurrected soul. 2 Corinthians 4:16 (KJV) For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day. The resurrected soul of the believer is being renewed and strengthened every day.

Let us briefly discuss the resurrected soul and what it is. We see a good understanding of the resurrected soul in Revelation 20:5-6. Now many erroneously attach these verses to some mythical thousand year reign of Christ but the context of these verses cannot and do not support such a teaching. If you notice that in these two verses, they speak about the first resurrection. The key to understanding this is found in verse 6 where it states, “on such the second death hath no power,” and we must understand what the second death is. Revelation 20:14 (KJV) And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. The second death is when both death and hell will be cast into the lake of fire. No longer will there be any sin, so the consequences of sin which is hell and death will also be cast into the lake of fire. This is called the second death or eternal damnation. (1 Cor 15:26 KJV) The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death. The Apostle Paul had given us prior knowledge that death would be the last enemy and in 20:14 we see that death will be destroyed. No longer will anyone die in the New Heaven and New Earth because only the redeemed of God will be there and they have been granted eternal life through the shed blood of the Lord Jesus Christ. So we see that the second death does not affect those who have become born again in Christ. So we understand that those who have become born again in Christ are not affected by the second death as recorded in Rev. 20:6.

Revelation 20:5-6 (KJV) But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection. {6} Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years.

Romans 6:4 (KJV) Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. Romans 6:4 spells it out for us that as Christ was raised we are also raised to live in newness of life, that is we live the Christian walk.

Ephesians 2:6 (KJV) And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: Ephesians 2:6 takes the raising of the believer further. Not only do we walk in newness of life on this earth, God has already raised us up and from His vantage point, we are already in Heaven with Christ. Now that is a great disclosure of biblical truth concerning the believer. Now before we can get to this point in our Christian walk, something had to take place within us so we can be qualified to gain Heaven. Now we get to the reason that the true believer goes right into the presence of the Lord upon their physical demise.

Psalm 103:12 (KJV) As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us.

Colossians 2:13-14 (KJV) And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses; {14} Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross;

Isaiah 43:25 (KJV) I, even I, am he that blotteth out thy transgressions for mine own sake, and will not remember thy sins.

Hebrews 8:12 (KJV) For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more.

Hebrews 10:17 (KJV) And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more.

We see from these six verses that God not only removes all sin from the soul of the believer, He blots out all ordinances against us, He blots out all our transgressions, and three times He states that He will not remember our sins. The reason that the believer, whether on the Old Testament side or the New Testament side, can go right into the presence of the Lord is because the believer has been fully cleansed by the blood of Christ and there is now nothing hindering their entrance into Heaven. 1 Peter 1:4 (KJV) To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, The inheritance is already reserved for the believer so there is no waiting period. Now let us attend to the examples in Scripture that teach us of the instant translation of the believer.

Genesis 25:8 (KJV) Then Abraham gave up the ghost, and died in a good old age, an old man, and full of years; and was gathered to his people.

If you notice the case of Abraham, that as soon as he gave up the ghost, that is, as soon as he physically died he was gathered to his people, and where is his people? They are in Heaven because Abraham was a redeemed child of God.

Genesis 35:29 (KJV) And Isaac gave up the ghost, and died, and was gathered unto his people, being old and full of days: and his sons Esau and Jacob buried him.

We see the same scenario with Isaac that as soon as he gave up the ghost, he was instantly gathered to his people.

Genesis 49:29 (KJV) And he charged them, and said unto them, I am to be gathered unto my people: bury me with my fathers in the cave that is in the field of Ephron the Hittite,

Genesis 49:33 (KJV) And when Jacob had made an end of commanding his sons, he gathered up his feet into the bed, and yielded up the ghost, and was gathered unto his people.

Here we read about Jacob that as soon as he laid in bed and gave up the ghost that he was instantly translated into Heaven.

Numbers 20:24 (KJV) Aaron shall be gathered unto his people: for he shall not enter into the land which I have given unto the children of Israel, because ye rebelled against my word at the water of Meribah.

Numbers 20:26 (KJV) And strip Aaron of his garments, and put them upon Eleazar his son: and Aaron shall be gathered unto his people, and shall die there.

Deuteronomy 32:50 (KJV) And die in the mount whither thou goest up, and be gathered unto thy people; as Aaron thy brother died in mount Hor, and was gathered unto his people:

Here we read that Aaron had died in Mount Hor and upon his death, he was gathered unto his people, that is, instantly translated into Heaven.

Deuteronomy 32:50 (KJV) And die in the mount whither thou goest up, and be gathered unto thy people; as Aaron thy brother died in mount Hor, and was gathered unto his people:

Numbers 27:13 (KJV) And when thou hast seen it, thou also shalt be gathered unto thy people, as Aaron thy brother was gathered.

Numbers 31:2 (KJV) Avenge the children of Israel of the Midianites: afterward shalt thou be gathered unto thy people.

Here we read about Moses that he was to avenge the children of the Midianites and then he would be permitted to see the promised land and after he saw it, he would be gathered unto his people.

Thief on the Cross
Luke 23:43 (KJV) And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise.

The thief on the cross went to Heaven with the Lord Jesus Christ. The teaching that Jesus went to the spirits in hell and preached to them is a ridiculous teaching. Luke 23:46 (KJV) And when Jesus had cried with a loud voice, he said, Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit: and having said thus, he gave up the ghost. As soon as Jesus died, He commended His spirit to the Father and his body was buried in Joseph’s tomb. Jesus didn’t go to hell but went right to Heaven. As soon as the saved thief had died on his cross, he went right into the presence of the Lord as the Lord promised him. There was no wait or going to some place called Abraham’s bosom. Abraham’s bosom is not a separate place, it is a synonym for Heaven because we already saw that Abraham was gathered to his people and the redeemed of the Lord are in Heaven.

Revelation 6:9-11 (KJV) And when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held: {10} And they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth? {11} And white robes were given unto every one of them; and it was said unto them, that they should rest yet for a little season, until their fellowservants also and their brethren, that should be killed as they were, should be fulfilled.

Revelation 7:9 (KJV) After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands;

Revelation 6:9-11 and 7:9 reveal to us that there is a great multitude in Heaven before the throne of the Lamb and notice they have white robes which is representative of the fact that they are pure because of the blood of Christ. So true believers do not go anywhere in this universe except into the presence of the Lord upon their physical demise. If believers did not go to Heaven, then where did that great multitude which no man can number come from?

2 Corinthians 5:8 (KJV) We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.

Paul speaks about being confident in the salvation of the Lord that when we are absent from the body, that is, when we physically die, our soul and spirit are separated from our body. The body goes into the ground and the soul goes back to God. Ecclesiastes 12:7 (KJV) Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it.

We have looked at quite a number of verses and have plainly seen that God has removed our sins making our souls clean because of the blood of Christ. This means that the real us, our soul and spirit, are readied for Heaven and as soon as we physically die on this earth, the real us go directly into Heaven, immediately into the presence of the Lord. There is no waiting time or judgment because Christ already paid for our sins on the cross and now there is nothing hindering our translation into Heaven. As we saw the Old Testament Saints who were gathered to their people immediately upon their physical demise, the same will be for us. As soon as our eyes close here for the last time, and there will be a last time unless the Lord returns first, we will go directly into the presence of the Lord. It will be an instant translation.

John 11:25 (KJV) Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: