The Old Testament made clear that the dead – good and bad – slept below in Sheol. (The Septuagint rendered it “Hades.”) Jesus confirmed in John 3 that no one had ascended into heaven (meaning not even Enoch or Elijah landed there).
In 1 Corinthians 15, Paul declares that, notwithstanding doubters in Corinth, the dead would indeed be raised. He states the point in the future tense: “the dead will be raised,” indicating that the dead were still asleep. That the dead still slept was a point he confirmed elsewhere in chapter fifteen and also in chapter eleven. In 1 Thessalonians 4 he again makes reference to the raising of the dead as a future event. Moreover, 2 Timothy 2 he calls as false doctrine the teaching that the resurrection had already occurred. In Hebrews it says that all things were not yet subjected to Christ (Hebrews 2) and that “the day” was still “drawing near” (Hebrews 10). Since we have this overwhelming evidence that the dead had not been raised by the time of the writing of these letters, what makes you think they’re raised now? And if you do say they’re raised now, aren’t you as much a heretic as those Paul criticized in 2 Timothy 2?
Relax. The good news is that the trumpet of God did sound, that the Lord did come in His kingdom, and the dead were raised imperishable to heaven. It all happened right on schedule, not too many years after Paul and Peter died. Ever since then, we who die are caught up in the air to meet those who have preceded us. Sheol was done away in the new heavens and new earth (there no longer being any sea, or lower compartment to creation, according to Revelation’s account).
On the other hand, if you say that Jesus has not come again, then how can you believe anyone besides Jesus is in heaven? (If you’re not sure, see Jesus Christ Has Already Come Again )
The dead are now in heaven. And you and I will be there one day, too.
For a longer post on this subject, see Everyone Is Going to Heaven .
For those who would like a fuller explanation from the Bible that everyone is going to heaven, I am posting online a book: The Biblical Case for Everyone Going to Heaven.