What is the origin of the myth?
After the death of Jesus’ apostles, by the beginning of the second century C.E., the early Church Fathers gained prominence. Describing their teachings, the New Catholic Encyclopedia (2003), Volume 6, page 687, says: “The general stream of teaching was that heavenly bliss is granted to the disembodied soul immediately after whatever necessary purification follows death.”
What does the Bible say?
“Happy are the mild-tempered ones, since they will inherit the earth.”—Matthew 5:5.
Although Jesus promised his disciples that he would “prepare a place” for them in heaven, he indicated that the righteous do not automatically go there. (John 3:13; 14:2, 3) Did he not pray that God’s will take place “as in heaven, also upon earth”? (Matthew 6:9, 10) In reality, one of two destinies awaits the righteous. A minority will rule in heaven with Christ, but the majority will live forever on earth.—Revelation 5:10.
Over time, the early church changed its view of its own role on the earth. With what result? “The institutional church increasingly replaced the expected Kingdom of God,” states The New Encyclopædia Britannica. The church began solidifying its power by becoming mixed up in politics, ignoring Jesus’ explicit statements that his followers were to be “no part of the world.” (John 15:19; 17:14-16; 18:36) Under the influence of the Roman Emperor Constantine, the church compromised some of its beliefs, one of which involved the very nature of God.
The majority of good people will live forever on earth—not in heaven