Most of us would agree that the unrepentant sinner will never get to Heaven. However, there are apparently at least two differing schools of thought on where we go upon death. Both schools of thought believe they are Biblical. There are those that believe we don't go straight to heaven; but, that we "sleep" in death. They would cite some of the following:
Men and brothers, let me freely speak to you of the patriarch David that he is both dead and buried and his sepulcher is with us to this day.
For David is not ascended into the heavens; but, he said, The LORD said to my Lord, Sit on my right hand.
(Acts 2:34) (Reference to MT-Psa. 110:1)
Now, that thought holds that if David were still waiting why would anyone think they'd get there before he does? Next, they could say, one would think that when you get to Heaven you would be praising God, right. Nevertheless, the Bible tells us:
The dead praise not the LORD, neither any that go down to silence.
For the grave cannot praise you, death cannot celebrate you. They that go down into the pit cannot hope for your truth.
To continue that line of thought one would think that when you get to Heaven you would at least remember whom God is and thank Him, right. Nevertheless, the Bible tells us:
In death there is no remembrance of you. In the grave who shall give the thanks?
In addition, the Bible says the dead don't know or think anything:
For the living know that they shall die; but, the dead know not anything. They have no more a reward, for the memory of them is forgotten.
Whatsoever your hand finds to do, do it with strength; for, there is no work, or device, or knowledge, or wisdom, in the grave, wherever you go.
His breath goes forth, he returns to his earth; in that very day his thoughts perish.
Now the other school of thought is that the dead are already in Heaven or Hell. First, they would say the foregoing citation from Acts is referring to David's body only and/or that his soul did not ascend to the right seat (we will leave that alone). Next, they could cite some of the following:
Then Abraham gave up the ghost and died in a good old age, an old man; and, was gathered to his people.
In addition, they could cite innumerable other verses concerning Abraham. Here are just a few from Jesus Himself:
For when they rise from the dead, they neither marry or are given in marriage; but, are as the angels which are in heaven; and, as touching the dead, that they rise. Have you not read in the book of Moses, how in the bush God spoke to him saying, I the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob? He is not the God of the dead; but, the God of the living. So you err greatly.
(Mark 12:25/27) (Reference to Exodus 3:6)
Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day; and, he saw and was glad.
They could add other references, such as the story of beggar and the rich man in Luke Chapter 16. They could also add Jesus' own statement to the thief on the cross:
And Jesus said to him, Amen I say to you, today you shall be with me in paradise.
As I stated earlier both schools of thought are Biblically based. So who is right? I think, perhaps, that they both could be. Are not those who died before the resurrection of Christ judged under the Old Covenant? If so, although some may have they slept until the end of the Old Covenant, they may have all already been judged and are in either Heaven or Hell.
And the graves were opened and many bodies of the saints which slept arose; and, came out of the graves after his resurrection and went into the holy city and appeared to many.
All the verses I have been able to find that refer to someone in Heaven or Hell speak of someone who died before Christ was resurrected. There will be dead in the grave when Christ comes - "sleeping". Until Judgment Day the Bible gives no statement that the un-judged soul goes anywhere (that I have found or heard of). Until we have been adjudged, saved or damned, would God either reward or punish? The Bible says:
The Lord knows how to deliver the godly out of temptations and to reserve the unjust until the day of judgment to be punished.
(2 Peter 2:9)
Jesus Himself said:
And, behold, I come quickly and my reward with me, to give every man according as his work shall be.
The unjust, under the New Covenant, await punishment and Christians await reward, until after Jesus comes again (the way I see it going to Heaven is the greatest reward we could have). Hence, we who die after Christ, await the resurrection - all of us since the resurrection of Christ the good and the bad?
The bottom line why dispute amongst ourselves. Would either belief be a saving or damning doctrine? Yes, we are to study the Word; yes, we are to strive for sound doctrine. However, Satan loves to watch when we are contentious when we are too busy contending with ourselves to reach out and love each other too busy to spread the Word.