Sunday, August 16, 2009

Heaven? What's That? And What Is It Like?

Tonight's subject is a heavenly one.

I'm putting together a lesson for the ladies in jail and am using the theological note on "Heaven" in the Reformation Study Bible. The Bible is an ESV version, but I use the NASB, so if you notice a slight difference in wording, that's the reason.

It would seem to me that if we are going to ask questions about heaven we should, of all places, find the answers in Scripture. So what exactly does the Bible tell us about heaven?

Heaven is first of all God's dwelling place.
Psalm 33:13-14 "The LORD looks from heaven; He sees all the sons of men; from His dwelling place He looks out on all the inhabitants of the earth."

Secondly, it is the place where the glorified Christ has returned. In Acts 1:11 two angels speak to the disciples who had just watched Jesus rise into heaven. The angels tell them, "This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in just the same way as you have watched Him go into heaven."

Thirdly, it is the place where one day God's people will be with Christ forever.
In John 17:5 Jesus prays to the Father, "Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was."
And John 17:24, "Father, I desire that they also, whom You have given Me, be with Me, where I am, so that they may see My glory which You have given Me, for You loved Me before the foundation of the world."
I Thessalonians 4:16-17 speaks of the last day, "For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord."

Jesus told His followers that He would prepare a place for His people.
John 14:2 "In my Father's house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?

The throne of Christ is at the Father's right hand.
Ephesians 1:20 . "...He (the Father) raised Him (Christ) from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places..."

The apostle Paul adds that from the perspective of eternity, those who belong to God are already seated with Christ.
Ephesians 2:6 "...and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus."

We will have a new body, a body that is adapted for life in heaven.
2 Cor. 5:1-8 "For we know that if the earthly tent (our earthly body) which is our house is torn down, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands (our resurrection body), eternal in the heavens. 2 For indeed in this house (our body that is dying) we groan, longing to be clothed with our dwelling from heaven (our new heavenly body), 3 inasmuch as we, having put it on, will not be found naked. 4 For indeed while we are in this tent (this dying body), we groan, being burdened, because we do not want to be unclothed but to be clothed, so that what is mortal (our body that will die) will be swallowed up by life. 6 Now He who prepared us for this very purpose is God, who gave to us the Spirit as a pledge (guarantee). 6 Therefore, being always of good courage, and knowing that while we are at home in the body (living here and now) we are absent from the Lord 7 for we walk by faith, not by sight-- 8 we are of good courage, I say, and prefer rather to be absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord."

Right now, in the here and now, in our earthly bodies, the realities of heaven are unseen, and we know them only by faith.
2 Corinthians 4:18 "...while we look not at the things which are seen (things now), but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal."
2 Corinthians 5:7
adds this "...for we walk by faith, not by sight..."

The disciple John reminds believers in 1 John 3:2-3 "Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He (Jesus) appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is."

Right now, we only know a fraction (if that) of what heaven will be like.
I Corinthians 13:12 "For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I now in part, but then I will know fuully just as I also have been fully known."

We have this reassurance...there will be no tears, sorrow, or death in heaven.
Revelation 21:4 "He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away."

God promises His people in Jeremiah 30:22, "You shall be my people,and I will be your God."

God's intention is that our redemption will reveal the riches of His love and kindness...
Ephesians 2:7 "so that in the ages to come He (God the Father) might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus."

His riches towards us are so astounding that we can't even begin to imagine the fullness of our eternal life in Christ.
I Corinthians 2:9 ..but just as it is written, 'Things which eye has not seen and ear has not heard, and which have not entered the heart of man, all that God has prepared for those who love Him.'"

And with that, I'm content. And grateful.

Romans 10:13

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