I want to tell you the story of heaven today. I’m convinced Oliver Wendell Holmes got it wrong when he said people can be “so heavenly minded that they’re no earthly good,” (Yes, that’s not a scripture verse, it’s from Oliver Wendell Holmes) In my experience I find Christian who aren’t heavenly minded are no earthly good.
I’m not saying we go around wishing things where different, waiting for the day Jesus returns to right every wrong and to judge perfectly. I know when I consider heaven, it motivates me to see as much of it here on earth as I can. I’ll need to unpack that statement, but there is much that scripture teaches us about heaven that I want to make time for in this post. Suffice it to say, heaven is where the Father’s will is done perfectly and I want to see His will done on earth as it is in heaven.
Because He’s good and He’s in a good mood.
I want us to consider heaven today…
Because it will encourage us not to worry about others worry about… and we’ll have peace.
It will encourage us to watch not the world but for the world to come… and we’ll have joy.
It will encourage us to stand ready by His grace… and in his righteousness.
This brief life on earth is the preface, not the book, the preliminaries, not the main event, the tune-up, not the concert. You were created for so much more than you could ever possibly experience or even conceive in this life. Inside your spirit you know that it’s true. You cry out for justice, you want good to always be done, the pain that sin causes sickens you… when you slow down enough to notice.
It’s because the core of who you are has been ruined for everything less than your destiny.
Some of you husbands just think your wives like to complain… No. It is because she lives in a fallen world that has yet to be redeemed in a body that has yet to be perfected and her spirit resists accepting that she has been created to live in anything less than her destiny… you go girl.
Just remember the eternal perspective if you’re one of those given to complain… you’re not complaining about your husband not putting the toilet seat down. You’re complaining because you were created for heaven and heaven is not yet here… but it’s coming.
Romans 8:21-23 NLT
All creation anticipates the day when it will join God’s children in glorious freedom from death and decay. For we know that all creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. And even we Christians, although we have the Holy Spirit within us as a foretaste of future glory, also groan to be released from pain and suffering. We, too, wait anxiously for that day when God will give us our full rights as his children, including the new bodies he has promised us.
Jesus told us he’d be coming back…
John 14:1-3 NIV
“Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.
What does the Bible say heaven will be like?
Heaven will be a lot like earth, only so much better than earth that it seems like an insult to describe it like earth. I’m not trying to lower your expectations but I want to give you some frame of reference… This world is a shadow of things to come – a pale reflection see through the glass darkly.
This world is where we live… Heaven is the place where God is.
Home of Christ, angels, and redeemed. Only for those who know Christ, whose names written in Lamb’s book of life.
1 Peter 3:21-22
and this water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also–not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a good conscience toward God. It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who has gone into heaven and is at God’s right hand–with angels, authorities and powers in submission to him.
This world really exists…
Heaven is located up and out there, outside our own universe. It is solid. Real. Not airy. Not ethereal. Tangible.
1 Thessalonians 5:16
For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first.
In this world we have bodies… In heaven we will have resurrected bodies
Facts of our Resurrected Bodies
- It will be a recognizable body. 1 Cor. 13:2
- It will be a body like Christ’s body. 1 John 3:2
- It will be a body that will permit eating. Luke 24:41–43; John 21:12–13
- It will be a body in which the spirit predominates. 1 Cor. 15:44, 49
- It will be a body unlimited by time, gravity, or space. Luke 24:31; John 20:19, 26
- It will be an eternal body. 2 Cor. 5:1
- It will be a glorious body. Rom. 8:18; 1 Cor. 15:43
In this world we have houses and cities….In heaven we have homes and the new Jerusalem
Heaven is a city whose builder and maker is God. A city by definition consists of residences. People live together. No isolation.
For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God.
City will have walls, gates, streets. Three gates on each side, 12 gates total. Access from all over new earth.
The twelve gates were twelve pearls, each gate made of a single pearl. The great street of the city was of pure gold, like transparent glass.
No down payment, closing costs, mortgage payments, property tax, utility bills.
In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you.
And if you think you’d never like the city, it’s because you’re thinking of earthly cities, with litter and dirt and crime. The heavenly city will have all the freshness and vitality and openness of the country with all the vibrancy and interdependence and relationships of a city. And there will be no racial divisions between people.
In this world oceans divide people… In heaven…
Water. No oceans to separate people of earth but fresh water–a great river, flowing not stagnant.
Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb
We travel in this world… In heaven There will be travel…
Nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life.
People will go from one place to another. Gates never shut. Our means of travel may be interesting–we are told we will be like Jesus and that his resurrection body is the prototype of ours. He walked through walls with his resurrection body. Perhaps we will have the option of walking, or traveling at the speed of light, or even the speed of thought.
In this world we remember… In heaven we’ll remember..
We know that in the heavenly city there will be memorials to the twelve tribes and to the apostles. Remembrance is something very important to God. We will sing of Christ’s redemption, his space and time history death on our behalf. Christ’s resurrection body bore the nail scars–this itself reminds us of redemption.
We’ll know our loved ones in heaven. We’ll know even those we didn’t know on earth. Peter James and John recognized Moses and Elijah in the transfiguration. They had died 900 years earlier and nobody had a picture. Christ’s resurrection body resembled him–the disciples had a hard time recognizing him at first, but they thought he was still dead!
You don’t become ignorant when you go home with Christ, you become enlightened. Heaven’s joy is not based on being uniformed but in having an accurate perspective.
In Heaven there is light…
Light. No secondary sources. No generators and power lines, not even the sun. Illumination right from God himself–the lamb is the lamp. There will be no night–could be a variation in brightness; maybe a gentle suffused light.
The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp.
In Heaven there will be trees and seasons…
down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations.
Revelation talks of several angels riding out on horses. Elijah–chariots and horses of fire come to and from heaven. Elisha–God sent horses and chariots and warriors from heaven.
The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean.
Heaven is the culmination and progression of the kingdom of God in it’s redeemed state.
Those of us who long for justice, justice for the racially oppressed, for the politically persecuted, for the unborn children need to remind ourselves not to give up hope, not to become embittered. Heaven will bring great relief to the suffering, the hungry, the hurting. No crying, no pain, no sorrow, no more death. No hospitals, cemeteries. No sin.
Never again will they hunger; never again will they thirst. The sun will not beat upon them, nor any scorching heat. For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd; he will lead them to springs of living water. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”
No evil. No fear. No abuse, rape, murder, drugs, drunkenness, no bombs or guns. Walk streets at night.
We Enter Into our Destiny
No miscommunication or fear of misunderstanding. total intimacy with Christ. We are told that he will give each of us a new name. A personal name that will mean much to us and to him.
Him who overcomes I will make a pillar in the temple of my God. Never again will he leave it. I will write on him the name of my God and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which is coming down out of heaven from my God; and I will also write on him my new name.
Heaven will be deeply appreciated by the handicapped that will not be handicapped any longer. Think of those who can walk and run and hear. Think of those blind from birth that will see for the first time. The hymn writer Fanny Crosby said, “Do not pity me for my blindness, for the first face I ever see will be the face of my Lord Jesus.”
He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”
And think what heaven will mean to the mentally handicapped, who will wake up in heaven to great powers of understanding and learning. Who, will be as free in their minds as those who were crippled on earth will be free in their bodies.
There will be great joy in heaven….
And just thinking about it now should give us Joy and Peace.
That’s not all I mean by Heaven is the culmination and progression of the kingdom of God in it’s redeemed state.
Let me explain. There are five things we do in this life for eternity. Four of them we will do in eternity.
After this I heard what sounded like the roar of a great multitude in heaven shouting: “Hallelujah! Salvation and glory and power belong to our God, for true and just are his judgments. He has condemned the great prostitute who corrupted the earth by her adulteries. He has avenged on her the blood of his servants.” And again they shouted: “Hallelujah! The smoke from her goes up for ever and ever.”
See Revelation 5 and 15 and 19.
There will be no temple, no church buildings. We will need no props to worship him. PowerPoint is not eternal.
Christ will be the focus of all. Worship will be unaffected, without pretense, and without distraction. We will lose ourselves in worship of Christ, and before we turn to the duties at hand we may suddenly realize that we were so caught up in worship that we have spent the last hundred years gazing upon the Lamb.
We will worship Christ in singing. In Revelation 5 we are told of a choir of angels of ten thousand times ten thousand–that’s a hundred million. And then we are told that the whole rest of creation joins these 100 million. The 100 million are merely a little ensemble up front. Can you imagine the power of the song? If hearing gathered voices praise God as one moves us in this life, what will this be like in eternity?
Then the angel said to me, “Write: ‘Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!’ ” And he added, “These are the true words of God.”
Christ promised we would eat and drink at table with him; plus come from all over to sit at table with Abraham and patriarchs. We will feast at the marriage supper of the Lamb.
There will be an endless supply of water and food. No famine or drought. No food poisoning, no indigestion, no high or low blood sugars.
(BTW I have a Christocentric Theology of food that allows me to enjoy every meal with Christ and His body.)
Eating is not just to eat–the table is the center of conversation and fellowship. We will meet and converse with other inhabitants of heaven. God tells us we’ll fellowship with Abraham and Isaac and Jacob. We’ll meet David and Ruth and Esther and John the Baptist and Mary and Peter. I look forward to meeting and feasting with Origen and Anthony and Patrick and Charles Finney and Smith Wigglesworth and C. S. Lewis (and you – won’t we have a lot to catch up on?).
We will learn, progress in knowledge. When 1 Corinthians 13 says we will know in full, it’s in contrast to seeing through a dark glass. We will know accurately. But we will not be all-knowing. Only God is that, and we will never be God.
Ephesians 2:6-7: ” . . . in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace…”
A continual learning more about God, who can never exhausted.
Right now 11% of our brain is used. I know in heaven we’ll have new minds with our new bodies, but consider even what we have now to be amazed at what’s to come.
Theology is the understanding of God and we will be able to understand God in what he reveals to us and throughout his creation. How long will you spend studying a black hole? Why not? Who has placed in us the thirst for knowledge and understanding and beauty? Our Creator. And because he is a Creator he will go right on creating.
There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign forever and ever.
We are called joint heirs with Christ. We will own property, residences in heaven. We will enjoy those treasures that we have laid up for ourselves in heaven while on earth.
Revelation 22:5 says we will reign with Christ over the earth. Luke 19 tells us those who have been faithful in this life will be placed in authority, some over one city, some five, some ten. 1 Corinthians 6 tells us we will judge or rule over angels.
How else will we serve Christ besides ruling? Well, we will be creative and exercise abilities–all will sing and some will play instruments. (Harp and trumpet mentioned, but no doubt many other instruments too.)
We will no doubt compose, write, paint, carve, build. We will exercise our God-given gifts, and continue to develop and perfect our talents.
No time to talk about the rewards we will be given… but they are many…
This is the one eternal purpose that is only for this time… and this is where I want to get back to the importance of story and this is where I want to get back to keeping watch and being ready.
The only thing that is keeping Christ from returning, is the fullness of time… when the full number of people come into his kingdom. This is the only thing we can’t do for eternity and so that’s why we make it a priority in this life.
Paul told Philemon
I pray that you may be active in sharing your faith, so that you will have a full understanding of every good thing we have in Christ.
What is part of the every good thing we have in Christ? HEAVEN.
One of the reasons we’re not excited about heaven is because we are not actively sharing our faith. One of the reasons we are not actively sharing our faith is because we are not excited about heaven.
Another reason why we don’t share our faith is that we’ve been shamed into doing it and it hasn’t gone well. Bill Johnson says “without power, the gospel is not good news” and he follows it up with “we owe people an encounter with the love and power of God”.
When we bring Heaven to earth, God’s will is done on earth as it is in heaven. Is there sickness in heaven? No. So we know it’s not God’s will for people to be sick on earth and we can pray with faith and see them heal.
In fact, Christ sent his disciples out and told them to “Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons and raise the dead”. (Matthew 10:8) Then when He commissioned His disciples he told them to make disciples “teaching them to obey everything I’ve commanded you.” (Matthew 28:20). That has to include healing the sick, cleansing the lepers, casting out demons and raising the dead.
Incidentally, these are 4 things we can’t do in heaven. We can only do them here in this fallen world that screams out for reconciliation. When we do, we bring heaven to earth. We bring the circumstance into agreement with the Father’s will. And it’s so much fun to share your faith in love and power.
I did a review for Kevin Dedmon’s book “The Ultimate Treasure Hunt” that you may want to check out if you want to tools to bring heaven to earth.