Heaven Is Not One Long Never
This brings us to our third myth or misconception about heaven.
Some people mistakenly think itll be better to party in hell than to be stuck in a boring church service forever. But this is not the view that the Bible presents. Heaven will not be one never-ending musical where we sing in a choir all day long. Rinse. Repeat Forever.
This doesnt take away from the fact that God is worthy of worship day and night, forever. There are angelic beings that worship around His throne day and night . But this does not mean that its the only thing going on in heaven forever.
Our worship of God will be more meaningful in heaven than ever before. We wont be hindered by any doubt or shame, or the limits of our mind. Well be able to fully and freely receive from God and give our hearts fully to Him without any sin. Well be able to fully and completely love God with all our heart, soul, strength, and mind.
As we stand on the sea of glass before Gods throne , the gathering place of heaven, our hearts will be fully alive and experience God fully
There is constant worship in heaven, but well also be doing a lot of other things .
There is a lot more continuity in the New Heaven and New Earth that we might imagine. The Bible doesnt give a lot of details, but enough for us to know that itll be completely fulfilling and exciting.
The Tree Of Life In Heaven
In the middle of its street, and on either side of the river, was the tree of life, which bore twelve fruits, each tree yielding its fruit every month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations .
In a world that is riddled with sickness and disease, the description of the tree of life in Revelation 22 is a beautiful reminder that there will be no more suffering or pain in heaven.
The fruit of the tree, which will line the center of heavens golden street, will be continuously available in abundance. There will be no more searching for the cures of diseases known to man. Every ailment will be remedied by the leaves of the tree, and the nations will be healed once and for all.
He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes I will give to eat from the tree of life, which is in the midst of the Paradise of God .
Heaven Is Where No Man Has Gone
Most modern Christian conceptions of heaven include saints now looking down from heaven. But what does the Bible say?
No one has ascended to heaven but He who came down from heaven, that is, the Son of Man who is in heaven .
When people study what the Bible actually says, most are surprised to see that death is clearly described to be like sleep, and that God promises to wake the saints when Jesus Christ returns to the earth.
For example, the apostle Paul wrote, For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first .
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Sidebar: What Does Heaven Look Like
The Bible gives us several awesome and intriguing glimpses of heaven and Gods glorious throne room.
In Isaiah 6:1-3 Isaiah recorded a vision he had of Gods throne:
In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lifted up, and the train of His robe filled the temple. Above it stood seraphim each one had six wings: with two he covered his face, with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one cried to another and said: Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts the whole earth is full of His glory!
Ezekiel 1:4-28 describes a vision given to Ezekiel of Gods throne in motion, coming out of the north and visiting Ezekiel.
And above the firmament over their heads was the likeness of a throne, in appearance like a sapphire stone on the likeness of the throne was a likeness with the appearance of a man high above it.
Also from the appearance of His waist and upward I saw, as it were, the color of amber with the appearance of fire all around within it and from the appearance of His waist and downward I saw, as it were, the appearance of fire with brightness all around.
Like the appearance of a rainbow in a cloud on a rainy day, so was the appearance of the brightness all around it. This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the LORD. So when I saw it, I fell on my face, and I heard a voice of One speaking .
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Biblical Descriptions Of Heaven
There is a constant chant of holy angels that are continually proclaiming Holy, Holy, Holy over the throne of God. The Mercy Seat in heaven where God sits is surrounded by magnificent angels full of glory and power that proclaim and bless the holy name of God without ceasing. Some of these are described as beasts, full of eyes, with six wings and neither rest day or night in their proclaiming the holiness of God .
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Criticism Of The Belief In Heaven
AnarchistEmma Goldman expressed this view when she wrote, “Consciously or unconsciously, most theists see in gods and devils, heaven and hell reward and punishment, a whip to lash the people into obedience, meekness and contentment.”
Some have argued that a belief in a reward after death is poor motivation for moral behavior while alive.Sam Harris wrote, “It is rather more noble to help people purely out of concern for their suffering than it is to help them because you think the Creator of the Universe wants you to do it, or will reward you for doing it, or will punish you for not doing it. The problem with this linkage between religion and morality is that it gives people bad reasons to help other human beings when good reasons are available.”
Biblical Eye Witnesses To Heaven
There are several people in the Bible who have been eye witnesses to the heaven before they died. Elijah was caught up into heaven, taken up in a whirlwind he never tasted death . Like Elijah, Enoch who was said to have walked with God, was taken up into heaven without ever tasting death. The apostle John saw heaven through an open door so that he might see and record in the book of Revelation some of the things he saw in heaven .
While Paul was on the Damascus Road on his way to persecute Christians, He saw heaven open up but whether this was heaven itself or just the first heaven where he saw the light, we cannot be sure. Acts 9:3-4 described what Paul saw, As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me? We do not know for sure, according to the scriptures, whether this was the third heaven, where the throne of God was or not, but can assume it was not for Paul only heard a voice from heaven and he saw only a light from heaven. Nonetheless, heaven is for real and it exists today in every sense of the word.
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What Does Jesus Compare The Kingdom Of Heaven To
¶31Jesus put another parable before them. He said, The kingdom of Heaven is like a grain of mustard seed that a man took and sowed in his field. 32It is the smallest of all seeds, but it grows larger than all the garden plants and becomes a tree. The birds of the air can come and make nests in its branches.
Do Babies Go To Heaven
One of the primary arguments with the fact that not everyone will go to heaven is in regards to babies who pass away. Unfortunately, this is a very real issue. An incredibly sad reality, many children die each day. The Bible states that only those who accept Jesus as their personal savior. However, God is a merciful God.
Many scholars, pastors, and others believe that when a baby or child passes away, they are granted entrance into heaven. Because they have not had the opportunity to sin on this earth, God shows them His mercy and extends the gift of an eternity in heaven.
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We Will Do Meaningful Work In Heaven
This brings us to a 2nd common misconception about heaven:
Its often thought that work is only for this earth. Heaven is often portrayed in movies and books as a place of eternal retirement and relaxation.
The Bible teaches that there will be work in heaven and it will be entirely effective and fulfilling. As we looked at in the previous section, our eternal home is the New Earth, where the New Heaven will come to be joined with.
The Bible says that we will have resurrected bodies like Jesus had after He rose from the dead. Jesus is called the first fruit and we will be like Him. We wont be floating around like spirits without a body.
Also, the Bible never says that people have wings, nor do most angels for that matter. There are several spiritual beings in the Bible like the Seraphim and Cherubim that do have wings, but they are the exception.
Wont we get bored in heaven? Wouldnt heaven be boring without anything to do?
We will have a lot of work to do in the New Heaven and New Earth. The difference between now and eternity is that on the New Earth, the curse will no longer be in effect . That means work will be entirely fulfilling and meaningful.
We will serve God and we will reign as Gods representatives in His Kingdom
We will rule and reign over Gods creation . It wont be to take advantage of others, but to serve and bring creation to its fullest potential
How Does The Bible Describe Heaven
But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God.
1 Corinthians 2:9-10
Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me . In my Fathers house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself that where I am, there ye may be also.
The greatest Promise Jesus made to all Believers was that IF we believe in Him, we will spend eternity with Him in Heaven where He has gone to prepare a very special place for all of us who Believe in Him. Not a house. Not a cottage. Not an apartment or an Airstream trailer. A mansion! It is this Promise that incentivizes so many of us to seek the redemption Jesus died on the cross for. If we accept His gift of forgiveness for all of our sins and if we acknowledge He did this for us and we also repent of those sins, we will spend eternity with Him in a place of unimaginable grandeur! Except, it is NOT unimaginable. He has clearly told us exactly what Heaven will be like!
This brings us to Revelation 21 and THE description of Heaven!
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Heaven Will Be A City Built For Worship
But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, to an innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are registered in heaven, to God the Judge of all, to the spirits of just men made perfect .
This Bible passage is rich with beautiful and detailed descriptions of heaven. The city of the living God, will be a spectacular place according to Gods perfect design. And, as one writer put it, the heavenly Jerusalem will be a place of unimagined blessing.
Those registered in heaven, having been made perfect by Jesus sacrifice on the cross, will assemble with an innumerable company of angels before their most holy God. To try and picture the multitudes spread out before the Living God is amazing, and altogether incomprehensible.
Mount Zion, the city of David and the eternal possession of God Most High, will be the holy city where all will assemble to worship Him.
At that time Jerusalem shall be called The Throne of the Lord, and all the nations shall be gathered to it, to the name of the Lord, to Jerusalem. No more shall they follow the dictates of their evil hearts .
Human Ideas About Heaven
Others have had a much greater curiosity. Some who have had near-death experiences claim to have visited heaven.
And mystics and religious thinkers through the ages have described a variety of heavens:
- Some talked of seven heavens, with the seventh heaven being the most exalted level of heaven, especially the highest and most holy or blessed of the hierarchical series of heavens described in Jewish and Islamic theology.
- In Dante Alighieris Divine Comedy, he poetically visits 10 spheres of heaven, associated with the moon, sun, five then-known planets, stars, as well as a crystalline heaven that transfers its movement to all the spheres below it. Beyond the crystalline sphere is the unmoving heaven of the Empyrean .
The concept of seven heavens in some versions of Jewish theology is derived from mystical thought, and in Islam it comes from the Koran. Dantes ideas reflected the Ptolemaic conception of the universe.
But what does the Holy Bible say?
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What The Bible Teaches
In the Bible, the word heaven has more than one meaning. For example:
Genesis 1:20 describes the creation of birds that fly above the earth across the expanse of the heavens. In this case, the word heavens refers to our atmosphere, the observable sky.
Isaiah 13:10 mentions the stars of the heavens and their constellationswhat we would call outer space.
The Bible speaks of Gods dwelling place in the heavens and says that there are angels in heaven. Note that the words heavens and heaven are not simply metaphors, but describe an actual place of residence. *
Look down from heaven and see from your lofty abode of holiness and glory.
Many people have been thrilled to learn what the Bible really teaches about heaven. For example, a former Catholic named George says: I found the Bible teaching about living forever on earth to be comforting. It made more sense than going to heaven. *
As for the heavens, they belong to Jehovah, but the earth he has given to the sons of men.Psalm 115:16.
^ par. 13 Of course, Gods nature is spiritual, not physical. Hence, his dwelling place must be a spiritual realm separate from our physical or tangible universe.
^ par. 19 The term new earth is not a literal new planet rather, it is a symbolic term referring to a society of people living on the earth who receive Gods approval.
Living With A Heavenly Perspective
57. When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory. Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry .
58. May the Lord make you increase and abound in love to one another and to all, just as we do to you, so that He may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all His saints .
59. Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ .
60. And now, little children, abide in Him, that when He appears, we may have confidence and not be ashamed before Him at His coming .
61. Beloved, now we are children of God and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure .
May your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
64. Therefore, beloved, looking forward to these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, without spot and blameless .
65. You therefore, beloved, since you know this beforehand, beware lest you also fall from your steadfastness but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ .
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