I have been thinking about heaven lately, with D.A. Carson on Revelations and the article on what Tom Wright think heaven is.
I have some thoughts too. I have read about the new heaven and new earth, that there will be no tears, pain, or sorrow. There will be no sin, lies, suffering, hunger, hatred, envy, cheating, and the list goes on. I was wondering how will that play out in the new heaven and new earth.
Will we suddenly take on a more robotic-like demeanour and just be unable, try as hard as we might, to do the bad things that we are so accustomed to?
Does it mean we will not know, remember or understand hatred or pride or lies or revenge any longer?
1 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and there is no longer any sea. 2 And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, "Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them, 4 and 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."
As I thought about it, I began to think otherwise.
We should still know what it means to lie, to be revengeful, to hate, to be proud and to greed. Why shouldn't we? These things are so much a part of our lives - we try to keep away from them, we pray against them and we ask for forgiveness when we have succumbed to them.
In the new heaven and new earth, we should still recognise these things. But we will have no room or time for them. The new age would have dawned and God Himself will be among us. All will be in perfection in His presence. Even though we are free to do what we want, we will not have the need to hate or lie, or to yell or cry. The very depth of our needs and in the innermost part of our desires, God Himself has fulfilled us. Being perfectly fulfilled by a perfect Being, what more do we have in need?
Doesn't this remind us of the Davidic psalm?
1 The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not want. 2 He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside quiet waters. 3 He restores my soul; He guides me in the paths of righteousness For His name's sake.
And for this very reason, heaven is not a place for unrepentant sinners.
But if you think about it, I wonder if God will "be in" hell as well, where his judgement resides, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
We have heard all too often the non-believers who will in jest say they will be just as happy in hell. They will be free to do whatever they want as compared to the goody-two-shoes Christians and their lovey-dovey stuff. How then do we not reconcile the picture of hell as seen in the Gospel of Matthew with the very fact of God's presence - that within his holiness and goodness, there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. I do not think it will be out of regretful feelings but by being in the purity and perfection of God's presence, they will be so out of place that they will be weeping and gnashing their teeth.
In the same way, as I have mentioned before, on this side for us, how we would be at rest in the new heaven and new earth will depend on how we build up our treasures of love, wisdom and knowledge of God. These will be the treasures we store for ourselves in heaven, "where either moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also" (Matt 6:19-20).
Is your heart in heaven?
1 For I want you to know how great a struggle I have on your behalf and for those who are at Laodicea, and for all those who have not personally seen my face, 2 that their hearts may be encouraged, having been knit together in love, and attaining to all the wealth that comes from the full assurance of understanding, resulting in a true knowledge of God's mystery, that is, Christ Himself, 3 in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.