Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Is your heart set on heaven?

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?

Revelation 21:1-4
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?

Psalm 23:1-3
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?

Colossians 2:1-3
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.



  1. I often wonder if Heaven is another place or a different dimension that some heavenly beings can cross over to. My son recently emailed me this question:

    God sent Jesus to earth to basically represent him in the flesh so Jesus was as flesh as we are, right? So when he did and rose from the dead he is no longer flesh? Being in the flesh was only temporary or is he in heaven in flesh form?

    Here is how I answered:

    The way that I read the gospel accounts it seems that when Jesus rose from the dead he rose with a body of flesh and bone ... seems different from our bodies of flesh and blood. Not sure that we can draw any irrefutable conclusions but it seems that in some other dimension beings exist with different kinds of bodies. It really gets complicated because these heavenly beings exist outside of time. Some of these beings (i.e. demons, angels and Jesus) seem to have the ability to enter earthly time and become visible to humans. Seems to border on science fiction but even some fiction has its basis in reality.

    The other part of this is that people seem to be able to recognize these heavenly beings. The disciples seemed to know who Moses and Elijah were even though they weren’t introduced to him. These disciples also seemed to not know Jesus and then know him after he rose from the dead. This leads me to believe that the recognition of these beings is not so much physical as spiritual. Of course much of my thinking is speculation and not really based in anything other than my weird readings of the bible :)

    I'd be interested in your take on this Pearlie.

    Blessings, Bob

  2. Jesus resurrected in body form (he ate with the disciples and they touched his wounds) but not entirely in the form of human (he appeared in different forms and he vanished at one point). Does this mean that his has different bodily form or is it by virtue of being part of the Trinity, he can appear in any form?

    I am no help here because you have raised in me even more questions :) but interesting ones - like the one on Moses and Elijah - it never crossed my mind how the disciples would have known. It could be possible that the Evangelists did not see it necessary to explain how they knew - they could have been told by Jesus or they just knew, they could have been given knowledge by God of who they were.

    So in relation to heaven, I am not sure in what form we will take - like Jesus? or the same as we are now though there will be no death. We could become like what Adam and Eve were - but that not very helpful either. Would we be naked and not ashamed? Or does that apply only to husband and wife? Or can that be applied metaphorically in that who we are will be naked to each other and there will be no shame and there will be true fellowship, no hidden agendas, no lies, no darkness, but love and acceptance?

    See? More questions :)