SERIES: Topical Messages: Heaven
SETTING: North Kelso Baptist Church
SERVICE: Sunday AM (September 27, 2015)
SUBTITLE: Heaven: Our Heart & Our Home
SCRIPTURE: Selected Scriptures
SUBJECT: The eternal heaven
SUMMARY: Jesus has made a promise that He has gone to prepare a way for genuine believers to live in the Father’s House in personal dwellings, or “apartments,” and that He will return personally in order to escort us to this place. Where is that place? The scriptures are silent when it comes to a specific location of the temporal or present heaven. However the Scripture is not silent on the location of the eternal heaven. At some point in God’s plan the temporal heaven will relocate to a newly recreated earth where it will remain for eternity with the New Jerusalem as its capital city.
SCHEME: To prove that the eternal heaven will be located on earth.
Our theme is: The eternal heaven
Proposition: The temporal heaven will be brought down to earth where it will remain as the eternal heaven
Interrogatory Sentence: How can we see the temporal heaven give way to the eternal heaven?
Transitional Sentence: We will see the temporal heaven give way to the eternal heaven by looking through four (4) strategic lenses. The lenses are implication, interrelationship, intention, and imagination.
Heaven: Our Heart & Our Home
Selected Scriptures * Part 4
Last week we began this second point of our series with the question, Where is heaven? We saw that people, both believers and non-believers have various ideas about where heaven is located. As a matter of fact, some people believe that…
• heaven is somewhere in outer space
• heaven is beyond our solar system
• heaven is just beyond the furthest horizon
• heaven is somewhere in the sky or atmosphere
• that heaven is right here on earth
We also said that the Scriptures are silent when it comes to any specific location of heaven, at least the temporal or present heaven. We simply are not told the exact or precise location of the present heaven.
And as a final introductory thought, we saw that if you study scripture carefully you will find that heaven has at least two locations
• Heaven is located in a temporary place
• Heaven will be located in a permanent place
Last week we looked at the Temporal Place of Heaven, or heaven’s temporary & physical location. This was our first sub-point to this second point in our series – The Place of Heaven. We looked at the Temporal Place of Heaven.
Although we looked at a number of things our theme was the fact that this temporary heaven seems to be up, and it is where the throne of God is located. All genuine believers who die prior to the rapture of the church leave their body and enter into this temporary heaven.
[Now, let’s continue looking at this second major point in our outline, which I call…]
2A The Place of Heaven
1B The Temporal Heaven
2B The Eternal Heaven
Anthony Hoekma was a pastor and a professor at Calvin Theological Seminary. He wrote this wonderful paragraph:
“God will make the new earth his dwelling place…Heaven and earth will then no longer be separated as they are now, but they will be one. But to leave the new earth out of consideration when we think of the final state of believers is greatly to impoverish biblical teaching about the life to come.”
Paul Marshal wrote:
“Our destiny is an earthy one: a new earth, an earth redeemed and transfigured. An earth reunited with heaven, but an earth, nevertheless.”
Very few books talk about the coming “New Earth.” Only a few seem to write about the re-creation of both the heavens and the earth. But the bible does seem to provide some insight and information into what is called or described as our eternal dwelling place.
This morning I want to examine the character and nature of this eternal heaven by looking through seven (7) windows or lenses. Originally I thought this second point would be covered over two (2) weeks, but it just might go one more week.
I hope you were excited and moved to be waiting for the time that you enter into the temporary heaven, into the presence of God, the angels of heaven, and the saints that are now there. I equally hope that you will be excited this morning by the HS as you anticipate our eternal home in the eternal heaven.
[So, let’s get started by looking through our first lens; and that is…]
1C The Lens of Implication
The saddest and I think strangest thing I have come across in the study is a statement by a so-called pastor who said:
“There’s nothing in our present experience that can suggest to us what Heaven is like.”
Really? Let’s think about that – if the eternal heaven is going to be on a re-created or new earth, shouldn’t scripture and our present experience give us some insight or provide some degree of implication? Well, I think so!
• Heb 11:10, 13:14 tells us that the eternal heaven is a city
What does that imply? Cities have:
o Art & Music
o People – people who are engaged in activities
o People who work, play, rest, serve, & etc.
• Heb 11:16 tell us that the eternal heaven is a country
What does this imply?
o Countries have territories, borders, or dimensions
o Countries have rulers, leaders, and government
o Countries have citizens
o Countries have geographical elements like:
• 1 Cor tells us that in the eternal heaven we will have a chassis (a body)
• Rev 14:13 tells us that the eternal heaven provides comfort
• Rev 22:3 tells us that in the eternal heaven we will cater to the King of Kings, we will serve him
o We will serve Christ on the new earth
o We will work at a job or occupation
o Some will rule or govern
We could go on and list hundreds more of these types of implications. The problem is not that the bible doesn’t say anything about the coming new earth and new heavens. The problem seems to be that we don’t pay attention or maybe we just don’t have any interest.
John Piper wrote some pretty spectacular about this anticipated and coming new earth and new heaven:
God promises that the glory of his people will demand a glorious creation to live in. So the fallen creation will obtain the very freedom from futility and evil and pain that the church is given. So when God makes all things new, he makes us new spiritually and morally, he makes us new physically, and then he makes the whole creation new so that our environment fits our perfected spirits and bodies.”
• Heb 11:10 tells us that Abraham looked forward to a new community
He and his descendants wanted a better city, country, or zip code. They wanted an eternal dwelling.
Since the coming and permanent heaven is spoken of as a city, a country, and there we will have a permanent chassis or body, and we will cater to or serve the king, and we will be eternally comforted, I think we can draw some valid implications from Scripture.
There is a coming eternal heaven on a recreated earth. Well, let’s move to our second lens and that is…
2C The Lens of Interrelationship
How many times have you sung the song, “This World is not my home, I’m just a-passing through”
Apart from the return of Jesus for his church, we will pass from this present earth into a temporary heaven to be with Jesus. But, we will return to earth with Jesus at the end of the tribulation period and we will inhabit this earth again for another 1,000 years – the Millennial Kingdom. There are two very important things to keep in mind right now. First…
• The earth has been damaged by sin (Gen 3:17)
• We are actually pilgrims in this life -
So, let me throw this out at you – if you want to know what the permanent earth is going to look like, look around you right now.
God is going to re-create the heavens and earth, but it seems to be similar to what we have now and what it was before the curse.
God created a perfect earth. He created a perfect environment for man called the Garden of Eden. What do you suppose Adam and Eve and their offspring to do in there? Sit around on tree stumps and pluck harps?
No, God actually gave Adam a job – till, he was to manage or take care of the earth. Man was designed to work or labor in a perfect environment. Man will again labor, live, and love God in a perfect environment.
All that the bible describes of this coming eternal heaven doesn’t seem to fit in a temporal heaven. It can only take place on a newly re-created earth.
There seems to be a real interrelationship between this present heaven and earth and the coming heaven and earth. They are related in a number of ways.
So, we are trying to learn about this coming eternal heaven. We have looked at some ideas through the lens of implication and through the lens of interrelationship. Now let’s look through…
3C The Lens of Intention
First of all, you must remember that the entire physical universe was created for God’s glory. You know that Adam rebelled and sinned against God and the entire universe was cursed by God.
Second, keep in mind, the fall of man did not catch God by surprise. God had a plan that would redeem the human race and all of creation.
God intended from eternity past to redeem some members of the human race and he intended on breaking the curse that fell on the earth by recreating both the heavens and the earth.
• Isaiah 65:17 – “Behold, I will create new heavens and a new earth.”
• Isaiah 66:22 – “As the new heavens and the new earth that I make will endure before me, declares the Lord, so will your name and descendants endure.”
• 2 Peter 3:13 – “In keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness.”
• Revelation 21:1 – “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away.”
Let’s think about God’s intention for just a minute. If God was simply going to provide a way to pass from this life into the present heaven, a place where it seems that is a dwelling place for spirit beings, why would he recreate a physical earth that takes physical bodies?
Also, God never gave up his claim on this earth. We are not going to go to this temporary heaven and forever quit the earth.
God intends to bring heaven and earth together in the same location with no division or separation between them. (Gen 3:24, Eph 1:10)
God intended by and with the death of Jesus to recreate the heavens and the earth to be joined together as a permanent dwelling for him, the angels, and all the saints.
So, what is God’s intention? Peter tell us that Jesus must remain in heaven until the time comes for God to restore everything, as he promised long ago through his holy prophets. (Acts 3:21)
The prophets (in the OT) tell us that this restoration is going to take place on earth, not in the present heavens.
Remember Revelation 21:1, the old earth will pass away. When the old earth passes away it will give way to a new and recreated and restored earth.
We have to move on to the next point. We could go on and on with examples of the intention of God to recreate the heavens and the earth and to make this new earth the eternal dwelling place of God and believers.
So, we see through the lens of implication, the lens of interrelationship, and the lens of intention that this present heaven and earth are temporary or temporal and that there is a coming eternal heaven and earth.
[Let’s now look fourthly at…]
4C The Lens of Imagination
I hesitate to use the word imagination. I don’t mean that we ignore what truth we do have and use of imagination to make up what we want. But I use it to encourage you to just imagine what this new heaven on earth is going to be like.
We look forward to vacations, weddings, parties, and all sorts of things. We dream about them, we day-dream about them, we think on them and we talk about them, and usually with lots of excitement.
Why don’t we look forward to our eternal heaven? Let’s take a look at what we do know from Scripture.
• Heaven is described as a country and as a city. In Revelation 21-22 it is called a city 15 times.
• The scriptures state that God and his people will live in a city
• The dimensions of the city are mind blowing
o It is 1400 miles long, 1400 miles wide, and 1400 miles high (Denver is 1 mile high – this is 14 x’s that)
What does this mean to us? It somewhat answers the question of just how big is heaven. Is heaven big enough for all those who are saved? Let’s see, by these dimensions…
• Heaven would stretch from Canada to Mexico, from the Appalachian Mountains to California border
• The ground level dimensions will be 2 million miles square
• It will be 40 times bigger than England
• It will be 15 times bigger than London
• 10 times bigger than France or Germany
• 600 stories high
The city is full of gates
• 12 angels standing guard at the 12 gates
• On the gates are written the names of the 12 tribes of Israel
• The gates are open 24/7. They never close
o They are guarded by angels
o There are no enemies outside gates
o Earth is filled w/knowledge of God
o People travel in & out regularly
The City is Permanent
• There will be no more wandering
• There will be no more pilgrimages/pilgrims
• There will be no more looking for a city
This new heaven on earth has the following:
• It will shine with the glory of God (we will see what Moses long to see but could not). This is why there is no sun nor moon – God’s glory is the light
• It will have the river of life (Rev 22:1-2)
What is the river of life? Why do we need it in the capital city of the new heaven on the new earth?
Rev 22:1 says that this river flows from the throne of God
“Then the angel1 showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb 2 through the middle of the street of the city” (Rev 22:1. ESV)
Why? Maybe more importantly why is water important?
• The city is a center of human life and water is an essential part of life
• Source of the river is God. It represents God’s thirst-quenching and need supplying nature. It is a part of God meeting the needs of his children
• It will be full of streets
• It will have the tree of life (Rev 22:2)
“…also, on either side of the river, the tree of life2 with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.” Rev 22:2, ESV)
What is the tree of life and why is it even in heaven, both the temporal heaven and the eternal heaven?
• First of all the tree of life is mentioned 3 x’s in Genesis
• Second, it is mentioned 4 times in Revelation
• The new Jerusalem descends down out of the temporal heaven to the newly recreated earth and the tree of life come down also
• The tree of life seems to have been a source of on-going physical life in the Garden of Eden
• The tree suggests that it provides a supernatural provision for eternal life
• It seems that if Adam and Eve were designed to live forever, but it seems that they may have had to eat of the tree of life in order to live for ever
• Then when they sinned, they were banned from the Garden, an Angel was placed at the tree to prevent them for eating the fruit of the tree or as God said, and if they weren’t prevented from eating of the tree they would then live in their sinful state forever.
• At some point it seems that God took the tree of life out of the Garden of Eden and transported it to the temporal heaven
• According to Rev 2:7 – “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who conquers I will grant to eat of the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.’
• It seems from scripture that we will derive strength and vitality from eating the fruit of this tree.
o This tree will produce 12 different fruits
o It was prophesied by Ezekiel in 47:12
o William Hendricksen believes that from the grammar it doesn’t appear to be just one tree but he thinks it may be an entire garden or park or grove full of trees
o Rev 22:2 states that this tree of life will have some type of healing powers. It seems to have some type of life sustaining powers.
I can almost hear someone say why is this information important or significant?
• First of all, you know that we have nothing in and of ourselves. Everything that we have and all that we are is given to us by God
o This is the reason for our submissiveness, obedience, allegiance, and faithfulness to God
o We owe everything – all of our life to God
• Second, reason it is so important, it sees that our health, our well-being, and even our eternality is
o We know that our well-being is not derived from anything within ourselves
o It may be that our complete well-being isn’t granted as a once and for all, but it may be renewable
• Thirdly, this would imply then, that we would be eternally dependent on God, drawing from his provision for us for all of eternity
Some people don’t understand why perfect people with perfect bodies will need water, fruit, and health giving vegetation for eternity in eternity. It seems in God’s perfect plan we may still have needs, but we will eternally depend on God for those needs and God will meet those needs.
So that takes care of the Lens of Imagination. Image this eternal heaven, covering some 2 million miles, streets leading in and out of the capital city, trees growing along a river that flows out of the New Jerusalem from the throne of God for the health and healing of nations. Don’t imagine what you want it to be but just imagine what God has revealed to us.
[What do you say we wrap this up?]
Let me conclude with a summary. The temporal heaven, where God’s throne currently is in place, where departed spirits of his redeemed children immediately enter upon death will give way to a permanent or eternal heaven on a newly recreated earth.
Today we have looked at this principle and its proof by looking through the lenses of implication, interrelationship, intention, and imagination.
Today I wanted to prove to you that there is an eternal heaven which will be located on a recreated, curse free earth with New Jerusalem being the capital city. And from this capital city will flow innumerable streets, with the river of life flowing down the center street, which is lined by the tree of life.
What Should You Do?
Study and meditate on this eternal heaven on earth
Practice your eternal dependence upon God for health, energy, and life now in this life
Thank God for the home or dwelling place that Christ prepared for us by His death