Sunday, September 20, 2015

Heaven: Our Heart & Our Home (Part 3)

Due to technical problems (clumsy fingers) the last subpoint 6C and conclusion were deleted.

Heaven: Our Heart & Our Home
Selected Scriptures * Part 3


Where is heaven?

·        Some say heaven is somewhere in outer space
·        Some say heaven is beyond our solar system
·        Some say heaven is just beyond the furthest horizon
·        Some say heaven is somewhere in the sky or atmosphere
·        Some even say, that heaven is right here on earth

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.

The apostle Paul thought it was crucial that as Christians we should at least know what happens when we die. Listen to what he told the Thessalonians:

          “…I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen           asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope.” (1 Thess 4:13, NKJV)

You know that Paul is talking about Christians who have died before Jesus returns for His Church. But he doesn’t leave those who haven’t died out, because in verses 16-17 he gives more information about those who are living at the time of Christ’s return.

So, we do have a tad bit of information about heaven. We can say very little about the location of this temporal or present heaven. We can say at least three things, however:

·        Heaven is where God is. The throne of God is in heaven

·        Heaven seems to be up. All those who were caught, ascended, or resurrected went up. 

·        Heaven is spoken of as having three (3) levels or dimensions

o   1st heaven – where the birds fly and live
o   2nd heaven – where the sun, moon, and stars exist
o   3rd heaven – where the throne of God is located

A final introductory thought, 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

Over the next couple of weeks we will be taking a look at:

·        The Temporal Place of Heaven – it’s temporary & physical location
·        The Eternal Place of Heave – it’s permanent & physical location

[Before we get started, let’s take just a minute or two and…]


Our first point in this series entitled, Heaven: Our Hope and Our Home, was: “The Promise of Heaven.” We took at close look at John 14:2.

Jesus had finished the Passover meal with his disciples (his last meal). He announced that Judas was going to betray him. He told Peter that he would deny his three times. And he told his disciples that he going away for a while and they could not follow him to where he is going.

A lot of things took place. The disciples were anxious, confused, and sad. Their hearts and minds were uncertain about what was going to take place next.

And Jesus must have sensed this. Because Jesus said to them, “Let not your hearts be troubled…” And then he gave them a word of encouragement. He said, “Believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, so that where I am, there you may be also…” (John 14: 1-4)

So, we called this the promise of heaven. We looked at this promise four (4) different ways. First we saw the promise:

·        exonerated (Vs. 1)

          “Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God; believe also in me.”

                   Based on the verb, Jesus is actually saying to the disciples, “Let not your                              hearts be any longer troubled…”

                   Jesus is not saying to them “Do not begin or start to be troubled.” Jesus                    actually gives the disciples a command to “Stop” being troubled. They have                              already been “troubled.” Don’t let your heart be agitated.

Second, we saw this promise:

·        established (Vs. 2a)

          “In my Father’s house are many dwelling places…”

          Jesus comforted the confused, frightened, and wavering disciples with a rock solid           promise, establishing the certainty of their being with Him for eternity.

          So Jesus tells them three things:

·        Jesus reassures the disciples that He is just going to His Father’s house.

·        I have told you the truth about this and have not misled you

·        I am going to go so that I can prepare a place for you also

Thirdly, we see this promise:

·        explained (VSS. 2c-3)

          Jesus continues to comfort the disciples and at this point He gives them an           explanation about what He is going to do during this separation and what this           activity means to them.
·        The Plan - “I go to prepare a place for you.
·        The Purpose - And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you to myself…”
·        The Pledge - “…that where I am, there you may be also.”

Fourthly and finally, we see the promise:
·        Expanded (Vs. 4) - “And where I go you know and the way you know.”

[So, now that our memory is refreshed again, we can move to our…]


Let me say first that death frightens a lot of people. The main reason it does, is that the very few who have actually died or have been taken up into heaven and then came back to this earth and this life have not been permitted to tell us anything about death or what is beyond death.

Philosophers, poets, and pundits pontificate and speculate on death and the afterlife. But it is all speculation with no evidence. I do like an old Irish saying I heard years ago, “If I knew where I was going to die, I would never go near the place.”

The Scripture is basically silent as we have already noted. But we do have some information and let’s dig into it. I want to do so by looking at the temporal place of heaven and then the eternal place of heaven.

[So, here we go, let’s look at…]

          1B     The Temporal Place of Heaven

                   1C     The Temporary Nature of Heaven

                             First of all, when a believer dies, he or she enters into what has been                              called “an intermediate state.” This intermediate state is a transitional                              period of time between the believer’s death and their future                                                 resurrection to life in the new heaven or the new earth.

                             Second, this intermediate state is temporary. Even though our body is                                       buried or cremated and our spirit is in heaven, this temporary heaven                                     is a better place than anywhere on earth, including Washington,                                               Wyoming, or Montana.

                             Paul made this point clear when he wrote to the Philippians and said,                                       “For I am hard pressed between the two, having a desire to depart                                       and be with Christ, which is far better.” (Philippians 1:23, NKJV)

                             And he should know how much better heaven is than anything on this                                       earth because he had been “caught-up” and taken into the heaven                                       where God lives and where His throne is located.

                             Thirdly, no matter how great this temporary, transitional heaven is, it                                       is not our final or permanent home. By definition an intermediate state or location is temporary

·        Believers are destined for life as resurrected beings on a recreated earth

2C     Will believers live in heaven forever?

The answer actually depends on how you define heaven. It is a fact, and a rock solid fact that we live in the presence of God forever. We will eternally be where God is.

Will we be in the same location as we are when we are in this intermediate state? The answer is no.

We will be in the presence of God. We will experience a joyful and blessed time. We will worship God. But we will also be waiting for the resurrection of our bodies. We will also be waiting for the future re-creation of the heavens and earth and for the permanent relocation of heaven to the New Earth.

You need to keep in mind, that when you die you immediately go into the presence of God in an intermediate state and placed we call heaven. All those who have died in Christ and were covered by the blood of Christ are also. All who are there are waiting for the resurrection of our bodies united with our spirit and for the coming of heaven to the earth.

Wayne Gruden wrote, “Christians often talk about living with God in heaven forever. But in fact the biblical teaching is richer than that: it tells us that there will be new heavens and a new earth – an entirely renewed creation – and we live with God there…There will also be a new kind of unification of heaven and earth…There will be a joining of heaven and earth in this new creation.” [1]

So, we will live with Jesus Christ in the presence of God and with each other forever, but not forever in the intermediate heaven, but in heaven that will come down to the earth, the new earth. There God will make His home or dwelling place with believers forever.   

[There is a third thing for us to consider this morning and that is…]

                   3C     Is the present heaven a real or physical place?

First of all, just because the heaven that we are going to immediately upon our death (rapture) is temporary, it does not mean that it does not have a physical location.

For us to actually exist, we have to have a place in which to exist, right? So, it would be a reasonable conclusion to say that the space we will occupy would be a real or physical space.

Second, the few references that we have in the bible about heaven leads us to believe that heaven has a substance.

·        Revelation 15:8 tells us that this temporary heaven is filled with smoke from God’s glory.
·        We are told that there are scrolls in heaven
·        Elders have faces
·        Martyrs wear clothes
·        There are people there holding palm branches (Rev 7:9)
·        There are musical instruments in heaven (Rev 8:6)
·        Horses come into and out of heaven (2 Kings 2:11)
·        Even an eagle flies overhead in heaven (Rev 8:13)
·        According to Hebrews 8:5 the Jewish priests “served at a sanctuary that is a copy and shadow of what is in heaven.”
·        The earthly sanctuary (where God dwelt) was a copy of the sanctuary that is in heaven
·        The New Jerusalem that will come to this earth is in heaven right now

These are just a few examples of things that lead us to believe that the intermediate or temporary heaven is a real and physical place rather than just a spiritual place.

Thirdly, when Jesus was nailed to the cross with the two thieves, he turned to one and said, “Today, you will be with me in paradise.” (Lk 23:43)

The word for paradise is a Persian word that meant “a walled park” or “enclosed garden.” This word was used to describe the Garden of Eden. The Jews believed that God would restore the Garden of Eden so paradise became the word that they Jews used to describe the eternal state of the righteous. It came to represent heaven.

                   4C     What kind of bodies to believers have in this temporary heaven?

First of all, remember that God and angels are spirit. God does not have a body. Angels take on human form when they enter the realm of human beings in order to do God’s bidding.

Second, human beings have both a spiritual and a physical nature. When God created Adam, He created His body first and then He breathed a spirit into Adam. There has never been a moment where man did not have a body.

Apparently studies have concluded that there is a connection between the body and the soul – mind, emotions, will, etc.
So, Randy Alcorn concludes that we can’t really be human beings without a body and a spirit.

It is possible that we will have some type of temporary “body” while we are in this temporary heaven waiting for our resurrected/glorified bodies. If this is the case then these temporary forms or bodies will serve as “bridge” between our earthly body and our future resurrected body.

Remember what Paul said in 2 Corinthians 5:1-4, “For we know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. 2 For in this tent we groan, longing to put on our heavenly dwelling, 3 if indeed by putting it on1  we may not be found naked. 4 For while we are still in this tent, we groan, being burdened—not that we would be unclothed, but that we would be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. 5 He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee.

We do not receive our resurrected/glorified body immediately upon our death and entrance into this temporary heaven. The resurrection of the body is not a one at a time thing. So, if we have some type of body in this temporary heaven they will not be our final body that we will live in or have for eternity.

The scriptures are silent on this. We know one day we will be reunited with a body that is called the resurrection body and it will be a glorified body.

The important point to mediate on is that in this intermediate or temporary heaven we are waiting for what John taught in his gospel, “…when all who are in their graves will hear his voice and come out – those who have done good will rise to live, and those who have done evil will rise to be condemned.” (John 5:28-29)

The reason I even bring this up and share these things with you is this – until that day, the day our bodies are resurrected and reunited with our spirit, the Bible teaches that those who die – you and me – go immediately to a real place, heaven as conscious human beings with memories of our lives and relationships on earth.

Even though we haven’t mentioned it because it is not our purpose, some when they go will go immediately to hell where they remain in misery, hopelessness, isolation, and torment until they are resurrected, judged, and then placed into the Lake of Fire which will be there eternal dwelling place.

But believers will immediately upon their death enter a temporary heaven where God and Christ dwell and live in comfort, joy, peace, and a relationship with God and Christ while we await the resurrection of our body and the transferring of this temporary heaven to the newly recreated earth.

                   5C     What is life like in this temporary heaven?

David George wrote, “When I was a boy, the thought of Heaven used to frighten me more than the thought of hell. I pictured heaven as a place where time would be perpetual Sundays, with perpetual services from which there would be no escape.

Many people have a marred view or understanding of heaven. Some think of heaven as:

·        Sitting on a cloud perpetually playing a harp
·        An eternal church service with no escape
·        Floating around the universe with nothing to do
·        Serving a God forever

Let me borrow a segment from Randy Alcorn’s book on heaven and share with you some observations he found in Revelation 6:9-11:

·        When the people in that passage died, they relocated to heaven
·        They were the same people who had been killed for Christ –this shows continuity.
·        Peole in heaven will be remembered for their lives on earth
·        They “called out” – they could speak, they had a form or body
·        People in heaven can raise their voices

[1] Wayne Gruden, Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1994), p. 1158

1 comment:

nashvillecats2 said...

Wonderful as always to read Gregg. I suppose one can have Heaven here on Earth......if all is going well.