FaithWhat is Your Concept of Heaven?

What is Your Concept of Heaven?

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People use the word “heaven” to describe the place where our spirit goes when we die. We say things like, “our loved one is in a better place”, or “they have gone to their final reward.” In the Bible, heaven is the realm where God dwells. It is the place from where God rules and often enters the world he made (Psalm 103:19; Daniel 2:28; Matthew 5:34). It is the place “from which God’s blessings flow” (Ephesians 1:3). Jesus came down from heaven and went back to heaven (John 6:38; Acts 1:11). The Old Testament says our spirit “returns to the God who gave it” (Ecclesiastes 12:7). The New Testament affirms that when believers in Christ die they are with Christ (Philippians 1:23; Luke 23:42-43). No one can say where God’s heaven is, but people believe it to be a place of peace and rest, a place with no more sickness, pain, or death, the place where our loved ones go after death (Revelation 21:4). This is a common view of heaven shared by believers. Does the Bible give a more concrete answer to the question about heaven than simply that heaven is our final resting place somewhere up there?

Throughout the Bible, God’s created heavens and earth belong together as one (Isaiah 66:1).

Throughout the Bible, God’s created heavens and earth belong together as one (Isaiah 66:1). From a natural and scientific perspective, we recognize that to be true. We can observe visible heavens above. Those heavens refer to our atmosphere and to the place of our sun, moon and stars. We can extend the definition of the heavens to include, not only earth’s galaxy, but also the multitude of galaxies everywhere.

We know that in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth (Genesis 1:1). Originally, the heavens and earth were good, but when evil became a reality in the cosmos, they fell into corruption and death. Corruption and death destroy God’s creation. Do you think God will abandon his creation, or that he plans to redeem it, just as he plans to redeem humans? By examining the following passages in the Bible, would you think that God’s ultimate plan is to unite humans, the heavens and the earth, and God’s invisible heavenly realm, combining all three to be the place we call heaven, our final home?

As was suggested above, we find that the words heaven and earth occur together throughout the Bible. In both Old and New Testaments, prophecy declares God’s plan is to create a new heaven and a new earth. We find this phrase in Isaiah 65:17; 66:22; 2 Peter 3:13; and Revelation 21:1. Other Scriptures say the earth is wearing out, passing away, but like putting on a new set of clothing, it will be changed (Psalm 102:25-26; Hebrews 1:10-12). There is a promise of believers inheriting the world (Romans 4:13), and Jesus said, “the gentle (meek or humble) shall inherit the earth” (Matthew 5:5).

In Ephesians 1:10 the thought is that all things in the heavens and on the earth, under the headship of Christ, will come together.

In Ephesians 1:10 the thought is that all things in the heavens and on the earth, under the headship of Christ, will come together. The interpretation of this verse could very well say that God, in Christ, brings back again all things to their original goodness. Colossians 1:16 and 20 says, all things have been created through Christ and for him, including things visible and invisible, things in the heavens and on the earth. God reconciles all things unto himself.

Romans 8:21 says the creation will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God. This happens when Jesus returns to earth. Then, there will be a time for the restoration of all things (Acts 3:20-21). One final passage I will add is Revelation, chapters 21-22. Here a holy city comes down out of heaven and joins with the new heavens and earth, becoming the habitation of the saved. Abraham, the father of our faith, and many others long ago, envisioned a future heavenly city (Hebrews 11:8-16). Thus, the heavenly realm of God becomes one with heaven and earth.

The idea presented here is that God not only redeems humans, he also redeems his created universe as the place where humans will live.

How far do the truths of the Bible allow us to go in our concept of heaven (1 Corinthians 2:9-10)? The idea presented here is that God not only redeems humans, he also redeems his created universe as the place where humans will live. Just as in the beginning when humans lived on God’s wonderful earth, so humans shall again live, with new and glorious resurrected bodies, on God’s new and glorious earth. Will this be the final answer of the prayer Jesus taught us to pray, “Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10)?

Jay Ashbaucherhttps://jayashbaucher.blogspot.com
Jay Ashbaucher is a native of Northwest Ohio and is currently a retired pastor and published author. He holds a Master of Divinity degree from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Illinois, and has been a pastor and teacher in Montana for over 44 years. Jay taught grief classes in a hospital setting, and worked for twenty years as a fifth-step counselor and lecturer in an alcoholic-drug treatment center getting to know the hearts of people struggling to get well. While pastoring in Montana, he had enjoyed racquetball, hunting, fishing, and traveling the Big Sky State. Now living in Southeast Michigan, Jay enjoys his family, reading, hiking, golf, time with friends, and time with his fun-to-be-with wife. They have two happily married children and seven grandchildren.

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