Heaven

Ancient Greek city of state of Corinth and the temple of Apollo 1930s.

Explanation of:

Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul. – 1 PETER 2:11

As believers, we are “aliens and strangers” in this world, because our real home is with God.   Heaven is not the pink-cloud-and-harp existence popular in cartoons.   Heaven is where God lives.   Life in heaven operates according to God’s principles and values, and it is eternal and unshakable.   Heaven came to earth in the symbolism of the Jewish sanctuary (the tabernacle and temple) where God’s presence dwelt.   It came in a fuller way in the person of Jesus Christ, “God with us”.   It permeated the entire world as the Holy Spirit came to live in every believer.

One day, after God judges and destroys all sin, the kingdom of heaven will rule every corner of this earth.   John saw this day in a vision, and he cried out, “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them.   They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God” (Revelation 21:3).   Our true loyalty should be to our citizenship in heaven, not to our citizenship here, because the earth will be destroyed.   Our loyalty should be to God’s truth, his way of life, and his dedicated people.   Because we are loyal to God, we will often feel like strangers in a world that would prefer to ignore God.

 

Values found there:

But many who are first will be last, and the last first.” – MARK 10:31

Jesus explained that in the world to come, the values of this world will be reversed.   Those who seek status and importance here will have none in heaven.   Those who are humble here will be great in heaven.   The corrupt condition of our society encourages confusion in values.   We are bombarded by messages that tell us how to be important and how to feel good, and Jesus’ teaching about service to others seem alien.   But those who have humbly served others are most qualified to be great in heaven.

 

Knowing God more important than knowing about heaven:

Jesus replied, “You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God. – MATTHEW 22:29

The Sadducees asked Jesus what marriage would be like in heaven.   Jesus said it was more important to understand God’s power than know what heaven will be like.   In every generation and culture, ideas of eternal life tend to be based on images and experiences of present life.   Jesus answered that these faulty ideas are caused by ignorance of God’s word.   We must not make up our own ideas about eternity and heaven by thinking of it and God in human terms.   We should concentrate more on our relationship with God than on what heaven will look like.   Eventually we will find out, and it will be far beyond our greatest expectations.

 

Can’t look at it from human perspective:

Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. –  MARK 12:24

Jesus, our example for prayer, prayed, “Everything is possible for you… Yet not what I will, but what you will” (14:36).   Our prayers are often motivated by our own interests and desires.   We like to hear that we can have anything.   But Jesus prayed with God’s interests in mind.   When we pray, we should express our desires, but want his will above ours.   Check yourself to see if your prayers focus on your interests or God’s.

 

Relationships in:

When the dead rise, they will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven. –  MARK 12:25-27

Jesus’ statement does not mean that people won’t recognise their partners in the coming kingdom.   It simply means that God’s new order will not be an extension of this life and that the same physical and natural rules won’t apply.   Jesus’ comment in verse 25 was not intended to be the final word on marriage in heaven.   Instead, this response was Jesus’ refusal to answer the Sadducees’ riddle and fall into their trap.   Sidestepping their question about the much-married woman, he gave a definitive answer to their question about the resurrection.

 

Jesus returned to:

And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began. –  JOHN 17:5

Before Jesus came to earth, he was one with God.   At this point, when his mission on earth was almost finished, Jesus was asking his Father to restore him to his original place of honour and authority.   Jesus’ resurrection and ascension – – and Stephen’s dying exclamation (Acts 7:56) – – attest that Jesus did return to his exalted position at the right hand of God.

 

God will create a new one:

However, as it is written: “No eye has seen, no ear has heard,  no mind has conceived   what God has prepared for those who love him”  – 1 CORINTHIANS 2:9

We cannot imagine all that God has in store for us, both in this life and for eternity.   He will create a new heaven and a new earth (Isaiah 65:17; Revelation 21:1), and we will live with him for ever.   Until then, his Holy Spirit comforts and guides us.   Knowing the wonderful and eternal future that awaits us gives us hope and courage to press on in this life, to endure hardship, and to avoid giving in to temptation.   This world is not all there is.   The best is yet to come.

 

Revelation 4 & 5 offers a glimpse into:

So then, men ought to regard us as servants of Christ and as those entrusted with the secret things of God. – REVELATION 4:1

Paul urged the Corinthians to think of him, Peter (Cephas), and Apollos not as leaders of factions, but as servants of Christ entrusted with the secret things of God (see the note on 2:7).   A servant does what his master tells him to do.   We must do what God tells us to do in the Bible and through his Holy Spirit.   Each day God presents us with needs and opportunities that challenge us to do what we know is right.

©Kingsway International Church 1973.

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