What is heaven and where is it? Know now
The last time we shared about this message, we looked at who God is and how He continuously lives with us participating in every story of man and other creation. We have already shared who we truly are and how we have a true desire that we hope to sit in some day. Today, we are going to understand what heaven is, where heaven is, what should be done in heaven and how we are gonna get there. Let us be plain, we are now exploring our desire.
At least every Christian believes there is heaven though few believe that they will ever be there. Actually, even pagans know there is heaven and hell but it is no news to them. Whatever the case, the great shortage among Christians and non-Christians in knowing about heaven is; what is heaven? How do we get there? And what shall we do there? Lack of enough insight and biblical content about these issues is dangerous. As we saw earlier, our desire to go to or be in heaven can dangerously reduce if we do not understand well the sweetness of being there. And when the desire is dead, no pursuing, no living, we are dead.
This is the reason why many have given up on such a desire. Actually, most Christians are just passing time: They are not sure if they will be admitted there but in case it is true and they can be admitted, then they are somehow practicing their holiness basing on chances. And you know what! We cannot be good Christians if our belief is doubted, if we are not sure of it all. Our desire for heaven is weak and our strength to overcome evil is negligible, we may miss the mark.
So what is heaven? Aaaah dear people, the exact definition of heaven is gonna be hard. However, some translations refer to heaven as the sky, the holy place, the throne of God, the paradise and so many other names. Whatever the case, let us make our life easy. Heaven is simply the paradise. It is a place of happiness and total pleasure without pain. According to Vatican Audience Talk, 21 July 1999, heaven or happiness that Christianity looks forward to is neither an abstraction nor a physical place in clouds, but a living, personal relationship with the Holy trinity. It is our meeting with the father which takes place in the risen Christ through the communion of the Holy Spirit.
There is a lot of sense in the above paragraph. David (our king of desires and emotions just as Solomon, his son) wrote in the Psalms, "I have no one in heaven but you; I want nothing on earth besides you" (73:25). Isn't this what Jesus meant when He said that He was going to prepare a place for us in heaven so we could be where He will be (John 14:2-3). Actually, the Islam kind of view portrays heaven in physical terms as a place where every wish is immediately fulfilled when asked. Islamic texts describe immortal life in heaven as happy, without negative emotions (source; Wikipedia).
For those who followed part 1(who is God?) and 2 (who are we?), we discovered that our paradise in Eden was a life of complete desire satisfaction. Man was living the whole of his desires till when the sin dropped down and distorted everything. We also learnt that God is holy desire, the centre of man's life.
We have shared the story of restoration more than once. Heaven is simply the restoration of our full life as it was before the sin. We already discovered that our life is defined truly by our true heart's desires. What we are now is very much different from who we truly are. Heaven is simply the restoration of our deep desires, the true greatness as God meant it from the start. Heaven is a restored earth without any negative thoughts and emotions, a place where all our wishes and desires will be met.
In the book, Desire, John Eldredge writes, "Too many of us have placed eternity somewhere 'out there', in a wispy and ethereal 'heaven' that we cannot imagine, in the clouds perhaps". He goes on, "The earth has been our home and will be our home in eternity. This is a great consolation. When we place eternity 'out there somewhere, in a place we cannot conceive of, we are left longing for home. To lose the only world we have ever known -a world so full of memories, so rich and beautiful, with so much left to explore-is to lose something deep and priceless to our hearts". And I wonder why should we be troubled by this yet even the bible indicates nowhere that we shall lose our earth!
In the times of Noah, the earth was destroyed with all that dwelt in it. This was simply the destruction of the evil and unrighteousness but NOT the cosmos for the mountains and rivers remained as before and when Noah landed, he did not land on Mars or Jupiter, it was the earth, the land. The coming times of destruction will cleanse the world with fire and everything 'out of God's realm' as Eldredge points out will be destroyed (ie sin, diseases, death, and other evil) but not the earth. The bible says, "I will create new heavens and new earth" (Isa 65:17, Rev 21:1). Also, Peter says that the day of destruction will bring about the destruction of heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat (2 Peter 3:12). These verses seem to show that the earth will be destroyed and heaven but go onto the next verse, "But God made a promise to us, and we are waiting for a new heaven and a new earth where goodness lives". Also, verse 6 brings in the same comparison of how the flood destroyed everything and we are sure that the earth remained.
Paul explains the use of fire in cleansing when he tells how our works will be tested with fire. According to Him, if the person's work is worth the reward, then fire will pass through and around it but that foundation or work won't be burnt (1 Cor. 3:10-15). And so John Eldredge writes, "The world will be exposed to judgment and the earth will be cleansed of all unrighteousness. And a good scrubbing it needs". Let us consider the revelations of John. In Rev 21, John sees a new earth and a new heaven for the first ones had been destroyed. And the city of Jerusalem is seen descending onto the earth not floating in the clouds. This is a great consolation. Let us make a summary with Dallas Willard’s words, "The life we now have as the persons we now are will continue in the universe in which we now exist". Is not this great to know?
So what is the use of understanding heaven in this context? We already agreed that we can only hope for what we desire. And we can only desire for what we know or even imagine. Listen, we know heaven or we can easily imagine it in that way (we shall look at the details of imagining heaven by answering the question of what we shall be doing in it).
In the book of 1 Cor. 2:9-16, we are taught that we have been given the ability to see God's mind and understand parts of His thoughts and secrets through the spirit of the Lord that we share with Him. It is this understanding of what Heaven is that deepens our desire for it and thus the hope to be there. Knowing increases hope and faith for it is really ambiguous to hope in the things that do not exist in your mind or knowledge or knowing. Remember what faith is, it is being sure of the things we hope for and knowing that something is real even if we do not see it (Hebrews 11:1). How can we have faith in heaven when we are not sure of where it is or what it is or what we shall do there? How can we desire such a place that has no picture in our minds?
Finally, Heaven is simply we and our earth and our God just as it was before the sin. It is the complete life in satisfaction of heart's desires. We know the way to that restored life or land; it is our faith in the grace of Christ. We love you.
The Complete You Ministry, www.nemvicx.blogspot.com