Heaven, Let the Picture Develop

At a Wednesday evening church meeting a very wealthy man rose to give his testimony. 

“I’m a millionaire,” he said, “and I attribute it all to the rich blessings of God in my life. I can still remember the turning point in my faith, like it was yesterday:

I had just earned my first dollar and I went to a church meeting that night. The speaker was a missionary who told about his work. I knew that I only had a dollar bill and had to either give it all to God’s work or nothing at all. So at that moment I decided to give my whole dollar to God. I believe that God blessed that decision, and that is why I am a rich man today.”

As he finished it was clear that everyone had been moved by this man’s story. But, as he took his seat, a little old lady sitting in the same pew leaned over and said: “Wonderful story! I dare you to do it again!”

The Bible does teach about storing up treasurers in Heaven (Matthew 6:20), so if we are storing our treasurers there, what is it like?

I remember in high school taking a photography class and learning to develop film. It was fun. Remember the old “one step” cameras? We would take the picture and then watch as it developed. Today, I wish to develop the picture of Heaven.

My theme today is: Heaven is for real. As you look forward to Heaven, use your imagination, grounded with the Bible.

Revelation 21:1–4 (ESV)

The New Heaven and the New Earth

21 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”

Let’s review:

We have talked about:

  • Heaven is for real.
    1. The Bible talks about Heaven in many places.
    2. Isaiah 65; John 14:1-6 as well as Revelation chapters 21-22 are all about Heaven.
  • Present Heaven versus future Heaven
    1. We talked about the Heaven we enter right away and the Heaven for all eternity.
    2. It is encouraging that there is no soul sleep. We go straight to Heaven when we die (2 Cor. 5:8; Phil. 1:21).
    3. We can read about this in the parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus (Luke 16:19-31) as well as Rev. 6:9-11.
  • Will we have homes in Heaven?
    1. In John 14:1-6 as well as Isaiah 65:17-23 we read about homes in Heaven.
    2. But we read about more than homes in Heaven, we read about whole estates.
    3. We read about farms and orchards and land and much more.
    4. In Revelation chapters 21-22 we read about a city and a garden.
  • Will Time exist in Heaven?
    1. We know that we will not be God, only God is God.
    2. There are many references to time in Heaven.
  • Will Heaven be boring?
    1. Remember that we will have resurrected bodies (see 1 Cor. 15).
    2. We will have purpose.
    3. We will have jobs and hobbies; Heaven will not be boring.
  • Will we know everything in Heaven?
    1. It seems that we will not know everything.
    2. Only God is omniscient.
    3. We talked about 1 Cor. 13:8-13 and knowledge. It seems that the gift of knowledge will no longer be needed. This is more about a spiritual gift having to do with knowledge. The spiritual gifts will no longer be needed.
    4. If we knew everything, maybe Heaven would be boring, but we won’t.
    5. Is seems evident that we will continue to learn.
  • Do dogs and animals go to Heaven?
    1. We do see descriptions of animals in Heaven and Psalm 104:30 references animals being restored.
    2. Though, we cannot be completely sure that your pet is restored.

Questions you submitted:

  1. I received a question about cremation. Is cremation okay?
    1. First, cremation is not a problem for God. The One Who created us can and will restore us. Think about all of those who died in war, or at sea, their bones are gone. God will restore them.
    2. We never see cremation in the Bible. Historically, Christians and Jews buried their dead and pagans burned them. However, pagans also had a pagan ceremony with the burial.
    3. There are occurrences in the Old Testament of people being burned to death (1 Kings 16:18; 2 Kings 21:6) and of human bones being burned (2 Kings 23:16-20), but these are not examples of cremation. It is interesting to note that in 2 Kings 23:16-20, burning human bones on an altar desecrated the altar. At the same time, the Old Testament law nowhere commands that a deceased human body not be burned, nor does it attach any curse or judgment on someone who is cremated.[1]
    4. In cremations today we have a Christian memorial service.
    5. One source shares the following:
    6. Cremation was practiced in biblical times, but it was not commonly practiced by the Israelites or by New Testament believers. In the cultures of Bible times, burial in a tomb, cave, or in the ground was the common way to dispose of a human body (Genesis 23:19; 35:19; 2 Chronicles 16:14; Matthew 27:60-66). While burial was the common practice, the Bible nowhere commands burial as the only allowed method of disposing of a body.
    7. Is cremation something a Christian can consider? Again, there is no explicit scriptural command against cremation. Some believers object to the practice of cremation on the basis it does not recognize that one day God will resurrect our bodies and re-unite them with our soul/spirit (1 Corinthians 15:35-58; 1 Thessalonians 4:16). However, the fact that a body has been cremated does not make it any more difficult for God to resurrect that body. The bodies of Christians who died a thousand years ago have, by now, completely turned into dust. This will in no way prevent God from being able to resurrect their bodies. He created them in the first place; He will have no difficulty re-creating them. Cremation does nothing but “expedite” the process of turning a body into dust. God is equally able to raise a person’s remains that have been cremated as He is the remains of a person who was not cremated. The question of burial or cremation is within the realm of Christian freedom. A person or a family considering this issue should pray for wisdom (James 1:5) and follow the conviction that results.[2]
  2. Will we have wings in heaven?
    1. No, we will have new, resurrected bodies (1 Cor. 15).
    2. Jesus is not described with wings.
    3. We will have resurrected bodies and they will be similar to our current bodies.
    4. Jesus said that in heaven we will be like the angels in not marrying or being given in marriage (Mark 12:25).
  3. There will be a new heaven and a new earth right? Why both? If the new earth will be so amazing why does there need to be a heaven and visa versa?
    1. My simple answer is that the New heaven and New Earth are actually combined.
    2. We see this in Rev. 21:1-2. The New Jerusalem comes down out of heaven. I actually think that “heaven” is the dimension that the New Earth is in. Though some of this is dealing with terminology of time. This is a future time. The New Heaven and New Earth is the culmination of all things. This is also a resurrected time. When things are fulfilled we will have resurrected bodies and a resurrected earth.
  4. Will we move about in the temporary heaven and how? Will there be certain locations based on your life on earth?
    1. This is a more difficult question. I cannot answer for sure, but based on Rev. 6:9-11 and Luke 16:19-31 I believe we will have bodies in the temporary heaven as well. This means that we will move about. Rev. 6:9-11 and chapter 7 of Revelation describes people in the temporary heaven and they have robes on and they are singing. This seems to imply movement and so does Jesus’ parable of the rich man and Lazarus in Luke 16:19-31.
    2. I cannot answer about locations based on our life on earth, but I do not think so. Heaven is a totally different dimension.
  5. Will we have freewill in heaven? Can we sin?
    1. The fact that Adam and Eve had a choice to make in the Garden of Eden shows beyond all doubt that mankind was created with a free will. The first couple chose to sin, and that choice has plunged the entire world into spiritual darkness leading to our need of salvation.[3]
    2. Can we sin and get kicked out of heaven, no.
    3. Definition of freewill:
    4. We have freewill but not in the way most people think. We are free to choose based off of our desires. As long as we have a minimum of two available choices, we make a choice.
    5. But, in the case of a fallen sinner, he or she is not at liberty to choose according to righteousness. This is what Jesus means when He says that the one who sins “is a slave to sin” (John 8:34). This is not the language of “free will” as people typically think of it. The unregenerate person has a sinful nature; he is not just inclined to sin but driven by sinful impulses. It is perhaps helpful to say, “We are free to choose what we want but not free to want what we ought.” This greatly limits our “freedom” because the list of things we want (as sinners) coincides with whatever pleases our sinful impulses. Our choices are for things that will ultimately destroy us (Proverbs 14:12). As Paul says, “Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death?” (Romans 7:24, NLT). [4]
    6. When we are saved, we are liberated from our natural bondage to sin. The Holy Spirit sovereignly regenerates us and in grace gives us the ability to want what we ought to want, namely, forgiveness, salvation, and the lordship of Christ. When we trust in Jesus for salvation, we begin a moral progression, a journey toward holiness in which we put to death daily the sinful impulses that reside within us and strive toward godliness. In heaven we will be completely devoid of sin; our only desires will be for the things of God—things that bless us, fulfill us, and give us life. This is true liberty (see Romans 8:21). We will retain our free will in heaven, but our will is sanctified there. The sin nature will be gone.[5]
    7. In heaven we are COMPLETELY conformed to the image of Christ (Romans 8:28-30). We will not even want to sin.
    8. Also, there will be no temptation to lure us.
    9. Unlike Adam and Eve we will face no test, our moral state will be secure.[6]
    10. We will be like Him (1 John 3:2).
  6. If we have a home prepared for us in Heaven…is it for me only or for my spouse as well? It would seem adult children would have their own, but young children, how would that be handled?  Maybe there will be no age differences. It will be interesting to see how God does this with our new spiritual bodies. It also begs the question… Do we retain the same bond of marriage and family relationships in Heaven? Thanks for considering.
    1. It seems that we do have homes in heaven, though it seems based on John 14:1-6 they are more like apartments.
    2. It seems that they will be homes for us because it seems that we will not be married in heaven (Matt 22:30).
    3. This leaves a lot more to think about, but I wonder if in heaven our community will be so strong that we will all be like family.
    4. In reality, in heaven we will all be married to Jesus. He is the groom and we are the bride.
    5. In the book, “The Case for Heaven” by Lee Strobel he interviews Dr. Scot McKnight who does make the case that we will remain married in heaven, but I, personally, do not think the case is that strong.
    6. With children this is a difficult question. Recently, I listened to an interview, I think it was Randy Alcorn, who suggested maybe God allows their parents to raise them in Heaven. In other words, parents who have lost children will have the chance to raise them in heaven. How awesome that will be.
    7. I do think we will recognize people as our family in heaven. In Luke 16:19-31 the rich man and Lazarus knew each other. We will know our family and know that they are our family. However, we won’t be married, nor marry again.
    8. Maybe… just maybe… people can choose to share their home.
    9. Ages are hard to say. Some have suggested that in heaven we will have our prime age. One article says,  Some believe it to be around 30. Some guess 33 since that is approximately the age Jesus was when He died. First John 3:2 declares, “Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when He appears, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.”[7]
  7. Suicide- Biblically? Heaven possible?
    1. It depends. If the person was a true believer in Jesus they are still saved.
    2. Suicide is a sin. It is the sin of murder and maybe a number of other sins. However, we are saved by grace, not by works. Therefore, we cannot lose our salvation by works.
    3. Generally speaking with suicide, we are talking about a person who has faced such depression that they are brought to a point in which they are not making their own rational decisions. God knows that.

Now, take a moment and imagine Heaven. There is nothing wrong with that. In chapter 2 of Randy Alcorn’s book titled, “Heaven” he writes about imagination. We must be careful of thinking that Heaven will be whatever you imagine it to be, but we can use our imagination. God loves us and does want to lavish blessings upon us in all of eternity.

Randy Alcorn writes:

We cannot anticipate or desire what we cannot imagine. That’s why, I believe, God has given us glimpses of Heaven in the Bible— to fire up our imagination and kindle a desire for Heaven in our hearts. And that’s why Satan will always discourage our imagination— or misdirect it to ethereal notions that violate Scripture. As long as the resurrected universe remains either undesirable or unimaginable, Satan succeeds in sabotaging our love for Heaven.[8]

As C. S. Lewis said,

“While reason is the natural organ of truth, imagination is the organ of meaning.” In the words of Francis Schaeffer, “The Christian is the really free man— he is free to have imagination. This too is our heritage. The Christian is the one whose imagination should fly beyond the stars.”

Schaeffer always started with God’s revealed truth. But he exhorted us to let that truth fuel our imagination. Imagination should not fly away from the truth but fly upon the truth.[9]

Alcorn continues:

Imagination should not fly away from the truth but fly upon the truth. If you’re a Christian suffering with great pains and losses, Jesus says, “Be   of good cheer” (John 16: 33, NKJV). The new house is nearly ready for you. Moving day is coming. The dark winter is about to be magically transformed into spring. One day soon you will be home— for the first time. Until then, I encourage   you to meditate on the Bible’s truths about Heaven. May your imagination soar and your heart rejoice.[10]

I hope you can now picture Heaven, at least a little better.

Do you know Christ?

Luke 9:23

God created us to be with him. (Genesis 1-2)

Our sin separated us from God. (Genesis 3)

Sins cannot be removed by good deeds (Gen 4-Mal 4)

Paying the price for sin, Jesus died and rose again. (Matthew – Luke)

Everyone who trusts in him alone has eternal life. (John – Jude)

Life that’s eternal means we will be with Jesus forever. (Revelation 22:5)

[1] https://www.gotquestions.org/cremation-Bible.html

[2] Ibid.

[3] https://www.gotquestions.org/free-will-in-heaven.html

[4] Ibid.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Ibid.

[7] https://www.gotquestions.org/age-Heaven.html

[8] Alcorn, Randy (2011-12-08). Heaven (Alcorn, Randy) (Kindle Locations 559-563). Tyndale House Publishers. Kindle Edition.

[9] Alcorn, Randy (2011-12-08). Heaven (Alcorn, Randy) (Kindle Locations 679-684). Tyndale House Publishers. Kindle Edition.

[10] Alcorn, Randy (2011-12-08). Heaven (Alcorn, Randy) (Kindle Locations 683-688). Tyndale House Publishers. Kindle Edition.

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