Heaven (Part 15) - What is Life Like in the Present Heaven?


Heaven (Part 15) 23. What is life like in the present heaven? A. The following points were gleaned from Randy Alcorn's book called "Heaven" on pages 65-67. i. Much can be learned about the present heaven from Rev 6:9-11. ii. "And when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held: 10 And they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth? 11 And white robes were given unto every one of them; and it was said unto them, that they should rest yet for a little season, until their fellowservants also and their brethren, that should be killed as they were, should be fulfilled." (Rev 6:9-11) iii. From this passage, the following things can be concluded: a. 1) When these people died on Earth they relocated to Heaven (v.9). b. 2) These people in Heaven were the same ones killed for Christ while on Earth (v.9). (i) This demonstrates direct continuity between our identity on Earth and our identity in Heaven. (ii) The martyrs' personal history extends directly back to their lives on Earth. (iii) Those in the present Heaven are not different people; they are the same people relocated ― "the spirits of just men made perfect" (Heb 12:23). c. 3) People in Heaven will be remembered for their lives on Earth. These were known and identified as ones slain "for the testimony which they held" (v.9). d. 4) "they cried with a loud voice" (v.10) means they are able to express themselves audibly. This could suggest they exist in physical form, with vocal cords or other tangible means to express themselves. e. 5) People in the present Heaven can raise their voices (v.10). This indicates that they are rational, communicative, and emotional ― even passionate ― beings, like people on Earth. f. 6) They called out in "a loud voice," not "loud voices" (v.10). Individuals speaking with one voice indicate that Heaven is a place of unity and shared perspective. g. 7) The martyrs are fully conscious, rational, and aware of each other, God, and the situation on Earth. h. 8) They ask God to intervene on Earth and to act on their behalf: "How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth?" (v.10). i. 9) Those in Heaven are free to ask God questions, which means they have an audience with God. (i) It also means they need to learn and they continue to learn. (ii) In Heaven people desire understanding and pursue it. j. 10) People in the present Heaven know what's happening on Earth (v.10). The martyrs know enough to realize that those who killed them have not yet been judged. k. 11) Heaven dwellers have a deep concern for justice and retribution (v.10). (i) When we go to Heaven, we won't adopt a passive disinterest in what happens on the earth. (ii) On the contrary, our concerns will be more passionate and our thirst for justice greater. (iii) Neither God nor we will be satisfied until His enemies are judged, our bodies raised, sin and Satan defeated, Earth restored, and Christ exalted over all. l. 12) The martyrs clearly remember their lives on Earth (v.10). They even remember that they were murdered. m. 13) The martyrs in Heaven pray for judgment on their persecutors who are still at work hurting others. (i) They are acting in solidarity with, and in effect interceding for, the suffering saints on Earth. (ii) This suggests that saints in Heaven are both seeing and praying for saints on Earth. n. 14) Those in Heaven see God's attributes ("Lord, holy and true") in a way that makes his judgment of sin more understandable. o. 15) Those in Heaven are distinct individuals: "white robes were given unto every one of them" (v.11). There isn't one merged identity that obliterates uniqueness, but a distinct "every one of them." p. 16) The martyrs' wearing white robes suggests the possibility of actual physical forms, because disembodied spirits presumably don't wear robes. (i) The robes may well have symbolic meaning, but it doesn't mean they couldn't be physical. (ii) The martyrs appear to have physical forms that John could actually see. q. 17) God answers their question (v.11), indicating communication and process in Heaven. (i) It also demonstrates that we won't know everything in Heaven ― if we did, we would have no questions. (ii) The martyrs knew more after God answered their question than before they asked it. (iii) There is learning in the present Heaven. r. 18) God promises to fulfill the martyrs' requests, but says they will have to "rest yet for a little season" (v.11). (i) Those in the present Heaven live in anticipation of the future fulfillment of God's promises. (ii) Unlike the eternal Heaven ― where there will be no more sin, Curse, or suffering on the New Earth (Revelation 21:4) ― the present Heaven coexists with and watches over an Earth under sin, the Curse, or suffering. s. 19) There is time in the present Heaven (vv.10-11). (i) The white-robed martyrs ask God a time-dependent question: "How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth?" (v.10) . (ii) They are aware of time's passing and are eager for the coming day of the Lord's judgment. (iii) God answers that they must "rest yet for a little season" until certain events transpire on Earth. (iv) Waiting requires the passing of time. t. 20) The people of God in Heaven have a strong familial connection with those on Earth, who are called their "fellowservants also and their brethren" (v.11). (i) We share the same Father, "of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named" (Eph 3:15). (ii) There is not a wall of separation within the bride of Christ. (iii) We are one family with those who've gone to Heaven ahead of us. (iv) After we go to Heaven, we'll still be one family with those yet on Earth. (v) These verses demonstrate a vital connection between the events and people in Heaven and the events and people on Earth. u. 21) Our sovereign God knows down to the last detail all that is happening and will happen on Earth (v.11), including every drop of blood shed and every bit of suffering undergone by his children. (i) Voice of the Martyrs estimates that more than 150,000 people die for Christ each year, an average of more than four hundred per day. (ii) God knows the name and story of each one. B. We will be in the presence of God. i. We will see God (Mat 5:8). ii. We will worship God (Rev 7:9-10). iii. We will sing praises to God (Rev 5:9-10). iv. We will serve God before His throne in His temple day and night (Rev 7:13-15). C. We will get to see and interact with saints that have gone on before us (Luk 16:22). D. We will get to rest (Isa 57:1-2). E. We will continue to learn about God and His grace (Eph 2:7). F. More details about life in the present heaven will be given in subsequent parts of this study. 24. What will we do in heaven? A. Will we spend all eternity only worshipping and singing praises to God? (Judy) i. No. Worshipping and singing praises to God will be part of what occupies our time. ii. But there will be many other things we will do such as the things that follow in this section. iii. Our primary focus in heaven will be God (see Section IV), but there are other pleasures there which derive from God that we will also enjoy. iv. God has given us richly all things to enjoy on earth (1Ti 6:17; Ecc 5:18-19), and it will be no different in the present heaven and the new earth. v. Randy Alcorn summed it up well with the following. a. "Our primary joy in Heaven will be knowing and seeing God. Every other joy will be derivative, flowing from the fountain of our relationship with God." (Randy Alcorn, Heaven, p. 176) b. "Suppose you're sick. Your friend brings a meal. What meets your needs―the meal or the friend? Both. Of course, without your friend, there would be no meal; but even without a meal, you would still treasure your friendship. Hence, your friend is both your higher pleasure and the source of your secondary pleasure (the meal). Likewise, God is the source of all lesser goods, so that when they satisfy us, it's God himself who satisfies us. (In fact, it's God who satisfies you by giving you the friend who gives you the meal.)" (Ibid) c. "When I speak elsewhere in the book of the multifaceted joys of the resurrected life in the new universe, some readers may think, But our eyes should be on the giver, not the gift; we must focus on God, not on Heaven. This approach sounds spiritual, but it erroneously divorces our experience of God from life, relationships, and the world―all of which God graciously gives us. It sees the material realm and other people as God's competitors rather than as instruments that communicate his love and character. It fails to recognize that because God is the ultimate source of joy, and all secondary joys emanate from him, to love secondary joys on Earth can be―and in Heaven always will be―to love God, their source." (Ibid) d. "...we shouldn't ignore or minimize God's lavish, creative gifts, but we should enjoy them and express heartfelt gratitude to God for all of life's joys. When we do this, instead of these things drawing us from God, they draw us to God. That's precisely what all things and all beings in Heaven will do―draw us to God, never away from him. Everyday we should see God in his creation: in the food we eat, in the air we breathe, the friendships we enjoy, and the pleasures of family, work, and hobbies. Yes, we must sometimes forgo secondary pleasures, and we should never let them eclipse God. And we should avoid opulence and waste when others are needy. But we should thank God for all of life's joys, large and small, and allow them to draw us to him." (Ibid, 178) e. "Beholding and knowing God, we will spend eternity worshiping, exploring, and serving him, seeing his magnificent beauty in everything and everyone around us." (Ibid, 179)
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