Heaven (Part 3) - Different Heavens, Why Study it?, Can We Know Anything About it?


Heaven (Part 3) II. What is heaven? 1. Heaven n. - 1. a. The expanse in which the sun, moon, and stars, are seen, which has the appearance of a vast vault or canopy overarching the earth, on the ‘face’ or surface of which the clouds seem to lie or float; the sky, the firmament. 2. a. By extension (in accordance with Biblical use) the region of the atmosphere in which the clouds float, the winds blow, and the birds fly; as in the more or less poetical expressions, the clouds, winds, breath, fowls of heaven. 5. a. The celestial abode of immortal beings; the habitation of God and his angels, and of beatified spirits, usually placed in the realms beyond the sky; the state of the blessed hereafter. Opposed to hell. 2. "Heaven" refers to three places in the Bible (Gen 2:1). A. The sky (Deut 33:26; 2Sa 21:10) and the earth's atmosphere (Gen 1:20). B. Outer space (Gen 1:14-17; Gen 22:17) C. God's abode (Gen 21:17; Dan 2:28; Ecc 5:2) i. God's abode is called "the third heaven" (2Co 12:2) which is paradise (2Co 12:4 c/w Luk 23:43 c/w Rev 2:7 c/w Rev 22:1-3). ii. It is God's abode in heaven that we are concerned with in this study. III. Why study heaven? 1. We should be seeking heaven and setting our affection on it (Col 3:1-2). A. This commandment to seek heavenly things is proof that we don't do so naturally, else the command would not have been given. B. This is why a study like this is important. C. The more we learn about heaven, the more we will set our affection on it. D. The more we think about being with the LORD in heaven, the less we focus on the wicked and depressing things of this life. E. Satan wants to keep your mind from being focused on heaven and heavenly things. F. If he can do that, he will be able to more easily lead you into depression, despair, and depravity. 2. Learning about heaven brings us hope which helps us get through this life. A. Our hope is laid up for us in heaven (Col 1:5). B. We wait in hope for our resurrected body which will live on a resurrected new earth (Rom 8:18-25). C. For the Christian this life is only the beginning of a glorious life in heaven and on the new earth. IV. The most important reason we should look forward to heaven. 1. Being free of sin, evil, wickedness, pain, sorrow, weariness, loneliness, worry, care, frustration, death, etc. are all good reasons to look forward to heaven, but those things should not be our main reason for desiring heaven. 2. Seeing family members, friends, and brethren who have passed on before us is something to look forward to in heaven, but neither is that the main reason we should desire heaven. 3. The thing that should make us desire to be in heaven above all else is that God is there, and we will be able to see Him face to face. A. We will see God (Job 19:25-27; Mat 5:8) and know Him as we are known of Him (1Jo 3:2; 1Co 13:12). B. We will see His face (Job 33:26; Rev 22:4). C. We will be shown the riches of His grace for all eternity (Eph 2:7). V. Doesn't the Bible say that we can't know anything about heaven in 1Co 2:9? So why study it? 1. 1Co 2:9 doesn't say that we can't know anything about heaven; it says that our eyes have not seen, nor have our ears heard, nor has it entered into our hearts the things which God has prepared for us. 2. We have not seen heaven with our eyes, nor have we heard heaven's noises with our ears, nor has the knowledge of it entered into our hearts through inquiry, observation, or reasoning. 3. But read the next verse! God has revealed to us by His Spirit the things that He has prepared for us (1Co 2:10). A. There is plenty about heaven and the new earth that we don't know and can't know, but there are also plenty of things about it that we can know through studying the scriptures. B. This study endeavors to do just that. 4. Although we can learn a lot about heaven from the Bible, we will learn far more about it when we get there than God has chosen to reveal to us now. 5. "In a few minutes I shall know more of heaven than an assembly of divines could teach me." (C.H. Spurgeon, The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, 9:18-19) VI. A faulty understanding of heaven 1. Many people have misconceptions of what heaven will be like. A. They imagine that we will do nothing all day except sit on a cloud and strum a harp. i. This is unbiblical nonsense. ii. This conception of heaven is based on ignorant artists' renditions of heaven. B. They imagine that we will all be disembodied spirits dwelling in a nonmaterial place for all eternity. i. The present heaven is not a nonmaterial place. ii. It's true that we will be only soul and spirit in the present heaven until the resurrection. iii. But after the resurrection we will have new glorified bodies which will dwell on the new earth. C. They think heaven will be boring because all we will do is worship God all day. i. First of all, even if that were the case, being in the presence of Almighty God, basking in His glory, and worshiping Him all day would not be boring for a redeemed child of God. ii. Secondly, we will be doing many things in heaven in addition to worshiping God, though all acts will be an indirect act of worship of the God who saved us and reserved us a place in heaven with Him. 2. These misconceptions will be further dispelled as we go through this study. VII. The present heaven versus the eternal heaven (the new earth) 1. The present heaven is a temporary dwelling place for the souls and spirits of the saints who die before the second coming of Christ and the resurrection. 2. The eternal dwelling place for the saints will be the new earth which will be created after the resurrection and the destruction of the present heavens and earth. 3. The new earth and heavens will be a restoration and glorification of the original earth and heavens (see Section IX - The nature of the new earth). 4. God's dwelling place will be on the new earth with men. 5. These points will all be proved and expanded upon throughout this study. 6. Randy Alcorn in his book Heaven summarized this well. A. The present heaven is the temporary dwelling of God and His people — the new earth is the eternal dwelling of God and His people. i. "When we die, believers in Christ will not go to the Heaven where we'll live forever. Instead, we'll go to an intermediate Heaven. In that Heaven—where those who died covered by Christ's blood are now—we'll await the time of Christ's return to the earth, our bodily resurrection, the final judgment, and the creation of the new heavens and New Earth. If we fail to grasp this truth, we will fail to understand the biblical doctrine of Heaven." (Randy Alcorn, Heaven, p. 42) ii. "Only God is eternal and self-existent. All else is created. Heaven is not synonymous with God, nor is it part of his essential being. Therefore, God must have created Heaven. It is not a place where he must dwell, but it is where he chooses to dwell. Because Heaven is a place where angels live, where finite beings come and go, it appears to be a finite environment, a specific location." (Ibid, p. 44) iii. "Because God created Heaven, it had a beginning and is therefore neither timeless nor changeless. It had a past (the time prior to Christ's incarnation, death, and resurrection), it has a present (the Heaven where believers go when they die), and it will have a future (the eternal Heaven, or New Earth). The past Heaven, the present Heaven, and the future or eternal Heaven can all be called Heaven, yet they are not synonymous, even though they are all God's dwelling places." (Ibid) iv. "The present Heaven is a temporary lodging, a waiting place until the return of Christ and our bodily resurrection. The eternal Heaven, the New Earth, is our true home, the place where we will live forever with our Lord and each other. The great redemptive promises of God will find their ultimate fulfillment on the New Earth, not in the present Heaven." (Ibid) v. "Once we abandon our assumptions that Heaven cannot change, it all makes sense. God does not change; he's immutable. But God clearly says that Heaven will change. It will eventually be relocated to the New Earth (Revelation 21:1). Similarly, what we now refer to as Hell will also be relocated. After the Great White Throne Judgment, Hell will be cast into the eternal lake of fire (Revelation 20:14-15)." (Ibid) B. The new earth can be referred to as "heaven." i. "(Revelation 21:1-3). Heaven, God's dwelling place, will one day be on the New Earth. Notice that the New Jerusalem, which was in Heaven, will come down out of Heaven from God. Where does it go? To the New Earth. From that time on, "the dwelling of God will be with redeemed mankind on Earth." Some would argue that the New Earth shouldn't be called Heaven. But it seems clear to me that if God's special dwelling place is by definition Heaven, and we're told that "the dwelling of God" will be with mankind on Earth, then Heaven and the New Earth will be essentially the same place. We're told that "the throne of God and of the Lamb" is in the New Jerusalem, which is brought down to the New Earth (Revelation 22:1). Again, it seems clear that wherever God dwells with his people and sits on his throne would be called Heaven." (Ibid, p. 45)
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Heaven (Part 3), 11-27-22 - Different Heavens, Why Study it, Can We Know Anything About it.mp3 38.7 MB