THE HEAVENLY HOPE
By Pastor William Cunningham
This week we are going to examine the other side of the coin, so to speak, from what we talked about last week, which was the existence of hell. This week we are going to talk about our heavenly hope. We are going to first discuss what heaven is, and what it means to the Christian.
The objective here is to heighten your awareness of the heavenly hope and to show you that our heavenly lifestyle exists now instead of when we die and go to heave. Therefore, the Christian should be heavenly minded in their earthly lifestyle. Just as the unregenerate person habitually does unrighteousness, the child of God should habitually do righteousness.
What is Heaven?
Let's first define the word "heaven" before we dive into an analysis of the above Scripture. There are at least three aspects of the word heaven.
There are also three aspects of the heavens referring to the sky.
Heaven is ultimately the hope of all Christians. It is the place where all those who have faith in Jesus Christ will spend eternity.
God Created the Heavens
The Kingdom of Heaven
The Kingdom of Heaven is the domain over which God rules. The concept here is that of God's Way, which is righteousness. Therefore, the Kingdom of Heaven means a system that is characterized by the very nature of God the Father. Jesus taught much of God's Kingdom especially in His parables.
The New Heavens
The Bible declares that God is going to create a new heaven and a new earth. The old heavens and earth will pass away. We will focus on the following passages of scripture.
Also consider Isaiah 66:22. You can also read the description of the New Jerusalem in Revelations 21:9-21.
The Hebrew did not have a word for "universe." Therefore, the term "the heavens and the earth" or "the heavens" was used to describe the earth and the space in which it resides.
Now let's look specifically at Revelation 21:1-8. This passage of scripture informs us of the following things.
Now it also appears that this place identified as "lake of fire" (fire and brimstone) is someplace outside of the new heaven and the new earth. It is as though "hell" will be in another universe so to speak.
Now look at 2 Peter 3:10-13. Here we learn even more about the new heaven. We discover the following.
These verses reveal something very interesting about heaven. First it tells us that our current universe, including the earth, will be destroyed. God will then create a new heaven and a new earth. One must wonder where the saints are located during this time. This also implies that God transcends the universe, which is typically considered infinite.
Heavens and the Universe
We know that God created the universe (the heavens and the earth). Therefore, it appears that the universe is not infinite especially since God is infinite and transcends all things. The universe seems to be an object of creation (a created thing). It is an expanse of space but nevertheless it is still an object with bounds and certain characteristics. God will eventually destroy this heaven as God creates a new heaven as well as a new earth (place for the saints to live). Will it be another planet earth? We know that there will be no need for a sun since he glory of God will light the new earth.
What will this place look like? Well Revelation 21:9-21 gives us a clue in regards to the New Jerusalem. This new heaven and new earth will be pure and nothing impure will be allowed to enter it. This seems to indicate that the lake of fire, what we think of as hell, will not be anywhere in this new universe (heavens and the earth) that God will create. Perhaps hell (Lake of fire) is a universe all to itself where there is no interaction between the two.
Matthew 6:19-21 (NKJV) "Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
Christians should be more aware of the heavenly perspective. We already saw that this earth and the entire universe will be annihilated. We however will live for eternity with the Father in heaven (those who are saved). Therefore, why should we put so much stock, so to speak, in things that are temporal? Sure we are going to have to tend to things that are associated with this world and the temporal universe. However, our priority should be those things that are heavenly.
For example, Jesus talks about the treasures being in heaven or on earth. Heavenly treasures could be something like giving to those who are in need. In general, heavenly treasures are those things that pertain to the Kingdom of heaven.
The hope of the Christian is seen as eternity with the Father as described in the above scriptures. There will be no more unrighteousness and the consequences of such. In other words, there will be no more pain. We won't have to worry about a bad day that might get to us. All will be well in the new heaven and new earth. God will dwell among his people forever.
Imagine how wonderful heaven will be. Of course that is no reason to get there quicker, so to speak. In other words, we don't have to commit suicide in order to be with the Lord sooner. The point is to live now and obey God. Our hope is heaven. It will make this life a mere passing memory if that. Actually, I doubt if we will even remember this present life since eternity is a pretty long time.
The Christian has so much to look forward to. Imagine being with God for all of eternity with no more worries as we have in this life. Each day we grow more and more into the image of Jesus Christ so we should be more zealous to live a righteous life, since we are righteous people.
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