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"Seek ye the Lord while He may be found, call ye upon him while He is near: Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the Lord, and He will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon." (Isaiah 55:6-7)

 

Oct 25, 2016

Have you ever wondered what the Bible says about Heaven? There are a lot of false notions about Heaven, but what does the Bible say? Here is a quick answer, and also some important things to consider about the matter.

Here are the notes for this question:

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What does the Bible say about Heaven?

  1. Intro
    1. “What does the Bible say about Heaven?”
    2. There is a lot of confusion and false notions about Heaven. It’s usually that way because people think that Heaven has something to do with what they want. They think, “I’ve been told it’s ‘the good place’ of eternal happiness, so naturally it must be filled with the things that make me happy!”—Wrong.
    3. The Lord God Almighty has told us everything that is important in His Word; at least, all that we are able to comprehend. So, what does the Bible actually say about Heaven?
  2. How the word “heaven” is used
    1. The word “heaven” is used several ways in scripture that are important to note.
      1. First, to refer to what we call the atmosphere where clouds form and rain originates and where birds and planes fly. We read, “But the land, whither ye go to possess it, is a land of hills and valleys, and drinketh water of the rain of heaven:” (Deu. 11:11) And again, “And God said, Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life, and fowl that may fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven.” (Gen. 1:20)
      2. Second, to what we refer to as “space”. This is where the sun, stars, and planets are. We read, “…And lest thou lift up thine eyes unto heaven, and when thou seest the sun, and the moon, and the stars, even all the host of heaven…”(Deu. 4:19)
      3. Lastly, we read of the “third heaven”…literally. In 2 Corinthians 12:2 Paul the Apostle gives a testimony saying, “I knew a man in Christ above fourteen years ago, (whether in the body, I cannot tell; or whether out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) such an one caught up to the third heaven.” (2 Cor. 12:2) It can be understood in relation to the other two when you consider that it is also called the “heaven of heavens”:
        1. When King Solomon dedicated the temple of God he prayed, “But will God indeed dwell on the earth? behold, the heaven and heaven of heavens cannot contain thee; how much less this house that I have builded?” (1 Ki. 8:27)
  3. The Heaven of Heavens
    1. This “heaven of heavens” is what is commonly thought of as “heaven” to us.
    2. To understand the characteristics and nature of heaven you must understand that the Bible shows plainly that God is a King.
      1. Isaiah 33:22 says, “For the LORD is our judge, the LORD is our lawgiver, the LORD is our king; he will save us.” (Isa. 33:22)
      2. Heaven is where God’s throne sits. We read in Isaiah 66:1, “Thus saith the LORD, The heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool: where is the house that ye build unto me? and where is the place of my rest?” (Isa. 66:1)
    3. All that heaven is it is because it is where God’s will is unhindered and unquestioned. It is ruled by Him. That is why heaven is what it is.
      1. In Matthew 6:10 we hear when the Lord Jesus is teaching His disciples to pray, “Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.”
    4. You see in that verse that Jesus Christ references that God the Father’s will is done in Heaven. You also see that He refers to it as a kingdom: God being the King.
    5. Jesus Christ also said that heaven is the place of God’s “house” where He was going to go prepare a place for his disciples:
      1. In John 14:2 we read, “In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.”
    6. This “house” is referred to as “New Jerusalem” or “the Holy City”. The heavenly city is that which Jesus Christ has prepared with God the Father for those that love God.
      1. We read about it in Revelation chapters 21 and 22. This is the common passage from the Bible which is referenced to discuss what heaven is like. In discussing heaven we have to describe the heavenly city because it is the clearest description given by God to us.
      2. Beginning in chapter 21:2-4 we read, “And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.”
  4. Other Characteristics of the Heavenly City are:
    1. It is filled with the glory of God. (Rev. 21:11)
    2. It has a great and high wall around it built on twelve foundations of precious stones, and the wall has twelve gates which are all made of pearl. (Rev. 21:12-14, 19-21)
    3. The city itself is made of pure gold. (Rev. 21:18)
    4. There is no temple of God in it: because there is nothing there to separate God from man regarding fellowship in it. God is freely, openly, and properly worshipped. In fact, He is the temple of the city according to the truest sense of the word. (Rev. 21:22)
    5. The glory of God and Jesus Christ are the light of the city. (Rev. 21:23)
    6. Those that are “saved” walk in it. (Rev. 21:24)
    7. The gates are never shut. (Rev. 21:25)
    8. There is no night there. (Rev. 21:25)
    9. All the inhabitants of the city will see God’s face. (Rev. 22:4)
    10. There is a lot left unsaid by the Lord but it can be summed up with this succinct quotation by Paul the Apostle, “But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.” (1 Cor. 2:9)
  5. Important Point
    1. Now, I want you to consider one important point: listen to what the Apostle John wrote, “And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven…” (Rev. 21:2) Why is that important? It’s important because it’s a point that most people don’t know. God’s kingdom is not just going to stay in a distant place called Heaven: it is going to be set up on earth.
    2. Jesus Christ said, when teaching his disciples to pray, for them to pray “thy kingdom come, thy will be done, in earth as it is in heaven.” (Matt. 6:10)
    3. As much as God’s will is done in heaven at the present time, it will also be done on the earth very soon. What will it be like when He sets up His kingdom upon the earth?
    4. If Heaven is all that it is because God’s will is done there, then there will have to be some major change take place for God to set up His kingdom and heavenly city on earth.
  6. The Restitution of all things
    1. Peter said, “Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord; And he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you: Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began.” (Acts 3:19-21)
    2. The “times of restitution of all things” is what we refer to as the second coming of Christ. That’s when Jesus Christ will return to set up the Kingdom of God on earth.
    3. The Lord gave an illustration for us Himself in Luke 19:12, “He said therefore, A certain nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom, and to return.”
      1. Jesus Has gone into a far country, as it were, to receive a kingdom and to return.
    4. In Matthew 25:13 Jesus said, “Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh.”
    5. Why should anyone be concerned to “watch” for the return of the Lord when He will set up His Kingdom on earth? We are told the “times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord” (Acts 3:19)? Isn’t there always joy and peace in the presence of the Lord?
  7. The Return of the Lord
    1. In 2 Thessalonians we are told, “And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power; When he shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all them that believe (because our testimony among you was believed) in that day.” (2 The. 1:7-10)
    2. I thought that the Lord was returning to set up His Kingdom on earth, and the heavenly city that we read all those wonderful things about was to descend from God out of heaven?
    3. Yes, it is, but He is a King. He is coming to set up His Kingdom which follows His laws. Isaiah said, “For the LORD is our judge, the LORD is our lawgiver, the LORD is our king; he will save us.” (Isa. 33:22)
    4. Because God is a King He has laws, and because He has laws: He is a judge of all those that break His laws. It’s not a democracy. Your personal convictions are irrelevant.
  8. God’s Law
    1. A portion of God’s Law is called “the Ten Commandments”. Most people have heard of them, but few people know them all. Even fewer still don’t understand their meaning and purpose.
    2. God said, “Thou shalt not kill.” But it is explained more in depth in the NT that God’s standards are so high that He esteems hatred to be the same as murder (1 John 3:15). God looks at the thoughts and intents of the heart as well as on the outer actions. (1 Sam. 16:7)
    3. God said, “Thou shalt not commit adultery.” Jesus in the NT explained even further the depth of the commandment saying, “But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.” (Mat. 5:28)
    4. God said, “Thou shalt not bear false witness.” This means lying. The Apostle John stated, in the same chapter that describes the Heavenly city, that ALL liars will be cast into the Lake of Fire.
    5. These are only three of God’s commandments. If you have broken even one of them once then you have broken God’s Law. You are a criminal in His jurisdiction, or as the Bible refers to it: a sinner. You have lived in rebellion to the Most High God and He is going to require it of you. The only way to escape God’s authority and judgment is to escape His jurisdiction as King. Seeing He made all things in existence: that’s not going to happen.
  9. Penalty and Pardon
    1. In order to go to heaven, or to enter in to that heavenly city, you must be righteous. (or “right” with God)
    2. God is a Judge and cannot just “let things go” like corrupt judges on earth. All sin will be dealt with. Imagine if a court judge had just “let things go” if Adolf Hitler just said, “Oh…I’m sorry. Forgive me.” The entire world would’ve been horrified! God is perfect in righteousness and holiness, and He is not less just than a judge on earth.
    3. He has said, “The wages of sin is death” (Rom. 6:23) and “the soul that sinneth it shall die” (Eze. 18:20). In Revelation we read, “But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.” (Rev. 21:8)
    4. But God is not willing that any should perish, and He has no pleasure in the death of the wicked. So God, being a just judge but also a merciful God, made a way to punish sin but also show mercy.
    5. God sent His son Jesus to the earth to be born of a virgin, live a perfect sinless life in obedience to God’s Law, and then to die a horrible death as a substitution for your own death. He became a sacrifice for sin. We read this in Isaiah 53 600 years before it took place:
      1. “For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him. He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth. He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? for he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was he stricken. And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth. Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in his hand. He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities.” (Isa. 53:2-11)
  10. Conclusion
    1. Yes. Heaven is a wonderful place, but there is coming a day when the Lord is returning to reckon with you. He knows your very thoughts and every deed you have ever done. Before He sets up a literal heaven on earth under His own kingship He will first purge the earth of all things contrary to His holiness.
    2. The Apostle Peter said, “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up. Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness, Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat? Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness.” (2 Pet. 3:9-13)
    3. If you want to go to heaven, and enter into His kingdom: take heed to the warning. The King is returning, He has given His commandments, you have broken them: therefore, plead for mercy by turning from sin to put your faith and hope in Jesus Christ. Nothing less will do.
    4. In closing, listen to the prophet Isaiah, “Seek ye the LORD while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near: Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the LORD, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.” (Isa. 55:6-7)