This post is one in a series of posts on a Bible study I am doing titled Heaven by Randy Alcorn and Dave McCleskey. The focus of this study is to get a Biblical view of what heaven is really like.
In Revelation 21:1-3, the Apostle John says “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God.’ ” (emphasis added). In this description of the New Earth, where the Bible says those who are in Christ will spend eternity, it clearly states that God will forever live among us. Up until that point, there were very few times when God lived among men. In the Garden of Eden, God at least visited – “the man and his wife heard the sound of the LORD God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day” (Genesis 3:8). And, of course, there was the 30 or so years when Jesus lived on the earth. But since that time, no one can say that they have been in the physical presence of God. Today’s study talked about how on the New Earth, God will live among us, and discussed the implications of that.
If you have read my previous posts on this study, you might get the impression that Heaven is going to be all about us. You may get the feeling that the New Heaven will be so very similar to the present Earth, and to a point, this is true. We have spent a lot of time discussing how the new Heaven/Earth combo will be a physical place, and that it will be familiar to us. God created the earth for us and us for the earth, so it makes sense that the New Earth will be similar in form to the one on which we currently live. But one way that the New Earth will be very different is that God will be present there. Here are some thoughts to consider:
- Alcorn quoted Steven J. Lawson as saying “God’s glory will fill and permeate the entire new Heaven, not just one centralized place. Thus, wherever we go in Heaven, we will be in the immediate presence of the full glory of God. Wherever we go, we will enjoy the complete manifestation of God’s presence. Throughout all eternity, we will never be separated from direct, unhindered fellowship with God.”
- Being in Heaven will mean being with Jesus. Jesus told his disciples “I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.” (John 14:3), and the Apostle Paul said that “to be away from the body” was to be “at home with the Lord” (2 Corinthians 5:8). Alcorn points out that Paul consistently stated that his desire was to be with Jesus, and not just to be in Heaven. He said “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far” (Philippians 1:21-23). Paul understood that the true reward in Heaven was to be with Christ.
- Right before He died, Jesus prayed “Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world.” (John 17:24). Christ wants to share his glory – his person and his accomplishments – with us. Alcorn points out that “there’s no contradiction between Christ acting for His glory and for our good. The two are synonymous.”
- In Luke 12:37, in teaching about watchfulness, Jesus tells his disciples “It will be good for those servants whose master finds them watching when he comes. I tell you the truth, he will dress himself to serve, will have them recline at the table and will come and wait on them.” This teaching of Christ seems to be telling us that God will serve us in Heaven – Jesus will “overwhelm us with His humility and His grace” by becoming our servant because He loves us and appreciates our loyalty and service to Him.
Alcorn finishes today’s study by stating that “the presence of God is the essence of Heaven (just as the absence of God is the essence of hell).” He says that many people tell stories of dying and seeing heaven, and many people tell stories of talking with those who are already in heaven through some sort of medium or spiritual channeler. Interestingly, these people almost never mention God or that they have seen Jesus. But when the Apostle John was given a vision of Heaven, when he wrote about it to the church, he couldn’t stop talking about Jesus and God’s glory. I think that perhaps these other people are not seeing what they think they see, because Heaven is not Heaven without God. And the same will be true of the New Heaven – God will live there with men, and that will be the pinnacle of entire experience.
Click HERE to see the next post in this series.