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.
As I’ve read through this study on Heaven by Randy Alcorn, I have come to discover many new truths from God’s Word about our eternal destination. I’ve come to the understanding that we will likely have physical bodies, live on a physical earth, and do many physical activities like eat and maybe even sleep. But one area that Alcorn had spoken briefly about before but that I still wasn’t 100% sure about was the idea that we would spend endless amounts of time in Heaven learning – about God and His creation, about His attributes and His grace, and about the ways He participated in our lives when we didn’t even know He was there. I always held some kind of belief that when we get to Heaven, part of us being made flawless meant that we would no longer have a need to learn anything – maybe I thought we would know everything as God knows everything. Or perhaps I thought that we would be mindless beings with no motivation to learn anything or even have any thoughts about anything other than worshipful thoughts toward God. But today’s study helped me see that, just as we will have physical and spiritual sides, we will also have a intellectual side.
To say that we will know everything as God knows everything once we get to Heaven would be an extravagant overstatement. In 1 Corinthians 13:12, when Paul said “Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known,” he wasn’t speaking of being omniscient (all-knowing) as God is omniscient. Looking at the context of the verse, you can see that Paul is talking about spiritual gifts, one of them being the gift of knowledge. A pastor of mine once explained that the spiritual gift of knowledge was the ability of a person to accept supernatural direction from God, especially when it comes to understanding His Word. Many great pastors and scriptural teachers have this gift, and it is very closely related to the gift of prophecy. Paul says in this passage that some gifts, including this gift of knowledge, will pass away (v. 8). When we get to Heaven, we will no longer need supernatural direction because we will be in the presence of God Himself. Therefore, things will be clear to us (not as a “poor reflection” but as clearly as “face to face”). And we’ll know God fully, but we won’t know everything there is to know. Peter made it clear that even angels don’t know everything there is to know – when speaking of mysteries of salvation through Christ, he said “Even angels long to look into these things” (1 Peter 1:12). If angels who are already in Heaven with God long to look into some things, then it’s obvious they don’t know everything, and neither will we when we get there.
Ephesians 2:6-7 says “And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.” Alcorn points out that this passage uses past tense to talk about seating us with Christ, but uses a continual future tense to talk about Christ showing us “the incomparable riches of his grace…” Christ will continually reveal to us the things of Heaven, breaking up these extremely complex mysteries into finite bits of understandable knowledge. This is learning. And it won’t be a negative experience like so many people have memories of here on the present earth. We’ll learn about things that actually interest us, things that we’ve always wanted to know.
Alcorn finished today’s study by pointing out that God could easily impart knowledge to us when we get to Heaven – he apparently did so with Adam and Even in their creation, since they had some vocabulary when they were first created. But every other person since that time has had to learn every bit of knowledge through some kind of studying. Something I thought about was the fact that our enhanced ability to learn is really what sets us apart from the rest of God’s creation. A dog can learn tricks, but he can’t learn calculus. A gorilla can learn sign language, but he can’t read a book. We have a gift of being able to learn, and for God to take that away from us when we get to Heaven would be to take away part of our human-ness. We have an insatiable desire for the truth (which I believe was given to us as a part of our creation) that no other species has. And since God is the author of the truth, when we go to live with Him for eternity, much of our time will be spent discovering that truth. “In Heaven our intellectual curiosity will sure surface – and be satisfied – only to surface and be satisfied again and again.”
Click HERE to see the next post in this series.