The Hope Of Heaven
Of all my posts so far, this is the one I am most excited about. It will help take your mind off what is past and cause you to look forward with great expectation. Colossians 3:2 tells us to “Set our minds on the things above, not on earthly things.” This doesn’t mean to be so heavenly minded that you’re no earthly good, but to live each day to the glory of God and in a manner worthy of the name Christian. Hope is a critical ingredient in our physical lives as well as our spiritual life. When our relationships need work it is the “hope” that things will get better which spurs us on to action. Hope helps us to hang in there. Whenever I’m having a bad day or facing a difficult situation I remember 1 Peter 5:10 “…after you suffered a little while…” In other words, it’s not forever. When we are besieged with worry time seems to stand still and so we hope for better times. Psalm 103:15-16 states that our days are like grass, we sprout, grow and are gone. Welcome to The Hope Of Heaven.
I once did an object lesson that beautifully demonstrated the fact that, in the scope of eternity, we really aren’t here for long. If you have five minutes to watch, it can be found here. https://youtu.be/ukPxMg6-e4M
The Bible doesn’t have a lot to say about heaven but one thing is for sure, you won’t want to be anywhere else. Heaven is the final destination for the believer, it is a very real place. It is my sincerest hope that as you read on, you will be inspired to think more about heaven and get excited not just about the destination, but the journey toward it.
It is impossible to get excited about anything unless you really believe it is going to take place. The hope of heaven is what drives Christians forward even through the most difficult of circumstances. The promise of eternal life with Christ is filled with hope. Paul wrote that our hope isn’t only for this life but our hope in God’s promise of heaven is, “an anchor for the soul, firm and secure…” Hebrews 6:19.
God takes a personal interest in protecting those who belong to Him until they have accomplished what He has sent them into the world to do. Psalm 91. Who would want to live a day longer? I can totally relate to Paul in Philippians 1:21-23. The believer knows where they are going and even long for it. Sadly, the wicked are never satisfied, even with long life.
Glimpses of Heaven
Glimpses of heaven are described in the Bible. When we read these divine revelations and use our God given imaginations we truly begin to get excited about our arrival. Jesus wouldn’t have told us about it if it didn’t exist and He clearly wants us to look forward to it. I have never been to heaven, but Jesus has. He came down from there to tell us about it and died on the cross to pay our way in.
In John 14:2-3 Jesus tells us that He is preparing a place for us and that He will come back and take us there to be with Him forever. Some translations refer to these dwelling places as mansions. I can’t even begin to imagine what it will look like but I know that my “place” is being built by Jesus Himself, the Master carpenter, and it will last for all eternity.
Unlike references to hell, there is no nighttime in heaven. Revelation 22:5. Our earthly bodies need rest and sleep to rejuvenate, in heaven you will never get tired nor have any desire for sleep or darkness.
Misleading images of human creation like someone sitting on a billowy cloud with wings on their back and a harp in their hands can lead us to think that heaven will be boring. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Those fleeting moments of happiness that we are blessed with here on earth will be provided in never ending abundance in heaven. I love what the late Rev. Billy Graham once said, “God will prepare everything for our perfect happiness in heaven, and if it takes my dog being there, I believe he’ll be there.” God created me and knows what makes me truly happy. I have total confidence that my experience in heaven will directly reflect this reality.
I am also convinced that the things which cause us to dread certain activities here on earth won’t exist in heaven. In an effort to get help with my family situation I met with a Christian counsellor many years ago now. She told me that it’s possible that my relationship with my family won’t be healed until heaven. This didn’t make me feel any better at the time, but now that I have grown in my faith I understand what she was talking about. Sin is not allowed in heaven. The sinful behaviour that was the root cause of the dysfunction here, won’t be allowed there. All of our relationships in heaven will be exactly the way God intended them to be; perfect, harmonious and unending.
1 Corinthians 15:42-44 describes the sharp contrast between our earthly human bodies and the heavenly spiritual body we can look forward to. Paul tells us that our natural bodies are perishable, dishonourable and weak where as our spiritual bodies will be imperishable, honourable and powerful. Think about that for a minute, “imperishable!” No longer will we be subject to sickness and disease, accidents or injury, extreme heat or cold nor hunger and thirst. No more decay; indestructible and enduring for ever. We will no longer feel any shame having been cleansed from sin by Jesus shed blood on our behalf. We will be free from the natural laws of gravity, time and space, no longer weakened by sin and temptation. Our glorified bodies will belong to Christ and be empowered by His Holy Spirit for all eternity.
Everyone on earth longs for lasting peace. We pursue happiness, safety and security for ourselves and our loved ones, a life free from pain and strife. My friends, it lies just ahead. All birth defects, mental or physical handicaps, injuries and the debilitating effects of illness will be healed in heaven. Isaiah 35:5-6.
Having a new “spiritual body” doesn’t mean that we will be an unrecognizable mist floating around aimlessly. We will be recognizable, we will have form, solidity of touch and great purpose. We are told in 1 John 3:2 that our resurrected bodies will be like that of Jesus resurrected body. This verse really gets my imagination working overtime. For instance, on Easter morning when the women visited Jesus tomb they found an angel had rolled away the heavy stone from the entrance and was sitting on it. Matthew 28 tells us that this was to allow the women to see for themselves that Jesus had risen and was not there. Jesus had already left before the stone was rolled away, did He walk right through solid rock? As funny as that may sound, will we be able to pass right through solid objects in heaven?
In John 20:19-29 the disciples are hidden away in a room with the doors secured for fear of the Jews when suddenly, “…Jesus came and stood in their midst…” Jesus didn’t need to use the door. Eight days later in the same room we hear about Thomas. He would not believe unless he put his fingers into the nail holes in Jesus hands and the spear wound in His side. Clearly Jesus could be where He wanted to be when He wanted to be there, without need of travel as we know it. His resurrected body was solid, touchable and recognizable. It is fitting that Jesus wounds remain on His resurrected body as they are a permanent reminder of what our salvation cost Him.
For those of us who love food there is more good news. After showing them His hands and feet Jesus asked if there was any food in the room. His disciples gave Him a piece of broiled fish which He then ate in front of them. Luke 24:40-43. Jesus didn’t need the nourishment, He did this to further drive home the point that He was still Himself in every way. Eating is a pleasurable experience and even though we will not be driven to it out of necessity or gluttony we will still be able to enjoy food. Again my imagination runs wild thinking about what amazing new tastes and treats that await us in our heavenly home. My diabetes won’t be there anymore so I’ll be able to try everything without the worry of falling to the floor and flopping around like a fish. I can see no evidence that the “…marriage supper of the Lamb” spoken of in Revelation 19:9 isn’t an actual prolonged celebration feast with real food and drink.
In Revelation 21:10-27 John likens the appearance of the City of God to a brilliant stone. The angel with him took measurements to show the size of this massive area. It’s length, width and height are equal…fifteen hundred miles. To put that into perspective it would span from Vancouver, B.C. to Winnipeg, MB. and down to Houston, Texas. Square that off and it would cover well over half the continental U.S. To give you an idea of what fifteen hundred miles high is like, the International Space Station orbits at an altitude of 248 miles, so six times the height of the ISS. I can’t even begin to imagine the stunning architecture that such an huge area would contain. Our earthly cities are limited by gravity and thus are spread out over two dimensional areas. To date, the best that man can do going skyward is the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. At 2,722 feet it is the tallest self supporting structure in the world. Our bodies need oxygen above three miles and above one mile it is much colder. So, near as I can tell, gravity, atmosphere and temperature will not be an issue for our glorified bodies in heaven.
God clearly wants us to be excited about heaven but also wants us to heed the warnings of hell, He wouldn’t bother mentioning it otherwise. The Bible is very clear on what it takes to gain entry into heaven. In John 14:6 Jesus tells us that “…no one comes to the Father, but through Me.” In Paul’s letter to the Romans he writes, “…if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved…” Romans 10:9. This is why I greatly caution people against waiting until later to make a decision about Christ. First of all, no one knows when they are going to breath their last. And secondly, after a lifetime of hardheartedness, it may not be so easy to truly believe.
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The Rev. Billy Graham