Friday, February 15

debunking Heaven myths

Good morning! 

I'm sitting in a lovely condo in downtown Houston, listening to the sounds of the rushing traffic outside (unusual for me; unless you count gators and CAT equipment as traffic.) Cai and I tagged along with Blair and some friends for their camp marketing trips. Cai is currently napping, which gives me a bit of time to think, reflect and blog.

Earlier this week, I taught a Walkabout class. Walkabout is Camp Eagle's gap year program for 18-24 year olds, and is a really unique opportunity for young men and women who want a year of discipleship. Right now they're going through a series on basic christian beliefs, and I got to teach about Heaven. Because I generally have to write out my thoughts before I try and communicate them, I wrote my lesson in blog-form. :) So here's some of what we discussed:

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What comes to mind as you think about Heaven?

To be honest, for 27 out of my 29 years, I really hated thinking about Heaven. I hated thinking about dying, about hell and eternity, and how it just goes on forever and ever and ever and ever … and... yes, ever. I literally had panic attacks. But in the beginning of 2010, the Lord started convicting me about this attitude toward His dwelling and my future home. His Word makes it clear that we are supposed to set our minds on it (Colossians 3:1-4), and so I knew that my attitude of avoiding the reality of Heaven was actually a sin. So I purposed to learn more about Heaven that year - and what do you know? My church starts a women’s bible study on Heaven! I was 8 months pregnant, and would drive an hour in on Tuesday mornings to go through David Jeremiah’s study on Heaven.

And then- then my daughter was born, and went to Heaven before me. Heaven became a crushing reality as I held her lifeless body close to mine. Knowing where she was, what she was doing, and what I could hope for her predominated my thoughts as I mourned. I HAD to believe she was still real. So what does the Bible tell me about the afterlife?

What we think about Heaven is of immense importance to the Lord. Jesus told parables to illustrate the coming judgement and eternality of earthly decisions. He warned of coming judgement, He comforted his disciples with the truth of paradise (“I go to prepare a place for you”), He charged the people to store up treasures in Heaven - He WANTS people to think about Heaven. But that is typically the last thing that you or I think about, until Death blindsides us, and reminds us of our frailty.

So what DOES the Bible say about Heaven? Will we all sit around in robes on fluffy clouds and strum harps and be bored for eternity (as the World depicts)? What can we know for a certainty?

Some of the major passages that discuss Heaven are listed below, and you should definitely take time to read them if you're curious about the eternal hope and home offered to those who have put their faith in Jesus.

Revelation 21-22
Isaiah 65:17-22
1 Corinthians 15
John 14:1-4
Luke 16:19-31

This is definitely not a comprehensive list by any means, but just a few details that I observed from the above passages:

1. It is a REAL place, not simply a spiritual or emotional aura (John 14)

2. It is where God the Father dwells (“our Father, who art in Heaven...”); it is where Christ is (“seated at the right hand of God the Father”); and in it the righteous dwell. (Because I believe that infant death is like the death of a believer, I am convinced that Gwendolyn is with the Lord. You can read more about why here.)

3. We will have new bodies (1 Corinthians 15)

4. Jesus describes it as paradise. (Luke 23:43)

5. It is of unsurpassable beauty (Revelation 21)

6. No stain of sin, no imperfection will be present. (Revelation 21)

7. No more crying, tears, or sadness (Revelation 21)

8. When Christ returns and the final judgment is over, there will be a new Heaven and a new Earth, where we will live. (Revelation 21)

9. We will receive our rewards in Heaven (1 Corinthians 3:11-15, Matthew 6:19-21)

10. Heaven is full of people from every tongue, tribe and nation (Revelation 7:9-12)

11. We will work in service to the Lord (Revelation 7:15-17)

12. We will never be bored because God is infinite. (Isaiah 46:5 " 'To whom will you compare me? Or who is my equal?' says the Holy One." - God will stay infinite; we will stay finite. Though we will have redeemed bodies, we will still not be on equal ground as our Creator.)

13. We will build houses and live in them (Isaiah 65:17-25)

14. There will continue to be times and seasons and festivals (tree of life that bears fruit each month, from new moon to new moon. Revelation 22; Isaiah 66:23)

As you read the Bible, what do you observe about Heaven?

1 comment:

  1. So good. It's something all believers should know more about...and not continue on in our assumptions that it looks like and will be like what people draw for illustrations in children's books.