Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. JOHN 14:1-3
Heaven, which in both Hebrew and Greek is a word meaning “sky,” is the Bible term for God’s home (Ps. 33:13-14; Matt. 6:9) where his throne is (Ps. 2:4); the place of his presence to which the glorified Christ has returned (Acts 1:11); where the church militant and triumphant now unites for worship (Heb. 12:22-25); and where one day Christ’s people will be with their Savior forever (John 17:5, 24; 1 Thess. 4:16-17). It is pictured as a place of rest (John 14:2), a city (Heb. 11:10), and a country (Heb. 11:16). At some future point, at the time of Christ’s return for judgment, it will take the form of a reconstructed cosmos (2 Pet. 3:13; Rev. 21:1).
To think of heaven as a place is more right than wrong, though the word could mislead. Heaven appears in Scripture as a spatial reality that touches and interpenetrates all created space. In Ephesians, Paul locates in heaven both the throne of Christ at the Father’s right hand (Eph. 1:20) and the spiritual blessings and risen life in Christ of Christians (Eph. 1:3; 2:6). “The heavenly realms” in Eph. 1:3, 20; 2:6; 3:10; and 6:12 is a literary variant for “heaven.” Paul alludes to an experience in the “third heaven” or “paradise” (2 Cor. 12:2, 4). No doubt the heaven of God’s throne is to be distinguished from the heavenly realms occupied by hostile spiritual powers (Eph. 6:12). A resurrection body adapted to heaven’s life awaits us (2 Cor. 5:1-8), and in that body we shall see the Father and the Son (Matt. 5:8; 1 John 3:2). But while we are in our present bodies, the realities of heaven are invisible and ordinarily imperceptible to us, and we know them only by faith (2 Cor. 4:18; 5:7). Yet the closeness to us of heaven and of its inhabitants, the Father, the Son, the Spirit, the holy angels, and the demonic spirits, must never be forgotten: for it is a matter of solid spiritual fact.
Scripture teaches us to form our notion of the life of heaven by (a) extrapolating from the less-than-perfect relationship that we now have with God the Father, the Son, and the Spirit, with other Christians, and with created things to the thought of a perfect relationship, free from all limitation, frustration, and failure; (b) eliminating from our idea of a life lived for God all forms of pain, evil, conflict, and distress, such as we experience here on earth; and (c) enriching our imaginings of that happy future by adding in every conception of excellence and God-given enjoyment that we know. The visions of heaven’s life in Revelation 7:13-17 and 21:1-22:5 draw on all three of these ways of conceiving it.
According to Scripture, the constant joy of heaven’s life for the redeemed will stem from (a) their vision of God in the face of Jesus Christ (Rev. 22:4); (b) their ongoing experience of Christ’s love as he ministers to them (Rev. 7:17); (c) their fellowship with loved ones and the whole body of the redeemed; (d) the continued growth, maturing, learning, enrichment of abilities, and enlargement of powers that God has in store for them. The redeemed desire all these things, and without them their happiness could not be complete. But in heaven there will be no unfulfilled desires.
There will be different degrees of blessedness and reward in heaven. All will be blessed up to the limit of what they can receive, but capacities will vary just as they do in this world. As for rewards (an area in which present irresponsibility can bring permanent future loss: 1 Cor. 3:10-15), two points must be grasped. The first is that when God rewards our works he is crowning his own gifts, for it was only by grace that those works were done. The second is that essence of the reward in each case will be more of what the Christian desires most, namely, a deepening of his or her love-relationship with the Savior, which is the reality to which all the biblical imagery of honorific crowns and robes and feasts is pointing. The reward is parallel to the reward of courtship, which is the enriching of the love-relationship itself through marriage.
So the life of heavenly glory is a compound of seeing God in and through Christ and being loved by the Father and the Son, of rest (Rev. 14:13) and work (Rev. 7:15), of praise and worship (Rev. 7:9-10; 19:1-5), and of fellowship with the Lamb and the saints (Rev. 19:6-9).
Nor will it end (Rev. 22:5). Its eternity is part of its glory; endlessness, one might say, is the glory of glory. Hearts on earth say in the course of a joyful experience, “I don’t want this ever to end.” But it invariably does. The hearts of those in heaven say, “I want this to go on forever.” And it will. There can be no better news than this.
Title: Concise Theology: A Guide To Historic Christian Beliefs
Section: God Revealed as Lord of Desiny
Author: Packer, J.I. (James Innell)
Index: Concise Theology index – CLICK HERE