Lucia's Blog: THE BIBLE DOCTRINE OF HEAVEN
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Isaiah 55:8-9

Isaiah 55:8-9

Friday, March 3, 2017

THE BIBLE DOCTRINE OF HEAVEN

"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God's power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time."  
1 Peter 1:3-5


Our hands grow weak when our hope of heaven grows dim. How do you envision Heaven? Is it really worth the demanding regeneration that Jesus requires? Is it really worth it all?

Almost everyone believes in heaven, and I would imagine we all, Christ's faithful saints, long to go to that place some day.  Indeed, heaven is the reward of the faithful.  The eternal destiny of the righteous.  Heaven is God's abode.  It is the perfect dwelling of things eternal where God dwells and all other heavenly beings.  The place where the saints go to be with God, (Revelation 21:3).  What an amazing blessing it is for God's faithful and righteous ones, his saints, to receive heaven as their final reward and to be in His presence throughout all eternity!  It is too much for me to fathom!!  And though no one has ever seen God's face (John 1:8), in heaven we will not only see His face, but God will dwell among us.  Angels also dwell in heaven (Rev. 4:4, 6; 5:6).  Only the saved among men will be in heaven. Thus, Heaven will be the future dwelling or abode of the resurrected saints.  This abode of the saved or disembodied spirits is different from "Abraham's bosom," (Luke 16:22) or Paradise (Luke 23:43).  


I.  WHO WILL BE IN HEAVEN?

Take notice that heaven is prepared only for the saved ones where they will dwell in their resurrected bodies.  Our salvation is laid up for us in Heaven, (Col. 1:5; 1 Pet. 1:4).  The names of God's faithful and righteous ones are written in heaven, (Luke 10:20).  Heaven is God's building for us, (2 Cor. 5:1). Our reward and treasures are in Heaven, (Matt. 5:12; 6:20; 19:21).  Sinners (those who die in their sins) are excluded from entering the gates of heaven.
"8 But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death."  (Rev. 21:8, 27).

God is portrayed as the "God of heaven" (2 Chronicles 36:23; Neh. 1:4-5).  Thus heaven is described as God's abode or dwelling (Isa. 57:15; 63:15; Matt. 6:9-10).  Heaven is the reward of the faithful.  It is where the righteous are accepted to dwell eternally in God's abode.  God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit are the occupants of heaven (2 Chron. 36:23; John 1:32; 3:13; 31; 6:33, 38, 42, 51, 58).  

In Romans 2:5-8, 10 we read that God will give eternal life only  "to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life."  But to "those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, there will be wrath and fury (hell).  You see, God will render each one of us an entrance into either heaven or hell according to our works or deeds.  He will give eternal life (heaven) only to those who do the will of God and persevere in faith and faithful service. Faith is not complete without active, good, and righteous works.  We are justified by works and not by faith alone. "For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead."  (James 2:18-26).  Modern Protestants err by making a distinction between "the faith that saves" (without obedience or "works") and the faith that obeys the Lord Jesus.  But such theology is pure folly. The Bible does not speak that way!

The Bible stresses the need to persevere (doing good works as a result of our active faith, James 2:18) and finish well to receive our crown of life (heaven), Revelations 2:10.  Paul explicitly states that those who do not obey the Gospel of Christ will suffer punishment, eternal destruction, and the wrath of God "when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus."  (2 Thessalonians 1:7-9).  

To persevere implies a habitual conduct worthy of the Gospel of Christ, a firm and steady faith (steadfast faith), instead of serving God from time to time when it is convenient, along with an endless number of excuses. They put worldly matters in first place, before God and His Kingdom of righteousness.  In Matthew 10:22 Jesus declared, "and you will be hated by all for my name's sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved."  You see, only those (the redeemed by the blood of Christ) who endure, walking in righteousness, holiness and without blemish will be saved.  For Christians to receive eternal life, heaven as their reward (the crown of life and glory) they must be faithful unto death.  There is no room here for lukewarmness or cowardice. We must be courageous and completely faithful to the Lord until the end of our lives.  In Hebrews 12:1-2 we have been admonished to "lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God."  It is crucial that we, Christians, finish the race well with endurance, putting away all sin and lawlessness to save our souls and receive our reward which is heaven.  

Sadly, many begin the "race" as champions, but soon get tired. They become distracted, discouraged and stop running.  They don't continue the race to the end so that they might receive the prize (heaven).  God will render to each one according to his works.  The word "works" includes all aspects of our life, not only our deeds but also our words, thoughts, and such.  "When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory."  (Colossians 3:4).  It means that we (the faithful ones)  will be in the presence of our Glorious God and we will be like Christ, His Son.  We will receive "immortality" because our resurrected body will not be subject to corruption anymore. Those "who in well-doing seek glory" are those who persevere in doing those righteous or good works that glorify God. Moreover, those who have died to sin (they have been buried with Him and raised from the dead with Him by baptism), walking in newness of life, crucifying the old self so that sin no longer reigns in them, but only righteousness. Only they will receive eternal life, heaven as their reward. Therefore, if sin reigns in us and not righteousness, heaven will not be our reward but eternal punishment, hell.


II.   WHAT IS HEAVEN LIKE?

Both heaven and hell are described in terms that are easy for men to understand.  The Bible describes heaven as a place of eternal bliss.  It uses metaphors to describe this place.  Let us think about some figures that the Bible uses to describe heaven.
  1. Participation in the wedding feast where the bride of Christ is the church, (Matt. 22:1-14; 25:10; Eph. 5:22-23).
  2. The joys of the Lord, (Matt. 25:21, 23).  Heaven will surely be the "joys of our Lord." Therefore, He is patiently inviting all to share these joys with Him.
  3. The Lord's Kingdom as our inheritance, (Matt. 25:34; cf. Acts 20:32; Eph. 1:11, 14; 1 Pet. 1:4-5).  Inheriting the Lord's kingdom implies possessing it as our permanent possession.  God's kingdom will endure forever, and He will reign forever as well in His Kingdom.
  4. Everlasting life, (Matt. 25:46; 7:14; 19:29).  Spiritual life rather than spiritual death (the second death).
  5. Sitting with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, (Matt. 8:11) and being invited to sit at the King's table and having table fellowship with the Lord in the Kingdom of Heaven in terms of a great Messianic banquet.
  6. It is where Christ will confess us before His Father, (Matt. 10:32).  He will confess His fellowship and friendship with those who are His faithful children.
  7. It is our final reward, (Matt. 5:12; 10:42; 1 Cor. 3:14; Col. 2:18; 3:24; Heb. 11:26).  This is where the faithful will be rewarded graciously for serving God with all of our love, strength, mind and heart. 
  8. Everlasting habitations, (Luke 16:9).  And though the Bible describes our earthly bodies as "tabernacles" (2 Cor. 5:1) which will be destroyed by fire, those who are the faithful will receive a building not made with hands (an incorruptible body) that will dwell in eternal habitations.
  9. A home, (Eccl. 12:5) where we will dwell with God the Father, our Elder Brother, our Lord and Savior, and all those faithful ones who have gone before us, forever in sweet fellowship. The word "home" is one of the most precious words in any language.  We long to be at "home" with our heavenly Father and all His faithful children. Such a precious hope!
  10. It is where we will be reunited with our loved ones.  It will be the renewal association with those saints who have gone before us.  Many of us have experienced the sorrow over the passing of our loved ones.  It is so comforting to have this promise!!  I can't stop weeping!
  11. It is the New Jerusalem, (Rev. 3:12; 2:12; 21:2, 10).  It is the home of our King of kings and Lord of lords.
  12. It is the Holy City, (Rev. 21:22; 22:19) where spiritual sacrifices are offered.
  13. It is a place where there will be no sin or lawlessness, (Rev. 21:8, 27).
  14. A place where all of our troubles and the cares of life will end.
  15. A place of eternal rest, (Rev. 14:13) where all of our labors and trials will be over.
  16. A place of perfect safety and protection, where the gates never close, (Rev. 21:15).
  17. A place where God will tabernacle among men, (Rev. 21:3).
  18. Paradise, (Rev. 2:7) as the Garden of Eden that man lost because of sin but will regain through Christ.
  19. The water of life and the tree of life, (Rev. 21:6; 22:1; 1:17; Rev. 2:7; 22:2. 14).
  20. Finally a place of eternal life, (Mark 10:30; John 3:15-16; Rom. 2:7).  It will be an eternal spiritual fellowship that will never end.

III.   THE BEAUTY OF HEAVEN AND THE DESTINY OF ALL MEN:

In Revelation 20-22, John received a clear revelation of God's Final Judgment and man's ultimate destiny.  God has not told us the time of the end, but God has indeed shown us through His revealed Word that when that time comes, there will be two classes of men meeting their destiny:  The redeemed and unredeemed, (Rev. 20:11-15; 21:8; 27; 22:15).  John saw the dead, small and great, standing before the throne of God in heaven, waiting for God to execute His sentence.  The term "small and great" does not necessarily mean a particular group of people, but rather the dead in general.  God will weigh us in His scales of judgment according to our works or deeds, which are recorded in God's books.  His books contain a record of all that men have done in the flesh and His "book of life" is a register of those who are redeemed.  No one will escape God's Judgment!

If any man's name is not found in the "book of life," his "book of works" will condemn and doom him to the lake of fire.  On the other hand, if any man's name is found in the "book of life," he will be safe from God's Judgment (condemnation).  He will be with the great body of the redeemed.  

Revelation 21-22:5 speaks of the destiny of the redeemed. They will inherit the new Heaven as their abode with God throughout all eternity.  He will have perfect fellowship with them, and there will be no more separation because in this new heaven and earth, "the sea is no more."  John describes for us the perfect description of a beautiful city where God's redeemed will dwell with Him in perfect fellowship.  This amazing city is a symbolic picture of a city with walls of jasper placed on foundations of sapphire, chalcedony, emerald, sardonyx, beryl, topaz, amethyst, etc.  Each of its twelve gates is a huge pearl where its streets are made of pure gold.  In that beautiful heavenly city, there is no need of any lamp since their Light is the Lamb.  There is no temple either.  The temple was where sacrifice and intercession were made for sin.  This temple is not needed anymore in the New Jerusalem since there is no more sin to be atoned and because those who are the redeemed are in the presence of God.  People of all nations inhabit this glorious city.  

The Garden spoken of in Revelation 22:1-5 symbolizes the destiny of the redeemed.  It is indeed a beautiful Garden with a river of crystal water which is the water of life which emerges from the throne of God and of the Lamb.  On each side of this river grows the tree of life which bears its fruit twelve months out of the year.  Three things are essential to sustain life:  food, water, and health. This picture symbolizes all that is needed to sustain eternal life in man.  In this Garden, men shall serve God forever.  There will be no barriers, obstacles or impediments in Heaven and His servants shall serve Him.  

Another beautiful thought is found in the expression, "they shall see His face."  Don't we all have this longing?!!  I do!!  When this earth is passed, and we all find ourselves in the presence of our Redeemer-God, then we will all look at the face of our Lord and serve Him forever, for all eternity. What greater joy could any human being ask for?!  Could there be a better and longing than for eternal life with our Redeemer?!  Could there be a better or more perfect place of fellowship, protection, provisions and service to our God?!  What a terrible contrast between the destiny of the wicked and the destiny of the redeemed!


CONCLUSION:

Abraham, who lived some 3,500 years ago, longed to go to heaven when he died. 
"By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. 9 By faith, he went to live in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, heirs with him of the same promise. 10 For he was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God."  (Hebrews 11:8–10).  

I am sure that Abraham caught a glimpse of that city and said, 
“Heaven is surely worth it all!   Heaven is worth leaving home and loved ones.  It is worth living as a stranger and pilgrim while we're here on earth.   It’s worth all of life's hardship and pain. Heaven is surely worth it all.”
Peter was another one who had some insight about our inheritance, the one that awaits every faithful child of God when he said, 
"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, 5 who by God's power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time." (1 Pet. 1:3-5).  
You see, Peter also caught a glimpse of heaven.  It was as if he were saying, "Heaven is worth a total transformation of my life.  It is worth all the hardship and pain I have had to endure.  It is worth more than my own life.  Heaven is surely worth it all!"

Of course, our path to Glory is not easy, but heaven will surely be worth it all!!  It is worth being exiled from home, family, and friends. It’s worth the loneliness, the pain, the suffering, and the high cost we have been called to pay.  Heaven is worth all the pain that comes our way. It’s worth the hatred and the persecution. It’s worth the sorrow and the attacks. Heaven is surely worth it all!

Jesus, our Redeemer, is inviting all men to accept the gift that our God is offering, the gift of salvation.  The Spirit invites us; the Bride invites us (the church, Rev. 19:7); each and every saint invites us.  The invitation is extended to anyone who will accept the terms of redemption and salvation.
"Then I heard what seemed to be the voice of a great multitude, like the roar of many waters and like the sound of mighty peals of thunder, crying out, 'Hallelujah!  For the Lord our God the Almighty reigns. 7 Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his Bride has made herself ready; 8 it was granted her to clothe herself with fine linen, bright and pure”— for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints.  9 And the angel said to me, 'Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.' And he said to me, 'These are the true words of God.' 10 Then I fell down at his feet to worship him, but he said to me, 'You must not do that! I am a fellow servant with you and your brothers who hold to the testimony of Jesus. Worship God.' For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.'"  (Revelation 19:6-10)
"Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and there is no longer any sea. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband.  And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them,  and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.”   And He who sits on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” And He *said, “Write, for these words are faithful and true.”  Then He said to me, “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give to the one who thirsts from the spring of the water of life without cost.  He who overcomes will inherit these things, and I will be his God and he will be My son.  But for the cowardly and unbelieving and abominable and murderers and immoral persons and sorcerers and idolaters and all liars, their part will be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.... and nothing unclean, and no one who practices abomination and lying, shall ever come into it, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life."   (Revelation 21).

Many years ago when I was searching and seeking for the Truth, I began reading my Bible for the first time.  I had heard my mother read it.  I heard the liturgies and catechism, but never took the time to dig into the Bible.  It was at that point that in my heart I knew I had to pursue something bigger. Although she was a devout Catholic, my mother encouraged me to start walking, searching, and digging into the pathways of God because she was also searching.  I don't know why, but the first book I began reading seriously was the Book of Revelation.  As I read through, I was more aware that my present state was condemned before God.  As I read, I began to worry that I could never be forgiven of my sins.  But as I came to the end, the last chapters of the Book of Revelation especially chapters 21-22, I found hope!  It captured my hungry and thirsty soul.  I began wishing and hoping to go to that New Jerusalem, the holy city, where the bride, the wife of the Lamb was.  She came down from heaven, having all the glory of God, brilliant like a valuable and precious stone.  At that time, I thought this was a prophecy of something future, but as I have learned more of the language of the New Testament, I realize that this beautiful language is meant to describe the glory of the Lord's church today,

"But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to myriads of angels,  and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood, which speaks better than the blood of Abel to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the Judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect."  (Hebrews 12:22-24)

 As I read the description of the New Jerusalem, this precious city, with all its majesty, splendor, and glory,  I was speechless.  Everything about this beautiful city was majestic.  It was filled with all precious stones, the 24 pillars that were the 12 apostles and the 12 tribes of Israel.  I was astounded as I read on, that there was no temple but that our Lord God Almighty and the Lamb were its temple and we, His church, are God's building, the holy Tabernacle as described in Ephesians 2:18-22, "for through Him we both have our access in one Spirit to the Father.  So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God’s household, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the corner stone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, is growing into a holy temple in the Lord,  in whom you also are being built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit."

In the kingdom parables of Jesus as recorded in Matthew chapters 13,18,22 and 25, the church is called the kingdom of heaven.  The church is the heavenly city.  It became more desirable and precious in my heart as I read that it had no need of the sun or moon to shine on it because the glory of God was enough to enlighten it, having our Lamb, Jesus as the central lamp.  This lamp would make all peoples walk in His light, bringing glory to it.  Its gates will not be closed because they will be there to bring the glory and honor of the nations into it.  I longed to enter the gates of this city!!

As I finished reading chapters 21 and 22, I felt relief because there was hope for me, a sinner, to wash the clothes, stained by all the filth of sin, with the precious and powerful blood of the Lamb.
"Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter by the gates into the city." (Revelation 22:14)
 "The Spirit and the bride say, 'Come.' And let the one who hears say, 'Come.' And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who wishes take the water of life without cost."'  (Revelation 22:17).  

I was motivated to begin seeking diligently for the Truth in the Scriptures because I wanted to partake of this New Jerusalem, the holy city.  I wanted to save my soul and be received by our Father and His Lamb into Their everlasting kingdom.  These four chapters (Revelation 19-22) were my inspiration in seeking the Truth to set me free from sin.  It took a while before I found the church of the Lamb.  But God through His everlasting Grace put in my way someone who taught me the WAY.

I sincerely think that those hearts that are honestly and diligently seeking the LORD will find the Truth to set them free from sin.  I was one of them!  The Book of Revelation is very dear to my heart because it brought hope to my dying soul.  Please, don't be afraid of this precious book.  In spite of all of the speculation and error and difficult symbols, the message shines through to the humble seeker.  It is a powerful message that gives hope to the dying and saves the soul.  It is a great shout of victory!

"I am coming soon." Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!

May our Lord help all of those good and honest hearts who seek to find the heavenly city, the church of the Lamb.  May all men humbly accept this gift of redemption and wash their robes, so that they may have the right to the tree of life and that they may enter the city by the gates. May all men thirst for the spring of the water of life without payment. May we all conquer so that we may receive our inheritance and be with God forever in Heaven.  May our names be written in the Lamb's book of life. 

Luci

Sing to Me of Heaven 
By Ada Pow­ell

Sing to me of Heaven, sing that song of peace,
From the toils that bind me it will bring release;
Burdens will be lifted that are pressing so,
Showers of great blessing o’er my heart will flow.

Chorus

Sing to me of Heaven, let me fondly dream,
Of its golden glory, of its pearly gleam;
Sing to me when shadows of the evening fall,
Sing to me of heaven, sweetest song of all.

Sing to me of Heaven, as I walk alone,
Dreaming of the comrades that so long have gone;
In a fairer region ’mong the angel throng,
They are happy as they sing that old, sweet song.

Sing to me of Heaven, tenderly and low,
Till the shadows o’er me rise and swiftly go;
When my heart is weary, when the day is long,
Sing to me of Heaven, sing that old, sweet song.