Heaven :: By Jerry McDermott

“Hooray! I’m in Heaven!” Many of us are waiting to say the same thing. We knew we would once we were saved and growing in the Christian life. The problem is that another group of people are not confident, saying, “I hope I make heaven.” Yes, surprisingly, a number have expressed a hope for heaven to me, but are not convinced they will make it. The difference is so simple. One group reads scriptures and knows what scripture promises for them. The other group seems to have a dusty Bible that sees little usage. Furthermore, their faith is based on the simple Sunday sermon and little else. They may be prayerful but may not be receiving the Word of God. As a result, they are ignorant of the promises of our Lord. Imagine a life of keeping religious rules, dogmas, and so-called traditions, but without a guarantee of salvation. Contrast this with the following:

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only-begotten Son that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).

“Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is Born Again, he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John3:3).

“Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God” (John 3:5).

While these proclamations are listed in John’s gospel, the speaker is Jesus Christ Himself, and John is only the writer. If you are not fully convinced yet, worrying about some past sins, the Word of God has that covered too. Consider, “But if we acknowledge our sins, He who is just can be trusted to forgive our sins” (1 John 1:9). While we have examined various aspects of salvation, there remains one summary by John that is the clincher: “I have written this to you to make you realize that you possess eternal life—you who believe in the name of the Son of God” (1 John 5:13).

When people talk about heaven, most people do not mean a heaven on earth. When queried, they will usually point upward. By contrast, the Bible references three heavens. The first is ole terra firma with the sky, birds and clouds. The second heaven is the area above earth consisting of the sun, moon, and stars. The third heaven is unseen and is the domain of God and the throne of Jesus Christ.

The way to heaven is generally misunderstood as there are so many false proclamations. To minimize these falsehoods, Jesus spoke about the only way to heaven: “I am the way, the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through me” (John 14:5).

Salvation is quite easy to understand. God formed us from nothingness to have a relationship with Him. He also gave rules to guarantee this connection with Him. Our forefathers rejected His love, which action has continued by some through the centuries. Recognizing this separation, God arranged for His only begotten son to die for us by accepting all our sins. By accepting this sacrifice, the consequence of a wayward mankind could be erased and the relationship re-established. Should anyone still reject the Creator’s offer, the result is separation from God now and forever.

Paul explains that “He will provide relief to you who are sorely tried as well as to us when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels; when with flaming power, He will inflict punishment on those who do not acknowledge God nor heed the good news of our Lord Jesus Christ. Such as these will suffer the penalty of eternal ruin apart from the presence of the Lord and the glory of His might on the day when He comes to be glorified in His holy ones and adored by all who have believed—for you already have our witness to you” (1 Thessalonians:7-10).

Some may wonder “what is the theme in heaven?” That is easy to answer. It is contained in the revelation that God is Love (1 John 4:8). To confirm this immutable truth, John explains the reality: “God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him” (1 John 4:16). Therefore, “Our love is brought to perfection in this: that while we should have confidence on the day of judgment, for our relation to this world is just like His” (1 John 4:17). Therefore, we will spend eternity receiving God’s love as well as increasing our love and praises to our Lord.

Are there any descriptions of heaven? To lessen our wondering, God has already unveiled heaven almost like a travelogue in Revelation Chapter 21 and 22.  Be sure to read these chapters to see what has been prepared for us. It is mind-blowing. There are also vivid colors like the precious stones on the New Jerusalem (Revelation 4:1-8) and even a green rainbow (Revelation 4:1-8).

We have described the current religious heaven as being upward. Scriptures reveal that there will be new heavens and a new earth, as the former heavens and the former earth had passed away. In addition, there is the New Jerusalem which will come down from heaven (Revelation 21:1-4).

While we have discussed eternal life in heaven, there is still a sense of time in our analysis. The concept of eternity, everlasting life, or perpetual things are not items we usually discuss. Nevertheless, I was also interested in a timeless era and asked the Lord one day. He replied,

“What is forever? It is a moment with me that never ceases. You already know how to praise me, how to love me and accept my love. But forever began when you accepted me and it never stops, yet it seems like a minute, for we share such oneness. I long for you as you long for me, and yet we are one in spite of such longing and desire. Now I will tell you something: there is so much more of my infinite love that you cannot imagine. You think you know love now. I tell you, it has just begun, for I have so many things planned for my people. You will be amazed at the depth of my love for those who up to now are not even aware of my love. Help me build the kingdom to join you as friends and fellow believers. I will help you. Fear not” (November 30, 2008).

We have already shown the love of God by the Trinity sharing this love with their creation of Adam and Eve. Again they revealed this love even when mankind turned against God. This was the Father sacrificing His only Son by Him accepting mankind’s sins and redeeming us by His death and resurrection. Now He is about to reveal His love in an incomprehensible manner.

The subject is the End Times or the final days of Earth. In the twenty-fourth chapter of Matthew, Jesus Himself reveals the magnitude of the forthcoming era called The Tribulation: “For those days will be more filled with anguish that any from the beginning of the world until now or in the ages to come.” Do not miss these words, for Jesus Himself proclaims, “See I have told you beforehand!” (Matthew 24:25).

Within the Tribulation period, one fourth to one third of the earth’s population will be killed. As the final aspect of divine love, the Lord has one final impressive act that defies imagination. It was unknown until it was revealed to Paul who subsequently imparted it to the Thessalonians (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18).

The action is called the Rapture of the church or the Body of Christ being lifted up to meet Jesus in the clouds. The first action before this for living and dead Christians is a new heavenly body. Afterward, the Christians are brought to heaven with Jesus to begin a heavenly existence. Do not miss the fact that God has recognized how the Christian people in the churches have loved Him and wants to save them by removing them from the Tribulation period.

Suppose you die today. Are you waiting for a deathbed conversion or the start of the Rapture? If so, you are literally playing with fire. Where is your destination? There are only two possible destinations: one is upward to heaven; the other is downward to hell. Christianity alone stresses a relationship with God through salvation which includes forgiveness of sin. This is obtained through belief in the redeeming quality of God’s Son, Jesus Christ. The time of becoming a Born-Again Christian is now. Accept Jesus as your Lord and Savior; ask forgiveness for your sins and change the wrong elements in your lifestyle. With this action you will become aware of the love of God as presently revealed. In addition, be mindful that,

“Eye has not seen; ear has not heard, nor has it dawned on man what God has prepared for those who love him” (1 Corinthians 2:9).

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Author of: A Gilded Walk; Gifted-How God Is Glorified; Choices for our Eternal Home; and Together-Never Alone.