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Last week in our study of the life after life, we studied the judgment, and this week the plan is to study Heaven. But before we begin that great topic, there are a couple of ”leftover” questions to address that touch on both judgment and Heaven. Many are often worried about the uninformed pagan in a remote location or about a saintly great-grandmother who failed to be baptized before she died. Would God really keep them out of Heaven? Here’s the Bible’s answer in a nutshell — without Jesus, every sinner must bear the consequences of their sins (Rom. 6:23; Rom. 1;32; Rom. 2:6). And God will be completely impartial to all men and women of every age, race, culture, class, and religion (Rom. 2:11,12). We needn’t ever worry about the Lord’s justice and mercy — He is supreme and superlative in judgment, wise and understanding beyond our ability to comprehend, and we don’t need to “check His work”. Whatever God decides about whatever scenario you can dream up will be right, fair, and just in the perfect sense of the words.

Another question also arises out of the judgment: if Sheol/Hades has a “bosom of Abraham” and a torment, doesn’t this imply that a judgment takes place before the final judgment? The answer is yes; it does imply a judgment before the final judgment, but we needn’t be so surprised, since even our own criminal courts conduct two judgments for our criminals. The first is to determine guilt or innocence. If the accused is found guilty, he is placed in jail for a sentencing trial and judgment. It therefore might help our comprehension of God’s arrangements to consider the first judgment, after death, as one of guilt or innocence and the final judgment, after the resurrection, to be an eternal sentencing trial. But on to talk of Heaven. Heaven, first of all, is a place. It is the place to which Christ ascended (not just heaven), Acts 1:9-11; where Jesus prepares a place for us, John 14:1-3; and where Jesus sits at the Father’s right hand to intercede for us, (Rom. 8:34).

Heaven’s most vivid description is found in Revelation, of course. In Revelation 21 and 22 we see Heaven described as a place of…

Golden streets, pearl gates, and foundations of precious stones (21:19-21)
The tree of life (22:2)
No evil or sin (21:8 and 27)
No night (22:5; 21:22,23)
The presence of God Himself (21:3; 22:3,4)
The water of life flowing like a river through the middle (22:1)
No pain or death, no tears or sorrow (21:4)

Lockyer (All the Doctrines in the Bible, p. 288,289) has a clever alliteration describing Heaven:

An abode (Jn. 14:1-3)
A prepared abode (Jn. 14:1-3; 1 Pet. 1:4)
A peopled abode (2 Tim. 4:8)
A paternal abode (Jn. 14:2)
A palatial abode (Rev. 21:19-21)
A pleasurable abode (Mt. 25:21,23)
A peaceful abode (Rev. 21:8)
A perfect abode (Rev. 21:8,27)
A permanent abode (2 Cor. 5:1)
A prescribed abode (1 Cor. 6:9-11)

But many of the descriptions of Heaven (perhaps you’ve noticed) are rather material. It’s not that Heaven will be so material, as much as it is simply so hard to describe a spiritual place that is beyond human words or human experiences. Imagine attempting to explain red to a child born blind. The child cannot comprehend light, let alone something like color, saturation or shades. So perhaps as wonderful as Heaven is described in the Bible, it is likely far more wonderful than our poor human vocabularies can describe. It is, in the end, a description of things we don’t even have words for, wonders we’ve never see the like of, and phenomena we never knew existed. It is also described as a new (kind of) heaven and a new (kind of) earth (Rev. 21:1; 2 Pet. 3:7-13). This is not a renewed heaven and earth, as Jehovah’s Witnesses and a handful of others hope for. Like our resurrected bodies (see 1 Cor. 15:35-41), the new heavens and new earth will be a different kind of heaven and earth (the Greek word means new kind of, new species of); indeed, Rom. 8:18-25 implies a redeemed creation like our resurrected (redeemed, v. 23) bodies. This makes good sense in that our redeemed / resurrected / immortal bodies will need an appropriate creation in which to abide. Even Rev. 22:3 tells us that there will be “no more curse” — referring to Gen. 3:17-19 and the curse brought on the creation at Adam’s and Eve’s sin.

It will be a place of worship; we often see the saints and host of Heaven praising God in Revelation (e.g., Rev. 4:8-11). Because of this, some have concluded that Heaven will be little more than an eternal worship service (and you thought my sermons were long?). But the truth is that no one knows what we’ll do with Heaven’s eternity. We know that God has hd duties and assignments for angels and it is conceivable, therefore, that we also will be given purposeful things to do in Heaven. Some might object, of course, that Heaven is described as a place of rest, but I would remind them that Canaan was also described as a land of rest, But it wasn’t a rest from the work; it wasn’t a Sunday afternoon of naps. Rather, it was rest from the trials of the wilderness. So also it is likely that our rest will be less “La-Z-Boy” and more rest from sorrow, death, sin, and trouble. Some of the hints we get from Scripture about what we might do come from passages like Revelation 3:21 "‘He who overcomes, I will grant to him to sit down with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne,” and 1 Corinthians 6:3 "Do you not know that we will judge angels? How much more matters of this life?"

Here’s the bottom line. Heaven will be a place marvelous and desirable beyond description — you will want to be there for all eternity.

As we conclude this study, we should also note that Heaven is a prepared place (Jn. 14:1-3) for prepared people. No one will “wake up” in Heaven and wonder, “Wow, how did I get here?” Are you prepared?

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