What is Heaven Like?

What is Heaven Like?

Daily Reading: (Revelation 21:10-17,21):

“And he carried me away in the Spirit to a mountain great and high, and showed me the Holy City, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God.It shone with the glory of God, and its brilliance was like that of a very precious jewel, like a jasper, clear as crystal. It had a great, high wall with twelve gates, and with twelve angels at the gates. On the gates were written the names of the twelve tribes of Israel. There were three gates on the east, three on the north, three on the south and three on the west. The wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them were the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb. The angel who talked with me had a measuring rod of gold to measure the city, its gates and its walls. The city was laid out like a square, as long as it was wide. He measured the city with the rod and found it to be 12,000 stadiain length, and as wide and high as it is long.The angel measured the wall using human measurement, and it was 144 cubitsthick. The twelve gates were twelve pearls, each gate made of a single pearl. The great street of the city was of gold, as pure as transparent glass.”

The problem some people have is they are still afraid they won’t be able to experience all that Heaven has to offer because of what is written in verse eight.

 “But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars—they will be consigned to the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death” (Revelation 21:8).

Have you acted cowardly before? As the church was formed, Christians were being put to death for their faith, and it is still happening in parts of the world today. If you were cowardly in a moment facing death, would you be disqualified from Heaven? If so, Heaven would appear to be earned on merits. One minute you could be in Christ and the Kingdom is yours, and then at the end when facing death, you acted cowardly and you become disqualified.

Let’s keep going a little further with the list. Have you placed anything at any time in your life ahead of God, which is idolatry? Have you lied ever?  The text says, “they will be consigned to the fiery lake of burning sulfur”. You could add to this list from 1 Corinthians 6:9-10.

The list exists to say that no matter how good people think are, no one can make it to Heaven apart from Jesus (Revelation 21:8). You have to become a new you and this happened the moment you first believed. Think about the heroes of the faith (Hebrews 11) for a moment if they would qualify for Heaven apart from Jesus. Noah was a drunk, Abraham slept with his maid, and Jacob was a swindler if ever there was one. There is also a murderer in Moses, a prostitute named Rahab, and David got another man’s wife pregnant and then had that man killed to cover up his crime. In the eyes of the law David is condemned as an adulterer and a murderer. Such a man will not inherit the kingdom of God; the Bible says so.

However, in God’s eyes, David is not a sinner but a son and a co-heir with Christ. The problem here is people have forgotten the promise that came just before verse eight.

“Those who are victorious will inherit all this, and I will be their God and they will be My children” (Revelation 21:7).

“Those who have faith are children of Abraham” (Galatians 3:7). Eternal life is a gift of grace (John 17:2, Romans 6:23). It is not a reward given to those who pass the torture test and don’t act cowardly.

Together move past the fiery flames verse because in Christ this is not your destiny, so enjoy the faithful and true sayings which God will show you moving forward.

The city of the new Jerusalem shines with the glory of God. What this means is that Heaven is not lit by the sun and the moon but by God Himself (Revelation 21:11,23).  When we get to verse 23 after reading in verse 11 about how “Heaven shined with God’s glory”, things become clear: “The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp.”

You know what is incredible is the next verse: “The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their splendor into it.” Imagine today what that would look like if we as believers would center our lives, walk by, and do everything we do to give glory to God.  How much different would that be to what we see and experience in our world today?

 “On no day will its gates ever be shut, for there will be no night there” (Revelation 21:25). These gates are not for security, there are no gated communities in Heaven to keep the riff-raff out. The city is glorious and indestructible, and the people who live in it are eternally secure (Revelation 21:25). This is beauty in Heaven for our enjoyment that ushers in worship and glory to God.

“The great street of the city was of gold, as pure as transparent glass” (Revelation 21:21b). If we were playing the game Family Feud, what is the number one answer people would give to describe Heaven? Survey says, “streets of gold.” How much do you value streets today on Earth? Heaven is so great that the streets of gold are almost like a footnote. I think that what God is doing is showing us the value system is totally different in Heaven than on Earth (Revelation 21:21). That which we highly prize and value that men will lie for, kill for and steal for (gold) will have little value up there. It is just as common as asphalt. The roads are made from it.

Heaven on Earth

Heaven on Earth

Daily Reading: (Revelation 21:1-4):

“Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,” for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”

The question that maybe you have thought of before is, “how can I pray big bold Kingdom prayers, God’s will on Earth as it is in Heaven?” What I mean when I say “big bold Kingdom prayers” is the King’s reign being our experience on Earth today. Instead of longing for the future, may a better understanding of what God is preparing us for in the future have an enormous impact on our present-day lives.

“Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,” for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea” (Revelation 21:1).

Every time I share Revelation 21:1 I feel like the grandfather in the movie Princess Bride, who reads a surprising plot twist in the story which leaves his grandson dumbfounded. The first Heaven and Earth passed away? It puts a new outlook on the mindset that we better sacrifice everything we have to save our planet. I am not saying that we shouldn’t be good stewards of God’s creation, but all the efforts we make to protect or preserve the planet and trusting in man to save things need to be rethought in light of this verse. We don’t have to worry even when things get worse on our planet, God is bringing about a new Heaven and Earth. We should make efforts to lessen our negative impact on the planet for now but ultimately the first Heaven and Earth will pass away in the end.

“I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband” (Revelation 21:2).

You mean Heaven is going to be literally on Earth? Yes! Heaven will be here. He’s not sending us to Heaven for all eternity, He’s bringing Heaven to Earth.

The earth will not be the same as it was, it will be even better. 

Part of the gift of Heaven on Earth is that we all experience this together. We aren’t going to hear about it second hand from Peter and Paul and Moses and any other saint who went before us. The world as we know it that is marred by sin is done away with “ the first earth had passed away” and I “saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven” (Revelation 21:1-2).

“And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God.‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”

I totally understand we are longing for a time where there will be no more sickness, no more sadness as the old things, the terrible things we are experiencing now are gone. My five-year-old asked me a question a few months ago, she said, “why did God create sickness?” I love the mind of my little girl. I told her He didn’t. You see even a five-year-old has the sense within her that things are not as they should be. Why would God…? Haven’t we all asked similar questions before? God didn’t create sickness, man brought it about because of giving into Satan’s temptation. The world before sin was a paradise. It was the Garden of Eden where they had everything they would ever need and God walked with them and talked with them. We are progressing to the time where there will be no more sickness or death and it will be as it was before sin.

God being with us what does it accomplish in Revelation 21? We are comforted (wipes the tears), He removes our sadness. There is no more death, crying or pain. In Heaven our new bodies will not grow old, be weary, tired, or in pain.

Did you know that healing and restoration are available even today.

God didn’t just leave us to ourselves in the world today. He is with us even now (Matthew 28:20). King David learned and he wrote the following in Psalm 30:11: “You have turned my mourning into joyful dancing. You have taken away my clothes of mourning and clothed me with joy.” Or in Psalm 16:11 “Thy presence is fullness of joy.” Did David write this from beyond the grave? Was he writing from experiencing being in Paradise on the other side of eternity?  No! What this means is right now, the Kingdom emotions of joy and peace, being comforted and even having our pain removed can be our experience now. Healing is available not just on the other side of eternity, but is available to us in Jesus’ name.

Let our lives be living testimonies of the transformative power of the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. When bad things come upon us, may we speak out by faith the promises that God has made to us. We will find joy in God’s presence, and He will turn our mourning into joy. 

Welcome to Paradise

Welcome to Paradise

Daily Reading: (Luke 23:43):

“Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:43).   

Knowledge of Heaven is important. Access to Heaven or accessing the blessings that are already yours in Christ is even better. I know this might come as a shock to you, but since you spiritually died which happened the moment you first believed in Jesus, the Kingdom is now yours. Paul would say in Galatians 2:20: “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.” Now that you know that you have already died spiritually what happens when you die physically on earth too?

Heaven on Earth is the believer’s ultimate destination. So, let’s take a minute to imagine what Heaven will be like. What are some things you envision in your mind that Heaven will be like? Streets of gold, pearly gates, reunited with loved ones, a beautiful river running through the center, the tree of life, the throne of God. If you have spent any time reading the book of Revelation, these are some of the images that probably came to your mind. Even though we are given grand images of Heaven, we still have a long way to go in imagining what Heaven will be like one day.

It is interesting to learn that Jesus talks about being in “Paradise” instead of just saying Heaven when talking to one of the criminals on the cross.

To begin with, I want to go to the scene right before Jesus’ death. “But the other criminal rebuked him. “Don’t you fear God,” he said, “since you are under the same sentence” (Luke 23:40)?

What sentence could these criminals be under? They are under the sentence of death. They are dying a criminal’s death and so was Jesus. We can find it hard to connect with the criminals on the cross that day, but Paul would write to the Romans that the wages of sin are death (Romans 6:23). Anyone who has sinned “has fallen short of God’s glory” (Romans 3:23), and so we all are given the same sentence as those criminals on the cross that day, the death sentence. There are two options for us, which are displayed by the actions of the two criminals. One criminal mocked the salvation of the Lord. “One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: “Aren’t you the Messiah? Save yourself and us!” He rejected the very grace of God while the other recognized his need for a Savior. “We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong” (Luke 23:41)?

Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” And because of this Romans 6:23 becomes this criminal’s reality: but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. The first criminal rejected the very grace of God while the other recognized his need for a Savior. “We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong” (Luke 23:41). The point is that since God is righteous and just, our sins needed to be punished. Only the perfect spotless Lamb of God could be offered for the atonement of our sins. He died so that we might be given His life, but we must receive the free gift of salvation that He offers to us to be saved.

The keyword is “gift”. A gift cannot be earned because if it was earned it would be a wage, the criminal didn’t deserve such great a gift, that is how grace works. Jesus was on the cross for both criminals that day, He went to the cross for you and I so that we might receive the gift of everlasting life. 

So, some might expect to hear Jesus say, I’ll see you on the other side in heaven my son- but He doesn’t He says something different.

Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:43).“Paradise”/Paradeisos: a park, an Eden.

Have you ever seen that show Extreme Home Makeover? It used to be hosted by a guy named Ty Pennington who would send a family on a mini-vacation so when they returned home they would be surprised when their home would be completely redone and it would look amazing and so much better.

So, when you die, if you are in Christ, you go to Paradise, Eden Park. Jesus is there and so are your loved ones and all the saints who went before us. So, Paradise is Heaven where Jesus is at. It is perfect and there is no suffering or sin there, it will be incredibly wonderful and yet it is still different from what we will experience as our wedding gift when Heaven comes down to a new Earth.

The Bible tells us when we enter into this new Heaven and Earth and the grand thing about it is all saints over all of the time will enter it together at the same time.

“I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of Heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband” (Revelation 21:2). I like to think of it in much the same way as a family would on the Extreme Home Makeover Show that is sent to a fantastic place because their home is being specially prepared for them. So, Peter and Paul haven’t been relaxing in the new Heaven and Earth for some 2,000 years, they are in Paradise because we still have our wedding feast in Heaven to come and then our wonderful gift of Heaven on Earth.

“Paradise” is used is in Revelation 2:7 and it is the location of the tree of life. This makes sense as “paradise” means a park-like setting: “He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcomes will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the Paradise of God.” Revelation 22 talks about Eden/paradise restored.

This is a huge clue because Revelation 2:7 tells us specifically that “the tree of life, is in the Paradise of God” (Revelation 2:7). What this means is that we are given a partial picture of what Paradise is like now, because Revelation 22 talks about Eden being restored and mentions the tree of life (which is already created) and some other things already existing in Paradise (God being there). However, some of the other things mentioned seem like they are yet to come after the old earth passes away, such as there being no more night and the curse removed. Our loved ones in Paradise aren’t experiencing night, they are in the presence of God’s light. The effects of the curse are not present in Paradise, but we still experience them on Earth. Eden restored is mentioned after Heaven comes to earth (yet to happen) in Revelation 21. So, some of these things are still to come.