Heaven 3- Understanding the Present Heaven
2 Cor 5:8 Absent from the body, present with the Lord!!
“Brothers, we do not want to be ignorant about those who fall asleep, or to grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope.” (1 Thess 4:13).
We know that sleep is death and we know that if we are alive when Christ returns, we will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. (1 Thessalonians 4:17-18). This is about the eternal heaven, but if we die before Christ’s return we go to the PRESENT heaven.
Transitional- temporary- not purgatory. Intermediate. – better by far than living on earth with a curse- Phil 1:23.
“The present heaven has nothing to do with punishment or suffering- it is not between heaven and Hell- it is the duration of time between the present life and the resurrection at Christ’s return.”
We will be in Christ’s presence forever, and we will be joyful and looking forward to the bodily resurrection.
God created heaven with a beginning, not timeless or changeless.
Heaven= Dwelling of God
God does not change- He is immutable- but heaven does. Hell will also be relocated- After the great White Throne Judgment (Rev. 20:14-15), Hell will be cast into the eternal lake of fire.
Intermediate- angelic realm.
2Pe 3:7 “By the same word the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men. …but the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar, the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare. …so you ought to live holy and godly lives.
Future heaven will be in the human realm on New Earth.
Rev 21:1-3- “I saw the New Heaven and New Earth…coming down out of heaven from God…and I heard a voice saying now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them”.
“My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him (John 14:23).
God’s ultimate plan- not to take us up to a realm made for him, but to come down and live with us in the realm he made for us.
Present heaven up there, the eternal heaven will be down here.
Ecc 12:7 “The dust returns to the ground it came from, and the spirit returns to God, who gave it.”- Heaven or Hell.
Immediately with Christ- “Today you will be with me in paradise (Lk 23:43)” to the believing thief on the cross
Paul said absent from the body was to be present with the Lord (2Cor 5:8). To die is to be with Christ (Phil 1:23). Martyrs are pictured in heaven crying out to God to bring justice to earth (Rev. 6:9).
No such thing as soul sleep or a long period of unconsciousness between life on Earth and life in Heaven. Fallen asleep (1 Thess 4:13) is death- Spirit departure from the body. Body sleeps until the resurrection while spirit relocates to heaven (Dan 12:2-3) conscious.
Heaven Is it a physical Place
“For the entrance of the greater world is wide and sure, and they who see the straitness and the painfulness from which they have been delivered must wonder exceedingly as they are received into those large rooms with joy and immortality.” Amy Carmichael
“God is spirit” Jn 4:24- Different from heaven is spirit.- He created it and does not need to dwell there.
We are spiritual and physical and will dwell in a physical place. Some think spirit is good and body or physical is bad. NO he created it all and it is very good. Earth is a copy of the true heaven- New Jerusalem brought down to the New Earth.
CS Lewis said,“the hills and valleys of Heaven will be to those you now experience not as a copy is to an original, nor as a substitute is to a genuine article, but as the flower to the root, or the diamond to the coal.”
Paradise- Present heaven- walled park/enclosed garden.
To him that overcomes I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God. (Rev. 2:7)- Eden and Heaven. Eden not finished but to be restored. God visited Eden and he will again.
“Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, because when we are clothed…so that what is mortal will be swallowed up by life” (2 Cor 5:2-4). Immediately with Christ awaiting the resurrection. We are not disembodied as we wear clothes (not allegory). We are souls- Body, mind and spirit- awaiting bodily resurrection.
Enoch and Elijah were taken to heaven in bodily form. Moses and Elijah came back as temporary bodies- Transfiguration??
In the Rich Man and Lazarus- (Lk 16) both went to real places separated by chasm, with physical form and thirsts with memory and consciousness. Concern and welfare for brothers- We connect.
What will life be like?
Rev. 6:9-11- Went to heaven when died- continuity between heaven and earth. V9, people will be remembered, they called out- spoke, conscious, could ask God Q’s, concern for justice, and prayer for judgment, distinct individuals, White robes- bodies, , there is time, we won’t know everything, family connections will be strong, memories (we will give an account of our lives), God knows all that will be happening and knows all suffering. Saints in heaven are observing earth and we will return to set up the Millennial kingdom (Rev. 19:11-14)
Heb 12:1- The “Great cloud of witnesses” who have gone before- are watching and cheering us on I think- the unfolding drama of redemption. Angels saw Christ on earth (1 Ti 3:16). “There will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents over 99 righteous persons who do not need to repent.” (Lk 15:7). God, angels and saints.
Christ is interceding for us from heaven (Rom 8:34), martyrs pray to God (Rev 6:10). Final judgment before all pain, tears and evil are wiped away- fullness of joy complete.
Our parting in death is not the end of relationship just an interruption. We are not lost, therefore encourage one another.
Present Heaven- Invisible to those living on earth.- Stephen saw it-“Full of the Holy Spirit, looked up into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God (Acts 7:55)- Spiritual dimension.- hidden from our eyes in present age. Time/space universe.
Elisha (2 Ki 6:17) angelic warriors and chariots. Exist beside us in the universe, but we are normally blind to them.