What the Bible Says About Heaven Part 1
by John Lowe
(Laurens SC, USA)
Title: What the Bible Says About Heaven
Series: What the Bible Says About....
Text: “In my Father’s house are many mansions…” (John 14:2)
Scripture Reading: Revelation 21:1-4; 22:1-5
All believers look forward to spending eternity in heaven. It’s natural then for us to have a curiosity about what heaven is like. Understandably, the scriptures are highly symbolic in their description of heaven. This is true because the Bible must use “earthly” words to describe a celestial place. Most of what the Bible says about heaven must be recognized in its symbolic and figurative setting. The writers under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit were simply using the most expressive language at their disposal to portray heaven. Some concentrated on those characteristics of heaven that parallel the material and physical nature of earth, such as the “streets of gold,” “walls of jasper”, and “gates of pearl.”
Heaven is a real place where spirit beings dwell; material things are of no significance there. Thus, the purpose of this study is to emphasize the spiritual nature of heaven and not necessarily its “physical” properties. We are going to use a lot of scripture today, because we want to know what the Bible can tell us about heaven.
The first passage is Revelation 21:1-4: “And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea. And I John saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.”
Next, I want to read Revelation 22:1-5: “And he shewed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb. In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. And there shall be no more curse: but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it; and his servants shall serve him: And they shall see his face; and his name shall be in their foreheads. And there shall be no night there; and they need no candle, neither light of the sun; for the Lord God giveth them light: and they shall reign for ever and ever.”
There are three things about heaven that I want you to see.
First: The inhabitants of heaven.
Second: Things that will not be in heaven.
Third: The Characteristics of heaven.
Our study will give us a preview of heaven. We may be lead to desire our heavenly home when we realize it is far better than anything that can be experienced in this life.
Let’s begin our study with the INHABITANTS OF HEAVEN.
God is there.
The Bible says, “And may You hear the supplication of Your servant and of Your people Israel, when they pray toward this place. Hear in heaven Your dwelling place; and when You hear, forgive” (1 Kings 8:30). This was King Solomon’s prayer for the Temple. He prayed that God, from His dwelling place in heaven, would always keep his eyes turned toward this place of worship and prayer.
Christ is there.
The Bible says, “Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us…For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us” (Hebrews 9:12, 24). Christ, our High Priest has entered “the greater and more perfect tabernacle” that is in heaven. He went into the presence of God, the Most Holy Place, and He offered His own blood. He purchased our eternal redemption with His own blood. He has gone to heaven, not only to enjoy the rest and receive the honor due to him, but to appear in the presence of God for us, to present our persons and our performances, to answer and rebuke our adversary and accuser-the devil, to secure our place in heaven, to help us when we need help, and to prepare a place for us.
The Holy Spirit is there.
The Bible says, “Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence? If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there” (Psalms 139:7-8). We cannot escape the Spirit of God. He is everywhere. He fills all of creation. Heaven is a vast large place, and yet there is no escaping God’s eye; in any corner or in any crowd. That should be a great comfort to the child of God.
The angels are there.
The Bible says, “Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones; for I say unto you, That in heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 18:10). Jesus said it, so we can take Him at His word. He came from heaven, so He is able to tell us what is done there by the world of angels.
God’s people are there.
The Bible says, “But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect” (Hebrews 12:22-23). Remember, this is an epistle to Hebrews. Mount Zion was David’s place in Jerusalem. His palace was located there and he was buried there. Many of the Jewish believers had been going to Jerusalem for the feast days, but they were being persecuted. And eventually, the Christians had been driven out of Jerusalem. So he assures them that they have a Jerusalem in heaven. Mount Zion is the heavenly city, the eternal city of the living God. The book of Revelation calls it the New Jerusalem. I can’t give you the number or the street name, but my future address is in the New Jerusalem. This is what is coming to us by God’s grace.
We have seen the inhabitants of heaven, so let’s consider next the THINGS THAT ARE NOT IN HEAVEN.
There will be no marriage, so apparently there will be no family unit relationships as we know them on earth.
The Bible says, “For in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels of God in heaven” (Matthew 22:30). Jesus is not saying that they will be like angels. And we will not be angels in heaven. But we will be like angels in that we will not marry in heaven. In other words, in heaven there will not be any necessity to continue the race by birth. This does not mean that a husband and wife who were very close down here cannot be together in heaven. If they want to be together, of course they can be together.
There will be no death, no termination of existence and relationships.
The Bible says, “Neither can they die any more: for they are equal unto the angels; and are the children of God, being the children of the resurrection” (Luke 20:36). Angels cannot be participants of either funerals or weddings. In the resurrection we shall be like them in these two respects.
There will be no “flesh and blood” bodies.
The Bible says, “Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption” (1 Corinthians 15:50). Our old bodies are not going to heaven; I’m glad of that. I would like to trade mine in. God is not going to send these bodies into a repair shop. Corruption cannot inherit incorruption. This body must be put into the ground, like a seed. It will come up a new body, a new tabernacle for us to live in. It will not be identical to the old body, and yet it will be like the old body. My friends, God made these bodies and He can definitely give us a new body which is like it. But the new body will not get sick or hurt. I’m looking forward to mine.
There will be no corruption; that is, nothing will deteriorate or pass away in heaven.
The bible says, “So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption” (1 Corinthians 15:42). Burying the dead is like sowing seed. Seed is put in the ground so that it will spring out as something new and different. Our bodies, which are sown, are corruptible, and they will eventually crumble to dust. But when we rise, we will be released from the power of the grave; our new bodies will not be subject to corruption.