It is always good to review periodically our understanding of, especially, new learning. Our Bible studies about Heaven are, mostly, new learning. So, the following is a review of the major categories of teaching that, hopefully, may stimulate your personal investigations and discussions. Please contact me with your comments and questions.
A. “The Kingdom of God is within you” (Luke 17.21).
- How does Jesus’ statement fulfill His Model Prayer imperative: “Your kingdom come” (Matthew 6.10)?
- How does God’s instruction to Ezekiel (11.19-20) add to our understanding? What contrasts a “heart of flesh” from a “stony heart”? Is this what Paul means in Romans 12.1-2?
- How does Solomon’s contemplation in Ecclesiastes 3.11 enlighten our understanding of both of Jesus’ statements?
- Each human life is a Sigmoid Curve of learning about God from the previous generations, living out His righteous commands, and teaching the succeeding generations our enhanced knowledge and understanding of Him (Deuteronomy 6.4-9; Jeremiah 9.23-24). God gives us words and visions of the future with Himself to comfort us (1 Thessalonians 4.13-18; John 16.33; Acts 2.16-21).
B. “Today you will be with Me in Paradise” (Luke 23.43).
- How does Jesus’ story in Luke 16.19-31 distinguish the Paradise of Hades (the place of the dead) from the Pit of Hades? Do you know a person in each chamber? How can you help someone in danger of going to the Pit? (In your opinion, should we preach more ‘Hell Fire and Brimstone’ sermons? What impact might they have?)
- How does James 2.26 describe someone ‘passing away’? What does that tell us about Paradise?
- Is Paradise (“Intermediate Heaven”, Randy Alcorn, Heaven) another reality on the surface of Earth and the Pit at the center (Ephesians 4.8-10; John 12.31; Isaiah 14.12-25)?
- An analogy is the refraction of light through a prism into its seven colors: violet, indigo, blue, green, yellow, orange, and red. Maybe a rainbow or mankind’s different races of people help us to understand the many realities God has created.
C. “We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed” (1 Corinthians 15.51).
- Paul discusses when this happens in 1 Thessalonians 4.16-17. How does he describe what changes in 1 Corinthians 15.53-55 & 40-49?
- How does John add to this understanding in Revelation 4.1, which I believe is the ‘calling away’ or ‘Rapture’ of the church?
- So, who does not “change” while still on Earth? Paul identifies some in Romans 1.18-32 and others in Hebrews 6.4-6. John adds others in Revelation 21.8 and, generally, in 11-15. John implies the Jews, too, in Revelation 20.9; hopefully, his use of “saints” means they come to believe in Jesus as Messiah (Deuteronomy 18.18; John 14.6).
- Jesus meant for Paul’s encouragement in 1 Thessalonians 4.15-17 to give us hope and comfort, as he writes in verse 18.
D. “Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth” (Revelation 21.1).
- The old “earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea.” Commentators say the last sentence conveyed that the sea would no longer be an enemy to travelers.
- Just like Paul’s description of the old body being earthly and the new body being heavenly (1 Corinthians 15.53-55 & 40-49) , John speaks of the transformation of the old earth into a new earth, fit for the new residents who will occupy it…us.
E. “Behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with me, to give to every one according to his work” (Revelation 22.12).
- Have believers, who have been with Jesus “in the air” returned, perhaps, as the New Jerusalem, “prepared as a bride adorned for her husband” (Revelation 21.2 & 9-21)?
- How does Jesus hint about to the rewards in His Parable of the Minas (Luke 19.11-18)?
- Note in this Parable what qualifies each servant for his reward. Consequently, could our present sojourn be an apprenticeship, like practice teaching or as a management trainee? Thus, are we meant to be in training until we ‘pass away’ or are Raptured?
F. Keep your eye on the prize!
- Jesus described the Kingdom of God/Heaven as a hidden treasure discovered and worth every penny we have (Matthew 13.44) and a pearl found by the dealer who, then, liquidated his assets to buy this one, choice jewel (Matthew 13.45-46).
- He says that the Kingdom is not for all people, like some fish discarded from the dragnet (Matthew 13.47-50).
- But, we are the ‘keepers’ who will enjoy the Kingdom and will do so because of our faith (John 14.6), even the smallest of faith — that of a “mustard seek” (Matthew 13.31-32).
- God put eternity in man’s hearts from the beginning, perhaps symbolized in the Tree of Life (Genesis 3.24) that will nourish us for eternity (Revelation 22.2).
“This world is not my home I’m just a passing through…If heaven’s not my home then Lord what will I do…and I can’t feel at home in this world anymore” (This World is Not My Home by Mary Reeves Davis).
Praise God!!! Copyright © by Maurice L. Painter, 2017. www.sozoclass.com