Read: Revelation 21:1 |
This is the third posting in a series about Heaven. The prior postings were intended to provide a common foundation for the discussion in this posting. To get the most out of the material, read the other posting first.
Real estate agents swear by the requirements: “location, location, location.” It means identical homes can increase or decrease in value due to location. Though a home’s structure can change via remodeling, the land it sits on is still the “location”.
As I read and researched information about Heaven, I found that some theologians are having their own “location, location, location” debate about Heaven. They agree that Heaven exists, but the location of Heaven is debated and we will not truly know the answer until Jesus comes again.
The primary schools of thought are:
- Soul Sleep – We enter a sleep until Christ’s return. Our next waking moment is to be with Christ.
- Spiritual Heaven – Heaven is a wholly ethereal, spiritual, and unreal location. They envision it as a wispy, intangible existence in a dreamlike spiritual dimension.
- Immediate Ascension – At death, judgment is instantaneous and we are sent to Heaven or Hell. [John MacArthur, author of “The Glory of Heaven” explains this using: Psalm 16:10-11; 23;6; 2 Corinthians 5:8; Luke 16:22-23; Matthew 17:3 Luke 23:42-43.]
- Intermediate Heaven – At death, we go to an intermediate Heaven/Hell until the second coming of Jesus.
Based on my research, the intermediate Heaven belief appears to be the most supported by theologians and scripture. Thus, I will only highlight the intermediate Heaven belief in this posting. Though the theologians may disagree on the specifics of the location(s), they all agree that at the resurrection, Heaven is where Believers will enjoy the glory of God!
Where do we go when we die?
We go to an intermediate Heaven or Hell based upon our acceptance of Christ as our Lord and Savior. [Romans 10:9,10] At death, our body returns to dust and our spirit returns to God. [Gen 3:19; Eccl. 12:7; Philippians 1:23] Paul eloquently restates this in 2 Corinthians 5:6-8 by noting to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord.
At this point, we do not yet have the new bodies that Christ will give us at the resurrection [1 Cor. 15:50-53; 1 Thess. 4:16-17]. Randy Alcorn, author of Heaven, notes that in the book of Revelation there are references to believers talking and worshiping in Heaven prior to the resurrection of the dead. This demonstrates that our spiritual beings are conscious, not sleeping, after death in a pre-resurrection Heaven. [Revelation 6:9-11]
Mr Alcorn also lists the appearance of the great prophets Enoch, Elijah, and Moses in the Transfiguration (Luke 9:28-36) as evidence of an intermediate heaven. Though they were long dead, they appeared in recognizable human-like pre-resurrected bodies talking to Jesus.
Jesus is coming back!
We will meet him in the sky. Scripture tells us that at the resurrection of believers, we will receive our new transformed glorified bodies that are like His glorious body. [1 Cor. 15:50-53; 1 Thess. 4:16-17; Philippians 3:20-21; Rev. 20:6] Believers will have this new incorruptible body-soul-spirit for eternity in the new heaven and new earth (Revelation 21-22). [S. Michael Houdmann, Got Questions-Where Do I go When I Die?; Randy Alcorn, “Heaven”]
A New Jerusalem is coming to earth!
Genesis 1-2 tells us of God’s original creation. Genesis 2 through Revelations 20 tells of a fallen earth with glimpses of God’s glory. Revelation 21-22 tells of the new resurrected Earth. [Randy Alcorn, “Heaven”]
Randy Alcorn writes:
Think of what Revelation 21: 3 tells us— God will relocate his people and come down from Heaven to the New Earth to live with them: “God himself will be with them.” Rather than our going up to live in God’s home forever, God will come down to live in our home forever. Simply put, though the present Heaven is “up there,” the future, eternal Heaven will be “down here.” [Isaiah 65:17; Isaiah 66:22; 2 Peter 3:13]
Location, location, location. Heaven is still Heaven no matter the location. Ultimately, a Believers only true location requirement is to be where God is – in Heaven!
Borrowing from statements in Randy Alcorn’s book “Heaven”: From the beginning, I want to make it clear that it’s vitally important that this posting be true to Scripture. I believe that most of my conclusions will stand up to biblical scrutiny. Inevitably, however, some may not. Thus as the apostle Paul says, “Test everything. Hold on to the good” (1 Thessalonians 5: 21). Knowing that my intention is to never mislead you, it is still up to you to test by God’s Word what I say. Hold on to the good, and reject the bad.
At the same time, leave me feedback/comments, I could have transcribed my notes or cited a source incorrectly since I had to review multiple articles, books and the Bible to arrive at the condensed words on these posts.
A. Did you learn anything new or different in this posting today?
B. Did any of the information challenge you or your beliefs? I confess that this is a challenging subject to study and write about.
A. Which school of thought do you believe in: Soul Sleep, Spiritual Heaven, Immediate Ascension or Intermediate Heaven?
B. Do you have any friends or family that you are not sure if they are Christians? What have you done or exhibited that would help their decision to accept Christ in their life and avoid Hell?
A. Challenge yourself to read or study more about Heaven on your own.
B. Ask your prayer partner or spouse, what are there thoughts about Heaven and what are they doing to get ready.