Lesson 08 第八课

THE DOCTRINE OF HEAVEN

I.    Heaven Will Be a Real, Literal Place

        A.    It is described as such in the Bible.

1.    Although there is much about heaven we will not know until we get there, we can know that it is more than a state of mind; it is a place. (“but just as it is written, ‘Things which eye has not seen and ear has not heard, and which have not entered the heart of man, all that God has prepared for those who love Him.’” - 1 Cor. 2:9)

2.    Jesus said, “I am going to prepare a place for you” (John 14:2-3).

3.    God revealed heaven as a place to John in the book of Revelation (Rev. 21:10-21).

B.    We do not know where heaven is.

1.    The Greek word for “heaven” (ouranos) carried three meanings:

a.    The aerial heavens where clouds and birds are - the atmosphere (Luke 4:25; 9:54).

b.    The starry heavens (Mark 13:25).

c.    The highest heaven where God dwells (Matt. 5:34; Rev. 4:1).

2.    Heaven has been referred to as up.

a.    Jesus went up at his ascension (Acts 1:9).

b.    Elijah went up in the fiery chariot (2 Kings 2:11).

c.    Paul was caught up into heaven (2 Cor. 12:2).

3.    Wherever heaven is now, we know that some time at the conclusion of this age, God will create a “new heaven and new earth.” (“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away” - Rev. 21:1; see also 2 Peter 3:12-13).

II.    Christians Will Go to Be With God Immediately Following Death

A.    There is no intermediate state of being in “limbo.”

1.    There are several biblical examples of people who went immediately into heaven: Enoch (Gen. 5:24); Elijah (2 Kings 2:11); Lazarus (Luke 16:19-31); the thief on the cross (Luke 23:43).

2.    Only our mortal bodies die (1 Cor. 15:35-44).  When we vacate our mortal bodies at death, we instantly go to be with the Lord.  Paul indicated that to be “absent from the body” is to be “present with the Lord” (2 Cor. 5:8 -KJV).

B.    There will be a "disembodied" state. (“Therefore, being always of good courage, and knowing that while we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord – for we walk by faith, not by sight – we are of good courage and prefer rather to be absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord.” - 2 Cor. 5:6-8).

1.    This is the time interval between death and the receiving of our new, spiritual bodies. We will receive our new bodies at the Second Coming of Christ (1 Cor. 15:50-58; 1 Thess. 4:13-18).

2.    Characteristics of the "disembodied" state:

a.    It is a conscious state.  We will be alive and aware of the presence of God.

b.    It is a fixed stated.  In other words, we will not have a "second chance" after death.  A person's destiny has been determined in this life by his or her response to God's offer of salvation.

c.    It is an incomplete state.  Since man is body, soul and spirit, redemption will not be complete until the resurrection of the body.

C.    The resurrection of the body

1.    The resurrection of the body is clearly taught in the Bible (“Do not marvel at this; for an hour is coming, in which all who are in the tombs will hear His voice, and will come forth; those who did the good deeds to a resurrection of life, those who committed the evil deeds to a resurrection of judgment.” - John 5:28-29; see also 1 Cor. 15:35-58; 1 Thess. 4:13-18).

2.    Although we do not know exactly what form our resurrected bodies will have, we do know that they will be perfect like the resurrected body of Jesus (“Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be.  We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is.” - 1 John 3:2).

3.    Jesus had a body after his resurrection, and it was one in which the disciples recognized him (Luke 24:36-43; John 20:19-20, 24-29).

4.    Jesus' body was not subject to earthly laws (Luke 24:31; John 20:19), yet the disciples could touch him (John 20:27) and eat with him (John 21:10-14).

III.    What Will Heaven Be Like?

A.    We will retain our identities.

1.    We will know each other (“For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known.” - 1 Cor. 13:12).  Lazarus and the rich man recognized each other (Luke 16:19-31).

2.    We will recognize those we did not know on earth.  Peter, James and John recognized Moses and Elijah on the Mount of Transfiguration (Mark 9:2-5).

B.    Those in heaven are aware of at least some of what is occurring on earth.

1.    Samuel knew of Saul's sin (1 Sam. 28:16-19).

2.    The rich man and Lazarus knew of the five lost brothers (Luke 16:27-31).

3.    Moses and Elijah on the Mount of Transfiguration spoke of Jesus' imminent death (Luke 9:31).

4.    John saw the martyrs in heaven who were concerned about the unpunished wicked on earth (Rev. 6:9-11).

5.    There is joy in heaven when one person gets saved (Luke 15:10).

6.    However, although we might know some of what is occurring on earth, that knowledge will not cause us grief (“and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.” – Rev. 21:4; See also Isa. 25:8; 35:10; Rev. 7:17).

C.    Heaven will be a state of perfected relationships.

1.    A Christian’s fellowship with God should be his or her chief joy even in this life.  However, because of our own imperfections and sinfulness, that fellowship is not all it could be.  When we see the Lord face to face and are completely transformed into his image, then our fellowship with Him will be full and complete.

2.    Not only will our fellowship with God be perfected in heaven, but so will our fellowship and relationship with one another.

3.    If family relationships are remembered, they will be subordinated to the higher relationship we will have as God’s children and as brothers and sisters in Christ.  That will be true even of marital relationships.  Jesus stated that there will be no “marrying and giving in marriage” in heaven (Mark 12:25).  Whatever else that may mean, it at least means that our relationship with each other in heaven will be even greater than it presently could be as husband and wife.

D.    Reasons to look forward to heaven.

1.    We will be with Jesus (“For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.  But if I am to live on in the flesh, this will mean fruitful labor for me; and I do not know which to choose.  But I am hard-pressed from both directions, having the desire to depart and be with Christ, for that is very much better; yet to remain on in the flesh is more necessary for your sake” - Phil. 1:21-23)

2.    We will receive rest in heaven (“And I heard a voice from heaven, saying, ‘Write, Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on!’  ‘Yes,’ says the Spirit, ‘so that they may rest from their labors and, for their deeds follow with them.’” - Rev. 14:13)

3.    We will receive rewards for our labors in Christ (“For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.” - 2 Cor. 5:10; See also, 1 Cor. 3:12-14; Gal. 6:9)