Heaven By Randy Alcorn

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1 Heaven By Randy Alcorn A Biblical Overview of Heaven When a Christian dies, he will not go to Heaven where he ll live forever. Instead, he will go to an intermediate Heaven. In the intermediate Heaven, all those who died in Christ will wait for: o the time of Christ s return to earth, I Thess 4:13-18 o our bodily resurrection, I Thess 4:13-18 o the final judgment, and Rev 20:11-15 o the creation of the new heavens and New Earth. Is 65:17 God will dwell with us on the New Earth. The New Earth is synonymous with Heaven. Rev Therefore, God s ultimate plan is not to take us up to live in a realm made for him, but to come down and live with us in a realm made for us. What is the intermediate Heaven? When a Christian dies, he or she enters an intermediate state, a transitional period between our past lives on Earth and our future resurrection to life on the New Earth. The present, intermediate Heaven is in the angelic realm distinctly separate from Earth. By contrast, the future Heaven will be in the human realm, on Earth. Will we be Judged When we Die? When we die, we face what is called the judgment of faith. The outcome determines whether we go to the intermediate Heaven or the intermediate Hell. This initial judgment depends not on our works but on our faith. The second judgment is called the judgment of works. Our works don t affect our salvation, but they do affect our reward. Rewards are conditional, dependent on our faithfulness. God s Earthly Renewal Plan If God had wanted to consign us to Hell and start over, he could have. He could have made a new Adam and Eve and sent the old ones to Hell. But he didn t. Instead, he chose to redeem what he started with the heavens, the Earth, and mankind to bring them back to his original purpose.

2 Page 2 of 5 He plans to restore his creation to their original condition and make them even better! Acts 3:21 He (Jesus) must remain in heaven until the time comes for God to restore everything, as he promised long ago through his holy prophets. Matthew 19:28 Jesus said to them, I tell you the truth, at the renewal of all things, when the son of Man sits on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. Romans 8:20-21 For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God. God Will Dwell With Us on the New Earth Both the Old and New Testament actually say a great deal about the eternal Heaven. Unfortunately, we don t realize it because when we read passages about a future earthly kingdom, we assume they don t refer to Heaven. Isaiah 60:21 Then will all your people be righteous and they will possess the land (earth) forever. They are the shoot I have planted, the work of my hands, for the display of my splendor. Psalm 102:15-16 The nations will fear the name of the Lord, all the kings of the earth will revere your glory. For the Lord will rebuild Zion and appear in his glory. Ezekiel 43:2 I saw the glory of the God of Israel coming from the east and the land (earth) was radiant with his glory. Revelation 21:2-3 I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God And I heard a loud voice form the throne saying, Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. Common Misconceptions about Heaven We will be disembodied spirits instead of having physical bodies Heaven will be ethereal, unearthly instead of a very real, physical earth

3 Page 3 of 5 Misconception #1 We Will Be Disembodied Spirits Reality: The Promise of Imperishable Bodies Philippians 3:21 Who by the power that enables him (Christ) to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body. I Corinthians 15:42 So it will be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. When Paul uses the term spiritual body, he is not talking about a body made of spirit there is no such thing. Body means flesh and bones. The word spirit here is an adjective describing the body, not negating its meaning. A spiritual body is first and foremost a real body. Paul could have simply said, It is sown a natural body, it is raised a spirit if that were the case. Judging from Christ s resurrection body, a spiritual body appears most of the time like a regular physical body. Misconception #2 Heaven Will Be Ethereal & Unearthly Reality: What Heaven Will Really Be Like What We Assume About Heaven Non-Earth Unfamiliar; otherworldly Leaving favorite things behind Static (nothing changes) No time and space Nothing to do No learning or discovery; instant and complete knowledge Boring The Biblical View of Heaven New Earth Familiar; earthly Retaining the good; finding the best ahead Dynamic (productive change) Time and space A God to worship and serve An eternity of learning and discovery Fascinating

4 Page 4 of 5 Three Phases of Earth s History The following chart shows the three phases of Earth s history: humanity s past on the original earth; our present experience on the fallen Earth; and our promised future on the New Earth. Past Genesis 1-3 Original mankind Original earth No Curse (universal perfection & blessing) Sin unknown No death First Adam reigns God walking with humans in the Garden Mankind able either to sin or not sin Mankind rules and expands Paradise God s plan for mankind and Earth revealed Present Gen 3 Rev 20 Fallen mankind; some believe and are transformed Fallen Earth, with glimmers of original Sin and the Curse, blessing selectively given Sin corrupts, its power & penalty defeated by Christ Death permeates all First Adam falls; second Adam comes Humans cut off from God Mankind enslaved to sin, empowered not to sin Mankind banished from Paradise, longs for return to Paradise God s plan delayed and enriched Future Revelation Resurrected mankind New (resurrected) Earth No more Curse (greater blessing, grace unending) Sin forever removed Death removed Last Adam reigns with mankind as co-heirs God dwells face-toface with humans Mankind unable to sin, permanently empowered Mankind has unlimited free access to Paradise God s plan for mankind and Earth realized

5 Page 5 of 5 In Genesis 3, the earth s first radical transition (mankind s fall and first judgment) can be seen as one bookend of human history. In Revelation 20, we see the second bookend in the earth s last radical transition (Christ s return and last judgment) creating a picture of great symmetry. In Genesis God plants a Garden on Earth; In Revelation He brings down the New Jerusalem with a garden at its center In Eden, there s no sin, death or Curse; On the new Earth, there s no more sin, death or Curse In Genesis, the Redeemer is promised; In Revelation, the Redeemer returns. Genesis tells the story of Paradise lost; Revelation tells the story of Paradise restored. In Genesis, humanity s stewardship is squandered; In Revelation, humanity s stewardship is triumphant, empowered by the human and divine King Jesus.

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