Summary: Probably one of the most messed up Christian concepts is that of heaven, our final destination, which is nothing like the pictures created by our church traditions!
Heaven – it is not what most people think
The two professors stood nose to nose as they shouted at one another. “The craters on the moon are the result of volcanism,” cried one. “You are an idiot,” screamed the other, “the craters on the moon are the result of meteor impact.” This scene played itself out all across campus; time and time again you could hear these two debating that which could not be proven. Most certainly there were indications of meteor impact on the moon, but then, there was just as much evidence for volcanic cratering. It wasn’t until we began sending spacecraft to the moon that the debate was ever settled. What a wonder, it turned out that some of the craters are the result of impact and some are the result of volcanism.
How often we only see what we want to see. One professor could only see indications of impact and the other professor could only see indications of volcanic activity. Isn’t this the same attitude we often display when studying scripture? We have a preconceived notion of what we believe, and then when we go to the bible all we can find is scripture to support our position. Somehow, we are completely blind to any scripture that contradicts or does not support our pet belief.
Probably one of the most messed up Christian concepts is that of heaven. In fact, our final destination is not even heaven, as most envision it! In reality, we are destined to spend eternity on earth … the new earth. Yes, we will live in ‘heaven’; heaven as it exists on the new earth.
We will exist as physical beings with form and substance, and not as some amorphous energy form. After all, the Lord Jesus Christ will transform our earthly body to be like his glorious body. (Philippians 3:20-21) Our transformed bodies will be capable of eating and drinking in heaven. (Matthew 26:29)
Our eternal existence will be in the new heaven and new earth where the former things shall not be remembered nor come into mind. (Isaiah 65:17) Our eternal existence, which differs from our temporary spiritual abode (paradise), will be a perfect earth that is totally removed from the old earth.
So, just exactly what will we be? We will look like human beings because we were created in the image of God and we know that the way Jesus was resurrected is the same way we will be resurrected. You could write a book about our existence after death; our waiting in paradise for the return of Jesus and then our spending eternity working for Jesus in the New Heaven and New Earth. Let's just consider just a few points about our eternal existence, 'heaven.'
1. In heaven we will be different than we now are here on earth. Paul said: “I tell you this, brothers: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed.” (1 Corinthians 15:50-52)
a. We will not be earthly flesh and blood
b. We will be immortal (Imperishable)
c. WE WILL BE CHANGED
2. We will have spiritual bodies in heaven. When Paul was questioned with: “How are the dead raised? With what kind of body do they come?” he told the people that our old earthly body dies and goes away so that we can get a new body. He said: “There are heavenly bodies and earthly bodies, but the glory of the heavenly is of one kind, and the glory of the earthly is of another. … So is it with the resurrection of the dead. What is sown is perishable; what is raised is imperishable. … It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. … As was the man of dust (Adam), so also are those who are of the dust, and as is the man of heaven (Jesus), so also are those who are of heaven. … Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven.” (1 Corinthians 15:35-49)
a. We will be changed into spiritual bodies.
b. We will be resurrected into a body like Jesus was resurrected in.
3. We will be like the angels. Remember, Jesus said: “Is this not the reason you are wrong, because you know neither the Scriptures nor the power of God? For when they rise from the dead, they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven.” (Mark 12:24-25)