Heaven and Earth

Heaven and Earth

Pastor Robert Zemke

What will heaven be like? Will it be a constant, eternal, ongoing, never-ending worship service? Is heaven an actual place? Will we exist in time? I remember reading the caption for an illustration of a man sitting on a sidewalk, clearly bored, saying, "Even if heaven is boring, at least it beats Milwaukee." At the time, I lived in Milwaukee, and I was offended that they used it as an example. Then, I moved to New York City and understood the comment (about Milwaukee). 

Scripture reveals that heaven is a place. “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away" (Revelation 21:1).  Wayne Grudem states that, “heaven is the place where God most fully makes known his presence to bless.” Other passages indicate a place in eternity. 

This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven (Acts 1:11).  
If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also (John 14:3).

We will not be in the clouds having an ethereal experience. There will be a physical space for our resurrected bodies to inhabit a place where there will be no crying or pain (Revelation 21:25) and no night (Revelation 21:4).

We will also exist in time. There will be a sequence of events in eternity. We will not exist as God does outside of time. He will be fully present among us in the new heaven and new earth, but as finite creatures, we will always live in a succession of moments. It says in Rev 22:1-2, “then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month.” 

Grudem adds that, “more important than all the physical beauty of the heavenly city, more important than the fellowship we will enjoy eternally with all God’s people from all nations and all periods in history, more important than our freedom from pain and sorrow and physical suffering, and more important than reigning over  God’s kingdom—more important by far than any of these will be the fact that we will be in the presence of God and enjoying unhindered fellowship with him.” 

Since we will have no sin in heaven because of Christ’s redeeming work, we will be able to enjoy God's gift of the new heaven and new earth, praise him for the work that he has wrought in all the lives of the redeemed, and do this without confusing the gifts with the giver of life. 

There is so much to enjoy on earth, yet we should heed Jesus’s command to, “lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” (Matthew 6:20).