THE DOCTRINE OF HEAVEN
We believe the bodies of men after death return to dust, and see corruption, Acts 13:36; but their souls, which neither die nor sleep, having an immortal subsistence, immediately return to God who gave them, Eccles. 12:7. The souls of the righteous being then made perfect in holiness, are received into paradise, the Father's House, or the third Heaven, all of which are names for the dwelling place of God, where they shall be with Christ, and behold the glories of God, waiting for the full redemption of their bodies, II Cor. 5:1, 6, 8; Phil. 1:23; Heb. 12:23.
Intro: Almost everything you ever wanted to know about Heaven, but never asked. Do you believe there is a place called “heaven?” If so, can you prove its existence? Why should we believe in a place which cannot be seen? Do you question if there is another life after death as did Job, Job 14:14 If a man die, shall he live again?” His answer was affirmative, “all the days of my appointed time will I wait, till my change come.”
People all over this world are curious if there is an afterlife; one of happiness and peace or one of misery and punishment; a place of eternal existence; a place of rest quite the opposite from all the chaos of life on earth; a place for the soul far better than this present world; a Utopia; a place which fulfills all the anticipation for peacefulness, love, contentment and satisfaction; a Paradise; a Heaven; a Home for the soul.
A S.S. teacher was asking her little kids to raise their hands of they wanted to go to heaven. All did, except one. Little Johnny, don’t you want to go to heaven when you die? Oh, he said, yes Mam! I thought you were getting up a load to go right now. So, the answer is yes there is a heaven; the drawback is… you have to die to go there!
A Harris Poll 2013 finds that a
strong majority (74 percent) of U.S. adults say they believe in God. Belief in miracles, heaven and other religious teachings have declined in tha poll, as follows: 68 percent believe in
heaven, down from 75 percent; 68 percent believe that Jesus is God or the Son of God, down from 72 percent;
65 percent believes in the resurrection of Jesus Christ, down from 70 percent; 64 percent believe in the survival of the soul after death, down from 69 percent; 58 percent believe in the devil and hell, down from 62 percent; 57 percent believe in the Virgin birth, down from 60 percent.
The same poll also found that belief in Darwin's theory of evolution increased to 47 percent, up from 42 percent in 2005.
Even though there is a decline in the numbers who believe there is a heaven and a hell, that does not alter the facts of their reality as taught by Jesus. Jesus taught about both places, heaven and hell. So, since the bible tells us that it is appointed unto man “once to die” why not plan on going to heaven rather than spending eternity in hell? If those places do exist, what is a person risking who denies them? Everything!
Our Church Members Handbook of belief states:
CMH: We believe the bodies of men after death return to dust, and see corruption.
Acts 13:36 “For David, after he had served his own generation by the will of God, fell on sleep, and was laid unto his fathers, and saw corruption:” This means that at death our bodies corrupt, rot, decay, dry up, and in time, become dust!
1 Corinthians 15:42 So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption:” Galatians 6:8 For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.”
Physical death was imposed upon all living things as the result of Adams sin in the Garden of Eden. God gave clear warning to Adam of the consequences of disobeying the command not to eat of the forbidden tree, Genesis 2:17 But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.”
That sounds like Adam could have lived forever on the earth in a virtual paradise with Eve; their children, and their children’s children, etc., had he obeyed God. But temptation to do the forbidden got the better of them both. And so sin entered the world of human life and all living things, consequently termination began. 1 Corinthians 15:22 For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.” Death came by Adam; resurrection from death and living eternally came by Jesus Christ.
The first man was made out of the dust of the earth which God had created, but by disobedience doomed himself to die and to return to dust like unto that used to create him. The irony in this is that the serpent then was forced to feed on, that is live in, the dust, out of which the man whom he had tempted was made. Genesis 2:7 And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.” Genesis 3:19 In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.” Genesis 3:14 And the LORD God said unto the serpent, Because thou hast done this, thou art cursed above all cattle, and above every beast of the field; upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life:”
Knowing that God created man out of dust, a little child in wonderment questioned his parents about the dust under his bed, “is this someone coming or going?”
CMH: The souls of the righteous being then made perfect in holiness, are received into paradise, the Father's House, or the third Heaven, all of which are names for the dwelling place of God, where they shall be with Christ, and behold the glories of God, waiting for the full redemption of their bodies.
HEAVEN IS A REALL PLACE. Deuteronomy 10:14 Behold, the heaven and the heaven of heavens is the LORD'S thy God, the earth also, with all that therein is.” The first heaven is the airy and starry heaven. The heaven of heavens is the highest or third heaven, the same place unto which the Apostle Paul was caught up to see things mortal man had not before seen. It is called the heaven of heavens for its eminency and superiority over the first and second heavens.
God who made it all is so big that He fills the universe, 1 Kings 8:…behold, the heaven and heaven of heavens cannot contain thee; …” Yet, He is small enough to dwell in the hearts of His born from above children on earth. 2 Corinthians 6:16 …for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.”
HEAVEN IS A REAL PLACE. If our names are written in Heaven it MUST BE a real place, to his disciples Jesus said, Luke 10:20… rejoice, because your names are written in heaven.” It must be a real place because Jesus told one person, Luke 18:22 … thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, follow me.” Did Jesus lie? Absolutely not!
Heaven must be a real place because, about Jesus we read, Luke 24:51 And it came to pass, while he blessed them, he was parted from them, and carried up into heaven.” Hebrews 9:24 For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us:”
And what will it be like when we die and enter into heaven? Just think of stepping on a shore and find it Heaven; Taking hold of a hand and finding it God=s hand;
Breathing fresh air and finding it celestial air; Feeling invigorated; and finding it immortality; Passing from storm and tempest to an unknown calm; Of waking up and finding it home. HEAVEN IS REAL.
Jesus’ resurrection body was a real physical body with a divine dimension, sudden appearances, vanishing, Jn 20:19 “…appeared in the midst of them…” Luke 24:31 And their eyes were opened, and they knew him; and he vanished out of their sight.” He walked, talked, ate and travelled at the speed of thought, and went back to heaven in his real physical touchable body.
It was not his spirit that ascended to heaven, IT WAS HIS REAL PHYSICAL BODY. Luke 24:36-43 And as they thus spake, Jesus himself stood in the midst of them, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you. 37 But they were terrified and affrighted, and supposed that they had seen a spirit. 38 And he said unto them, Why are ye troubled? and why do thoughts arise in your hearts? 39 Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have. 40 And when he had thus spoken, he shewed them his hands and his feet. 41 And while they yet believed not for joy, and wondered, he said unto them, Have ye here any meat? 42 And they gave him a piece of a broiled fish, and of an honeycomb. 43 And he took it, and did eat before them.” The real resurrected body of Jesus is in heaven today.
Heaven is a real, physical, touchable, seeable, enjoyable place with streets, buildings, walkways, walls, greenery, water, etc., foundations and a Throne Room. Jesus said he would go to prepare a PLACE for us.
Heaven is a REAL PLACE not some figurative, ethereal mystical mirage that really isn’t anyplace at all. Listen to all about it, Revelation 22:1-7 And he shewed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb. 2 In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. 3 And there shall be no more curse: but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it; and his servants shall serve him: 4 And they shall see his face; and his name shall be in their foreheads. 5 And there shall be no night there; and they need no candle, neither light of the sun; for the Lord God giveth them light: and they shall reign for ever and ever. 6 And he said unto me, These sayings are faithful and true: and the Lord God of the holy prophets sent his angel to shew unto his servants the things which must shortly be done. 7 Behold, I come quickly: blessed is he that keepeth the sayings of the prophecy of this book.”
And it will be from heaven that Jesus returns to earth one day, 1 Thessalonians 4:16 For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:” 2 Thessalonians 1:7 … the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels,” 1 Thessalonians 1:10 And to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come.” Philippians 3:20 For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ:”
Heaven has to be real because our hope lies there, Colossians 1:5 For the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, whereof ye heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel;” If heaven is not real, we have no hope in this world and nothing better yet to come!
Our new body awaits us in heaven, if heaven is not real, there will be no new body for any of us to house our soul once we leave this world, our desires will be unfulfilled, but here is the promise, 2 Corinthians 5:2 For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven:”
HEAVEN HAS TO BE A REAL PLACE; more than just the sky above us, as the Bible tells us that Jesus made his journey from heaven to earth and back again after his resurrection, John 6:33 For the bread of God is he which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world, even the Son of man which is in heaven.” Acts 1:11 Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.”
Heaven must be a real place because Jesus said that he came down from there, John 6:38 For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me.” Did Jesus tell the truth?
HEAVEN MUST BE A REAL PLACE. In Acts 7:55 it says that Stephen saw Jesus in heaven, “But he, being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up stedfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God,”
HEAVEN MUST BE A REAL PLACE because God is there: Psalms 11:4 The LORD is in his holy temple, the LORD'S throne is in heaven…” Ecclesiastes 5:2 … for God is in heaven, and thou upon earth:…” Acts 17:24 God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands;”
Heaven is where the Godhead dwells; the trinity of God, Son and Holy Spirit, 1 John 5:7 For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one.” It is where Jesus went when he left this earth, 1 Peter 3:22 Who is gone into heaven, and is on the right hand of God; angels and authorities and powers being made subject unto him.”
Heaven is the place from which will come the new Jerusalem from heaven to earth, Revelation 3:12 Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God…” Remember Abraham looked for a city whose builder and maker is God, Heb 11:10. Heaven is real, it is there now, it is to come down to earth!
Heaven holds our eternal inheritance we are to receive being join heirs with Christ, 1 Peter 1:4 To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you,” If there is no heaven, we get nothing!
HEAVEN MUST BE REAL BECAUSE A NEW HOME AWAITS US THERE. If heaven is not a real place, Jesus lied. He did not lie, John 8:40 But now ye seek to kill me, a man that hath told you the truth, which I have heard of God:…” John 14:2 In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.”
If heaven is not real, then the Apostle Paul lied to us, which he did not. 2 Corinthians 5:1-8 For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. 2 For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven: 3 If so be that being clothed we shall not be found naked. 4 For we that are in this tabernacle do groan, being burdened: not for that we would be unclothed, but clothed upon, that mortality might be swallowed up of life. 5 Now he that hath wrought us for the selfsame thing is God, who also hath given unto us the earnest of the Spirit. 6 Therefore we are always confident, knowing that, whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord: 7 (For we walk by faith, not by sight:) 8 We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.”
Philippians 1:23 For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better:”
Hebrews 12:22-26 But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, 23 To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect, 24 And to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel. 25 See that ye refuse not him that speaketh. For if they escaped not who refused him that spake on earth, much more shall not we escape, if we turn away from him that speaketh from heaven:”
Heavenly Life will be a Life without sin; without darkness; without death; without suffering; without the curse; without defeat; without weariness in service; without tears.
CMH: but their souls, which neither die nor sleep, having an immortal subsistence, immediately return to God who gave them.
In Eccl 12:1-7, Solomon paints a picture first of youthful life as it then evolves into old age disintegration until death.
v.1 "Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth,” Think who made you and for what purpose you were made. You were molded by the hand of God and to him made responsible for the proper use of the faculties with which you have been endowed, for the proper employment of the years, and the acceptance of the opportunities offered during the period of active, vigorous life. "while the evil day come not, nor the years draw nigh, when thou shalt say, I have no pleasure in them."The grievance of old age, the days of sorrow, the years of pain, and years of mental and physical decrepitude, when there is no pleasure in life.
v. 2 "While the sun, or the light, or the moon, or the stars, be not darkened, nor the clouds return after the rain." Depicts declining life and infirmities.
v. 3 "In the day when the keepers of the house shall tremble,"and the strong men shall bow themselves" When the hands and arms that guard and protect “the house” suffer from old age are no longer able. The “strong men” represent the legs. "and the grinders cease because they are few, and those that look out of the windows be darkened. v.4 And the doors shall be shut in the streets."The “grinders” refer to the teeth, now few in number; the “windows” depict the eyes which in old age show the need for glasses; the “doors” represent the ears, with impaired hearing in old age. "when the sound of the grinding is low,and he shall rise up at the voice of the bird,and all the daughters of musick shall be bought low.” The “sound of the grinders” refers to the pressing of food upon the toothless gums; the “voice of the birds” indicates that sleep is interrupted by the sound of the birds; sleeps lightly and rises at dawn;
v. 5 "Also when they shall be afraid of that which is high, and fears shall be in the way, and the almond tree shall flourish, and the grasshopper shall be a burden, and desire shall fail." Declining years prevent the climbing of high places; the “almond tree” refers to grey hair in old age; the “grasshopper shall be a burden” indicates weakness makes light things a burden to carry; consequently, human desires decrease. "because man goeth to his long home, and the mourners go about the streets." That long home eternal in heaven or in hell, while the “mourners” are those who sorrow at his death.
v. 6 "Or ever the silver cord be loosed,or the golden bowl be broken, or the pitcher be broken at the fountain, or the wheel broken at the cistern." The “silver cord” represents the spinal column; the “golden bowl” refers to the cranium (skull); golden and silver denote the preciousness of man's life; the “pitcher” illustrates the blood vessels (arteries, capillaries and veins) whereby blood moves through the body; the “wheel” signifies the heart. v.7 "Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it." Earthly life is from the dust to dust; but the spirit shall return to God who gave it, for judgment, v.14 For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.”
The soul of a person does not sleep; nor is it unconscious in the grave waiting a day of awakening. These words of Eccl 12 certainly reveal to us that there is continued life of the spirit after death and a judgment for all mankind to follow according to God’s master plans. There must be some kind of life after death because Mark 12:27, record the words of Jesus about His Father: “He is not the God of the dead, but the God of the living:…” Our souls live though our bodies die. The rich man lift up his eyes in torment; while Lazarus was in Abrahams bosom (a reference to the presence of God.)
The judgment of lost sinners will be one from which none will escape the terror of God’s wrath because of their sins. Our souls are God given; we belong to God; we are his special creation; we owe Him who made us and gave us life. Man curses his God; takes God’s name in vain; hates his maker; refuses Him to rule over his life; denies His very being by claiming to be atheist; will not seek God; will not bow the knee to Him; and always resists His Holy Spirits intervention and conviction.
After all of that, guess what? Those same arrogant, God hating sinners, who would not seek after God; upon their death, their spirits will return to God for a preliminary judgment! After that cast into hell to await the final “great White Throne” judgment of Rev 20.
The judgment of Christians will be one to sort out the rewards and crowns to be given them for service in life.
1 Corinthians 3:14 If any man's work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward.” Colossians 3:24 Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ.”
Eternity has two judgments of people at two different times, Revelation 11:18 And the nations were angry, and thy wrath is come, and the time of the dead, that they should be judged, and that thou shouldest give reward unto thy servants the prophets, and to the saints, and them that fear thy name, small and great; and shouldest destroy them which destroy the earth.”
Will we be ourselves in Heaven? Will we lose our identity and not remember who we were when on earth? Will we know our relatives, our earthly families? Yes, but we will not retain the same earthly ties in heaven that we had on earth. Some things we can only speculate. Isa 65.17 suggests a loss to the minds of some people: "For, behold, I create new heavens and a new earth: and the former shall not be remembered, nor come into mind." But the “former” may only refer to the old heavens and old earth.
Here’s another verse suggesting we will be smarter and remember more then, than we can now, "For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known." (1 Cor. 13:12)
After death and when we are in our heavenly bodies, how much of whom we are now, will remain? Probably no loss of identity or memory. During the Apostle John's vision of Heaven, he sees martyrs who were killed for their faith in God (Rev. 6:9-10). The martyrs ask God how long until He seeks justice against those who killed them. They clearly remember what happened to them on Earth.
The story Jesus told of the rich man and Lazarus has some interesting points (Luke 16:19-31). While in a place of torment, the rich man recognized Abraham and Lazarus who were in paradise. The rich man also remembered his life on Earth. Luke 16:25 But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented.” So it would appear that death does not take away the memory or who we are.
Even though at death we will be in heaven in a temporary heavenly body we will still be ourselves until the rapture, it is then when we will be given a new glorified body like Jesus has.
What about when the Apostle Paul talks about knowing in part now, but fully in Heaven from 1 Cor. 13:12? This doesn't imply a mind wipe, but a fuller understanding of God that is not possible now. Paul was saying on Earth we see through a glass that is dark and hard to see through, but when we see God, we'll see completely unobstructed. We’ll have a better understanding of God’s plan on Earth and won’t need to have our memories erased to enjoy Heaven. Once he wipes away all tears from our eyes there will be nothing more to weep over.
Will other aspects of ourselves be preserved? Will we have emotions in Heaven? Will there be joy in heaven? Luke 15:10 Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth.” Will there be laughter in heaven? Luke 6:21 …Blessed are ye that weep now: for ye shall laugh.”
Emotions aren't a result of the fall. God has emotions such as grieving over man's rebellion prior to the flood (Gen. 6:6). One emotion that won’t exist in the eternal state is sadness due to pain or death Revelation 21:4 And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.”
What about our skills? Some think our skills and talents won't survive in heaven or in the New Earth. Will painters still paint, carpenters still make things and musicians still write songs? Skills are not evil but God-given and can be used to glorify God. There will be all kinds of good things for us to do in heaven, don’t you worry. The Bible mentions our works will follow us (Rev. 14:13), which to me means the good things we were all about on earth will be in heaven too.
In short we retain all the good and none of the bad. The curse and sin doesn’t make us who we are. Rather our memories, skills, personality and interests make up who we are. We will have all those in Heaven. God made us each individually and values us.
WHY DO SOME PEOPLE NOT WANT TO BELIEVE THERE IS A HEAVEN? Why do some people not want to go there? Why are they skeptical of God’s existence; or of heaven or hell? Because they know they are not right with God and do not want to face him; do not want to be held accountable for their sinful lives; they will not admit that all have sinned and come short of the glory of God; they do not understand the truth in Jesus Christ because they love darkness rather than light, they love sin, they are in spiritual darkness, their conscience is defiled, and there is NO FEAR of God before their eyes.
2 Corinthians 4:3-4 But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: 4 In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.”
John 5:39-40 Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me. 40 And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life.”
The do not want to believe in a heaven because it is the source from which the wrath of God emanates against all unrighteous and sin, Romans 1:18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness;”
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Revelation 11:17 "Saying, We give thee thanks, O Lord God Almighty, which art, and wast, and art to come; because thou hast taken to thee thy great power, and hast reigned."
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