Devotional Reading: Revelation 21
What comes to mind when you hear the word “heaven.” A place that’s “other worldly”where white robed, big winged angels bounce from cloud to cloud playing a harp. Or maybe you think of one big endless church service to which you are bored to tears and wonder how you are ever going to endure an eternity of such monotony. Doesn’t exactly sound like that great of a place. Most people don’t think that much of Heaven. And surprisingly its not the non Christians who think this way but the Christians. How clever of Satan! If he can succeed in getting Christians to think Heaven is nothing more than melodic hymns and endless sermons, then there is no urgency to share the good news of Jesus Christ. Why tell someone about a God who can save them from hell only to send them to never ending boredom?
In his book “Mere Christianity” C.S. Lewis says “If you read history, you will find that the Christians who did most for the present world were just those who thought most of the next.”Perhaps Christians impact the world so little today because we think so little of Heaven. And when I say Heaven I mean our eternal place of existence. Where is it? In the cosmos? or the clouds? or beyond in a world unreachable?
By definition Heaven is the dwelling of God. Currently the world is separated from Heaven and God because of sin. Only through the work and person of Jesus Christ can we have access to God and therefore Heaven. When a person dies if they have professed Christ as their Lord and Savior they will go to be with God in Heaven. If they have not they will be forever separated from God in hell. If Heaven is the abode of God then hell is the absence of God. But the Scriptures tell us that one day God will once again dwell with man on earth. Revelation 21:3 says, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God.” Thus if Heaven is where God dwells and God is going to dwell on earth; a renewed, restored, redeemed earth, then the eternal Heaven will be on earth!
Revelation 21 describes a city on a new earth, the new Jerusalem, that has been freed of sin, death, sickness, pain, frustration, and struggle. It describes real walls and gates and measurements which pale in comparison to any city in existence today. Revelation 22 describes a river and a tree (the tree of life) that bears fruit every single month, whose leaves are for the healing of the nations. Isaiah 60 says nations will honor the new Jerusalem by bringing to it great riches. (Sidenote: Have you ever considered that there would be nations in Heaven??) God will dwell on earth and Christ will reign as King. Heaven and earth will unite when God makes his dwelling with man. How is this possible? By the resurrection and redemptive power of Jesus Christ.
Ephesians 1 speaks of a believer’s future redemption and says in v.10 that God’s plan from the beginning has been to “unite all things in him [Christ], things in heaven and things on earth.” But sin frustrated this plan, yet only for a time. God’s plan includes redemption not only for people but the earth as well. Romans 8 says creation is awaiting eagerly the day of redemption. “For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God” (v.20-21). The precious blood of Jesus has the power to not only cleanse people but the universe from sin, destruction, and evil. This is the full measure of Christ’s redemptive power. If the earth were to cease in existence it would be as if God had lost and Satan won, God’s plan thwarted, his hope of living with man impossible. But with God all things are possible. Acts 3:21 says for now Christ is in Heaven “until the time for restoring all the things about which God spoke by the mouth of the Holy prophets long ago.” Our God is in the business of restoring, redeeming, renewing, and reconciling. Those who have trusted in Christ for salvation will one day live on a “new earth” freed from its bondage to corruption. A resurrected people on a resurrected earth.
It will truly be Heaven on earth and monotony has no place in Heaven my friend. The wonderment of life will be continuously new (Rev. 21:5). Think what life today would be like without sin and death and you gain a clearer perspective of Heaven. No more cancer. No more aches and pains. No more war (only peace). The world longs for peace and doesn’t realize what it truly longs for is Heaven. No more disobedient children (Can I get an amen!). No more sleepless nights. No more heartache. No more battle with self will. No more uncomfortable weather. No more worry. No more strife. No more evil. Just pure living with pure motives in the presence of a Holy, Wonderful, Faithful, loving God. This my friend is worth telling people about! Life abundant just as Jesus promised. Peace on earth and goodwill toward men. Not floating in the clouds, or hovering over the cosmos. Not ghostlike bodies with a ghostlike existence. But life! Real abundant life on a renewed, beautiful, perfect earth as was the original plan.
So how do you secure this most excellent destiny? The eternal Heaven, life on the new earth, is not for “good” people. You can’t get there because of your good works. It’s not for people who go to church every Sunday. It’s not even for people who have knowledge of God, for even the demons believe there is a God (James 2:19). It’s for people who humble themselves before God, trusting in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ to save them from God’s wrath. Jesus said “I am the way, the truth, and the life, no one comes to the Father except through me.” You get there by simply placing your faith in Jesus Christ. Make Him LORD of your life; humble yourself before him; live for him; and one day He will lift you up! (see Isaiah 11, 25, 62, 65; Psalm 72; Zechariah 9; Amos 9 for further study)