The Christian Revelations of Heaven

According to the book of Matthew, as soon as Jesus was baptized by John, he began preaching about a new era for mankind, entry into the kingdom of the heavens:

“From that time on Jesus began to preach, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.’”
– Matthew 4:17

“Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness among the people.”
– Matthew 4:23

In his first major sermon, called the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus informed us of the invitation to enter into the kingdom of heavens:

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”
– Matthew 5:3-12

“For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.”
– Matthew 5:20

“But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.”
– Matthew 5:44-45

“Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”
– Matthew 5:48

This was an unusual message.  Never before had mankind been told that they would see God, that the heavens would belong to them, that they would be, not mere slaves or servants of God, but children of God, and that they would be able to enter into the kingdom of the heavens!  

For the next few years, Jesus continued to elevate man’s dignity.  Specifically, he taught them to refer to God, not by name, but by relationship – as Father  – as would any loving child. 

“This, then, is how you should pray: ‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.’ For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.”
– Matthew 6:9-15

The Apostle Paul reiterated this:

“For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.”
– Romans 8:14-16

“Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.” So you are no longer a slave, but God’s child; and since you are his child, God has made you also an heir.”
– Galatians 4:6-7

As children and heirs, we inherit our Father’s belongings – including a heavenly kingdom:

“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.”
– Matthew 25:34

We think, too, how vast the physical heavens are.  Surely the spiritual heavens are even grander!  Since we learn that the Father is “[a God], not of disorder, but of peace” (1 Corinthians 14:33), there is likely great order in the heavens – a vast spiritual organization.  We will need to become familiar with the workings of the heavens and the various personalities that act in administrative capacities.  It is not likely that they will all speak in one of the languages of man on earth.  1 Corinthians 13:1 refers to ‘the tongues of angels.’  Perhaps we will need to learn several new languages in order to communicate in our new world. So it is likely that there would be organized schools of learning!

Obviously, in order to inherit and enter into the heavenly kingdom, we will need to shed our fleshly bodies and be given new bodies to maneuver our new heavenly existence:  

“I declare to you, brothers and sisters, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed—in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality.”
– 1 Corinthians 15:50-53

“So will it 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.”
– 1 Corinthians 15:42-44

When the scriptures say that we are raised up a spiritual body, we believe the “raising” is a process that leads to the ultimate outcome – spiritual existence.  In other words, we believe that after death, there is more work that must be done before we attain spirit bodies.  We base that assumption on the fact that at death, most of us have not perfected our faith or our personalities, whereas Jesus is referred to as “the pioneer and perfecter of faith.” (Hebrews 12:2).  Further, we have not yet fully complied with the mandate:

“Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”
– Matthew 5:48

Also, many die as infants or young children, before they have an opportunity to even learn about God.  Many die as adolescents who did not have the maturity to make a decision to do the Father’s will.  Many die as adults who were in the process of perfecting their faith.  We suspect few die as did the Christ in spiritual perfection and thus able to appear in the spiritual heavens before the Father:

“For Christ did not enter a sanctuary made with human hands that was only a copy of the true one; he entered heaven itself, now to appear for us in God’s presence.”
– Hebrews 9:24

Even Christ did not immediately appear before the Father after his resurrection:

“Jesus said, “Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’”
– John 20:17

He did not make that journey into the “height of heavens” until 40 days after his resurrection.  This leads us to the scripture that seems to indicate there would be a series of translations from one type of body to another before we attain to the Father:

“And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.”
– 2 Corinthians 3:18

Other translations render this phrase as “from glory to glory” (MEV)“from one degree of glory to another” (NRSV)“we become more and more like him.” (TLB)

We also wonder about Jesus words with reference to the structures in the heavens:

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.”
– John 14:1-4

In the next article, we will speculate about what these “rooms” could be. But what about the landscape?  We are familiar with the Garden of Eden on earth, but what of “the paradise of God?” (Revelation 2:7) Is it also a garden?  If so, what would it look like?  We are told that we will have experiences that we can not even imagine:

“However, as it is written: ‘What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived’—the things God has prepared for those who love him.”
–1 Corinthians 2:9

While there will obviously be many, many things we cannot even conceive of, why not try?  It is in our make-up to wonder about those things.  We are told:

“He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.”
– Ecclesiastes 3:11

We are designed to want to know everything.  We are created with a mind that craves more – more understanding, more knowledge, more experiences.  We are not designed to reach a point of perfection and stop.  We have eternity in our minds!  Therefore, there can be no end to our contemplations!  So let’s engage in some wholesome speculations about the heavenly hope in our next few articles that contemplate heavenly life.


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