It’s a common view that’s been around for a long time. It’s a wrong view of what heaven will be like. Most people believe that heaven is a place where our incorporeal selves will float around sitting on clouds with harps for all eternity. This is a very popular but very incorrect view of what heaven will be like. Hellenistic gnosticism was a view that taught that the physical was evil. That view is alive and well today. In fact, most funerals have a touch of gnostic heresy anytime you hear it said that the deceased never again has to deal with a physical body. While it’s true that they will never again have a sinful body of death, it’s not Biblical to discount the physical body as being absent in heaven. Scripture values the physical and so should we.
When God created the heavens and the earth He said it was good. After the Fall, God cursed man and as a result all creation also bears the sinful weight of the Fall. As Paul tells us, “the creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now.” (Romans 8:22) Paul expounds this thought that even creation eagerly awaits Christ’s return so that it too will be set free from corruption. (Rom. 8:21) You see, what God will do at the return of Christ is to create a new heaven and a new earth. At the return of Christ believers will receive new physical, glorified bodies like Christ’s resurrected body. (Philippians 3:20-21) We will live for eternity in physical bodies that will not die, have pain or injury. It’s a concept far above our finite minds to fully comprehend but something that we can so look forward to. We’ll live on a restored earth that is absent of sin. Again, something that I don’t think any of us can grasp. Not a second goes by that we are not affected by sin and its affects. To live without sin is something that we as believers long for and is truly too glorious for us to comprehend.
Now let’s take it a step further. We’ve established that heaven is an eternal state where believers are given new gloried bodies like Jesus’ resurrected body that will live forever on a new earth free from sin, death and Satan. Those are all wonderful benefits but the true wonder and beauty of heaven is that we will forever be in the unhindered presence of our God and Savior Jesus Christ. That is the number one reason why heaven is heavenly. John Piper posed a very striking question in one of his books asking, “would you be happy in heaven if Christ were not there?” Sadly, many are looking forward to seeing loved ones more than seeing Christ. Yes, there is wonderful joy in knowing that we will see our loved ones in Christ, but the ultimate joy far above our family is the joy of being in the presence of Christ for all eternity with a sweet fellowship that is sealed with the merits and righteousness of Christ.
Doctrine is vitally important. It’s not just for the theologians and scholars. Biblical doctrine is the responsibility and joy of every believer. Right doctrine produces right living and right thinking. This is especially important as we seek to be lights of Christ in a dark world and seek to live in a way that is pleasing to our Lord. While we’re on this topic of the new heaven and the new earth, it’s common for some believers who have a wrong view of heaven to imagine heaven to be boring. They may be imaging an eternity’s worth of harp playing on a cloud. But we know that the Scriptures teach otherwise. The Scriptures also teach us what we need to know about God. One of the things about God that overwhelms me is that He is infinite. He has no beginning and no end. No starting point in time and no ending point. He never diminishes nor ever will. This is truly beyond our comprehension. He is the Great I AM. While we truly cannot comprehend this attribute of God, it opens up a world of marvel when it comes to a taste of what heaven will be like.
It’s my humble opinion that one of the things that will make heaven so awesome is that we will spend all eternity in the presence of God and will never get to the end of Him. We are not timeless beings and it appears from Scripture that heaven will also be time-bound. (Revelation 22:2) We will experience time and every second that goes by we will continue to learn more and more about God. But there will never come a point in time – even in all eternity in heaven – that we will ever reach a point where we have exhausted everything there is about God. For every second that goes by we will still be learning and growing in our knowledge, awe and wonder of the one true triune God. No one will ever come up to you in the new heaven and earth and tell you that he’s figured God out.
As believers, think about how excited that you get when even after many years of being a Christian and reading the Scriptures that you learn something new about God. That excitement is battled through our indwelling sin. Now, imagine all eternity in the absence of sin and its hindrances to us constantly learning, marveling and studying our great God and never reaching the end of Him. As Paul tells us in his doxology at the end of Romans 11, He is truly unfathomable and unsearchable.
This is an encouragement for us to keep our mind on things above and not on things of the earth. Paul encourages us to set our mind on the things that are pure and lovely (Philippians 4:8) and there is absolutely nothing more pure and lovely than Christ. Let us look forward to heaven the way Scripture has taught us. Let us rejoice in Scripture’s most awesome description of heaven: “they will see His face.” (Revelation 22:4; emphasis mine)
Until that great day comes when Christ comes to collect His Bride, judge the world and restore the heavens and the earth, let us “lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith.” (Hebrews 12:1-2)
Soli Deo Gloria