What is Heaven?

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Heaven

Heaven is a term in the Bible which describes three different spheres of existence.
The word “heaven” sometimes refers to the atmosphere surrounding the earth.

Other times it refers to outer space where the other planets are.

Lastly, Heaven is described as the dwelling place of God and those beings who live with Him.

This is the Heaven we will be discussing.

It is the place where those who are not destined for Hell will live after death.

 

In the New Testament scripture it is clearly described as an actual place, and not a state of mind or being.

Other terms used in the Bible to describe Heaven include:

  • The Kingdom of God (Ephesians 5:5)
  • The Father’s house (John 14:2)
  • A heavenly country (Hebrews 11:16)
  • A place of rest from labors (Revelation 14:13)
  • Paradise (2 Corinthians 12:4)

 

What is Hell?

There are three Greek words which are translated “Hell” in the King James Bible.

One is the Greek word “Tartaroo” which refers to a place where angels who have sinned are now confined.

For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but sent them to hell,putting them in chains of darknessto be held for judgment…” (2 Peter 2:4)

 

The other words are “Hades” and Gehenna,” which both refer to the place where the souls of the unrighteous go.

Hades is not a permanent place, and one day those souls who are in Hades will be cast into Hell or what is also called “the lake of fire.”

“Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death.” (Revelation 20:14)

 

The souls in Hades will never enter Heaven, but are destined for eventual consignment to Hell, as both of these places together make up the eternal living quarters for those who are not going to Heaven.

Does Life Continue After Death?

The Bible teaches that life continues after the physical death of the body.

God created man with a natural, temporal body and an eternal soul.

The soul of man consists of who we really are.

It is the center of our mind, will and emotions.

Scripture teaches that life is eternal.

“And this is what he promised us—eternal life.”(1 John 2:25)

 

“in the hope of eternal life, which God, who does not lie, promised before the beginning of time.” (Titus 1:2)

 

“For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands.” (2 Corinthians 5:1)

 

Do some souls cease to exist?

There are some who believe that the souls of those who do not go to Heaven will be annihilated or cease to exist.

The Bible clearly indicates that this is not so.

The soul is eternal, and will spend eternity either in Heaven or in Hell.

“10 And the devil, who deceived them, was thrown into the lake of burning sulfur, where the beast and the false prophet had been thrown. They will be tormented day and night for ever and ever.

15 Anyone whose name was not found written in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire.” (Revelation 20:10, 15)

 

And the smoke of their torment will rise for ever and ever. There will be no rest day or night for those who worship the beast and its image, or for anyone who receives the mark of its name.” (Revelation 14:11)

 

“Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.” (Matthew 25:46)

 

Is there A purgatory?

Some people believe that the soul of man goes to an intermediate place between Heaven and Hell called purgatory.

It is believed that in this place the soul goes through a fiery purging to make it pure enough to enter Heaven later on.

There is not, however, any evidence of such a place described in the Bible.

 

Purgatory is an idea invented by some men and a place that exists only in the imagination.

The Bible does speak of a place called Hades where the souls of those who will not go to Heaven are held until they are finally judged.

This Hades however differs greatly from purgatory in that people in Hades will never go to Heaven.

“And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been set in place, so that those who want to go from here to you cannot, nor can anyone cross over from there to us.” (Luke 16:26)

 

It is not a place where people can be delivered from sins, as there is only one method for dealing with sins ever mentioned in the Bible.

“But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.” (1 John 1:7)

 

The concept of purgatory is not biblical, and those who plan to go there will be severely disappointed.

 

What is Heaven like?

The Bible refers to Heaven as being above the world, in that God looks down upon the earth.

When Jesus left this earth He was received “up into Heaven.”

“After the Lord Jesus had spoken to them, he was taken up into heaven and he sat at the right hand of God.” (Mark 16:19)

 

It is also described as a place where nothing can be corrupted or stolen.

“But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.” (Matthew 6:20)

 

It is a place where no one dies any more.

“and they can no longer die; for they are like the angels. They are God’s children, since they are children of the resurrection.” (Luke 20:36)

 

It is described as a better and everlasting possession.

“You suffered along with those in prison and joyfully accepted the confiscation of your property, because you knew that you yourselves had better and lasting possessions.” (Hebrews 10:34)

 

Those living there have no hunger, thirst or sorrow.

Never again will they hunger; never again will they thirst. The sun will not beat down on them,’nor any scorching heat. For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd; he will lead them to springs of living water. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.” (Revelations 7:16, 17)

 

It is the place that God has called His throne, where all are in subjection to Him.

“This is what the Lord says: ‘Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool. Where is the house you will build for me? Where will my resting place be?'” (Isaiah 66:1)

 

Heaven is clearly described in the Bible as an actual place.

It is not a feeling or a state of mind.

When people refer to Heaven as being on earth they are partially correct in that we can experience a personal relationship with God while we are still alive.

This is experiencing some of what is in store for those who will go to Heaven when they die.

 

What is Hell like?

The Bible speaks a great deal about Hell.

It is a place that the devil and demons inhabit.

“Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.'” (Matthew 25:41)

 

It is such an awful place to be, that Jesus said it would be better to cut off your hand or gouge out your eye rather than go there.

There is crying.

“Then the king told the attendants, ‘Tie him hand and foot, and throw him outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’” (Matthew 22:13)

 

There is total darkness in Hell.

“And throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” (Matthew 25: 30)

 

It is described as a lake made up of fire and brimstone.

“But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars—they will be consigned to the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.” (Revelation 21:8)

 

The fire in Hell is cannot be put out and causes intense pain and agony.

“… and throw them into the blazing furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” (Matthew 13: 50)

 

It is true that people can partially experience Hell on earth.

Those who live in rebellion against God and His ways do experience to a small degree some of the things that those in Hell are suffering.

This experience is however, only a slight foretaste of the miseries that the occupants of Hell experience forever.

 

Is reincarnation real?

Nowhere in the Bible is reincarnation taught.

 

The Scripture declares that,

“Just as people are destined to die once, and after that to face judgment…” (Hebrews 9:27)

 

Reincarnation teaches that when a person dies, his soul goes to live in a new body that is being born, and that this process repeats itself over and over again, until one reaches a holier state.

This belief of Hinduism teaches that how we live our life determines the Karmic debt that we must pay off in the next life.

 

The basic idea is that we are stuck on an endless wheel of life, death, and reincarnation. 

Until we improve our state through many thousands of lives.

The Bible does agree that men are not good and that they live under a sin debt.

It differs, however, in declaring that grace and forgiveness come through Jesus Christ who has made it possible to be freed from that debt.

It also teaches that we only have one life in which to receive the forgiveness of our debt to sin.

 

What are the conditions of those in Heaven?

  • Those in heaven are in the presence of Jesus.

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. 2 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? 3 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.” (John 14:1-3)

 

  • They experience great happiness

“You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.” (Psalm 16:11)

 

  • They receive rewards there

“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 5:12)

 

“If what has been built survives, the builder will receive a reward.” (1 Corinthians 3:14)

 

“The nations were angry, and your wrath has come. The time has come for judging the dead, and for rewarding your servants the prophets and your people who revere your name, both great and small—and for destroying those who destroy the earth.” (Revelation 11:18)

 

“Jesus answered, ‘If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.’” (Matthew 19:21)

 

  • They will live with God forever

… and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you.” (1 Peter 1:4)

 

“After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever.” (1 Thessalonians 4:17)

 

What are the conditions of those in Hell?

“… and throw them into the blazing furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” (Matthew 13:50)

 

“In Hades, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side.” (Luke 16:23)

 

  • They are burned with fire

“…  and throw them into the blazing furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” (Matthew 13:50)

 

“Anyone whose name was not found written in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire.” (Revelation 20:15)

 

  • They experience great remorse

“But Abraham replied, ‘Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in agony.'” (Luke 16:25)

 

Those souls dammed to Hell are able to remember what happened during their lifetimes.

In the account Jesus gave of an individual in Hades (Luke 16), the man was able to remember what things he owned during his life, as well as the fact that he still had five brothers who had not yet died.

He desired to go and warn his five brothers about Hell but was unable to.

He also felt much grief over the way he lived while he was on earth.

 

  • The agony and pain lasts forever

“Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.'” (Matthew 25:41)

 

  • Many of them are surprised they were sent to Hell

“21 Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ 23 Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’” (Matthew 7:21-23)

 

Who will be in Heaven?

There will be people in Heaven from every nationality and language group.

“After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands.” (Revelation 7:9)

 

No one in Heaven will deserve to be there as a result of any merit of his own.

“for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God…” (Romans 3:23)

 

“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in[a] Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:23)

 

Because of this fact there will not be anyone boasting that he or she had earned the right to live in Heaven.

“8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9)

 

“16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)

 

The people who will live in Heaven will be full of gratitude to God for being allowed to live in His presence eternally.

 

Who will be in Hell?

A great deal of people will be in Hell.

They will come from every background, society, religion, and culture.

Among their numbers will include those who the Bible describes as:

 

Those who do not know God.

Those who do not obey the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

“8 He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus.” (2 Thessalonians 1:8)

 

The wicked.

“The wicked go down to the realm of the dead, all the nations that forget God.” (Psalm 9:17)

 

How to go to Heaven

There is clearly only one way that is available to go to Heaven:

“Jesus replied, ‘Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.’” (John 3:3)

 

“16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)

 

“Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.'” (John 14:6)

 

Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.” (John 17:3)

 

“They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household.” (Acts 16:31)

 

 

Don’t choose Hell

God never meant for you to go to Hell.

Hell was prepared originally for the devil and his demons.

Jesus not only warned you about Hell, but He died on the cross and paid a tremendous price in suffering to keep you out of hell.

Do not neglect the salvation He offers to you freely.

Do not delay to receive His free gift of eternal life, as none of us know when it will be our turn to die.

If you make no decision to choose Jesus and Heaven, then in reality, Hell will be your eternal home.

 

Choosing Heaven means choosing to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

Such a relationship brings a foretaste of Heaven in this life, and an eternity of happiness.

Make your decision for Heaven now, by praying a prayer to receive the free gift of eternal life.

“Lord Jesus, I want to receive the gift of eternal life you bought for me when you died on the cross and rose again. In gratitude, I will live my life the way you want me to. Amen.”

 

This sermon was preached by Pastor Elio Marrocco at New Life Christian Church on August 17, 2014.

Image source: Daniela Hartmann