Wednesday, March 3, 2010

What is Heaven?

As a novice blogger, I have decided to start a series of discussions over heaven. Nothing too deep. I just want to explore the topic and lay out my thoughts. I think about the topic often and therefore my next few posts will deal with this topic.

As Christians, when we study scripture, we often gravitate towards favorite passages or topics. Don't get me wrong. I explore all of the Bible, and it is all God's word and profitable in daily life. But there are certain topics I love to explore. Some of my favorites are Creation, the doctrine of election, justification, and atonement. But my favorite topic to explore is simply Heaven.

Do you ever find yourself stopping in the middle of the day, and for some reason you just feel homesick? You may have a great home, a wonderful spouse, amazing kids, but something inside you longs for another place. Well as Christians we can explain, although not fully, what this longing is. The Bible says that God put eternity in our hearts. In other words, deep down we know we were made to live forever. This happens to me often. I am blessed beyond measure. My wife is gorgeous. My job is great. My church family is amazing. But often I find myself longing for my true home. This brings about the question: What is Heaven?

The easy answer is that heaven is where God is. As Christians, we long to be with our Savior and Creator. Our true home is wherever He is. But my question deals with the physical realm of heaven itself. In later post I will discuss the King of heaven (Christ), New Jerusalem, and what will occupy us in heaven. For now I want to focus on the physical heaven or what Revelation 21 calls the New Creation.

Now I know the Bible refers to an intermediate heaven, or a place we go when we die as redeemed in Christ. Paul says to be absent from this body is to be with God. But the Bible doesn't give a lot of physical description of the intermediate heaven. It does in Rev. 21 describe for us the New Creation which will take place upon Christ's second coming and after the Great White Throne judgement.

Revelation 21:1 simply says that "I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away." So in other words, our earth will be remade and renewed. It is full of familiar things such as mountains, streams, lakes, prairies, valleys, and canyons, but they are new at the same time. Only heaven could be familiar and new at the same time. Wild huh? Everything we love about this earth, long walks in the forest, swimming in mountain streams, exploring vast terrains, will all be available on the new earth, but it will be better. We serve a God with a wild and vivid imagination, and I believe it will be on full display on the new earth.

In heaven, I imagine myself walking along mountain trails with colorful leaves scattered abroad. I picture vast forests to be explored, and breath-taking scenery all around all proclaiming the glory of the God who made it. I believe heaven will be teeming with awe and mystery and grandeur beyond our comprehension.

I know this is but a brief explanation of the physical qualities of heaven. But words can hardly describe the home I long for. But because of Christ, I know all the mystery surrounding our eternal home will one day be revealed. Praise him for that.

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