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I saw this post and had to reprint it here for those that actually read this blog. Being in seminary, I often find myself slipping into a few dozen or so of these habits every day. Thanks to Derek  for bringing me back to center on my need to not waste my education.

How to Waste Your Theological Education

Posted on May 14, 2008 by Derek

1. Cultivate pride by writing only to impress your professors instead of writing to better understand and more clearly communicate truth.

2. Perfect the fine art of corner-cutting by not really researching for a paper but instead writing your uneducated and unsubstantiated opinions and filling them in with strategically placed footnotes.

3. Mistake the amount of education you receive with the actual knowledge you obtain. Keep telling yourself, “I’ll really start learning this stuff when I do my Th.M or my Ph.D.”

4. Nurture an attitude of superiority, competition, and condescension toward fellow seminary students. Secretly speak ill of them with friends and with your spouse.

5. Regularly question the wisdom and competency of your professors. Find ways to disrespect your professors by questioning them publicly in class and by trying to make them look foolish.

6. Neglect personal worship, Bible reading and prayer.

7. Don’t evangelize your neighbors.

8. Practice misquoting and misrepresenting positions and ideas you don’t agree with. Be lazy and don’t attempt to understand opposing views; instead, nurse your prejudices and exalt your opinions by superficial reading and listening.

9. Give your opinion as often as possible – especially in class. Ask questions that show off your knowledge instead of questions that demonstrate a genuine inquiry.

10. Speak of heretical movements, teachers, and doctrine with an air of disdain and levity.

11. Find better things to do than serve in your local church.

12. Fill your life with questionable movies, television, internet, and music.

13. Set aside fellowship and accountability with fellow brothers in Christ.

14. Let your study of divine things become dull, boring, lifeless, and mundane.

15. Chip away at your integrity by signing your school’s covenant and then breaking it under the delusion that, “Those rules are legalistic anyway.”

16. Don’t read to learn; read only to refute what you believe is wrong.

17. Convince yourself that you already know all this stuff.

18. Just study. Don’t exercise, spend time with your family, or work.

19. Save major papers for the last possible moment so that you can ensure that you don’t really learn anything by writing them.

20. Don’t waste your time forming friendships with your professors and those older and wiser than you.

21. Make the mistake of thinking that your education guarantees your success in ministry.

22. Don’t study devotionally. You’ll never make it as a big time scholar if you do that. Scholars need to be cool, detached, and unbiased – certainly not Jesus freaks.

23. Day dream about future opportunities to the point that you get nothing out of your current opportunity to learn God’s Word.

24. Do other things while in class instead of listening – like homework, scheduling, letter-writing, and email.

25. Spend more time blogging than studying.

26. Avoid chapel and other opportunities for corporate worship.

27. Argue angrily with those who don’t see things your way. Whatever you do, don’t read and meditate on II Timothy 2:24-26 and James 3:13-18 as you prepare for ministry.

28. Set your hopes on an easy, cushy pastorate for when you graduate. Determine now not to obey God when he calls you to serve in a difficult church.

29. Look forward to the day when you won’t have to concern yourself with all this theology and when you will be able to just “preach Jesus.”

30. Forget that your primary responsibility is care for your family through provision, shepherding, and leadership.

31. Master Calvin, Owen, and Edwards, but not the Law, Prophets, and Apostles.

32. Gain knowledge in order to merely teach others. Don’t expend the effort it takes to deal with your own heart.

33. Pick apart your pastor’s sermons every week. Only point out his mistakes and his poor theological reasoning so you don’t have to be convicted by anything he says.

34. Protect yourself from real fellowship by only talking about theology and never about your personal spiritual issues, sin, and struggles.

35. Comfort yourself with the delusion that you will start seriously dealing with sin as soon as you become a pastor; right now it’s not really that big a deal.

36. Don’t serve the poor, visit the sick, or care for widows and orphans – save that stuff for the uneducated, non-seminary trained, lay Christians.

37. Keep telling yourself that you want to preach, but don’t ever seek opportunities to preach, especially at local rescue missions and nursing homes. Wait until your church candidacy to preach your first sermon.

38. Let envy keep you from profiting from sermons preached by fellow students.

39. Resent behind-the-scenes, unrecognized service. Only serve in areas where you are sure you will receive praise and accolades.

40. Appear spiritual and knowledgeable at all costs. Don’t let others see your imperfections and ignorance, even if it means you have to lie.

41. Love books and theology and ministry more than the Lord Jesus Christ.

42. Let your passion for the gospel be replaced by passion for complex doctrinal speculation.

43. Become angry, resentful and devastated when you receive something less than an A.

44. Let your excitement for ministry increase or decrease in direct proportion to the accolades or criticisms you receive from your professors.

45. Don’t really try to learn the languages – let Bible Works do all the work for you.

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Not really a life changing post here, just wanted to tell about a steal I got on an ESV bible yesterday. I was at Mardel’s (Christian Booksupplies store) and cruising the bargain bin when what do my wandering eyes peruse upon but an ESV Black Genuine Leather Wide Margin Reference Bible. Of Course, I thought “oh on sale, it will still be like $50 bucks”. So, I pick it up and it has a blue sticker on it which means ….(drum roll)…$15.00!!!

That’s right this Bible that normally resales for $70, I got for $15.00! I rejoiced with great rejoicing at finding such a great deal.

You cannot be Christ’s servant if you are not willing to follow him, cross and all. What do you crave? A crown? Then it must be a crown of thorns if you are to be like him. Do you want to be lifted up? So you shall, but it will be upon a cross.


All the flowers of the field, and many of the beasts of the plain, and now the very orbs of heaven, are turned into metaphors and symbols by which the glory of Jesus may be manifested to us. Where God takes such pains to teach, we ought to be at pains to learn.


He cannot be a disciple who does not learn, but invents.

Conversion , to me, simply involves the turning from one way to another. In general terms this could mean within my mundane, everyday life. For example, changing my mind on whether I like peanut butter and jelly sandwiches one day and then simply appalling them the next. In effect, I have had a conversion of thought and belief on my stance of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. What I used to like, now no longer has any meaning to me and is actually something I do not want in my life at all.

In regards to my faith, conversion may follow the same line of thinking. Conversion is the process whereby I exchange my own ideas of living for those of God’s. In a sense, one could say conversion involves a change of appetite to what one desires to feed the soul on.

Conversion for me also involves the idea of reform. When I converted to Christianity, I instantly experienced the grace of God and received salvation. However, the process of being fully converted to Christian beliefs and practices was not fully ripe. I had growing to do “in Christ” and “with Christ”.  This growing or coming to fruition in Christ is the reform/reformation part of conversion. It is during this conversion phase that Christians begin and cultivate the spiritual life. Henri Nouwen says that “Such a conversion may be marked by a sudden inner change, or it can take place through a long, quiet process of transformation.” The important message of that statement by Nouwen is that a reformation of the mind, heart and soul is a key factor or indicator in conversion. While one person may do this instantly and dramatically, for others (like myself), it is something that must be molded and shaped and grafted into us by God Himself.

So, for me conversion is both instantaneous and progressively reformational. It is instantaneous at the moment of salvation. In that one decision, we decide to throw off the old self and become a new man in Christ. It is progressively reformational in the fact that when we become that new man, we must relearn who we are. This is done in the cultivation and renewing of the spiritual life.

I am a follower of Tony Reinke’s blog, Miscellanies. Reinke is CJ Mahaney’s assistant and fellow traveler along the journey of faith. His site is very edifying not only in content but also in the fact that he is just a regular guy like you and me trying to live out his faith in the most genuine and God glorifying way.

I ran across one post of his from April 19, 2007 where he speaks about Mark Dever’s yearly reading schedule. Dever has termed it his “Canon of Theologians”. Basically these are the theologians he reads throughout the year. Each month he reads someone different and then repeats the cycle yearly.

I was intrigued and decided to develop my own “Canon”. I think following this schedule will keep me in the company of Godly men. Below is my personal version. What will yours look like?

September Francis Schaeffer
October B.B. Warfield
November Martin Lloyd-Jones
December C.S. Lewis/ George Ladd
January Francis Turretin
February John Piper
March Jonathan Edwards
April Thomas Goodwin
May William Perkins
June C.H. Spurgeon
July Augustine
August John Owen

THE BELIEVER AND HEAVEN

Heaven, though real and important to the study and purpose of Eschatology, will not find meaning in the believer’s life if it does find application as well. Heaven can not just be an idea or a set of facts that the believer knows, it must be a part of him that effects and causes change in his walk with Christ. Heaven not only has implications for the believer while he is alive but also provides allusions as to what the future has in store. Heaven is the storehouse of hopes for the believer. C.S. Lewis’ hope in Heaven was so strong that this world seemed to him to be only a shadow of the one to come. His conviction did not diminish the importance of this world; it provided hope that in the future one day he would be with God and know as he was known. For Lewis, the greatest of human events on earth will pale in comparison to the life of the believer in Heaven.[1] Heaven offers the hope that God is not done with humanity yet and that a brighter future lays ahead for those who believe and trust in Him. Perhaps, the greatest of all the glories to be revealed in Heaven, for man, will be to see what God will make of him. When the believer is completely immersed in the presence of God, the process of becoming who he really is, which started on Earth, will find its completion in Heaven.[2]

Yet as stated earlier, Heaven is and will be occupied with saints. With that thought in mind, one naturally begins to wonder, “What is heavenly life like?” and “What marks the difference between this life and the next to follow?” Scripture reveals the answer to these questions. Upon study of Scripture, one can see that first of all the believer will be clothed with immortality and incorruptibleness. 1 Corinthians 15:54 testifies that Christ’s victory over death assures the believer of an eternal life freed from the corruption he experienced on earth. Both immortality and incorruptibleness speak indirectly of the state of the believer’s body; namely that he will have a glorified body. This new body will be prepared for and sustained in the heavenly life to come. The glorified body will be free from sickness, sin, and misery only to be replaced with impregnable health and a continual refreshing by the all sufficient spirit of the living God.[3] Yet, even as the believer in heaven will exist in an entirely new way, i.e. the glorified body, he will still remain human. The new being in Heaven will not strip himself wholly of his humanity or human experience. The proof of this statement comes from the observation of the resurrected body of Christ. Christ, after His resurrection, lived for forty days upon the earth in the human body which he also ascended to Heaven in. Just as Christ was not a ghost, neither will man be a ghost in Heaven. Christ could move and see and hear and taste and touch just as before, so too will the bodies that will occupy Heaven not only continue but will transcend the use of their earthly faculties. Thus, the heavenly life will be full of sensory living.[4]

A further consideration of the effect of Heaven upon the believer before death is the consideration of activity in Heaven. The Bible speaks of each believer being given either a little or a large amount of responsibility in Heaven based upon the degree of faithfulness he had while on earth. While the Bible does not promote salvation by works, it does promote works as a result of salvation.[5] The amount of work that each believer did for the Kingdom of Heaven while on earth, will determine the level of governmental responsibility that person will have. Luke 19:17 and 25:20-21 show Jesus revealing this exact idea. The servant who was faithful in a small way will be given less authority than the one who was “aggressive” for the Kingdom.[6]

Much also has been said of some of the other “occupations” of the saints in Heaven. For example, Revelation 22:3 displays that a key motivation to life in Heaven will be service to the King. Service will involve activities similar to that of services carried out within house of God, the temple and in the church.[7] The New Testament also speaks repeatedly of the fellowship that believers will enjoy in Heaven. References found in Hebrews 12:23 and Revelation 19:19, hint at the life shared in God which will result in stronger and deeper relationships with fellow believers, that may have been marred while on earth due to both lack of total commitment to God and because of sin still being a part of the believer’s nature. A third idea of heavenly life will be that of rest. As stated earlier, it will not be a life of rest from work, but rather a life of rest in work. It will be work that has not been tainted by the disease and corruption of sin. Lastly, but perhaps most importantly, life in Heaven will be characterized by worship of God.  The first and greatest activity that the redeemed will be engaged in is that of worship.[8] Revelation 19:1-8 give a taste of what this worship will be like. All the various groups that will compose Heaven, the elders, the angels and the redeemed, will share in this same activity and many of the passages within the book of Psalms, namely 29:2; 95:6; 96:9; 132:7, will find their fulfillment and completion in Heaven.[9]

The life of the believer in Heaven will be beyond all imagination. While Scripture reveals what this life may look like, man is limited in his appreciation of it due to his fallen and imperfect state. But, the hope of Heaven provides a sure groundwork for all to grasp onto and strive toward.

CONCLUSIONs.

Heaven is a real place where the one true God has chosen to dwell. From there He has communicated with man, but the communication has not always been the best and the vision is as though “looking through a glass darkly”. Yet, it will not always be this way. Heaven offers hope to the believer that someday he will know God completely and live in perfect fellowship with Him and fellow believers. Jonathan Edwards remarked that to be made fit for Heaven is to have one’s heart in Heaven. He elaborated on this statement by saying that men’s hearts being in Heaven implies four things: that their thoughts, their choices, their affections and their dependence are there.[10] In essence, when man comes to a healthy view of Heaven and focuses upon that, every thought, action and deed is taken captive by it and given over to it. When this happens, man does the greatest thing he possibly can; he brings glory to God, the creator of Heaven and Earth.


[1] Terry Glaspey. C.S. Lewis: His Life and Thought. (Edison: Inspirational Press, 1996), 172.

[2] Ibid. 172.

[3] Robert Bolton. Four Last Things: Death, Judgment, Hell and Heaven. (Pittsburgh: Soli Deo Gloria Publications, 1994), 106-107.

[4] Ulrich Simon. Heaven in the Christian Tradition. (New York: Harper, 1958), 222.

[5] James 2:14-26 speaks most powerfully on this theme. While James is not saying salvation is by what man can do, he does speak volumes on the implications that salvation is to have on a believer’s life. Namely, the believer is to live completely for God. A life of faith without good works is a broken faith. Believers are to be Christ’s hands and feet as well as His mouthpiece.

[6] Walter Elwell. The Evangelical Dictionary of Theology. (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 2001). 542.

[7] Wilbur Smith. The Biblical Doctrine of Heaven. (Chicago: Moody Press, 1968), 192.

[8] Ibid. 190.

[9] Ibid. 191.

[10] John Gerstner. Jonathan Edwards on Heaven and Hell. (Morgan: Soli Deo Gloria Pub., 1998), 9.

GOD’S PURPOSE IN CREATING HEAVEN

God does not act or move without purpose. His words are not spoken in vain. Therefore, one can assume that God moved with purpose in the creation of Heaven. So far, Heaven has been seen as the fullest manifestation of God’s grace and blessing and the place where God has revealed that He has set His throne. It is the “dwelling” place of God that reaches beyond human imagination and expectation. And yet, one begs to ask the question, why did God need to create a Heaven for Himself? Since God is spirit and not confined to one place, like man, why did He choose to create such an existence?

Jonathan Edwards has suggested that in order to see the importance and purpose of Heaven, one must look at the despondency of Hell as well. He says that if God’s greatest end is to manifest His glory for all of creation to see, than Heaven is by far the pinnacle of that achievement. He ponders where else could God’s glory be more marvelous and resplendent than there? Edwards states that while Hell is aware of God’s glory, it is more indirect and “strange”. Hell is and will be used by the saints in Heaven to give God even more glory as they probe what a gracious and awesome God He is. Heaven, says Edwards, will be where God’s true glory is realized in and by the occupants thereof. The purpose therefore, of Heaven is that there can be no greater display of glory, there can be no higher end than to marvel at it.[1]

One can also view the purpose of Heaven as the consummation of Kingdom living. When Jesus announced the Kingdom, He announced a way of living radical and revolutionary to the order of the world. This Kingdom life, which is most fully realized in Heaven among God, turned out to be a direct contradiction to the customs and institutions of man.[2] Jesus’ first words as He began His ministry stressed the immediacy and uniqueness of Heaven. Matthew 4:17 records Jesus saying, “Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.” As stated early, the Kingdom of Heaven was at the forefront of Jesus’ ministry, thought and actions. Bringing people into Kingdom living was His greatest concern for His ministry. The reader gets a brief, yet appetizing, glimpse into life within the Kingdom just a few verses later as Jesus preaches the Sermon on the Mount. The Sermon on the Mount paints a picture so radically different from the way things were and are that its message continues to shock its hearers. The sermon was a primer on what Heaven will be like and what the occupants can expect and hope for. The sermon was the groundwork and basis for not only the rest of the teachings of the New Testament but it was also the elaboration of and perfection what Christ called His “new commandment”.[3] This commandment was of course that believers love God and each other even as Christ has loved them. The sermon can be seen as a grand elaboration of the purpose of Heaven, namely reveling in and displaying God’s love and glory.[4]

A third reason why Heaven exists is as a reward for those who faithfully follow God during life on Earth. Perhaps a better way of explaining this purpose would be to say that in Heaven, God is most clearly understood and communicates the clearest. The puritan pastor and theologian, Robert Bolton, in contemplating why God would create Heaven when it was clearly not needed remarked:

God was therefore a heaven to Himself (before creation). But when he pleased, he created the world, that in so large and goodly a theatre he might declare and convey his power, goodness, and bounty, some way or other, to all creatures. Especially, he prepared this glorious heaven we speak of, not that it might enclose or enlarge his happiness, but that he might unspeakably beautify and irradiate it with the inconceivable splendor of his majesty and glory, and so communicate himself beatifically to all the elect, saints and angels, even for ever and ever.[5]

Bolton also remarks that no natural knowledge of such a place as Heaven could be unearthed by human arts, reason or logic. Instead, all the knowledge that has been revealed is divine in origination and is meant to assure the believer of eternal happiness, in spite of present circumstances, and that God will be present with those whom He loves.[6] Revelation 21 describes the place that God has prepared for His believers. Verses two through four speak that God has built and created Heaven so that God’s people will most fully know Him and He will most fully know them. All that was known of life will pass away, only to be replaced by the ways of Heaven. The life God intended will become the life lived out. God will be heard and understood clearly and the occupants of Heaven will live to do His will perfectly.

In summary, the purpose and creation of Heaven revolves around three ideas. First, Heaven will be the consummation and pinnacle of God’s glory revealed. Secondly, it will be where the life and ministry of Jesus will be fully realized. The ethics and principles of the Kingdom of God will become the norm and man will be changed to do God’s will, not his own. Finally, Heaven is where God will speak and communicate with His people and they will understand without any hesitation or hindrance. Not only will they understand, but they will purposefully live to enact and do His will.


[1] John Gerstner. Jonathan Edwards on Heaven and Hell. (Morgan: Soli Deo Gloria Pub., 1998), 41. The paragraph above is a summary of Edwards’ view on why a believer must realize that God’s glory is displayed by looking at both Heaven and Hell and then seeing the awesome wonder of Heaven as the crown jewel of God’s glory.

[2] Ulrich Simon. Heaven in the Christian Tradition. (New York: Harper, 1958), 177.

[3] D. Martin Lloyd-Jones. Studies in the Sermon on the Mount. (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1971), 15.

[4] Ibid. 16.

[5] Robert Bolton. The Four Last Things: Death, Judgment, Hell and Heaven. (Pittsburgh: Soli Deo Gloria Publications, 1994), 96-97.

[6] Ibid. 98-99.

I saw this post from Desiring God regarding what a church should look for when searching out a leader. I think the true description of what God wants is best found in the Spirit saturated pages of the Bible. So often the church becomes prey to the latest fashions and fads and ends up being run like a corporation. We search for the coolest programs and the best way to reach that generation of seekers. More often than not, that means finding someone hip and modern instead of biblical and grounded. I appreciate this post not only for its implications for pastors, but also for lay leadership.

What Kind of Men Are You Looking For?

Posted: 08 Aug 2009 05:50 AM PDT

(Author: Lukas Naugle)

“Seeking creative-types who want to reach out to a culturally diverse and post-denominational world.”

I read this advertisement today from a seminary. I asked myself, “If I was a seminary recruiter what kind of man would I be looking to train to teach and lead the church of the future?”

Does the church need self-labeled creative-types in leadership? What is a creative-type?

Do they have a mac? Do they have messy hair? Do they not tuck their shirt in? Do they create something? Are they the ones who appreciate all kinds of art? Are they entrepreneurial? Do they have a reputation for bucking the establishment?

If we were to look to God’s Word about this, especially 1 Timothy 3:1-8 and 2 Timothy 2:2, we would find descriptors like:

  • above reproach
  • husband of one wife
  • sober-minded
  • self-controlled
  • respectable
  • hospitable
  • able to teach
  • not a drunkard
  • not violent but gentle
  • not quarrelsome
  • not a lover of money
  • manage his household well
  • not a recent convert
  • well thought of by outsiders
  • dignified
  • not double-tongued
  • faithful

Whether we think of ourselves as a creative-type or not, my hope is that all men who aspire to leadership in the church would desire the label of man of God (1 Tim. 6:11), workers for your joy (2 Cor. 1:24), servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God (1 Cor. 4:1), men of sincerity (2 Cor. 2:17).

http://www.desiringgod.org/Blog/1946_what_kind_of_men_are_you_looking_for/

WHERE HEAVEN IS

Biblically, Heaven can take on at least three meanings but when viewed in the sense of being God’s abode, the question that naturally comes to mind is, “Where then, does God live?” Can a telescope find Heaven or is it purely a spiritual existence, a state of mind? Thomas A Kempis referred to Heaven as the believer’s native land. He submits for consideration that the believer is but a pilgrim on a journey through his lifetime, banished in his mortal body and ever striving and seeking toward that final destination of Heaven, which is the believer’s true home.[1] There are several reasons to believe that Heaven is a real place that physically exists, but perhaps the best reason is because of Jesus.

Outside the Evangelical world, the claim of Heaven’s physical existence is continuously denied, mainly because its existence can only be verified and known from the testimony of Scripture.[2] Of all the testimony of Scripture, Jesus provides the strongest proof. Jesus’ ascension may be one of the loudest proclamations for Heaven. The reader can see from Acts 1:9 that as Jesus’ disciples (apostles) watched, He was lifted up and the cloud took Him out of their sight. Acts 1:11 also states that the angels speak to these same disciples claiming “This Jesus, who was taken up from you into Heaven…” Both of these passages clearly show that Jesus ascended to some place. From the testimony of the angels, this place is Heaven. Additionally, John 14:1-3 shows Jesus speaking to His disciples and reassuring them not to be troubled. The reason they should not be troubled is because He was going to His Father’s house to prepare a place for them. He concludes this passage by stating that not only is He going there, but He will also come back for His followers and take them to the place He is going to and there they will dwell together. Again, this verse screams out that Heaven is a real place that is prepared in advance for believers. It provides a firm foundation for belief that Heaven is not merely a figment of one’s imagination, but a real tangible place. J. Oswald Sanders states that readers should not interpret references to Heaven in a woodenly literal and unimaginative way, as they might approach some type of scientific treatise.[3] He goes on to say that the gates of pearl and the streets of gold are plainly figurative and should be interpreted as such, and yet they do stand for something real and significant.[4] Furthermore, everywhere in Scripture Heaven is shown to be the throne of God and God’s fixed abode and dwelling place that has been everlastingly created for that purpose.[5]

Testimony clearly teaches a literal Heaven but perhaps it has been interpreted by eyes incapable of understanding and explaining it to its fullest extent. Perhaps the best way to explain the locality of Heaven presently is by relying on one word that holds rather strong connotations: Faith. Faith is what separates the known from the unknown. Heaven, though now a place, has a locale that is physically unknown to the believer. Its existence is unable to be perceived by the natural senses the believer has.[6] Presently Heaven is physically unseen and therefore must be taken as a matter of faith, but not blind faith. Seeing with the eyes of faith helps the believer envision the reality of Heaven; that is that it is transcendent.[7] Heaven exists apart from the material universe and therefore can not be perceived by the natural body. The natural man has no experience with Heaven because it goes beyond the limits of his experience. It reaches beyond what man can grasp and moves into the immanency and omnipresence of God. Is the believer able to say that Heaven is both far away and near at the same time? The answer to that question is, yes. This is so, because where God is, the Kingdom of Heaven is.[8]


[1] Don Thorsen. An Exploration of Christian Theology. (Peabody: Hendrickson Publishers, 2008), 402.

[2] Wayne Grudem. Systematic Theology.  (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Pub. House, 2000), 1159.

[3] J. Oswald Sanders. Heaven…Better by Far. ( Grand Rapids: Discovery House Publishers, 1993), 39.

[4] Ibid. 39.

[5] John Gerstner. Jonathan Edwards on Heaven and Hell. (Morgan: Soli Deo Gloria Pub., 1998), 17.

[6] Wayne Grudem. Systematic Theology. (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Pub. House, 2000),  1160.

[7] Joni Eareckson Tada. Heaven…Your Real Home. (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Pub. House, 1995), 80.

[8] Ibid. 80.

WHAT HEAVEN IS

The Gospels reveal that the chief and fundamental message was the proclamation of the Kingdom of Heaven.[1] Even with that being said, that does not reveal to the reader what Heaven actually is other than the foremost thought Jesus brought to His listeners.  While Heaven may be the final reward for the life of faith and trust in God, Scripture reveals a different picture than the contemporary image of clouds, angels and harps. C.S. Lewis, when asked what Heaven is, stated that it is the hope that gives meaning to life and ultimately a promise that God is not finished with His creation.[2] Again, this gives the idea that Heaven may be more metaphorical than literal; more a state of mind than anything else. Matthew 25:4 and Revelation 22:3 tell the believer that a kingdom has been prepared in advance for him and this Kingdom is unlike any other. All curses, as the result of sin, have been removed and “the throne of God and the Lamb shall be in it, and His servants shall worship Him”. This Kingdom and place prepared in advance is commonly referred to as Heaven.[3] Yet, the biblical teaching on Heaven is much richer than just living with God forever. In fact, Scripture reveals that there will be a new heavens and a new earth, an entirely renewed creation, where believers will live with God eternally.[4]

A careful study of Scripture will help reveal the characteristics of Heaven. Heaven has three main meanings within Scripture. The Greek word for heaven “ouranous” can refer to the:

  1. Atmospheric heavens – This type of usage corresponds mainly to a cosmological use such as in Genesis 1:1: “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth”. Here, heaven is used to describe the area above the earth, basically all the atmospheres that contain and hold the gases of earth. It may refer to the place where the clouds are and the birds fly, etc.
  2. Celestial/Starry heavens – This may also be referred to as the sidereal or the observation and tracking of the celestial objects which reside in outer space. 1 Kings 8:27 remarks on the immensity of the starry heaven, yet still making them less grand than the third use of heaven, described below.
  3. Eternal abode of God – Matthew 6:9-13 speaks well of the usage now being discussed. Jesus opens the Lord’s Prayer with “Our Father who art in Heaven”. Clearly in this verse, Heaven is the dwelling place of God. It is the place where God’s presence is most intensely and immediately felt. It is in this heaven that those redeemed believers and the unfallen angels will be able to share in God’s life and the blessedness of Jesus Christ.[5]

For the purpose of this study, Heaven will be linked with the third meaning. Heaven is the greatest manifestation of God’s glory, where angels, other heavenly creatures and redeemed humanity will eternally worship and adore Him.[6] Heaven therefore can be seen as the hope of an afterlife in which the believer will enjoy continuous communion and relationship with God. Heaven, as the dwelling place of God, may also be delineated by one more word: holiness. Many words in Scripture are used to define God’s dwelling in Heaven such as temple, tabernacle, habitation, sanctuary and dwelling place. However the one characteristic common in all these descriptions of Heaven is God’s holiness.[7] What makes Heaven, Heaven, is God’s holiness. Heaven is not holy apart from God and remains holy because of God’s abiding presence. While it is true, as stated in 2 Chronicles 2:6; Deuteronomy 4:39; and Joshua 2:11, that heaven cannot contain God and that He is present everywhere, in heaven and on earth; Scripture also teaches that God chooses to dwell in Heaven and to make it His habitation.[8] Wayne Grudem states that Heaven can be defined as “…the place where God most fully makes known His presence to bless.”[9]

Perhaps a better way to explain what Heaven is is to explain what Heaven is not. Many myths surround Heaven and dispelling them may answer most of the questions believers have. To begin, Heaven will not consist of believers sitting on clouds, playing music on harps for extended periods of time. Possibly this myth may come from Revelation 15, where Scripture speaks of those who have conquered the beast as playing harps and singing songs to God. While this myth may be too literal an interpretation, one must realize that the song sung by these believers will be unlike any song sung on earth. Music and worship will take on a whole new meaning, power and purpose.[10] Another common myth is that believers will become angels, complete with halos and wings. There is no scriptural support for this myth. The Bible does teach that believers will have glorified and changed bodies in Heaven but they are never transformed into angels. Additionally is the myth that heaven will be a time of thinking, contemplation and leisure. While this may have truth to it, usually this is viewed from a human standpoint of defining what leisure is. Leisure and rest in biblical terms signify not rest from activity, but rest in activity. A final myth that must be dealt with is that Heaven will be dreadfully boring and bland. A simple observation of Luke 19:12-19 reveals anything but a bland, boring life for the believer upon entering Heaven. This parable reveals that the Kingdom of Heaven will involve an allocation of responsibilities among believers. Each will be in charge of certain responsibilities, which will be merited for faithful service upon earth. While many more myths are of course confusing and may bewilder believers, they may have faith that God has made Heaven as the pinnacle of rewards for the believer’s faithful life of service.

A.A. Hodge may have best summarized what Heaven is when he stated:

Heaven, as a place, is where the God-man is. Heaven, as a place, is one of intimate knowledge of him and of the whole Godhead in him, and of fellowship with him. Heaven, as the supreme centre of divine revelations and communications through Christ, must pre-eminently bear the characteristics of God. It will be absolutely pure, majestic, holy, noble, in all its elements and characteristics…There must be the exercise of all the faculties (of redeemed mankind), the gratification of all tastes, the development of all talent capacities, the realization of all ideals. The reason, the intellectual curiosity, the imagination, the aesthetic instincts, the holy affections, the social affinities, the inexhaustible resources of strength and power native to the human soul must all find in Heaven exercise and satisfaction.[11]


[1] Peter Toon. Heaven and Hell: A Biblical and Theological Overview. (Nashville : Nelson, 1986), 3.

[2] Terry Glaspey. C.S. Lewis: His Life and Thought. (Edison: Inspirational Press, 1996), 171.

[3] For the purpose of this paper, Heaven will refer to the dwelling place of God currently and of the future “New Heavens and new Earth” as revealed in Rev 21.

[4] Wayne Grudem. Systematic Theology. (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Pub. House, 2000), 1158.

[5] J. Oswald Sanders. Heaven: Better by Far. (Grand Rapids: Discovery House Publishers, 1993), 16-17. The above three meanings for heaven were compiled from the reference work. Obviously many more examples could be given for each meaning, but the author of this paper was merely using one per meaning to give Biblical reference and typological usage.

[6] Wayne Grudem. Systematic Theology. (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Pub. House, 2000), 1159.

[7] Wilbur Smith. The Biblical Doctrine of Heaven. (Chicago: Moody Press, 1968), 62.

[8] Ibid. 50.

[9] Wayne Grudem. Systematic Theology. (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Pub. House, 2000), 1159.

[10] J. Oswald Sanders. Heaven: Better by Far. (Grand Rapids: Discovery House Publishers, 1993). Many of the myths mentioned are conceived of in this book. The author of this paper thought that minimizing myths would help maximize the true nature of Heaven.

[11] A.A. Hodge. Evangelical Theology. (Carlisle: Banner of Truth Trust, 1990), 399-402.

What I’m Reading

The Jesus Way: Conversations on the way that Jesus is the Way ~~Eugene Peterson _________________________________________ Let the Nations be Glad ~~John Piper _________________________________________

In the “Q”

Francis Schaeffer - True Spiritually ______________________________________

Bible Study / Devotional

Romans 1 ___________________________________________