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.

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