A Portrait of Hope for the Ages

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If I go away and prepare a place for you, I will come back and receive you to Myself, so that where I am you may be also.  John 14:3

I pity the man who never thinks about heaven.” – J.C. Ryle

In the introduction to his book “Heaven”, Randy Alcorn makes the following observation:

“God’s people in ages past had a source of strength and perspective largely unknown to us today: Heaven.  It was their central reference point, the North Star by which they could navigate their lives. But in contemporary society, Heaven has fallen off our radar screens.”

As believers in Christ, we have the promise of eternal life, and our hope is rooted in that promise.  So why has Heaven fallen of the radar screen for many Christians?

Maybe it’s because we’ve become so attached to this world, that the one to come has faded in our conscious thoughts.  This attachment becomes manifest in our yearning for possessions (often amassing things with money we don’t have, to impress someone who doesn’t matter), prestige or power. When these things become greater than our desire for the things of God, the world to come is evicted from our space.

Maybe we have a problem comprehending what the world to come is, and what form it will take. To many, Heaven is a concept without substantive definition – almost becoming more of a caricature in their thinking.

“Most people don’t reject Christianity [Heaven], they reject a false caricature of Christianity [Heaven].” C. S. Lewis

I believe that the Bible’s portrait of  Heaven, does not depict some angelic realm in the clouds, but rather a New Earth with a New Jerusalem as its capital city – a physical place free from the Curse; where God will come down to dwell with us forever, and since God’s dwelling place is synonymous with Heaven,  I think it safe to conclude that this will be the final eternal home of the redeemed in Christ. 

Then I saw a new Heaven and a new earth, for the first Heaven and the first earth had disappeared and the sea was no more. I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, descending from God out of Heaven, prepared as a bride dressed in beauty for her husband. Then I heard a great voice from the throne crying, “See! The home of God is with men, and he will live among them. They shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and will wipe away every tear from their eyes. Death shall be no more, and never again shall there be sorrow or crying or pain. For all those former things are past and gone.” (Revelation 21:1-4)

Heaven as it exists now, is what I believe to be our intermediate destination, where Christ has already been received, and waits to receive us face to face.

Peter spoke to this in Acts 3:21, when he said: “Heaven must receive him [Christ] until the time comes for God to restore everything, as he promised long ago through his holy prophets.”

So there we wait (with those who have died before us) for that last trumpet call signaling the return of Christ to Earth, and the final resurrection of our bodies – bodies that were sown in corruption; but will be raised incorruptible. (1 Corinthians 15:42), suitable for a resurrected Earth that embodies the restoration of everything effected by the Curse – God’s eternal kingdom where God will dwell and Christ will reign.

I have found that the verses in Scripture that implicate what Heaven will be like, are like the colors on an artist’s palette – mixed and arranged to create a picture from the artist’s brush. The Master Artist paints us a portrait of Heaven from that palette.

Although many mysteries remain, we should no longer be absorbed by the things of this world, when the one that awaits us is so much better, and we no longer need to rely on our imagination to define what that world will be like.

The colors on the palette do that for us.