Week of May 11, 2019
What is Life Like in the Present Heaven?
Are you curious about what life in heaven is like? What questions do you have about heaven?
Present Heaven and Eternal Heaven
The Eternal Heaven is the place where the redeemed will live forever after the final resurrection. It is the place were we were made for in the Creation. It is the place where God promises to refashion for us the Earth for us to live in forever. God’s children are destined for life as resurrected beings on a resurrected Earth.
The Present Heaven is the place the redeemed go when they die. It is an “Intermediate State” —a transition between our past lives on Earth and our future resurrection to life on the New Earth. The Present Heaven is “better by far” (Philippians 1:23), yet the Present Heaven is not our final destination—the final destination is the new heavens and the New Earth.
Biblical Doctrine of Heaven
When we die, believers in Christ will not go to the Heaven where we will live forever. We will go to an intermediate Heaven (Present Heaven), where those who died covered by Christ’s blood are now. We will await the time of Christ’s return to the Earth, our bodily resurrection, the final judgment, and the creation of the new heavens and the New Earth. (Randy Alcorn, Heaven, 42)
“…There will be new heavens and a new earth—an entirely renewed creation—and we will live with God there…There will also be a new kind of reunification of heaven and earth…There will be a joining of heaven and earth in this new creation.” (Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology, 1158)
Earthly Life—>Death—>Present Heaven or Present Hell—>Christ’s Return—> New Earth or Lake of Fire
Present Heaven will become ————-> New Earth (Rev. 20:11-13) Present Hell will become ————-> Lake of Fire (Rev. 20:14-15)
After death ——> Judgment of Faith (not of works) ——-> Present Heaven or
After Christ’s Return
——-> Present Hell
——-—> Final Judgement of Works (rewards) ——-> New Earth or
——-> Lake of Fire
Final Judgement of Works (Reward will be dependent upon faithfulness)
Romans 14:10-12 But you, why do you judge your brother or sister? Or you, why do you despise your brother or sister? For we will all stand before the judgement seat of God. For it is written, “As I live, says the Lord, every knee will bow to me, and every tongue will give praise to God.” So then, each of us will give an account of himself to God.
2 Corinthians 5:10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each may be repaid for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.
1 Corinthians 3:13-14 Each one’s work will become obvious. For the day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire; the fire will test the quality of each one’s work. If anyone’s work that he has built survives, he will receive a reward.
2 Timothy 2:12 If we endure, we will also reign with him; if we deny him, he will also deny us.
Revelation 2:26-28 The one who conquers and who keeps my works to the end: I will give him authority over the nations—“and he will rule them with an iron scepter; he will shatter them like pottery”—just as I have received this from my Father, I will also give him the morning star.
Revelation 3:21 “To the one who conquers I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I also conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne.”
What is Life Like in the Present Heaven?
9 When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slaughtered because of the word of God and the testimony they had given. 10 They cried out with a loud voice: “Lord, the one who is holy and true, how long until you judge those who live on the earth and avenge our blood?” 11 So they were each given a white robe, and they were told to rest a little while longer until the number would be completed of their fellow servants and their brothers and sisters, who were going to be killed just as they had been.
21 Brief Observations about the Present Heaven Based on Revelation 6:9-11 (Randy
Alcorn, Heaven, 65ff).
- When people died on Earth, they relocated to Heaven(v.9).
- These people in Heaven were the same ones killed for Christ while on Earth(v.9).This demonstrates direct continuity between our identity on Earth and our identity in Heaven. The martyrs’ personal history extends directly back to their lives on Earth. Those in the Present Heaven are not different people; they are the same people relocated—“righteous men made perfect” (Hebrews 12:23).
- People in Heaven will be remembered for their lives on Earth. These were known and identified as ones slain “because of…the testimony they had maintained” (v. 9).
- “They called out” (v. 10) means they are able to express themselves audibly. This could suggest they exist in physical form, with vocal cords or other tangible means to express themselves.
- People in the Present Heaven can raise their voices (v. 10). This indicates that they are rational, communicative, and emotional—even passionate—beings, like people on Earth.
- They called out in “a loud voice,” not “loud voices.” Individuals speaking with one voice indicate that Heaven is a place of unity and shared perspective.
- The martyrs are fully conscious, rational, and aware of eachother, God, and the situation on Earth.
- They ask God to intervene on Earth and to act on their behalf: “How long…until you judge the inhabitants of the earth and avenge our blood?” (v. 10).
- Those in the Heaven are free to ask God questions, which means they have an audience with God. It also means they need to learn. In Heaven, popped desire understanding and pursue it.
10.People in the present Heaven know what’s happening on Earth (v. 10). The martyrs know enough to realize that those who killed them have not yet been judged.
11. Heaven dwellers have a deep concern for justice and retribution (v. 10). When we go to Heaven, we won’t adopt a passive disinterest in what happens on the earth. On the contrary, our concerns will be more passionate and our thirst for justice greater. Neither God nor we will be satisfied until his enemies are judged, our bodies raised, sin and Satan defeated, Earth restored, and Christ exalted over all.
12.The martyrs clearly remember their lives on Earth (v. 10). They even remember that they were murdered.
13.The martyrs in Heaven pray for judgement on their persecutors who are still at work hurting others. They are acting in solidarity with, and in effect interceding for, the suffering saints on Earth. This suggest that saints in Heaven are both seeing and praying for saints on Earth.
14.Those in Heaven see GOd’s attributes (“Sovereign…holy and true”) in a way that makes his judgment of sin more understandable.
15.Those in Heaven are distinct individuals (v. 11 each with a white robe). There isn’t one merged identity that obliterates uniqueness, but a distinct “each of them.”
16. The martyrs’ wearing white robes suggests the possibility of actual physical forms, because disembodied spirits presumably don’t wear robes. The robes may well have symbolic meaning, but it doesn’t mean they couldn’t also be physical. The martyrs appear to have physical forms that John could actually see.
17.God answers their question (v. 11), indicating communication and process in Heaven. It also demonstrates that we won’t know everything in Heaven—if we did, we would have no questions. The martyrs knew more after God answered their question than before they asked it. There is learning in the present Heaven.
18. God promises to fulfill the martyrs’ requests, but says they will have to “wait a little longer” (v. 11). Those in the Present Heaven live in anticipation of the future fulfillment of God’s promises. Unlike the eternal Heaven—where there will be no more sin, Curse, or suffering on the New Earth (Rev. 21:4)—the present Heaven coexists with and watches over an Earth under sin, the Curse, and suffering.
19.There is time in the Present Heaven (vv. 10-11). The white-robed martyrs ask God a time-dependent question: “How long, Sovereign Lord…until you judge the inhabitants of the earth and avenge our blood?” (v. 10). They are aware of time’s passing and are eager for the coming day of the Lord’s judgment. God answers that they must “wait a little longer” until certain events transpire on Earth. Waiting requires the passing of time.
20.The people of God in Heaven have a strong familial connection with those on Earth, who are called their “fellows servants and brothers” (v. 11). We share the same Father, “from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named” (Eph 3:15). There is not a wall of separation within the bride of Christ. We are one family with those who’ve gone to Heaven ahead of us. After we go to Heaven, we’ll still be one family with those yet on Earth. These verses demonstrate a vital connection between the events and people in Heaven and the events and people on Earth.
21.Our sovereign God knows down to last detail all that is happening and will happen on Earth (v. 11), including every drop of blood shed and every bit of suffering undergone by his children. Voice of the Martyrs estimates that more than 150,000 people die for Christ each year, an average of more than four hundred per day. God knows the name and story of each one. He knows exactly how many martyrs there will be, and he is prepared to return and set up his Kingdom when the final martyr dies.
REFLECT (Now you may be ready to answer these questions) • Do Heaven’s inhabitants remember life on earth?
• Do people in the Present Heaven see what is happening on earth? • Do people in Heaven pray for those on earth?
• Can it be Heaven if people are aware of anything bad on earth?