The Christian Revelations of Heaven

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According to the book of Matthew, as soon as Jesus was baptized by John, he began preaching about a new era for mankind, entry into the kingdom of the heavens:

“Repent, you people, for the kingdom of the heavens has drawn near.”
– Matthew 4:17

“Then he went around throughout the whole of Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and preaching the good news of the kingdom and curing every sort of disease and every sort of infirmity among the people.”
– Matthew 4:23

In his first major sermon, called the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus informed us of the invitation to enter into the kingdom of heavens:

“Happy are those conscious of their spiritual need, since the kingdom of the heavens belongs to them. Happy are those who mourn, since they will be comforted. Happy are the mild-tempered ones, since they will inherit the earth. Happy are those hungering and thirsting for righteousness, since they will be filled. Happy are the merciful, since they will be shown mercy. Happy are the pure in heart, since they will see God. Happy are the peaceable, since they will be called ‘sons of God.’ Happy are those who have been persecuted for righteousness’ sake, since the kingdom of the heavens belongs to them. Happy are you when people reproach you and persecute you and lyingly say every sort of wicked thing against you for my sake. Rejoice and leap for joy, since your reward is great in the heavens; for in that way they persecuted the prophets prior to you.”
– Matthew 5:3-11

“For I say to you that if your righteousness does not abound more than that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter into the kingdom of the heavens.”
– Matthew 5:20

“However, I say to you: Continue to love your enemies and to pray for those persecuting you; that you may prove yourselves sons of your Father who is in the heavens, since he makes his sun rise upon wicked people and good and makes it rain upon righteous people and unrighteous.”
– Matthew 5:44-45

“You must accordingly be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”
– Matthew 5:48

This was an unusual message. Never before had mankind been told that they would see God, that the heavens would belong to them, that they would be, not mere slaves or servants of God, but sons of God, and that they would be able to enter into the kingdom of the heavens!

For the next few years, Jesus continued to elevate man’s dignity. Specifically, he taught them to refer to God, not by name, but by relationship – as Father – as any loving child would do.

“You must pray, then, this way: ‘Our Father in the heavens, let your name be sanctified. Let your kingdom come. Let your will take place, as in heaven, also upon earth. Give us today our bread for this day; and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And do not bring us into temptation, but deliver us from the wicked one.’ For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you; whereas if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”
– Matthew 6:9-15

The Apostle Paul reiterated this:

“For all who are led by God’s spirit, these are God’s sons. For you did not receive a spirit of slavery causing fear again, but you received a spirit of adoption as sons, by which spirit we cry out: “Abba, Father!” The spirit itself bears witness with our spirit that we are God’s children.”
– Romans 8:14-16

“Now because you are sons, God has sent forth the spirit of his Son into our hearts and it cries out: “Abba, Father!” So, then, you are no longer a slave but a son; and if a son, also an heir through God.”
– Galatians 4:6-7

As children and heirs, we inherit our Father’s belongings – including a heavenly kingdom:

“Then the king will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who have been blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the founding of the world.”
– Matthew 25:34

We think, too, how vast the physical heavens are. Surely the spiritual heavens are even grander! Since we learn that the Father is “[a God], not of disorder, but of peace” (1 Corinthians 14:33), there is likely great order in the heavens – a vast spiritual organization. We will need to become familiar with the workings of the heavens and the various personalities that act in administrative capacities. It is not likely that they will all speak in one of the languages of man on earth. 1 Corinthians 13:1 refers to ‘the tongues of angels.’ Perhaps we will need to learn several new languages in order to communicate in our new world.

Since at least some of us “will rules as kings and priests” (Revelation 5:10), it makes perfect sense to us that there would be organized schools of learning to familiarize us with all of this order!

Obviously, in order to inherit and enter into the heavenly kingdom, we will need to shed our fleshly bodies and be given new bodies to maneuver our new heavenly existence:

“However, this I say, brothers, that flesh and blood cannot inherit God’s kingdom, neither does corruption inherit incorruption. Look! I tell you a sacred secret: We shall not all fall asleep [in death], but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, during the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised up incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this which is corruptible must put on incorruption, and this which is mortal must put on immortality.”
- 1 Corinthians 15:50-53

“So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption, it is raised up in incorruption. It is sown in dishonor, it is raised up in glory. It is sown in weakness, it is raised up in power. It is sown a physical body, it is raised up a spiritual body. If there is a physical body, there is also a spiritual one.”
– 1 Corinthians 15:42-44

When the scriptures say that we are raised up a spiritual body, we believe the “raising” is a process that leads to the ultimate outcome – spiritual existence. In other words, we believe that after death, there is more work that must be done before we attain spirit bodies. We base that assumption on the fact that at death, most of us have not perfected our faith or our personalities, whereas Jesus is referred to as “the Chief Agent and Perfecter of our faith.” (Hebrews 12:2). Further, we have not yet fully complied with the mandate:

“You must accordingly be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”
– Matthew 5:48

Also, many die as infants or young children, before they have an opportunity to even learn about God. Many die as adolescents who did not have the maturity to make a decision to do the Father’s will. Many die as adults who were in the process of perfecting their faith. We suspect few die as did the Christ in spiritual perfection and thus able to appear in the spiritual heavens before the Father:

“For Christ entered, not into a holy place made with hands, which is a copy of the reality, but into heaven itself, now to appear before the person of God for us.”
– Hebrews 9:24

Even Christ did not immediately appear before the Father after his resurrection:

“Jesus said to her: “Stop clinging to me. For I have not yet ascended to the Father. But be on your way to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father and to my God and your God.’”
– John 20:17

He did not make that journey into the “height of heavens” until 40 days after his resurrection. This leads us to the scripture that seems to indicate there would be a series of translations from one type of body to another before we attain to the Father:

“And all of us, while we with unveiled faces reflect like mirrors the glory of Jehovah, are transformed into the same image from glory to glory, exactly as done by Jehovah [the] Spirit.”
– 2 Corinthians 3:18

We also wonder about Jesus words with reference to the structures in the heavens:

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. Exercise faith in God, exercise faith also in me. In the house of my Father there are many abodes. Otherwise, I would have told you, because I am going my way to prepare a place for you. Also, if I go my way and prepare a place for you, I am coming again and will receive you home to myself, that where I am you also may be. And where I am going you know the way.”
– John 14:1-4

In the next article, we will speculate about what these abodes could be. But what about the landscape? We are familiar with the Garden of Eden on earth, but what of the “paradise of God?” (Revelation 2:7) Is it also a garden? If so, what would it look like? We are told that we will have experiences that we can not even imagine:

“Eye has not seen and ear has not heard, neither have there been conceived in the heart of man the things that God has prepared for those who love him.”
– 1 Corinthians 2:9

While there will obviously be many, many things we cannot even conceive of, why not try? It is in our make-up to wonder about those things. We are told:

“Everything he has made pretty in its time. Even time indefinite he has put in their heart, that mankind may never find out the work that the [true] God has made from the start to the finish.”
– Ecclesiastes 3:11

We are designed to want to know everything. We are created with a mind that craves more – more understanding, more knowledge, more experiences. We are not designed to reach a point of perfection and stop. We have eternity in our minds! Therefore, there can be no end to our contemplations! So let’s engage in some wholesome speculations about the heavenly hope in our next article: “Heavenly Contemplations, Anticipations and Hopes.”

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