Rethinking Heaven with Bible in Hand
The cover of a recent edition of ‘TIME’ carried a bold headline article ‘Rethinking Heaven’. The article commented that ‘as Christians around the world prepare to celebrate Easter, a running debate about the hereafter is raising new questions about the definition of heaven.’
Apparently, the new thinking being brought to the debate is ‘a view that’s at odds with the pearly gates’ of the traditional Christian view. That traditional view, it is later claimed, is rooted in ‘Earliest Christianity, (where) the understanding of life after death was, like so much else in the young faith, the product of both classical pagan and Jewish thought and custom.’
Foundations for Debate
How do you determine the right view? Do you appeal to the thoughts of men and women, or, if you believe in God, do you turn to His message in the Bible? While the ‘Times’ article drew directly on just two Bible references, plus a scattering of non-specific references, it made reference to four books and two newspapers for source information.
Perhaps we could pay more attention to what God tells us about the future. We offer some Bible references for you to think about.
First, the Bible is the word of God, not mankind.
All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.
2 Timothy 3:16-17 ESV
For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.
2 Peter 1:21 ESV
In the model prayer of Jesus’ teaching, it speaks of God’s (future) kingdom being ‘heaven on earth’.
Pray then like this: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven…
Matthew 6:9-10 ESV
In the death of a person, there is no room for a continuous, conscious existence.
For Sheol does not thank you; death does not praise you; those who go down to the pit do not hope for your faithfulness. The living, the living, he thanks you, as I do this day; the father makes known to the children your faithfulness.
Isaiah 38:18-19 ESV
For in death there is no remembrance of you; in Sheol who will give you praise?
Psalms 6:5 ESV
God’s plan involves the resurrection of those who have put their trust in Him through His son Jesus; it happens when Jesus returns to Earth; he begins and finishes a task to bring about a world that is obedient to God.
But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ. Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death. For “God has put all things in subjection under his feet.” But when it says, “all things are put in subjection,” it is plain that he is excepted who put all things in subjection under him. When all things are subjected to him, then the Son himself will also be subjected to him who put all things in subjection under him, that God may be all in all.
1 Corinthians 15:20-28 ESV
This fulfils the model prayer referred to earlier. It also fits evidence that we can find in the Old Testament, but have no space to list here.
Food for thought?