Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Catechism #42

Q. What is heaven?
A. Heaven is where God lives, where the dead in Christ are, and where all believers will go after death. 

Heaven is (technically) the place where God lives. In Jesus’ model prayer He began, “Our Father in heaven…(Matthew 6:9).” God’s presence is everywhere (Psalm 139:7), and Paul reminds us that our bodies are the dwelling place of God (1 Corinthians 3:16); but God’s throne is in heaven.

In addition to God, Jesus, and the angels, heaven is also the home of all believers who have died in Christ. Before Jesus left earth He promised that He would prepare a place so that He could be with His followers forever (John 14), and Paul spoke of an event known as the rapture where Jesus would come gather all believers to heaven (1 Thessalonians 4:16).

We need to be careful when we try to describe heaven because most of the often-cited descriptions aren’t actually about heaven. The streets of gold, the glassy sea, even the references to no tears being shed are not about the current place known as heaven. While those things may be true of heaven, the Bible doesn’t say so. In fact, the Bible says very little about heaven. Almost all of the descriptions we attribute to heaven are actually references to New Jerusalem.

Heaven as we think of it today is not eternal, for John saw “a new heaven and a new earth” in Revelation 21. Part of that new earth will include a holy city, New Jerusalem, where we will live for eternity.

That will be heaven on earth.

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