This week, Donna Hoover continues our our Word Nerd Wednesday series on The Lord’s Prayer with this great discussion about God’s dwelling place and our eternal home – heaven.
1 : the expanse of space that seems to be over the earth like a dome : firmament —usually used in plural ·the brightest star in the Heavens
2 a: often capitalized: the dwelling place of the Deity and the blessed dead ·hopes to go to Heaven when she dies
b: a spiritual state of everlasting communion with God
Although many mysteries remain regarding Heaven, God has graciously revealed enough about it for us to know that it will be a place beyond our wildest dreams and imaginations. He also wants us to know if we choose, it is our eternal home where we will reside with Him. He doesn’t hesitate in diving right in to tell us Heaven is real, and He created it. In fact, God begins His discourse with us in the Bible by mentioning Heaven in the first sentence. Genesis 1:1 (NIV) begins with “In the beginning God created the Heavens and the earth.” From there He goes on to include it in the Bible over 600 times, and bookends with the final reference in Revelations 21:10 (NIV): “And he carried me away in the Spirit to a mountain great and high, and showed me the Holy City, Jerusalem, coming down out of Heaven from God.”
You will find references to Heaven in 54 of the 66 books, and in the book of Matthew alone, Jesus mentioned it 70 times. In the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 6: 9-13 (TPT), Jesus taught us how to pray, and told us that Heaven is God’s residence and it is where His will is done.
“Pray like this: ‘Our Father, dwelling in the Heavenly realms, may the glory of your name be the center on which our lives turn. Manifest your kingdom realm, and cause your every purpose to be fulfilled on earth, just as it is fulfilled in Heaven.’” Matthew 6:9-10 (TPT)
We can all agree that God’s will is that there is perfect love and peace, for He is the embodiment of love. His love will be all we need to live in perfect harmony for all of eternity. We look forward to the time and place when all of our earthly cares that weigh us down will be swept away in a moment as we enter into His presence in our Heavenly home. God’s description in the Bible and his promises to His children regarding eternity give us a great hope.
We can anticipate the beauty of Heaven as seen in these verses from Revelation 21 (NIV):
“10 And he carried me away in the Spirit to a mountain great and high, and showed me the Holy City, Jerusalem, coming down out of Heaven from God. 11 It shone with the glory of God, and its brilliance was like that of a very precious jewel, like a jasper, clear as crystal.”
“18 The wall was made of jasper, and the city of pure gold, as pure as glass. 19 The foundations of the city walls were decorated with every kind of precious stone. The first foundation was jasper, the second sapphire, the third agate, the fourth emerald, 20 the fifth onyx, the sixth ruby, the seventh chrysolite, the eighth beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth turquoise, the eleventh jacinth, and the twelfth amethyst. 21 The twelve gates were twelve pearls, each gate made of a single pearl. The great street of the city was of gold, as pure as transparent glass.”
(For the complete description, read Revelation 21:10-27.)
If you think of the most beautiful places on this earth that God has created, and multiply that in your imagination, you could never come close to what He has in store. The beauty will be incomparable to anything we have yet seen or imagined.
9 “…What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived”[see also Isaiah 64:4]— the things God has prepared for those who love him—“1 Corinthians 2:9 (NIV)
A New Body
Here on earth we are weighed down by our bodies with physical aches and pains, and a host of infirmities throughout our lifetime. Our outer appearance can cause us concern with issues of weight, aging, or other perceived imperfections. But one day, this will be no more! We can look forward to the absence of pain and distress in the new bodies we are promised:
“For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in Heaven, not built by human hands. Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed instead with our Heavenly dwelling, because when we are clothed, we will not be found naked. For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed instead with our Heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. Now the one who has fashioned us for this very purpose is God, who has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come. 2 Corinthians 1-5 (NIV)
In Heaven, all the physical and emotional pain we experience here and now will end, when God Himself touches our face and wipes away our every heartache.
“Therefore they are before the throne of God, and serve Him day and night in His temple. And He who sits on the throne will dwell among them. They shall neither hunger anymore nor thirst anymore; the sun shall not strike them, nor any heat; for the Lamb who is in the midst of the throne will shepherd them and lead them to living fountains of waters. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes” Revelation 7:15-17 (NKJV).
“He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” Revelation 21:4 (NIV)
Living in the Presence of Jesus
Most of all, we can look forward to living in the presence of Jesus, our Lord for eternity, whose light will be all we need. As fertile as our imaginations might be, we will never accurately conjure up a picture of Heaven. Bart Marshall Millard explored it beautifully in his mega-hit Christian song, “I Can Only Imagine.”
Surrounded by Your glory
What will my heart feel
Will I dance for you Jesus
Or in awe of You be still
Will I stand in your presence
Or to my knees will I fall
Will I sing hallelujah
Will I be able to speak at all
I can only imagineAs fertile as our imaginations might be, we will never accurately conjure up a picture of Heaven. #heaven #wordnerdwednesday Click To Tweet
“Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. No longer will there be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. And night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever.” Revelation 22:1-5 (ESV)
“I did not see a temple in the city, because the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp. The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their splendor into it.” Revelation 21:22-24 (NIV)
As with everything with God, words are inadequate to describe Him or anything that concerns Him. If you have been in His presence, you know that there are no words that could do justice to that experience. Our imaginations and words fail us in this endeavor. Even so, what we do know from God and what we can imagine is a holy, glorious, and unfathomable experience that will last for eternity. Heaven is a place everyone wants to go, and most believe they are headed. According to a national survey by Barna Research Group in 2003, nearly two-thirds of Americans said they believe they are going to Heaven.
The question is how can we be assured that we are indeed headed there? There are three concepts we need to look at in determining our eternal destiny.
Jesus came to earth as both fully God and fully man, and gave up His own life on the cross that we might live with him in Heaven forever. The blood he shed on Calvary’s hill is the atonement for our sins, if we will believe, repent from our sins, and accept Him as Lord of our lives. His sacrifice has the power to save us and redeem our lives.
Jesus addresses repentance in Matthew: “From that time on Jesus began to proclaim his message with these words: ‘Keep turning away from your sins and come back to God, for Heaven’s kingdom realm is now accessible.’” Matthew 4:17 (TPT)
Righteousness through Faith
There is good news and bad news about God’s requirement for righteousness. Here first is the bad news.
(Jesus speaking) “For I tell you, unless your lives are more pure and full of integrity than the religious scholars and the Pharisees you will never experience the realm of Heaven’s kingdom.” Matthew 5:20 (TPT)
Our sins have separated us from God and we by ourselves are unable to achieve the righteousness that God requires to be reconciled to him. So what can we do?
This brings us to the good news!
The Apostle Paul writes, “But now apart from the law the righteousness of God has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile,” Romans 3:21-22 (NIV)
Through our faith in Christ, the righteousness of God is given to us. This is called “imputed” righteousness. To impute something is to attribute something to someone. When we put our faith in Jesus Christ, God attributes His perfect righteousness to us so that we become perfect in His sight.
“God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” 2 Corinthians 5:21 (NIV)
The Apostle Paul states it beautifully in the book of Romans. “Since we’ve compiled this long and sorry record as sinners (both us and them) and proved that we are utterly incapable of living the glorious lives God wills for us, God did it for us. Out of sheer generosity he put us in right standing with himself. A pure gift. He got us out of the mess we’re in and restored us to where he always wanted us to be. And he did it by means of Jesus Christ.” Romans 3:21-24 (MSG)
Obedience Linked to Faith
Lastly, we cannot be hypocrites, calling Jesus our Lord in name only, and then living our lives to our own pleasing, with expectations that we will enter Heaven. We must with our whole hearts, lay down our lives that He purchased with a great price, and follow His leading.
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter into the realm of Heaven’s kingdom. It is only those who persist in doing the will of my Heavenly Father.” Matthew 7:21 (TPT)
Here is an excerpt from Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary on this matter.
“Christ here shows that it will not be enough to own him for our Master, only in word and tongue. It is necessary to our happiness that we believe in Christ, that we repent of sin, that we live a holy life, that we love one another. This is his will, even our sanctification. Let us take heed of resting in outward privileges and doings, lest we deceive ourselves, and perish eternally, as multitudes do, with a lie in our right hand. Let every one that names the name of Christ, depart from all sin.”
If you haven’t already, I encourage you today to ask Jesus to be your Lord and Savior, so that we might meet one day in Heaven!If you haven’t already, I encourage you today to ask Jesus to be your Lord and Savior, so that we might meet one day in Heaven! #heaven #wordnerdwednesday @ Click To Tweet
I Can Only Imagine lyrics © Music Services, Inc
Songwriter: Bart Marshall Millard
Donna has served in women’s ministry writing devotionals and producing videos, and is currently working full-time in media production.
She is a poet, artist, videographer, and writer who regularly contributes feature articles to Vacaville Magazine. Her hobbies include acting, singing, photography, and cooking.
She lives in Northern California with her wonderful husband, Steven, and two exceptionally fluffy Ragdoll cats, Boodles (Kitten Kaboodle) and Tiki the Furbearer.
She is currently working on her first book, a redemption story about her sister.
Linking Up With
For more encouragement please join the discussions on these fabulous blog link ups – Suzanne Eller, Faith On Fire, Susan B. Mead, Faith Filled Friday, Grace and Truth, Faith and Fellowship Friday, Soul Survival, Rah Rah Link Up, Tell His Story, Sitting Among Friends, Testimony Tuesday, Planting Roots, and Fresh Market Friday, Salt and Light, and Becoming Press’s Writer Wednesday, Moments of Hope