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¨   Heaven

¨   By : Randy Alcorn

¨   July 13, 2008

¨   Heaven: The Definition

¨   Heaven — (1.) Definitions. The phrase “heaven and earth” is used to indicate the whole universe (Gen. 1:1; Jer. 23:24; Acts 17:24). According to the Jewish notion there were three heavens,

¨   (a) The firmament, as “fowls of the heaven” (Gen. 2:19; 7:3, 23; Ps. 8:8, etc.), “the eagles of heaven” (Lam. 4:19), etc.

¨   (b) The starry heavens (Deut. 17:3; Jer. 8:2; Matt. 24:29).

¨   (c) “The heaven of heavens,” or “the third heaven” (Deut. 10:14; 1 Kings 8:27; Ps. 115:16; 148:4; 2 Cor. 12:2).

¨   The atmospheric heaven. Heaven may be used to describe the troposphere—the space surrounding the earth and extending to a height of about six miles. It is from the atmospheric heaven that the earth receives dew (Deut. 33:13), frost (Job 38:29), rain and snow (Isa. 55:10), wind (Job 26:13), and thunder (1 Sam. 2:10). The clouds are in the atmospheric heaven (Ps. 147:8), and the birds fly in it (Gen. 1:20). Since the necessities for life on earth—dew, rain, snow, wind—come from “heaven,” it is a reminder that they are the gracious gift of God

¨   The celestial heaven. Heaven is also used to describe the celestial realm—the realm of sun, moon, stars, and planets. God created the universe (Gen. 1:1; Ps. 33:6), placing these lights in the heaven (Gen. 1:14).

¨   The dwelling place of God. This is probably what Paul referred to as the “third heaven” (2 Cor. 12:2). John (Rev. 4:1ff.) was taken up to God’s heaven. This heaven is a specific place where God dwells, as salutation of Jesus’ model prayer indicates (“Our Father who art in heaven” Matt. 6:9). It is in heaven that God sits enthroned (Ps. 2:4; Isa. 66:1); from heaven God renders judgment (Gen. 19:24; Josh. 10:11); but God’s blessings also come from heaven (Exod. 16:4). From heaven God looks down upon His people (Deut. 26:15); from heaven He hears their prayer (Ps. 20:6); He comes down from heaven (Ps. 144:5). It is also in heaven that God’s sovereign plan is established.

¨   In heaven the blessedness of the righteous consists in the possession of “life everlasting,” “an eternal weight of glory” (2 Cor. 4:17), an exemption from all sufferings for ever, a deliverance from all evils (2 Cor. 5:1, 2) and from the society of the wicked (2 Tim. 4:18), bliss without termination, the “fulness of joy” for ever (Luke 20:36; 2 Cor. 4:16, 18; 1 Pet. 1:4; 5:10; 1 John 3:2). The believer’s heaven is not only a state of everlasting blessedness, but also a “place”, a place “prepared” for them (John 14:2).

¨   Story

An astronaut going to Mars

¨   Questions

¨   What are you looking forward to in Heaven?

¨   Read Acts 17:11. What does this passage say, and how does it relate to how we should view claims about the afterlife based on near death experiences and personal speculation?

¨   Acts 17:11 Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true. 12 Many of the Jews believed, as did also a number of prominent Greek women and many Greek men.

¨   Is Heaven Beyond our Imagination?

The writers of Scriptures present Heaven in many ways, including as a garden, a city, and a kingdom. Because gardens, cities, and kingdoms are familiar to us, they afford us a bridge to understanding Heaven. However, many people make the mistake of assuming that these are merely analogies with no actual correspondence to the reality of Heaven… Too often we’ve been taught that Heaven is a non physical realm, which cannot have real gardens, cities, kingdoms, buildings, banquets, or bodies. So we fail to take seriously what the Scriptures tells us about Heaven as a familiar, physical, tangible place.

¨   Questions

¨   God has given each of us imagination and expects us to use it. Why do you think that many Christians shy away from studying Scripture and letting it guide their imagination to visualize what Heaven will be like?

¨   Is Heaven Our Default Destination…or Is Hell?

The great danger is that we will assume we are headed for Heaven. Judging by what’s said at most funerals, you’d think nearly everyone’s going to Heaven wouldn’t you? But Jesus made it clear that most people are not going to Heaven: “Small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it” (Matthew 7:14)

¨   Questions

¨   How does our society’s incorrect thinking about our “default destination” affect our motivation to preach the truth about sin and God’s gift of redemption?

¨   Read Matthew 5:21-30; 10:28; and Mark 9:43-48. According to Jesus, what is Hell like?

¨   Heaven

¨   By : Randy Alcorn

¨   July 19, 2008

¨   Can You Know You’re Going to Heaven?

¨   Universalism is the view that ultimately everything and everyone will be saved, even Satan, his angels, and demons.

¨   John 14     “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. 2 In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. 4 You know the way to the place where I am going.”

¨   Jesus the Way to the Father

5 Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?”

6 Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. 7 If you really knew me, you would know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.”

¨   Revelation 21:27

¨    Nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life.

¨   Ruthanna Metzgar
 a professional singer

¨   Revelation 13:8

¨   8 All inhabitants of the earth will worship the beast—all whose names have not been written in the book of life belonging to the Lamb that was slain from the creation of the world.

¨   Psalm 69:28

28 May they be blotted out of the book of life

and not be listed with the righteous.

¨   Philippians 4:3

¨   3 Yes, and I ask you, loyal yokefellow, help these women who have contended at my side in the cause of the gospel, along with Clement and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life. 

¨   Revelation 3:5

¨   5 He who overcomes will, like them, be dressed in white. I will never blot out his name from the book of life, but will acknowledge his name before my Father and his angels.

¨   Revelation 17:8

¨   8 The beast, which you saw, once was, now is not, and will come up out of the Abyss and go to his destruction. The inhabitants of the earth whose names have not been written in the book of life from the creation of the world will be astonished when they see the beast, because he once was, now is not, and yet will come.

¨   Revelation 20:12

¨   12 And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books. 13 The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what he had done. 14 Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death. 15 If anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.

¨   Heaven

¨   By: Randy Alcorn

¨   July 27, 2008

¨   Questions

¨   What do you think of the concept that there is a intermediate Heaven where we live between our death and resurrection, a concept that theologians have long taught?

¨   Is this a new thought to you? ( Remember, this intermediate Heaven is not purgatory; it is simply where believers who die live until the final resurrection.)

¨   Questions

¨   How does the present (intermediate) Heaven differ from the eternal Heaven?

¨   Philippians 1:21-24

¨   21 For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. 22 If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! 23 I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; 24 but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body.

¨   Luke 23:42-43

¨   42 Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.c”

¨   43 Jesus answered him, “I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise.”

¨   2 Corinthians 12:1-4

¨   12     I must go on boasting. Although there is nothing to be gained, I will go on to visions and revelations from the Lord. 2 I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven. Whether it was in the body or out of the body I do not know—God knows. 3 And I know that this man—whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, but God knows— 4 was caught up to paradise. He heard inexpressible things, things that man is not permitted to tell.

¨   Acts 7:55-56

¨   55 But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. 56 “Look,” he said, “I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.”

¨   2 Kings 6:17

¨   15 When the servant of the man of God got up and went out early the next morning, an army with horses and chariots had surrounded the city. “Oh, my lord, what shall we do?” the servant asked.

¨   16 “Don’t be afraid,” the prophet answered. “Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.”

¨   17 And Elisha prayed, “O Lord, open his eyes so he may see.” Then the Lord opened the servant’s eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.

¨   Questions

¨   What does Revelation 21:1-4 teach us about the New Earth? What is the particular significance of verse 3 as it relates to where Heaven will be located?

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