This sermon is number 8 in a series of 8
Glimpses Of Glory - Part 8
"Questions And Answers On Heaven"
by David Legge | Copyright © 2007 | All Rights Reserved | www.preachtheword.com
Well, first of all let me say, in introduction, a few remarks. I was very encouraged by the questions that were submitted, because they are all evidence of the fact that, if nothing else, you have been thinking about heaven over the last eight weeks. That has encouraged me, and the questions are very insightful - and because, as we have gone along, we have answered a lot of obvious questions that most people ask, like 'Will We Know One Another in Heaven?' and so on, because of the fact that we have answered those, hopefully satisfactorily, there have been created a whole new layer of questions. The more questions we sought to answer, it seems the more questions were rising in our hearts and minds. So we are seeing the fruit of that, and some of the questions I could never have anticipated.
Now a little caveat, a note of caution before I embark upon these questions tonight. There are some things about heaven that we can be dogmatic about - 2 Corinthians 5:8, that it is to be absent from the body, for the believer to die, and be present with the Lord. However, most of the questions that are asked, and the answers that are given about heaven, we can't be dogmatic about, we can't be absolutely sure. I will say that this evening when I'm answering questions, when we cannot know possibly for sure - but we can surmise from some Scriptures that God has given to us, and there are some rational speculations that are not unwarranted that we can make, derivative from portions of the Word of God. But I want to air this word of warning: don't take everything that I say tonight dogmatically, and please do not get upset if you don't see it the way I portray it this evening. Be like the Bereans, and search the scriptures whether these things are so.
Now I want to lay a foundation for all I say tonight very quickly, and for any questions that we seek to answer. The first is this: keep in mind the things that we are sure of. Please don't miss that, for there is a lifetime of rejoicing and satisfaction in what we know - Philippians 1:23, that whatever heaven is, whatever our questions are, Paul says 'It is better by far'. Psalm 16:11, at God's right-hand there are pleasures forever more, and whatever will be, and whatever further questions you are left with tonight unanswered, or answered unsatisfactorily, remember what the Psalmist says in Psalm 17:15: 'I shall be satisfied, when I awake, with thy likeness'. Whatever it will be, you'll be satisfied, and it will be beyond anything that you could ever have wanted.
Then this second foundation I want you please to lay before we answer these questions is: whatever difficulties and problems and questions we have, we need to realise that they are not difficulties and problems to God. Nothing is a problem to God, and therefore you ought not to let any question about heaven bother you. Don't let anything I say tonight bother you. Jeremiah 32 and verse 27 says: 'Behold, I am the LORD, the God of all flesh: is there any thing too hard for me?'. I was reading recently in the nativity story in Luke chapter 1, and in verse 37 concerning the virgin conception which men think impossible, and God says: 'For with God nothing shall be impossible'. So whatever problems and questions we have, they are not problems or difficulties to God, they will all be ironed out in the end.
Now it is not possible for me tonight to answer all the questions - you would know that right away - the questions that I have been given. Some of the questions that were submitted were not specific to the subject of heaven, so I apologise, but I have had to leave those out for obvious reasons. If your question isn't answered tonight, I also apologise, and maybe if we have time tonight afterwards, you might want to wait behind and I will try to answer them personally if I can. Now I want to split these questions into four categories, and the answers. The first category will be those that we do not know the answer to, or cannot know the answer to. The second category are questions that I have already answered in the series, and maybe you weren't here that particular night, and I will try to answer those that have difficulty, perhaps, with some of the explanations that I have given over the past weeks. The third category are different questions, but having the same answer - so the question has come in several different forms, but it's the same answer to them all, and so I have tried to clump a few questions together to get you value for money tonight! Then fourthly there is a final section on separate questions that are unrelated, and some of these questions we will be able to answer quickly, and some will need more time. So let's see how far we get this evening.
The first question for our consideration, and this is one I think we can't really know the answer to: do you think that our earthly occupations will have any bearing on what we will do in heaven? Well, I don't know whether they will or not. I suppose it will depend on your occupation. It might have: but if you're an undertaker or a doctor, I can say absolutely for sure that you will have nothing to do in heaven according to the trade that you have here on earth - but maybe if you are a gardener, or an engineer, there might be something for you to do up in glory, but we can't be sure of these things.
Now we have been talking quite a lot about heaven at home, because of the subject, and because of so many whom we love who have gone to be there, and even folk in the church who are entering that place as we speak. Lydia, my five-year-old daughter - it's amazing the questions that children can ask you on these eternal truths - along with asking recently 'Are there any birthdays in heaven?', she asked (that's a good question, and I can't answer that one), she asked: 'Do people pray in heaven, and does God turn around when He hears them pray?'. How could you answer that one? There was another question came in the box that was very similar: can the saved dead continue to ask God for things that they had been praying for on earth? For example, can they still make requests for people for whom their prayers had not been answered during their time on earth?
Turn with me to Revelation chapter 6, and this is a portion of Scripture that we looked at already on a previous night. We have here the souls of dead martyrs who have been slain, and they are under the altar, and they are crying unto God, it says, and my interpretation of this passage is that they are in heaven - and that is the intermediate heaven at present, where the dead saved go - they are there, and it says in verse 10: 'And they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth?'. So it appears, at least, that some folk who have died in Christ, these martyrs, are praying, and here they are praying specifically for vengeance and God's righteousness to be displayed against those who persecuted them and took their lives. Ultimately that is a prayer for God's judgement and redemptive plan to be fulfilled. So this prayer of those who we believe are in heaven, certainly they are the saved dead, it fits in with what is being decreed by God in heaven, and what is being executed in His plan of redemption and judgement on the earth. Also, I think you'll agree hopefully, there is an element of solidarity here with these dead martyrs who are praying, solidarity that is with suffering saints who are still suffering on the earth for the judgement that they are looking God to give their persecutors, their persecutors who are still persecuting the living saints of God who are striving in the kingdom.
So these martyrs are aware that they have been martyred, and they are aware that others are still being persecuted, and so they are praying in heaven according to the knowledge that they have. Now, they are not the only ones that we know pray in heaven. Christ is, at the moment, praying for us in heaven as our Great High Priest. So it's reasonable to assume that we will pray more in heaven than on the earth. I remember preaching on prayer on at least one occasion, and saying that you need to pray all you can now, because when you die and go to heaven you'll not be able to pray any more - and that was a lot of nonsense! Some of you know I talk a lot of nonsense from time to time, but the fact of the matter is: how will we talk with God? How will we commune with God in heaven, in His immediate presence, other than prayer? Now it will be a more direct communication and dialogue of course, but is that not prayer? We find praise and worship throughout the book of Revelation which could also be categorised as prayer, but from the scant information we have: any prayer that is found in heaven seems to be related to God's plan and purpose in redemption through the church, and that's interesting. For you remember the Lord Jesus in John 17 said: 'I pray for them', that is the church, 'I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me; for they are thine'. So what I'm saying is: we can't really know, but we know that these martyrs are praying for God's vengeance and fulfilment of God's righteousness on the earth. We know that Christ is praying, but there is nothing to suggest that people in heaven would be praying concerning unanswered prayer on the earth. In fact, I feel personally that it is unlikely.
Now our next question is: if no marriage - this is in the second category of our questions, that is those that I sought to answer in previous weeks, but maybe the answer wasn't satisfactory for some, and I'll try and answer a bit more satisfactorily tonight. If no marriage is in heaven, and our relationship with each other is better by far, what about people who have married twice? Now as I said, if you want to get the tape on study 5, 'Will We Know One Another in Heaven?', and how will we relate to one another, do that - indeed, all of the series is available as soon as we can get them run off if you want to order those. In Matthew 22 of course, verse 23 and following, the Lord Jesus, in answer to the Pharisees and also the Sadducees, said that there would be no marriage in heaven. So as an institution, marriage will cease. The reason we gave for that in our study number 5 was that, as Ephesians 5 teaches us, Paul shows that marriage is a shadow of the unification of Christ as the Bridegroom and His bride, the church, in heaven. So it is an echo of the great redemption story, it is a signpost, and once we get to our final destination the shadow and the signpost is not necessary any more.
But I did allude to the fact that our relationship will carry on, though we won't be married, everything that we have known will be better and greater. Now our problem is that we cannot conceive how we could be happy if two spouses whom we were married to on the earth were in heaven. The reason why we can't conceive of being happy with that scenario is that we wouldn't be happy with it down here on earth - isn't that right? Now, there are two important facts that we must not forget, and this will help you if this is your question or you are perturbed by it. The first fact is this: though the relationship fostered in life, the relationship, the deep intimacy on an emotional and spiritual level, I believe will continue, you will not be spouses in the institution of marriage in heaven. So, therefore, there will be no other spouse to be jealous of, there will be no other spouse, for there are no spouses in heaven in the sense of the marriage institution. So though the emotional bond will continue and the relationship that was in the family will continue to exist, I believe, there will be no other spouse. Then the second fact is: jealousy won't exist. We will be perfect! If I could put it like this: literally we will have the best of both worlds, if you find yourself in this situation. That is, you will have a more fuller relationship than you had on earth with your husband or wife and, even if another husband or wife is there, jealousy or resentment will not enter in, and you will even have a perfect love towards them.
Maybe that's idealistic for you, but that seems to be a reasonable assumption that we can make, I feel, from the word of God. So remember this, whatever your perplexities are, remember: we will be perfect and we will be happy - you might say: 'That's impossible!'. You're forgetting something: nothing is impossible with God! So whatever your problem is dear, or sir, it's not a problem to God. You will be happy there, and you will be satisfied there, and there will be no jealousy, or animosity, or resentment, or a feeling of being robbed. Here's the important thing in all these questions: you don't need to worry! It will be even better than when you had your spouse down here on earth to yourself, that's the bottom line. There were two widows, they might be here tonight, who said to me - I think it was after study number 5 - that I did them a power of good, because they realised that their husbands would be perfect in heaven! I said: 'Aye, but you have wee problem here: will you be able to recognize them then?'. But praise God, the Lord will make all these things right in glory.
Now the third category, which is I think the largest one tonight, are different questions that have the same answer. This is the first clump of them tonight: how will we not remember the things we have done wrong? In the light of Luke 16, that's the story of the rich man and Lazarus - the rich man in hell, Lazarus in Abraham's bosom - will we remember those who are lost? Third: will the saved in heaven see the lost in hell? Loved ones who have died unsaved, will the memory of them be wiped from our memory? So let me give you an answer that I think covers all of these in somewhat of a way. Luke 16, the difficulty in our minds regarding memory often derives from Luke 16 and some other portions of Scripture that seem to indicate that the saved have some knowledge of the lost. Lazarus in Abraham's bosom seems to be aware of the rich man in hell, and aware of the great gulf fixed, and so we're aware of little verses like that that tend to trouble us, and yet we feel within our heart of hearts that such a knowledge would impede upon our experience of heaven. Indeed somebody said to me over these last weeks: 'Heaven wouldn't be heaven if I knew that my unsaved loved ones were in hell'.
Now, we established this fact, and I think it is categorically clear: that there is no doubt that memory is a part of our humanity, it's something inbuilt in our human personality. But there ought to be, at least in our emotions, the lack of assurance that we don't want to remember anything that's bad - do you understand? We feel that anything that's bad, or a memory of it, would impede upon our experience of heaven. Now, I'm quite sure tonight that we will not remember everything - listen to that: we will not remember everything in heaven. For instance: specific sins. How will we not remember the things we have done wrong? Though we will remember, I believe, that we were sinners, we will not remember the sins that we have sinned. Now you say: 'How will this be?'. Well, God says that 'Your sins and your iniquities, I will remember no more' - now if God can do that for Himself, surely God can do the same for us? Does that not follow? Yet we still have doubts, perhaps, at times. If you think about it, sure most of us have already forgotten many of our sins that we have sinned, isn't that the truth? None of us can remember everything that we've ever done that is wrong, so do we not think that God can do supernaturally in His wisdom what we do naturally in our ignorance? I'll repeat that: do we not think God can do supernaturally in His wisdom what we do naturally in our ignorance? Do you not think God can cause us to remember no more our sins and our iniquities?
Now, though that be the case, I'm sure, regarding some areas, that the greater work of heaven regarding our memory - and I'm thinking particularly of the intermediate heaven, paradise now, where the dead in Christ go at this moment of time - I think the greater work about heaven is that God will enable us to see difficult things through His eyes. We will be able to see things from His standpoint, the way He sees them. Now I don't want to expand on this too much, because it's problematic, but I want you to turn with me to Revelation chapter 19 for a moment or two. So we're saying that we're not going to remember everything, we're certainly not going to remember things that will trouble our experience of heaven and shake us in our joy and peace, but the greater work of heaven will be that God will bring us to a place where He will enable us to see things, that would have been difficult for us down here on earth, from His standpoint. Revelation 19, and we are reading of the fall of Babylon: 'And after these things', verse 1, 'I heard a great voice of much people in heaven, saying, Alleluia', that's an expression of praise to God, 'Salvation, and glory, and honour, and power, unto the Lord our God: For true and righteous are his judgments: for he hath judged the great whore, which did corrupt the earth with her fornication, and hath avenged the blood of his servants at her hand. And again they said, Alleluia', more praise, 'And her smoke rose up for ever and ever. And the four and twenty elders and the four beasts fell down and worshipped God that sat on the throne, saying, Amen; Alleluia', more praise to God. 'And a voice came out of the throne, saying, Praise our God, all ye his servants, and ye that fear him, both small and great. And I heard as it were the voice of a great multitude, and as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of mighty thunderings, saying, Alleluia: for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth'.
Four times we find that expression 'Alleluia', and what is it an expression in reaction to? God judging Babylon! Now listen to me: Babylon isn't some kind of impersonal nonentity, it's going to be a group of people, human beings - but because we have been brought so perfectly into the centre of God's sovereign plan of redemption and judgement in heaven, we will be in a position where we will be able, from the depths of our hearts, to praise God for Him judging rebellious sinners. I know that's hard, but it's in God's word. After all, God knows all about what's happening, the bad and the good, and the angels do, and Abraham did, and Lazarus did, and it doesn't rob their experience of heaven.
That said, let me say that I don't think the saved in the eternal state will forever see the lost in hell - I don't think that that is possible. Someone asked in one of the questions: Jesus said to the Jews that the time will come, Luke 13:28, that there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when ye shall see Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, and all the prophets, in the kingdom of God, and you yourselves thrust out - and they asked the question, 'When will they see, and how will they see if they are lost in hell?'. Well, I think the sense of Luke 13:28 is about the day of judgement, when those unbelieving Jews of Jesus' day will see others, verse 29 of that passage talks about people coming from the north, south, east and west into the kingdom of God, and it's insinuating Gentiles, and these Jews who thought they had inherited the kingdom will see Gentiles entering it, and they will be cast into hell. That's what they will see: they'll see those who were out of the commonwealth of Israel entering the kingdom of God, and they are cast out into outer darkness. That doesn't mean that when they are in the outer darkness that they'll see the righteous in heaven, no.
Nor do I think that we will continually carry the memory of the lost in our minds in heaven. I don't think that's possible. Certainly there may be an awareness that God's wrath and God's judgement are just, but it's hard to imagine throughout the aeons of eternity that we will have in our minds the memory of those whom we have loved and literally lost, I don't think that's possible. But the general point to remember is this: we will not be as we are now, and just as our resurrection bodies will be fitted with greater capacities, so will our minds. Even things that we find would be impossible for us to hold and conceive of now, we will be able to do then. Though we will not have omniscience like God, we will have a more complete knowledge, where we will be able to see things as never before, even as God has seen them. So things that seem problematic, even impossible for us now, will not be then. It's important to remember that.
So I hope that comes some of the way to answer that question. Here's another one someone wrote personally: 'As a granddad myself, I can now look back to when, as a young boy, I had a lovely relationship with my granddad. How will we relate to each other then?'. In other words, he related on this earth as a child to a granddad, but he's not going to do that in heaven - that's his insinuation. So how will he relate? His granddad didn't know him as an adult. Here's another question: after the end of time, when the Lord makes all things new - though time will not end - will the earth be peopled, and will children be born to them? So here's another question that relates to age, what age we will have if there is age in heaven. Children who die, another question, in childhood: will they be children in heaven? Another: will parents who have lost unborn children through miscarriages, or stillborn, recognize and fellowship with them in heaven? Another: what age will we be? Will we all be the same age?
Now I'm going to give the one answer to all these questions: the Bible does not indicate what age we will be in heaven, nowhere. I don't believe that it's a reliable thing to take the age of our Lord when He went to glory as a guideline, there's no reason to do that. The Bible doesn't say either that we'll be the same age, or whether there will be children in heaven, or whether we'll all be adults in heaven. There is no indication at all, but there are two things that I think we can be sure of - and if you want to know why, get our fifth study on 'Will We Know One Another in Heaven?'. There will be recognition of each other in heaven, and there will be relation with each other in heaven. Those two things we can be sure of, because we have precedent for people after death appearing, who are in heaven now, recognized; and we also know that they relate to one another, because we have been made to relate to one another, and there are incidents and illustrations of how they relate to one another in the Bible.
Now, though we cannot know, we do know that children have a special place in God's heart. That is revealed in the scriptures. For instance, Matthew 18 verse 10, the Lord Jesus said: 'Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones; for I say unto you, That in heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven'. There are other portions of Scripture to show that God has a special sympathy toward children: 'Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not, for of such is the kingdom of heaven', and many other verses. So God is predisposed to have mercy and grace towards little children, and we must assume that that's the same with little children who have died. Now all that being said, it does seem through the weight of Scripture that maturity and coming of age seems to fit in with the ideal of heaven. If heaven is to be the consummation of all things, it seems that maturity is the goal of what heaven will be, and an entering into what we should be, and the growing to be what God intended us to be.
To give you a Scriptural foundation for that, turn with me to 1 Corinthians chapter 13 verse 11, Paul says: 'When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things. For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known. And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity'. So Paul is showing us that, though we look through a glass darkly now, when we get to glory in heaven we will see all the clearer; and though we have been children here in our understanding, there we will be adults. Now that doesn't mean literally in age, but it still has the idea that there is a level of maturity that will be achieved in heaven, and a spiritual growth. So development and growth will be matured in that realm. Now, because we know - and we'll touch on this in a moment or two in an answer to another question - but because we know, I think it was last week, that we will be learning in heaven, it may be - because nothing is impossible with God - that God marries these two things together: development, growth, maturity and learning.
So it is quite possible, though we are only speculating, that children who have died down here on earth, parents may have the joy of seeing these children as children in the eternal state, but enjoying their growth and development as they missed out on it down here on earth, and seeing them come to that maturity. That may be, it's impossible to know, but one thing is sure: that whatever was cruelly lost and taken from a parent through the death of a child, that will be restored in heaven to their satisfaction. So miscarriages that have been mentioned - I'm led to believe, I'm not an authority on it, most women have miscarriages in their life and don't even know about some of them. So there are myriads of children in glory, miscarried, stillborn. Can you imagine that, I think in America, every day there are 4000 abortions - and all those children, we have no reason not to believe, are in heaven? Whatever age they are, I don't know, but isn't it a wonderful thought that there are plenty of orphaned children in glory at this moment in time, whatever maturity they have, to go round everyone - even those who never had their own children down here on earth. We saw in that particular study, in week 5, that we will be one whole family, and parental instincts that some have been robbed of in this life will be well fulfilled in the next with each other as we relate to one another in that great family of God. It's wonderful, isn't it? So whatever questions we have of age, we will be sure that these dear children will be in glory.
Now here's another question, two questions that I will give one answer to. 'You said animals and nature will be in heaven' - I know people with allergies didn't like that one - 'and maybe this will be on the new earth'. So this person is subscribing that: 'Well, I can see that happening on the new earth that will be created, but will it also be in heaven?' - I imagine they're going to try to relegate themselves in heaven, and keep away from the new earth if there's too many pets down here. So they want me to explain: do I mean that there will be animals in heaven itself? Here's another question quite similar: 'I'm unclear about the city foursquare', that is the New Jerusalem, 'which is to come down out of heaven. Will we be able to live either in heaven or that city?'.
So I want to answer both these questions with the one answer. Turn with me first of all to 2 Kings 6:17 - you people who don't want animals in heaven, you need to look at these verses now. Don't forget you'll be perfect, the perfect animal lover that you've always wanted to be but resist in your heart of hearts, you will be one day. Second Kings chapter 6 verse 17, and this is one you've probably never noticed, in this regard anyway: 'And Elisha', verse 17, 'prayed, and said, LORD, I pray thee, open his eyes', the eyes of Gehazi, his helper, 'that he may see. And the LORD opened the eyes of the young man; and he saw: and, behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha'. Now, where did these horses come from? Do you know? Where did they come from? Heaven! There's no new earth yet, so they came from heaven. I know they're celestial horses, but they're horses - a horse is a horse, of course. Where did they come from? They came from heaven. Now turn with me to Revelation 19 in case you think: 'Oh, that's a strange verse, you can't build it all on that'. We're not being dogmatic, but these are the indications from Scripture - Revelation 19 and verse 19, and it's not the beast I'm talking about here, I know that's figurative: 'I saw the beast, and the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against him that sat on the horse, and against his army'. Verse 11: 'I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war'.
Now, you're the folk that are always telling me and others that you need to take the book of Revelation literally, that's all I'm doing, and there is a horse coming out of an open heaven, and the Lord Jesus is on it. There's no problem here with thinking about animals in heaven. Then Revelation 22, it's not just animals but nature we find in heaven, Revelation 22 verse 2: 'In the midst of the street of it', this is the eternal state now, and the New Jerusalem, 'on either side of the river', so there is a river there, 'was the tree of life', so there is a tree there, 'twelve manner of fruits', so there is fruit there, 'and yielded her fruit every month', month is there by the way, time is still there, 'and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations'. If you go back to Revelation chapter 2 for just a moment, you see this tree of life in relation to heaven now, not the eternal state but heaven now, where the believer goes when they die now. In verse 7 of chapter 2: 'He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God', heaven now.
Now, I think in our second study, where I talked about how heaven is a physical place - I at least insinuated that I believe that what was lost in Eden was taken to heaven, that paradise of God, and that's why heaven is called 'paradise', and the tree of life that was in Eden is now in heaven. We have that there in Revelation 2, and that same tree of life, that was in Eden and is now in heaven existing at the moment, will be in the eternal state in the New Jerusalem. So there is a tree there, and this helps to answer the next question about this city foursquare which is coming down out of heaven. Will we be able to live either in heaven or that city? Well, in answer to that question, remembering everything I've just said about the first question, it is not an either or. It's not 'Will we either live in the city foursquare, or will we live on the new earth?', because what the Scripture teaches - although not everything is clear, of course, concerning it - is that there will be a new kind of unification of heaven and earth in the new heavens and the new earth.
If you turn with me to Revelation 21, this is where we find this fact, verse 1: 'I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea. And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God'. Now some expositors have tried to explain that the New Jerusalem, the city foursquare, will hover like a satellite over the earth, and we will be able, like spacehoppers, to move from one to the other - I don't think that at all, because God's word says that this New Jerusalem is coming down to earth, that's what it says. So that the tabernacle of God will be with men, and God will dwell with them, and they will be His people, and He will be their God. So there is this unification, if you like, of heaven and earth. Now I'm not saying the heavens will cease to exist, or anything like that, because Hebrews tells us that the heaven where God dwells is unshakable - but what it is telling us is that there will be a new unification of heaven and earth, so that the New Jerusalem will be on the earth. So it will not be 'Will we live in one or the other?', but we will live in both, and I think there will be a certain amount of freedom for us to live in either of those places, and to move from one to the other.
In verse 3 we hear the voice saying that the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them - so there is this joining of heaven and earth. Now if you want another verse to help you with that, turn with me to in Ephesians 1, and this is a verse that indicates God's purpose in salvation ultimately. Ephesians 1, so we're thinking of the New Jerusalem coming down from heaven and residing on earth - incidentally, that will mean that the Garden of Eden, where that tree was, will be back on earth again, Eden restored. Remember, that's God's plan: not to make new things that never existed, but to make old things that existed, and that were tainted by sin, new, redeemed. Verse 10 of chapter 1 says: 'That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him'. There it is clearly, I believe, for you. So the possibility of living both in the new heaven and the new earth is real.
Now, we move on to individual specific questions, in the time that is left we will try to answer them. If reward in heaven is different for each individual - which we showed last week it was - how will we not be disappointed? Now I can answer this one pretty quickly, and it's with an analogy that I found very helpful to me. You can take a bucket down to the ocean, or you can take a thimble, and you can fill both of those receptacles with the ocean - the bucket and the thimble can be filled with the sea. That's the way you ought to think of God's reward in heaven, reward is like the capacity of a bucket or a thimble, and both of them are equally filled. Whatever your reward is in heaven, all of us will be equally satisfied, and will equally, in a sense, be fulfilled and joyous in that realm - but the big question is: would you rather have a bucket or a thimble? Which would you rather have? So we will be satisfied without the same reward, and yet those who have greater reward will have great satisfaction and a great capacity, a greater capacity I believe, to enjoy heaven as their reward.
Another question: last Monday you said there might be discussion etc in heaven, and this individual thought it was disturbing to think people may disagree and fall out in heaven. I did say last week, and I think it is true, that though we will be perfect in a moral sense in heaven, there is nothing to suggest that we will know everything in heaven. Indeed, Revelation 6 and verse 10, where the martyrs are under the altar there, they are crying to God: 'How long until you avenge our souls?', and that infers that they didn't know how long that God was going to take to judge the earth. So we don't know everything in heaven, whilst we have a clearer and more perfect knowledge, and see face-to-face, it is not absolute because omniscience, all-knowledge, is a divine attribute. But the mistake we make - and again I'm going over old ground, but it's necessary - is we think that not knowing everything is a flaw, that not knowing everything is a flaw. It is not a flaw, it's like memory, it's something that is human - because God is the only one that knows everything.
Now if we are entering into a new heaven and a new earth, and there's no reason not to believe that there will be all sorts of new phenomenon in that realm that we have never seen in this realm, we have much to learn about. The Scripture does indicate clearly that we will, in eternity, learn more about God and more about His grace. Let me remind you of Ephesians 2, if you care to turn to it, and verse 6: 'God hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus' - that word, I taught you, 'shew', means 'revealed'. So there's going to be a progressive revelation right throughout eternity where God will reveal to us more and more about the wonder of the plan of redemption, and the great glories and wonders of God and the person of Christ; so that we will enter more into the knowledge of the height, and the length, and the depth, and the breadth of the love of God. Because God is greater than all eternity, learning of God and learning of His grace will exhaust all the time and all the energies that we will care to engage in the pleasure that God intends in learning.
So I think it's very clear that we will learn in heaven. Intellectual curiosity is not part of the curse, the devil didn't teach us to think, or work, or learn - and the perfect Man, the Lord Jesus, the perfect Man learned and grew in knowledge. So the question I pose just for you to think, just for you to think, is: do you think in heaven that everyone will walk around like robots, knowing everything there is to know, and will never have discussions, and will never reason or will never debate? Now I don't mean debate in a negative sense, where people are losing their head and walking away, I'm not talking about that. I'm talking about deliberation. Now I think it's obvious that deliberation, reasoning, is part of the process of learning. I'm not talking here about moral issues, we will know right from wrong, and we will know God's truth; but as God causes us to enter into the depths of His truth, and the depths of His wonderful universe that is around us, will we not be asking questions? Now when you and I learn in this scene, we ask questions of ourselves, and we say to ourselves: 'What does this do?', or 'How does this work?', or 'What does that mean?' - and if we ask those questions of ourselves down here, and we're going to be exposed to a whole realm that we have never known here, and we'll not have all-knowledge up there, does it not follow that we might ask those questions: 'Boy, I wonder how many solar systems there are in this new heaven and new earth?'. Do you think you'll just know like that? Or, 'Isn't the tree of life beautiful, how did God make all these things so beautiful?'. As God reveals more and more things to us, as we have been looking at even in these weeks, the more questions you have - and if we ask those questions of ourselves in the process of learning and reasoning, what then is there to stop us asking them of each other? I'll ask Jim here, if he gets there in the end, I'll ask him: 'What do you think of that?', and he'll tell me all the answers! But there's nothing wrong with it, and it will be part of the joy of learning.
Here's where our mental block is, and I said this last week: we make the mistake of thinking that unity is uniformity, and because we have never learned the lesson down here of learning what it is to discuss things and not fall out, we think it's impossible to do it up there, but it's not. We'll be perfect, and we'll not fall out - and won't it be wonderful that if two of us are discussing something in heaven, and we don't know the answer, we'll have the Lord, and He'll have the answer!
Now here's another question, and we're nearly finished: could you lay out the schedule of events referring to the following: we die in Christ, are present with the Lord, the dead in Christ shall rise first, and then those who remain will be caught up with Him in the air, what part do we take if we are in heaven? I think the thought is, and I'm reading a bit behind this question, that the person is saying: if we are already in heaven, and the dead in Christ rise first, how does that happen? I think, to follow the process of thought here, if we die now as a believer, our souls go to be with the Lord - 2 Corinthians 5:8, absent from the body, present with the Lord; Philippians 1, to die is to be with Christ, which is far better. Then 1 Thessalonians 4 tells us that the dead in Christ, when Jesus comes again, will rise first, and we that are alive and Christians will be caught up. First Corinthians 15 talks about the translation of the saints when they rise at the last trump, and the corruption puts on incorruption, and we shall be changed in the twinkling of an eye, and this mortal must put on immortality. Now the only reasonable way to reconcile these two clear biblical facts is that God will unite body that is in the earth, and soul that is in heaven, together as He raises the dead bodies of believers and translates them. God is going to unite the whole man, and that is the resurrection plan.
The final question, you'll be glad to know, well the final one for tonight anyway, is - and this is my favourite question out of them all, whoever gave this one, I like this one: will we have the opportunity to spend one-to-one time with our Heavenly Father, Saviour, and Holy Spirit, either collectively or separately, just to sit alone and commune with them? I think that's what heaven is all about. God is spirit, and the Holy Spirit is spirit, so the Father and the Holy Spirit are invisible, non-tangible, but we said that we will see God in the face of Jesus Christ. So through the Son, as now, we will know the Father and we will worship the Godhead, both collectively and individually. Now don't ask me to explain the logistics of this, because obviously there will be so many Christians there, a great company that no man can number - but don't worry about it, we'll be there for all eternity and there will be plenty of time to commune with the Lord, though I know that it's hard to imagine.
Revelation 21:3 says: 'I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men', we read it, 'and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God'. The implication of that is communion, fellowship, relationship. So it will be there, and it might be that it will be there with all of us, at all of the time, at every place, every opportunity. Revelation 22 verse 4: 'And they shall see his face', talking about fellowship, 'and his name shall be in their foreheads'. I don't know how it will happen, or how it can happen, but it will happen.
Here's a thing that came very forcibly to me in answer to this question: in a very true and literal sense, to spend one-to-one time with our Heavenly Father, Saviour and the Holy Spirit is an opportunity and a privilege we have now. Do we take it? Truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son, Jesus Christ, now. Can I leave you, as I close, with a quote - and out of many of the quotes that I have read in my life, this has been one that has been most instrumental - it is John Owen, that great puritan, in his book 'The Glory of Christ', and I've quoted it to you in my introduction and along the way, but it is profound - and if you miss it, you will miss heaven. 'No man shall ever behold the glory of Christ by sight in heaven, who does not in some measure behold it by faith in this world'. No man or woman shall ever behold the glory of Christ by sight in heaven, who does not by faith in some measure behold it in this world. Do you see Jesus as the Author and Finisher of your faith? Him having not seen, do you love Him? Will you be with Him in heaven?
I was with a dear man before I came here tonight, and soon he will behold His faith in all its beauty. He is dying, there is no cure for him, but soon he's going to be with Christ. Will that be your experience? It can be, only through Jesus.
Father, we thank You tonight for Jesus' blood and righteousness, for the solid ground on which we build our house. We know that when the storm of judgement comes upon this world that, because we are built on the Rock, the Word of Christ, we shall endure, and endure unto the end. Even the gates of hell will not prevail against His church. Thank You Lord, for salvation, thank You for the certainty of heaven, and Lord we thank You that one day we will be in glory, and we shall see the King in all His beauty. Lord, if there is one soul here tonight without such hope, arrest them in Jesus' name, and save them. From this day on, our Father, let us have a view of heaven that keeps us going down here on earth, as we give You thanks for everything in Christ's name, Amen.
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This sermon was delivered at The Iron Hall Assembly in Belfast, Northern Ireland, by Pastor David Legge. It was transcribed from the eighth and final recording in his 'Glimpses Of Glory' series, entitled "Questions And Answers On Heaven" - Transcribed by Andrew Watkins, Preach The Word.
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