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Written by David Montgomery   

Of Glorification

 The Future State and Abode of the Elect

We sing a lot about Heaven don’t we? “When We All Get to Heaven” is a song that the little children especially like to sing. Look in your songbooks and you will see plenty of songs about this wonderful place. It is interesting that we sing so much about a place which we know so little about. It is also interesting that we are going to spend a very long time there and yet, we don’t know what it will be like. Now personally, I am not satisfied with that. When I go to a place, I like to know all I can about it. I will read and do some research so that when I get there, there will be no surprises. Well, this is what I have done with Heaven. If the Bible has something to say about it, than I want to know. I like to think about Heaven and the more I can find out about it, the better thoughts I have. I like that. Good thoughts are nice. So, let’s see what we find out, shall we?

First, a little myth busting:

1. Spending eternity sitting on a little cloud, wearing a white robe and strumming on a harp does not excite me. Does it you? I didn’t think so. This idea comes from the Book of Revelation where it uses these things as symbols. The white robes stand for the sinlessness of God’s people because they have been washed clean of their sins. The 24 elders had harps by which they sang the “New Song” which is the Song of Redemption. We sing that song today with our hearts. God forbid that we should wait till we get to Heaven to sing it. The clouds? Hey, John looked up into the clouds and that’s where he saw all this stuff. No brainer.

2. Singing nonstop forever and ever does not excite me either. Now, I can feel your glare right now. Stop it! You’re hurting my feelings! Just let me ask you this question: Where does it say in the Scriptures that we are going to sing forever and ever? I cannot find one verse that tells us that we are going to sing at all up there. Now, I am NOT saying that there will be NO singing in Heaven, but there is no clear-cut verse that says that we will sing in Heaven. But what about those 24 elders? Didn’t they sing? Yes, but, like I said, I think we’re singing that New Song right now.

3. We will not know each other up there. Where did this myth come from? If this is true, that means we will know LESS in Heaven than we did here on earth. Let us look at the Scriptures and see if this idea hold water. When Samuel was called down from heaven back to earth (this really happened in 1Samuel 28:7-19), he knew exactly who King Saul was. And he knew what was happening on earth and he knew what was going to happen on earth in the future. I personally believe that we will have this depth of knowledge. Another case: Moses and Elijah knew the Lord on the Mountain of Transfiguration even though they had been dead for many years. They also knew that Jesus was going to die and what that death entailed. If Moses, Elijah and Samuel all knew these things, I have confidence that we shall know likewise. Some say, “Oh, but how can we take knowing about the sorrow on the earth when we’re in heaven?” Don’t worry about it. You will be in an immortal and incorruptible body. You will know as you are known. Trust me, you’ll be able to handle it. (I fully realize that I will get a lot of disagreement on this point, but I do feel very strongly about it).

So what is heaven like and what are we going to do up there? Let’s look at the first part of that question: What is Heaven going to be like?

The Lord Jesus described the eternal abode as “Paradise.” Read how one dictionary defines this very interesting word: “It appears to have an oriental origin. It is said of the king of Persia that he had gardens which were called paradises, full of everything beautiful and good that the earth could produce. The Old Testament, adopting this word for the garden of Eden, which signifies 'delights,' accounts for Eden being often called paradise, and accounts for the use of the word in the New Testament as denoting some place of happiness and blessing in the heavens. The Lord on the cross called it Paradise where the thief would be with Him that day. The name is also given to 'the third heaven,' to which Paul was caught up, 2Co 12:4; and to the paradise of God, where there is the tree of life. Re 2:7.”

The Garden of Eden was the place that God fully intended for man to dwell. He has always desired for His people to live in such a place. Though Paradise was lost in Adam, it was regained in Christ. We have another Paradise: a New Garden, a New Eden, a well-watered, skillfully designed and beautiful place to live. It is more than clouds…I think it has trees, grass, plants…things you can imagine but made so more beautiful than they ever were on earth. It is a place of gentle breezes and soft grass and cool shade. It is the like the dying words of Stonewall Jackson, “Let us pass over the river and rest under the shade of the trees.” It is “Aslan’s Country” as C.S. Lewis so well described in “The Last Battle” as a place with things that we knew before but made more beautiful than we ever thought possible. Heaven is familiar, but it is also new. Heaven is comforting but also exciting. Heaven is a city but it is also a garden. It is a Garden City with endless delights and charms.

“I am going to a city,
Where the roses never fade.
Where the tree of life is blooming
And the roses never fade.”

“Oh, the transporting rapt’rous scene,
That rises to my sight.
Sweet fields arrayed in living green,
And rivers of delight.”

These songs describe the beauty Heaven contains. I agree with the songwriters that it is a place of natural beauty and wonder. I do not think these songs are hokey sentimentality but I think they are accurate and scriptural. I like the thoughts these hymns bring and I am both comforted and excited. Cool, cool, cool.

So what are we going to do up there? Well, I don’t know about you, but I am going to spend a lot of time talking. Yes, you heard me right…I’m going to be talking and when I’m not talking, I’m going to be listening. When I’m not doing that, I’m going to scout around and check it all out. Consider with me, the Apostle Paul’s description what he did in Heaven. This is found in 2Corinthians 12:2-4. I am including the text without the parenthetical statements. Check it out.

“I knew a man in Christ above fourteen years ago, such an one caught up to the third heaven. And I knew such a man, how that he was caught up into paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter.”

I think Paul is talking about a personal experience. I think he really went to the Heaven and he really heard those beautiful things. But let’s look closely at this text. Paul said he heard “unspeakable things.” What in thunder does that mean? How can you hear something that can’t be spoken? He also said he heard “things not lawful for a man to utter.” If you look at the Greek, the expressions “unlawful” and “unspeakable” are the same Greek word. The word can also be defined “private.” I think Paul is telling us that he had a private conversation that was just between him and the Lord and it was forbidden to Paul to tell the things he had heard. It’s not like he didn’t understand the words…he did understand then, but he was not at liberty to repeat them. This is a nice thought: when we get to Heaven, we are going to talk with the Lord. Not just see Him, but talk with Him. Do you like that? I do! Remember Moses and Elijah on the Mount of Transfiguration? What were they doing? They were talking to the Lord. Amen! I like talking and I like talking to good people. When we get to Heaven, just imagine the conversations we’ll have. Have you ever been at a good meeting and you heard all that good singing and preaching and you just talked and talked and your soul was so happy? That is a glimmer of Paradise, my friend.

So what do you think? We shall be in a beautiful park-like place, surrounded by good people with the Lord right there in our midst. Can you imagine that? Yes, but do you think it will be better than you imagined? Oh yes! “Even so, Come Lord Jesus!”

“O their crowns, how bright they sparkle!
Such as monarchs never wear;
They are gone to heavenly pastures--
Jesus is their Shepherd there.
Hail, ye happy, happy spirits!
Welcome to this blissful plain!--
Glory, honor, and salvation!
Reign, sweet Shepherd, ever reign.”

-- “Thorny Desert” by William Walker
To me, the Shenandoah Valley comes the closest to what I think Paradise will be like.
The Texas Hill Country comes a close second
Last Updated ( Friday, 03 April 2009 )
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