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Heaven Series--Surprise #1: Heaven Has A Physical Dimension!

Heaven Series God's Care Heaven

Contributed By: Illustration Exchange | Date Posted: 2017-12-24

Scripture: 2 Corinthians 5:3

Author: Mitchell Dillon
7

ILLUSTRATION

One of the most pervasive misperceptions about Heaven is that it is a purely ethereal, non-physical place—a place where disembodied spirits float around in an immaterial dimension, presumably playing harps! Some don’t even consider it a place at all, but have reduced it to a state of mind!

But this is not the Heaven described in the Bible.

Perhaps the strongest argument for a physical dimension to Heaven is the fact that Jesus is there right now, physically, in His resurrected body. And it’s not just Jesus who took a body with him into Heaven; the Bible tells us that Enoch and Elijah were also transported there in their physical bodies (Hebrews 11:5; 2 Kings 2:11). 

So the Bible makes it clear that there are at least three people presently in Heaven who have a human, physical form. This strongly suggests that there must be a dimension to Heaven that makes accommodation for embodied people—that it’s not just an ethereal, non-physical place.

Adding a bit more food for thought is the fact that the Bible describes the Tree of Life (pun intended), first mentioned as being physically present in the earthly Garden of Eden, as now physically existing and producing fruit in Heaven.

Reason also supports the idea of a physical dimension to Heaven. Consider the following illustration:

Let’s say you’ve been invited to have dinner at the mansion of a friend who happens to be incredibly wealthy, with maids and butlers and cooks available at his beckoned call.

On the night of the engagement, as you’re in route, your car suddenly starts to sputter and then comes to an abrupt halt, stranding you nearly a mile from your destination. So you decide to walk the rest of the way.

With just a couple of blocks to go you hear a loud thunder clap, and the next thing you know you’re overtaken by high winds and driving rain.

As you bolt to get out of the torrential downpour, you stumble and take a hard spill on the sidewalk, badly scraping your knee. Moments later you arrive, soaked through to the bone and bleeding. Your host, happy to see you, quickly ushers you in from the storm.

But then your friend does the most bizarre thing. Actually, it’s what he doesn’t do that’s so surprising. Although he sees your terrible condition, and hears your shoes squishing and squeaking as you pass through the foyer, he makes no effort to respond to your obvious needs. No towel with which to dry off is offered, no clothes to replace the ones that are torn and wet, and no bandage is forthcoming for your injured knee. Instead, he invites you directly to the dining room where you spend the rest of the evening in his lovely home over a sumptuous meal, all the while dripping, shivering, and bleeding.

APPLICATION

Here’s the point: The expectation most people have of Heaven bears an important similarity to the way the guest was treated by his thoughtless host. For although we anticipate God ushering us into the most amazing accommodations imaginable, most of us don’t expect that He will pay much attention to our physical condition. After all, it won’t just be warm clothing or a bandage for a scraped knee that we’ll be lacking, but our very bodies!

Think about how utterly absurd it would be to finally stand in the presence of the One Who loves you more than any other, of the One Who promises you a perfect Heaven, and to lack anything, let alone your entire body! Such an idea is not only an insult to God, it demeans Heaven itself—as though Heaven would offer us anything less than what we enjoyed on earth.

The possession of a physical body is a critical component of being human. The notion that we would exist in an incomplete state while in the presence of God makes God less, it makes Heaven less, and it makes us less.

Does this make sense to you? I hope so. But I must also humbly admit that just because something makes sense to me doesn’t mean that it is necessarily true. As the Bible reminds us, "’For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,’ declares the LORD” (Isaiah 55:8). That being so, we turn to the Scripture for a final word.

There are actually many passages that assert that there are physical dimensions to Heaven, but none address the issue of our need for a physical body as directly as 2 Corinthians 5:1-5 (NLT), which reads, “For we know that when this earthly tent we live in is taken down (that is, when we die and leave this earthly body), we will have a house in heaven, an eternal body made for us by God himself and not by human hands. We grow weary in our present bodies, and we long to put on our heavenly bodies like new clothing. For we will put on heavenly bodies; we will not be spirits without bodies. While we live in these earthly bodies, we groan and sigh, but it’s not that we want to die and get rid of these bodies that clothe us. Rather, we want to put on our new bodies so that these dying bodies will be swallowed up by life. God himself has prepared us for this, and as a guarantee, he has given us his Holy Spirit.”

Here we have a decisive statement by an Apostle who not only visited Heaven, he came back to tell us “we will not be spirits without bodies.” So, according to these verses, there aren’t just three people with physical bodies in Heaven—rather, every person in Heaven will be made whole and complete

Heaven Series--Surprise #2: Earth Was Intended To Be Our Heaven!

Heaven Heaven Series God's Immutability

Contributed By: Illustration Exchange | Date Posted: 2017-12-24

Scripture: 2 Peter 3:13 ; Matthew 5:5

Author: Mitchell Dillon
3

ILLUSTRATION

In an effort to avoid the expense of buying a new vehicle, I once bought an older van and replaced the engine. In my mind, this would be the next best thing to having a new van. My plan was working like a charm until the transmission starting slipping. Shortly after I replaced my transmission, the drive shaft literally fell off while I was driving down the highway. The problems cascaded into a series of minor and not so minor issues until I finally couldn’t afford my van anymore. I sold it for a fraction of what I had put into it just to stop the bleeding. Sometimes things don’t turn out according to our plans. That’s because, being human, our best intentions are often flawed. 

We must be careful, however, not to superimpose this same limitation on God. Unlike us, God’s intentions are always perfect. So perfect that God Himself can’t even improve upon them. This is a very powerful principle. To observe just how powerful, take note of everything God has ever intended to do and you’ll discover a very significant pattern. When God intends to do something, one way or another, it always happens.

Take the subject matter at hand as an example. To discover what Heaven will be like, all we really have to do is take note of God’s original intentions. After God created the universe and everything in it, the Bible says, “God saw all that he had made, and it was very good” (Genesis 1:31). That means everything was exactly how God intended it to be. Man was granted dominion over a perfect world. There was no death, no sickness, no sin and no struggle—just as God intended.

So, what would have happened had Adam and Eve never eaten the forbidding fruit? Presumably, mankind would have lived forever in an earthly paradise. Fruit and vegetable bearing plants would have thrived instead of weeds. Man would have leisurely enjoyed exercising dominion over God’s creation. The animal kingdom would have lived in submission to man as its caretaker, enjoying peace and harmony within itself. But sadly, man sinned, and paradise was lost forever. Or was it?

APPLICATION

To you and me, intentions are just intentions. We set out with the best of them, but when things don’t work out, we simply change our plans (our intentions) and move on. Not so with God. God’s intentions are perfect, which means they can’t be improved upon, and thus they never have to be changed.

So, taking that logic into account, if Earth was intended to by our Heaven—if that was God’s original intent—shouldn’t we expect that Earth will end up being our Heaven? Exactly! The Bible begins with God creating Earth to be man’s eternal abode and the Bible ends with God returning to His original plan by creating a New Earth to be man’s eternal abode. The Bible ends where it began, with God coming back to His original plan!

The fall of man didn’t negate God’s original intentions; it just delayed them for a while. Right now, you and I live in a pause period, a period of redemption where God seeks to save those who are lost due to the fall of man. When redemptive history is complete, the moment the last of mankind has been resurrected and judged (Revelation 20:11-15), God will go back to His original plan! In fact, it’s in the very next verse that the Apostle John wrote, “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the old heaven and the old earth had disappeared” (Revelation 21:1).

The Apostle Peter put it this way, “But we are looking forward to the new heavens and the new earth he has promised, a world filled with God’s righteousness” (2 Peter 3:13).

Several hundred years earlier, the great prophet Isaiah recorded God making this same promise: "See, I will create new heavens and a new earth …” (Isaiah 65:17). Despite the fall of man, God’s original plan will be fulfilled!

None of this should be a surprise to us. Jesus, in the most famous sermon ever delivered, The Sermon on the Mount, promised, “The meek … shall inherit the earth” (Matthew 5:5). Notice, according to Jesus, our eternal inheritance won’t be a harp and a cloud; it won’t be an ethereal abode. It will be Earth itself!

So, regardless of what you’ve heard about Heaven, God’s clear promise to you is that one day the “New Earth” will be your Heaven!!

Heaven Series--Surprise #3: Heaven And Earth Will Be Merged!

Heaven Series Heaven Prophecy

Contributed By: Illustration Exchange | Date Posted: 2017-12-24

Scripture: Ephesians 1:10 ; Revelation 21:2

Author: Mitchell Dillon
6

ILLUSTRATION

Don’t you just hate it when things aren’t compatible? Like when all you have is a standard socket set and the bolt you need to remove requires a metric socket. Or, when you forget to bring your phone charger on a trip and you can’t use your spouse’s because she has a newer model phone. We’ve all been there.

That’s how many people think of Heaven and Earth, as though they are opposites, incompatible in virtually every way. But such an antithetical view of Heaven and Earth creates problems of its own.

Have you ever noticed the contradiction between the pastor’s comments at a typical funeral service versus the comments made at the ensuing graveside service? The funeral message often speaks of an ethereal Heaven where the deceased is delivered from all of their earthly concerns and physical struggles, while the focus at the graveside is placed on the hope of a bodily resurrection. Now that’s a head scratcher! If our eternal abode is a blissful, though immaterial Heaven, why would we be brought back for a bodily resurrection? What possible good would a body be in a non-physical Heaven anyway? Oddly, few seem to notice the incongruity.

The source of this confusion stems from a fundamental misunderstanding about the nature of Heaven itself. The Bible doesn’t view Heaven and Earth as incompatible opposites but as a Kingdom that has been divided. Remember, in the beginning, we are told that Adam walked with God in Paradise and that Paradise existed here on Earth.

Heaven wasn’t an ethereal, non-physical place at that time. And it won’t be in the future when we have been resurrected and have physical bodies that require a Heaven that can accommodate them. So why should we believe that Heaven is any different right now? 

Nevertheless, many people think of Heaven and Earth as though they represent two discordant realities—like oil and water, destined to be separated forever. But once again, we discover something remarkably different when we allow the Bible to weigh in on the issue. The Bible not only suggests that Heaven and Earth are compatible, the Apostle Paul wrote that a day is coming when they will be reunited!

“And this is the plan: At the right time he will bring everything together under the authority of Christ--everything in heaven and on earth” (Ephesians 1:10, NLT).

The Apostle John added his voice to the conversation, providing an eyewitness account of this future event.

“And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven like a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. I heard a loud shout from the throne, saying, "Look, God's home is now among his people! He will live with them, and they will be his people. God himself will be with them” (Revelation 21:2-3, NLT).

APPLICATION

Heaven is where God is, and one day that will include the Earth! Just as it was in the beginning, so it will be again. Just as God originally intended it should be, it will be. God and man, Heaven and Earth, will one day be one.

The fact that we are promised a bodily resurrection only makes sense if there is a physical dimension to Heaven. The fact that Heaven and Earth will one day be merged only makes sense if they are compatible realities.

In actuality, the only incompatibility between Heaven and Earth is sin. Remove sin and the suffering and death associated with it, and you remove the one thing that caused Heaven and Earth to be separated in the first place.

Likewise, if you want to visualize what Heaven will be like, just imagine this world without the sin, without the suffering, without the struggle, and without death!

Heaven Series--Surprise #4: A Room Prepared Just For You!

Heaven Series God's Provision God's Promises

Contributed By: Illustration Exchange | Date Posted: 2017-12-24

Scripture: Psalms 23:6 ; Luke 24:39

Author: Mitchell Dillon
7

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Heaven Series--Surprise #5: You Won’t Be Bored In Heaven!

Heaven Series Sin Nature Unbelief

Contributed By: Illustration Exchange | Date Posted: 2017-12-24

Scripture: 1 Corinthians 13:12 ; Jeremiah 17:9

Author: Mitchell Dillon
6

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Heaven Series--Surprise #6: You Can Know That Heaven Is Real!

Heaven Series Apologetics Prophecy

Contributed By: Illustration Exchange | Date Posted: 2017-12-24

Scripture: 1 John 5:13 ; John 3:12

Author: Mitchell Dillon
7

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Heaven Series--Surprise #7: The People We Will Find In Heaven

Heaven Series Grace Paradox

Contributed By: Illustration Exchange | Date Posted: 2017-12-24

Scripture: Ephesians 2:8 ; John 3:3

Author: Mitchell Dillon
7

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Heaven Series--Surprise #8: The People We Won’t Find In Heaven

Heaven Series Salvation False Hope

Contributed By: Illustration Exchange | Date Posted: 2017-12-24

Scripture: Matthew 7:13 ; Matthew 7:23

Author: Mitchell Dillon
7

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Heaven Series--Surprise #9: Some Will Be “Taken” To Heaven!

Heaven Series Rapture Wrath

Contributed By: Illustration Exchange | Date Posted: 2017-12-24

Scripture: 1 Thessalonians 1:10 ; 1 Thessalonians 4:17

Author: Mitchell Dillon
7

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Heaven Series--Surprise #10: The Perfect Ending!

Heaven Series Millennial Kingdom Sin Nature

Contributed By: Illustration Exchange | Date Posted: 2017-12-24

Scripture: Genesis 1:31 ; Revelation 20:9

Author: Mitchell Dillon
6

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