Heaven, Hell, & Hades (part 3)
Greetings precious people. In todayís article we will be concluding our study on the subjects of Heaven, Hell, and Hades. In the past two articles we examined what the Bible, Godís Word has to say about the reality of Hades and Hell. Regardless of what a person may think or feel, Hell and Hades are real places. They are places that no one would ever choose to go if they knew the truth about them. The wonderful thing is, is that they are places that no one need to go. Jesus Christís death upon the Cross makes it possible for anyone and everyone to forego this horrible fate. If you are willing to accept Godís assessment of you, of us all, that we are sinners incapable of saving ourselves, repent of your sins, and turn to Jesus Christ in faith, you will never have to experience such a destiny. Jesus paid the price to free you from Hell and Hades. If you would like a copy of either of these, just make your request to one of the addresses listed below.
In todayís article we will be looking at the subject of Heaven. As with the two previous subjects of Hell and Hades, there is no shortage of opinions that people have concerning Heaven. Many think that everyone will eventually get there, others believe heaven is what you make it to be, while a few donít believe there is any such place. As you know, just because someone believes a certain thing about something does not make it so. That is why we want to look at what the Bible, Godís Word, has to say about Heaven. Godís Word has never changed and never will. It remains constant and consistent in a world that is always changing and full of inconsistencies.
The Bible has much to say about Heaven. The Bible speaks of Heaven in the plural, Heavens. In Genesis 2:1, "Thus the heavens and the earth, and all the host of them, were finished." Genesis 2:4, "This is the history of the heavens and the earth when they were created, in the day that the LORD God made the earth and the heavens." Deuteronomy 10:14, "Indeed heaven and the highest heavens belong to the LORD your God, also the earth with all that is in it." Psalm 8:3, "When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, The moon and the stars, which You have ordained." Psalm 19:1,
"The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament shows His handiwork."
There are three Heavens or three parts to Heaven that the Bible makes mention of. In 1 Corinthians 15:40-41, "There are also celestial bodies and terrestrial bodies; but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another. There is one glory of the sun, another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for one star differs from another star in glory." The terrestrial is that space above the earth, which we call the atmosphere. The celestial is that vast span of space where the stars and planets exist which we call space or outer space. It is interesting that over the years astronomers have discovered that which we know as outer space seems to go on and on, seemingly without end.
Then there is that "third heaven" which is spoken of by the Apostle Paul. In 2 Corinthians 12:2-4, "I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago--whether in the body I do not know, or whether out of the body I do not know, God knows--such a one was caught up to the third heaven. And I know such a man--whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows-- how he was caught up into Paradise and heard inexpressible words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter."
I believe this man of whom Paul is speaking of is none other than Paul himself. Fourteen years prior to his writing this, Paul was in a city named Lystra preaching the Gospel. A group of people didnít like what he had to say and took him to the edge of town and stoned him to death. It was at this time the Lord took him to Heaven/Paradise and showed him great and wonderful things.
This "Third Heaven" "Paradise" is where the throne of God is. It is above the other two heavens previously mentioned. Whenever the Bible mentions the throne of God and angels around the throne, it is referring to this place. This is the place the Apostle John refers to in the Book of Revelation. In Revelation 21:2-8, "Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, "Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away." Then He who sat on the throne said, "Behold, I make all things new." And He said to me, "Write, for these words are true and faithful." And He said to me, "It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give of the fountain of the water of life freely to him who thirsts. He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be My son. But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death."
As the above verse states, there will be no more pain, sorrow, curse, night, or death in Heaven. The will be no more sin or the effects of sin. There will be peace, fullness of joy, rest, reward, and righteousness in Heaven. The best part of Heaven for me is that Jesus Christ, my Lord and Savior will be there. I will be able to gaze upon the one who loved me so much to give His life for me. I will be able to be with Him forever more.
Jesus spoke much about Heaven. He told many parables describing what Heaven is like and how one can get there. Matthew 13:24-30, "Another parable He put forth to them, saying: "The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field; but while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat and went his way. But when the grain had sprouted and produced a crop, then the tares also appeared. So the servants of the owner came and said to him, 'Sir, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have tares?' "He said to them, 'An enemy has done this.' The servants said to him, 'Do you want us then to go and gather them up?' "But he said, 'No, lest while you gather up the tares you also uproot the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest, and at the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, "First gather together the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them, but gather the wheat into my barn." ' "
Jesus would later explain this parable in Matthew 13:36-43. Tares look much like wheat but they are really weeds. Much like many people that "say" they are Christians and are not. There is coming a day in which God will separate the real Christians from the phony ones. One of the most frightening verses in the Bible is found in Matthew 7:21-23, "Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, 'Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?' "And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!'"
Godís Word makes it clear that not everyone that thinks that they are going to Heaven is going. 1 Corinthians 6:9-11, "Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God (Heaven). And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God."
It is important to note that the Corinthian Christians had practiced the sins mentioned in the previous verse, but they had repented. There was a change in their lives, a change that Jesus made when they accepted Him and allowed Him to rule and reign in their lives. It is not the hearers of the Word that are justified before God but the doers of the Word. Jesus said in Matthew 7:21, "Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven." What is the will of the Father in Heaven? Listen to Jesus as He answers this question, in John 6:29, "Jesus answered and said to them, "This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent."
Have you put all your faith in Jesus Christ alone for salvation? If you were to die tonight, are you absolutely sure you would go to Heaven? Are you born again? If your answer to any of these questions is no, you are in trouble. You need to turn to Jesus now and accept Him as your Lord and Savior.
If you have any questions, comments, or prayer requests you can contact me at: Calvary Chapel of Alpine, P.O. Box 1528, Alpine, Ca. 91903 or call 619-445-2589, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Drew Macintyre is pastor of Calvary Chapel of Alpine