HEAVEN IS PEOPLE

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HEAVEN IS PEOPLECopyright Š 2012 Robert B. Thompson. All Rights Reserved

Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright Š 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers.

The description in the last two chapters of the Book of Revelation is not that of Heaven. Rather it is the new world of righteousness and it is on the earth. The scriptural description of Heaven is as follows:

But you have come to Mount Zion, to the heavenly Jerusalem, the city of the living God. You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly, to the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven. You have come to God, the judge of all men, to the spirits of righteous men made perfect, to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel. (Hebrews 12:22-24)

It is not the scenery that makes Heaven heavenly, it is God, Jesus, and the spirits of righteous people made perfect that make Heaven heavenly.

I have written quite a bit about Heaven. All of my writings are in the Kindle Library, by the way.

If there is a word more venerated than "Heaven," by Christian people, I do not know what it would be.

Many people in America are having dreams and visions of Heaven. This probably is because we in America are moving toward moral and physical chaos. We have given ourselves over to sexual lust and the pursuit of money, material things, and comforts. Also, gods other than the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ are being worshiped in our land more often than has been true previously.

Little by little, God is removing His covering from us. We can see evidence of this in the increasingly bizarre crimes that are taking place. If I am not mistaken, such crimes are going to become more prevalent barring a nation-wide turning from the lusts of flesh and spirit.

Books about the spirit realm invariably will spring to the top of the best-seller lists. There is in America a deep national interest in Heaven. I think in our country there is a sense among Christian people that we are moving toward persecution and other calamities.

Today is Christmas day. December 25, 2012. I am sitting at my computer wondering if God intends to give me a new essay today. Everything I have written in a Christian context has occurred as the Lord has impressed a topic on me, and then has helped me write about it.

During my musings I was reading in the newspaper, UK "Travel" section, about the Chinese Light festival held in Rotterdam. It is a Chinese lantern portrayal featuring 35 exhibits.

One main exhibit is the Temple of Heaven. The building is radiant with numerous bright colors. Perhaps this is telling us that Chinese people, who have strong traditions about Heaven, think of Heaven as being a light-filled colorful land. We Americans have our own traditions, but I believe in many cases we also envision a light-filled colorful land.

Our perception of Heaven is interesting, in that when God installed Paradise on the earth the accent was on people in a garden, not in a highly ornamented temple or city. I think there is an important reason why the Garden in Eden, which was Paradise, does not fit our grandiose concept. It is because we emphasize spectacular scenery rather than the kind of people that are there. This is not clear thinking!

Yet we can point to the new earth, and the holy city, Jerusalem, as described in the Book of Revelation. This certainly is more in line with how we envision Heaven. But that description is, as I have stated, the new world of righteousness. It is on the earth. It is not Heaven!

I believe sometimes that the Tree of Life, the River, the golden street, the highly ornamented wall, the gates of pearl, found in the last two chapters of the Book of Revelation, while they may exist as such, are portraying spiritual truth.

It is of note that there is no temple, no church structure, in the new world. This was true of the Garden in Eden. However, in both cases, God was present on the earth. This is the best feature, isn't it.

We Christians view eternal residence in Heaven as the goal of our salvation. We imagine Christ came to bring us to Heaven to live forever and that this is eternal life. However this venerable concept is not at all supported by the Scriptures.

But how about "in my Father's house there are many mansions"? The Father's house is not the place termed Heaven but the Lord Jesus Christ. In Him dwells all the fullness of God.

As for the "many mansions," this is referring to the places in Christ in which we dwell; in which we abide. "Abide in Me"! We are members of His Body, and, as such, we dwell in the great Tabernacle of God that Christ Himself is.

There is a passage in the Book of Hebrews to which we should be paying attention when we are speaking about Heaven:

But you have come to Mount Zion, to the heavenly Jerusalem, the city of the living God. You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly, to the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven. You have come to God, the judge of all men, to the spirits of righteous men made perfect, to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel. (Hebrews 12:22-24)

Such is Mount Zion, the city of the living God.

The spirit world indeed must be an exceedingly vast area. Think of it! All the dead from the beginning of time are there, in some section or another depending on their personality and behavior.

In this vast area there is a city. The city is the heavenly Jerusalem, the exact same city that will come upon the new earth as the new Jerusalem.

We can see that it is the Heaven toward which we pray in that God is there; the holy angels of God are there; the Church of the Firstborn is there; the spirits of righteous people made perfect are there; the Lord Jesus is there; and also His blood that He sprinkled in the Most Holy Place in order to reconcile mankind to God.

Now notice the verbs: "have come, have come, have come."

Spiritually speaking, we already have come to God, to the Jerusalem which is in Heaven. This reminds us of the Apostle Paul pointing out to us that we already have died and our life now is hidden with Christ in God.

So our objective is not to go to Heaven when we die. If we are abiding in Christ we already have come to the heavenly Jerusalem.

Now notice this expression:

"To the spirits of righteous men (people) made perfect." I think it is true that as we overcome sin and disobedience now, while living on the earth, we grow in righteousness in our spirit in the heavenly Jerusalem and are permitted to be closer to the Throne of God.

We already in our spiritual nature are dwelling in Heaven.

Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. (Colossians 3:1-3)

"You have been raised with Christ."

So we see that our goal is not to go to Heaven when we die, we already in a spiritual sense are in Heaven. Our objective then is to stay there. We already have been crowned with glory in Christ. But we have to be careful that no one is able to remove our crown from us.

One outstanding danger today is that of dwelling on the evil in the world. The evil is going to become worse. The Apostle Paul commanded us to think about things that are lovely and of good report, not about the works of Satan in the earth.

If we dwell on that which is of Satan we will be torn down from our high place in Christ.

What is important is not that Heaven is a place of novelties, of colorful lights shining, but of "the spirits of righteous men (people) made perfect."

Adam and Eve were created in Paradise. Paradise was on the earth at that time. No more perfect residence could be imagined, not even a city of colorful lights.

God was present in this marvelous paradise. But Adam and Eve were not reconciled to God in their personality. They were innocent. But they did not understand the importance God places on obedience.

They neither were righteous nor unrighteous. Their soul was a blank page. They had no experience of life. They did not understand that God insists on stern obedience to His commands.

A perfect environment but imperfect people. The result was the loss of Paradise and entrance into the toils and worries to which we all are accustomed.

What does the story of Adam and Eve tell us? It tells us that our goal is not residence in Heaven. Our goal is to be reconciled to God in our spirit, soul, and body so that we do not ruin Paradise for ourselves and everyone else.

We may say that we have been saved by grace and God as a result overlooks our yielding to our sinful nature. However, the writings of the Apostle Paul make clear to us that if we continue in sin we shall not inherit the Kingdom of God.

The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. (Galatians 5:19-21)

But there is an issue in addition to that of yielding to the works of our sinful nature. The issue is obedience to God.

Obedience to God is not a product of the sin that dwells in our flesh. Obedience to God must come from our soul, from our place of identity. We must choose whom we are going to serve.

It is for this reason that the Christian people are not ready for Paradise and the Presence of God to be returned to the earth. Most Christian people, let alone the people of the world, have never learned the importance of obeying every Word that comes from God's mouth.

We may be obeying the New Testament, as far as we know; but in addition to this we must keep ourselves at all times in the place where we can hear from God and perceive how God is guiding us.

Because of this lack of obedience, God has placed a thousand years between the next coming of Jesus and the descent to earth of the heavenly Jerusalem. During that time, the elect in the new Jerusalem will be taught righteousness, and especially the extreme importance of strict obedience to God.

When the believers have been prepared fully to serve as a royal priesthood, they will return to dwell upon the new earth as the new Jerusalem. They will instruct those of the nations who have been saved by believing in Christ, how to be totally reconciled to God.

When Jesus returns, there will be a remnant of Christian people who will have made themselves ready to be with Christ in the work of installing the Kingdom of God on the earth. This will consist of governing the nations with a rod of iron righteousness, which is their own conquering personality.

Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready Fine linen, bright and clean, was given her to wear. (Fine linen stands for the righteous acts of the saints.) (Revelation 19:7,8)

The passage above is speaking of the return of Christ, in which a remnant prepares herself to be raised and ascend to meet Him in the air. The marriage of the remainder of the Bride occurs a thousand years later.

The remainder of God's elect, as I have stated, will be brought to perfection in the new Jerusalem. They will not be on the earth during the thousand-year Kingdom Age, governing the saved people from the nations.

The problem with holding Heaven as the goal of our redemption is that our going to Heaven will not solve our problem. Our problem is not that we are living on the earth but that we have not been reconciled to God. We have been reconciled, it is true, in that our guilt will be forgiven through the blood of the cross. Such reconciliation is available to anyone who will ask our Lord for such forgiveness and reconciliation to the Father.

But as long as we have refused to come to Jesus each day and confess our sins that have been shown to us and have turned away from them, we have not been reconciled to God in our behavior. And if we have not been sternly obedient to Christ, we have not been reconciled to God in our will. It is useless to think of going to Paradise while we still are not being reconciled to God, even though we have "accepted Christ."

Notice this fact in the following passage:

"Therefore come out from them and be separate, says the Lord. Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you." "I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty." (II Corinthians 6:17)

If one will read through the New Testament it is easy to see that there are few if any references to going to Heaven. In contrast, there are numerous exhortations to us to obey Christ and to lead a righteous life.

If we think about it, we would not enjoy residing in a beautiful land of many colorful lights if our neighbors were unrighteous and disobedient to God. We would want to move far away from them. Such a place simply would not be Heaven to us.

What is this fact telling us? It is telling us that Heaven is, first of all, kindly, honest, God-fearing people with whom it is a joy to be around.

Am I correct in this? To enter a land that was beautiful beyond our most wonderful vision of Paradise, but that was filled with selfish, quarrelsome individuals, would not be to our liking.

Let us say Heaven were divided into two areas, one which contains the most glorious light-filled buildings and residences but the population is mean and hates God and His righteous ways. Every form of sinful behavior is readily available and you can practice any form of physical indulgence that you desire.

The other area was made up of plain houses and small farms. The people are friendly and generous. They hate sin and love God and Jesus and delight to talk about them and do Their will.

In which of the two areas, honestly, would you choose to reside?

Lot, Abraham's nephew made his choice, didn't he?

Think carefully about these two areas. Your choice will give you insight into yourself.

The longer I serve God and Christ the more convinced I have become that God is not interested in our religion but in what kind of person we are. If we will allow Him to do so, He will reconcile us totally to himself. When that occurs, and it shall if we carry our cross patiently behind the Lord Jesus and do not quit in the middle of our redemption, we will be called the "friend of God," as was Abraham.

I hope some day to be called the friend of God. Do you? I trust that you do.

Then will all your people be righteous and they will possess the land forever. They are the shoot I have planted, the work of my hands, for the display of my splendor. (Isaiah 60:21)

It is the people, not the environment, that will display God's splendor.