1. Heaven the Place Where God Dwells
Colossians 3:1–2 (ESV)
3 If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.
Do we have heaven on our minds? It’s probably safe to say we don’t as much as we should. As a result of that, we tend to be tolerant, selfish, self-centered, and weak. We are far too consumed with our own indulgences. We desire to be comfortable with probably only passing thoughts of heaven. Contrast that with the fact that just about everything that’s precious to us is in heaven.
God the Father is in Heaven
Matthew 6:8–9 (ESV)
8 Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. 9 Pray then like this:
“Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name.
In a very real sense, the One who is the source of everything for us, God Himself, is in heaven.
God the Son is in Heaven
Hebrews 9:24 (ESV)
24 For Christ has entered, not into holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true things, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf.
Not only is our Father in heaven, but our Savior is in heaven as well. In
Our fellow Christian brothers and sisters are in Heaven
Hebrews 12:23 (ESV)
23 and to the assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect,
Not only is our Father in heaven, and our Savior in heaven, but our brothers and sisters in the faith are in heaven. Old Testament saints are there, New Testament saints are there, everyone who has died in faith in Christ is in heaven.
Our Names are written in Heaven
Luke 10:20 (ESV)
20 Nevertheless, do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.”
Not only is our Father there, and our Savior there, and our brothers and sisters there, but our name is recorded there. What does that mean? That means we have a title deed to some property there. We are citizens of that place.
Our inheritance is in heaven
1 Peter 1:3–4 (ESV)
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you,
Your eternal inheritance is in heaven. All the riches of God’s glory and grace are set aside for you and for me in heaven. Our Father is there, our Savior is there, our brothers and sisters are there, our name is there; that is, we hold title to a place in that land, and our inheritance is there.
Philippians 3:20–21 (ESV)
20 But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ,21 who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.
Our citizenship is there. We are citizens of that place, we belong there.
In Matthew 5:12 Jesus said, “Blessed are you when you’re persecuted, for great shall be your reward in heaven.”
Our eternal reward is there.
So, when you think about heaven, you’re identifying the place where your Father is, your Savior is, your brothers and sisters are, your name is there, your inheritance is there, your citizenship is there, your reward is there and your treasure is there as well. To sum it up: heaven is your home.
We are strangers. We are pilgrims. We are aliens in this world. We are like travelers who are on a planet not our own. We don’t belong here. Every time somebody in this world meets us, they’re meeting alien beings. We are the aliens. We have arrived here, but our home is somewhere else. Everything we love is there. Everything we cherish is there. Everything valuable is there. Everything eternal is there. And yet, here we are in the church of Christ in the United States in this century, committed to indulging ourselves in this alien land.
1 John 2:15–17 (ESV)
15 Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world. 17 And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.
I think there are many people who claim to love Christ, but the fact that they love the world so much means that they’re not heavenly citizens at all.
It is a place, and all the people who love God are either there already or going there. Now, that’s pretty simple. Heaven is a place and all the people who genuinely love God are either there already or are going there to live forever in complete perfection and glory. Now, we have to live in the light of heaven.
My goal in this study is for all of us to love Christ more and more; to desire to be with Him where He is. To set our minds on these things and to focus less on earthly things and to love earthly things less and less all the time.
Here in our temporary home…
2 Corinthians 4:7–9 (ESV)
7 But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. 8 We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; 9 persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed;
Now, our earthly tent is in the process of being torn down. The outer man is decaying all the time.
2 Corinthians 5:1–10 (ESV)
5 For we know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. 2 For in this tent we groan, longing to put on our heavenly dwelling, 3 if indeed by putting it on we may not be found naked. 4 For while we are still in this tent, we groan, being burdened—not that we would be unclothed, but that we would be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. 5 He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee.
The Apostle Paul longed for heaven and his new heavenly body.
So here is a man who is literally longing for his heavenly form, longing to be in that eternal place. And now, “He who prepared us,” he says in verse 5, “for this very purpose is God who gave to us the Spirit as a pledge.” Now, what did he mean by that? “The Spirit is a pledge,” as Paul calls Him in Ephesians 1, He is an earnest or an arrabon. That’s a Greek word that means “an engagement ring.” When God gave you His Holy Spirit, that was an engagement ring indicating that someday you’re going to be His bride and you’re going to be married to Him when you get to heaven. The Holy Spirit is the down payment; arrabon means “down payment, engagement ring, first installment.” It’s like earnest money, to borrow that old phrase.
So, the Holy Spirit is the pledge of our immortality, the pledge of our new form in the glories of heaven.
2 Corinthians 1:21–22 (ESV)
21 And it is God who establishes us with you in Christ, and has anointed us, 22 and who has also put his seal on us and given us his Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee.
The Holy Spirit given as God’s down payment causes us to long for our true home.
2 Corinthians 5:6–10 (ESV)
6 So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, 7 for we walk by faith, not by sight. 8 Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord. 9 So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him. 10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.
Now, can you say that? I mean, that’s a pretty straight statement. Can you say that the deepest desire of your heart is to be absent from the body and present with the Lord? And that’s hard for us to say because we hold so tightly to this life because it’s all we know.
We concentrate too much on the things of this world because…
1. All we know
2. We don’t really know much about heaven
3. Often much of what we think of when we think of heaven is wrong.
How many heavens are there?
Actually the Bible refers to three heavens.
2 Corinthians 12:1–3 (ESV)
12 I must go on boasting. Though there is nothing to be gained by it, I will go on to visions and revelations of the Lord. 2 I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows. 3 And I know that this man was caught up into paradise—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows—
Here Paul refers to himself being caught up into the third heaven.
is what we could call the atmospheric heaven, the atmospheric heaven. That is the space immediately above the earth. That is the air we breathe. That is generally called the troposphere. Sometimes when the Bible talks about heaven, it is referring to that first heaven. The atmosphere around the earth, it’s the air we breathe, it’s our environment in which we live.
Isaiah 55:9–11 (ESV)
9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.
10 “For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven
and do not return there but water the earth,
making it bring forth and sprout,
giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater,
11 so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth;
it shall not return to me empty,
but it shall accomplish that which I purpose,
and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.
Second Heaven – and Scripture refers to this as well – and that is the planetary area, the area where the stars and the moons and all of the planets move about. Scripture also refers to this heaven.
Genesis 1:14–15 (ESV)
14 And God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night. And let them be for signs and for seasons, and for days and years, 15 and let them be lights in the expanse of the heavens to give light upon the earth.” And it was so.
Third Heaven, moving beyond the second heaven, is the divine heaven. Now, that’s where God dwells. And that’s where He dwells with His holy angels, and that’s where He dwells with all the saints of all the ages who have been redeemed. That’s the heaven we want to concentrate on: the heaven where God lives, where the holy angels dwell, where all the redeemed of the ages past dwell.
We realize God is omnipresent, He is everywhere all the time and yet there is a special place where God is said to live.
Open your Bible to Matthew 5:16 and let me see if I can’t nail this thought down and show you how important a thought it is in the New Testament. Now, follow, Matthew 5:16; get your Bible ready and see if you can’t pick up the obvious trend. “Let your light so shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works and glorify your Father who’s” – Where? – “who is in heaven.” Verse 34, “But I say to you, make no oath at all either by heaven for it is the throne of God.” Verse 45, “In order that he may be, that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven.” Chapter 6, verse 1, “Beware of practicing your righteousness before men to be noticed by them, otherwise you have no reward with your Father who is in heaven.” Verse 9, “Pray then in this way, ‘Our Father who art in heaven.’” Chapter 7, verse 11, “If you then being evil know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more shall your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him?” Verse 21, “Not everyone who says to Me, Lord, Lord, will enter into the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven.”
The prayer of Jesus – what a magnificent, magnificent prayer it is – John 17, listen to verse 24. I love this, “Father, Jesus says, I desire that they also whom Thou hast given Me be with Me where I am in order that they may behold My glory.” That is Jesus praying to the Father to bring His own to heaven where He will live forever and ever. So, we’re in the heavenlies now and someday we’ll be in heaven. What a tremendous hope. In John 14, do you remember it? Beautiful promise,
John 14:1–3 (ESV)
14 “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. 2 In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.
Jesus wanted us to be forever where He is that we might see His glory and the glory of His Father. And He’s up there right now preparing a place for us. “In My Father’s house are many rooms.” Jesus is getting us a place ready, and we’re going to actually be in that place, as much as we’re in this place tonight. We will be in a physical form. We’re going to talk about that. What are we going to be like in heaven? It will be a physical form, in a sense, and yet it will be an eternal and glorified supernatural form in another sense. You say, “Well, where do you get the model for that?” The resurrected body of Christ. You remember He walked, He ate, and yet He ascended through space into heaven. And so, we’re looking for that place. We’re looking for that place. The Bible calls it “a city whose builder and maker is” – What? – “God.”
Philippians 1:18–23 (ESV)
18 What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed, and in that I rejoice.
Yes, and I will rejoice, 19 for I know that through your prayers and the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ this will turn out for my deliverance, 20 as it is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death. 21 For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. 22 If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell. 23 I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better.
What Heaven Is by John MacArthur
Probing Heaven by John Gilmore
The Glory of Heaven by John MacArthur
The Biblical Doctrine of Heaven by Wilbur M. Smith