What does the Bible say about Heaven?

What does the Bible say about Heaven? By Jack Kettler

In this study, we will seek to understand what the Bible says about heaven.

As in previous studies, we will look at definitions, scriptures, commentary evidence and confessional support for the glorifying of God in how we live.

“Shew me thy ways, O LORD; teach me thy paths.” (Psalm 25:4)

Definition:

Heaven

“Primarily, the essential and immediate dwelling place of God and the eternal home of His people also the place where God most fully makes known his presence to bless.” *

Definition:

Heaven is the dwelling place of God and for those who go there a place of everlasting bliss.

Scripture implies three heavens, since “the third heaven” is revealed to exist (2Corinthians 12:2). It is logical that a third heaven cannot exist without a first and second. Scripture does not describe specifically the first and second heaven. The first, however, apparently refers to the atmospheric heavens of the fowl (Hosea 2:18) and clouds (Daniel 7:13). The second heaven may be the area of the stars and planets (Genesis 1:14-18). It is the abode of all supernatural angelic beings. The third heaven is the abode of the triune God. Its location is unrevealed. (See Matthew 23:34-37; Luke 10:20; and Revelation 22:2; Rev 22:20-21). **

From the Scriptures about Heaven:

“The LORD looketh from heaven; he beholdeth all the sons of men.” (Psalms 33:13)

“I saw in the night visions, and, behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him.” (Daniel 7:13)

“After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.” (Matthew 6:9)

“And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.” (Matthew 24:30)

“And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight. And while they looked stedfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel; Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.” (Acts 1:9-11)

Ellicott’s Commentary for English Readers on Acts 1:11:

“(11) Shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.—So our Lord, following the great prophecy of Daniel 7:13, had spoken of Himself as “coming in the clouds of heaven” (see Note on Matthew 26:64), in visible ‘majesty and glory. Here, again, men have asked questions which they cannot answer; not only, when shall the end be, but where shall the Judge thus appear? What place shall be the chosen scene of His Second Advent? So far as we dare to localise what is left undefined, the words of the angels suggest the same scene, as well as the same manner. Those who do not shrink from taking the words of prophecy in their most literal sense, have seen in Zechariah 14:4, an intimation that the Valley of Jehosophat (= Jehovah judges)—the “valley of decision”—shall witness the great Assize, and that the feet of the Judge shall stand upon the Mount of Olives, from which He had ascended into heaven. This was the current mediæval view, and seems, if we are to localise at all, to be more probable than any other.” (1)

Speaking metaphorically of the city called heaven:

“For he [Abraham] looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God.” (Hebrews 11:10)

“But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels.” (Hebrews 12:22)

“And I John saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.” (Revelation 21:2)

The Celestial City

1. The goal of Christian’s journey in Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress; the heavenly Jerusalem.

2. New Jerusalem.

Heaven from Vine’s Expository Dictionary:

Strong’s Number: g3772 Greek: ouranos

Heaven, Heavenly (-ies):

Probably akin to ornumi, “to lift, to heave,” is used in the NT

(a) Of “the aerial heavens,” e.g., Matthew 6:26; 8:20; Act 10:12; 11:6 (RV, “heaven,” in each place, AV, “air”); James 5:18;

(b) “the sidereal,” e.g., Mat 24:29, 35; Mar 13:25, 31; Hebrews 11:12, RV, “heaven,” AV, “sky;” Revelation 6:14; 20:11; they, (a) and (b), were created by the Son of God, Hebrews 1:10, as also by God the Father, Revelation 10:6;

(c) “The eternal dwelling place of God,” Matthew 5:16; 12:50; Revelation 3:12; 11:13; 16:11; 20:9. From thence the Son of God descended to become incarnate, John 3:13, 31; 6:38, 42. In His ascension Christ “passed through the heavens,” Hebrews 4:14, RV; He “ascended far above all the heavens,” Ephesians 4:10, and was “made higher than the heavens,” Hebrews 7:26; He “sat down on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens,” Hebrews 8:1; He is “on the right hand of God,” having gone into heaven, 1Peter 3:22. Since His ascension it is the scene of His present life and activity, e.g., Romans 8:34; Hebrews 9:24. From the thence the Holy Spirit descended at Pentecost, 1Peter 1:12. It is the abode of the angels, e.g., Matthew 18:10; 22:30; cp. Revelation 3:5. Thither Paul was “caught up,” whether in the body or out of the body, he knew not, 2Corinthians 12:2. It is to be the eternal dwelling place of the saints in resurrection glory, 2 Corinthians 5:1. From thence Christ will descend to the air to receive His saints at the Rapture, 1Th 4:16; Philippians 3:20, 21, and will subsequently come with His saints and with His holy angels at His second advent, Mat 24:30; 2Thessalonians 1:7. In the present life “heavens,” is the region of the spiritual citizenship of believers, Philippians 3:20. The present “heavens” with the earth, are to pass away, 2Peter 3:10, “being on fire,” 2Pe 3:12 (see ver. 7); Revelation 20:11, and new “heavens” and earth are to be created, 2Peter 3:13; Revelation 21:1, with Isaiah 65:17, e.g.

In Luke 15:18, 21, “heaven” is used, by metonymy, for God.

See AIR.

Notes:

(1) For the phrase in Luke 11:13, see Note on B, No. 2.

(2) In Luke 11:2, the AV, “as in heaven,” translates a phrase found in some mss.

A-1 Adjective Strong’s Number: g3770 Greek: ouranios

Heaven, Heavenly (-ies):

Signifying “of heaven, heavenly,” corresponding to A, No. 1, is used

(a) As an appellation of God the Father, Matthew 6:14, 26, 32, “your heavenly Father;” Matthew 15:13, “My heavenly Father;”

(b) As descriptive of the holy angels, Luke 2:13;

(c) Of the vision seen by Paul, Acts 26:19.

A-2 Adjective Strong’s Number: g2032 Greek: epouranios

Heaven, Heavenly (-ies):

“Heavenly,” what pertains to, or is in, heaven (epi, in the sense of “pertaining to,” not here, “above”), has meanings corresponding to some of the meanings of ouranos, A, No. 1. It is used

(a) Of God the Father, Matthew 18:35;

(b) of the place where Christ “sitteth at the right hand of God” (i.e., in a position of Divine authority), Ephesians 1:20; and of the present position of believers in relationship to Christ, Ephesians 2:6; where they possess “every spiritual blessing,” Ephesians 1:3;

(c) Of Christ as “the Second Man,” and all those who are related to Him spiritually, 1Corinthians 15:48;

(d) Of those whose sphere of activity or existence is above, or in contrast to that of earth, of “principalities and powers,” Ephesians 3:10; of “spiritual hosts of wickedness,” Ephesians 6:12, RV, “in heavenly places,” for AV, “in high places;”

(e) Of the Holy Spirit, Hebrews 6:4;

(f) of “heavenly things,” as the subjects of the teaching of Christ, John 3:12, and as consisting of the spiritual and “heavenly” sanctuary and “true tabernacle” and all that appertains thereto in relation to Christ and His sacrifice as antitypical of the earthly tabernacle and sacrifices under the Law, Hebrews 8:5; 9:23;

(g) Of the “calling” of believers, Hebrews 3:1;

(h) Of heaven as the abode of the saints, “a better country” than that of earth, Hebrews 11:16, and of the spiritual Jerusalem, Hebrews 12:22;

(i) Of the kingdom of Christ in its future manifestation, 2Timothy 4:18;

(j) Of all beings and things, animate and inanimate, that are “above the earth,” Philippians 2:10;

(k) Of the resurrection and glorified bodies of believers, 1 Corinthians. 15:49;

(l) Of the “heavenly orbs,” 1Corinthians 15:40 (“celestial,” twice, and so rendered here only).

Note: In connection with (a), the word “heavenly,” used of God the Father in Luke 11:13, represents the phrase ex ouranou, “from heaven.”

2Strong’s Number: g3321 Greek: mesouranema

Heaven, Heavenly (-ies):

Denotes “mid-heaven,” or the midst of the heavens (mesos, “middle,” and No. 1), Revelation 8:13; 14:6; 19:17.

B-1 Adverb Strong’s Number: g3771 Greek: ouranothen

Heaven, Heavenly (-ies):

Formed from A, No. 1, and denoting “from heaven,” is used of

(a) The aerial heaven, Act 14:17;

(b) Heaven, as the uncreated sphere of God’s abode, 26:13. (2)


Heaven, Heavens, Heavenlies from the Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology:

“Heaven” is the created reality beyond earth. “The heavens and the earth” (Gen 1:1) circumscribe the entire creation, or what we call the universe. God does not need heaven in which to exist. He is self-existent and infinite. Place is an accommodation of God to his finite creatures. God transcends not only earth, but heaven as well.

“Heaven” designates two interrelated and broad concepts the physical reality beyond the earth and the spiritual reality in which God dwells. Frequently, the word “heaven” appears in the plural. The nearly exclusive word for heaven in the Old Testament, samayim [Iy;m’v], is an intensive plural more literally translated “heights” or “high places.” Jehovah is, therefore, “God most High” (Gen 14:18-20; Psalm 18:13). Of the 284 occurrences of its New Testament counterpart, ouranos [oujranov] (lit. “that which is raised up”), about one-third are plural.

The Physical Heavens. The ancient distinguished between two domains of the physical heaven perceivable by the senses. The immediate heaven is the surrounding atmosphere in which the “birds of heaven” fly (1Kings 21:24). The phenomena of weather occur in the atmospheric heaven, including rain (Deut. 11:11; Acts 14:17), snow (Isa 55:10), dew (Dan 4:23), frost (Job 38:29), wind (Psalm 135:7), clouds (Psalm 147:8, thunder (1Sam 2:10), and hail (Job 38:22). Beyond the atmospheric heaven is the celestial heaven, also called the “expanse” or “firmament” (Gen 1:8). It includes the heavenly lights stars having “fixed patterns” (Jer. 33:25; Nahum 3:16), and the sun and moon (Gen 1:14-16). The fixed character of the celestial heaven has evoked figures of speech to describe it. For example, it has windows (2 Kings 7:2), a foundation (2 Sam 22:8), a gate (Gen 28:17), ends (Deut. 3:43, a remote part (Neh. 1:9), and is like a curtain (Isa 40:22).

God employs the atmospheric and celestial heavens in his self-revelation to human beings. First, the heavens witness that a glorious God exists. “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands” (Psalm 19:1; Rom 1:19-20). Moreover, the pattern of seasons, yielding life-sustaining food, witness to God before believers.

Second, heaven contains signs establishing God’s promises. The rainbow signifies that God will never destroy the world by a flood again (Gen 9:12-16. The innumerable stars are an object lesson of the abundant way God will fulfill his covenant with Abraham (Gen 22:17; Exodus 32:13; Deut. 1:10; 1 Chron. 27:23; Neh. 9:23).

Third, God displays miraculous signs in the heavens. Fire comes down from heaven, both to judge (Gen 19:24; 1Kings 18:38-39) and to indicate acceptance of a sacrifice (1Chron. 21:26). God provided the Israelites with “bread from heaven” during their wilderness trek (Exodus 16:4). God stopped the sun’s movement (Jos 10:12-13) and used a star to pinpoint the Messiah’s coming (Luke 2:9). He also spoke audibly from heaven on occasion (Gen 21:17; Genesis 22:11 Genesis 22:15; Acts 11:9). Believers look for the return of Christ in the clouds of heaven (Mark 14:62; Acts 1:11; 1 Thess. 4:16-17).

Fourth, the vastness and inaccessibility of heaven are visual reminders of God’s transcendence, God’s other worldliness, however, is a spiritual, not a spacial, fact. When Solomon prayed at the dedication of the temple, he acknowledged, “the heavens, even the highest heaven, cannot contain you” (1 Kings 8:27).

The Dwelling Place of God. Heaven most commonly refers to the dwelling-place of God. Heaven is where the glory of God is expressed in pristine clarity. The term “glory,” therefore, has popularly been used as a synonym for heaven (Rom 8:18). Actually, God’s glory is above the heavens (Psalm 113:4; 148:13) because it is the sum total of his attributes that are expressed wherever he is present (Exodus 13:21-22; Psalm 108:5; 2Col 3:7-18). In heaven there is a continual acknowledgment of God’s glory (Psalm 29:9). Various figurative expressions identify God’s heavenly abode such as “the highest heaven” (1Kings 8:27), “the heavens” (Amos 9:6), and “his lofty palace in the heavens” (Amos 9:6). Paul speaks of being taken up into “the third heaven” (2Cor. 12:2). Although he does not identify the first two, possible references to the atmospheric and celestial heavens are suggestive.

The Heavenly Perspective. God invites human beings to adopt his heavenly perspective. All blessings, whether natural or supernatural, are from God (James 1:17; see John 3:27), who is Creator and Sustainer of the universe (Rom 11:36). Israel rightly regarded rain as a heavenly gift from God (Deut. 28:12). Likewise, drought was a sign of God’s displeasure (Deut. 28:23-24).

The extent to which earthly blessings evidence heavenly approval needs to be conditioned. Job, for example, suffered many things unrelated to his faith and obedience. In Job’s suffering, however, God was orchestrating his sovereign and just purposes from heaven (Job 41:11). Jesus taught that the span of life on earth is severely limited when considering heavenly blessing. When the godly suffer at the hands of the unrighteous, for example, rejoicing is commanded knowing that a great reward in heaven awaits (Matt 5:12). Nevertheless, “Our Father who is in heaven” gives daily bread (Matt 6:11) and “good gifts to those who ask him” (Matt 7:11).

What of those who do not adopt a heavenly perspective? Ecclesiastes, with its theme the meaninglessness of life lived “under heaven” (i.e., from a purely earthly perspective), asks readers to consider that “God is in heaven and you are on the earth” (5:2). Jesus solemnly warned, “Not everyone who says to me, Lord, Lord, will enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matt 7:21). (The phrase “kingdom of heaven,” found only in Matthew’s Gospel, is a circumlocution for the “kingdom of God” [see 19:23-24, where they are used interchangeably], owing to the Jews’ reticence to utter the holy name of God.) Also, Paul warns that partiality is forbidden even in the case of a master-to-slave relationship, because “both their Master and yours is in heaven, and there is no favoritism with him” (Eph. 6:9).

Those claiming a heavenly inheritance are required to bring the earthly and the heavenly into alignment. Jesus linked entrance into the kingdom of heaven to repentance (Matt 4:17), humility (5:3; 18:1-4), witness (Matthew 5:10 Matthew 5:16; 10:32; 16:19), obedience (5:19), righteousness (5:20), compassion (Matthew 18:10 Matthew 18:14; 23:13) and stewardship (19:23). Proactively, believers store up treasures (6:20) by being prudent managers of the little and perishable on earth in order to insure the abundant and enduring in heaven (Luke 16:1-13). Either the earthly or heavenly value system will prevail. So, those who pray, “Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven” (Matt 6:10) are obliged to live from a heavenly vantage point.

Christ and Heaven. The greatest witness on earth to heavenly glory is Jesus Christ (John 1:14 John 1:18). As the temple was the dwelling-place of God in the midst of Israel, so in a greater way the Incarnate is the dwelling-place of God. The Son uniquely preexisted with the Father in glory (17:5), “come down from heaven” (6:38), was “the bread from heaven” (6:32; see John 6:41 John 6:50 John 6:51 John 6:58) entered into heaven (1Peter 3:22), and ascended far above all the heavens (Eph. 4:10). Christ’s essential oneness with the Father is established in that the Old Testament notion that Jehovah “fills heaven and earth” (Jer. 23:24) is ascribed to Christ (Eph. 1:23; 4:10; Colossians 1:16 Colossians 1:20).

The writer to the Hebrews details the person and work of Christ from a heavenly perspective. Although Creator of heavens and earth (1:10), the Son is now seated at the right hand of God’s throne in heaven (1:4), mediating for believers (4:14-16). Christ is to be worshiped because God exalted him “above the heavens” (7:26; see Php 2:9-11). His redemptive work is completely efficacious because, unlike the priests of the old economy who ministered in a copy of the heavenly temple, Christ alone was qualified to enter the presence of God in heaven (9:23-24). Believers now “have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus” (10:19).

The second coming is the terminus ad quem of Christ’s intercessory work in heaven (Acts 3:21). Believers await anxiously for Christ’s coming “from heaven” (1 Thess. 1:10; 4:16) at which time unbelievers will be judged (2Th. 1:7-8). John, looking forward to “that day,” said it was “heaven standing open” (Rev 19:11). The figure of an opening heaven is employed at the revelation given to Ezekiel (1:1), the phenomena surrounding the Lord’s baptism (Mark 1:10), Stephen’s vision of Christ (Acts 7:56), and John’s vision of the apocalypse (Rev 4:1). But it is on account of Christ (John 1:51) and his work (Rev 11:19; 15:5) that the opening of heaven is complete. It is fitting that all manner of celestial phenomena will accompany the opening of heaven. It was a frightful thing for Israel to have the heavens shut and the blessing of God’s physical provision withheld (Deut. 11:17; 2Chron. 7:13; Luke 4:25). How much more terrible is it to be shut out of the kingdom of heaven where there is living water (Matt 23:13; 25:10)?

The Spirit and Heaven. The giving of the Holy Spirit is directly tied to Jesus’ entrance into heaven (Acts 2:33). The Spirit was sent from heaven (1Peter 1:12). He is the heavenly gift (Acts 2:38), a foretaste of the blessings of heaven (John 7:37-39). He is also a guarantee of believers’ future inheritance (Eph. 1:13-14). The writer of Hebrews indicates a relationship between “the heavenly gift,” the Holy Spirit, and the powers of the age to come (6:3-4). When Peter linked the Spirit’s coming with Joel 2:28-32 (Acts 2:17-21), he was saying that the eschatological hope of heaven was near. The “last days” had begun.

Believers and Heaven. Believers have a present and future heavenly status. Presently believers are citizens of heaven (Php 3:20-21) with a heavenly calling (Heb. 3:1); their names are written in heaven (Luke 10:20). They groan to be clothed with a resurrection body, “a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands” (2Cor. 5:1). It will be a body like Christ’s. The restoration of the image of God in human beings from earthly to heavenly will be complete (1Cor. 15:45-49). The eternal inheritance of future blessings promised by God is secure because it is “kept in heaven” (1Peter 1:4), and because believers are joint-heirs with Christ who has already been glorified (Rom 8:17).

The heavenly future all believers anticipate is the fulfillment of God’s purpose in creating the universe. It will include worship of the type revealed in the Book of Revelation (7:10; 11:16-18; 15:2-4). Worship will involve rehearsing God’s glorious Acts (19:1-2). In addition to ascription of worth, worship will involve service unspecified works done in obedience to God and for God (22:6). Believers are to offer this kind of service to God now (Rom 12:1). In contrast to present suffering, God promises believers that they will reign with Christ in heavenly glory (2 Tim 2:12; see Matt 19:28; Revelation 20:4 Revelation 20:6). In heaven believers will have fellowship with God and with each other in a perfect environment (Heb. 12:22-23).

In the Heavenlies. Paul stresses the believer’s solidarity with Christ. Since a believer is “in Christ” and since Christ is in heaven, the believer is “in the heavenlies” (en tois epouraniois). Accordingly, God has blessed the believer “in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ” (Eph. 1:3). This precise phrase occurs only five times in the New Testament, and only in Ephesians (1:3; 1:20; 2:6; 3:10; 6:12). The believer’s heavenly blessings depend on Christ’s heavenly session (Eph. 1:20) and the spiritual union each believer shares “with Christ” (Eph. 2:6). God does not merely apply the ministry of Christ to believers. He sees believers with Christ wherever he is and he is now in heaven. Believers are commanded to adopt an earthly lifestyle of dying to sin and living to righteousness (Rom 6:4), and to set their minds on the heavenly reality that will soon be revealed in Christ (Col 4:1-4). In other words, believers should live consistently with who, and where, they really are.

Paul indicates, however, that “the heavenlies” are also the realm of spiritual powers. Paul likely is referring to Satan and his demonic host, calling them “rulers,” “authorities,” and “spiritual forces” (Eph. 3:10; 6:12). Although their final defeat is sure (Eph. 1:19-23), believers are called upon to practice an eschatological lifestyle, equipped with heavenly weaponry wielded by those who are “strong in the Lord” (Eph. 6:10). The battles of life are won on earth with heavenly weapons, not earthly ones.

The Consummation. At the final consummation, God will make “new heavens and a new earth” (Isa 65:17; 66:22; Rev 22:1). It is “new” (kainos [kainov]) in kind, not merely in time. One may wonder why a new heaven is necessary. One possibility is that the heavens (the plural is employed in Hag 2:6; Heb. 12:6; see also Heb. 1:10; 2Peter 3:7 2Peter 3:10 2Peter 3:12) have been affected by sin inasmuch as they are the place of the activity of evil angels and forces (Matt 24:29; Eph. 6:12). The “new heavens and earth” follow the judgment of Satan (Rev 20:7-10) and the Great White Throne judgment (20:11-15), both of which take place in heaven and will never be repeated. Also, the “new Jerusalem” that John saw “coming down out of heaven from God” (Revelation 21:2 Revelation 21:10) is a new characteristic of heaven, perfectly suited to extend God’s glory (21:11).

The sharp distinction between heaven and earth will be removed when God makes all things new. The essential feature of the New Jerusalem is the intimate presence of God among his people (21:3; 22:4). Interestingly, there will be no temple, “for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple” (21:22). Its magnificence is only hinted at in figurative terms (21:11-22:5). Everything that is not consistent now with this picture of heaven will be done away with (21:4).

The Angels, Satan, and Heaven. “The host of heaven” can refer to the stars (Neh. 9:6; Isa 24:21; 34:4; Matt 24:29), but more frequently in Scripture it denotes angels (1Kings 22:19; Luke 2:13). God warns against worshiping the celestial host (2Kings 23:5; Jer. 19:13; Acts 7:42) as well as the angelic host (Col 2:18). When referring to the angels the term carries a military connotation (Joshua 5:14-15; Dan 4:35). God at times employs angels from heaven to do his bidding. They will be particularly active at Christ’s return (Matt 24:31; 2Thess. 1:7-8; Rev 8:2-10:11). Who can say to what extent angels are active today on earth? The truth might be found in Jacob’s vision of a ladder extending from earth to heaven on which the angels of God ascended and descended (Gen 28:12). Nevertheless, the dwelling-place of angels is heaven (Mark 12:25; 13:32; Luke 2:15), where they worship God (Matt 8:10). The heavenly host rejoice when human beings repent (Luke 15:10; 15:7).

Satan is a fallen angel who apparently had access to the presence of God in heavenly places (Job 1:6-7). If Revelation 12:7-12 looks back to the ministry of Christ, the “casting out” of Satan and his evil angels from heaven occurred when Christ entered heavenly glory (see Luke 10:17-20). Now Satan’s sphere is more limited. He is “the prince of the power of the air” (Eph. 2:2) in the process of moving downward in successive stages until he is thrown into the lake of fire (Rev 20:10). Bradford A. Mullen (3)

HEAVEN by Archibald Alexander

Heaven is a reality, not seen by eyes of flesh, but made known by revelation, and received by faith.

Heaven is a rest from toil, trouble, temptation, and sin. Such a rest is very desirable, if it were only a sweet sleep; but heaven is more.

It is a state of delightful activity. Every faculty and every affection will find appropriate exercise; and probably latent powers, not needed here, will there be waked into activity—powers suited to the new condition in which the soul exists.

Heaven is full of light; all darkness and doubt are absent. Knowledge will there be clear, and will possess a transforming efficacy; still, knowledge in heaven will be progressive; the pleasure will partly consist in ever learning something unknown before.

Heaven is a region of perfect love; all the heart and mind and strength will be exerted in love. And if the power of loving should, in the progress of the immortal soul, be increased a thousand-fold, all this increased ability will be kept constantly in full stretch by the loveliness and glory of the objects of affection.

Christ is the center of attraction in heaven. From him radiate the rays of divine glory which enliven, attract, and beautify all the innumerable army of worshipers.

Love in heaven is pure, perfect, and reciprocal. He who loves, cannot be satisfied without a return of affection. And the more exalted and excellent the character of the person beloved, the sweeter the sense of his favor. Heavenly joy consists in loving with all the heart, and in being beloved.

As heaven is a society, the members are happy not only in loving their King, but in mutual love. There will exist no envy, nor jealousy, nor apathy. Every soul will be transparent to every other, and all will see that nothing but pure love exists in every heart.

Heaven is a place of peace—sweet peace and uninterrupted harmony; all disturbing elements will be left behind. In the symbolical heavens of the Revelation, we read of wars; but in the heaven where saints and angels dwell and worship, war can have no place. The atmosphere of heaven is exempt from all evil; it is purity itself; all sin and impurity are denied admission into that holy place.

Heaven is a place of song: high affections are expressed in celestial music. O how elevating, how delightful the melodies!

Heaven is an unchanging state. All change is advancement in knowledge, in dignity, in happiness! (4)

From the Westminster Larger Catechism:

Question 86: What is the communion in glory with Christ, which the members of the invisible church enjoy immediately after death?

Answer: The communion in glory with Christ, which the members of the invisible church enjoy immediately after death, is, in that their souls are then made perfect in holiness, and received into the highest heavens, where they behold the face of God in light and glory, waiting for the full redemption of their bodies, which even in death continue united to Christ, and rest in their graves as in their beds, till at the last day they be again united to their souls.

Question 90: What shall be done to the righteous at the day of judgment?

Answer: At the day of judgment, the righteous, being caught up to Christ in the clouds, shall be set on his right hand, and there openly acknowledged and acquitted, shall join with him in the judging of reprobate angels and men, and shall be received into heaven, where they shall be fully and forever freed from all sin and misery; filled with inconceivable joys, made perfectly holy and happy both in body and soul, in the company of innumerable saints and holy angels, but especially in the immediate vision and fruition of God the Father, of our Lord Jesus Christ, and of the Holy Spirit, to all eternity. And this is the perfect and full communion, which the members of the invisible church shall enjoy with Christ in glory, at the resurrection and day of judgment.

Notes:

1. Charles John Ellicott, Bible Commentary for English Readers, Acts, Vol.II, (London, England, Cassell and Company), p. 3.

2. W. E. Vine, An Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words, (Iowa Falls, Iowa, Riverside Book and Bible House), pp. 538-540.

3. Walter A. Elwell, Editor, Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology, (Grand Rapids, Michigan, Baker Book House), pp. 332-335.

4. Alexander, Archibald – Heaven no date or source info, 4 paragraphs https:// www.gracegems.org/26/heaven.htm

Mr. Kettler has previously published articles in the Chalcedon Report and Contra Mundum. He and his wife Marea attend the Westminster, CO, RPCNA Church. Mr. Kettler is the author of the book defending the Reformed Faith against attacks, titled: The Religion That Started in a Hat. Available at: http://www.thereligionthatstartedinahat.com/

For more study:

* http://www.rebecca-writes.com/theological-terms-in-ao/

** CARM Theological Dictionary https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/ctd.html

*** Got Questions https://www.gotquestions.org/

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