Friday, June 21, 2024
Friday, June 21, 2024
HomeAll The NewsSTAND FIRM: Heaven is Better Than We Can Imagine (Part 2)

STAND FIRM: Heaven is Better Than We Can Imagine (Part 2)

In my previous article, I wrote that I believe we don’t think as highly of Heaven as we should or I guess could, and I believe it’s because of unbiblical misconceptions of the age to come. So, if our misconceptions lead to us understanding Heaven wrong, then what are the right conceptions?

One of the misconceptions I should’ve listed last week is that we can’t know much about Heaven because the Bible doesn’t tell us much about it. That’s false. That is a misconception. The Bible tells us a lot about the age to come. You may have noticed I said, “Age to come” instead of Heaven — that is intentional, and you’ll see why before we’re done.

There are actually phases of Heaven and Hell. Before you report me, please hear me out. The thing is you know that there are phases of Heaven but may not have put it together (phases aren’t the best word, but it’s the best I can come up with right now). I’ve noticed when we’re breaking down the doctrine of the things to come or studying the Book of Revelation, we recognize and state these phases, but when we communicate about Heaven in a practical way, we do not make the distinction. I get that because sometimes we need to simplify things, but the oversimplification of the age to come has huge ramifications, and I believe the ramifications not only cause us to get an understanding of Heaven wrong, it keeps us from seeing the true beauty in the reward in the age to come. So, what are the phases?

We can begin to see these phases when we ask the question, “Where are the dead and where will they be?” That question got your wheels turning, didn’t it?

In talking about the location of the dead, we know there are two pathways in the afterlife — a path for the saved and path for the lost. In those two pathways, there seem to be two stops for the lost, and at least three stops for the saved.

We know when we die right now, whether we’re saved or lost, our body stays behind — whether it’s in a coffin, ashes, a science lab or whatever the situation of our death called for — but the Bible teaches us that we’re more than just a body. There’s debate about how many parts we have, and I don’t have that answer, but there is our flesh, or bodies, and then there is an inner soul within our body. At our death, our physical body stays wherever it is, but our soul moves on.

A parable in Luke 16 gives us the greatest insight into the situation of our souls. In that parable, Jesus tells of the death of a rich man and a beggar name Lazarus. The rich man dies, and his body stays where it is on earth, but his soul was in a place called the Place of Torment. Sometimes the term Hades is used to describe this place of torment. Sometimes Hades is translated in English to Hell, but as you’ll see, it doesn’t help us with clarity in the location of the dead.

In the parable, Lazarus, who belonged to the Lord, was in another place that was good. We learn more about the place where saved souls go from the Apostle Paul. He says when we die, we are with the Lord. Jesus also gave more insight into this location when He told the thief on the cross, “Today, you’ll be with me in paradise.” From this account, and the other verses mentioned, we see that the soul of the lost goes to a place of torment, while the soul of those who are saved goes to paradise and into the presence of the Lord. This is what we refer to as Heaven, which isn’t wrong, but as you will see it’s not completely clear either. Unfortunately, we’re not told much about these places or this phase, but the Bible reveals much about the later phases for the saved.

This is where the idea of “phases” of the age to come will begin to click for you. That is why I asked you to fully hear me out. We know from Scripture that, in the last days, there will be a resurrection and rapture. We also know from Rev. 19:14, Jesus returns with the Army of Heaven. This army trailing Jesus is made up of both saints (the saved) and angels. The saints returning with Jesus also have perfect, eternal bodies like Jesus had when He rose from the grave. Scripture refers to Jesus’ resurrection and resurrection body as the first fruit. We will follow in His transformation.

This transformation happens to the saved after the resurrection and rapture. Through the resurrection, for those who are saved and have already died, their body is resurrected and made new. Their soul, which was with the Lord in Paradise, now connects with this new body. Through the rapture, the saved have their bodies transformed into the new eternal body. That is wild, but notice at the resurrection and rapture that only the saved have this change in the “phase of Heaven.” Interestingly, Rev. 20:4-6 makes a distinction between a first resurrection and a second resurrection. The first is for the saved and the second is for the lost and there are 1,000 years between the two.

“…They came to life and reigned with Christ a thousand years. (The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended.) This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy are those who share in the first resurrection. The second death has no power over them, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with him for a thousand years” (Rev. 20:4-6 NIV).

We’ve seen the two phases of Heaven for the saved. During the Millennial Kingdom, the souls of the lost remain in the Place of Torment. At the end of that 1,000 years, the lost are resurrected and brought before the Lord (Rev. 20:11-15). The lost are thrown into the Lake of Fire, which is the second and last phase for the lost.

There is still one more phase for the saved which we read in Revelation 21. Following the 1,000 years, the earth and heavens are made new. In this phase, God the Father dwells on the new earth with the Saints for eternity.

We have so much to look forward to experiencing!

— Jake is the newest state missionary and would love to share about the work in Northwest Arkansas and encourage your church to stand firm. (standfirmministries.com)

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