More than one Christian desperately wants to peak over the edge death into eternity. The Scriptures offer a few glimpses into the next world noting streets of gold, water like glass and the elimination of sickness and sorrow. But the average evangelical desires more, hoping for touch a feel, and even a vision of what comes next.
This desire redirects the Christian’s gaze from the Scriptures to secondary sources, books filled with first hand accounts of Christians who supposedly died, walked in heaven with Jesus, and then came back home to provide people like you and me with a guidebook to the afterlife.
But when Christians grab their 200 page book of odd spiritual facts, they do not close in on the mysteries of heaven. They move further away from Jesus’s eternal throne. To experience heaven, Christians do not to listen to mystical six-year-olds. They need to dive into the Word of God, the Bible. The more they know the Scriptures, the more they will experience heaven.
To experience heaven, Christians do not to listen to mystical six-year-olds. They need to dive into the Word of God, the Bible. The more they know the Scriptures, the more they will experience heaven.Tweet
In Micah 4:1-5, the prophet makes this connection for his readers. He describes the latter days, the day when Christ returns to make all things new, as being when “the house of the Lord shall be established as the highest of the mountains, and it shall be lifted above the hills.” God will reign perfectly over the universe.
What does this mean for our world of smart phones, social media, and self-driving cars?
It means that heaven will be the actualization of God’s law. People will not be mostly good or somewhat good. They will obey all of God’s love perfectly. Micah notes that all the nations of the world come to the mountain of God “that he may teach us his ways and that we may walk in his paths (Micah 4:2).”
Heaven represents the fulfillment of God’s Word. It is the perfect manifestation of God’s will for humanity in every human heart. In short, all will obey God the Father as Jesus obeyed God the Father. God will desire goodness and all the people will desire goodness, walking in his paths.
Why the Law?
God gave humanity the law because he wanted men and women to return to the perfection that Adam and Eve had flippantly tossed aside when they decided following a talking snake was more sensical than following the God who created them. At that moment, humanity fell from paradise. For then on, Adam and Eve and all their kids lacked purity and perfection, perverting truth, peace, and justice. To guide humanity back to truth, love, and justice, God revealed his law, the standard of perfection.
But as the failures of the Israelite patriarchs, judges and kings made clear, no human being could achieve and maintain the perfection of the law. Regardless of their efforts, all the heroes of the Bible became associated with sin as they lied, committed adultery, and murdered. A new and better prophet, priest, and king was needed.
Jesus came to do what Moses, Samson, and David could not do. He perfectly obeyed God in all things, picturing what paradise had been and what the new heavens and the new earth would be.
“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth (John 1:14).”
Thankfully Jesus did not only model the perfection of the law, he made a way for men and women to achieve the perfection he had exemplified. He died on the cross for the sins of the world and then rose again conquering the power of sin and death, offering to resurrect every man, woman, and child who repented of their sins and trusted in God’s work for salvation (Rom 6:5-6). When men and women believe, God rewires their internal circuitry, enabling them to obey and live out the law. God says, “I will put my laws on their hearts, and write them on their minds (Heb 10:16).” Though imperfections remain, the climb towards paradise begins at conversion. Men and women start to obey God’s law.
What makes the new heavens and the new earth unbelievably and wonderfully good is that the unrestricted presence of God enables the people of God to perfectly understand and follow his law. The embrace of his revealed law leads to justice which produces peace. All the confusion about baptism will be gone. All the twisting of the Scriptures to support murder, adultery, and fornication will disappear. In the new heavens and the new earth, God’s Word will reign in truth unstained by error or deception. We will all resemble Christ perfectly. God’s Word will go from being an ideal occasionally experienced to being reality lived every moment.
To taste this reality, Christians need to read, study, memorize, meditate on, and talk about the Scriptures. As the Word of God begins to pervade our lives, we will grow closer to Jesus and closer to the realities of heaven. As Christians come together, they picture the community of heaven, creating a unity around their shared commitment to the Word of God. Theologian Kevin Vanhoozer correctly said, “the local church is an earthly embassy of Christ’s heavenly rule.”
What About The Books on Heaven?
The supposed guidebooks to heaven that fill up our bookshelves are fraudulent and ultimately unnecessary. Jesus alone claims the right to explain what heaven is like (Jn 3:13). He alone came down from heaven and saved humanity. And he left behind his story, his testimonies of heavenly realities so that others “will believe in me through their word.” He gave us 66 books full of instruction. The apostle Peter writes, “His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence (2 Peter 1:3)” If we want to see heaven come to life, we need to read, understand, and obey the Scriptures. All other heavenly guide books belong in the waste bin underneath our desks.
The latter days will be the days when God’s Word is full actualized. Let’s get ready. Let’s read the Bible. What are you waiting for?