When We All Get to (New) Heaven (and New Earth)

 

Just the other day I saw this picture, a billboard remembrance of Billy Graham, posted in a Tweet.

“Gone home” brought back memories of the spurious teaching and preaching I have been under for many years regarding the end of one’s life. If we say “home is where the heart is” then yes, Billy Graham went home. If we say Heaven is our final destination, as I have heard so often in sermons and songs then no, Billy Graham did not go home.

Am I being picayune? I will tell you why I do not think so. Like with the constant preaching of “ministry, ministry, ministry”, so much of my life in attendance in a Bible church setting has been under the preaching and teaching that someday we will all be taken up and away from this ‘God-forsaken’ mess. We will either be ‘raptured’ or die. Either way, as the sermon goes, we will be taken up to our final resting place in heaven. As far as I am concerned that preaching is dead wrong for at least a couple of reasons.

First, the “rapture” is a fantasy imposed onto Scripture. We should see the Scripture in the context it was written and not add fantasy notions to it. The Apostle Paul, by the Holy Spirit, gave us the imagery of Christ returning in power. In 1 Thessalonians 4.15-16 the Apostle “Paul is casting a vision of Christ’s return wrapped in political overturns (he actually does this a lot!)”. There will be no “rapture”. “The Late Great Planet Earth” and the “Left Behind” series of ‘end times’ books are also fantasies imposed on Scripture. These books are not worth your time.

Second, when we die we do go to heaven – the place where Jesus is. And where Jesus goes, we go too. He will be returning to the worlds that are created for him.

You see, “heaven” is just a way station, an intermediate stopping place. Heaven can be thought of as a station set between principal stations on a line of travel. Think railroad. Heaven is not our final destination. Heaven is a way station along the way.

As such, heaven is not a retirement community, as has been implied by so much preaching and teaching and by popular songs and hymnody. I remember singing “This world is not my home I’m just a passing through” and wondering, “Is that all there is? If we’re just passing through what was the point of all this? Is heaven some hyper-imaginary place where I put my feet up after a life of work? There are many more escapist songs just like “This World…”.

I remember singing “When we all get to heaven…” and “I’ll fly away” and “When the roll is called up yonder, I’ll be there”.

 

Now, why would God create a new heaven and a new earth if “heaven” was your final destination?

“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth. The first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven, from God, prepared like a bride dressed up for her husband. I heard a voice from the throne, and this is what it said: “Look! God has come to dwell with humans! He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them and will be their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or weeping or pain anymore, since the fist things have passed away.

The one who sat on the throne said, “Look, I am making all things new….” Revelation 21: 1-5

Compare Genesis 1 and 2 and Revelation 21 and 22. Creation was meant to be a place where God dwells with his creation. Creation is the temple designed by God where He is to dwell among his people. Consider the Garden of Eden, Consider the tabernacle, the Temple, and now the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in us who are the temple of the Holy Spirit. Consider the new heavens and new earth where God dwells with his people. The work of Jesus on the cross is a work of creation’s redemption, of restoring Genesis in Revelation. The life of Jesus and his death on the cross is for the reunification of heaven and earth. You and I, after passing through the way station of heaven will return and take up roles in the new created order.

Jesus, in fact, will be returning with Billy and all those who have gone on before. Jesus is not giving up on his creation. Jesus will be returning to put things right and he will use us to do so, since when we see him we will become like him. In the context of current church life, Paul writes:

“Don’t you know that God’s people will judge the world? And if the world is to be judged by you, are you really incompetent to try smaller matters? Don’t you know that we shall be judging angels?” 1 Cor. 6:3

The reason I write this post is to get instill the reader with spiritual momentum that will push one past the grave and past the “final resting place” thinking and towards the dynamic of the Kingdom of God on earth. With your death you are not being put out to pasture. Rather, you are being resurrected and repurposed to do the work of the Kingdom of God on earth where God will dwell with you. Lay up for yourselves those ‘retirement fund’ thoughts now.

Resurrection Doesn’t Stop There

white lilies

 

Heaven

 

Beyond “Imagine“,

There, You Are.

 

Before me

Unbound Substantive Reality, The Living Word

Lifted from gilded pages to eternity’s masthead: “Alpha and Omega.”

 

He now walks among us with beard and white gown,

A purple sash hides a pierced side,

He is the only Disfigured One among us,

The walking Redeemed.

 

He is Truth Unfiltered,

Full-Colored, not developed black and white,

Heaven’s Endless Searching Light,

Light once diffused and then restored,

Among prisms of white calla lilies.

 

Heaven,

A hope not disappointed, no longer dot-to-dot discovered, And,

A harvest, garnering displaced ones into

The dancing embrace of the Triune God:

“That where I am, there you may also be.”

 

Beyond “Imagine“,

Here I am ~ a harlot,

My redemption once hanging by a Scarlet Thread,

Now I’m dancing in the streets!

 

Holy, Holy, Holy. Trisagion.

 

Come, Lord Jesus.

 

 

© Sallyparadise.com, 2014, All Rights Reserved

 

 

 

 

White lilies from www.flowers-magazine.com

The Road Less Traveled By – To The Solidification Zone

The Great Divorce

You are about to take a bus ride into another dimension.  No, not a trip to the Twilight Zone. Or, maybe it IS to the Real Twilight Zone!

 Despite the nonsense that comes from Oprah’s benign (?) pulpit, all roads are not radii that lead to God and Heaven.  Instead there will be a Fork in the road.  It is this bus ride that will take you to that juncture, albeit through fantasy.

 I learned about this bus ride from a recent series of classes I attended at a nearby church.  The topic of the class was C.S. Lewis’ book The Great Divorce.  The discussion was led by a retired Wheaton College professor, Dr. Rolland Hein, Professor Emeritus, English. Dr. Rolland also teaches a class on Saturday mornings at the Wade Center which is located near the college.

 The title page of The Great Divorce, “A Dream” has this quote from George MacDonald:

 “No, there is no escape.  There is no heaven with a little of hell in it ~ no plan to retain this or that of the devil in our hearts or our pockets. Our Satan must go, every hair and feather.”

 The Preface to The Great Divorce lets us know that Lewis will be endeavoring with his dream story to break up the marriage of Heaven and Hell (a response of sorts to William Blakes’ book The Marriage of Heaven and Hell), a marriage that many in our lifetime wish for. He writes to inform us of their necessary divorce.

 In an age of moral relativity and subjectivism many want to synthesize good with evil in hopes of redeeming evil. But as Lewis reveals, the choices we make take us down divergent pathways.  We either choose a path of good that becomes an even greater good as we continue to make good choices and stay on its narrow way or we choose a broad path that leads towards ever greater evil.

 The Great Divorce offers us a bus ride from “grey town” with its “continued hope of morning” to the “High Country,” a place of contrasts and a place where God honors the choices we make.

 You will meet many characters, many perhaps like someone you know.  There will be those who cannot fathom Heaven as any place they would want to stay and there are others who fear losing what they had on earth in “grey town”. There will be the proud, the stubborn, the willful and the angry.  There will be those who demand their rights and also the ego-unchallenged.  There will be those whose feet hurt them as they walk on solid ground for the first time and there will also be the “bright solid people” who move about the “High Country” without effort.  And finally, there will be those who reject Joy and solid Reality to return to “grey town” on the same bus. 

 The passengers are all phantoms or ghosts.  When they arrive in the High Country they are almost completely transparent – you can see right through them in every way:  there is the well-dressed (and very self-conscious woman); there is the broad-minded man, the artist, the Tousle-Headed poet, the mother who has lost a son, the golden apple stealing materialist, Sarah Smith and the Dwarf and Tragedian.  You will also meet George MacDonald: 

 Lewis, the main character in the dream and a phantom, meets up with George MacDonald, one of the solid people.  (MacDonald, forerunner of the “Inklings,” was a good friend and mentor to Lewis.).  Together they discuss what they see the phantoms choose.  At one point Lewis hears MacDonald say, “Milton was right, said my Teacher, “The choice of every lost soul can be expressed in the words, “Better to reign in Hell than to serve in Heaven…There is always something they prefer to joy— that is, to reality.”

 The bus ride ends with the choice you make.  God honors your choice:

 “There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, ‘Thy will be done,’ and those to whom God says, in the end, ‘Thy will be done.’

 Lewis’ The Great Divorce is the bus ticket; the Choice is before you.

Heaven’s Home

At 3:38 am this morning I awoke melancholy from a very sad dream. Without giving you the details, the dream replayed my grief and loss from a divorce, especially the fact that my children and my family are no longer with me everyday. As I write this I am still reeling from the effect of this dream.

The end of this dream is mystifying, as dreams tend to be. I saw myself enter a business meeting with a woman friend of mine. We both sat down at a conference table across from our clients. I whispered to my friend that I wanted to borrow her engagement ring for the meeting. She handed me her diamond under the table and I put it on my ring finger. Then I awoke almost crying.

****

If you have ever seen Terrence Malik’s movie Days Of Heaven and the scene of the singular house on the hill then you may have some idea of what I am about to describe.

Since childhood, my recurrent dream of heaven is a specific image: I see a small one room cottage sitting on the crest of a rolling hill. It is almost midday. Effusive 11:00 o’clock sunshine gilds the opulent scene. The light infuses everything including me. I am of it.

The cottage stands alone, nested in a bright sea of yellow flowers. I see the flowers move in waves as cool breezes wash my face with the freshest of air. The sun warms my cheeks. I face home. I know that this is my forever home. “Delight” is the only earthly word I can affix to my emotions.

The dream always has me looking at the cottage from a short distance. I have never been inside but I always sense that I will love living there. And though I am alone in the dream I do not feel alone. Rather, I know that Jesus comes to my home. My family comes and my parents come and those who have died come to this place. They are all bathed in the same golden light in this never-ending day.

There are imaginings of sumptuous feasts, of raucous laughter, of child’s play and of a complete collapse into the arms of the One Who’s hands are forever scarred.

What has been lost has now been regained seven-fold. Heaven.

Rants and No Raves

*George Soros dumped $48 million worth of influence into the vending machine called the Liberal media (Think Progress, Media Matters, MSNBC, etc.) in hopes of pulling out a Western European style liberal utopia in America or at least world domination.  Isn’t that special!

People do know that we left Europe for a better way life, don’t they?  More importantly, we came to America in order to separate church and state. Why would we want to become spiritually and financially bankrupt like Western Europe, anyway?

*Why do America haters insist on living in America? Venezuela, Cuba, Iran all take in dissidents. They could also join the jihad in Yemen.

*Why would someone burn the Koran? Because hate is easy and Love requires God.

*What kinds of people have time on their hands and watch Oprah?

*Does Obama know that America is in a deep financial crisis while deciding which iron to use on the green? Stay away from a foolish man, for you will not find knowledge on his lips. Proverbs 14:7

*Does Michelle Obama still think the White House is hell?

*Sheep & Goats DEPT.:  The PC message of Evangelical Rob Bell’s (pastor of Mars Hill Bible Church) new book Love Wins: A Book About Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived attempts to assuage fears by inculcating nonjudgmental mainline liberalism/progressivism into cozy non-fiction.  It turns out that the book is fiction.  There is a hell. Hell, among other things, is the absence of the living God while generating book sales, making friends and influencing people.

The Apostle Paul, when speaking at the real Mars Hill in Athens, let his listeners know immediately that they were worshipping false gods and idols. He also said this to the Ephesian church:  “Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience.” – Eph 5:5-6.  Here’s a Journal List of those who do not enter the Kingdom of Heaven:  Ephesians 5: 3-7, I Corinthians 6: 9-10, Galatians 5:19-21.  “There is a way which seems right to a man…”

More to follow…

Heaven

Beyond all my “Imagine,”
There, You Are.
The Ligature between God and man. The Crimson Thread.

The Living Word, unbound Substantive Reality,
Lifted from gilded pages to eternity’s masthead: Alpha and Omega,
Now walks among us with ruddy beard, white gown and purple sash,
Forever marked by love for me.

He is the True One, Unfiltered,
Full Colored, not developed black and white,
Heaven’s Endless Light both searching and present,
Light once diffused and then restored,
Among prisms of white calla lilies.

Heaven,
A hope not disappointed, no longer dot-to-dot discovered, And,
A harvest, garnering displaced ones into
The dancing embrace of the Triune God:
“That where I am, there you may also be.”

Holy, Holy, Holy. Trisagion.

Come, Lord Jesus.
Heaven.

© Sally Paradise, 2011, All Rights Reserved