Baptist Doctrine: Future – Heaven

Segment One Part One

In the introduction, we noted that both the O.T. and N.T. teach us that we should be ready and focused upon heaven. How do we know this? In the Bible, there are 691 verses in the KJV that have heaven in them. There are 277 verses in the N.T. This tells us that Jesus and the Apostles focused much of their teaching on the subject of heaven. If they thought it was an important subject, then so should we.

In Matthew, heaven appears in 77 verses. The second book with a heavy emphasis on the use of heaven is Revelation where it appears 55 times. Luke used heaven some 32 times and it appeared in Acts 25 times. These verses where heaven appears all stress the future of when and how heaven will become a reality. We can readily see that heaven is a core doctrine taught in the Bible.

If heaven is a core doctrine that is taught in the Bible, we should pay close attention to what is said and who said it. Much of what Jesus taught in Matthew dealt with heaven and how we (sinful man) needed to heed His commands and what He taught.

Matthew 22 gives us an understanding of what Jesus was trying to teach. In verses: 11-13 we are to understand that the wedding garment is symbolic for Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross and must be worn by believers. Without the wedding garment, you will not be in the wedding supper of the lamb in heaven. No one can get into heaven without asking Jesus to forgive your sins and accept him as your savior. This was a key N.T. teaching about heaven. In our next post, we will see how heaven is described and what a believer can anticipate.

Segment One Part Two

What can a believer anticipate when he/she gets to heaven? Good question! However, this FB discussion space is not large enough, nor would most put in the time to read all of it. What we will do is point out some prominent scriptures that can give us an idea about what to expect. To that end, we will touch on several subjects that might be of interest.

The first subject will be the New Jerusalem. The next will be the army from heaven (yes, it is true) and then will we have directions in heaven, like N E S W? And then we will try to answer the question, will there be food in heaven? Along the way, we may stumble on other questions that may need answers.

As we progress through these subjects, we must keep in mind that we are talking about and reading about the future. We are now in this temporary physical world with all of its limitations and disintegrating factors that impact us. Man’s wisdom is always tainted with error because his carnal nature is corrupt. But our hope is in God’s future and what the Bible shows will come to pass to those of us who believe. Are you ready for the New Jerusalem!

Segment One Part Three

The Apostle John writes about the New Jerusalem in chapter 21 of the book of Revelation. Be sure to read all 27 verses. The first thing of note about the New Jerusalem is John’s description of the city. We will look at each thing he describes with some detail.

The first thing of special note is its size. The New Jerusalem is not small! John gives us these two verses: “15 And he that talked with me had a golden reed to measure the city, and the gates thereof, and the wall thereof. 16 And the city lies foursquare, and the length is as large as the breadth: and he measured the city with the reed, twelve thousand furlongs. The length and the breadth and the height of it are equal.” The New Jerusalem is a giant cube!

How do we know this? All three dimensions in verse 16 are equal measure of 12,000 furlongs. Note that a furlong in the O.T. was about 1/10 of a mile. Therefore, 12,000 furlongs is about equal to 1,200 miles long, wide, and high! Let’s get a mental picture of this distance. If we drive from Phoenix, Arizona to Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, that is a distance of about 1,200 miles. As the city is a cube that means it is 1,200 miles long, 1,200 miles wide and 1,200 miles high! The length and width, we can grasp, but 1,200 miles high is mind blowing! How so? Some of our modern satellites are in space orbit not much further out than 1200 miles! Can we really digest how awesome the New Jerusalem will be? Next post, we will continue with more of design of the New Jerusalem.

Segment One Part Four

The second thing of note about the New Jerusalem in John’s description of the city is how he describes the gates and foundation. As we look at each thing he describes we will pinpoint some significant details. (See verses 10 through 14) John is this vision as he is carried away in the spirit. His view is from a “great and high mountain.”

The first thing of note is that the “holy Jerusalem” is descending out of heaven from God. This is future and the city is being put into place. Note two things in his description: 1) “Having the glory of God” and 2) the light of the city. The Shekinah glory of God permeates the city. John describes that light using a precious stone. “Even like a jasper stone, clear as crystal.” This wording of John’s tells us of the purity of its construction.

John next describes the walls as “great and high.” The walls have twelve gates with angels at each. He also tells us that each gate has a name, “which are the names of the twelve tribes of Israel.” Note also that each side of the city has three gates. In the next verse, John makes note the twelve foundations and that each is named for an apostle. We will next look at the gates themselves for they are also of interest.

Segment One Part Four (Cont.)

In the last post, we stated that we will next look at the gates themselves for they are also of interest. There are three gates on each wall of the city. The gates are 400 miles apart. This question comes to mind: is there transportation to a gate or do we walk? Interesting!

For an answer to this interesting question, we might find a clue from the disciples in the upper room. In John we find this: “And after eight days again his disciples were within, and Thomas with them: then came Jesus, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, Peace be unto you.” (John 20:26) A key phrase in this passage is “the doors being shut,” If the doors were shut, how did Jesus get in? This passage is after Jesus rose from the grave. He is now in his heavenly body and physical objects are no longer a barrier. In heaven, in our heavenly bodies, will we be able to transverse distances without any physical assistance? That is a distinct possibility.

However, the above passage is not the only incident related in the Gospels. In Luke we find this incident related: two disciples (unnamed) were on the road to Emmaus when Jesus caught up to them. They were puzzled that Jesus seemed not to know of the recent incident of Jesus being crucified. As they walked he talked to them explaining the reason for the incident. They invited Jesus to have a meal with them. As he prayed and gave thanks, he suddenly disappeared. “And their eyes were opened, and they knew him; and he vanished out of their sight.” (Luke 24:31) Again, how was Jesus seemingly able to do the impossible, to suddenly vanish and appear elsewhere? We must keep in mind that we know very little about the spiritual realm, especially heaven. What we will do and how we will do it is unknown to us now, but we will see amazing things when we get to the New Jerusalem. I don’t think the distance between gates will be a concern to us!

Segment One Part Five

This and the next post will wrap up the ideas that we can find about the New Jerusalem. Two things come to mind, 1) will we eat food, and 2) the gates will lead us to the river of life.

We see a verse in Revelation 21 that tells us more about the gates. The gates will lead us somewhere important: “Blessed are they that do his commandments that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.” (Revelation 21:14) Through the gates, we will be able to go to and partake of the tree of life. This assures that we will live forever.

At the start of chapter 21, we find this idea: “And he shewed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb. In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.” These two verses tell us that we will drink water and live forever, and that the fruit of the trees will feed us and we will never experience an illness. The fruit of the trees will keep us in perpetual good health. Do you get the idea that “sick” days are not allowed in heaven? Praise the Lord!

Segment One Part Six

In our post four, we stated this idea: “We must keep in mind that we know very little about the spiritual realm, especially heaven. What we will do and how we will do it is unknown to us now, but we will see amazing things when we get to the New Jerusalem.” Have you wondered what will we do in Heaven? God’s Word tells us that we will praise God the Father and Jesus, but is that all that we will do? We are told very little about this, but scripture does give us a hint.

As saints, we will follow Jesus wherever he leads. We may follow him into battle as part of his army. This verse may suggest this thought: And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean.” Revelation 19:14) We know that God has angel armies, because it is so related in the O.T., however the phrase “clothed in fine linen, white and clean” does not mention angels and the wording suggests that we, His Saints, may be part of His army.

God has a plan and He will accomplish that plan. We will have a part in it and God will use us when and where we are best needed. Be assured that God will keep us busy and we will never be bored! And the heavens shall praise thy wonders, O Lord: thy faithfulness also in the congregation of the saints. (Psalm 89:5)