Skip to main content

Heaven and Hell in the Present: Part 2

*For the first part of this Question, please see the previous post.

Q: If you think heaven is a physical place, do you think it includes the new Jerusalem?
In the previous post, we discussed that Scripture does seem to indicate that both the present Heaven and Hell are physical places. There are popular ideas that abound that suggest that Heaven and Hell are on Earth or are states of mind (among other ideas), but the Bible speaks of a place that is separate from Earth and is more than a simple state of mind. These places are genuine, external realities -- just like Brighton, MI is a real place that real people can go to, so are Heaven and Hell (although you don't book these trips through a travel agent!).

Although these places exist in the present, the question above is a great one because the Scriptures describe the final destination of the saved as the "new" Jerusalem ... so is this "new" Jerusalem a part of the present heaven?

Upon an initial reading of the passages that refer to this place (Revelation 3:12; 21:2) it seems possible that the New Jerusalem is being held in the present Heaven with God until this glorious day. Here are both passages:

12 Him who overcomes I will make a pillar in the temple of my God. Never again will he leave it. I will write on him the name of my God and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which is coming down out of heaven from my God; and I will also write on him my new name. (Revelation 3:12, NIV, emphasis added)

2 I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. (Revelation 21:2, NIV, emphasis added)

By just reading these above descriptions, it seems entirely possible that the New Jerusalem is with God presently, awaiting its revelation at the end of time. However, we must remember the context of Revelation and what is happening:

The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show his servants what must soon take place. He made it known by sending his angel to his servant John, 2 who testifies to everything he saw--that is, the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ. (Revelation 1:1-2, NIV, emphasis added)

Much of what is being revealed in the book of Revelation is future-oriented (at this point, it would be possible to open a humongous can of worms on interpretive issues relating to Revelation -- for the sake of simplicity, everything is future at least as it pertains to the point of view of the human author, John; whether these events were fulfilled in AD 70, are all yet future, or any other of the myriad other possible interpretations, to John they have not taken place yet).

Since this is a revelation of a future event (at the consummation of human history), it is not necessary to assume that the New Jerusalem is a present reality, even if in the future it will come down from Heaven from God. For some clarity on this, we need to go back a verse before Revelation 21:2.

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. (Rev 21:1, NIV, emphasis added)

According to the revelation that John is receiving, the New Jerusalem comes down from heaven from God after the first heaven and first earth had passed away. This is clearly a yet future event.

Several other passages point to the reality that at the final judgment, God will destroy the present heaven and earth and make all things new (e.g. Isaiah 66:22; Matthew 5:18, 24:35; Mark 13:31; Luke 21:33; 2 Peter 3:10-13; and Revelation 21:5).

Therefore, the present physical heavenly place does not include the New Jerusalem. God will create and prepare this new city for His redeemed at the end of time, and when it is prepared it will descend from Him in heaven to the new earth.

Comments

Popular Posts

Prayer vs. Petition

Q: What's the difference between prayer and petition? Phil 4:6 for example.

A: An excellent word study question! When attempting to study words from the text it is necessary to analyze the word being studied in the original language (in this case Greek) as attempting to look up the words in English will often produce erroneous results.

For example, in English the word petition has within its range of meanings things that are certainly not within the scope of meanings for the Greek word (i.e. “a sheet that is signed to demonstrate agreement with some principle or desire for some social action to be taken” is part of the range of “petition” but not of the Greek deesis from which “petition” is translated).

The word most commonly translated as “prayer” in our English Bibles is proseuche, which appears 36 times in the New Testament (NT) in one form or another (for the purposes of this study, we are only examining the usage of these words as nouns – the verbal forms will not be included…

Christianity Isn't Moralism

Do this. Don't do that.

Shop here. Don't shop there.

This is acceptable. That is an abomination.

Don't get me wrong. Christianity does have a moral code. That's undeniable.

And that moral code is not popular. Not by a long shot. The Bible is clear that the moral code is contrary to the flesh. By definition it goes against the grain of fallen human nature.

But Christianity isn't moralism.

The moral code is not the end. It's only a diagnostic. The Bible calls for rebels against the King of heaven and earth to be reconciled to Him through His Son, Jesus the Christ. The Bible calls for people to turn from their rebellion and live for Him. This means that we stop pursuing the various lusts and impulses of our flesh. It means we start living in obedience to our King. We live for the glory of His name.

The diagnostic helps us to see that we are off track. But living according to some external sort of rules is not the end goal. That was the mistake the Pharisees made. Yo…

Christ Died For Our Sins

For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures
(1 Corinthians 15:3)
The truth of the gospel includes this important phrase: Christ died for our sins.

You've probably heard it before. Many times.

Sometimes familiarity leads to a diminished sense of importance. The more you hear about something the more ordinary it may seem. Common. Ho-hum. Boring.

But this truth is anything but common.

Another difficulty arises with this truth. Beyond being common. It may happen in your ears without you even realizing it.

When the truth is declared that Christ died for our sins, you may think you hear the truth. But what you really hear is a diminished version. A partial truth.

Instead of hearing that Christ died for our sins you may hear a slightly different version of this truth. You might hear this: Jesus died for your sins.

Do you see the difference? You should.


These statements are similar. Both may very well be true…

Self-Centered Theology

I have a problem.

Maybe you do, too.

I bet you can at least relate.

I'm self-centered.

By nature, I think from my perspective. Often, more often than I'd usually like to admit, I pursue my agenda.

I like to do, what I like to do, when I like to do it, where I like to do it, how I like to do it, and with whomever I like to do it.

I think you do, too.

Sometimes we are good at hiding this self-centeredness. I believe that it is possible to have genuinely altruistic moments. Moments where we put others self-interest above our own well-being. Sometimes powerful emotions like love, hate, and disgust, can cause us to act contrary to our self-centered notions.

Sometimes.

As Christians, we are given the gift of God's grace through His Son, Jesus Christ. We receive this gift when we repent of our self-centered ways and trust in Christ alone. In the noise that is "Christianity" - if you take the time to really listen - you will often hear a false gospel that appeals to the …

Hallowed Be Thy Name

Growing up, I said the Our Father prayer a lot.

A lot. Multiple times a day.It was part of my religious tradition. Most of the time, I mumbled it as quickly as I could.

For what it's worth, my Dad tried to help me understand that mumbling the prayer without understanding what it really meant wasn't the goal. He wanted me to understand it. He wanted me to mean it.

I remember sitting with him in the car one afternoon while we went through every phrase. He did his best to explain to me what the terms meant. Why we would say these things. Why it mattered.

It didn't take.

Although I became better equipped to describe the meaning of the phrases, I still mumbled them as fast as I could so I could move on to the next part of my day.

Fast forward many years. After being born-again by the grace of God I started to read my Bible. I desired to know God and His Word. I remember when I stumbled upon Jesus teaching the disciples to pray the Lord's prayer in Matthew 6. I was both excit…