Thursday, November 20, 2008

What Will Not Be in Heaven

The following is from the F.B.F. Bulletin, Jan.-Feb. 1989: In Re. 21-22, the Apostle John gives us a dual description of our final home through a picture of the cessation of that which is old, and the description of that which is new. To instruct us about the spiritual character of this city, John uses familiar scenes and experiences of this earthly life which he declares will be absent in that celestial city.

1. No More Sea (Re 21:1). It is not by accident that the sea is declared to be the first "no more" of heaven, for the elements, pictures, and symbols represented by the sea contain virtually all the rest of the "no mores" that follow. While the sea is a beautiful part of God's creation, the allusions in the Scripture to it refer mainly to its power or danger. (1) The sea represents danger, peril, and fear. The Noahic flood, the Red Sea exodus, and the experience of Jonah all portray the dreaded elements of the sea. (2) The sea is the symbol of distress, unrest, agitation, and commotion. Never still, it constantly moves in restless fashion. In Isa 57:20-21, the unsaved are pictured as being like "the troubled sea, when it cannot rest." ... The turbulence associated with man's journeying on this earth will someday terminate forever. (3) The sea is the emblem of division and separation. The sea, with its accompanying lakes, rivers, streams, and brooks, is a great divider. Three-fourths of the earth's surface is covered by the sea waters which serve as boundaries and barriers, limiting communication among nations. (4) The sea is the emblem of mystery, containing the secrets of past civilizations, countless thousands of human bodies and sunken ships. The mysteries of God, depicted by the sea, are numerous. The Apostle Paul summarized these inscrutable mysteries when he states that God's ways are "past finding out" (Ro 11:33). Who can fully understand, in this life, the mysteries represented by the believer's tears? (5) The sea also speaks of the storms of life; the deluge of temptations and the flood of persecutions which pour out upon us on this earth. For afflicted and persecuted believers, the stars sometimes seem to refuse to shine, and the night seems so dark as the waves of problems roll over our souls; but in that celestial city, all these raging storms shall cease!

2. No More Separation (Re 21:4). The word "death" in the Bible simply means "separation," never annihilation or cessation of existence. In biblical writ, the word "separation" has four distinct meanings: Spiritual Death, the separation of man's spirit from God's spirit due to sin. This is the separation of the natural-unsaved man from God (Ro 6:23); Physical Death, the separation of man's spirit and soul from his body; the separation of the visible from the invisible, and the temporal from the eternal (Heb 9:27); Temporal Death, the separation of the believer from sin in his daily walk (Ro 6:1-12); Eternal Death, the final, eternal separation of the unsaved from God in Gehenna, the lake of fire (Re 20:11-15). The believing saint is given the scriptural assurance that physical death, that "king of terrors," will be banished forever from the presence of God. For the child of God, death is only a temporary separation, for someday we shall meet to part no more.

3. No More Sorrow (Re 21:4). Sorrow is often symbolized by tears and crying. The tears of life are many: the tears of a soured life, bitter memories, broken hearts, grief, disappointment; even tears of repentance and godly sorrow. The Bible often speaks of those who weep, cry, and shed tears. In the inspired Word, we read about weeping saints (Jn 16:20-22); weeping soul-winners (Ps 126:5-6); weeping sinners (Mt 22:11-14); weeping sorrows (Jn 20:11-15); weeping servants (Ac 20:19); and a weeping Saviour (Jn 11:35). In this life, tears and weeping are a necessary portion of life. How blessed to know that God keeps the tears of Christians in a bottle in Heaven (Ps 56:8), and that the weeping and sorrowing of the believer is vastly different with regard to death than that of the unsaved (1 Thess 4:13-18). For the believer, "weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning" (Ps 30:5).

4. No More Sickness and Suffering (Re 21:4). Probably one of the most difficult questions believers are asked to answer is the "why" of the suffering; why do the believers suffer so much while ungodly sinners seem to escape unscathed in this life? Like Job, we sometimes cry out "My soul is poured upon me; the days of affliction have taken hold upon me. My bones are pierced in me in the night season; and my sinews take no rest" (Job 30:16-17). We have the assurance, however, that in our eternal home, all sickness and suffering shall cease!

5. No More Sanctuary (Re 21:22). While already mentioned, this deserves reiteration. The temple was a structure where devout Jews came to worship God and where God manifested His presence. There are no temple structures today in which God dwells, other than the temples of believers' bodies (1 Co 6:19-20). The ornate cathedrals, magnificent edifices, and costly sanctuaries are not dwelling places for God, and there will not be any such structures in Heaven. According to Re 21:22, the entire city will be a "sanctuary," with God the Father and God the Son being the new Jerusalem's "temple."

6. No More Shadows (Re 21:22; 22:5). The night speaks to us of weariness, tiredness, weakness, and sometimes of dread, fear, and crime. Believers live amid a world which resides in spiritual darkness (Jn 3:19; Eph 5:11), the darkness of sin and evil. Though there is less restraint today in daylight among the ungodly than in previous generations, the largest percentage of crime is still committed under the cover of darkness. In Ps 23:4, the believer is pictured as passing through the "valley of the shadow of death." Death is portrayed as a valley through which we pass in our entrance to the "house of the Lord." We "walk through" this valley; we don't reside or abide in it! Also, it is termed only a "shadow." While a shadow may temporarily scare, it has no harmful powers. The city beyond that tunnel of death is the "New Jerusalem." No special lighting will be needed in that fair land, since the Lamb Himself is the light (Re 21:22-23; 22:5).

7. No More Sin (Re 21:8, 27; 22:3, 15). Nothing that "defileth" will enter there, only those whose names are written in the "Lamb's book of life." The word "defile" means "to pollute" or to "make unclean ." This spotless city will not contain either the defilement or the curse of sin (22:3). Our present world is a cursed world, the curses of which can be traced back to the origins of sin (Ge 3:14-19). (1) The serpent is cursed (Ge 3:14). The most dangerous of all reptiles portrays the person and evil work of Satan (Re 12:9). When we think of the serpent, we think of the forked tongue, the blazing eyes, and the poisonous bite. Satan, the serpent, will be banished from the presence of God, eternally exiled in Gehenna, the lake of fire. There is also (2) the curse upon the woman (Ge 3:16), which involves sorrow in childbearing and subjection to a husband in marriage; (3) the curse upon the male (Ge 3:17-19), and (4) the curse upon creation (Ge 3:17-18). In spite of all the advances in medical science, every time a mother brings forth infant life, she goes down into the valley of the shadow of death. In spite of all of man's attempts, it is still by the "sweat" of his face that he earns his labor. In spite of all the ecological emphasis, creation still has its pollutants. The whistling of the wind, the echo of the lightning, the howling of the prairie dog, the screeching of the owl, and hundreds of other noises remind us constantly of the curse of creation. Hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, earthquakes, typhoons, and disease plagues are regular reminders of creation's curse. Re 22:3 reassures us that these curses will all be removed in that heavenly city.

The songwriter pictured it accurately when he wrote:

Heaven is a wonderful place,
filled with glory and grace;
I want to see my Saviour's face,
for Heaven is a wonderful,
Heaven is a wonderful, yes,
Heaven is a wonderful place.

Heaven will be Heaven, because it will be filled with the countenance, favor, beauty, and presence of the Lamb of God, the Lord Jesus Christ. It is our privilege and responsibility, as believers, to point men and women to the Lamb of God, the Lord Jesus Christ, who alone can lead them to that eternal city (F.B.F. Bulletin, January/February 1989).

(Used With Permission)

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