We’re Heaven Bound: Questions Can Wait

The idea of a permanent home in heaven has always fascinated me. But then I am a Seventh-day Adventist. And it is in the Adventist DNA to anticipate heaven as our final “reward” and home. This might explain why almost all theological roads in Adventism lead to paradise. Perhaps this is an overstatement, but it is also an observation based on our tendency to end nearly every Bible study, particularly in the quarterlies, by directing our attention to some aspect of heaven. We do this regardless of study content or emphasis and typically end up with a tailored message that invariably points us heavenward.


This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/12083
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Answers can wait; in the meantime, we can ask all sorts of questions.

I suspect that what Isaiah, and the apostle, had in mind was a renewed heaven/s and earth, a fresh start from where it all began as in the first chapter of Genesis.

In recent years, I’m fascinated by the frequency with which people, even Adventists, talk about heaven as the final goal, but ignore the promise of a new earth. It’s as though we truncate our everlasting hope.

In the meantime, we can enjoy the life we have as long as we are able.

As I age, I have fewer questions about meaning and more speculation about the greatness and grandeur of God.

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There is so much we just don’t know…and won’t until it happens. But it’s pretty safe to say sin will never exist again. God states there will be nothing to hurt in all my holy mountain. I can’t imagine God and Jesus going through all this just to allow for the chance that it happen again.

I think that’s one of the reasons God has allowed sin to “play out” as long as He has. Once this world is said and done and we get the Millenium to have all our questions answered, we will choose to never sin again, or as the Bible calls it, sealed with God’s name in our foreheads.

Exactly what we will and will not remember is unknown, but I’m sure however God handles this it’ll be merciful, fair, and for all our good.

i love the meandering quality of this article - meandering for its own sake, with a lot of attention paid to implication and inference…it adds a lot of texture and interest, without losing focus…i think we can use more of this completely enjoyable form of writing…

i believe this egw suggestion, which is really a teaching, occurs in the context of Black American slaves who aren’t saved, yet who aren’t lost…they’re simply as though they’ve never been…i think this points to the final dispositions of many others besides slaves, who also didn’t have meaningful opportunities to hear and respond to the gospel, or to the development of truth in their time…

as for negative memories erased from our minds, i see this as a form of brainwashing, so i totally doubt it…i think what will happen, instead, is that we’ll learn to manage well the memories of whatever negativities we experienced in this sin-filled earth, and finite lifetimes…billions of yrs of unending bliss will likely put everything into perspective…

i think the difference then and now is the knowledge and experience of what sin means…all of this was unknown when Lucifer, and even Adam and Eve, sinned…now, even from our small experience and perspective, things are completely different…we can see, and have seen, for ourselves that there aren’t real alternatives to God’s ways…the happiness and fulfillment of all living things really is tied up in God’s sovereignty, and jeopardized when that sovereignty is replaced…

sin won’t rise again because the way God has disposed of sin, over thousands of yrs, and of letting unfolding events answer questions in a way that cannot be refuted, prevents it…we’re not in the position of Lucifer, Adam, or Eve, where we have so little knowledge and understanding that we can be persuaded that legitimate alternatives to God’s ways exist…

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I appreciate the points made in this article. A good portion of the NT goes further, and emphasizes that a celestial home out of this world is not the ultimate destination. The gospel is not a semi gnostic escape route. It is the restoration of this world and good creation that is the goal of the gospel.

This means that what we do in the here and now is a sign post to the full restoration that God wants to bring, with his life giving presence fully restored on earth as it is in heaven. As N.T. Wright has aptly put it, “Jesus is coming, so plant a tree.” And even if he wasn’t, we still should!

With that said, just a contextual point:

In 1 Cor. 2:9 Paul is not speaking of the eternal glories of the redeemed in heaven, as is usually preached from this passage. He is talking about the strange message of a crucified messiah. Such a move of God and message about him could never find its origin in human thinking or experience,”…eye has not seen nor ear heard, nor has it ever entered into the hearts of human beings…” This is why Paul also calls this gospel of a crucified Christ foolishness to men, but the wisdom of God. It’s why Paul says that this is spiritually discerned…iow, it cannot be simply deduced by human intellect, being foreign to human values and the human heart, but must be revealed by the Spirit.

Context matters!

Frank

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Assertions made without evidence can be rejected on those grounds so where is there any real evidence that Paul’s gospel is the “wisdom of god” and isn’t instead more reasonably described as convoluted foolishness?

So okay, I’m all for it.

Let’s assume you’re right, somehow reset the contextual clock and go back in time to seriously and thoroughly investigate OT and NT matters using the forensic tools available today in addition to applying just a touch of rational skepticism and reasonable doubt.

If one insists on making a distinction between hallucinations, dreams and “real life”, and arrives at the a priori conclusion that miracles prove nothing, (after all, isn’t it an article of faith that demons also have magical powers?) doesn’t it seem most probable that Christianity-whether Jesus’ version or Paul’s-as well as the tenets of Judaism and Islam, right along with most other religions, would be stripped of almost all of their supposedly supernatural elements and could be explained in much more pedestrian and scientific terms, after which modern humans could get back to the task of making heaven a place here on earth?

Come on, Matthew, you must have misunderstood.

You can’t really expect anyone to take such a claim seriously, right?

Jesus must have meant something else or said this in a different context.

By the time he dies, Christians are simply too world-weary from their years spent amongst the sin and corruption of this world to consider the possibility that god isn’t going to reward their suffering and endurance with at least one eternal life, spent in a state of unfathomable bliss.

“What? That was as good as it gets?”

Or, “I was expected to actually enjoy that miserable existence!?!?”

For most Christians, god must be a cosmic Santa who will have bagfuls of wonderful presents and tons of joyous surprises at the end of their earthly ordeal or they will feel eternally cheated.

A contrarian god who says, “I’ve got nothing more to offer than the creation you just left and hated so much,” would be considered a monster by people who believe they’ve sacrificed so much for something as insignificant as a lifetime’s supply of empty promises.