The following is my notes of Kevin Deyoung’s sermon on heaven. Click HERE for the audio of this sermon.
1 Corinthians 15:50-55
I tell you this, brothers: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written:
“Death is swallowed up in victory.”
“O death, where is your victory?
O death, where is your sting?”
So we see in verse 50 that we are currently not yet fit for the kingdom in our present state. There is something in our existence that does not make us fit and so we need a new body. In verses 51 and following we see that we will have a new body.
There is both discontinuity and continuity in the new heavens and the new earth. Our bodies will be changed and we do not know exactly what that change will be, but it will be a fleshly and physical body. We will not be like Casper the ghost floating around from one cloud to another.
When it says that the dead will be raised it means that there is continuity with our current bodies and our future bodies. In Revelation it says that our names will be written in the lamb’s book of life. This must mean that there is some continuity with the person who is on earth and the person who is in heaven.
We do not know what age we will be or how we will look. We do not know what infants or babies will be like in heaven. However, we should think that we will be recognizable to one another. Jesus said we will be eating around a table and be eating with Abraham and Isaac. So if we can recognize Abraham and Isaac, then there will be some recognizable features of our new bodies.
Yet, these new bodies will be better. They will be imperishable. There will be know more sores, pains, sicknesses, deterioration of our bodies.
For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.
1. In the new heaven and the new earth the creation will be set free from its curse.
The earth is groaning from its curse. When Adam and Eve sinned in the garden there was a curse not just on them but the whole creation. This is why there are natural disasters and a variety of other
What we have now will be set free and so this means it will not be completely obliterated. There will be some similarities between this earth and the new heavens. It will be better. It will be made new, but it will not be an entirely different place.
2. Our groaning in this life is purposeful pain.
Like a woman is giving birth she is experiencing sorrow, but when the baby comes she has incredibly great joy when she sees her new baby. In the same way we will have sorrow and the world has sorrow that will lead to great joy.
3. Creation will be renewed because we will be renewed.
You might think of saying to a friend who is handicapped that they will be able to walk in the new heavens because the new heavens is made new. This is true that they will be able to walk, but the logic needs to be reversed. They will not be able to walk because there is a new heavens and new earth. They will be able to walk because their body will be made new and when that happens then the earth will be made new. That is the logic that Paul uses in Romans 8.
2 Peter 3:5-13
For they deliberately overlook this fact, that the heavens existed long ago, and the earth was formed out of water and through water by the word of God, and that by means of these the world that then existed was deluged with water and perished. But by the same word the heavens and earth that now exist are stored up for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly.
But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed.
Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set on fire and dissolved, and the heavenly bodies will melt as they burn! But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.
This passage is used to teach that the earth will be destroyed completely. It will be annihilated. However, if we look closer we will see that the comparison made in this passage is between the destruction that came with the flood and the destruction at Christ’s coming.
This world will be born again. It will be regenerated. We are not looking for the annihilation of the universe, but its restoration.
We will spend eternity HERE on this earth. Heaven will come down to earth. It will not be the same, but it will not be a completely different world. We will spend eternity in a physical world and we will be doing physical things. We will be reigning with Christ and some will be in charge of cities. The physical beauty of the world will be even better. We will experience so many of the wonderful blessing on this earth but it will be without sin and oh yeah God will be there. For heaven is nothing great unless God is there.
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”
And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” And he said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment. The one who conquers will have this heritage, and I will be his God and he will be my son. But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.”
It says there will be no more sea and that does not necessarily mean no more water or oceans. The ocean was a place filled with storms, distress, and not a place to have a vacation. There would be shipwrecks and enemies who come to attack on the sea.
Heaven will be a place of peace, safety and rest. Heaven will come down and the two will become one. We will no longer be alienated with God. The best news of the good news is that God will be in heaven.
No more pain. No more divorce. No more crying yourself to sleep. No more sickness. No more lying in bed all day because you cannot face the world. No more affairs or pains from a terrible break up. No more lying or deceit. No more temple.
The temple was the place where God dwelt and there will be no more temple. The inner sanctuary of the temple was a cube and the dimensions of heaven described in Revelation is of a cube coming down. This is again probably not a literal cube but a picture of the holy of holies not being a small little place in a temple, but to be apart of the entire place.
Heaven is the new garden of Eden. It is the new Jerusalem. Urban dwellers get all upset about living in garden and country folk get all upset about living in a city. This maybe missing the point. It will be a new a better garden. It will be a new and better city. There are multiple images and metaphors so take your pick.
Why does this matter?
This doctrine helps us have hope in suffering.
This doctrine of heaven helps us to be the kind of people that we should be as we wait for the new heavens and the new earth. We will live for the life to come and not this present world.
This doctrine matters because it energizes our joy in God and our joy for God.