OceanSide church of Christ
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HEAVEN: A REAL POSSIBILITY
Victor M. Eskedw
“If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable” (I Cor. 15:19). This statement was made by the apostle Paul in consideration of the false doctrine of no resurrection of the dead. This same statement could be made if one believes there is no possibility of entering into that eternal place called heaven. Fortunately, such is not the case. A place called heaven exists. It is real. Too, all men have the possibility of entering into it.
Heaven is mentioned numerous times in both the Old and New Testaments. Sometimes is refers to “the vaulted expanse of the sky with all the visible things in it” (Thayer, 464). At other times, it refers to “the region above the sidereal heavens, the seat of an order of things eternal and consummately perfect, where God dwells and the other heavenly beings” (Ibid., 465). It was this latter heaven into which Paul was taken by means of a vision. He wrote of it in II Corinthians 12:2-4. “I knew a man in Christ above fourteen years ago, (whether in the body, I cannot tell; or whether out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) such an one caught up to the third heaven. And I knew such a man, (whether in the body, or out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) how that he was caught up into paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter.” It is this place that the righteous will one day inherit as their eternal reward.
Jesus was the first to mention heaven in the New Testament. He promised it as a reward to those who were persecuted for righteousness’ sake. “Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you” (Matt. 5:11-12). In the same sermon, Jesus mentioned heaven again to his listeners. This time, He taught them to lay up treasures in heaven and not upon the earth. “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon the earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through and steal: for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” (Matt. 6:19-21.
The apostle Paul was another who taught about that eternal abode called heaven. In II Corinthians 4, Paul was encouraging those who were facing troubles and persecutions. He reminded them that their afflictions were “but for a moment” (II Cor. 4:17). He also exhorted them to look at the eternal things. In II Corinthians 5, he discussed one of the aspects of these eternal things. “For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.” A glorfied body awaits the child of God. This “building” awaits us in heaven. To the church in Colossae, Paul referred to “the hope which is laid up for you in heaven” (Col. 1:5). According to Romans 8:24-25, hope is something that is not seen. Too, it is something for which one waits. Heaven falls perfectly into the realm of hope. We have not seen that immaculate place, but we eagerly await it in the last day.
The Hebrew writer was another who wrote of that place called heaven. In Hebrews 10:34, he notes that it was heaven that caused his readers to serve so compassionately and joyfully. “For ye had compassion of me in my bonds, and took joyfully the spoiling of your goods, knowing in yourselves that ye have in heaven a better and an enduring substance.” He also noted that it was this heavenly abode which caused the patriarchs to be faithful in their service to God. Of them he wrote: “But these all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country. And truly, if they had been mindful of that country from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned. But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city” (Heb. 11:13-16).
Peter was also certain that heaven awaits the faithful Christians. In his first epistle, he opens with these words: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time” (I Pet. 1:3-5).
There can be no doubt that a place called heaven exists. At the outset of this article, we noted that it is a place to which all can go. That possibility exists. If we fulfill the conditions of salvation, heaven can be ours. Jesus said: “Not everyone that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven” (Matt. 7:21). Let all of us commit to learning the Father’s will and doing it will all our might. Then, God by His grace will allow us to pass through heaven’s door. Truly, heaven will be worth it all.