All throughout the Old Testament heaven is described as the dwelling place of God. This is distinguished from talking about “heavens” meaning the sky above. Usually the text will say “highest heaven” or “the heaven” when speaking of the heavenly abode of God. I Kings it reads (paraphrased) that it is amazing that God would dwell on earth in a man made tabernacle when even heaven itself was not large enough to contain Him. Thus, God was willingly bringing His manifested presence upon the earth to dwell near His people. This was a shadow of what was coming, of what was to be available to mankind once again. God was reestablishing the ability to have
John says that Jesus came to dwell with us. This is the same root word used when the Bible talks about God dwelling in the
Psalm 115:16 says that the highest heavens belong to the Lord, but the earth he has given to man. Thus, the earth is a gift to man to have authority and dominion upon. When man’s authority is united with God’s the result will be one way. When man walks in his authority apart from God’s will the result is another.
In Matthew 6 Jesus teaches us how to pray, and in this prayer Jesus says that we are to pray that the truth of heaven be established upon the earth. He is showing us that man has the ability to conform earth with
When we come into alignment with God through Jesus we enter the
Romans says that we who are in Christ become heirs with Christ, inheriting the promises of Christ. Ephesians 2:6 says that we are seated in heavenly places with Christ. This isn’t something that begins when we die, it is a reality now. Remember the dwelling place of God is in heaven. And we are seated with Christ in heavenly places. We are dwelling in God. And God is dwelling in us, who belong to Christ.
Thus, while heaven is a place created by God that is in perfect alignment with Him, we who are in Him dwell with Him in that alignment and we can bring that reality to fruition upon the earth. That is our mandate. The earth has been given unto man.
So in reality it isn’t that God suddenly judges whether we will be in heaven when we die. It is that we already are in heaven as we lived. And we continue to be in Him as we were already in Him when we lived on this earth. It is merely a further actualization of what is already available to us while we are living here.
In contrast, those who do not live in Christ are living outside of the reality of His Kingdom, by choice. That, in and of itself, is destructive to who we are. Thus, after we die, we continue in that place that we lived in, it is just further actualized and final. Yes in both cases, we meet God, but it is up to us as to whether that meeting will be good for us or not. If we are in Christ we are as holy as He is for in Him exist the abundance of life. If we are not in Christ, there is no life in us and we continue in the state of separation from God.
Christians do not take delight in this condition of people who are not in Christ. In fact, it grieves us just as it grieves our Lord. This is why He came, so that none would perish. This is why we preach the good news, so that none would face eternity apart from Him and so that all can have life right now in Christ. We desire that all learn to live from the dwelling place of God.
We speak of Him, not to condemn anyone, but to bring life to them. This is our heart, this is our goal. Even Jesus himself did not spend time speaking condemnation and ranting on about hell. He spoke about life. He spoke about wanting none to perish. He spoke about His love for sinners of all kinds. He rebuked the religious leaders for condemning people and not showing them the compassion of God.
Ebon makes the assertion that Christians argue that God has no choice. In reality it is our choice that leads to Him or away from Him. It is our choice that seals the deal, not His. He gave us that authority and freedom.
Ebon also brings up the point about people repenting in hell. Jesus actually went to Hades when He died on the cross and preached the truth to those perishing there. They did have an opportunity to come to Him even then. Scripture doesn’t say what the result was, but it does tell us that He gave them a chance to come to Him. I don’t think anyone would be separated from God for eternity that did not conclusively refuse life with Him. He knows the hearts of man. He is the only one that can see who a man is inside.
The point I am getting at is that life is found in Christ, and Jesus desires that we find that life, He wants none to perish. I want none to perish. If we aren’t in Him we are perishing already. If we are in Him we are experience eternal life already. It’s not a matter of when you die, it’s a matter of what Kingdom you are living in now.