I am going to be meeting with one of our Church Elders to discuss / study questions about heaven...what/where heaven is...what it means for us...how our view of heaven shapes other beliefs...what does 'bringing heaven to earth' really mean for us? ...and ultimately, how does our understanding of heaven shape our worship?

I thought I would ask you guys what you thought, does anyone have any views that they would share.

 

Blessings

 

Kev

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I'd start with everything that Jesus says about it - after all, he's been there and seen it.

Many times we have our own interpretations of things like heaven, hell, etc, and a lot of it can be traditional concepts passed down through our brand of church history. In rereading the gospels, I have paid much closer attention to the actual things that Jesus said...and my eyes have been opened anew.
A very good resource would be the book "Heaven" by Randy Alcorn. It is a pretty exhaustive study on "Heaven". Other good resources include Rob Bell's "Velvet Elvis" and "Jesus Came to Save Christians". Rob presents challenging words about how we view Heaven and Hell.
Hi,
I love Rob Bell...challenging about most subjects I find :-)

Blessings

Kev
Heaven? It's not heaven that I'm thinking about but the Kingdom. Heaven is where God lives, earth during the new Kingdom is where I expect to live one day. Just a minor point, but an important one.

Where did you hear the phrase "brining heaven to earth?"
Matthew's Gospel speaks of the Kingdom of heaven... is near 3:2 / 4:17 also mentions Kingdom of heaven throughout the Beatitudes (Matthew 5) Matt 10, 'Go out and preach the Kingdom of heaven is near' etc. right throughout Matthews gospel. It is also clear from Jesus' teaching in this Gospel that the kingdom can be 'entered into' 18:3, and that there are those that are already there 18:4, Timothy speaks of entering this kingdom 'The Lord will rescue me from every evil attack and will bring me safely to his heavenly kingdom. To him be glory for ever and ever. Amen.' 2 Tim 4:18. So it would sem that the Kingdom of heaven can / will be entered into and this is a different place to the ultimate establishing of the Revelation 'new earth' Revelation 11:15 'The seventh angel sounded his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, which said: "The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he will reign for ever and ever."'
So...there are those who say that we will die and wake at the judgement of all men at the establishment of the new earth, and there are those that say that heaven is a place that we go when we die and await the second coming of Christ, maybe 'is spirit' awaiting the renewal of our bodies. Paul says that he would rather die and be with Christ but he stays for the sake of the church.
Matthew interchanges Kingdom of heaven and Kingdom of God (Matt 19:24) Mark's Gospel uses Kingdom of God more often.

'Bringing heaven to earth' is a phrase used most often in relation to the things of the 'kingdom' happening on earth, i.e healing...restoration...salvation...and comes from Jesus' statement in the 'Lord's Prayer' 'your kingdom come your will be done on earth as it is in Heaven' . So it could be said that in 'heaven' there are things that can be 'drawn down ' to this world that brings a glimpse of the 'Kingdom of Heaven as it is now, a real place, more than just a place where God 'lives' but a place of communion.

Blessings

Kev

Kevin
NT Wright wrote a good book called "Surprised By Hope." It really looks deep into what the Bible actually says about heaven, and distinguishes it from the common misconceptions that people (including Christians) have about heaven that they've picked up from greek mythology, other philosophies, works of art and writings etc. He goes on to talk about the Christian mission and that the goal is not just to get people into heaven, but to be building now for God's restoration and the joining of a new heaven and a new earth for when Christ has returns. It all links in with in with worship. It's pretty good stuff.
Thanks for that Matt...I have ordered it today:-)
I have just fought my way through his latest work on justification...boy that was tough going but good stuff nevrtheless and worth working through, I do find his writing a bit 'dry' tho.

Cheers

Kev
Yeah, I totally agree. It took me a while to get through it but Wright knows the New Testament inside out. Always worth reading his stuff even if it takes a bit of effort.
Very well said Kev.
Ok - just checking, sounds like you've thought about it quite a bit. Now I can contemplate an answer...

Oh, wait, does "bring heaven to earth" also mean that you want to establish a God-centered society that ultimately causes Christ to return? Some folks are theonomists... That would seem to have a huge influence on how you let Heaven's shadow influence your worship.
Didn't think I was a theonomist...and now that I've looked it up I am sure that I'm not one :-) That said, we should be seeking to submit to God's will and not do what we think (or want) in relation to the way in which we live our lives, so in that sense we should be seeking to establish a God centred approach in our lives. As far as law is concerned, we can choose to live under it if we wish or we can choose to live under the grace of our Lord Jesus. That goes for governments / our secular leaders too (some proport to living under grace but show little of the grace outwardly).
On the subject of Jesus' return...the scriptures say that He will return in the fulness of time and that no one knows when that time will be...more importantly the question should be 'what can I do today to usher in the coming of the Lord'

On the subject of heaven tho, it would be good to hear what you think

blessings

Kev
Not to be difficult, but the question was open ended and means so many different things to different people. I just had to be sure.

As for ushering in the coming of the Lord - making sure the gospel is in the hands of every people group. That's the key to his return. There are so many still without the gospel, but the gap is closing.

As to how the concept of heaven affects worship - 1 John 3:3 says it best, "everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself as he is pure". The thought of suddenly being faced with living in the kingdom causes me to want to clear my conscience and align my behavior with things that are eternal such that He says "well done thou good and faithful servant." Now trying to write songs about that...

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