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Where is heaven and when will we see it?

Columbia Biblical Studies: Thursday, August 21
Columbia Biblical Studies: Thursday, August 21
Ken Kistler

Today’s bible study is 1 John 5:11-12: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.

This is one of the biggest and most frightening verses in the bible. Just reading it brings fear and awe, but causing us to question our own affinity with the Son of God and bringing doubts about those who have not sought nor found the Son.

The passage begins by saying that God has given us eternal life. We cannot pretend to know what eternal actually means, since it is one of the few indefinable words in our language. Definitions are amorphous and lack clarity. Many of us are familiar with the symbol for eternity which looks much like a figure eight lying sideways. We buy cards that speak of eternal love and read poems that promise eternal bliss, yet it is not definable. Is eternity a second, a minute, an hour? Is it a century or a millennium? Is it anything that can be measured by mankind? It surely seems not.

And where is this eternity promised? Is it the heaven that children’s stories are made of with angels sitting on puffy white clouds playing harps? Is it reunion with loved ones who have gone before us? Is it seeing God face to face and becoming a member of His eternal kingdom? Many theologians and philosophers have tried to answer this question, yet none have a definite answer. It is difficult to define something that we cannot know.

A retired minister once spoke to me of the hereafter. I was unsure whether I even wanted to go there – wherever it was – because I didn’t want to have to work for all of time. He responded by asking me how I would feel if it were something too wondrous for us to even comprehend. This made me think. I can comprehend the beauty of a garden, the smile of a baby, the laughter of children, the softness of fleece and the feet of wet grass and sand because these are all small wonders that I know. But what of a wonder that I cannot even imagine? What of something so wondrous that it is beyond and above all human understanding? This is the promise that God makes to us.

But how do we get to claim this wondrous eternity? There is only one way, and that is through believing in Jesus Christ, the only Son of God the Father, and having Jesus into our hearts and our minds every second of every day. It is following the path of Jesus, seeking wisdom and guidance from Jesus, asking forgiveness through Jesus and giving thanks in His name. It is by knowing that the only true path to eternal life is the Son of God.

God sent Jesus to earth in human form for many reasons, but the primary reason was to assure us of eternal life. “In my Father’s house there are many mansions,” and one of them is prepared for me and for you. Our passing is a natural part of the cycle of life and, when we enter the kingdom of God, we shall be greeted by such wondrous magnificence that we cannot now it in this life.

References: The People’s New Testament Commentary by M. Eugene Boring and Fred B. Craddock, The MacArthur Bible Commentaryby John MacArthur, Concise Bible Commentary, David S. Dockery, General Editor

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