Some Criteria for Moving Forward
As I mentioned previously, we are going to put the texts about Heaven, and the themes, along with our questions about Heaven, up on an intellectual lift in order to get underneath them and get our minds positioned to deal with such a wonderful, and weighty, subject. The process by which we prosecute our study is crucial to the outcomes. Here are some criteria to keep in mind that will serve us as boundaries for our thinking. These criteria will keep us focussed on coming to a biblical understanding of Heaven as a subject and the consummation of our salvation found in Jesus Christ.
Here are some criteria to keep in mind that will serve us as boundaries for our thinking. These criteria will keep us focussed on arriving at a biblical understanding of Heaven as a subject, and the consummation of our salvation found in Jesus Christ.
ONE. Stick To The Bible
The topic of Heaven is so vast, and discussed from so many traditions, philosophies and opinions, that there is an infinite amount of source material available to us.
I’m going to go ahead and assert my bias here: the Bible sufficiently informs our understanding of Heaven and extra-biblical texts are unnecessary, and for the most part, unhelpful.
I believe that Jesus, the prophets, Paul, and the other New Testament writers give us enough detail to provide for an exhausting study about Heaven (though I highly doubt that we will be able to exhaust the subject given our limited amount of time and cognitive ability).
If we confine ourselves to the Old and New Testaments we will walk away from this study with as clear of an understanding of our glorious future that God permits.
TWO. Avoid Speculation
Heaven is a subject, due to our curiosity and the limited amount of information we are provided about it, rampant with speculative interjections.
Worldly philosophers and religious traditions, since the beginning of time, have communicated varying interpretations and insights into our understanding of our final state. Every thought we have about Heaven needs to be tested against the standard of Scripture. We will have to, by necessity, wade through some of our own culturally received understanding about Heaven and eternity, but we will, during this study, try our best not to interject any more speculation than has already been provided to us.
To that end, answers to many questions may end up being, “I Don’t Know.” Ignorance about certain parts of Heaven are inevitable. There are things that we cannot know. There is a certain level of curiosity that begs to be satisfied, but assuaging that curiosity for curiosity’s sake should be avoided since it would require an extensive amount of assumption and speculation.
THREE. Be Open To What God Reveals
Consider Paul’s words about how we come about our knowledge of the things of God:
For who knows a person’s thoughts except their own spirit within them? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. What we have received is not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may understand what God has freely given us. This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, explaining spiritual realities with Spirit-taught words. The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit.
1 Corinthians 2:11-14 NIV
Our minds should not be so open that we allow every thought to attract our attention, but open enough to be able to listen to the Spirit of God speak to us through the word of God.
Limiting the texts for our study of Heaven to the canonical scriptures may seem like a stifling boundary, but I think you will find it to be the most liberating process for the path ahead. It is through God’s word that he reveals all the necessary information for salvation and discipleship to Christ. By looking at the various texts about Heaven from the Bible in their context, we will also gain a greater familiarity with a number of other topics that arise, as well.
In order to wrap up our study, and keep our reflections relevant, I need a little bit of help. I trust that as you engage in this investigation that you will contribute your questions about Heaven so that we can explore them together. Questions you have on your heart are probably similar to the questions that others have on their hearts. I have set aside some time and space to address as many personal questions as we can. We will learn together in the presence of God Spirit, God’s word and God’s community.
I trust, that as a result of our inquiry, we will all become even more excited about Heaven as we become more informed about it. The Bible has many glowing and glorious teachings on the subject. I can’t wait to get into this with you.
Here are a few assignments for you are we proceed.
- Pray for me as I continue to put these lessons together.
- Send me your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Commit to being present for the study period, or at least stay connect online as I publish what I can of our study.
- Consider inviting someone who would enjoy these lessons and could use the encouragement of being a part of the community, in person or electronically.
May we all come to a better appreciation for the treasure laid up for us by Christ in Heaven!
But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
Matthew 6:20-21 NIV
Link To The Full Introduction (Spelling Errors and All) Here.
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