Updated: May 2
2 Peter 3:13
By Drew Zuverink.
"But according to his promise we are waiting for the new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells."
The previous blog post explored the question of who will go to heaven? Underneath that question is the assumption that most people want to go to heaven, but that is actually not true. Most people do not want to go to the Biblical heaven, but instead, they want to go to an imaginary heaven that does not exist.
The Bible describes heaven in many ways. Heaven is like a paradise (Luke 23:43). It is the place where God dwells with people and where he will be their God forever (Revelation 21:3). There will be no pain, crying, or death there (Revelation 21:4). The destructive powers of sin are not present but instead, only righteousness dwells there (2 Peter 3:13).
Many times heaven is described as a kind of paradise, which is why people want to go there, but it's a paradise because it's a place where God is king and everyone obeys him all of the time. In heaven, what God says goes, which is great news because God is perfect and good and there is no evil in him (Psalm 92:15). So whatever God says is off limits, everyone will avoid that, and whatever God says is good and should be pursued, everyone will chase after that. The rebellious human heart will be cured so that the relationship between God and human will be restored to perfection, where God rules and humans obey - 100% of the time.
To some people this really does sound like paradise. Sin and rebellion against God, in their experience, is the cause of all pain and sorrow. They would give anything to be freed from sin in themselves, and in the world around them. They want to obey God because they view him as loving and caring, and because they understand God's commands to be loving and caring as well. However, to others, a place where everyone submits to God's authority does not sound like paradise at all, it actually sounds like hell. There are plenty of people who do not want to submit to God's way of living in this life, which is temporary, so why on earth would they want to for all of eternity?
So in reality, when everyone hopes to go to heaven one day, only some people are imagining a real place. Many people picture heaven as a limitless beach paradise where we are God. They imagine heaven to be their perfect paradise, whatever that would be in their own mind. But that place does not exist. The only heaven that exists is the one in which God is king and where we faithfully follow his loving rule.
So ask yourself, do I really want to go to the Biblical heaven? Do I really view sin as an evil virus that I want to be cleansed of forever, or do I quite enjoy some of what God calls sin? Sin is what ruined God's good world the first time. Sin brought death and destruction, pain and sorrow, loneliness and despair. Because God is good he promises us that he will cast everything sinful out of heaven, protecting paradise by never allowing it to enter again.
Here is why this matters for you and me. You and I are sinful. You and I both spread evil into this world through our sin. Amazingly, God comes to each of us and asks, "Will you let me cleanse you of your sin?" For those of us who accept his offer, we will go to heaven - where nothing sinful will ever enter. But for those who reject God's offer, refusing to part ways with sin, God will not allow them into heaven. He can't allow them in, because he is good. Heaven is a place where every tear will be wiped away precisely because sin will be removed. Where there is no sin, there is paradise. Sin hurts, sin destroys, and if a person refuses to let go of it, would we really want them in heaven with us? No! They would ruin it by bringing in that which causes death and grief and sorrow!
Friends, the good news is that heaven is offered to everyone, but only some want to go - do you?