Why I have no hope of going to heaven

I have little hope of going to heaven. In fact, I don't even want to go to heaven.

Why? Because if we mean by "heaven" the final destination for God's people, then heaven isn't somewhere we go at all. Heaven isn't up in the sky. Heaven is here.

When we say "heaven," most people think it's the place you go when you die. You are with God and his people, and you live forever in eternal bliss. The trouble is, that's a half-truth. It's not the biblical hope.

Imagine it like this. Say you are living in a house that has been your beloved home for a long time, but it has fallen into disrepair. The plumbing is bad, the roof leaks and the house is infested with termites. You have painted the walls, and you even bought new kitchen appliances. You love the house, but it needs extensive work.

Now through the generosity of a rich relative, you suddenly come into an inheritance huge enough that you can have your beloved house completely remodeled. You hire a contractor, and he lays out plans to take the structure all the way down to the original foundation and build you a completely new house. The new house will have some features of the original, but it will take your living conditions to a level you never dreamed possible.

You are excited beyond measure to be given the house of your dreams, but the demolition and construction will take months. You find a great deal at an extended-stay hotel, and on the day before the contractor is set to start work, you move into the hotel. The hotel is nice, and you are comfortable there, but it can't hold a candle to the house you have imagined and seen in architects' drawings. Every day you are saying, "I can't wait for move-in date! Come quickly!"

In the biblical narrative, we are living in a world that is good but broken. It is riddled with problems. No amount of human engineering can make it the way it was or is supposed to be. Due to the benevolence of God, we have been given an inheritance so bountiful that the world of our dreams has already been paid for. It has been drawn up, and we have been given glimpses of the plans. Meanwhile, when we die, we go to a resting place described by Jesus as "paradise" (Luke 23:43) and by Paul as "being with the Lord" (2 Cor 5:8). As great as it is to be in paradise with the Lord, that still is just a extended-stay resting place God gives us while we wait for move-in date in our new world.

The popular idea of heaven is like being stuck in the hotel forever with the remodeled house completely out of the picture. Who wants that?

Speaking biblically, our final destination is right here -- a newly remodeled planet earth. That's why I don't want to go to heaven, if "heaven" means being stuck floating around in an eternally disembodied state. I want to be here, enjoying our home when it has been thoroughly remodeled. Oh and by the way, 1 Cor 15 tells us we will be enjoying this new world in new, incorruptible bodies! We will enjoy perfect community with God and one another. And we will have an endless variety of opportunities to do creative work in our new world. That's what Revelation 21 tells us.

So I say the hotel sounds nice, but I'm looking forward to the new house. I can't wait for move-in date! Come quickly!

I encourage you to read all of Revelation 21 to get this picture. Here are just the first four verses. How vividly can you imagine this scene?
Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,” for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”


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