Heaven: Some Assumptions and Research Questions

As I mentioned in my first post about heaven, there are many differing views of heaven. Every organized religious group has a different concept of heaven, and it seems like every teacher or writer within those groups has a different view. I think this is because we have relatively little information about the afterlife in general and heaven in particular. We have to interpret Jesus’s teachings and the writings of those few people who have gone to heaven and returned (the Apostles John and Paul, for example).

Assumptions

All that to state a couple of basic assumptions as I study this topic. First, I don’t think that my study/conclusions will be the final word on the topic. I’ll be adding my ideas to the many others already published. Even within historic, orthodox Christianity there are different views about heaven. Second, I believe the Bible is the inspired, infallible word of God and I plan to base my study on the word of God. However, I’ll also look at historic confessions of faith, sermons, books, songs, and poetry for added insight.

Research Questions

Here are some of the questions I have as I begin this study:

  1. How is heaven described in the Bible?
  2. What was the Old Testament view of heaven?
  3. Did the Old Testament concept of heaven change with added Scripture?
  4. How did (or did) the view of heaven change in the New Testament?
  5. What were Jesus Christ’s teachings about heaven?
  6. What were the Apostles’ teachings about heaven?
  7. Is it right to present heaven as the final goal of salvation?
  8. Similarly, is it right to ask “If you died today, do you know for sure you would go to heaven?” [Author’s note: My WordPress editor tells me that the phrase “know for sure” is redundant. I know that, but I consistently hear people phrase the question that way. Just last night I heard a preacher ask this question, so I deliberately wrote it that way.]
  9. Will we have bodies in heaven?
  10. Is there an intermediate state between life on earth and eternal life in heaven?
  11. How does my view of heaven affect my everyday life?
  12. On what basis do I accept or deny someone’s teaching about heaven?

Your Questions

What are some questions you have about heaven?

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3 thoughts on “Heaven: Some Assumptions and Research Questions

  1. I like #7 – very thought provoking.

    Also #8 always bothered me – I’m a very tentative, doubtful person and it was agonizing to have some loud, overbearing, usually overweight preacher yelling, “Do you know that you know that you know?” Mental and spiritual anguish resulted.

    Another question could be:
    Is heaven a place of rest or of service?

    • Re. #7–I’ve been thinking a bit about this and I think a presentation of the gospel that focuses just on getting to heaven is flawed. I’ll save my longer response for later after I finish reading the applicable Scripture verses.
      Re. #8–I’ve often reacted the same way when I hear sermons like that. Even the other day, I found myself saying “Do I know for sure?” It’s so easy to get tangled up in guilt and confusion when the focus is on yourself and not eternal security because of what GOD has promised.

      Good question! My first thought was a quote from Milton “They also serve who only stand and wait,” but I’ll try to address that in my study and posts. I realized this past year that a lot of my ideas about creation and the Fall come more from Milton than Scripture, so I want to be careful not to just cite other authors as support.

      • Re. #7 – I definitely think there’s danger in focusing on a place more than a Person. Heaven is being with Christ. John 17:3 – “Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.”

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