© 1999 James A. Fowler

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I. Some Biblical references to "heaven"

    A. Hebrew word shamayim - "heights"
         II Chron. 6:18 - "heaven and the highest heaven cannot contain Thee"
         II Chron. 6:30 - "hear Thou from heaven Thy dwelling place"
         Ps. 14:2 - "the Lord looked down from heaven"
         Ps. 136:26 - "Give thanks to the God of heaven"
         Isa. 37:16 - "Thou hast made heaven and earth"
    B. Greek word ouranos - "raised up"
         Matt. 4:17 - "the kingdom of heaven is at hand"
         Matt. 5:3 - "theirs is the kingdom of heaven"
         Matt. 6:9 - "Our Father who art in heaven"
         Eph. 1:3 - "blessed us with every spiritual blessing in heavenly places"
         Col. 1:5 - "hope laid up for you in heaven"
         I Thess. 4:16 - "the Lord Himself will descend from heaven"

II. God and "heaven"

    A. Presence of God in heaven
         Gen. 24:3 - "the God of heaven"
         Ps. 33:14 - "the Lord looks from heaven..."
         Ps. 103:19 - "His throne in the heavens"
    B. "Heaven" used as equivalence for God.
         Matt. 21:25 - "baptism of John...from heaven or from men?"
         Matt. 23:22 - "he who swears by heaven, swears by throne of God"
         Lk. 15:21 - "I have sinned against heaven, and in your sight"
         Jn. 3:27 - "unless it has been given to him from heaven"
    C. Equivalence of "kingdom of God" and "kingdom of heaven"
         Matt. 13:11 - "mysteries of the kingdom of heaven"
         Mk. 4:11 - "mystery of the kingdom of God"
         Lk. 8:10 - "mysteries of the kingdom of God"

III. Inadequate conceptualizations of "heaven"

    A. Mental pictures of clouds, harps, angels, pearly gates, etc.
    B. Concepts that are static, materialistic, space-time oriented.
         "What will my place of habitation be like?"
         "How big will my 'mansion' be?"
         "Will I have more than someone else?"
    C. Self-oriented concepts
         "What will I be like in heaven?"
         "What kind of body will I have?"
         "Will I be recognizable?"
         "What will I be doing in heaven?"
         "Will all of my desires be fulfilled?"
         "Will I be able to progress, develop or grow in heaven?"
    D. Exclusively futuristic concepts
         1. "Pie in the sky, bye and bye"
         2. Escapist concepts
             a. Avoidance of problems
             b. "I can't wait till I get to heaven"

IV. New Covenant understanding of "heaven"

    A. The "kingdom of heaven" in Jesus Christ
         Matt. 4:17 - "the kingdom of heaven is at hand"
         Matt. 5:3,10 - "theirs is the kingdom of heaven"
         Matt. 16:19 - "the keys of the kingdom of heaven"
    B. Heavenly realities in Jesus Christ
         Eph. 1:3 - "blessed us with every spiritual blessing in heavenly places"
         Heb. 3:1 - "partakers of a heavenly calling"
         Heb. 6:4 - "tasted of the heavenly gift"
         Heb. 12:22 - "the heavenly Jerusalem"
    C. Heaven is the presence, the life, the character of God in Christ
         Jn. 11:25 - "I am the resurrection and the life"
         Jn. 14:6 - "I am the way, the truth and the life"
         Col. 3:4 - "Christ is our life"
    D. The continuum of Christ's life
         1. Continuity of "eternal life"
             Jn 11:26 - "everyone who lives and believes in Me shall never die"
             I Cor. 3:21-23 - "things present or things to come, all things belong to you"
             Eph. 1:3 - "all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ Jesus"
             Col. 2:10 - "you have been made complete"
         2. Discontinuity of the environ of experiencing Christ's life
            John 17:24 - "they may be where I am, in order that they may behold My glory"
            Phil. 1:21 - "to die is gain"
            II Peter 3:13 - "a new heavens and a new earth"



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