Will we go to Heaven?

So I’ve been going through the gazillions of scriptural references on “Heaven.”  And I’m beginning to come a realization that I find quite surprising:

Heaven, so far as I can see, is never described as a place we’ll go when we die.

I’m not denying that we’ll live forever.  I’m not denying that the bible speaks of Heaven.  It seems to be the home of amazing and wonderful things. 

I’m not denying that we’re supposed to bring about a kingdom of heaven.  This kingdom seems like a place where there will be people… But the kingdom of heaven seems like the Earth after it’s been transformed through Christ’s work (both outside and inside people)

Can anybody point me toward some scripture that supports the traditional view, that heaven is this destination intended for humans after they die?

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jeffsdeepthoughts

The stories that speak to our soul begin at a home where things are good. Cinderella is happy with her father. The three little pigs have grown up and are ready to move on. Bilbo Baggins knows his shire. Adam and Eve walk with God in the garden. My story isn’t much different. There was a time and a place where it was so good. There was a community for me. And there was joy. We were filled with a sincere desire to do what God wanted us to do. We possessed explanations and understandings that went a certain distance. We offered security and tradition and laughter. For a lot of years, that was enough. I have this sense that it was also necessary. I have this surety, now, that it certainly wasn’t everything. There were some things that became increasingly problematic as time went by. There was a desire to package things up so very neatly. Sunday morning services were efficient and strategic. Responses to differences of opinion were premeditated. Formula began to feel more important than being real. A real desire for everybody to be one of us, but also a real sense that there is an us, and there is a them. They carried a regret that it has to be this way, but deeper than this regret was a surety that this is how it is. I began to recognize that there was a cost of admission to that group. There were people who sat at the door, collecting it. Those people wished they didn’t have to. But I guess they felt like they did have to. They let some people in, and they left others out. There was a provisional membership. My friends did possess a desire to accommodate people that are different… But it would be best for everyone concerned if they were only a little bit different. I did make many steps forward in this place. Before I went there, there were lies that I believed. Some of the things that I learned there, I still hold on to. But that place is not my home anymore. Those people are not my community anymore. There were times it was hard. I am engaged in a different community now. And I am working hard at finding a place in many different places now, embracing many different kind of families. I don’t always get it right. I am trying and I am learning and I am moving foreward. I have this sense that I am not alone in these experiences. I believe that we are tribe and we are growing. We are pilgrims, looking for a new holy land. Perhaps we won’t settle on the same spot of land. But if you’ve read this far, I am thinking that we are probably headed in the same general direction. I have begun this blog to talk about where my journey is taking me. In every space, we find people who help us along. And maybe we can get to know each other, here. We embrace ideas that provide a structure for the things we believe, and perhaps we can share these too. Maybe we can form a group, a tribe, a community, if we can figure out a way to work through the shadow of these kinds of groups, if we can bigger than the us-and-them ideas that have caused so much trouble in the past. As important as they are, I think the very nature of online interactions will lend itself to something equally powerful. I am stumbling onto these practices that my grandfathers and great grandfathers in the faith engaged in. I am learning about these attitudes and intuitions are so different than the kinds of things we call doctrine today. I don’t know about you, but I am running out of patience, and even interest, in conversations about doctrine. I hope that maybe you’ll share a little something about where your journey is taking you, and maybe our common joys and challenges might help each other along, and we might lift each other up. Thanks for doing this journey with me.

25 thoughts on “Will we go to Heaven?”

  1. Hi Jeff,

    What is traditionally called “heaven” is not really in the scriptures. We are told that to be absent with the body is to be present with the Lord (2 Corinthians 5:8) and the assumption has always been that Paul is speaking of “going to heaven.”

    This idea has been reinforced by interpreting Jesus’ words in the gospels about “going to prepare a place for you” to mean heaven also (John 14:2). It’s clear that we’ll be somewhere WITH HIM before He returns, should we die prior to that, but it never says “in heaven.”

    When I read the book of Revelation, it seems to me that what we commonly refer to as “heaven” is in fact the “New Jerusalem” – a city made by God that will come down, land on the new earth, and be the capital city of our new home forever (Revelation 21).

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  2. Moreover, I think most modern people think of disembodied souls going to Heaven. However, the Bible is very clear that the afterlife consists of a resurrection of the body. (Paul insists on this and Christ mentions it a few times as well.) It is not at all clear that the dead are experiencing anything at all until that happens. (However, the soul is immortal. There might be a “waiting room” for them. Of course, the Jehovah’s Witnesses believe our bodies are souls and there is Old Testament support for this, though I don’t think it’s dispositive.)

    The resurrection of the body could indicate that we stay on Earth, but it doesn’t have to mean that.

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    1. Well, Andrew, you might consider these scriptures to make the point clearer: Ezek. 18:4 (KJV) “Behold, all souls are mine; as the soul of the father, so also the soul of the son is mine: the soul that sinneth, it shall die.” Soul in Hebrew is translated as “nephesh,” as in our physical body. When God created Adam, it says that he became a living soul. Gen. 2:7 shows us this, “then the Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature.” This breath is the very spirit in man, which gives us life and intellect. It is not immortal as only God can destroy that spirit essence….Matt. 10:28, (NIV) “Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.” Revelation 20:10 also shows us that “…the Devil who was misleading them was hurled into the lake of fire.” Why would God do this unless it was to completely destroy the creature?! Only He could make it intense enough to take the being out. So, clearly, God gives both, and only He can take out both. I guess it’s up to us what He does with each of us.

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    2. HI Andrew, you might be interested in reading John 3:13. Here, the apostle John recorded Jesus as having said to Nicodemus, “No one has ascended to heaven but He who came down from heaven, that is, the Son of Man.” That is a pretty plain statement of His. I think that what has confused people about going to heaven is this scripture, found in
      Eccl. 12:7, “Then the dust [of mortals] goes back to the ground as it was before, and the breath of life [spirit] goes back to God who gave it.” It knows nothing, however. There is no consciousness there apart from the body. Both are needed to have this. The spirit is our very character, our life essence, a recording of everything we ever have been & done, Andrew. But our souls, our bodies decay and rot away. They are no longer needed & cannot live in any other environment than earth.
      You will find this site enlightening…
      http://bible.org.nz/common-qaa/54-when-will-we-be-judged-is-it-right-when-we-die-or-do-we-wait-somewhere-until-christ-returns.html
      Add to that, what Christ said in Matthew 5:5 “Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth [NOT heaven].” Man has never gone to heaven when he dies–only his unconscious spirit does which I’ve mentioned earlier. This spirit gives man life, also known as ‘the spirit in man.’ It awaits a further resurrection, either to a first to immortality OR to a second which is physical.
      However, you might be interested to know that only those who are to be in the 1st Resurrection will be called up into Heaven as spirit beings in the end times:
      http://www.spiritandtruth.org/teaching/Book_of_Revelation/commentary/htm/031112.htm This will occur just prior to Christ’s return. They will be called up for the marriage supper to the Lamb. The 144,000 saints of God who are chosen & qualified beings will be in this resurrection & they will marry Christ & then return to the earth with Him to fight in Armageddon. I think that when the scripture talks of them playing on harps, people can confuse it with what our reward will be when we die, but taken in its proper context, it does not say that at all. Revelation 15:1&2 states:
      1 Then I saw another wonder in heaven that was great and amazing. There were seven angels bringing seven bowl plagues. These are the last plagues, because after them, God’s wrath is finished.
      2 I saw what looked like a sea of glass mixed with fire (in Heaven). All of those who had won the victory over the beast and his idol and over the number of his name were standing by the sea of glass. They had harps that God had given them. 3 They sang the song of Moses, the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb…”
      It is at that time, Andrew, when Christ will return with these as His bride to set up His Kingdom on earth, the New Jerusalem. It will be the world’s H.Q. for 1,000 years in this Millennial period. After this time will be the second resurrection talked about in Rev.20:13, “The sea gave up its dead. Death and hades (or the grave) gave up their dead. People were judged based on what they had done.”
      Ezek. 37 describes this 100 year period in more detail–these are those from the beginning of time who never really knew God–they’d never been invited to. John 6:44-45 states, “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them, and I will raise them up at the last day. 45 It is written in the Prophets: ‘They will all be taught by God.’Everyone who has heard the Father and learned from Him comes to me.” That should pretty well explain that.
      So, if you take what God has inspired man to write in His word, without caveat–since scripture is of no private interpretation–2 Pet. 1:20-21 states, “Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.”, but “here a little, there a little,” much like a puzzle, then you should have no further problem believing what God has in store for mankind as described in His word. “Thy word is Truth.” It’s truly amazing!

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  3. Jesus talks about His Father in heaven over and over and over and going to prepare a place for us in His Father’s house, which makes me believe there is a place called heaven. where is heaven? we won’t know for sure where it is until after we die, that is the exact location in my opinion. I once heard or read that there is nothing visible behind the north star and that person speculated heaven is there.

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  4. Thanks Micey!
    I think that’s a really great point, that Jesus does mention that he’s leaving the first disciples to go and prepare a place for them… This seems as close as Jesus gets to saying that we’ll be going to heaven.
    -Jeff

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  5. HEAVEN

    Heaven is found from the 1st chapter to the last chapter of the Bible.
    The word heaven occurs 582 times in the Bible, in 550 verses.
    I am sorry you could not find even one (1) of these.

    Let me make four (4) statements and then follow them up with Bible proof texts.
    1. Heaven is a place.
    2. Heaven is God’s dwelling place.
    3. Heaven is where Jesus left and the place to which He returned when He rose from the dead, proving He is God.
    4. Heaven is the promised and prepared place where all who turn to Jesus Christ as their savior from thieir own sin will spend eternity.

    Gen. 1:1 In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.

    There are 3 Bible heavens are spoken of in the Bible.
    1st heaven=home of birds & clouds
    Daniel 4:12, Mt. 6:26
    2nd heaven=home of the sun moon & stars
    Ps. 19:1,
    3rd heaven=home of angels, departed saints and God.
    II Cor. 12:2 I knew a man in Christ above fourteen years ago, (whether in the body, I cannot tell; or whether out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) such an one caught up to the third heaven.
    This is God dwelling place, home and where is has His throne.
    Gen. 14:19, 22 And he blessed him, and said, Blessed be Abram of the most high God, possessor of heaven and earth
    II Kings 8: 43 Hear thou in heaven thy dwelling place, (8:45, 49, 22:19)

    Your questions (“sincere“, according to your pastor) remind me of Nicodemus in John 3:1-10. Notice in verse 7 Jesus told him to stop questioning and to trust that God is good for His Word. To me you are doubting that there is a heaven from which Jesus came and to which He returned and where He is seated at the right hand of the Father interceding for the believer‘s now.
    Romans 8:34 Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.
    Hebrews 12:2 Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of [our] faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.
    Now where do you think that might be? Floating in a black hole in space behind some star? No, it is a prepared place for prepared people by the living God who gave Himself for us and left us many promises of heaven for sure!

    Eph. 1:20 Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places,
    I Peter 3:22 Who (speaking of Jesus Christ) is gone into heaven, and is on the right hand of God; angels and authorities and powers being made subject unto him.

    Jesus did not just speak the following words to His then present disciples but to all believers for all eternity. He tells us that He came from where God is, heaven, and is going to return there at His ascension, where He is has since been preparing the eternal home of His believers.

    John 14:1-6 Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also. And whither I go ye know, and the way ye know. Thomas saith unto him, Lord, we know not whither thou goest; and how can we know the way? Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.

    To me, you sound much like Thomas the doubter who would not believe until he saw the nail prints in the hands of the risen Christ. You may not be able to see heaven now or find it in the Bible yourself but it is real, and those who have trusted Christ will spend eternity there!

    John 3:12-13 If I have told you earthly things, and ye believe not, how shall ye believe, if I tell you of heavenly things? And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven.

    The Bible references that promise and assure the believer of eternal life in heaven are many. Any honest student of the Bible could spend a few minutes in actual Bible study, as I have just done and answer your questions.

    Here are a few verses for you…………….since you asked for some.
    John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
    Eternal life starts in a point in time, when a sinner trust Jesus Christ as their personal Savior (Romans 10:13), and will never end but will spend eternity in heaven with God.

    John 3:36 He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.
    John 5:24 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.
    John 6:47 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me hath everlasting life.
    Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin [is] death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
    Titus 1:2 In hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began;
    I John 5:11 And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in His Son.
    I John 5:13 These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.
    II Cor. 5:8 We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.
    Not only is there a heaven where believers will spend eternity but when we die physically we have the assurance from God’s Word that we will be instantly with Him in heaven our eternal home.

    II Cor. 4:13 Knowing that he which raised up the Lord Jesus shall raise up us also by Jesus, and shall present us with you.
    Phil. 3:20 For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ:
    Col. 4:1 Masters, give unto your servants that which is just and equal; knowing that ye also have a Master in heaven.
    I Thess. 4: 16 For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:
    II Thess. 1: 7 And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels,
    Heb. 9:24 For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, [which are] the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us:
    I Peter 1: 4 To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you,
    I John 5: 7 For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word (that‘s Jesus), and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one.

    The following are references in the Book of the Revelation alone. Much of what you will find is God giving us a little glimpses into the future and all of the references are snapshots of His beautiful heaven.
    3:12
    4:1
    5:3, 8-14
    6:13-14
    8:1, 10, 14
    9:1
    10:1, 4, 5, 6, 8
    11:6,12, 13, 15, 19
    12:1, 3, 4, 7, 8, 10
    13:6, 13
    14:2, 6, 7, 13, 17
    15:1, 5
    16: 11, 17, 21
    18:1, 4, 5, 20
    19:1, 11, 14, 17
    20:1, 9, 11
    21:1, 2, 3, 10 Only 1 heaven remains in the last chapter of the Bible.

    If I did not believe that there is a literal eternal heaven for the “saved”, and a literal eternal hell for those that do not believe the gospel I would never again darken another church door. I would never tell another lost person of their need of the living Savior, Jesus Christ. But I believe the living, loving and everlasting God has a heavenly home prepared for me and all who will trust His Son Jesus Christ.

    Clay Huey

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  6. Clay-
    Thanks for spending your time and energy in crafting a response. Off the bat, I’d like to clarify a few things:
    #1) I wasn’t doubting, debating, or questioning whether or not we are eternal.
    #2) I wasn’t doubting, debating, or questioning whether or not there is a heaven.
    #3) If a biblical argument can show me that heaven is where we go then I’ll accept it.
    To be really blunt, this isn’t an issue of my faith in Christ. It’s an issue of my faith in man’s interpetations. For these reasons, I’m not sure that the comparison between Niccodemeus or Thomas really apply to me.

    In the terms you present things, It’s all about your premise 4 “Heaven is the promised and prepared place where all who turn to Jesus Christ as their savior from thieir own sin will spend eternity.”
    I’d like to be a little picker though and specify that I have no doubt that Jesus Christ is my savoir from my own sin and that Jesus is preparing my eternity.
    Ultimately, the fact I’m working on assessing is the first part of your claim “heaven is the promised and prepared place”

    I am aware that there are over 500 references to heaven. I have been working my way through them. I hope you’ll forgive me for not using the King James. I’m not used to it and it’s hard for me to work with the language. If you (or anybody else) notice errors in translation with the versions I use, I’ll be open to hearing them.
    You offered up a bunch of them. Since it appears I was unclear about where my confusion was, some of the verses you offer aren’t particularly relevant.
    This brings us to your text for the third heaven. Based on my understanding of II Corinthians 12:2, Paul is saying that he knows somebody who had a vision of heaven. (Sort of like a preview of the book of revelations)
    It seems to me that the fact that humans (prophets and the like) are given occasional views that Heaven is a real place doesn’t prove that heaven is where they go when they die.
    As For Genesis 14:19-22, It appears to me all that’s being claimed is that Earth and Heaven belong to God. This is not an area I’m debating. It appears that Heaven is God’s dwelling place, a position affirmed in the second kings verse you quote me.

    To return to the Nicodemus point, I’m working at trusting God and his word: that’s why I’m interested in turning to the bible when man’s interpretations seem unsupported by it.

    Romans 8:34 establishes the idea that Jesus intercedes for us and that he is with God in Heaven. I have no debate with either of these points. Hebrews 12:2 similarly tells us that Jesus is with God in Heaven. Ditto your next two verses (1 Peter and Ephisians)

    John 14 is a really interesting case. It seems like the strongest argument for the traditional position, but even this seems far from a done deal. He doesn’t say “I’m preparing you a place in heaven” he simply says “I’m preparing you a place” Thomas seems to want to pin Jesus down, but Jesus avoids getting pinned down to the specifics. I can accept Jesus words that it will be awesome. I have trouble with human assumptions that this place is heaven. (The very idea that there are many mansions speaks, I think, to the idea, that the spiritual world is enomorous and perhaps even to the idea that there are some places we won’t go.)

    At this point in your email you imply that I’m not an honest student of the bible or that I haven’t spent more than a few minutes trying to answer the question. I’m going to assume that you said these things because you were unclear about what my question actually is. (As I re-read my post it seems clear to me, but I’m going to chalk all this up to the fact that sometimes when we write things our intent isn’t as clear as we assume it to be.) I hope based on the above, it’s at least clear that the question I’m asking is a little trickier than it appears.

    John 3:16 states that God sacrificed Jesus for us. I agree with this. IT doesn’t say that God sacrificed Jesus so that we could go to heaven.
    Similarly, Romans 10:13 says that we will be saved. It doesn’t define where we will be saved to.
    The several quotes which follow and which draw from John, Romans, 1 John, and Titus all establish that we will live for eternity, not where we will live forever.
    Second Corinthians 5:8 similarly establishes the idea that our eternity is with Jesus. You add that this will be instant and it will be in heaven. I don’t see either of those things within the verse itself, but I’m open to the idea that maybe I’m missing something here.

    II Cor. 4:13 is a verse no one ever pointed me to. To me, this seems the clearest support I’ve come across for the traditional view. I think there is an alternative view, though, which I’ll get to shortly.

    1 Peter is also quite persuasive. But it’s the Inheritance that is in heaven.

    Overall, it seems like the overall evidence for believing that we will join God in heaven is based on the fact that some verses say that we will be with Jesus when we die. Others say that Jesus is in heaven with God the father. One reasonable assumption from this is that we will be in Heaven with them both.
    I don’t claim to be an expert on Revelations. In fact, I’ll be pretty open with my confusion around it. But it seems to me that revelations makes it pretty clear that we will live on a restored/rebuilt Earth.
    I can agnowledge that an inference we can make is that first we live in Heaven with God and then move to the restored Earth. But I don’t see scripture supporting this any more than I see scripture supporting the idea that we are going to Heaven. I see inferences, perhaps good inferences, but inferences none the less, human-made ones.
    On some levels, it’s not particularly important what we call the place we spend eternity in. But I think it’s crucial to recognize the difference between man-made assumptions and God-Given truth.

    Thanks for your time and attention, hoping you have time to respond,
    Jeff

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  7. Jeff,

    God in His Word does not minister to our curiosity, God ministers to our need.

    You are letting your own questions cloud comparing scripture with scripture, which is the only proper, applicable and appropriate means of biblical exegsis.

    You are sounding like Nicodemus, who Jesus took to task for his questions. Jesus took him to task for questioning that there is a second birth when he never questioned the first or natural birth of a child even if he could not explain how it all came about. Childbirth happens. Jesus then used the illustration of the wind to show him how silly his questions (marvel=question) really were. You do not know “WHERE” heaven is, so what!

    You and I do not know where hell is either. I for one take God at His Word that hell is a place and the lost spend eternity suffering in it’s eternal fire. I do not want anyone I ever know to go there instead I am will to tell them of God’s provision for eternity in Heaven.

    We do not know where heaven is located but keep studying rather than causing others to question or doubt. Heaven has gates, streets, mansions, a river, trees, dimensions and inhabitants, believers, angels, and the Triune God.

    Read Rev. 22 1-14. Notice verse 14, “Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates INTO THE city.” You think that might mean where God has a prepared place for them?

    Mt. 18:3 And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter INTO the kingdom of heaven.
    Mt. 25: 34 Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom PREPARED FOR YOU from the foundation of the world:
    Now notice within the context of these chapters the “kingdom” is the kingdom of heaven so often mentioned by the Savior is, “PREPARED FOR YOU”.

    II Thess. 4: 13-18 is giving us a heads-up about what will happen at the rapture of the saints. Notice verse 16-17, “For the Lord himself shall descend FROM HEAVEN with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever BE WITH THE LORD.” I do not think that means we will be hanging out on a clould somewhere for eternity.

    Ok, Jesus is in heaven, He will come from heaven, take all the saved to where we will BE WITH THE LORD.” Do you think that might be heaven?

    Seriously, it seems to me that you have questioned so much that you have yourself as confused as a termite in a yo-yo.

    What is so confusing about the words of Jesus in John 14:3, “And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also”? (KJV)
    Or as is stated in the NIV, “And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be WITH ME that you also may be WHERE I am.”

    You wrote, “If a biblical argument can show me that heaven is where we go then I’ll accept it.”

    I could care less about argumentation. Take what God says and tell those lost with whom you rub sholders that there is a hell to shun and a heaven to gain.

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    1. Hello clay i was wondering if u are the same clay huey that spoken summer camp for first baptist church of hammond in a few yeaes back the camp was in michigan

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      1. That sounds quite likely. Clay is a good friend of my Pastor, Marty Holman. If you were interested in sending some sort of contact info to my email: jeffcampbell7@hotmail.com, I can see that it get’s passed to Marty who will pass it to Clay.
        I’m fairly certain Clay doesn’t regularly read my blog (This exchange was quite some time ago) So I doubt he’ll see your message here.

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  8. Clay,
    A few questions.
    “You are letting your own questions cloud comparing scripture with scripture, which is the only proper, applicable and appropriate means of biblical exegsis.”
    I understand the importance of taking the bible seriously, I think. But It seems like if we are comparing two passages of scripture, our judgement has to enter into the picture somewhere. We can’t just feed two passages into some sort-of computer.
    I think that you will probably grow frustrated as we continue this conversation on a verse-by-verse basic. (Tell me if I’m wrong and I’ll keep going with a verse-by-verse answer to each of your questions.)
    It seems like our area of disagreement is a bit more basic. It’s about how much it is o.k. to question, and how we should go about questioning. It seems like you think that my questioning will cause others to stumble.
    Maybe it will. But I have to say that in my walk toward Christ it was the people who didn’t have time, room, or interest in my questions that were stumbling blocks for me. In my (as you point out elsewhere) admittedly brief walk with the Lord, I feel that I’ve grown closer to him through questioning.
    I find it interesting that we don’t translate Israel’s name… We keep it in the Hebrew. I wonder what would happen if we translated the name into English. Every time the ancient Hebrews referred to the person or the nation, they (as I’m sure you know) were referring to wrestling with angels. I recognize that one motivation for questioning is rationalizing. But I also know that we’re told to seek. When Nathaniel questions Jesus, Jesus praises him for it. (In fact, Jesus calling him “A true Israelite indeed” takes on a whole new aspect considering what the word “Israel” means)

    I want to recognize, again, that this is a road you’ve traveled for much longer than I. I’ve been wrong before– gazillions of times– and I’ll be wrong again (gazillions of times.)

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  9. i have a friend at work who is a huge New York Giants fan. he, like many fans of New England teams in times past, is highly critical of his team’s performance from week to week and is increasingly pessimistic about their chances of getting to the Super Bowl – much less winning it. last week i assured him that the Giants would win over the Cowboys. i made my case as best i could using arguments in evidence, pointing out trends, and channeling the mojo of a seasoned football analyst. he remained unconvinced.

    i saw him today for the first time since my prediction and we had a good laugh at how rich he might be today if he’d trusted my expertise and intuition. in the end though, the only gain was bragging rights for yours truly. he’s still a skeptic and i’m still a blowhard. after all it’s only football.

    in some ways i think that we Christians are akin to sports fans. we act alot more like we’re fans of the Bible rather than being the players it exorts us to be. the Apostle Paul warned against foolish arguments amongst ourselves – and much to my frustration – without offering even a hint of a list of the topics to which he was referring. i believe that dogmatic discussions about the means and the material of God’s future promises border on the specious.

    no disrespect intended to anyone who’s posted on this line. we’re all entitled to our opinions about things that haven’t yet happened (much like the outcome of a football game), and we’re comanded to try to sort those things out. the most important question to ask in this case isn’t the space we’ll occupy at the moment of God’s fulfillment, but whether is really matters enough to argue about it. it’s alot like the Rapture. whether or not you believe it will happen in this way or that way is not relevant to a righteous and growing relationship with Jesus. it will all go down the way God intends it to.

    now, in regards to your question Jeff, i’ve been wondering if you haven’t really asked the question that’s on your mind. i’m not trying to insinuate something nefarious on your part, but i sort of get the feeling you really want to know why Christians often pacify themselves to distraction with extrapolated notions not clearly defined in Scripture. yes, i’m inclined to agree with you that Scripture says much about what’s from, in, under, recorded, and stored in heaven, yet is quite silent on the idea that the place heaven is our final destination. what’s missing in your analysis is that the things in and from heaven are everything that posseses the character and attributes of God.

    for the sake of brevity i’ll latch on to one concept; the Kingdom of Heaven. there’s a king. there are subjects. there is citizenship. there’s realtionship between king and subjects that transcends whatever place and space heaven might occupy (this is obvious because this aint heaven). the king connects with us by sending us stuff; Jesus, the Holy Spirit, wisdom, angels, etc. all these things are spiritual in nature. it’s a spirit world – heaven.

    on some level i don’t see the harm in focusing a measure of hope on being someday perfectly connected to heavenly. it is synonymous with Godly. yes, i don’t believe that people who imagine that they will someday be in heaven – the place proper- mean anything other than living within its walls. but my struggle is with the level it might be causing harm to not have a complete understanding about a non-essential such as this.

    i would rather have a discussion about essentials and liberty and properly handling Scripture. and my hope is that at the end of the day we can contemplate each others’ insights on the secondary, tertiary, and beyond with love and grace towards each other. to that end i believe you posses enviable gifts. nurture them and i’ll encourage you in them. armed with the heart of Christ, honesty and full disclosure produce disarming humility.

    peace
    garret

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  10. What a great metaphor, that we ought to be in the game rather than fans in the bleachers!
    Theirs wisdom in what you say, I think, around not hair splitting and worrying about the details. (I aim this comment more at myself than anybody else.)
    A few directions my thoughts have turned recently,(many thanks to those who offered insights.)
    #1) The inference seems a little more reasonable than I initially supposed that we go to heaven: there are verses which indicate that Jesus went to be with God in heaven; and other verses that indicate that we will be Jesus when we die. I stand by the assertion that we’re making an inference when we assert that we will all be together in heaven. Nonetheless, I get where that inference comes from.
    #2) Would we inhabit the Earth differently– see it differently, treat it differently– if we recognized that our eternity will be spent on a revitalized Earth rather than a place that’s completely different (i.e. heaven)
    #3) The support and love of people who know my heart has been inspiring. It’s interesting how folks who don’t know me approach my writing with a certain set of assumptions, but the context and relationship I have with others causes them to view my words quite differently. It’s affirms my initial belief that isolated, propositional-style facts aren’t as important as we make them out to be; context and relationship largely determine how we view truth. (I’m pursuing this line of reasoning elsewhere in this blog; if it interest you check out the discussion under “Rob Bell’s misquote, modernity, and hypocrisy”

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  11. this will certainly be sorted out when the time comes, but what about now, the spiritual growth of each believer and the responsibility of pastors, teachers to present the scripture to cause personal change that will affect how a person lives their life for Christ today? Gnosticism was a issue of distraction in the early church, we need to be careful that we aren’t overlooking what we clearly understand now.
    stewardship
    position in the body of Christ
    ministering to those in need
    showing our love for one another,[“by this shall all men know that ye are my disciples”]Jn. 13:35
    sharing the Gospel
    etc. etc.
    Col. 3:16-17

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  12. pastorbb-
    I agree with you. The things you list are certainly much more important than many of these questions.
    But I also think unfounded surety in principles that are based on tradition and not scripture can lead to us acting in a way that’s not biblical. If we think, for example, that we are going to spend eternity in a nonphysical, distant realm (heaven) then we end up with a much different concept of stewardship. Stewardship of the Earth becomes less important, I think, for example.

    Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts… I hope you’ll do so again.

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  13. I think Clay Huey’s posts are good and show clearly what heaven is and that all saints will go there. Also it’s good how he compares scripture with scripture so that way 1 single verse is not taken out of context.

    The verses he quoted are excellent to quote to people who want to know more about heaven and if it really exists. Also very good to quote to false religions like the Jehovah’s Witnesses who believe that they will not go to heaven, only the 144,000 “anointed ones” will go and the rest of the JWs will stay here on an earthly paradise.

    It’s good that we Christian’s ask questions, but the answers should come from God’s word. Sometimes the answers are not given (for not everything is revealed to man) and we just have to have faith in God and be careful not to start speculating on a possible answer and take that as the absolute right answer or truth. If the answer is not found, we should not argue as nobody can be 100% right since the answer is not given. For example, we do not know exactly when Jesus is coming back (what day, month, and year)? The answer is not given, but signs of the end times are. Another question can be, are we still going to eat in heaven, etc. The answer is not given and there really is not point in arguing over such thing as what’s really important is that we will be in heaven with our Lord 🙂

    Take care brothers and sisters in Christ, may we all love one another and be the light God wants us to be in this dark world.

    God bless,

    Lymber

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  14. Thank you Lymber, for your thoughts.
    You make several great points, among them is the idea that there are many things we won’t know about in this life.
    When scripture comes up not having settled an issue, I think we often go back to tradition. I think that this is idolatry; much in the same way that others turn to the world’s ideas or the latest fads is idolatry.

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  15. I was taught like the most…when I die I’ll go to heaven. But for the last several years I have put aside what most teach, and starting studying the Bible for myself…..I have not found one verse that honestly supports the idea that we go to heaven when we die.

    The fact is the old testament actually teaches us that when we die, we will remain in the grave in a “sleep” state. When Christ returns we will be resurrected. Jesus and His apostles taught from the Old Testament…..there was no New Testament to be taught from.

    Furthermore, I find so much that is being taught in today’s Churches far from the truths found in the Bible….God’s Word.

    Good Luck on your search…….

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