Sunday, September 15, 2013

P2 The Bible's 4 heavens

Revelation 4:1-2 "After these things I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven, and the first voice which I had heard, like the sound of a trumpet speaking with me, said, “Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after these things.” Immediately I was in the Spirit; and behold, a throne was standing in heaven, and One sitting on the throne."


In yesterday's post we began looking at John's opening statements about his second heavenly vision in Revelation 4:1-2.  We decided we first needed to understand what the Bible teaches about heaven before diving into the glories that follow in Revelation 4-5 concerning Christ and His throne.  There are 4 places or realms called "heaven" in the scripture.  Seeing how each one is greater and grander than the previous one prepares us to understand the significance of what John is writing to us in Revelation 4-5:
1. 1st heaven = the sky or atmospheric heaven
2. 2nd heaven = the universe or astronomical heaven
3. 3rd heaven = the abode of God, the angelic realm and the current home of departed believers
4. The New heavens = which will most likely be a refashioning of the third heaven but nonetheless is being currently built by Jesus.

Such truths are wonderful to study and are necessary for us as Christians living in the 21st century.  The question is: why? What practical benefits results from being more heavenly minded?  Some of the following New Testament verses below on the subject of Heaven demonstrate the necessity to be heavenly minded.  

Benefits of h.e.a.v.e.n.l.y mindset
In using the acrostic h.e.a.v.e.n.l.y, we can note the comforting benefits afforded to Christians through the Biblical truths of Heaven that we have explored in this message.  Note the following passages:

1. Healing from grief.
John 14:1-2 Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you."

2. Endurance
Acts 7:55 "But being full of the Holy Spirit, he gazed intently into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God."
3. Alive in God's presence
2 Corinthians 5:5-6 "Now He who prepared us for this very purpose is God, who gave to us the Spirit as a pledge. Therefore, being always of good courage, and knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord."
4. Vitality for the faithwalk
2 Corinthians 12:4 "was caught up into Paradise and heard inexpressible words, which a man is not permitted to speak. (9) And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me."
5. Encouragement to serve others
Philippians 1:23-24 "But I am hard-pressed from both directions, having the desire to depart and be with Christ, for that is very much better; 24 yet to remain on in the flesh is more necessary for your sake."
6. Never ending hope
1 John 3:2-3 Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is. And everyone who has his hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.

7. Line up priorities
Colossians 3:1-3 "Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth." 
8. Yearn to see Jesus
2 Peter 1:10-11 "Therefore, brethren, be all the more diligent to make certain about His calling and choosing you; for as long as you practice these things, you will never stumble; 11 for in this way the entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be abundantly supplied to you." 

It is on this final practical reason that we find ourselves preparing to enter into Revelation 4-5.  John's vision was undoubtedly revealed by the Holy Spirit to both John and His readers to provide practical benefits like the ones outlined above.  The church militant of Revelation 2-3 is buffered by the Lord Who reign over her in Revelation 1, by the representative saints before the throne of God in Revelation 4 and the guarantee that the same Lord of Revelation 1 is going to overcome the enemies of faith in Revelation 5-22. As 1 Peter 1:8 states - "and though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory."

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