Our theme for this month: “Understanding Salvation”
Our Bible verse for today: “So we are always confident and know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord … In fact, we are confident, and we would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord.” 2 Corinthians 5:6; 8 (CSB)
Our thought for today: “The moment you die you are immediately in the presence of the Lord.”
In 2 Corinthians 5:6; 8 the Apostle Paul makes it clear that the moment a Christians dies you immediately go to the current heaven to be in the presence of the Lord. Jesus alluded to this as well in Luke 23:43 when He told the repentant thief on the cross next to Him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.” And also in Luke 16:22-31 when Jesus told the parable of Lazarus and the rich man, one in heaven and one in hell, both having arrived there immediately after death, and both fully conscious. They were in the current heaven. I say “the current heaven” because as we will learn, the current heaven is temporary and will one day be replaced by the new heaven and the new earth.
The current heaven is what theologians refer to as “the intermediate” state. As author Randy Alcorn explains in his book “Heaven”, “This is a transitional period between our past lives on Earth and our future resurrection life in the New Earth. Usually when we refer to “Heaven,” we mean the place where Christians go when they die. When we tell our children “Grandma’s now in Heaven,” we’re referring to the intermediate heaven.”
The “intermediate” heaven is by definition temporary. Anything that is intermediate is not the final destination. How do we know the current heaven is not the forever heaven? Because in Revelation 21:1 we read, “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth have passed away …”
What will it be like in the current heaven for us? In the Bible there are plenty of clues. First, we know that we will be conscious and aware of our surroundings. Lazarus and the rich man both knew who they had been in life, and they remembered important details about their life. From that scene we also know that we will be recognizable for who we were in this life. So there is direct continuity between our lives on earth and our lives in heaven.
Also, Jesus used the word “paradise” to describe it. Instead of telling the thief on the cross that heaven is beyond description and we are incapable of understanding what it is like, He chose to use a human word that has great meaning for us and which would create an image in our minds that helps us to understand what we have waiting for us. According to the dictionary paradise is “A place or condition of great happiness where everything is exactly as you would like it to be. Like the Garden of Eden.”
“Like the Garden of Eden”. Read the early chapters of Genesis. There we find real people in a real place enjoying a perfect existence. It was “paradise” and in some way that’s what the intermediate heaven will be like.
There’s more we can know about what our time in the intermediate heaven will be like so we will continue this discussion tomorrow.