We have all heard about Heaven, haven’t we? It is a place where we go after we die if we have been good people in our lives. It is what we have been taught since we were born and that which has been ingrained in our minds and then out of it. It is a nice place where we find all the nice people and niceness seems to emanate out of it.The thing is, popular culture has missed the point entirely when it comes to the Christian idea of a Heaven.
The Christian heaven is a renewed Earth, put plainly.A renewed Earth is a place where there is no evil done by the people and people live in peace and harmony. People have eternal life and all the good things that have been dreamed of come true. All the bad guys are destroyed and the good people inherit it. It is a place where the New Jerusalem is the capital of the world and there is a water of life amidst us. It is a completely ‘New Heaven’ and a ‘New Earth’.
When Jesus came to Earth, he announced that the kingdom of God (the Christian heaven) had come on Earth right at that very point and he announced it with healing all kinds of sickness and disease on Earth. So, he was basically proclaiming that the kingdom of Heaven was not somewhere we go to after we die, but a restored Earth where those who have died are raised to life after they die, right after His Second Coming.The fact that it is here now means that each one of us Christians are a cell of Jesus Christ and that each one of us will restore the Earth to a certain extent before Jesus Christ comes to restore it fully. When he comes back, He will raise the dead and the good ones will be kept and the bad ones discarded. So, whenever we do good deeds, we, as cells of Jesus Christ, are helping to bring back the state of Eden that the Earth was in.
The subjects of the Kingdom are the ‘sheep’ and as St. Augustine remarked: “How many sheep without and how many wolves within!” This should both come as a warning and as an encouragement. Going to Church does not mean that you are saved and not going there does not mean that you are not. While there is no division between a “visible” and an “invisible Church”, yet there may be members of the Church who are not visibly such, but whose membership is known to God alone. If anyone is saved, he must in some sense be a member of the Church; in what sense, we cannot always say. The doctrine does not mean that everyone who is not visibly within the Church is necessarily damned in case of inculpable ignorance. God is just and Jesus Christ said: “Whoever is not with me is against me and whoever does not gather with me scatters.”
The final renewal is the Second Coming of Jesus Christ and the Final Judgement where all the ‘sheep’ will be collected by the ‘shepherd’ and the goats will be thrown away into outer darkness, ‘where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth’. The Earth will be a place where God-space and man-space live in harmony together and that will be the end of all sin and death.So, this does look fascinating as well as a bit complicated (if you have been taught something else about Heaven: ‘the veggie tales’). But rest assured, it is true. God is just and one day such things will indeed come to pass.