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BIBLE ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS ABOUT HEAVEN

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord’s Day Morning, May 12, 2013

“But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God” (I Corinthians 2:9-10).


These verses certainly include a reference to Heaven! It seems incredible to me that some commentators deny that. The human eye has not seen Heaven. The human ear has not heard anyone speak from Heaven. The heart of man cannot imagine the glory of Heaven. Dr. Henry M. Morris said that the verse speaks of Heaven and,

The glories of “the new heavens and the new earth” (Isaiah 66:22) are beyond human imagination, for they are “prepared” for us by Christ Himself (John 14:2, 3). [But] some of these heavenly glories have indeed been revealed to us through the Apostle John, Revelation 21:22 (Henry M. Morris, Ph.D., The Defender’s Study Bible, World Publishing, 1995, p. 1256; notes on I Corinthians 2:9, 10).

Dr. R. C. H. Lenski said the text

...is often used with reference to heaven and with reference to the blessedness that awaits us in the life to come. This use is legitimate, indeed... (R. C. H. Lenski, Ph.D., St. Paul’s First and Second Epistles to the Corinthians, Augsburg Publishing House, 1963 edition, p. 104; comments on I Corinthians 2:9).

No earthly eye has ever seen the glory of Heaven. No earthly ear has ever heard the angels singing there. The things in Heaven, among other spiritual realities, can only be known by God’s special revelation. So, in verse 10, we read, “But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit...” (I Corinthians 2:10). The Bible reveals to us what we could never discover in any other way. And when God illuminates our minds, we will believe what He has revealed in the Scriptures about those spiritual things, including Heaven. The Applied New Testament Commentary (Kingsway Publications, Ltd., 1997) gives this sensible comment,

Paul here quotes from Isaiah 64:4. What is it that God has prepared for those that love Him – but which has been hidden from those who do not? It is salvation, eternal life, and glory; this is what God has prepared for those who love Him. And what God has prepared for those who love Him is greater and more wonderful than we can imagine (ibid., p. 631; note on I Corinthians 2:9).

“But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit...” (I Corinthians 2:9-10).

The Holy Spirit has revealed in the Bible things about Heaven that we could learn in no other way. Here are some of those things that the Bible reveals about what will happen to Christians in the future.

I. First, what happens when a Christian dies?

The Bible says,

“We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord” (II Corinthians 5:8).

This shows that the moment a Christian dies his spirit is present with Christ. The Apostle Paul spoke of “a desire to depart, and to be with Christ” (Philippians 1:23). These verses show that Christians go to be with Christ as spirits. They will not be reunited with their bodies until the Rapture. Yet we will be recognizable, as were the spirits of Abraham and Lazarus (Luke 16:22-25). The Westminster Confession of Faith says, “The bodies of men after death return to dust, and see corruption; but their souls (which neither die nor sleep), having an immortal substance, immediately return to God who gave them. The souls of the righteous, being made perfect in holiness, are received...into light and glory, waiting for the full redemption of their bodies” (32:1).

The souls of the dead go into the intermediate state. They do not go into “soul sleep” as the Seventh Day Adventists wrongly teach. Luke 16:22-26 reveals that “Hades” (O.T. “Sheol”) was divided into two parts before the ascension of Christ. These were the residences of the saved and the lost. The rich man was in the section of Hades known as the place of “torment.” Lazarus was in the other part of Hades that Jesus called “paradise.” Lazarus and the rich man were both fully conscious, which disproves the Seventh Day Adventist teaching.

When Jesus ascended back to Heaven He took “paradise,” and all the saved souls in it, up into “the third heaven...into paradise” (II Corinthians 12:2, 4). Ephesians 4:8 and 9 describes this transition. Christ “led captivity captive” – “he ascended” after He “descended into the lower parts of the earth.” Christ did not go into the place of “torment” as Frederick K. Price and some other Pentecostals wrongly teach. Christ descended into the “paradise” division of Hades and took all the saved souls there with Him when He ascended back to God, up in the “third heaven.”

Today the lost go immediately into the place of “torment” in Hades when they die. Today, the saved go immediately to be with Christ in the “third heaven” (II Corinthians 12:2; 5:6).

“We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord” (II Corinthians 5:8).

The Scofield Study Bible gives a good explanation of all this in its note on Luke 16:23 (pp. 1098, 1099).

John MacArthur belittles this description of “paradise” in the Old Testament, calling it “a special compartment” or a “holding tank.” As he does on other subjects, like the Blood of Christ, Dr. MacArthur uses name calling as a way of condemning the views that his own father held when he preached from the Scofield Study Bible. In his notes on I Peter 3:18, 19 Dr. MacArthur admits that Christ’s spirit “went to the demon spirits bound in the abyss and proclaimed that He had triumphed over them.” But is that all Christ did there? Ephesians 4:9 also says He descended there, and in Ephesians 4:8 we are told that “He led captivity captive.” MacArthur says that he has “debunked” the wrong theory of the Scofield Bible with Scripture, but he hasn’t. He has only used name calling and a quotation from Wilbur M. Smith taken out of context and misapplied (John MacArthur, D.D., The Glory of Heaven, Crossway Books, 1996, p. 70).

Wilbur Smith did not debunk the position of the Scofield Study Bible in the chapter which MacArthur quoted. Dr. Smith only dealt with the false doctrines of purgatory and soul sleep in that chapter. It was less than honest, at least disingenuous, for Dr. MacArthur to use a quotation from Wilbur Smith to disprove the Scofield position when Dr. Smith was not referring to the Scofield position at all, not anywhere in the chapter MacArthur quoted (Wilbur M. Smith, D.D., The Biblical Doctrine of Heaven, Moody Press, 1977 edition, pp. 155-170).

We therefore let the Scofield position stand as a credible and reliable explanation of what the Bible teaches concerning what happens to a Christian when he dies. The basic teaching of the Scofield Study Bible has also been given by many others. See J. Dwight Pentecost, Th.D., Things to Come, Zondervan Publishing House, 1964 edition, p. 558. See Henry M. Morris, Ph.D., The Defender’s Study Bible, World Publishing, 1995 edition, note on Ephesians 4:8, 9. See Dr. W. A. Criswell (W. A. Criswell, Ph.D., Paige Patterson, Ph.D., Heaven, Tyndale House Publishers, 1991, p. 60). See also Henry C. Thiessen, Ph.D., Introductory Lectures in Systematic Theology, Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1963 edition, pp. 488, 489). Dr. Thiessen said,

The N.T. [New Testament] indicates that there were two compartments in Hades: one for the wicked and one for the good. The one for the righteous was called paradise. The one for the wicked is not named, but is described as a place of torment...After the resurrection of Christ...believers are represented as going into the presence of Christ at death...They still go to paradise, but paradise is now above (2 Cor. 12:2-4)... when Christ arose, He took with Him...the souls of all the righteous in Hades (Ephesians 4:8; Psalm 68:18). Henceforth all believers go into Christ’s presence at death, while unbelievers go to Hades, as in O.T. [Old Testament] times (Thiessen, ibid., p. 489).

That is what happens to a Christian’s soul when he dies.

II. Second, when will the Christian receive his resurrected body?

The Rapture is more well-known than the intermediate state, so I will spend less time on it. Listen to I Thessalonians 4:15-17.

“For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. 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 Thessalonians 4:15-17).

Dr. John F. Walvoord said,

      The major passage on the Rapture is I Thessalonians 4:13-18. Paul describes the scene as the Lord coming bodily from heaven to the air above the earth, and issuing a trumpet call that will be a signal for Christians who have died to be resurrected. A moment later, Christians still living will also be raptured with those who have been resurrected to meet the Lord in the air. Once they meet the Lord in the air, they go to heaven in fulfillment of the prophecy of going to the Father’s house (John 14:2-3). First Corinthians 15 reveals more about the Rapture, saying that the human bodies of both [Christians] who have died and those who are living will be transformed instantly into bodies suited for heaven, 15:51-52 (John F. Walvoord, Ph.D., The Rapture, Prophecy Study Bible, AMG publishers, 2000, p. 1152).

III. Third, will Christians be judged?

Yes, Christians will be judged for their works. Listen to II Corinthians 5:10-11.

“For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad. Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men; but we are made manifest unto God; and I trust also are made manifest in your consciences” (II Corinthians 5:10-11).

Dr. Erwin Lutzer said,

Our Saviour will administer that which is right and just, but will not wink at our disobedience...If we take Paul’s words at face value, we must face the possibility of a serious rebuke by Christ and a loss of rewards or privileges...Those who are faithful will have the privilege of ruling with Christ (Revelation 3:21); those who are not will be rebuked and given lesser responsibilities [in the earthly Kingdom]...all will enjoy the eternal state and contribute to the honor and praise of our Lord (Erwin Lutzer, D.D., The Judgment Seat of Christ, Prophecy Study Bible, ibid., p. 1247).

IV. Fourth, what will Christians do during the Kingdom age?

Please turn to Revelation 20:1-7.

“And I saw an angel come down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years, And cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal upon him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled: and after that he must be loosed a little season. And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years. But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years. And when the thousand years are expired, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison” (Revelation 20:1-7).

This passage teaches premillennialism. The early Christians were correct in saying that Revelation 20:1-7 is literal. Christ will return to this earth and set up His Kingdom in Jerusalem, establishing the throne of David. True Christians will follow Christ down from the third Heaven to establish His Kingdom on the earth for 1,000 years. This is explained in Zechariah 14:4-9.

“And his feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east, and the mount of Olives shall cleave in the midst thereof toward the east and toward the west, and there shall be a very great valley; and half of the mountain shall remove toward the north, and half of it toward the south. And ye shall flee to the valley of the mountains; for the valley of the mountains shall reach unto Azal: yea, ye shall flee, like as ye fled from before the earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah: and the Lord my God shall come, and all the saints with thee. And it shall come to pass in that day, that the light shall not be clear, nor dark: But it shall be one day which shall be known to the Lord, not day, nor night: but it shall come to pass, that at evening time it shall be light. And it shall be in that day, that living waters shall go out from Jerusalem; half of them toward the former sea, and half of them toward the hinder sea: in summer and in winter shall it be. And the Lord shall be king over all the earth: in that day shall there be one Lord, and his name one” (Zechariah 14:4-9).

The Book of Revelation says,

“[Thou] hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth” (Revelation 5:10).

V. Fifth, what will happen after the 1,000 year Kingdom of Christ on earth?

At the end of Christ’s earthly Kingdom, this world and the universe will be consumed in fire. Listen to II Peter 3:10-13.

“But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up. Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness, Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat? Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness” (II Peter 3:10-13).

At that time God will create a new Heaven and a new earth. Turn to Revelation 21:1.

“And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea” (Revelation 21:1).

Then the Holy City, the New Jerusalem, will come down. It will be the capital of Christ’s eternal Kingdom. Turn to Revelation 21:16 for the size of the New Jerusalem.

“And the city lieth foursquare, and the length is as large as the breadth: and he measured the city with the reed, twelve thousand furlongs. The length and the breadth and the height of it are equal” (Revelation 21:16).

The New Jerusalem is fifteen hundred miles long, fifteen hundred miles wide and fifteen hundred miles high. Thus the city will be equal to the area from the eastern coast of the United States to the Mississippi River on one side and from the Canadian border to the Gulf of Mexico on the other. In addition to the length and breadth, the city will be fifteen hundred miles high. It will have hundreds of stories going up to the top. Dr. Paul Lee Tan estimates that the New Jerusalem will “hold a staggering 72 billion inhabitants” (Prophecy Study Bible, ibid., p. 751). Mr. Griffith, please sing the third stanza of “The Pearly White City.”

No heartaches are known in that city,
   No tears ever moisten the eyes,
There’s no disappointment in heaven,
   No envy and strife in the sky;
The saints are all sanctified wholly,
   They live in sweet harmony there;
My heart is now set on that city,
   And some day its blessings I’ll share.
In that bright city, pearly white city,
   I have a mansion, a robe and a crown,
Now I am watching, waiting, and longing,
   For the white city John saw coming down.
(“The Pearly White City” by Arthur F. Ingler, 1902).

Dr. Tan also says, “Hebrews 12:22-24 lists the inhabitants of the city” (ibid.). He said, “The New Jerusalem [will include] angels, the Church, God the Judge, Old Testament Saints, and Jesus the Mediator” (ibid.). Strangely, Dr. Tan leaves out the last thing mentioned in the list. Turn to Hebrews 12:22-24. What is the last thing in the list? “The blood of sprinkling.” I don’t know why Dr. Tan left out “the blood of sprinkling.” But John MacArthur, in his book, The Glory of Heaven, left out Jesus and “the blood of sprinkling.” Dr. MacArthur says the passage in Hebrews 12 is a “fascinating” passage “about heaven.” Then he quotes Hebrews 12:22-23. But he leaves out all of verse 24! (see John F. MacArthur, The Glory of Heaven, Crossway Books, 1996, p. 104). I can’t understand why a man would leave out “Jesus the mediator” and “the blood of sprinkling.” To me Jesus and His Blood are among the most important things in Heaven!

What hope do we have without Jesus? What hope do we have without His precious Blood? I can only say that a Christless and Bloodless gospel is not the true Gospel! Great Spurgeon said,

There are some preachers who do not preach about the blood of Jesus Christ, and I have one thing to say to you concerning them – never go to hear them! Never listen to them! A ministry that has not the blood in it is lifeless, and a dead ministry is no good to anybody (C. H. Spurgeon, “Freedom Through Christ’s Blood,” August 2, 1874).

As long as I have any breath, I will preach the old Gospel of a crucified and risen Christ, and cleansing from sin by His precious Blood! In the “heavenly Jerusalem” we will rejoice to see “Jesus the mediator of the new covenant” and “the blood of sprinkling.” And for all eternity we shall praise “him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood” (Revelation 1:5).

Now I ask you this morning, are you ready for Heaven? Your sins must be cleansed by the Blood of Jesus, or you will never enter there. You must trust Jesus, “the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). Come to Jesus by faith. Turn from sin and trust Jesus, the Lamb of God. He will cleanse you from all sin with His precious Blood! Please stand and sing hymn number 6 on your song sheet, “Are You Washed in the Blood?”

Have you been to Jesus for the cleansing power?
   Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?
Are you fully trusting in His grace this hour?
   Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?
Are you washed in the blood, in the soul-cleansing blood of the Lamb?
   Are your garments spotless? Are they white as snow?
Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?

When the Bridegroom cometh will your robes be white?
   Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?
Will your soul be ready for the mansions bright?
   Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?
Are you washed in the blood, in the soul-cleansing blood of the Lamb?
   Are your garments spotless? Are they white as snow?
Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?

Lay aside the garments that are stained with sin,
   And be washed in the blood of the Lamb.
There’s a fountain flowing for the soul unclean,
   O be washed in the blood of the Lamb!
Are you washed in the blood, in the soul-cleansing blood of the Lamb?
   Are your garments spotless? Are they white as snow?
Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?
    (“Are You Washed in the Blood?” by Elisha A. Hoffman, 1839-1929).

Dr. Chan, please come and pray for those who need to be saved.

(END OF SERMON)
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Scripture Read Before the Sermon by Mr. Abel Prudhomme: Hebrews 12:22-24.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:
“The Pearly White City” (by Arthur F. Ingler, 1902).

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THE OUTLINE OF

BIBLE ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS ABOUT HEAVEN

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

“But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God” (I Corinthians 2:9-10).

(Isaiah 66:22; John 14:2, 3; Revelation 21:22; Isaiah 64:4)

I.   First, what happens when a Christian dies? II Corinthians 5:8;
Philippians 1:23; Luke 16:22-26, II Corinthians 12:2, 4;
Ephesians 4:8, 9; II Corinthians 5:6, 8.

II.  Second, when will the Christian receive his resurrected body?
I Thessalonians 4:15-17.

III. Third, will Christians be judged? II Corinthians 5:10-11; Revelation 3:21.

IV. Fourth, what will Christians do during the Kingdom age? Revelation 20:1-7;
Zechariah 14:4-9; Revelation 5:10.

V. Fifth, what will happen after the 1,000 year Kingdom of Christ on earth?
 II Peter 3:10-13; Revelation 21:1, 16; Hebrews 12:22-24;
Revelation 1:5; John 1:29.