Find audio version here: https://audioboom.com/posts/7041500-part-3-common-objections-are-we-going-up-or-is-god-moving-in
The inheritance of the land as a possession forever is promised by God to Abraham and his seed in Genesis 13:14-15, also in Genesis 17:7-8. God has not yet fulfilled this promise and consequently, Abraham has not yet received his inheritance and neither has his seed – who is Christ (see Acts 7:1-5, Hebrews 11:13-14, 39 and Galatians 3:16)
So where does the belief of going to heaven come from? The closest explanation is a misunderstanding or misinterpretation of scripture. I’ll be addressing some of these passages which have been wrongly taken to imply a heaven destination.
The 1st one is John 14:1-3
“Let not your heart be troubled; you 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 to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.”
[At first glance it seems Jesus is saying he is going to Heaven and will come and receive his disciples, after which they will receive mansions which are in Heaven. But is that what Jesus is saying? No.
Two things ought to be addressed. 1. What does the phrase “in my Father’s house” mean? and what would his audience have understood by it? Remember he is speaking to Jews who would immediately know what he is talking about. 2. What is meant by mansions? What is the greek word translated as mansions?
So the first question, what is meant by my father’s house? Never in the Old Testament is heaven referred to as my father’s house. In fact that term is always in reference to the temple. To name a few, Isaiah 56:4-8
For thus says the Lord:
“To the eunuchs who keep My Sabbaths,
And choose what pleases Me,
And hold fast My covenant,
5 Even to them I will give in My house
And within My walls a place and a name
Better than that of sons and daughters;
I will give them an everlasting name
That shall not be cut off.
6 “Also the sons of the foreigner
Who join themselves to the Lord, to serve Him,
And to love the name of the Lord, to be His servants—
Everyone who keeps from defiling the Sabbath,
And holds fast My covenant—
7 Even them I will bring to My holy mountain,
And make them joyful in My house of prayer.
Their burnt offerings and their sacrifices
Will be accepted on My altar;
For My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations.”
See also Jeremiah 7:11. Jesus in the book of John referred to the Lord’s house as the temple by quoting this passage in Isaiah when he overturned the table in the temple, saying “my house shall be called a house of prayer but you have made it a den of thieves” See John 2:16.
The second question was what is meant by many mansions? The Greek word is monḗ which never means mansion (as popularly understood as a very wealthy or expensive house). The greek word literally means dwellings or chambers. This makes sense because the temple when it was constructed was made to have many chambers, allowing for temporary accommodation for the priests when it was their turn to minister in the temple. See 1 Kings 6:5-7 and 1 Chronicles 9:26-27.
Jesus was simply telling his disciples they were going to serve as priests in the new temple in the Kingdom [Look out for future teachings on this]. See Matthew 21:33-44, Isaiah 5:1-7 and Revelation 20:6
The second objection.
A misunderstanding that the phrase ‘kingdom of Heaven’ means kingdom in heaven.
It should be noted as per Matthew 19:23-24 that Kingdom of heaven and kingdom of God are used interchangeably and should rightly be understood as Kingdom from heaven and not kingdom in heaven. See Matthew 5:3,5 and Matthew 6:10, a passage recording Jesus teaching his disciples how to pray. “ …Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven”.
The 3rd objection
This lies within Matthew 6:19-21 “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; 20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
The latter part is what many tend to cling on to i.e. if your treasure is in heaven then people will have to go there to get it. After all it says there your heart will be. Not realising that is a metaphor addressing the motivation behind our actions. In other words you are drawn towards the place you put your investment. Paul similarly instructs us in Colossians 3:2 “Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth”
Furthermore, reading Matthew 6:19-21 closely reveals that treasures are being stored in heaven. A safe place where thieves and rust and animals cannot get to and destroy. No where in the passage does it imply that people need to go to heaven to get their treasure. On the contrary the Bible in Revelation 22:12, Isaiah 40:10-11, 62:11-12 and Matthew 16:27 tell us that Christ will bring those rewards and treasures with him to distribute when he returns.
The 4th objection
This corresponds to the new Jerusalem. Revelation 21:1-3
Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea. Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, “Behold, the tent of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God.
Many assume although wrongly, that the new Jerusalem is a mysterious place in heaven. I encourage the reader to see ‘Part 2 Jerusalem redeemed and married with children – Heaven or Earth, Are we going up or is God moving in?’.
Also as the Lord leads, I publish a post solely focused on the new Jerusalem, Its beauty, boundaries, the temple in it, its inhabitants, and more.
The fifth objection is with the thief on the cross.
Luke 23:42-43 “Then he said to Jesus, “Lord, remember me when you come into Your kingdom.” And Jesus said to him, “Assuredly, I say to you today, you will be with Me in Paradise.”
The question for us is “What is “Paradise” and how is it related to Christ’s Kingdom?”
The thief’s understanding on paradise is in regard to what he already knows from the old testament since he was a Jew. The greek word translated as paradise is paradiso which means garden or elaborate park. The Garden of Eden was called “Paradise” (LXX). In Genesis 2:9 “And God made to spring up also out of the earth every tree beautiful to the eye and good for food, and the tree of life in the midst of the Paradise, and the tree of learning the knowledge of good and evil.”
Secondly, Christ’s Kingdom is called “Paradise” (LXX) in Isaiah 51:3 “And now I will comfort thee, O Sion: and I have comforted all her desert places; and I will make her desert places Paradise, and her western places as the Paradise of the Lord; they shall find in her gladness and exultation, thanksgiving and the voice of praise.”
Thirdly, “Paradise” is the hope of believers – it is in the Kingdom. See Rev 2:7 “… To him who overcomes I will give to eat from the tree of life, which is in the midst of the Paradise of God.”
Nowhere in Scripture is “Paradise” associated with Hades or an intermediate state or heaven.
The thief was asking to be remembered in Christ Kingdom and Christ gave him that assurance by telling him that he was going to be in paradise with him. In other words he was going to be in God’s garden with him (for more visualisation of what this paradise or garden looks like, see Ezekiel 47). If reading from an English translation, one must bear in mind that there are no punctuation marks in greek. Therefore the comma placed before the phrase “today you will be with Me in Paradise” ought correctly to be placed after the word ‘today’.
The sixth objection
This is found in Revelation 5:8-10: Now when He had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each having a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. 9 And they sang a new song, saying:
“You are worthy to take the scroll,
And to open its seals;
For You were slain,
And have redeemed us to God by Your blood
Out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation,
10 And have made us kings and priests to our God;
And we shall reign on the earth.
Depending on your translation, you may see words and phrases like “redeemed us” or “made us Kings” which would imply that the 24 elders and the living creatures used to be people who died on earth in faith and are now in heaven. This is not the case because there are a variety of readings of this verse in the manuscript evidence as follows: “and have redeemed to God us,” or “and have redeemed us to God,” or “and have redeemed us,” or “and have redeemed to God [some]” (omitting the first person pronoun). The last one is the only reading that (a) agrees grammatically with the third person statement in verse 10 which uses they or them in almost all the manuscripts. It reads “and And have made them kingdom priests to our God”, and, (b) the four creatures (who sing along with the 24 elders) are obviously not human, thus cannot claim to be “redeemed from among men” of all nations.
The seventh objection
Found in Revelation 6:9-11: “And when He opened the fifth seal, I saw beneath the altar the souls of those slain for the word of God and the witness they were having. And they called with a loud voice, saying: “How much longer, Master, holy and true, before You judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the land?
Those who stand on this passage claim that John is having visions of things in heaven and since the martyrs are speaking, they must be in heaven. This arguments lacks congruency for many reasons. 1. What are the martyrs doing under the altar? 2. What is the purpose of the altar? 3. What is meant by souls?
The word soul comes from the greek word ‘Psuche’ which means physical being or the essence of physical life, and it is often used interchangeably with blood, for example in Genesis 9:3-4 “Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you. I have given you all things, even as the green herbs. But you shall not eat flesh with its soul, that is, its blood”. See also Leviticus 17:10-14, Deuteronomy 12:23-25 which states that blood is the soul of the flesh meaning, blood is the life of the flesh. Psuche never means ghost or something that goes on living after death. That is greek and pagan mythology which was never believed by the Jews and neither was it taught by the apostles or the early church. Anyway the blood of the animals was to provide a symbol of atonement for the people. The base of the altar was where the blood of animals was poured after the high priest had finished sprinkling blood on the mercy seat. See Leviticus 4:7, 18, 25, 30, 34, 5:9; 8:9; 9:9.
Is it strange that the blood of the martyrs under the altar can speak? No it is not because in Genesis 4:10-11 we read of Abel’s blood calling out to God for justice. Likewise we read of the martyrs blood doing the same and God assures them of justice but they had to be a little more patient for others to be martyred. For more on blood speaking see Hebrews 12:24. For more on justice for innocent blood that has been shed see Luke 11:50-51.
All the martyrs will be resurrected in the end as can be found in Revelation 20:4-6 “And I observed thrones and those seated on them, and authority to judge was given to them. And the souls of those having been beheaded because of the testimony of Jesus and because of the word of God, who did not worship the beast or his image and did not receive the mark on their forehead or on their hand, they also come to life and reign with the Anointed one a thousand years.”
The eighth objection
Found in Philippians 3:20 “For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ,” and Luke 10:20 “Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rather rejoice because your names are written in heaven.”
If ones citizenship is in heaven, does that necessarily mean you have to go heaven? No.
This is a reference to the rights that flow from citizenship. Acts 22:28 uses this term of Paul’s Roman citizenship which gave him certain legal rights wherever Roman authority extended throughout the earth. In the same way, Christians on earth have certain privileges and rights that flow from heaven. This does not point to heaven as the destiny of the redeemed, as is wrongly supposed. Faithful believers are citizens of the “Kingdom of Heaven,” which is the authority of heaven to be exercised over all the earth in the coming Kingdom of Christ. This same word is used earlier in Philippians 1:27 which derives its meaning from the word ‘city’. A reference to living like citizens of Christ’s coming Kingdom. Faithful believers are citizens of the “higher Jerusalem” which is yet to come (see Gal. 4:26 and also see Part 2 Jerusalem redeemed and married with children – Heaven or Earth – Are we going up or is God moving in?’)
There are many other objections but I have attempted to address as I believe to be the major objections that have been put across to me.
Find audio version here: https://audioboom.com/posts/7041500-part-3-common-objections-are-we-going-up-or-is-god-moving-in