Lesson 13

Heaven, Education, and Eternal Learning

(1 Corinthians 13, Revelation 21)
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Introduction: Do you know anyone who hopes that life on earth is our only existence?  I think it is almost universal that people believe, or at least hope, that there is an afterlife. I’ve always believed in heaven and I’m sure that has had a profound impact on my decisions about how to live. The wife of one of my friends just died. If you thought you lost your life partner forever that would be devastating. The hope of an afterlife makes many things so much better. The question is, what will it be like? We seem to focus mostly comments on what it will not be like. Let’s jump into our study of the Bible and see what we can learn!        

  1.         The Coming Perfect

  1.         Read 1 Corinthians 13:8. How do you understand the statement that “knowledge” “will pass away,” but “love never ends?” (Our emotions toward someone continues even if we do not know exactly what is happening to them.)

  1.         Read 1 Corinthians 13:9-10. What do we know about our current state of knowledge? (That is it partial.)

  1.         What is the “perfect” referred to here? (We never reach “perfect” here. When we die we decay, so that cannot be perfect. The text must be referring to heaven.)

  1.         This raises a very interesting thought. Is our knowledge and thinking here on earth some imperfect version of our knowledge and thinking in heaven? (We are not told that heaven is something completely new and different. Instead, this suggests that it is something like what we know now.)

  1.         Read Genesis 1:27. How did God create us? (Like God!)

  1.         Read Hebrews 8:5. Was the sanctuary in the wilderness like the temple in heaven? (Yes, it was a “copy and shadow of the heavenly things.”)

  1.         Let’s get back to 1 Corinthians. Read 1 Corinthians 13:12. How much of what we know now is like what we will know in heaven? (Our current knowledge is dim and partial.)

  1.         If we are made in the image of God. If the temple on earth is the image of the one in heaven. If our knowledge here is “dim” and “partial” compared to what we will know in heaven, what do you expect heaven will be like? (We see a pattern here. I expect it will be something that we understand, something like now - but infinitely better!)

  1.         Read Revelation 21:1. Will the earth made new be something like our current earth? (If it were not like the current earth, saying “the sea was no more” would make no sense. The reasonable conclusion is that the general design of the earth made new is like our current earth without any sea.)

  1.         Read Revelations 21:2. What does this tell us about Jerusalem in the earth made new? (That it came from heaven. But, it is still Jerusalem. It is something that we recognize in some way.)

  1.         Read Revelation 21:16. The measure being described here is 375 miles (or 604 kilometers). The text says that it is a cube - the same length on all sides, including the height. Does that look like the Jerusalem in Israel? (No. It looks like a huge condominium!)

  1.         When we are told that our knowledge, appearance, and understanding are “like” what they will be in heaven in some dim way, how does this description of the New Jerusalem adjust our thinking? (Our astonishment will be limitless, but it will all fit into the kind of understanding that we now possess.)

  1.         Read Revelation 21:23. What does this teach us about the modifications in heaven? If a sun or moon exist, we don’t need them. God lights the new earth.)

  1.         Read Revelation 21:24-25. Will there be an earth outside the New Jerusalem? (Yes. This tells us that “nations” and “kings” will exist who apparently live elsewhere.)

  1.         Your Eternal Life

  1.         Read Revelation 21:4. What will not exist in heaven?

  1.         Let’s enter into some educated speculation. The texts we have read so far tell us that all of the negative things (death, pain, sorrow) are gone. But, most of the things that we presently know will exist in an amazing way that we can fit into our current understanding. Answer this:

  1.         Will the earth generally look like it does now - meaning do you think you will be able to recognize where you live? (In my case it would be more difficult, because I live by the ocean - which will no longer exist.)

  1.         Will your friends be recognizable?

  1.         Will your activities be something like they are now?

  1.         Will your eating be something like it is now?

  1.         Read 2 Corinthians 4:17. This says that the unpleasant things on earth prepare us for heaven. How is that true?

  1.         How does heaven compare with earth? (I’ve been making all of these comparisons to suggest that we can have some sort of current understanding.  But, this text tells us that what is waiting for us in heaven and the earth made new is “beyond all comparison.”)

  1.         Read 2 Corinthians 4:18. What are the “unseen” things that we look for in heaven? (Read Hebrews 11:1. This is still in the general realm of our imagination - because the unseen are things for which we hope.)

  1.         Just take a few minutes. What is it that you hope for?  What would you like to see in heaven? What would you like to do?

  1.         Your Heavenly Home

  1.         Read John 14:2-3. The King James version translates “rooms” as “mansions.” Whoever decided on mansions was getting carried away. But, it doesn’t exactly mean “room,” it means a place to live. Are you disappointed that “mansions” is not a correct translation?

  1.         Re-read Revelation 21:16. This describes the physical dimensions of the New Jerusalem. As I previously mentioned, it is a cube - it would look like a modern condominium. Does the translation “room” make sense to you now? (I’ve researched and speculated on this in the past. I see that the saints own huge condominiums in this building that reaches into outer-space. No condos that I’ve ever heard of are as large as these.)

  1.         Revelation 21:18-21 tell us that the New Jerusalem looks like giant jewelry. But, I don’t want to focus on the familiar. Read Revelation 22:1-2. Where, in this massive condo, do you think God lives? (He lives on top, of course!)

  1.         If the river of life flows from the top of the condo through the city, how to you envision that? Is it a giant waterfall in a open atrium? (I don’t think so because the Bible could have called it a waterfall.)

  1.         Notice that the tree of life is on both sides of the river of life. How would you design this? (I see the river flowing down from floor to floor. It runs through the middle, along the length of each floor, and then drops to the next, lower, floor.  I see the tree of life growing up through the condo on each side of the river. In my imagination our personal condos (“rooms”) on each floor front on the river and the tree of life.)

  1.         Can you imagine what the river sounds like running outside your condo?

  1.         Can you imagine stepping out your front door and taking fruit from the tree of life?  Maybe swimming in the river?

  1.         This condo is 375 miles tall. Revelation 21:18 tells us it is gold “like clear glass.” Can you imagine the view from your condo?

  1.         Read Isaiah 65:21-22. Will your condo in the New Jerusalem be your only home? (This tells us that we will also have a country home that we build.)

  1.         Will we work in heaven? (Yes. We will be occupied and we will love it.)

  1.         Friend, do you want to be there? Why not accept God’s free gift of salvation right now? Why not claim Jesus as your Lord and King and accept what He has done on your behalf so you can enjoy life now and life eternally?

  1.         Next week: We begin a new series of lessons on the book of Isaiah!

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