4626 Highway 36 East Somerville, AL 35670
Just as home has a special place in our hearts, heaven is a special word to the child of God. After all, it is the word that represents the abode of our Father. It is that place to which we all desire to go after death. The word “heaven” occurs over 200 times in the Bible, over 90 times in the New Testament. Seven of those times, the word heaven is joined to the word “in” to form the phrase “in heaven.” Truly it is a phrase worthy of our consideration.
Jesus used this phrase three times in the Sermon on the Mount. First, Jesus said, “Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you” (Matthew 5:12). According to our Lord, the faithful have a reward in heaven. The Christian life is worth living. It may be fraught with difficulties and problems – after all, in this passage Jesus was discussing unjust persecution. But at the end of the faithful life is that reward in heaven. Paul said, “For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us” (Romans 8:18).
Jesus’ second use of the phrase occurred later in this same chapter: “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16). Of all that we can think of that is in heaven – the gates of pearl, the golden street, the tree of life and the multitudes who will inhabit that great place – the one thing that will truly make that place heaven is the presence of God. And he is not just God, but God is our “Father.” Paul reminded us of God’s promise: “and I will be their God, and they shall be my people” (2 Corinthians 6:16).
The third use of this passage by Jesus occurred in Matthew 6:20: “But lay us for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal.” All are aware of how vulnerable our material things are on this earth. Whether it occurs by theft or by decay, all that is material will be taken from us one day. Peter said that at the end “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” (2 Peter 3:10). Only those treasures that are in heaven will survive. This is why we should set our affections on things above, and not on the things that are on the earth (Colossians 3:2).
Paul used the phrase “in heaven” once in the book of Philippians and once in Colossians. To the saints at Philippi, Paul wrote, “For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ” (Philippians 3:20). The word “conversation” is more precisely “citizenship.” Paul reminded these Christians that our true home is not found here on earth, but is in heaven. Like Abraham and those with him, we confess that we are “strangers and pilgrims on the earth” (Hebrews 11:13). The writer of that book reminds us that concerning Abraham that “by faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise” (Hebrews 11:9). In just the same way, we must realize that we cannot become too attached to this world because our citizenship is in heaven.
To the church at Colossae, Paul wrote, “for the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, whereof ye heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel” (Colossians 1:5). In heaven we have hope. Biblical hope is desire plus expectation. As long as man has hope, there is no despair. The writer to the Hebrews spoke of this hope “as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which entereth into that within the veil; whither the forerunner is for us entered, even Jesus, made a high priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek” (Hebrews 6:19, 20).
Whether it was Paul or someone else, the writer of the book of Hebrews also used the phrase “in heaven.” “For ye had compassion of me in my bonds, and took joyfully the spoiling of your goods, knowing in yourselves that he have in heaven a better and an enduring substance” (Hebrews 10:34). We should not be so concerned about our material goods as if it is the most important thing we have. As we have already noticed, the faithful Christian has treasures in heaven – referred to here as “a better and an enduring substance.” Whatever we may have here cannot compare to those heavenly treasures. What we should do is use material things in such a way as to invest in heavenly treasures. Whenever we contribute of our means or give to those in need, we are doing exactly what Jesus said we should, that is laying up treasures in heaven.
Finally, Peter uses the phrase “in heaven” in his first epistle – “to an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you” (1 Peter 1:4). At least four phrase in this verse indicate that this inheritance is certain and assured. First, it is incorruptible – that is, it does not perish, as do material things. Second, it is undefiled – pure and chaste. As a result it does not take on the impurity that often characterizes things of the earth. Third, it fadeth not away – unlike the beauty of the flower that fades and withers, the beauty of heaven will endure throughout eternity. And finally, it is reserved in heaven – God is safely keeping that which is being prepared for his children.
The phrase “in heaven” paints a wonderful picture of what awaits the child of God. Surely we would want to live so that we may enjoy all that is “in heaven.”