A Weekly Meditation of Pastor Chang
<Witnesses of Life after Death> (66)
Today let me share with you some significant issues regarding paradise in Heaven. I was asked, “Is Heaven the same as any city on this world where there is division into many sections or districts, for example, rich areas, poor areas or even slums?”
The Bible does not describe in detail about sections or districts in heaven that parallel the cities in the world. Bur, heaven probably could be divided into many areas because there are 12 gates and the City is laid out like a square. You can see and enter from the east, the north, the south and the west (Cf. Rev. 21: 9-21.) However, the Bible clearly indicates that among those who can go into the heaven there are two kinds of people: those who are only being saved and those who are saved with glory and honor.
No one in the world has the ability and gift to fathom how big the heavenly city will be, because it is the real city of God which is so glorious, full of splendor and eternal. Even the descriptions of the Bible or from anyone who came back from the heaven and hell after visiting these places cannot totally describe heaven. For instance, if anyone comes to visit either China or the USA for just one week and leaves, this person cannot describe the entire country perfectly. If we who live in this world are like that, heaven is even more difficult for anyone to comprehend completely.
However, I like the descriptions from Christ Jesus and St. Paul. When Jesus Christ talks about hell, he is very serious, saying, “It is better for you to enter life maimed or crippled that to have two hands or two feet and be thrown into eternal fire.” (Matthew 18:8) St. Paul had an amazing experience—being caught into the third heaven, but he did not take it as something to be boastful about (2Cor. 12: 1-5). Instead, he only said, “If I am to be with Christ, it is better by far.” (Phi. 1:23)
Please remember: why does the Bible not provide a lot of detailed description of how great heaven is and how beautiful and magnificent it is in order to attract us? The simple reason is what St. Paul says: the only one who can attract us is Jesus Christ, not heaven as a place. Any place without Christ, no matter how attractive it is will be still defective or insignificant! For example, people are always attracted to long for life in the palace –the most luxurious place in a country. Yet, from history, the palace has always been the most ugly and terrible place to live in because of the internal fighting and power struggles causing not love but only hatred.
Why does heaven divide people into two categories: Those who are only being saved and those who are saved with glory and honor?
St. Paul says, “For it is by grace we are saved, through faith – and this not from ourselves.” (Eph. 2:8) St. John says, “To all who receive him (Christ), to those who believe in his name, he will give the right to become children of God.” (Jn. 1:12). In other words, only by Christ alone, and through accepting him to be our Lord and Savior can we be saved, because “salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12) Christ who saves us and his salvation are the only foundation for us to build up our own houses (Cf. 1 Cor. 3:11) It means, all people who are saved by Christ share the same foundation – Christ. But why some are only saved as one escaping through the flames? (1 Cor. 3:15)
There are at least two reasons: First, there are those who never accept Christ and participate in church activities, but at the last moment of their lives finally accept Christ to be Lord and Savior. Of course, such a person is saved, but he is just barely saved. Secondly, some people who have been saved when they are still young. But they do not pay much attention in the work of serving Christ. In other words, he pays more attention to the world than God. Of course, his work does not have “the quality” of gold, silver, and costly stones, but only wood, hay, or straw. When he passes away, which is just like going through a flame, everything is burned up; he will only be barely saved. (To be continued…)