Why? Why not?
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I love to think of those first days in Heaven. I try to imagine the wonder of seeing my Bible heroes visiting with people of every age. It will be so exciting to have the opportunity to go back over our earthly experiences with our guardian angels. That’s all going to be amazing and, I believe, will never lose their excitement. But let’s imagine just for a few minutes, that as you’re walking past the Tree of Life and you see Stephen and Saul/Paul walking toward one another. You see the spark of recognition on their faces as they recognize each other…and then you see something else.

Image © Lars Justinen from GoodSalt.com

Image © Lars Justinen from GoodSalt.com

Remember that the last time Stephen saw Saul was the day that Saul held the cloaks of the folks who stoned Stephen. He missed the whole Damascus Road conversion bit. What thoughts do you think are going through Stephen’s mind at the moment he recognizes Saul?

Not too much later you’re strolling around, just enjoying the scenery and you come face to face with the grown-up version of that kid who stole your lunch money every single day of your third grade year? What if you see that cranky old man who lived at the end of your street who was always calling and complaining to the city the instant your grass got a millimeter too long, or that professor who seemed to take great joy in humiliating any student who was brave or silly enough to admit to being a Christian? What if you look around Heaven and you see people that you think of as completely evil – Kim Jong Il, Idi Amin, or Saddam Hussein?

At the same time, you look around and see some noticeable absences. Where’s that teacher who seemed to know all the answers to your spiritual questions? or that man who greeted every person who walked through the door of the church with a smile and big handshake? Why haven’t you run into that kid who won the Bible Bowl three years running; he knew his Bible forward and backward!?

It’s not hard to imagine, then, that if you have questions like that, other people will too. And from there it’s a very small step to thoughts of God playing favorites or being arbitrary and unfair … and then we’re right back where we started, and the whole seven thousand years of the great controversy has been a complete waste of time.

How is God going to make sure that everybody understands why the people who are in Heaven are the people who will enjoy being in Heaven? Well, those thousand years, the Millennium, are going to be more than just hanging out beside the Sea of Glass. The saved will have at least one job to do – they are going to be reviewing all the God’s records of the lives of everyone who ever lived. No wonder we’re going to be there for a thousand years!

“During the thousand years between the first and the second resurrection the judgment of the wicked takes place. The apostle Paul points to this judgment as an event that follows the second advent. ‘Judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts.’ 1 Corinthians 4:5.

“Daniel declares that when the Ancient of Days came, ‘judgment was given to the saints of the Most High.’ Daniel 7:22.

“At this time the righteous reign as kings and priests unto God. John in the Revelation says: ‘I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them.’ ‘They shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years.’ Revelation 20:4, 6.
“It is at this time that, as foretold by Paul, ‘the saints shall judge the world.’ 1 Corinthians 6:2. In union with Christ they judge the wicked, comparing their acts with the statute book, the Bible, and deciding every case according to the deeds done in the body. Then the portion which the wicked must suffer is meted out, according to their works; and it is recorded against their names in the book of death.
“Satan also and evil angels are judged by Christ and His people.” (E.G. White, The Great Controversy, 660, 661)

Isn’t God good? There won’t be any, “Because I said so!” coming from God. Instead He will open all of His books and records to us. Talk about transparency!

We will have the opportunity – the responsibility, of going through God’s records and seeing for ourselves that God is the epitome of fairness. We will have the chance to review every second of every person’ life and see their walk toward or away from God.

We will have the opportunity to see the evidence of God’s love for His creatures and His complete freedom of choice – allowing each one of us to choose to walk away from Him.

It’ll be like a heavenly audit carried out by the redeemed. And at the end of the thousand years, no one will ever be able to doubt the motives of or second guess the fairness and love of Jesus. There will never be another question about what kind of God we have served and with whom we’re fixing to spend eternity. By the end of the Millennium God will finally be able to wipe away every tear from our eyes and we will have the assurance that doubt will never invade our thoughts.

Even better, the other created beings will see once and for all see that Satan’s claims against God are false and without basis of any kind. God’s character will have finally been cleared.

“And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.” (Revelation 21:4, NKJV)

I think that text includes God too. He will be able to put behind Him the heartbreak of having to allow people who He created to choose someone or something else.

“For God so greatly loved and dearly prized the world that He [even] gave up His only begotten (unique) Son, so that whoever believes in (trusts in, clings to, relies on) Him shall not perish (come to destruction, be lost) but have eternal (everlasting) life. For God did not send the Son into the world in order to judge (to reject, to condemn, to pass sentence on) the world, but that the world might find salvation and be made safe and sound through Him.” John 3:16-17

I love to think about spending eternity with Jesus, don’t you?

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Why? Why not? — 16 Comments

  1. Wow, this is so powerful and brings so much hope and trust in the Lord. I am reminded of something, our character. We start being citizens of heaven here on earth, heaven is a nicer place let us work out our salvation with fear and trembling.

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  2. But as it is written: "Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, Nor have entered into the heart of man The things which God has prepared for those who love Him." (1 Cor. 2:9 NKJV) Even though I agree with many people that feel that what Paul quoted from Isa 64:4 he was applying to the first century with respect to the Messiah I believe we can just as easily apply to Heaven. I therefore feel that we essentially have no idea what Heaven will really be like. We do get a few glimpses but we have lived in an environment of sin all of our lives surrounded by decay, death, sorrow, and pain and simply can't imagine much different.

    The question to me then is if there will be healing in Heaven. Lillianne you mentioned Stephen and Saul, but what about Uriah and David where there is a double whammy involved, adultery with his wife and murder and conspiracy on top of that. Uriah may not know of it initially but David sure will and what will happen when Uriah does find out? Will his devotion to David change, if so in what way?

    As I read what Paul said would be changed at Christ's Second Advent (1 Cor 15:51-54) it seems to me that basically what is changed is the physical, that is, we will no longer degenerate and die. Certainly there must be more such as the propensity to sin yet I find myself agreeing with you that there will be problems that will have to be dealt with. While God certainly is a miracle worker there seems to be some things that take time just like learning and maturing do. I don't think we will automatically become machines that can be switched on and off at will. God made the human mind to be a learning computer with a huge capacity for flexibility and adaptability but such changes normally require time for that to happen where new pathways are formed and the old ones atrophy.

    So, while I believe we will be changed physically I also believe our characters will not change. How we are at death or at His coming will be how we will initially be in Heaven and from there we will be forever growing up into Christ. Therefore, to me sanctification continues on throughout eternity as we grow up into the infinite righteousness and perfection that God is.

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    • That makes a lot of sense, Tyler. I know we can't know for sure because we really can't wrap our sinful minds around that much Goodness. I do think the Millennium will be a time to get things sorted out and questions answered so that as we proceed into eternity, we can know that God is completely and totally wise, just, trustworthy and, above all else, loving.
      I enjoy your comments. They help me think things through that I often miss. Thank you for commenting and reading.

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    • The focus of every saved soul will be Jesus and our heavenly Father. Every one we recognized will be greeted as was the prodigal by his father, no matter what had taken place on earth. No one who is found written in the book of Life will be holding any grudges. Uriah will be just like Jesus and be thrilled to know of David's salvation, just as Stephen will be thrilled that his earnest prayer for his fellowmen was heard and that Saul (and perhaps others)was saved by the same grace that had saved Stephen, who was also a sinner from birth. Every soul there was redeemed from sin and sinning. None will feel worthy but will accept God's gift of life given through Jesus, our wonderful and merciful Savior, who's praise will ever be found upon our lips.

      There will be no uncomfortable greetings in that blessed place and even Adam will rejoice that so many were rescued from the dominion of sin that HE had ushered in upon a perfect creation. Perhaps there will be felt the loss of those missing, but the promise is that every tear will be wiped away. God will teach us truth in ways we can't imagine yet, and for 1000 years this careful instruction will be given and all will enter into eternity in perfect agreement with God's determinations and complete acceptance of the consequences. All will see that the best was done in every case and those lost have purposefully rejected the grace of God that has appeared to all men. (yes, there will be a few who never knew and will never know, being as if they had never existed, but this will be rare, even from this world)

      I believe that our understanding will become perfectly clear in the atmosphere of heaven with it's pure, sinless beings. Our need today is to have ourselves transformed by the renewing of our minds by presenting ourselves to God as living sacrifices. This is taking the yoke of Jesus upon us and learning of Him who was meek and lowly of heart. This will bring rest to our souls. As pointed out, the only change given to any who are redeemed is physical. It will be thrilling to greet every soul that was saved from this wretched life and each will know the joy of salvation and rejoice with ALL the saved ones.

      Also, there will be no surprise meetings on the sea of glass, we will have 7 days ascending there, and will be brought together with those our prayers and tears had held up before God without ceasing and with those who have prayed for us. All who are ascending with Jesus and the angels loved their enemies as Jesus has loved His, who we all once were.

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      • p.s. This thought just occurred to me; who in heaven will accuse the righteous saints once there? The scapegoat was taken to the wilderness and upon him was confessed every sin repented of. This means David's sin will be remembered no more. Uriah died without any knowledge of David's wrong-doing and who will bring it up? I believe David will, if anyone does. No one there will want their sins recalled and no one there will be curious to know of anyone's sins. The only record of sins will be found in the book of death. The book of Life is as spotless as Jesus, and everyone who is found written there is "faultless". (Jude 24) Aren't we promised that the former things are passed away?

        What is unknown will remain unknown or God does not truly forgive, and heaven will be worse than hell. I believe our Bibles will be left behind as well, for David's sin is clearly detailed, among others. No, the scapegoat will carry every possible accusation with him into a lonely wilderness and will suffer greatly for each reminder that he was evil before God and toward His creation. He will come to understand the sinfulness of sin with nothing to distract him from it, and I believe he will also see how loving God has been to sinners who turned to Him in faith.

        My 5¢.

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        • Robert refers to the "scapegoat" a couple of different times. The second time his comment is, "No, the scapegoat will carry every possible accusation with him into a lonely wilderness and will suffer greatly for each reminder that he was evil before God and toward His creation."
          My question is this, weren't the two goats chosen to spotless and without flaw? There was no prior knowledge which goat was to be the scapegoat and which was to be the sacrifice. With this being said, if the scapegoat is to represent satan and all the sin is placed on him and he taken into the wilderness by a fit man,wouldn't this make the Messiah's sacrifice null and void and thus catapult satan into the position of my savior? I thought Christ was made sin and HE DIED to save me from my sins. Weren't the sins placed upon Him at Calvary? Studying through the book of Leviticus, esp. ch 16 dealing with the Day of Atonement, I see the dual fold ministry of the Messiah. One of Sacrifice (the goat slain) and redemption (the scapegoat). And wasn't this what Christ's life was...sacrifice and redemption, the perfect sinless life (sacrificial goat) coupled with the all atoning sacrifice where our sins were placed upon Him and HE died (scapegoat)?
          I have selected to receive the replies because I am interested in what these replies are. We are to be ever learning. I am not saying my views are the correct views nor am I saying they are wrong...just seeking other views.

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    • First of all, Robert, I think your comments are certainly worth more than five cents even if I disagree with some of what you say.

      The question of memory - is it important for those in the universe to remember what happened? I think the question is important because it involves God's relation to us. Why will sin not rise again? First will there be a possibility for sin to rise again? If there won't be because God suppresses such a thing, then I would suggest that under God's government freedom really wouldn't exist.

      So why won't sin rise again? Perhaps it will be because no one wants a situation in the universe like what we go through all our lives. Maybe everyone has learned that lesson, but how can they benefit from the lesson if they can't remember what happened.

      I can just picture Jesus in Heaven and someone notices the scars in His hands and asks Him how He got those. "That is something that is best for you not to know" Jesus would answer, if our memories were erased.

      So why has the controversy been dragging on for over 6000 years and Satan kept alive all that time with all the misery that he causes? Was the cross there only to save us? Wasn't it there also to reveal the truth about God and Satan? So why is all of that going to be forgotten? To me the one great value of history is to learn from past experiences. As someone once said, "If we don't learn from the past we are all doomed to repeat the same mistakes."

      That does raise the question whether sins will be remembered. "For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more" (Heb. 8:12 NKJV) and "the former things have passed away" (Rev. 21:4 NKJV). It seems to me that God is the one who forgets what we have done and cast them in the depths of the sea unless there is someone out there that can show me a text that says that we are to forget what we have done. Of course there is the text, "Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus" (Phil. 3:13-14 NKJV). But does this text teach that we are to forget the lessons of the past? I don't think it does but rather says something about Paul's focus in life. He didn't dwell on what he did in the past but focused on the goal, on Jesus and His righteousness.

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      • There's a difference to remembering the tragedy of sin and it's effects upon this world, and dwelling on the details.

        I would ask this question; would you want your life's story published for all to read in heaven? Probably "NO!" would be the majority reply. Would the woman caught in adultery want her details remembered? I would guess not.

        So what will be remembered if the confessed sins of the redeemed are placed upon the scapegoat and removed from the camp forever? I think we need to realize what will be judged during the 1000 years, which is the 6000+ years of sin, death, heartache, destruction, sickness, famine, and tragedies we don't wish to discuss, all unrepented of and written in the book of death. While the saved (which will sadly be the vast minority of those who were born on this earth) will be presented as faultless before the universe, the record of the unsaved will remain as the "tragedy of sin" for all to learn from. The life of Lucifer from beginning to end, the angels that sided with him, the billions of humans that accepted their deceptions and the results of their wrong choices, will forever be a reminder, and the scars that Jesus will bear for eternity will be the proof of God's infinite gift to the sinful race of humans, with the trophies of that sacrifice lending their clear eternal witness of God's redeeming love. What more needs to be remembered? How can the saved "delight themselves in the abundance of peace" if their sins are remembered?(Ps 37:11)

        We are not told God will lose His memory, He only promises to not "remember" (zakar: make mention of) our sins again. God; who dwells in the past, present and future, will not have a memory lapse, but will be as one who forgets, and those saved from sin will enjoy perfect peace in His very presence for eternity. The father of the prodigal son never mentions his son's sin, only that he was lost but now found, was dead but now lives, and celebrated the joy he felt upon his wayward son's return with all who would join him. Mark the fact that only the eldest son did not join the celebration, but rather accused the repentant brother before the father. Will that take place in heaven?!! And what was the father's reply? He did not utter one word of the erring son's transgression.

        The Gospel is real and thorough for those accepting it. The forgiveness and restoration will be complete. If not, eternity will be anything but heavenly. Only the experience will fully reveal the infinite love of God towards the repentant sinner who clings by faith to Jesus as his Savior.

        King David will not be embarrassed in heaven.

        If God was capable of forgetting, but not us, would He also lose the ability to know our thoughts?

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        • Robert, thank you for your response. I think there is some misunderstanding here and it is probably my fault. I never said that the sins of the redeemed would be opened to public inspection. To me their sins are a private matter. The wicked, on the other hand, potentially get their works inspected by everyone because their deeds are a matter of public record.

          Now about David and Uriah, I personally can't see how Uriah won't find out what happened unless there is dishonesty and lying in Heaven. When He sees Bathsheba and her son, Solomon that she got through David won't he be interested in knowing what happened after he died and who fathered her son? I look at this whole thing like a marriage. It isn't the problems that make or break a marriage but the way a couple deals with the problems. I think there is going to be a lot of confessing and forgiving in Heaven and like a married couple that reconciles their differences after an argument what follows is always better than what was before especially when both choose to follow the example of their Lord.

          As for God's memory, He never forgets because he knows the end from the beginning (Isa 46:10) but He does choose to ignore the past sins of the saved so that to us he forgets what we have done and will not bring those up again. It is sort of like God repenting. When God does something it is always a perfect choice but often that choice is conditional for our sakes so God actually never repents because He knows before hand what is going to happen and makes His choice based on that information.

          Therefore, to me things like God forgetting and repenting are said to be for our sinful, feeble understanding. He is communicating on our level and in a way that we can understand.

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    • Yes, I believe there will be healing in heaven and maybe the new earth.

      Revelation 22:2 (KJV)

      In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.

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  3. Yes, Lillianne,

    I think of Heaven and similar ideas. It helps me to keep going. And I am eager to leave this world to experience another world. I look forward to the truth of every case being out in the open. No more hypocrisy. Thank so much!

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  4. I am astonished and more excited to hear about God's amazing work and mostly His love..he. Is forever true and faithful..how I love Him and want to serve Him better and meet up with Him in heaven.

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  5. I am more than grateful that God is merciful and just. There are so many great pretenders here on this earth, but God's record will be irrefutable. We all have a chance to turn to God and live a life that reflects his will and His way!!

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  6. For Phil, (there was no link to reply to your thoughts directly, so I hope you see this) Yes, two goats were selected and then by lot, were chosen to be either the Lord's goat or what is called the scapegoat. (Like His creator, Lucifer was sinless before he fell) You are not the only one to wrestle with this understand of what/who is represented by the scapegoat, and what I have shared has become my personal understanding from all I have learned of the subject.

    There is no blood shed by the scapegoat in all of Leviticus 16. It is assumed this animal will eventually die, but not by any ceremony within the sanctuary's boundaries. The scapegoat does nothing to atone for sinners since it sheds no blood. Only by death can sin be remitted. The scapegoat represents the silencing of the accuser by taking the record of those sins from before the Lord as shown in the type by the priest confessing the already forgiven sins upon the scapegoat who is then led away to the wilderness and left there alone, as we also see in Revelation 20:1,2. What does this mean? There will be no accuser of God's people once all sin is removed by the scapegoat from them and their camp. It was the Lord's goat who's life was taken and blood presented, who paid the penalty for those sins. Remember, those sins are in the sanctuary and have been previously removed from the people by the daily sin offerings of the slain lambs. These sins are already forgiven and forgotten by God and it is only the accusations of Satan before God "day and night"(Rev 12:10) that will be silenced. God has promised to "remember your sins no more"(Isa 43:25).

    Also, if this scapegoat was meant to represent Jesus, it would mean that He will be removed from the presence of God and His Saints forever. The scapegoat is led way and left behind, and nowhere do we see his return. Who is the one who leads him away? Read Revelation 20:1,2 again and see.

    One other point to be noticed is that those accusations that Satan brings up "day and night" are of sins HE has tempted sinners to commit. His sin is having tempted with the purpose to bring ruin and death, and he will atone for that himself and the endless accusation will be silenced forever when he is removed from the camp of those who have found refuge in God's Lamb. So the scapegoat will make "atonement" for himself before God by suffering the penalty for his own sins, having rejected the offered forgiveness through Christ the Redeemer. Remember this; atonement can be made by either the death of the sinner, or the death of Christ. We make the choice of which death will atone us before God and His Holy Law. Satan pays for HIS sin of tempting me, but does not atone for my sin of yielding to that temptation. Jesus atoned for my sin with His blood.

    I hope this is helpful in some way.

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