FAITH, SUBSTANCE, AND EVIDENCE
ESCHATOLOGY.COM

The following is a response I received concerning the issue of whether Christians are in heaven now:

"Oh now I "see"...it's not that we're IN heaven, it's that WE ARE heaven.

1. if God dwells in heaven...

2. and God dwells in us...

3. then we must BE heaven

Sorry for the sarcasm. For almost twenty years, I bought the party line about whatever a "teacher" said. Now, I am simply skeptical about everything! This is simply something I need to dig deeper into, as time allows."


Quite honestly, you might not be too far off when you say that *we* are heaven. Consider this:

"and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands."

Trees praise the Lord. Who are the trees?

Psalms 1:2-3 But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night. {3} And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.
The righteous are the trees. We are trees that comprise the sanctuary:
Isaiah 60:13 The glory of Lebanon shall come unto thee, the fir tree, the pine tree, and the box together, to beautify the place of my sanctuary; and I will make the place of my feet glorious.
Isaiah 42:10 Sing to the LORD a new song, his praise from the end of the earth! Let the sea roar and all that fills it, the coastlands and their inhabitants.
The sea praises the Lord. The sea is probably referring to the Gentiles:
Isaiah 60:5 Then thou shalt see, and flow together, and thine heart shall fear, and be enlarged; because the abundance of the sea shall be converted unto thee, the forces of the Gentiles shall come unto thee.
So then when it speaks of the heavens giving glory to God, it is very likely that this refers to God's people:
Psalms 19:1  To the chief Musician, A Psalm of David. The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament showeth his handiwork.
At first this may seem like a stretch, but let me quote from a portion of my book:

The fulfillment of the prophecy of Christ that the Gospel would be preached in all the world is found in Paulís epistle to the Romans:

Romans 10:18 But I say, Have they not heard? Yes verily, their sound went into all the earth, and their words unto the ends of the world (oikoumene). Before an analysis of this passage is made, the most important hermeneutic must be applied: affirming the authority and inerrancy of the epistle of Romans as the Word of God given through the apostle Paul. Once this is established in our hearts, by faith, we can affirm that Paul was correct in saying that the Gospel had been preached to the inhabited earth just as Jesus predicted. A weak argument that is used to try and contradict this particular fulfillment is affirming that the "sound" and "words" heard throughout the world was that of the manifestation of God through physical creation. Those who hold to this view base their assumption on the Old Testament passage from which Paul quoted: Psalms 19:1-6 To the chief Musician, A Psalm of David. The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament showeth his handiwork. 2 Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night showeth knowledge. 3 There is no speech nor language, where their voice is not heard. 4 Their line is gone out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world. In them hath he set a tabernacle for the sun, 5 Which is as a bridegroom coming out of his chamber, and rejoiceth as a strong man to run a race. 6 His going forth is from the end of the heaven, and his circuit unto the ends of it: and there is nothing hid from the heat thereof. There are two possible interpretations of this passage that will uphold the integrity and harmony of the Scriptures. One is that the Psalmist is referring to the creation and its universal testimony of the existence and power of God (cf. Romans 1:20). This interpretation does not negate Paulís meaning as he applied it to the preaching of the Gospel. In fact, if the creation is intended in Psalms 19, it is only more support for Paulís argument that the Gospel had indeed gone to the inhabited earth. That is, just as much as the creation declared the glory and power of Christ pre-incarnate, likewise, the Gospel declared the glory and power of Christ incarnate. Paul was using an Old Testament truth to convey a New Testament truth, a type and an ultimate realization of the type. The other interpretation could be applied with an equal if not greater emphasis upon Paulís affirmation. That is, the heavens and firmament represent the church and her proclamation of the Gospel showing the handiwork of God in the finished work of His only begotten Son through His death and resurrection. The testimony that "there is no speech nor language where their voice is not heard" may very well represent the outpouring of the Holy Spirit in Acts 2, making the gospel known through the gift of tongues or languages. This is precisely what God used to spread the Gospel through the inhabited earth in the first century. The "tabernacle for the sun" certainly could represent the church with the glory of the Bridegroom dwelling in her. Also interesting is the use of the masculine pronoun in the King James Version to identify the "sun," or, as Malachi describes the Messiah: Malachi 4:2 But unto you that fear my name shall the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in His wings; and ye shall go forth, and grow up as calves of the stall. Even though both of these interpretations could be applied to Psalms 19, Paulís message gives us certainty concerning Godís intention. Taken within its context, one can see Paulís interpretation much clearer: Romans 10:9-18 That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. 10 For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. 11 For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. 12 For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. 13 For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. 14 How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? 15 And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things! 16 But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Esaias saith, Lord, who hath believed our report? 17 So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. 18 But I say, Have they not heard? Yes verily, their sound went into all the earth, and their words unto the ends of the world. It is the Gospel of Christ and Him crucified that Paul has in mind, as he does in all his epistles, when he uses the word "gospel." Verses 9 through 18 are obviously referring to the message of good news of Messiah and him crucified. Verse 9 identifies Jesus Christ as the subject of the sound and words of verse 18. Verse 11 is a quotation from Isaiah 28:16 that proclaims the coming Cornerstone of Whom, if one believes, they will never be ashamed: Isaiah 28:16 Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD, Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner stone, a sure foundation: he that believeth shall not make haste. Joel speaks of this same time period: Joel 2:26-27 And ye shall eat in plenty, and be satisfied, and praise the name of the LORD your God, that hath dealt wondrously with you: and my people shall never be ashamed. 27 And ye shall know that I am in the midst of Israel, and that I am the LORD your God, and none else: and my people shall never be ashamed. Romans 10:13 quotes from Joel who prophesied of a time coming called the last days (Acts 2:17) during which the means of salvation would be revealed and accomplished in the person and work of Jesus Christ. The Gospel of peace and glad tidings of verse 5 are found in four passages in Isaiah: Isaiah 40:9 O Zion, that bringest good tidings, get thee up into the high mountain; O Jerusalem, that bringest good tidings, lift up thy voice with strength; lift it up, be not afraid; say unto the cities of Judah, Behold your God!
Isaiah 41:27 The first shall say to Zion, Behold, behold them: and I will give to Jerusalem one that bringeth good tidings.
Isaiah 52:7 How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace; that bringeth good tidings of good, that publisheth salvation; that saith unto Zion, Thy God reigneth!
Isaiah 61:1 The spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me; because the LORD hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound;
Each of the contexts of these verses refers to the manifestation of Jesus Christ, a message Paul proclaimed as that which had gone to the inhabited earth.

To say that Paul was referring to the physical creation in Romans 10 is a radical distortion of Paulís motif of justification by faith, the very subject of the glad tidings whose sound and words had reached the world or inhabited earth as Paul declared and as Jesus predicted:

Matthew 24:14 And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come. _______________

Also, here are some more passages dealing with the heavens worshiping God (btw, whenever you see inanimate objects praising God, almost invariably they are metaphors used to describe the subjects of God's kingdom, namely, those He came to save from sin):

Psalms 36:5 Thy mercy, O LORD, is in the heavens; and thy faithfulness reacheth unto the clouds.
The NRSV translates it thus:
Psalms 36:5 Your steadfast love, O LORD, extends to the heavens, your faithfulness to the clouds.
How fitting, especially since we see clouds referred to as people in Hebrews 11 and 1 Thes 4.
Psalms 50:6 And the heavens shall declare his righteousness: for God is judge himself. Selah.
Granted, as Christians we can look to the physical heavens and see the *handiwork* of God. But really, the significance of *creation* is the new covenantal creation. And when David said that in Psalm 19 about the heavens declaring the glory of Christ, it was a prophetic utterance, but among Christians we can certainly testify of the creative handiwork of God in the actual cosmos. This is not by any means to argue a classical apologetic-as in trying to convert the heathen by proving God through the cosmos-but rather that as Christians (after conversion) we are *able* to see Christ in creation and understand that that is a type of the real creation of us as the heavens who are proof of the sovereign salvific work of Christ:
Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
Do not misinterpret this. People argue that faith here is a conjured object of men, therefore the writer is defining faith. But this is not the case. If we truly believe in sovereign grace, the faith is seen here as proof of the sovereign working of God, not a definition of the faith which God alone gives.

Faith is the substance of things hoped for...

Literally, the faith we now have in Jesus Christ is that for which all OT believers were hoping. It is the proof that we are in heaven:

Romans 10:6-8 But the righteousness which is of faith speaketh on this wise, Say not in thine heart, Who shall ascend into heaven? (that is, to bring Christ down from above:) {7} Or, Who shall descend into the deep? (that is, to bring up Christ again from the dead.) {8} But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach;
Notice, you do not "go" anywhere. Heaven is in your heart by faith. That was predicted in Deuteronomy:
Deuteronomy 30:12-14 It is not in heaven, that thou shouldest say, Who shall go up for us to heaven, and bring it unto us, that we may hear it, and do it? {13} Neither is it beyond the sea, that thou shouldest say, Who shall go over the sea for us, and bring it unto us, that we may hear it, and do it? {14} But the word is very nigh unto thee, in thy mouth, and in thy heart, that thou mayest do it.
Moses hoped for this faith (the faith once for all delivered to the saints in the person of Jesus Christ). Hence, "faith (the faith once delivered for the saints-the Gospel and our actual belief in the Gospel)" But the passage in Hebrews goes beyond a mere spiritual observance of the fact that faith proves our existence in the kingdom of heaven; it also says that faith is the evidence of things not seen. That is, our faith is proof of the unseen God and His power. The writer of Hebrews exposited the examples of OT faith. Faith is faith, certainly, but what faith the OT believers had was counted to them as righteousness, particularly when the manifestation of Messiah would take place. Now, under the New Covenant the actual faith we have is a faith in the spiritually revealed Messiah, Jesus Christ. We could not have this faith without the power of the unseen God. The mere fact that we believe Jesus Christ is proof positive that God not only exists, but that He has also brought the everlasting kingdom into establishment. Hence, the just Ďshallí live by faith. That is, those OT believers would travel from OT faith to NT faith through the work of Messiah:
Romans 1:16-17 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. {17} For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.
Through faith the OT believers were waiting for perfection, or heaven-that which would be obtained in the first century at the resurrection:
Hebrews 11:39-40 Yet all these, though they were commended for their faith, did not receive what was promised, {40} since God had provided something better so that they would not, apart from us, be made perfect.
You may be wondering what this has to do with the issue of the church very likely being heaven. Well, first, the church (the Bride or Lambís wife) is identified as the New Jerusalem:
Revelation 21:9-10 And there came unto me one of the seven angels which had the seven vials full of the seven last plagues, and talked with me, saying, Come hither, I will show thee the bride, the Lamb's wife. {10} And he carried me away in the spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me that great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God
So then in the clearest covenantal sense the New Heavens and New Earth are the people of God. The passage in Psalms declares that the heavens would show forth the glory of God. Previously we have imposed a spiritual ability on the inanimate objects of the physical heaven and earth. But as we have seen, the Bible frequently uses metaphors to describe the people of God praising God. Realizing this should cause us to reconsider passages which seem to support inanimate objects praising God. For example:
Romans 8:18-23 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. {19} For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God. {20} For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope, {21} Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. {22} For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now. {23} And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body.
I strongly contend that the creation mentioned here is referring to the people of God, most likely those OT believers who had died in faith. Ultimately the creation of the OT body would praise God and be delivered into the glorious liberty of the children of God, or as Paul says, fashioned like unto His glorious body, the church, a glorious church without spot or wrinkle or blemish.

Remember, Psalms 19 explicitly stated that the heavens and firmament would Ďshow forthí His handiwork and glory. And Psalm 50 prophetically declared that the heavens would declare the righteousness of God. So then, who is it that really declares and shows forth this glory and righteousness?

Psalms 79:13 So we thy people and sheep of thy pasture will give thee thanks for ever: we will show forth thy praise to all generations.
Psalms 22:31 They shall come, and shall declare his righteousness unto a people that shall be born, that he hath done this.
Psalms 97:6 The heavens declare his righteousness, and all the people see his glory.

Isaiah 43:21 This people have I formed for myself; they shall show forth my praise.
Isaiah 60:6 The multitude of camels shall cover thee, the dromedaries of Midian and Ephah; all they from Sheba shall come: they shall bring gold and incense; and they shall show forth the praises of the LORD.

Romans 3:24-26 Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: {25} Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; {26} To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.

1 Peter 2:9 But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should show forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light:

It seems to me that in your admitted sarcasm, you really hit the nail on the head. Thanks.

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