Blog

"In Heaven, We Will Be Bowing Down Before the Throne of God 24/7" . . . And Other Stupid Statements

My tenth installment into the “. . . And Other Stupid Statements” Series.

Premise: We often make heaven such an esoteric place that no one really wants to go there.

Since I was young, I was excited about getting to heaven. We all were. I remember when my mother told my older sister, Kristie (yes, my wife’s name is also Kristie), about heaven. She told her that Christ was going to come someday to take us there. Upon hearing this, Kristie quickly ran out of the room. When my mother called to her and asked her way she was leaving so abruptly, she said, “I am going to get my shoes so I can be ready to go.”

But I also remember having my hopes dashed by something that produced a great amount of guilt. During a Sunday School session, while we were discussing heaven, the question on the table was if heaven was forever, what were we going to be doing all that time. Wouldn’t we be bored? The teacher responded in a way that is representative of many people’s understanding of heaven: “When we get to heaven, we will be bowing down before the thrown of God twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week.”

Talk about taking the wind out of the Superman sails of a little boy such as myself! I had big plans for heaven (which included flying 3-5 hours a day). It was hard enough for me to bow down before the throne of God for five minutes a day, much less for all eternity 24/7. Simply and unspiritually put, that does not sound like too much fun. The answer was always the same when I would timidly admit my fear of ultimate and eternal boredom: “When you are in heaven, sinless and in perfect submission to God’s will, you will be perfectly and joyfully content bowing before the throne of God all day, everyday.”

I would think to myself (although I would never admit it), I am not sure that I want to go there. I mean, I love God and certainly don’t mind bowing before him, but 24/7? If this is something that I will enjoy, it probably is not really me in the resurrection. For years I lived with the unspoken shame that I did not really want to go to heaven.

It was not until many years later that this burden of guilt and fear was taken off my shoulders. It was not until then that I found out that “When we get to heaven, we will be bowing down before the throne of God 24/7” was a stupid statement.

Where it comes from:

As best I can tell and remember, the primary reason why many people believe this is from the book of Revelation:

“And the four living creatures, each one of them having six wings, are full of eyes around and within; and day and night they do not cease to say, “HOLY, HOLY, HOLY is THE LORD GOD, THE ALMIGHTY, WHO WAS AND WHO IS AND WHO IS TO COME.” And when the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to Him who sits on the throne, to Him who lives forever and ever, the twenty-four elders will fall down before Him who sits on the throne, and will worship Him who lives forever and ever, and will cast their crowns before the throne, saying, “Worthy are You, our Lord and our God, to receive glory and honor and power; for You created all things, and because of Your will they existed, and were created.” (Rev 4:8-11)

The idea is that, just as the four living creatures worship God in this way day and night without ceasing, so will the twenty-four elders. These twenty-four elders are representatives of Israel and the church, and, thus, all the inhabitants of heaven, including us, will be bowing down before the throne of God 24/7.

But I don’t believe the Bible presents such a view of heaven. In fact, I think Evangelical “heavenology” is in as much a need of a major overhaul as just about any other doctrine. In fact, even my previous hopes about heaven don’t pass biblical muster. I believe with a more systematic and biblical view of heaven things change quite a bit.

Other misunderstandings I have since come to realize were wrong about heaven:

  • The eternal heaven is separate from the Earth
  • In heaven we will be able to fly (or do anything we want)
  • In heaven we will know everything
  • In heaven, you will not love anyone more than another
  • In heaven there will be no challenges, advancements, or failure

Where it goes away:

I often tell people today that one of the biggest surprises that Evangelicals will have when they get to heaven is not how different it is, but how similar it is.

A few points:

Not “Plan B.” This is the most important thing for us to realize. Our love affair with Gnosticism (i.e. spirit=good, material=bad), finds its way into our view of the afterlife. Unless we greatly qualify what we mean, I think that it is more proper for Christians to speak of the “New Earth”—a physical earth—rather than heaven. God is not on “plan B.” In other words, God did not create all that there is, have a plan, implement it, only to say “Shucks, that did not work. On to ‘plan B'” when Adam sinned. God’s activity through Christ is about redemption, not calling a Code Red. God is restoring all things, not re-imagining all things. Revelation 21-22 speaks about our final abode as a recreated earth. This recreated earth is the restored earth. Restored to what? The way things were supposed to be. We find quite a bit of imagery, from the rivers to the restored tree of life, that mirrors the Garden of Eden.

“Can’t do anything we want? Like fly?”

Why would we think we could? Because it is heaven? And God’s ultimate will for us is to be able to do anything and everything? Although I cannot be sure, I have no reason to believe that I will be able to defy gravity on the new Earth. Gravity is good and necessary now, and will be then. It is not the result of sin that gravity came into being. Why would God move to a “plan B” that does not have gravity?

“But won’t our bodies be ‘spiritual bodies’ with ‘power’?”

“So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown a perishable body, it is raised an imperishable body; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. (1Co 15:42-44)

Yes, but the idea here does not refer to the ontological quality of our bodies (i.e. what we will be able to do), but the spiritual state of the physical body without sin. It is “spiritual” not in the sense that it will be ghost-like and it is “powerful” not in the sense that it will be able to defy the natural laws that God originally intended, but it is spiritual and powerful in that it will not be controlled by the flesh any longer. The sin principle will have been extinguished. This will be the greatest change we will notice.

What will be the same? We will be eating and drinking. We will not communicate through ESP, but with lips, tongue and breath, following the laws of physics. We will have five fingers on each hand, five toes on each foot, two eyes, two ears, hair, finger prints, tear ducts and so on. All of which will perform the function which they were originally intended. Why? Because we have to have them to function! Again, “Plan A” restored, not “plan B.”

Relationships will take effort. Food will be digested from the stomach, to the small intestine, to the large intestine. If you close your eyes while walking, you will trip and fall. We will need to eat to sustain our bodies (Rev. 22:2). Physical pain will serve as a warning if you touch something hot. We will need to learn before we can accomplish. And so on. There is no reason to think that any of this will change since none of it came into being as a result of sin.

Our relationships will take effort. Our mannerisms will give us away. You will have times when you want to be alone. We will have distinct personality characteristics. Some will be more shy than others. We will not all look, act, and be the same. Some will have greater talent in one area than another. I probably will not (immediately) be able to slam a basketball. Heck, Kristie was not too far off when she went to get her shoes upon hearing about heaven’s reality. I have no reason to believe that shoes are a result of the fall!

In sum, we have every reason to believe that whatever was not brought into being through sin will stay the same.

Restored stewardship. Now we get to the “What will we be doing?” part. Of course we will be worshiping God in sinless fellowship, but this worship will come by fulfilling the original intent. There will be no need to “fill the earth” though procreation (Gen. 1:28), but there will be the mandate to subdue it as stewards of God’s creation.

Christ gives us a glimpse into our stewardship when he tells of the Parable of the Pounds (Matt. 25:13-31). Read it. In it Christ teaches that what you do here matters for eternity. How you invest your life in this age, determines your responsibilities in the next. While salvation comes to all by grace alone through faith alone, this does not mean that there will not be rewards in heaven. Some people will be in charge of many things and some will be in charge of fewer: “His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful slave. You were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.'” (Mat 25:23). In Luke 19:11-27, it is described as stewardship over “cities.” I don’t think we should be too literal with this, but the fact is that we will have great responsibility. We will have jobs. We have every reason to believe that we will have to be on time to work, have certain job requirements, have a certain skill set, deal with others who are “under” us, and have successes (and, possibly, sinless failures). The labor that we do will not be from the sweat of our brow any longer (Gen. 3:19). In other words, we will find joy and contentment in what we are doing. We will all love our jobs!

In these things, we will worship and fellowship with God. Far from spending all of our time bowing down day and night before the throne of God, heaven will be full of varied activities, responsibilities, pleasures, and accomplishments. God will bring heaven down to the new Earth and for all eternity we will fellowship with God the way he originally intended, being his vice-regents on the new earth.

“And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them, and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.” (Rev 21:3-4)

Far from being a place of endless boredom and monotonous activity, heaven (i.e., the new Earth) will be a place where we realize together with God the glory of his original intent.

To me, that sounds much better than anyone can hope. And I did not even have to make it up!

53 Responses to “"In Heaven, We Will Be Bowing Down Before the Throne of God 24/7" . . . And Other Stupid Statements”

  1. Oh, to be able to jettison the framework society and the church faultily put in our heads. Fulfillment and purposefulness devoid of sin’s wages sounds much better to me.

    This post could use a hell companion imo.

  2. Hi. I’ve been reading your blog for a while, but this is my first comment. I think you’re absolutely right about what we’ll be doing in Heaven. The Bible is very clear that everything we do on Earth is for the glory of God, so there is no reason we can’t glorify God the same way in Heaven.

    I do have one question, though. How do we reconcile Jesus’ statement that in Heaven we will not marry with this framework. Marriage is certainly part of God’s natural plan, so why would it no longer be present in heaven? Maybe it has to do with no longer needing to have children?

  3. It sounds like even though we can’t fly, we could jump from cliffs and such in an attempt with no fear for our safety, since the spiritual body is imperishable. So maybe a sensation of flying for a short time. (Keep in mind pain is not a deterrent for everyone.)

    “Food will be digested from the stomach, to the small intestine, to the large intestine.” And then what? Hopefully we’re able to carry some of Japan’s incredible toilet technology over to the new earth. : )

    This seems subjective: “We often make heaven such an esoteric place that no one really wants to go there.” Some would enjoy this. Especially those with the “love affair with Gnosticism” you mention.

    It seems to me like shoes and all clothes (if we think in pre-Fall standards) would be optional.

    Also I don’t remember anything pre-Fall about learning to care for the garden. Adam and Eve may have just been endowed with certain knowledge, like the care of plants. They had no childhood, and apparently could speak without learning to.

    Now, in the resurrection, people do not give and take in marriage, but are like the angels. To what degree is sexuality part of resurrected life? Will a person’s vasectomy be automatically reversed? Will it matter anyhow? Perhaps it depends whether one takes a Catholic stance on the issue.

    Seems to me there’s more questions than answers. I forget how many of these Randy Alcorn attempts to tackle in his book “Heaven”. Embodied or not, I’m looking forward to eternity with the Lord in some blessed state.

  4. Michael,
    I very much enjoy your blog but I have to say that it’s rare that I read something that I can give wholehearted agreement to.
    Not this time though. A very big ‘Amen’ to what you’ve said.
    And a very big encouragement to consider the implications of this. I find that this view of ‘heaven’ has many, many ramifications for the ‘now’ as well as the future. As you rightly point out, the shadow of Gnosticism still looms large and God’s ‘very good’ creation is seriously devalued. The myth of the pure ‘spirituality’ of heaven further undermines it. This solidly scriptural perspective on heaven goes a long way to re-establishing the responsibilities for our present creation by affirming its goodness and its place in God’s ‘Plan A’.

  5. Great post. It’s good to know we’ll be using all our gifts, experience and skills in heaven, and it won’t just be musicians and singers who get to do their stuff. But as someone who works in a drug and alcohol treatment clinic I do wonder sometimes what job I’ll be given.

  6. “Bowing down 24/7”

    When I was younger, I was taught that not only would we be bowing down, but we would be constantly casting our crowns (that we earned as rewards) at his feet. So I had this image of us constantly putting our crowns back on our heads, and casting them at his feet again anad again. We get so stuck on this childhood impressions.

    Just last night in our Bible study, one of our elders insisted that our bodies will be able to pass through walls, because the Bible tells is our bodies will be like Jesus’ bodies. I challenged him on that with a few questions, such as whether having a body like His means we will have divine attributes as well? He remained firm in his opinion.

  7. Another great read Michael! I enjoyed and agree with every word.

    However, I do have a quick question relating to how society may possibly look in Heaven. As we have seen in history, things obviously evolve or change (technology becomes greater, cultural norms and values change (ones that are independent of the fall), etc.). Do you think in Heaven then, changes will continue to occur and society will see shifts, such as technology improving, etc. Or will things return to “simpler” days, like in the early civilizations? Opinions, anyone, please.

    Again, great post!

  8. Echoing j, I have also often wondered about excrement, clothing, and sexuality in the new earth. I think there will be a place for clothing, but no idea on the other stuff. Anyone?

  9. Seems to me there will be some sort of life both inside and outside of the New Jerusalem (which, of course, is where we get “streets of gold” and other heavenly imagery). The “kings of the earth” will be bringing their splendor into the city, so there is splendor on the earth, and nations with kings.

    To go a step further, who populates those nations? Rev. 22:15 seems to say there are still some disturbing things outside the city (and I think it’s stretch to say that verse refers to the Lake O’ Fire). And if the earth is restored to pre-fall conditions, and the “nations” are made up only of the redeemed, why do they need the leaves of the tree of life for healing (Rev 22:2)?

    Had a non-believer tell me recently that she has no interest in sitting on a cloud with a harp for eternity.

    I do think our view of heaven needs a serious and scriptural reexamination. Thanks, Michael, for a great article. And I’d also like to see one on hell. Funny, but I suspect that would generate more heated discussion.

  10. Hey, Michael, did you steal all of that from NT Wright, or is it just that great minds think (and analyze) alike? :0)

  11. Edward T. Babinski November 9, 2009 at 1:01 pm

    So Mike, About how much time WILL be spent praising God in heaven and singing “holy, holy, holy,” per Revelation?

    Also, the great Christian, Rev., Spurgeon was asked what we’d be doing in heaven and he said he could spend the first million years meditating on the wound in Jesus’ left hand, and then another million meditating on the wound in Jesus’ right hand, etc.

    I guess the author of Revelation and also Rev. Spurgeon are “stupid.”

    Actually, the imagery found in Rev. is based on ancient Near Eastern and Middle Eastern mentalities concerning the adoration of kings. So really, the Bible is a book with imagery limited to its time and place. It’s not a book about democratic government, but “kingships.”

  12. Edward T. Babinski November 9, 2009 at 1:03 pm

    If Paul visited heaven why didn’t he tell us anything about it? “Eye hath not seen, ear hath not heard,” duh, well it certainly hasn’t, because Paul kept his mouth shut about it.

  13. Edward T. Babinski November 9, 2009 at 1:06 pm

    And what about the new Jerusalem, a big square city hundreds of miles on each side, so tall that if you open the windows on any floor about 12 miles high, you’d be sucked out of the building. So I guess in the afterlife we’ll be caulking our windows in God’s great condo sent down from heaven.

    • That’s a humorous statement! Sucked out of the building?

      On a serious note, God will dissolve the elements. He will remove the celestial bodies and the atmosphere, searing a good part of the surface of the earth. That’s when He will join Heaven and earth into a great amalgam where physical limitations won’t apply. No death, sickness, etc. No need for sleep (I imagine) and eating and drinking shall remain for pleasure, not survival. The atmosphere might be done away with or modified.

  14. Personally, I cannot think of anything that could possibly be better than standing in God’s presence and being overwhelmed with praise unceasing. I pity those who say that such an arrangement would be “boring”, “monotonous”, “tiring”, or “mindless”; because they clearly have a limited experience of joy.

    Of course it is possible that heaven may have lots of less appealing things that are nevertheless “heavenly”, but you can make that point without accepting (and arguing for) the false presupposition that standing in the throne room in unceasing praise would be “monotonous”.

    If anything, you could admit that you currently don’t quite understand how the thing you call “monotonous” could actually be the greatest joy. Asserting confidently that it would not be a joy, however, seems rather arbitrary and lacking in epistemic humility, IMHO.

  15. Michael , I really enjoy your posts.

    I too have had someone tell me that we will be worshipping/bowing down before God 24/7(really not inspiring in my present condition)……but my question
    is about our sin nature. If we go with the concept of restoration
    to pre-fall conditions are we saying that Adam and Eve choose to sin, and then wouldn’t we too be capable of choosing to sin. Or is sin nature removed because it only came about because of the devil’s temptation. …. am I missing something about our sin nature which we inherited and Christ blood covers?

    Anyone please!

    Response to Chad, I could see technology changing but not our values and ethics which should be pure, sort of like our intentions.

  16. The problem, Joshua, is that we were created as humans and will remain humans, not become angels. As humans, even in our sinless state, we were created for action, for tending, for loving other humans, for engaging in the world around us. God created us to enjoy and desire these things. For us to be converted to beings that would NOT want these things would be to make us something other than God’s original design. To change us to creatures who would find contentment in endless praise would be to destroy what is essentially “human” in us, and turn us into angels.

  17. Jim, I believe that in eternity, it will be a theoretical possibility for us to sin, but an actual non-occurance. Kind of the same that we have now before we become believers. There is the theoretical possibility that we could choose God on our own, but it is, because of who we are, an actual non-occurance.

  18. Josh, I agree with you to some degree. But, in the end, we simply have to go with what the Bible teaches. In my opinion there is a much better case that can be made for a restored plan A of stewardship rather than plan B of perpetual bowing down before the throne of God (not to mention the space issues that would involve!)

  19. Ed, “So Mike, About how much time WILL be spent praising God in heaven and singing “holy, holy, holy,” per Revelation?”

    Every moment. But it will come in what we consider to be mundane stewardship, not an esoteric state of existence or a particular posture.

    Revelation is a highly symbolic book. We need to be careful not to take everything so literally.

  20. I’m not sure there will be a learning curve in heaven. It seems clear from Paul1 – as well as the life of Christ – that in our perfected humanity we will know everything we need to know.

    That doesn’t mean we’ll know everything. It means, quite simply, that we will know what we need to know and not know the things we don’t need to know.

    1 E.g., 1 Co 13.12: For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known.

  21. I think that the 1 Cor 13 passage has to be placed in the context of our redemption and our current state here. The idea in “to know fully” seems to be one of recognition (which includes much cognition). i.e. We will see things as they actually are.

    I would not supposed that this means that there will be no learning in heaven.

  22. Andrés Antonelli November 9, 2009 at 4:15 pm

    you said:
    “You will have times when you want to be alone. ”
    do you really think so?

    Our relationship with other men is directly related to our relationship with God. Since sin entered to human race, we started to live as “our own gods”, not serving God, nor serving others, but that was what we were intended to be: individuals who live in a perfect fellowship with any other, and with God indeed.

    I agree with C Michael Patton on this: “Revelation is a highly symbolic book. We need to be careful not to take everything so literally.”
    and i agree also with Edward T. Babinski on this:

    “If Paul visited heaven why didn’t he tell us anything about it? “Eye hath not seen, ear hath not heard,” duh, well it certainly hasn’t, because Paul kept his mouth shut about it.”

    We should not worry pretty much about how it will be, because we know that God will restore it all, and the most important is that we will be in His presence, we shall see fully:

    “For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.”

    WE SHOULD WORRY MORE AND MORE ABOUT THOSE NATIONS THAT DID NOT HEAR THE MESSAGE OF JESUS CHRIST, THE TRUTH OF GOD REDIMING HUMANITY THROUGH HIS SON.

  23. ETB wrote:

    If Paul visited heaven why didn’t he tell us anything about it? “Eye hath not seen, ear hath not heard,” duh, well it certainly hasn’t, because Paul kept his mouth shut about it.

    Paul answers this succinctly in 2 Co 12:

    I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago—whether in the body I do not know, or out of the body I do not know, God knows—such a man was caught up to the third heaven.
    And I know how such a man—whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, God knows—
    was caught up into Paradise and heard inexpressible words, which a man is not permitted to speak. . . .

    Because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, for this reason, to keep me from exalting myself, there was given me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me—to keep me from exalting myself! – vv. 2-4, 7

    Now, I don’t know why a man is not permitted to speak about such things, but apparently is was not a choice that Paul was given. So I don’t think we need to scapegoat Paul for not telling us what we want to know but obviously don’t need to know.

  24. CMP wrote, ” Food will be digested from the stomach, to the small intestine, to the large intestine. If you close your eyes while walking, you will trip and fall. We will need to eat to sustain our bodies (Rev. 22:2).”

    Considering there is one tree but several billion Christians, that’s a pretty big lunch line up, much longer lines than the ones at Starbucks.

    That kind of speculation is a bit too detailed for me, because the whole large intestine thing gets me wondering if there is a danger that we’ll fart in the presence of God, or while talking to Moses, etc., or if our new bodies will require navels, since we won’t be birthed physically to get them. Maybe we’ll eat and things will go down our throat and dematerialize.

    I’m not too worried about it, because what will be will be, and the bar is not set too high for heaven anyway, because as long as its better than hell, it’s the place I’d rather be. As J. Stein wrote, “Heaven is totally overrated. It seems boring. Clouds, listening to people play the harp. It should be somewhere you can’t wait to go, like a luxury hotel. Maybe blue skies and soft music were enough to keep people in line in the 17th century, but Heaven has to step it up a bit. They’re basically getting by because they only have to be better than Hell. — Joel Stein, columnist for the Los Angeles Times.” (from a Starbucks cup)

    regards,
    #John

  25. John, for the most part, I am inclined to think that if it did not come as a result of the fall, it will be back!

  26. Re post 25 by CMP

    That’s actually an interesting and provocative thought, Michael–what will we keep that was not part of the fall? If the world we are in is an intermediate state, then things could be substantially different. In the days of creation, every day was intermediate until the end of the last one.

    It’s also interesting that Jesus, who had a resurrection body, was able to eat the “profane” fish of the old earth and breath old earth air.

    Anyway, as someone who just got his theology from a Starbucks cup, I’m already out of my depth on this topic.

    regards,
    #John

  27. Well Michael I’m stumped, I know the God I serve is bigger than these questions and all,but I must ask…If what you have said you believe is true…Where would all the people live (The scripture does say His house has many rooms)(asleep now, present and the people of the future)? What about the logistics to cater to all these people? How big was the garden of Eaden (to feed all these people)? Just a scientific question of possibility…but all things are possible with God and we cannot even fathom what heaven will be like, right? Good Post though…I do agree with what we will be doing compared to bowing 27/7/365 (I view this as He calls us to yield to Him now). Just not sold on what the “New Heaven” means.

  28. Ron, I don’t think that there will only be one resturaunt to eat at! In other words, I don’t think we have to assume that there is only one tree of life.

    I do think that we are safe saying that the New Earth is a restoration.

  29. To change us to creatures who would find contentment in endless praise would be to destroy what is essentially “human” in us, and turn us into angels.

    On the other hand, to change us to creatures who do not become discontented with what God provides would be to restore us to our original humanity. And Matthew 22:30 does, in fact, say that we will be like angels, and will not have the same human relationships as on earth.

    As I said, there is nothing inhuman about wanting to be in God’s presence and praising him forever — indeed, I think it is the most human characteristic apart from depravity. Certainly many of the saints agreed.

    Of course, I can see how people would think it would be boring to praise God forever. Lots of people think it’s boring to go to Church or read the Bible, let alone pray. Perhaps many Christians even still consider these things to be “chores”, which would play into the perception that unceasing praise would be a form of coercion. But given the testimony of Revelation and the witness of the saints, I would think that one would not be hasty to endorse that sentiment. Perhaps these sentiments are symptoms of our hopelessly depraved and fallen nature?

    I would hesitate to call “inhuman” an urge that is experienced by the fully human saints and which may very well be obscured by our fallen nature.

    Revelation may be symbolic, but it is right. I will note that the garden story itself contains much symbolism, and the stewardship for which we were created involved stewardship over animals and plants — I believe it is important that heaven is depicted as a city and not a garden. This combined with Matthew 22:30, suggests that our stewardship relationships will be fundamentally different. Certainly, for example, the man who spent his every breath evangelizing Christ to the lost, will have to find something else to do in heaven.

  30. Sorry Michael, you stay earth bound if you want to but I’m flying like Superman through the universe and beyond.

  31. I think I may have messed up the poll, “What Best Describes Heaven?”

    I chose the first option, but only because I thought it said “Eternally bowling before the throne of God.”

    Sorry. I just really like bowling, you know?

  32. Josh Allen stated:

    Personally, I cannot think of anything that could possibly be better than standing in God’s presence and being overwhelmed with praise unceasing. I pity those who say that such an arrangement would be “boring”, “monotonous”, “tiring”, or “mindless”; because they clearly have a limited experience of joy.

    I believe we must guard against defining worship as ‘standing in God’s presence and giving praise’. Now, I would agree worship is such, but not in the sense that we must be in a meditative or reflective state or singing songs with accompanied music. As one author said, heaven is not an eternal sing-a-long. Of course we will always be in His presence, since He states this will be true (Rev 21:1-4). And such will consist of praise, but this is not necessarily in songs. Remember that Revelation consists of a lot of Jewish prophetic imagery to describe what will really take place.

    Consider Adam and Even before the Fall. I would sense they were in a love-worship relationship with the Father walking in the cool of the day. No music was there, no songs being sung (at least probably not every moment if they were singing in those days). But worship was flowing out of hearts of love towards their Creator. Worship is so vast, so big. I sense the presence of God while reading a novel and sipping on coffee. I sense God’s closeness while having a conversation about life with a friend over a pint. All this is worship as it is offered to the honour and glory of God.

    Now, if we all join in for songs at times, that would be a good thing. But the kingdom to come is not about the eternal sing-a-long. The kingdom will involve worship in all of its vastness. And our Father will be pleased to receive such, even if we are not in a posture of bowing and singing.

  33. I encourage people to read Randy Alcorn’s book on Heaven.
    I didn’t enjoy this article and the more I think about it the more
    it saps the joy out of Heaven or a New Earth. Only people with advanced theological degrees could do such a thing. Heaven or a New Earth will be anything but plain, mundane, ordinary or normal.
    Just my humble opinion.

  34. Bill,
    I think it’s desperately sad that you can find no joy in the thought of this good creation restored to its fullness, no longer subject to death and decay; where relationships are utterly God-honouring; where fulfilment is found in truly living for God’s glory, complete in our relationship with Him; where heaven and earth are no longer separated, but utterly and eternally joined. That is in no way plain, mundane, ordinary or normal and I find it difficult to see how Michael’s article can be read as such.
    But then, I too have a theological degree, so perhaps I am merely joyless.
    Unless, of course, you’re referring to the more scatological (as opposed to eschatological) trends in some comments. ;~)

  35. Bill –

    I do think Michael (the author of the article) is simply trying to debunk some of the more fantastical thoughts out there that aren’t fully grounded in Scripture. He is trying to consider the absolute wonder of what it would be like to have a restored humanity on a restored earth in the age to come. I like Indian and Thai food now, but imagine it in the age to come. Ohhhhh, how much better the spices and herbs will be in a new earth!!

    Maybe we will fly. I wonder if animals will verbally communicate. Maybe we can walk through walls. But it is important to ground things in what we do have in Scripture – that we will come into a restored Eden, or a better Eden. God does not want to abandon the earth He created. He wants to restore it to its original intention. That is the age to come.

  36. Whatever it is, it’s gonna be great!!! :-)

  37. enjoyed reading about it even though I am not sure where I stand.

    I do find it amusing every time I read a comment of great confidence and conviction about matters of the end times and eternity.

    I had a prof that said, “if someone claims they understand the end of Ezekiel and Matt 24 perfectly, watch out for him, because he will lie about other things”

    neither I nor this prof are postmods who deny truth

  38. For those who are interested, I have elsewhere attempted to lay out a
    positive (though speculative) case can be made that male-female relationships similar to marital bonds, can continue between the redeemed into the next life. This may then also imply a romantic, physical or even sexual and procreative aspect in such a relationship. This positive case is made on my website (click on my name) – all interested visitors are welcome.

  39. I once set out to teach a Sunday School series on Heaven. I started as I always do, by printing out an exhastive list of all the bible passages that contain the word “heaven”, or the greek translative, “ouranou”.

    I was a little surprised to find that there was not a single appearance of the term that explicitly or necesarily denoted “place of eternal destination” (though there are many that are inferred to mean this.)

    I was struck by the extent to which the binary constructs of Heaven & Hell dominate popular doctrine given the paucity of teaching on it by Jesus and the apostles.

  40. Headless Unicorn Guy November 19, 2009 at 12:58 pm

    “When you are in heaven, sinless and in perfect submission to God’s will, you will be perfectly and joyfully content bowing before the throne of God all day, everyday.”

    What the wags over at Slacktivists Left Behind deconstruction blog call “Worship Bots”. And what I call “Eternal Cosmic North Korea”, where the Happy North Korean People Dance Joyfully with Great Enthusiasm before Comrade Dear Leader. Forever.

    (When I first posted that image in another blog two years ago, I got a reply that “Only a certain kind of Preaching can turn a Father throwing a party for his kids into a Fascist Rally”.)

  41. Headless Unicorn Guy November 19, 2009 at 1:02 pm

    Maybe we will fly. I wonder if animals will verbally communicate. Maybe we can walk through walls. — ScottL

    What I would like to see is to have the creatures of our imagination — from Unicorns to Dragons to Sphinxes to Minotaurs to Faeries to Sea Serpents to My Little Ponies to Cat-Bears to Skitaire to Kuvrahk — become real. To be Resurrected from Imaginary into Reality.

  42. You sure like to refer to everyone’s beliefs as stupid statements. But what can be stupider than “I think God controls everyone’s actions.” You make the stupidest statement of all, being a Calvinist. Perhaps your problem with “In Heaven, We Will Be Bowing Down Before the Throne of God 24/7″ is that you refuse to bow to him because you hate him, which is also why you are a Calvinist who spreads lies about him and accuses him of being a malevolent lottery commissioner and respecter of persons.

  43. Ouch! Thanks for the gentleness and respect.

    There is a disclaimer about the “over the top” titles that I give this series. I am sorry you find them offensive. I have thought about changing them since people often take them the wrong way.

  44. Also, I am a Calvinist, yes, but I don’t believe that God controls everyone’s actions. I don’t know of any who do. Calvinists are not divine fatalists. Hope you research a little more before you make such statements in public.

  45. The new Heaven and the new Earth will be good.

    As to what they’re like? Well we’ve probably all had moments of pure wonder at the beauty of a sunrise or standing under a tree with the sun falling on us.

    The new Earth is probably a lot like the old one, just without the bad things (and the annoying people).

  46. I can’t reconcile the sexuality aspect of this. With Jesus mentioning us not being given or taken in marriage, but God clearly making Eve as Adam’s perfect companion.

    Why would the Lord take away the wondrous physical attraction He gave me for my Wife and it’s complimentary fulfillment in sex when He restores all things to what he intended in the beginning?

    I don’t mind waiting to find out, because I’m sure it will be lots better, woohoo, wont THAT be a hoot! Can I talk like that here?

  47. joy unspeakable and full of glory. Have you ever been full of glory, a sense of the real presence of the Lord while worshiping or praying? If that is what heaven is then I imagine its not hard to think about bowing or falling or casting for lengthy periods of “time”. But personally I believe that God created the cosmos whether around us (heavens)us or in us (heart, literal and figurative) so we could learn about it. we obviously cant go out into the cosmos now because we would just sully the whole thing up. but with out sin i think we will be permitted to personally in an very close manner observe many things of life, space, psychology, spirituality to learn about who God is personally, creatively, individually and collectively for eternity always learning but never all because he is eternal. Ever had an amazing revelation in his word or through prayer where you learned something about who you are or who God is, maybe even just a treasure from his word. I could definitely do that 24/7

  48. Lmao, you don’t even know what Gnosticism means. Lol. It’s not spirit good nonsense you wrote. What a maroon. what a nincompoopie.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. The Bigger Picture of Worship « The Prodigal Thought - November 12, 2009

    […] Patton’s recent post over at Parchment & Pen in regards to the prevailing wrong understanding that many have of heaven, or the age to come, got […]

  2. The Greater Picture of Worship « The Prodigal Thought - November 12, 2009

    […] Patton’s recent post over at Parchment & Pen in regards to the prevailing wrong understanding that many have of heaven, or the age to come, got […]

  3. The Greater Picture of Worship « Cornerstone International Church - January 17, 2010

    […] Patton’s recent post over at Parchment & Pen in regards to the prevailing wrong understanding that many have of heaven, or the age to come, got […]

  4. Folk Theology: Twenty Urban Legends in Theology | Parchment and Pen - June 5, 2013

    […] I cover this fairly extensively here. […]

Leave a Reply