“If we insist on keeping Hell (or even Earth) we shall not see Heaven: if we accept Heaven we shall not be able to retain even the smallest and most intimate souvenirs of Hell.” from “The Great Divorce” by C. S. Lewis
This is a great quote. It reminds us that Heaven, Hell and earth are three different things. While Christians recognize that Hell is worse than, and therefore different from, earth – too many seem to think that the same isn’t quite so true for earth and Heaven. They think things from earth will be in Heaven – or that Heaven will come to this earth, as it is. Or some variation of that.
It’s like the image above, where there’s earth – and the left side is Hell, while the right side is Heaven. But the truth is, Heaven is a place, Hell is a place, and earth is still another place.
Heaven is where God reigns, and with the removal of Satan – nothing of evil exists.
Hell is a place that God created for the devil and his angels – where nothing good exists.
Earth is a place where something of both God and Satan exist. Not in a left side, right side manner – but literally right next to each other. Even more so – right next to each other within everything – inlcuding every one of us – you, me, everyone.
What are the best things of earth?
Hopefully, the best “thing” in your life is at least one person – spouse, close friend, parent, child, Etc. Every Christian should know that all of us have been corrupted by The Fall – when Eve and Adam ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Therefore, we should know that any person we included in our “best things of earth” list is fallen – and cannot enter Heaven without being righteous – which we can do only through Jesus.
I think the issue may come more from other things – pets, other animals, beautiful landscapes / plants, maybe even activities we enjoy. They’d be things we consider to be “heaven on earth”. They’re certainly things we fully expect to be in Heaven – just like they are here on earth.
However, if we’re fully honest with ourselves, is this a realistic expectation?
Consider what Paul wrote in Romans –
Ro 8:18 I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. 19 The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed. 20 For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God.
Ro 8:22 We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. 23 Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has? 25 But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.
Ro 8:26 In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. 27 And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God’s will.
There are some things in particular to note from that passage.
All of creation has been groaning
It’s not just people who fell. It’s literally all of creation. To be sure this isn’t just a translation issue that makes it look like everything, as opposed to everyone – let’s check out the original Greek words translated to “whole creation” –
3956 πᾶς [pas /pas/] adj. Including all the forms of declension; TDNT 5:886; TDNTA 795; GK 4246; 1243 occurrences; AV translates as “all” 748 times, “all things” 170 times, “every” 117 times, “all men” 41 times, “whosoever” 31 times, “everyone” 28 times, “whole” 12 times, “all manner of” 11 times, “every man” 11 times, “no + 3756” nine times, “every thing” seven times, “any” seven times, “whatsoever” six times, “whosoever + 3739 + 302” three times, “always + 1223” three times, “daily + 2250” twice, “any thing” twice, “no + 3361” twice, not translated seven times, and translated miscellaneously 26 times. 1 individually. 1A each, every, any, all, the whole, everyone, all things, everything. 2 collectively. 2A some of all types. 1)Strong, J. (1995). Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon. Woodside Bible Fellowship.
2937 κτίσις [ktisis /ktis·is/] n f. From 2936; TDNT 3:1000; TDNTA 481; GK 3232; 19 occurrences; AV translates as “creature” 11 times, “creation” six times, “building” once, and “ordinance” once. 1 the act of founding, establishing, building etc. 1A the act of creating, creation. 1B creation i.e. thing created. 1B1 of individual things, beings, a creature, a creation. 1B1A anything created. 1B1B after a rabbinical usage (by which a man converted from idolatry to Judaism was called). 1B1C the sum or aggregate of things created. 1C institution, ordinance. 2)Strong, J. (1995). Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon. Woodside Bible Fellowship.
So we see
whole means all / every / the whole of
creation means everything that was created.
That’s like saying all of everything God created. Clearly, it was intended to mean literally “every thing”. Not just people – but every thing in the heavens and the earth was corrupted by The Fall.
That means even our favorite non-people things are corrupted.
The creation waits for liberation
Creation is hoping for liberation – just as we hope for redemption and eternity with God.
For us people – we will be reborn and made righteous.
For other things – they will be fundamentally changed as well –
Isa 11:6 The wolf will live with the lamb,
the leopard will lie down with the goat,
the calf and the lion and the yearling together;
and a little child will lead them.
Isa 11:7 The cow will feed with the bear,
their young will lie down together,
and the lion will eat straw like the ox.
Isa 11:8 The infant will play near the hole of the cobra,
and the young child put his hand into the viper’s nest.
Isa 11:9 They will neither harm nor destroy
on all my holy mountain,
for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the LORD
as the waters cover the sea.
Will our pets be there, in Heaven? I don’t know. I hope so – but if they aren’t, that won’t be enough to make me say that I don’t want to be in Heaven. And if they are – they’ll be even better than they are / were here on earth. They will be different in ways we can’t imagine.
The same is true for other animals, scenery, landscape, plants – all will be different in some ways – and also will be better.
To insist that things must be the same as here, or else we don’t want to go to Heaven – is to say that we value this broken world more than the “very good” creation God made – before The Fall.
Ge 1:31 God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning—the sixth day.
Ge 2:1 Thus the heavens and the earth were completed in all their vast array.
Given all of that, expecting our activities to be the same is equally unrealistic. With everything changed – is there any reason at all to expect our activities to be the same? And if we insist on that, knowing that we want to continue doing an activity from when we were fallen – an activity that is itself corrupted – should we expect anything but to be excluded from Heaven?
Is this bad?
I sometimes have trouble with this. Especially with the pets. I miss my four-legged “kids”. I’d really like to see them waiting for me in Heaven – especially if they’re even better than when they were alive here.
However, I’m not willing to give up Heaven in order to hang on to that insistence that without Dewey and the others – I won’t go.
Do you wonder how I can say that?
Rev 7:16 Never again will they hunger;
never again will they thirst.
The sun will not beat upon them,
nor any scorching heat.
Rev 7:17 For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd;
he will lead them to springs of living water.
And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.
I don’t have a clue how God will wipe away so many tears from this life. It seems impossible. But He promised He would do it – and I believe that, somehow, He will do exactly that.
By the way
You know all those things I just said won’t be the same in Heaven? Just in case you’re thinking they will be the same in Hell – dream on. They won’t.
I don’t normally like to take verses out of context, but the context of the following verse really isn’t relevant. It’s the brutal truth about Hell that I’m talking about –
Mt 25:41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.”
Yes – Hell wasn’t created for people. Hell was created for Satan and those angels who followed him into rebellion against God.
So if we don’t go to Heaven – we go to the place created for Satan and the other fallen angels. A place where God is not present – at all. That means there’s nothing good there. At all. Any good that existed in people / animals / plants here on earth – will not be there in Hell.
Just as the evil will be removed from creation in Heaven,
good will be removed from the people in Hell.
Do you want to try to hang on to something of earth – even if the price is not getting into Heaven, thinking you’ll enjoy Hell just fine? That’s a lie. A lie from Satan. It’s just not going to be that way.
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|1, 2.||↑||Strong, J. (1995). Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon. Woodside Bible Fellowship.|