When we do funerals at our church, we often start the service with a verse from 1 Peter 1. It reads, in part:
In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, 5 who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.1 Peter 1:3b-5 (NIV)
Keep in mind, that our existence past the grave is not just a simple Heaven or Hell https://wordpress.com/post/afterdeathsite.com/131. The wording of this passage does raise some questions. First, and this may surprise you, this is one of the few passages that suggests that Heaven is a destination for human beings. There is no promise of Heaven in the Old Testament. There is more mention of the resurrection and the New Earth even in the New Testament. This passage suggests that our inheritance is in Heaven. Does it mean that we go there to get it? Does it say that we must wait until Judgment Day to have it?
I conclude that we do go to Heaven upon our death and receive at least part of our “inheritance”. I back that up with a passage in Revelation 7:9 that speaks about the location of the victorious dead:
9 After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands,Revelation 7:9 (ESV)
They are standing before God’s throne which was shown to be in Heaven to this point in Revelation.
What is the “salvation that is ready to revealed in the last time”? Isn’t this something that happens on the last Day–Judgment Day? I always read it that way. I see it differently now. God’s plan of salvation for human beings was only partially revealed prior to Jesus. They knew about the resurrection of the dead. They might have had an inkling that God would provide a way of forgiveness of sins that was permanent. They didn’t expect to go to God’s throne room. It wasn’t promised.
That didn’t mean that Heaven wasn’t in the plan. Heaven wasn’t officially on the table until Jesus had atoned for sin with His completion of God’s Law, paying the penalty of forsakeness https://wordpress.com/post/afterdeathsite.com/2234, and the casting of Satan out of Heaven (Rev. 12:7f). You could really say that it was contingent on Jesus’ success. But now that Jesus has prevailed, God’s full plan of salvation can be rolled out. It does say “last time”, not last day. Now is the last time, not Judgment Day.
The good news is not only will we have a resurrection of our bodies in perfected form and a New Earth after Judgment Day, but we a have immediate access to Heaven and glorious things within it, because God has “given us new birth”, connecting us to Jesus.
When you think about the best things in life now, they all will perish, spoil or fade. A new car will eventually be a boring old car and then rust. Exciting experiences lose their excitement. Everything declines either physically or in our reaction to it or both. Not the stuff of Heaven.
Relationships remain exciting. Seeing God never gets old. Our adventures remain fresh.
In the mean time, all these will keep. We have a job to do here and a certain amount of time to do it. While here, we remain in a danger zone. In Revelation 7 the inhabitants of Heaven refer to our current world as the Great Tribulation. This is hard to appreciate unless you are in a war zone, are chronically ill, or are trapped in dysfunctional relationships. But even if things are good, they are not Heaven good.
While here we are exposed to sin and the curse. God protects our connection to Christ, but we can still walk away from it.https://wordpress.com/post/givingchrist.com/843 We may suffer quite a bit while here. But God will support us and transform us. God will use us in powerful and unique ways. All of the trouble associated with the Great Tribulation will seem small once we move to our home. The one thing that I expect will fade, will be our memory of our struggle here.