Most people don’t understand the Bible’s view of eternity. They understand that there is a physical world, the one in which we live and age and finally die. And they realize there is the eternal world that follows, bound by heaven and hell, but not physical locations or the passing of time. They see it as a “someday” place, something not really real until we get there.
Yes, there really is a physical heaven, where God is and where we will see him. Paul says that “for now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known” (1 Corinthians 13:12). So we know that heaven will be wonderful, and there will be no more mysteries.
However, it’s important to understand that eternal reality isn’t confined to being a someday thing. It is also a now thing. Paul’s letter to the Ephesians speaks of the “heavenly realms.” He means the eternal reality, the true nature of things that our human eyes cannot see.
Here are some key facts, as revealed in that letter:
- Our spiritual blessings are in the heavenly realms. (Ephesians 1:3)
- Christ rules there. (Ephesians 1:20)
- God has raised believers to sit beside Christ there. (Ephesians 2:6)
- The work of the church occurs there. (Ephesians 3:10)
- There are dark forces at work there, too—spiritual warfare. (Ephesians 6:12)
While Ephesians gives us the most detailed information on this subject, virtually every page of the New Testament echoes the wisdom that what we do here is bound up in eternity. Eternity is real; eternity is now; and what we do here makes a difference there.
This world is not all there is; what we see before us is genuine and it’s very important, but it’s not the ultimate reality! It’s not even the lasting reality. All that we see will pass away, but we happen to be eternal creatures; heaven is our true destiny.
When we do things for the kingdom, which is invisible, our reward is in heaven. The real blessings, the real rewards, are not of this world. They are eternal; they are invisible. You might ask, “Well, why would I want to do anything for invisible rewards? Isn’t that like being paid in imaginary money?” I would turn the question back in your direction—why do anything for rewards that are fleeting?
The things we do for God and his kingdom are everlasting. You’ve probably heard the phrase that “integrity is who you are when no one’s looking.” The fact is that there is never such a time. God is always looking. When you do some act of evil, and you think it has gone unnoticed, it has not. When you quietly commit an act of kindness, or make an anonymous donation, it’s not anonymous to God.
God is in a position to see everything that is done. Therefore we must stop living for the opinions of others, and begin living for the opinion of heaven, where the heart is known for what truly lies inside it.
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