Questions about Heaven
“It bothers me that heaven is described as having mansions, gold, etc. and that those type of items should be such an incentive (for lack of a better term). I know that Jesus often preached that there would be a reward in heaven but as he focused not on material things it is inconsistent that heaven is described in a materialistic manner. If the focus in heaven is praising God, why the promise of what I describe as “earthly” treasures? As I believe that we leave behind our earthly shell when we die, what is the significance of the saveds’ bodies rising from their graves when Christ returns to earth?”
My answer was:
You ask some good questions that others have wondered.
1. John Piper addresses the first question very well in his book, Desiring God. He points out that there is nothing wrong with the motivation of rewards and pleasure for following God. The Old Testament psalmists often spoke of the “delight” of God’s law and delight of knowing God Himself (Psalm 1:2; 37:4; 119:77). Jesus often spoke of rewards in heaven. The Sermon on the Mount is full of such references (Matthew 5:12, 19; 6:1, 4, 6, 18, 20-21; 7:11). While Jesus told us not to focus on earthly treasures, there is no reason to think that we will not receive heavenly treasures. In fact, Jesus says this very thing in Mark 10:29-30. After telling a rich young man to give away his possessions to the poor and follow Him, Jesus then assures the disciples that anyone who has left behind family or possessions for the gospel will receive a hundred times as much in reward as well as eternal life. So it’s not that there is anything wrong with having a desire for reward or for good things; the problem is when material things because our first priority before the Lord Himself. As Jesus said in Matthew 6:33, seek FIRST His kingdom, and then these things will be given to you, as well!
2. We leave behind our earthly shell when we die, and our spirits and souls go immediately to be with the Lord. But the Bible also teaches that just as Jesus’ body was literally raised to life and glorified, so our own bodies will be raised and we will have new, perfectly renewed bodies. Philippians 3:20-21 says Jesus will transform our lowly bodies so they will be like His glorious body. We read in 1 Corinthians 15:51-54 explicitly states that our corrupt, perishable bodies will be changed to incorrupt, imperishable bodies at the resurrection. This resurrection will happen at the return of Christ (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17). So the teaching of scripture is that at death our souls go to heaven, but at the Second Coming of Christ, our bodies are raised and reunited with our souls in heaven, the “new heaven” of Revelation 21:1.
A great book on this subject is Heaven by Randy Alcorn.