Heaven - Christianity

Christianity

Traditionally, Christianity has taught Heaven as a place of the dwelling place of the angels and the Throne of God, to which all the elect will be admitted. Belief in the afterlife is professed in the major Christian creeds, such as the Nicene Creed, which states: "We look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come."

Concepts of a future Kingdom of Heaven are also professed in several scriptural prophecies of the new (or renewed) Earth said to follow the resurrection of the dead, particularly the books of Isaiah and Revelation. The resurrected Jesus is said to have ascended to heaven where he now sits at the Right Hand of God and will return to earth in the Second Coming. His mother Mary is also said to have been assumed into heaven and is titled the Queen of Heaven. Many also believe Elijah and Enoch were taken into heaven.

Revelation 12:7-9 speaks of a War in Heaven between Michael the Archangel and his angels against the Dragon and his angels, which the Dragon and his angels lost and thus they were "thrown down to the earth", and though the term is not used in the text, they are generally referred to as the fallen angels.

In the 2nd century AD, Irenaeus (a Greek bishop) wrote that not all who are saved would merit an abode in Heaven itself. One popular medieval view of Heaven was that it existed as a physical place above the clouds and that God and the Angels were physically above, watching over man. The ancient concept of "Heaven" as a synonym for "skies" or "space" is also evident in allusions to the stars as "lights shining through from heaven", and the like.

The New Testament Greek word translated "heaven" is "ouranos," which refers to the sky above, or the place from which the Creator rules. Eternal life, by contrast, occurs in a renewed, unspoilt and perfect creation, which can be termed Heaven since God will choose to dwell there permanently with his people, as seen in Revelation 21:3. That there will no longer be any separation between God and man. The believers themselves will exist in incorruptible, resurrected and new bodies; there will be no sickness, no death and no tears. Some teach that death itself is not a natural part of life, but was allowed to happen after Adam and Eve disobeyed God (see Original Sin) so that mankind would not live forever in a state of sin and thus a state of separation from God.

Not only will the believers spend eternity with God, they will also spend it with each other. John's vision recorded in Revelation describes a New Jerusalem which comes from Heaven to the New Earth, which is generally seen to be a symbolic reference to the people of God living in community with one another; in a number of sects this is taken as more literal than symbolic. Heaven will be the place where life will be lived to the full, in the way that the designer planned, each believer "loving the Lord their God with all their heart and with all their soul and with all their mind" and "loving their neighbour as themselves" (cf. Matthew 22:37-40, also known as the Great Commandment)—a place of great joy, without the negative aspects of present earthly life.

Read more about this topic:  Heaven

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