SKEPTIC: I mentioned "Disneyland in the Sky" in the previous post as a reference to Heaven and thought it probably deserved a post of its own. So here are my questions for you: What is your understanding of Heaven? Where is it? What does it look like? Who is there now and what do they do? Who will go to Heaven in the future and what will they do there? Will people stay the same age in Heaven and if so, will it be the age that they died? Do the folks in Heaven have actual physical bodies or are they some sort of spirit beings? I have lots of other questions, but those should get us started.
PREACHER: Of course all I know about Heaven is what is described in The Book. Probably the best description of Heaven in a short sentence is I Corinthians 2:9, "No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him." Jesus in his discourse with the Saducees said that in Heaven we will be like the angels, not getting married or reproducing.
So to your questions: Heaven is a place in the spiritual realm, so you can't get there by a spaceship. It is referred to as a beautiful garden (paradise) and as a city with streets paved with gold. All those who have died in Christ are there, including the thief that trusted Him while they were hanging on their crosses. Those that go there will enter not by their own merit, but by what Christ has already done for them.
The apostle Paul talks about spiritual bodies. Since he hints that we will be like Jesus, it follows that we would be like He was after His resurrection. He could appear and disappear at will, but while he was visible He could be touched and ate food. So I believe our spiritual bodies will be like that. As to the age at which we would appear to be, your guess would be as good as mine. Since God has always given men something to do, I don't think we will be just sitting around playing harps. The book of Revelations mentions reigning with Him. Hope this was helpful.
SKEPTIC: I'm a little confused about your distinction between a physical body and a spiritual body. You mentioned eating, but if you have a spiritual body in Heaven, how would you be able to eat food? Wouldn't you need a physical body to do that? Or are you saying that your body becomes physical when it elects to appear, but becomes spiritual when it elects to disappear? (For the record, having the power to appear and disappear at will would be pretty cool. I'll admit that.) But the whole "reigning" thing is a bit unclear. What does that mean, exactly? I mean, who would you be reigning over?
PREACHER: I think you are confused concerning resurrected bodies because you draw an arbitrary distinction between the physical and spiritual that doesn't exist. They are both parts of reality. The "reigning" will be ruling over (taking care of and enjoying) all that God has created.
SKEPTIC: Okay, now you're trying to confuse me just for the fun of it, aren't you? Yes, you're right. I'm drawing a distinction between spiritual and physical bodies. Now you're saying that in Heaven your body will be both spiritual and physical? Seems to me that it's got to be one or the other.
You said that there will be no marriage and no reproducing. Does that mean there will be no sex in Heaven? (If so, that doesn't sound like much of a selling point to me.) Of course, you could only have sex if you had a physical body, and I guess if there's no marriage in Heaven, any sex would be illicit anyway. Man, this is getting to be way too complicated.
You said that Heaven is in a spiritual realm. Does that mean it's not a physical place? Does that mean that "streets of gold" is just a metaphor? Sorry to be so hung up on the whole "spiritual" vs. "physical" thing, but I'm not getting it. I guess what I'm saying is that if I was going to book a trip there, I'd want my travel agent to give me a whole lot more in the way of concrete information.
PREACHER: Keep in mind that telling a physical-only human being about Heaven is like trying to tell a caterpillar what it is like to be a butterfly. That is why I think that there isn't much detailed explanation about Heaven, since we wouldn't understand it anyway. I think you are not getting the "spiritual and physical are both the same reality" thing, because your world view denies the spiritual, or at least tries to place it in the realm of only metaphors and symbols. Even a lot of conservative Christians in America have the same problem. They get a big surprise when they go to some other country and see things happen that they thought were impossible. From a Biblical perspective, the visible physical world is temporary and the spiritual invisible-to-us world is eternal. That makes the invisible spiritual world more real than the visible world. In no way does that imply that the physical world is unimportant. It is made more meaningful as you get to know the spiritual Creator behind it. Anyway, as a Christian I feel comfortable with what Jesus said: that He was going to prepare a place for us. I'm enjoying all the experiences of this life, but know that there will something coming that is beyond my wildest imagination.
Will there be sex there or not? Who knows? Who cares? Who wants a little sugar pill when you can have something that is much better than that? (Caterpillars like to eat leaves and that is all they know. Butterflies eat nectar and it is much sweeter, but caterpillars can't experience that until they change into butterflies.)
SKEPTIC: So there isn't much information in the Bible about Heaven because "we wouldn't understand it anyway?" Sounds like God doesn't give his creatures much credit. So God is saying, "Gee, I'd like to fill you in on exactly what's in store for up here in Heaven, but I'm afraid you're just too dense to get it. Sorry. You're just gonna have to take my word for it that Heaven's a really awesome place."
Here's my bottom line: I think Heaven is a creation of man because over the ages man has always been afraid of death. Religion came along and said, "Don't worry, this is just the first act here on Earth. If you sign up with us and give us 10% of every dollar you make for the rest of your life, we'll go ahead and save a place for you up in Heaven after you shuffle off this mortal coil." And so of course, they had to come up with something pretty awesome to make it sound inviting. "Streets of gold, no sadness, no crying, you get to see your loved ones again..." Who wouldn't want to join that club? Throw in your only other available option, burning in a fiery pit forever, and religion has really got you by the short hairs. I see Heaven as an elaborate fantasy which has served religion pretty well over the centuries. It's a fantasy that many people continue to believe because they desperately want to believe it. Kind of like when you were a child and your parents told you that your beloved dog, who had been killed by a car, was actually living on a beautiful farm out in the country.
PREACHER: Getting back to the caterpillar analogy: Caterpillars have eyes that can only sense the presence of light, so they are practically blind. When it comes to the spiritual, I see like a caterpillar. That is why I trust someone who at least claims to see the spiritual clearly(Jesus Christ). So, are you like a caterpillar with 20/20 vision or are you a one that just can't trust anyone.