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Life in heaven sounds downright boring, if some descriptions are to be believed. In my boyhood, psalms were sung very slowly in church, and I thought heaven was like that—a place where one sat on hard benches all day long and sang Dutch Psalms. I was not enthralled. Huck Finn thought heaven was a place where a person would "go around all day long with a harp and sing, forever and forever."

This future life is often seen as an eternal existence without bodies. Also, it is thought of as "above," somewhere off in space, far removed from this earth—an escape, in fact.

Some hymns suggest this (and people often learn more of their theology from hymns than from sermons). "We're marching through Immanuel's ground / To fairer worlds on high" (Isaac Watts). Heaven is "Where the harps of angels ring, / And the blest forever sing" (H. E. Blair). And this heaven is a place of rest, we are told; work is restricted to these present evil days. "Be not aweary, for labor will cease some glad morning; / Turmoil will change to infinite peace, some glad morning" (Charlotte Homer).

Are we then to spend eternity in space, disembodied spirits who flit from cloud to cloud, plucking golden harps in an endless day off? We can agree with the element of truth in these teachings: Paul tells us that when he dies he will go to be with Christ (Phil. 1:23), who has now been taken up into heaven (Acts 1:11). And he also says that this state is "away from the body and at home with the Lord" (2 Cor. 5:8).

But, and here is the critical point, this will be a temporary existence—one where we shall eagerly await the resurrection of the body to take place on the last day, at Jesus' second coming.

Resurrected bodies are not intended just to float in space, or to flit ...

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June 2003

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