I think that one of the biggest problems facing evangelical Christianity in the west is a lack of imagination. Fear seems to be the biggest obstacle. We are afraid to let our minds go in case we get into vain imaginations and get puffed up. So one verse in the Scripture (Colossians 2:18) prevents us from using a God given gift. But without imagination we can get terribly confined in our thinking.
This can particularly apply to how we think about what happens when we die. An unimaginative view puts us immediately in either heaven or hell whereas the Scripture would seem to indicate lots of events before that state is arrived at. It is not that straight forward. First our disembodied spirits go somewhere. I think that somewhere is the same place they go when we worship when we are alive (see my article on the Sea). I’m not sure where those who don’t know how to worship in the Spirit go – perhaps to some holding place like Sheol or Hades (see Luke 16).
Then there is the Lord’s return which I believe happens before His Millennium reign on earth. At that point those who are able to look Him in the eye and those who died in Christ receive their new bodies and reign with Him for the thousand years. Then comes the amazing period of non-time, non-eternity called the Judgement Day when everyone who is not a judge is judged. And then after all that comes the New Heaven and the New Earth.
So it is not simply a case of heaven and hell. Actually it is quite complex. That is not surprising seeing as we are in time and natural 3D space and the events in the hereafter are in eternity and in who knows how many dimensions.
I was walking down by the canal near where I work at lunch time as I often do. There are dragon flies, moorhens, teeming fish (the water was as clear as crystal and you could see every fish), swans and all sorts of plant life. At one stage I looked across at a simple bank of bulrushes all moved by the wind into one lovely pattern.
Any God who can think up that kind of thing – let alone create it – can surely think up even more wonders that will keep us all going for eternity.
Revelation helps – not the book, the experiences- I got a revelation while walking down by the canal. It was simply that I will feel very comfortable in my new body in the new earth and heaven. It will feel very natural (if that makes sense). It was a revelation that came and went again but left behind an impression.
We need revelation, without it we are groping in the dark. Revelation and imagination are inseparable. You can’t have one without the other.