The Permanent Heaven
Dr. Joe Temple


In studying the precious prospect of Heaven, which is indeed a precious thing about which we love to think, we found that it is presented in the Scriptures in three different phases. First, there is Heaven past, as we referred to it. We discovered that Heaven past was at one time in the heart of the earth, in the upper part of an area in the center of the earth known as Sheol . The upper part of Sheol, or Hades, we found described in the Scriptures under the terms Abraham's bosom or Paradise , and we learned that to that area went all the righteous dead before the days of the Cross—all of what we have referred to as the Old Testament saints.

We discovered that not only was there Heaven past, but there is Heaven present, as we have been pleased to designate it. We found that Heaven present is located above. It is called the third Heaven . We found that it was moved from the center of the earth to the third Heaven where God's throne is, so that now instead of talking about going down to the grave as they did in Old Testament times, people talk about being caught up. Instead of individuals' talking about being gathered to their people or sleeping with their fathers as they did in the Old Testament, they talk about being absent from the body and present with the Lord.

Conditions in Present Heaven

We searched our Bible in vain for any detailed description of the place called Heaven . We found that Heaven past and Heaven present, as far as its physical description is concerned, is described in a very meager way in the Word of God. Even though that is true, we learned that the people in Heaven are conscious in that they are not asleep; they are very much aware of what is going on in Heaven. They are comfortable because they are free from all the limitations of earth, and they are cognizant in the sense that they recognize the Lord Jesus Christ in Heaven; they recognize one another, and in a measure, they know what is going on on the earth beneath.

The Heavenly Jerusalem

The third phase of Heaven remains yet to be discussed. We want to talk with you now about the permanent Heaven—the permanent Heaven which God has prepared for all those who are His own. Turn, please, to the book of Hebrews, chapter 12, that you may notice one of the terms by which this permanent Heaven is described. It is a term which we have seen before, but we emphasize these terms that you may rightly relate them to the phase of Heaven which is under consideration. In verse 22, we read:

Hebrews 12:

22But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels,

Notice the phrase, “the city of the living God,” and more particularly the phrase, “the heavenly Jerusalem.” These phrases designate the permanent Heaven of which the Bible speaks. Turn, please, to the book of Revelation, chapter 21, and notice another reference to the permanent Heaven:

Revelation 21:

1And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea.
2And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.

Notice in verse 2 the phrase, “the new Jerusalem,” because this is another designation of the permanent Heaven. It is called “the heavenly Jerusalem” and “the new Jerusalem.”

Turn back to chapter 20 of the book of Revelation and notice another phrase which we must consider if we are to understand everything the Bible has to say about this permanent Heaven. In verse 9, when the battle which is to occur at the end of the Millennium is described, we read:

Revelation 20:

9And they went up on the breadth of the earth, and compassed the camp of the saints about, and the beloved city: and fire came down from God out of heaven, and devoured them.

Hovering Above the Earth

“The beloved city” in verse 9 refers to the earthly city of Jerusalem with which many of you are familiar, but which will be renovated during the millennial reign of Christ. “The camp of the saints” is another name for the permanent Heaven, the new Jerusalem. During the millennial reign of Christ, this new Jerusalem will hover above the millennial earth. You and I, and others who have died before us and who will die after us, or who will be raptured at the coming of the Lord, will be the occupants of this new Jerusalem, and we will come and go as we discharge our responsibilities on the earth. We will come through the millennial heavens to the millennial earth for the glory of our God in our surrendered service to Him.

A New Earth

This new Jerusalem is related to “all things new.” The word new is a translation of the Greek word kainos , which speaks of something that is fresh and different—something that has not been before. You remember we read in the first verse of chapter 21 of the book of Revelation that related to this new Jerusalem there will be new earth surrounded by new atmospheric heavens. Glance again at Revelation, chapter 21:

Revelation 21:

1And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away;…

Yes, this globe upon which we stand today and the atmospheric heavens around it will someday be destroyed, and God will create in their place a new earth surrounded by new atmospheric heavens. You say, “Of what importance is that to us in a discussion of the permanent Heaven?” The importance lies in the fact that this permanent Heaven, suspended in the heavens, will someday come down and rest upon this new earth as the most glorious, wonderful city any earth has ever known. Notice verses 9 and 10 as John speaks of the permanent Heaven which is before us:

Revelation 21:

9And there came unto me one of the seven angels which had the seven vials full of the seven last plagues, and talked with me, saying, Come hither, I will shew thee the bride, the Lamb's wife.
10And he carried me away in the spirit to a great and high mountain, and shewed me that great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God,

Notice that last phase, “descending out of heaven from God.” Yes, descending to this new earth which God will create. Did you notice another name for this permanent Heaven? It is “the holy Jerusalem.” And yet another name—“the bride, the Lamb's wife.” What a unique name for a city, yet not so unique if you recognize that the city is named for its occupants. As the earthly Jerusalem was the home of Israel, the bride of Jehovah, so the new Jerusalem will be the home of the Church, the bride of the Lamb, the bride of the Lord Jesus Christ.

The permanent Heaven is designated then in no uncertain terms, but it cannot mean too much to us unless we know a little about it. We want to notice the description of this permanent Heaven which is presented in the Word of God. May I say to begin with that the description is presented in literal terms, it is presented in comparative terms, and it is presented in terms of contrast. All three—the literal description, the comparison and the contrast—will help us to understand with these finite minds of ours only in a measure what this permanent Heaven will be like.

Literal Terms to Describe Heaven

As we look at the description presented in literal terms, we would have you notice chapter 21, verse 16:

Revelation 21:

16And the city lieth foursquare, and the length is as large as the breadth: and he measured the city with the reed, twelve thousand furlongs. The length and the breadth and the height of it are equal.

In our study of the book of Revelation, we have established beyond all doubt that we should take what we find in the book of Revelation literally unless we are told that it is a figure of speech. This passage of Scripture is interpreted as representing a literal city which is a perfect cube, fifteen hundred miles long, fifteen hundred miles broad, and fifteen hundred miles high. This is a tremendous city. Let your minds try to grasp everything that is related to a city as wonderful as this.

If you will glance at verse 12, you will see that this city is surrounded by a wall:

Revelation 21:

12And had a wall great and high, and had twelve gates within that wall,…

If you will glance at verse 17, you will discover the height of that wall because the angel measured the wall and found it to be “an hundred and forty and four cubits, according to the measure of a man”—that is, of the angel.

The Wall Around the City

Cubits translated into inches and inches into feet reveal that this wall was 216 feet high, all around the city which was a perfect cube. We discover that this city, as far as its permanency is concerned, is further revealed as a city with more than one foundation. Remember that the Old Testament saints were given a vision of this city, and it is recorded that they looked for a city which had foundations—plural—whose builder and maker was God (Hebrews 11:10-=14). In verse 14 we read:

Revelation 21:

14And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and in them the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.

In verse 19 we read:

Revelation 21:

19And the foundations of the wall of the city were garnished with all manner of precious stones…

The foundations of the city had written upon them the names of the twelve apostles, and the foundations were garnished with all manner of precious stones. It would be beyond the scope of this immediate discussion to think with you about the significance of the names and of the stones. Suffice it to say that this but indicates the beauty of the city which will be described even more later. The wall under which these foundations lay had twelve gates, and if you look at verse 21, you will find that each of these gates was one big pearl. If you will glance at verse 25, you will discover that the gates will not be shut at any time, day or night—certainly not at night because there is no night there. You will discover in verse 27 that no unclean thing will ever enter through those gates.

You may be wondering why there would need to be a wall and gates, and why there would need to be any mention of the gates being open or shut. Keep in mind that this permanent Heaven is going to rest upon this new earth, which will be peopled by new people. Those new people will have the opportunity of coming in to this new Jerusalem for the worship and adoration of the king. It will not be their permanent home. The earth will be theirs, but our home will be in the city. If you will let your sanctified imagination be exercised even a little bit, you can think how wonderful it will be to be in this new Jerusalem on a new earth which has never been tainted or marred by sin in any fashion whatsoever. Everything that is unlovely and everything that causes pain and sorrow today is related to sin.

A Comparative Description

That suggests that we describe the city further, by passing from the literal to the comparative description which is presented in this portion of the Word. Notice verse 11:

Revelation 21:

11Having the glory of God: and her light was like unto a stone most precious, even like a jasper stone, clear as crystal;

Keep in mind that John was on the earth, and he had the vantage point of seeing this city come down from God out of Heaven. He was impressed by the fact that it was like a great, precious stone—to his mind a jasper stone, clear as crystal. As he watched it descend from God out of Heaven, the glory of God within the city shone through the very city itself, the very walls of the city; and John said, “It looks like a great jasper stone suspended in the heavens.” I don't know that I can comprehend that, for I have never seen a jasper stone that large, but John said, “That is what it looks like to me.”

We spoke to you a few moments ago of what was literal. We speak to you now of what is described by way of comparison. He did not say it was a jasper stone; he said it looked as if it were a jasper stone. Something else he described by way of comparison was the gold which was used in this eternal city:

Revelation 21:

18And the building of the wall of it was of jasper [that we have already learned]: and the city was pure gold, like unto clear glass.

Made of Pure Gold

The gold is literal. The buildings are made out of it. Every bit of construction is made out of it. But when John tried to describe the gold, he said it was pure gold—something that most of us have never seen. He said this pure gold was like unto clear glass. That is something else that I cannot comprehend, but I am looking forward to the day when I can enjoy the sight of this permanent Heaven so beautifully presented in the Word. Not only were the buildings made out of pure gold, but the street of the city was pure gold. That is literal. Here is the comparison: as it were transparent glass.

We put gold in appropriate places today, but in Heaven you will be able to walk on it. It won't be the ordinary gold that is alloyed with other metals as you see upon the earth today, but gold as clear as glass. Are you noticing the emphasis that the Spirit of God puts on the purity of the materials which are used in Heaven? Look at chapter 22 and notice verses 1 and 2 for another comparative description:

Revelation 22:

1And he shewed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb.
2In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.

A Pure River of Water

Or more accurately, “for the health of the nations.” You see, God is making provision for the new people on the new earth, that they may live forever, as He made provision for Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. As Adam and Eve ate of the tree of life in the Garden of Eden and could have lived forever had they not been shut out of the Garden, so the people on the new earth will be able to enter this new Jerusalem and to feed upon the fruits of the tree which grows on either side of the river of the water of life, itself as clear as crystal, and live forever.

We have never seen clear water in the strictest sense of the word. Sometimes if we are privileged to be in some mountainous area and see a mountain stream, we can tell the difference between this and rivers which have been made dirty as the results of men's mistakes or puddles in which water has been caught because we don't have enough to get by. In Heaven there is a river that will never be muddy, a river that will never lower in its depth, a river that will always be the same. This is but another way of God's describing in comparative terms what Heaven will be like.

No Temple Building

I want to pass to another description of Heaven which is presented in terms which contrast Heaven with the life that we live on this earth, terms which indicate that a number of things in Heaven are going to be noticeable by their absence. For example, if you will look at verse 22, when John was describing the city, he said:

Revelation 21:

22And I saw no temple therein:…

That is, there will be no house of worship in Heaven. There is one in the present Heaven to which heavenly creatures go now. The temple on the earth in the Old Testament and the Tabernacle in the wilderness were built according to specifications, patterned after the temple that is in Heaven. In this new Jerusalem there will be no temple, no place of worship. The reason is given in verse 22:

Revelation 21:

23And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof.

Notice verse 25:

Revelation 21:

25And the gates of it shall not be shut at all by day: for there shall be no night there.

No Need of Sun or Moon

No sun, no moon. In the new Heaven which God will create, He will not create another sun or another moon. There will be no need for them. If you read the story of the restoration of the earth as it is recorded in the book of Genesis, you will remember that the reason that the Lord Jesus Christ put the sun and the moon in the heavens was for the benefit of people on the earth, that we might have light by day and light by night. There will be no need of that in Heaven; the glory of God will be the light of the city. It will be one eternal day. Closely associated with this, as we have noticed already, there will be no night there. This was mentioned in verse 25, and it is also referred to in verse 4:

Revelation 21:

4And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.
5And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful.

There will be no night there for the reason we have already emphasized. There will be no sun, no moon; the glory of God will be the light of the city. But I think there is another reason. Nights are not very pleasant, are they? People who have emotional problems are content, at least in a measure, during the day; but, oh, when the night comes, how fearful they can be. Individuals who have physical problems hate to see night come because they toss, they turn, on their beds. As the Psalmist said, they long for the morning (Psalm 130:5,6). The night in the Word of God has always been used as a symbol of that which is evil and terrible. You remember that when Judas betrayed the Lord, he went out and it was night (John 13:30), not only literally but figuratively. Since Heaven is what it is, there can be no night there.

No Discomfort

If you will keep in mind what we have just read in verse 4, you will realize by way of contrast that there will be no time of discomfort of any sort. Look again at verse 4:

Revelation 21:

4And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes;…

Yes, when folk get to Heaven, they will still have some tears. Yes, even in this permanent Heaven, folk will have some tears at the very beginning. You may wonder why and you may even question it, but we suggest to you that it is significant that the tears are not wiped away until this permanent Heaven is established. I am going to suggest to you that I feel that one of the reasons tears will be in Heaven is related to the Judgment Seat of Christ. The Judgment Seat of Christ is for believers, not for sinners. No, you will not be judged for your sins there—that was settled at Calvary—but your works will be evaluated. Your efforts for Christ will be evaluated. We are very plainly told in the Scriptures that some of the things which are done in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ will be burned up because they are nothing more than wood, hay and stubble (I Corinthians 3:12). The things which are represented by gold, silver and precious stones will remain.

We are told that some will see most of what they have done during all their Christian lives go up in smoke; some will see some remain. It is difficult for me to believe that I could stand at the Judgment Seat of Christ and see what I thought was done for Him and for His glory, see what I thought was done for the welfare of mankind, go up in a puff of smoke and not be overwhelmed by a sense of remorse and regret. I believe that is why some of the tears will come, but God will wipe them away. Look again at the verse:

Revelation 21:

4…and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying,…

No More Death

These three seem to go together. I don't know how many of you have lost loved ones; I don't know how many of you have had to stand beside the casket in which rested the body of someone who was very dear to you. Of course there was sorrow; there was crying; it is normal. How wonderful it is to meditate upon the fact of Heaven permanent and know that never again will you have to attend a funeral service.

I don't keep records of what I do. I know some of my preacher brethren can tell me how many funeral services they have held, and it is quite an impressive list, but I don't keep the record. I have held a great many funeral services in nearly thirty years of preaching, but I cannot go to a funeral service yet and officiate—I am using the term that is commonly used—without tears. The hardest days I have in the ministry are the days when I have to conduct a funeral service. I conduct funeral services for people whom you folk do not know and even I do not know. One of the saddest things I have ever had to do was when I conducted services for a man who was buried in a pauper's grave. The county paid for the burial in a simple wooden box, buried in a part of the cemetery that we had to walk to. I stood there and wept as much as the family wept because my heart was breaking to think that not only had death touched this family, but they had so little of what this life has to offer. I am not saying all of that to draw attention to myself. Forget me, and get the point of what I am trying to say: To me, it is going to be Heaven not to have to go to another funeral. That in itself will be Heaven for me. Did you notice what else it says there:

Revelation 21:

4…neither shall there be any more pain:…

You have suffered pain, some of you. Some of God's dear children have suffered so much pain that I hesitate to say that I have suffered any of any kind. Heaven will be the place where all the pain will be gone.

Former Things are Passed Away

I love the last phrase of this verse, for it sort of puts the capstone on everything for me. It takes care of anything that might have been left out. Did you notice it says:

Revelation 21:

4…for the former things are passed away.

This does not mean that you won't know your loved ones in Heaven. This does not mean that you won't enjoy fellowship. We have already dealt with that. It simply means that everything related to this earth that brought pain, everything related to this earth that brought suffering, you will not remember. The former things will be passed away and not be brought to mind. I don't know about you, but there are some things in the life I have lived here on this earth that I am trying to forget. I know the exhortation of the Apostle Paul, “Forgetting those things which are behind, and pressing on toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 3:13). It is one thing to be exhorted to forget; it is another thing to be able to forget. Thank God, I have the assurance that, even though they do pop into my mind every now and then and I try to shut them out, it is all under the Blood. Thank God, in Heaven I will never remember one of those things that I would like to forget. That is Heaven.

Lest you think you are going to float around on a cloud strumming a harp, I'd like to suggest to you that Heaven is described in terms of what I call human interest . It is described literally; it is described comparatively; it is described by way of contrast; it is described in terms of human interest. Notice Revelation, chapter 22, verse 4:

Revelation 22:

4And they shall see his face; and his name shall be in their foreheads.

Now notice verse 3:

Revelation 22:

3And there shall be no more curse: but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it; and his servants shall serve him:

Serving Christ

My, let your sanctified imagination revolve around that word serve. I don't know that you would ever be able to plumb the depths of it. There are men in the medical field who spend their lives trying to learn certain things related to God's nature and creation. They cannot plumb the depths of it now because their minds are finite, but they will be able to, I think, in this permanent Heaven. You could make that application in any number of ways. Did you notice in verse 4:

Revelation 22:

4And they shall see his face;…

I think one of the occupations in Heaven will be knowing the Lord Jesus Christ. I say to folk, “I know Him.” I know Him as my Savior, but I don't really know Him. I don't know Him in all of the ways in which I expect to know Him when I stand in His presence someday. Look at verse 5:

Revelation 22:

5And there shall be no night there; and they need no candle, neither light of the sun; for the Lord God giveth them light: [and notice] and they shall reign for ever and ever.

Assurance of Heaven

The occupation of the redeemed in glory will be reigning over the new nations which occupy the new earth. I believe I have said in one of these discourses that when I first came to know the Lord, on the night I was born again I made a statement, and I made the same statement several times after that. I did not know anything about the Bible and I did not know that little theologically, but it expressed the way I felt. I said to my folks when I went home that night, “I have found Jesus Christ as my Savior, and I am going to Heaven, and nothing is going to stop me.” Theologically, I did not have anything to worry about, if I had only known it. I still feel that same way. I am going to Heaven, and nothing is going to stop me. I would not let anything stand in my way of being in this eternal home—anything this world has to offer—and I hope none of you will ever let anything stand in your way.

Do you have the assurance of Heaven as your home? If you don't have that assurance, you may have it. I could give you many passages of Scripture. I will give you just one; listen to it carefully:

John 1:

12But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:

Christ died for your sins according to the Scriptures (I Corinthians 15:3). He died that the gates of Heaven might remain open for you. If you will believe upon Him, you will have the assurance of a home in Heaven.

If you do not have that assurance, will you say something like this? “God, I know I am a sinner. I do believe Jesus Christ died for me. I know I cannot save myself and this moment I do receive the Lord Jesus Christ as my Savior, and I thank You for saving me.” If you will pray a prayer like that in your heart, God will hear you and save you through the death of His Son. I would not want anyone to miss Heaven.

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