12 February 2021

Storing Up Treasure in Heaven

The Bible has very little to say about Hell. When it does, it is in parable, allegory, or metaphor. In fact, there's only one clear reference to what modern Christians would recognize as Hell, and it is in one of Jesus' parables (Luke 16:19-31).The Bible says so little about Hell that there are many Christians who do not believe it to be sound biblical teaching to affirm its existence.

In contrast, the Bible refers to Heaven hundreds of times. A biblical justification for Heaven is easy, and yet there are some Christians who also do not believe in Heaven. What is even more clear, in fact it was proclaimed by Jesus numerous times and is recorded in every gospel, is that there will be a "resurrection of the dead." Much like the pharoahs of old, we Christians are storing for ourselves "treasures in heaven" (Matt 6:19-21). Just like our resurrected bodies will be different than our bodies in this life, so too will our treasures.

There is no point burying ourselves with precious treasures, or even collecting them in this life. John tells us in his Revelation that the streets of the new Jerusalem will be paved with gold. The treasures of the resurrection are not like the treasures of this life. The most precious treasures we can imagine are mere cobblestones in the Kingdom of Heaven. Instead of storing gold, Jesus tells us to "bear fruit" (John 15:5) and Paul tells us exactly what virtues we will "grow" in the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23). These are the treasures we store for ourselves in Heaven for that day of resurrection.

Imagine that there were no Heaven or Hell, and that at the end of time, all the people who have ever lived would be resurrected. Then all the treasure we had saved in life, all our virtues, the new currency of the new Jerusalem, would be given back to us so we could make our homes in that bright city. We know that Lazarus would have more treasure than "the rich man" (Luke 16:19-31). Just like that rich man, there would be people who are poor, who had led despicable lives and who most people would agree truly deserve a place like Hell. I find it difficult to believe God would agree.

God is full of mercy and compassion (Psalm 145:8-9). It is God's way to forgive (Micah 7:18-19). When we were lost, God sent his son to die to bring us the gospel of his grace (Hebrews 2:17-18). There is no Hell because it is not in God's nature to condemn. God is a parent to humanity, guiding, correcting, sometimes chastising, but God will not cut us off for eternity. Like the father of the prodigal, he is waiting at the door for his lost child to come home (Luke 15:11-32).

The One True Living God is a generous god. As you store fruit for the day of harvest, remember to put aside a little extra for your poor neighbor down the street. Who in heaven could let their neighbor go hungry, or cold, while they are rich? That isn't how God's kingdom will be, not because we all have the same amount, and not because none are poor, but because all will be generous, just like their creator.

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