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"Top Shelf Christianity" -
A handbook to becoming a Christian

"but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ,
the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name." Jn.20:31

Chapter One
Heaven Bound………........................………  by ric justiss

Some of the ole favorite songs of Christian worshipers throughout the  ages have
been songs of heaven.  Most all of the traditional songs  make reference, in one way or
another, to heaven.   But some of those songs have heaven as its entire subject; “Sing
To Me of Heaven,”
“How Beautiful Heaven Must Be,” and “Heaven Holds All to Me.”  
This is, by the way, one of the greatest subjects of the Bible.

The time is coming when our time here on earth will be over, and we will be moving on
from this world to the next.  Of course everyone wants to go to heaven, but the reward
for good living seems so distant and far removed.  Because the reward for good living
is not more immediate, we lack the motivation to
“continue in the faith.” Acts 14:22   
We constantly and repeatedly have to be encouraged and pushed, as Paul said to
Christians of old,
“My beloved brethren, be ye steadfast, unmovable, always
abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in
vain in the Lord. ICor. 15:58

I believe that once we grasp what heaven really is, what heaven is all about, then, and
only then, heaven will be in our heart, heaven will be on our mind, and heaven will be
the goal branded in our day to day life.  When you think of heaven, what do you think

Maybe you think about the sky, or space.  That’s what a lot of people think about.  
Because often that is the way we use the word.  Perhaps you don’t think much about
heaven, one way or another.  A lot of people evidently don’t.  There is reason to
believe, though, that it would do us all good, if we would take time out and meditate
and think and learn a little bit about heaven.  Paul said
“If you then be risen with Christ,
seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set
your affections on things above, not on things on the earth.” Colossians 3:1,2


If you think about heaven, from a Bible standpoint, you will think of a number of words
that are somewhat synonymous, at least they are used in the place of heaven.  
Sometimes we speak of going to heaven, and sometimes we use other words in the
place of heaven. For example the word Glory is a great word.  And it is sometimes used
as a substitute for heaven.  We sing about it.  “I’m in the glory-land way.”  “I’m on my
way to glory.”  “Oh What a Taste of Glory Divine.” The Bible says about Jesus,
was manifest in the flesh, justified in the spirit, seen by angels, preached among the
Gentiles, Believed on in the world, received up into glory.”  1Timothy 3:16
 The Apostle
Peter identified himself not only as an elder, not only as a witness of the sufferings of  
Christ, but also a
 “partaker of the glory that shall be revealed.” 1 Peter 5:1   Peter, for a
moment in his life on earth, was a partaker of that glory when he went upon the Mt. of  
Transfiguration with Jesus. Matthew 17.   The Bible says,
“Jesus has not entered into
the holy places made with hands,… but into heaven itself.” Hebrews 9:24
 He entered
into heaven itself.  He entered into Glory.

Life, Abundant and Rich

The word Life is sometimes substituted for glory and heaven.  
“Godliness has the
promise of the life that now is and that which is to come.” 1 Timothy 4:8
     Paul, as an
Apostle of Jesus Christ, by the will of God, according to the promise of Life which is in
Christ Jesus.  2 Timothy 1:1
  We are alive now, but there is a promise of Life.  As I
understand it though, the Life we are promised in Christ Jesus is not just a technical
life of conscious existence.  We say a person is alive if he exists and is conscious.  But
it is more than that.  It is more than just a long duration or period of time where a
person is awake or conscious.  Jesus said,
“I am come that they might have life and
that they might have it more abundantly.” John 10:10
 That’s a lot of it. But not just a lot
of it in distance or space, but in quality. Eternal Life. A rich life as well as a long life.

A Place

I imagine most of us, when we use the word heaven, or think of heaven, we think of a
place, don’t we?  It’s pretty hard not to imagine heaven as a location, or a sphere of
existence, because we contrast in with earth.  We are on earth and God is in Heaven,
this is one place and that is another place.  But  what kind of place is it?

If you think of heaven as a place where we might one day live, in glory, what kind of
place is it going to be?  I am not sure God could tell us really.  And I am not limiting
God, but limiting us. I’m not sure he could tell us in a way that we could understand,
because we are really talking about another dimension of existence.  And if there is
another dimension of existence that we have never experienced, it would be awfully
difficult to explain it where we could understand it.  We live on one level.  Suppose you
only  had the sense of taste and you didn’t have the sense of hearing or of sight.  Do
you suppose someone could convey to you what it means to hear?  Or what it means
to see?  If you had never heard a sound in your whole life, how could a person explain
to you what it was like to hear?  There are no words.  There would be no way to
convey the information, except by comparison.

So what we have in the Bible is, ….Heaven is like this and Heaven is like that.  We have
some images that give us at least a glimpse of another existence.

A Beautiful City, A Great City

Heaven, as a place, is portrayed in the scriptures, as a city.  The Hebrew writer, talking
about Abraham said,
“By faith he sojourned in the land of promise as in a foreign
country, dwelling in tents with Issac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same
promise, for he waited for a city  which has foundations, whose builder and maker is
God.” Hebrews 11: 9, 10
  Later he said, talking to Christians about Christians, “For we
have no continuing city, but we seek the one to come.” Hebrews 13: 14
looked for a city, one with foundations, whose builder and maker was God.  We seek
the same city.  We understand that there are many great cities in the world.  Some of
them are in foreign countries.  Maybe you have been to some of them.  There is
London, Paris, Rome (The Eternal City), and there are great cities in this country,
beautiful cities I am told.  New York City, Chicago, Philadelphia, Los Angeles.  You can
go to these cities, and they are beautiful in spots.  You can look at the sky
scrapers…the parks…the gardens…the beautiful homes, manicured to perfection, but
every one of these cities, no matter how beautiful it is, or how pretty it shows up on the
brochures attracting the tourists, has it’s ugly side.  All of the great cities you can think
of, you can go there and find the dirty, filthy part, and the dangerous part where the
criminals are.

But we are talking about a special kind of city.  Assuming this is what John had in
mind, he said,
“He carried me away in the Spirit to a great and high mountain, and
showed me the great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God,
having the glory of God.  And her light was like a most precious stone, like a jasper
stone, clear as crystal.” Revelations 21:10
 And then he proceeded to tell about that
city.  It had 12 gates, and at the gates were 12 angels.  The foundations of the city
garnished with all manner of precious stones, and he named the stones.  The City was
measured, exactly perfect.  It was four square, as broad as it was long, 12,000
furlongs.  The wall was 144 cubits.  The wall of the city was made of Jasper and the
street was made of pure gold.  Can you imagine a city that has streets of gold?  Have
you ever been to a town that has brick streets?  Have you seen those gold bricks they
keep in Ft. Knox?  We are talking about streets of solid gold.  We cannot even imagine
such a city.  

He not only described it in these terms, he went on to say the city had no need of the
sun to shine in it, or the moon, because God is the light of it, and The Lamb is the light
thereof. The gates shall not be shut at all by day and there shall be no night there.
Have you ever been to a great city at night?  They look real attractive in the daytime,
but at night they are shut down.  They close the doors of the buildings and everything
is locked up, because when night descends that is when it gets more dangerous.  But
this is a City where there will never be a setting of the sun.  No night!

But that is not the best part.  Can you imagine a city without crime?  A city without the
need of a police force?  It is further described,
“There shall by no means enter in
anything that defiles, or causes an abomination or a lie.”
 There will not be any bad
people in this city.  It’s a beautiful city.  That is the city we sing about.

A Better Country

The scriptures enlarge on this idea of heaven and glory as a city, and compares it to a
country.  After talking about the likes of Noah and Abraham and Sarah it says,
all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and
were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers
and pilgrims on the earth. For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a
country.”  Hebrews 11: 13-14
 God has prepared a city, and God has prepared a

There is a preacher, a missionary, who lives in another country, far removed from ours,
and there is no comparison between the two.  The preacher was telling about going
deep into a remote isolated area of Africa, and he made the remark, that after he
preached Jesus, one of the people asked the question, “Have the people in America
heard about Jesus?”  They were inquiring whether we had received the word or not.  
Do you know what that tells me?  They don’t know anything about this country.  The
people are so far removed that they have no concept of what things are like over here.  
Now, there are some people over there educated, and they have heard of our country,
but I couldn’t help but think of the contrast of the poor natives, whether living in the
middle of  Africa, or in China, India, or down south in some isolated village in Mexico; if
they have heard of America, do you know what this country is like to them?  It’s like
heaven!  They would probably be singing if they thought they would be coming here
some day, “how beautiful America must be.”  “Sweet home of the happy and free.”
Because they are not happy or free either one.   Those people look upon America as
the promised land.  That is why the authorities have to guard our borders.  You talk
about, “on Jordan’s stormy banks I stand and cast a wishful eye, Canaan's fair and
happy land.”  They look over into the promised land and would give anything they
have, anything in the world, to come to the land that flows with milk and honey.  They
have to patrol the borders to keep them out.  Some people leave everything they have
behind, their belongings, their family, everything, to get in here.

That’s the way we need to feel about Heaven.  There is that much difference between
the country we live in and the Country that is said to be a
“better country.” Hebrews
11: 16
  A heavenly country.  If those natives, one morning woke up over here, they
would think they died and went to heaven, if they had the kind of life we have.

But that is precisely why we don’t think too much about heaven.  Because we have it
so good.  We’ve got a piece of it.  We live such a good life.   We have so many good
things.  I don’t know of anyone, anywhere, who has it better, generally. We have all of
the creature comforts.  And sometimes we get to thinking there is no place better than
this one.  And we are right, as far as this world is concerned. But what I am saying is
there is a country better than this one.  There is a place infinitely better than this one.  
Jesus said,
“I go to prepare a place for you, and if I go and prepare a place for you I will
come again and receive you unto myself that where I am you may be also.” John 14:3
He later said,
“Father, I desire that they also whom you have given me may be with me
where I am.” John 17:24
  Jesus went to Heaven.  

A Whole New World

So he has prepared a place infinitely better.  A city better than any city on earth. And a
country better than any country you have ever heard of.  But then he expands the idea
of heaven as a place and compares it to a whole new world.  John went on to say,
saw a new heaven and a new earth.  For the first heaven and first earth had passed
away.  And there was no more sea.” Revelations 21: 1
 This is a brand new world.  God
created the heavens and earth in Genesis 1.  But John said the first earth and first
heavens are passed away.  He that sat upon the throne said,
“behold I create all things

No Sadness, No Death, No Pain

What kind of world will it be?  He went on to say,
“God shall wipe away every tear from  
their eyes.  There shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying, and there shall be no
more pain, for the former things are passed away.” Revelations 21
  How many nights
have you cried because of pain, because of heartbreak, because of death, because of
unfulfilled dreams?  We are talking about a place where we will go to live, and we will
never experience sorrow or sadness or pain or death again.  Peter put it this way,
according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth
righteousness.” 2 Peter 3:13
 There will not be any unrighteousness there.  Not just a
city without crime, but a whole world absent of unrighteousness in it.

I don’t think we can imagine such a place, really.  I thought of Columbus who sailed the
ocean and discovered a new world, a new country, and he went back to spread the
news of a brand new world.  And the people from the old countries got on little boats
and fought the treacherous seas and sailed to this new world.  There were not any
angels waiting on the shores to welcome them.  They were coming to a new world that
held out the prospects of a better life.  The world they left behind was not a good one
for them.  

What if a modern Columbus came back and told us of a better world.  No taxes.  No
death.  No crime.  “I’ve found a new continent and you won’t believe it.”  “The people
there are content, they are happy and they are free.  No one there suffers from any
cause.  There are not any bad people there.  There is no unrighteousness at all.  And
the city, you wouldn’t believe it, the streets are paved with gold, and as clear as glass.  
The walls are made of jasper.  It is perfect in every way.”  Put that in a brochure.

A New Heavenly Body

There is one other aspect though about heaven that is very important.  We also have in
the scriptures in connection with heaven the idea of a brand new body.  Because
when you think about it, what good would it do to go to such a place, with this kind of
body that we live in now?  What is the most beautiful place you have ever been to?  We
go on vacation.  Pick out a place, the most beautiful place you can think of.  But when
you get there, if you are deathly sick at your stomach, or if you have an illness or
infirmity and you feel just rotten, you are not going to enjoy it very much.  Even if the
streets are paved with gold.  This body gets us by for a while.  I hope it will carry me
around for a while longer.  But there will come a time, even in this world, when this
body will not sustain me, any more than your body will sustain you.  Paul said,
know that if our earthly house is destroyed, we have a building of God, a house not
made with hands, eternal in the heavens.” 2 Corthinians 5
 He was speaking of our
physical body. We live in a temporary dwelling, but when it folds up we will have a
permanent dwelling, prepared by God for us to live in.

What kind of body will it be?  All I know is it will not be this kind of body.
“So also is the
resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption, raised in incorruption, sown in
dishonor, raised in glory. Sown in weakness, raised in power. Sown a natural body,
raised a Spiritual Body.” 1 Corthinians 15:42
 He contrasts the body we now have with
what we will have.  All I know is that it will be a body on a higher level, and of a higher
quality than the one we have now.  It will be glorious.  It will be strong and spiritual.  It
will never wear out or corrupt.  And it is the kind of body you could enjoy being in
paradise in. Isn’t it?

We Will Be Like Him

“Now we are the children of God, it doth not yet appear what we shall be but we know
when he shall appear, we shall be like him.” 1 John 3:2

“Our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord
Jesus, who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His Glorious
Body.” Philippians 3:20-21

Even with all of the images given to us, I’m not sure we still understand what Heaven
will be like.  We know it is different.  It is better.  It is splendid and wonderful.

“The sons of this age marry and are given in marriage.  But those who are counted
worthy to attain that age and the resurrection of the dead neither marry  nor or given in
marriage, nor can they die anymore, for they are equal to the angels.” Luke 20.

We will be equal to the angels.  That’s all I know.  We will be living on a higher plane
than we are now.  Jesus said,
“Lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where
neither moth nor rust doth corrupt and where thieves do not break through and steal.”
Matthew 6:19-20
 That is the kind of world it will be.


I think we need in our life today, no matter how good or bad it may be temporarily, a
glimpse of heaven.  And we need a realistic prospect that we might make it there.  And
we need to understand that Jesus loves us.  He loves us. And  if we will love him, learn
more about him and become a disciple of his and learn to follow after him, he is saving
a mansion for us in Heaven. We must be strong and resist the temptations of the world
and become spiritual. We need to stay focused on Heaven, and committed to following
Jesus.  If we are committed to this goal, we have an inheritance, a reward. A place in
glory, a rich and abundant life, a new city, a beautiful city, a new country, a brand new
world, undefiled and uncorrupted.  He is saving for us a new glorious body to robe us
in, and a new mansion for us to live.

We can do it!  Each day let’s keep thoughts of  heaven in our mind and in our heart. Let
the hope of being in heaven direct our lives, our decisions and our choices.  Let’s be
focused, determined and, like a traveler set on his destination, be a person Heaven-

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his
abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of
Jesus Christ from the dead. To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that
fadeth not away, reserved in Heaven for you.” 1 Peter 3-5

“Let not your heart be troubled. You believe in God, believe also in Me.  In my Father’s
House are many mansions.  If it were not so, I would have told you.  I go to prepare a
place for you.   And If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive
you unto myself.  That where I am, there you may be also.” John 14:1