March 11, 2022 Daniel Harrison

Greater Than The Garden pt. 1: Heaven is Here

Daniel Harrison | Church 212 | 6m read

This blog is part 1 of a writing series, Greater Than The Garden. Subscribe here and never miss a post!


Ever wish you could just escape?

The global pandemic has been one of the most chaotic and uncertain times of our lives. I feel like it might have been a little divisive too.

If you’re like me, you’re ready to move past all this already. I have long been tired of all the political divisiveness, relationship disagreements, and just the plain craziness of the pandemic. I asked my church recently, “How many of you are tired of the three P’s: the pandemic, politics, and people?”

You’ll be surprised by this, but nearly everyone raised their hand. 1

My wife and I had an opportunity to finally get away in September 2021. I had a trip planned to Hawaii, but my entire family got Covid 10 days before our trip. We were all like one day away from a negative test. But nope, didn’t make it in time.

Do you ever feel like you want to just escape? Take a vacation? Experience something better than what you have now? Of course, we all do. You know, the reason we have a desire to vacate, buy houses, and discover some paradise is because we were made for such a place.

It used to be called the Garden of Eden before the Fall of Mankind. And we’ve been chasing paradise ever since.

The only message I’ll ever teach

This year I became lead pastor of Church 212, where I have previously been leading the worship program for the last 13 years. Now that I’m in this position, I have one objective. One message really.

The central concept of my entire pastoral tenure is about an environment far greater than the Garden. It is the the present reality of the Kingdom of God among us.

That’s pretty much the only thing I’m teaching. What a joy it will be to spend years upon years unpacking the many facets of this central message of Jesus. “And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached throughout the world, so that all nations will hear it; and then the end will come” (Matthew 24:14).

The word Kingdom means, “rule.” It’s not a geographical kingdom but a spiritual kingdom under his reign. It’s only experienced with the understanding and practice that salvation, which means “life,” is more than mere forgiveness of sins, a false narrative that has plagued Christian culture from the “abundant life” Jesus came to give (John 10:10).

Salvation is forgiveness of sins plus a new order and newness of life. Grace is an unmerited gift by Christ alone. But the fruitful life of being formed spiritually is discovered only by those who live under his good governance.

Salvation is forgiveness of sins plus a new order and newness of life. Click To Tweet

The Kingdom Among Us

The Kingdom of God is an actual environment God made specifically for us to know him again, walk with him in intimate friendship, and grow to discover the good and beautiful life 2. It’s the new Garden of Eden so to speak. One day we will know it fully at the resurrection, but we don’t have to wait.

“Heaven,” as we often call it, certainly is a future reality. But it’s also a present reality. The reason for this is simple. There is no where in the universe that is not governed by Jesus. And the way we are spiritually formed now, carries into the life that follows.

We are, after all, unceasing spiritual beings (Matthew 10:28).

Last year during the pandemic, I led our congregation to sing these lyrics from the song Build My Life,

I will build my life upon your love
It is a firm foundation
I will put my trust in you alone
And I will not be shaken

Considering we have been in a state of emergency, with our lives on lock down, I think for many these lyrics mean much more than they would have otherwise.

Is this possible?

These words really made me think. In light of what is happening in the world, is it possible to “not be shaken?” Is this reliable or just wishful thinking? Our world has literally been shaken, and many are suffering. Can we also “not be shaken?”

Well, that’s why I’m writing this blog series.

In a shaken world, we can live unshaken because of the reality of two kingdoms which overlap and interconnect with each other. The Kingdom of Heaven and the kingdom of this world.

Often times, when we hear the words, “the Kingdom of God,” we think of the future aspect of Heaven. But as we will see in this blog series, the Kingdom of God is also a present reality. This Kingdom can never be shaken, and when we learn to live here, the same applies to us.

One of the attributes of God’s character is his constancy. This means his very essence never changes throughout all ages past, present and future. Although our lives constantly change, God is the same yesterday, today and forever.

And that’s why we can sing,

I will build my life upon your love
It is a firm foundation
I will put my trust in you alone
And I will not be shaken

Heaven On Earth

Right now there is a supernatural realm and present reality of God’s rule and reign among us.

It truly is heaven on earth. Dallas Willard calls the Kingdom of God, “the environment for which you were made.” Within this realm exists a special kind of life accessible only to those who know God and follow him.

Yes, our world has been subjected to futility and is in bondage to decay through sin (Romans 8:20-21). But as we explained already, salvation isn’t just forgiveness of sins “up there,” but newness of life here and now (Colossians 2:12).

Jesus’ central teaching was on the Kingdom of God, mentioning it 162 times. One of the most central examples is when he taught his disciples to pray: “Pray then like this: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” ‭‭Matthew‬ ‭6:9-10‬ ‭ESV‬‬

The keywords are, “your Kingdom come,” and, “on earth as it is in Heaven.” We will unpack this more as we move forward in the series. But it’s important to state now that Jesus intended Heaven to be experienced and enjoyed now not just later.

Another song we sang during the pandemic was called, “As It Is In Heaven,” by Hillsong.

I’m waiting for Heaven
But I’m not waiting
Because heaven lives in me

We’re not waiting

I loved singing this simple song. Heaven is certainly a future reality, and we do look forward “to the new heavens and new earth he has promised, a world filled with God’s righteousness” 2 Peter‬ ‭3:13‬. ‭

However, in another sense we are not waiting, because heaven is already here. Jesus said we are to “repent,” or “change our minds,” about our beliefs, for the Kingdom of God is “at hand” (Matthew 4:17). It’s here, right now, as close as our reach of faith.

We have a future hope of heaven certainly, but that future hope is available now. This is why the Word says, we have “the powers of the age to come…” Hebrews‬ ‭6:5‬ . That future age, which we’ll know one day fully, is to be enjoyed partially now.

As David said,

“I will see the goodness of God in the land of the living.” Psalm 27:13 (italics added)

Heaven isn’t beyond the farthest galaxy, it’s in the space around us, the very air we breathe. Here we are given intimate friendship with the Triune God and experience his power to thrive.

As this blog series unfolds, and even as I write and journey with you on this subject, I hope that you will come to understand this better. It is, in fact, the secret to living the good and beautiful life.

Want to journey together?

This blog series is the beginning of a writing project introducing the theme of the Kingdom of God Among Us.

For the next few posts, I’m going to camp out in the Garden of Eden, unpacking 1) the purpose of the garden, 2) the problem in the garden, and 3) the projection from the garden for a new heavens and new earth.

Following this short series, I’ll dive deeper into the reality of the Kingdom of God Among Us.

Some of this may turn into an ebook, but we will see. I’m learning to say, “If God wills,” rather than be so definitive in my writing promises. If I do, it will be at my free gifts page, where my ebook about science and God will release soon.

I’m learning healthy rhythms for my life, which is allowing me to make space for blogging. I hope you’ll journey with me in unpacking the Kingdom of God Among Us, and what that means for our everyday lives and growth.

I’ve already written some on the subject, so I’ll be repurposing blogs you may have read before.

To follow the journey, subscribe here and never miss a post!

Daniel

Comments: What thoughts have come to your mind upon reading this post? I’d love to hear in the comments below.

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Comments (6)

  1. Nina

    Just subscribed to your web page faithquestions.net. Looking forward to ebook Does Science Disprove God? I already know the answer since I have studied some of the sciences especially astronomy and biology. God is amazing!!!!

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