GOD DOES NOT DWELL IN HEAVEN
By Akin Ojumu
In the nearly thirty-five years that I’ve been a Christian, I have heard some crazy theologies and have encountered not a few peddlers of wacky doctrines. Alarmingly, none of these compares to the statement made by a minister of the Gospel six years ago at a popular Nigeria megachurch pastored by a popular man of God.
Speaking as an invited minister at the 2016 Faith-to-Faith Conference of the House on the Rock Church, Lagos, Nigeria – with the host pastor and his wife, Paul and Ifeanyin Adefarasin, listening in rapt attention and utter awe – Dr Abel Damina, Senior Pastor of Power City International Church, Uyo, Nigeria, declared, with all the chest pumping confidence and authority he could muster, that:
“God does not live in Heaven. So, that's why your goal should not be Heaven. If your goal is Heaven, it’s a stupid goal.”
Upon hearing that garbage, the congregation went wild. They jumped so high, they almost hit the ceiling. In the ensuing raucous, some rushed to the pulpit just to fall before and kiss the feet of the man of God. The host pastors, not to be outdone, joined in the cheering, screaming, and rapturous exhilaration. Abel Damina brought the house down with his erroneous theology, and the uninformed audience ate it all up.
But what the congregation thought was some “deep revelation” of the Word of God by an oracle of God was nothing more than nonsensical blasphemy that has no basis in Scripture. That God does not live in Heaven is as outrageous as any erroneous Christian commentary you’ll ever encounter. What makes the sheer ignorance embodied in that theological error particularly frightening is the person that said it, where it was said, and the knock-the-socks-off reception it got from the audience.
With those preposterous comments, Abel Damina demonstrated a lack of understanding of Genesis 1:1, and Scripture, so profound it boggles the mind.
“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” (Genesis 1:1)
The “heavens” in Genesis 1:1 does not refer to the “Heaven” where God dwells. The Hebrew word translated heaven is the word “Shamayim.” It’s a word with dual meaning. Shamayim is used to describe both the Heaven where God’s throne is, as well as the sky, atmosphere, visible universe, etc. The context in which it’s used is key to the correct and accurate interpretation of shamayim.
In Genesis 1:1, shamayim refers to the physical heaven, and not the eternal Heaven. The heaven that God created in Genesis 1:1 is not the Heaven of His throne. Rather, the “heaven” refers to the universe, the sky, and atmosphere.
Furthermore, embedded in Genesis 1:1 is a deep insight into the Supreme majesty of the Almighty God. Genesis 1:1 reveals the omnipotence, omniscience, and omnipresence of God i.e., the all-powerful, all-knowing, and all-present attributes of Elohim.
For centuries, scientists recognized that all natural phenomena in the universe can ultimately be divided into interactions between five basic and fundamental “manifestations.” Herbert Spencer, the 19th century English philosopher wrote in his book titled, First Principles:
“These modes of cohesion under which manifestations are invariably presented, and therefore invariably represented, we call Space and Time, Matter and Motion. Though Space, Time, Matter, and Motion, are apparently all necessary data of intelligence, yet a psychological analysis shows us that these are either built up of, or abstracted from, experiences of Force.”
Herbert Spencer was simply stating that the universe and all that’s within it exist in five categories: time, force, action, space, and matter which are the five manifestations of all scientific phenomena. This truth – fundamental to understanding science – was articulated by an agnostic in the 19th century, and yet these fundamental principles were articulated in the very first verse of the Bible millennia ago:
“In the beginning [time], God [force] created [action] the heavens [space] and the Earth [matter].” (Apologetics Press: The Five Manifestations of Natural Phenomena.)
What God created in Genesis 1:1 were the fundamentals of man’s physical existence: TIME, SPACE, and MATTER. God is the creative FORCE that produces the ACTION – i.e., He is the Creator of all things; He is the God of science and all knowledge.
Also packed into Genesis 1:1 is this very truth, the God (Force) that created (Action) the physical universe exists outside of it and is not confined within it. Unlike man limited by nature, God exists outside of time, space, and matter, and is neither constrained by nor defined by them. God existed before time, exists outside of man’s universe, and He is eternal.
That’s why the Bible says:
“Before the mountains were born or before you had given birth to the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, you are the eternal God.” (Psalm 90:2).
“Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times things which have not been done.” (Isaiah 46:10).
“With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day.” (2 Peter 3:8).
Jehovah Elohim, in Genesis 1:1, gives man a peek into His awesomeness. In a single verse, He reveals the depth of His wisdom and knowledge and the vastness of His power. Sadly, all of this is lost on Abel Damina and his fellow peddlers of erroneous doctrine and purveyors of heretical theology.
The thing about errors is, they tickle the ear, excite the mind, but leave the soul totally unchanged because errors lack the power that truth has to transform the hearts of men.