FAQ'S ABOUT RELIGION
IS THERE A HEAVEN?
An old and familiar hymn written by Eliza E. Hewitt and published in 1898 has a refrain that says…“When we all get to Heaven, what a day of rejoicing that will be! When we all see Jesus, we’ll sing and shout the victory.” What do we make of this famous refrain? It says several things, if we “read between the lines.” First, it assumes we have a new life after we die. Second, assuming we believe in Jesus the Christ as our Lord (God) and savior, it says we will have a life with HIM! Third, it says we will do so in a place called HEAVEN. Though we cannot scientifically “prove” heaven’s existence or not, it is an entirely plausible belief to hold. We have already proved the veracity (truthfulness) and reliability of the Bible (see “Is the Bible Authentic?” on this web site). So, the reliable testimony of the scriptures, as well as the unquenchable longing of our souls, powerfully attests to its reality. According to Ecclesiastes 3:11, God has “put eternity into the human heart.” As persons crafted in his image, we are eternal beings with an innate longing and capacity for eternal life. We were made to live forever, praise God. John 14:2-3 quotes Jesus telling us that He is going to His Father’s house (heaven) to prepare a place for us. Acts 1:9-11 explains to Jesus’ disciples that He has been taken to heaven. And Acts 7:55-56 tells of the Deacon Stephen seeing heaven open with Jesus standing next to God as he, Stephen, was being stoned for his belief. These scriptures verify that heaven isn’t a mere concept or state of mind; it’s a REAL location. The first verse of the Bible, Genesis 1:1 says “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” The plural “Heavens” is believed to refer to three things called heaven, that is, two visible and one invisible. First is the sky or atmosphere immediately above our earth. The second would be the higher “lights” or stars beyond our sky but still visible, especially at night. Then the third and invisible heaven is God’s dwelling place (His home) and the place where all Believers desire to spend eternal life with God. The ten word verse in Genesis sets the foundation of the Bible and establishes three great truths. First, God exists and existed BEFORE anything was created (see “Does God Exist?” on this web site). Second, it says God created the “Heavens.” Third, it says God created Earth, our planet that is a very special heavenly body and the only one of its kind (again, see “DOES GOD EXIST”)
What is Heaven like?
Heaven is a wonderful place that we cannot imagine or adequately describe with our limited human senses. The Apostle Paul confirms this in 2Corinthians 12:2 & 4 (NIV). He said he knew a man in Christ that “was caught up to the third heaven” (emphasis added; was it Paul himself?) and “he heard inexpressible things, things that man is not permitted to tell.” Even so, we humans long to know more about our eternal home and try to paint pictures of how wonderful it must be. For example, Anthony DeStefano, in his book, “A Travel Guide to Heaven” says…”If Heaven is anything at all, it’s fun. It’s a place of unlimited pleasure, unlimited happiness and unlimited joy.” Then, there are books written that describe near-death experiences, of people who have temporarily experienced death and were resuscitated. One such book, “Healing Prayer: On Holy Ground,” was written by a Christian Cardiologist, Dr. Mark W. Sheehan. He tells stories of healing miracles and one story was about a young woman named Kasey who had a near-death vision of the “city of God” and later described images straight out of the Bible that she had never read about previously. There are other compelling books written by credible people such as a Neurosurgeon, Dr. Eben Alexander, another by a Pastor, Don Piper and others.
There are some of the opinion that perhaps we are presumptuous in taking these descriptions as seriously as we take the scriptures and hark back to Paul’s admonition…”things that man is not permitted to tell.” Nancy Guthrie, a Christian Bible teacher and author (Google “We don’t have to read the book or see the movie to know heaven is real”) says…”Admittedly the Bible does not provide as much detail about what awaits us beyond this life as some of us might like. It does tell us four significant things: 1.We will be with Christ (Luke 23:42-43, Philippians 1:21-2). 2. It will be far better than life on this earth (Philippians 1:21-23). 3. We will be away from the body (2Corinthians 5:6-8). 4. Our spirits will be made perfect—completely cleansed of sin (Hebrews 12:22-23).
What will we be like?
Nancy Guthrie (ibid) says one day we will be healed and whole like the body of the risen Christ! (1Corinthians 15:22-23 and John 3:2). Romans 8:29 says…”For those God fore-knew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son (Jesus). After Jesus died on the cross, he was resurrected to LIFE and appeared to many of his disciples and others. Many of his followers were very frightened after Jesus was killed and thought there would be a purge of everyone who followed Him. So, they would meet, just a few at a time, in locked quarters. Jesus would appear to them without coming through the door, eat with them, talk to them and then, just as suddenly, disappear. Paul tells us in 1Corinthians 15:6 “After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time.” There is no way that 500 people would gather in one place in those times of peril. So, we have strong evidence that Jesus’ spiritual body was not restricted by space and time and he appeared to many people, at the same instant, who were in different locations! WE TOO will be like that in our spiritual bodies with “Superman” like abilities, after Jesus returns. We will look like ourselves but more beautiful without bodily impairments such as missing limbs and we will appear young. Now take those memories and multiply them greatly to get close to what eternal life will be like. We will be in the presence of God Almighty!
Closing Thoughts: There is a wonderful book written by Randy Alcorn, a Pastor, an academic and the founder of Eternal Perspective Ministries (EPM). Randy has researched this topic most thoroughly and wrote “Heaven” published by Tyndale House Publishers in 2004. He goes into great detail about what is known about Heaven and the part we play in this mighty creation by God. Part II of the book deals with the following questions: What will the Resurrected Earth be like? What will our lives be like? What will our relationships be like? What about animals? And, what will we do in Heaven? May God bless your reading about His home, a place where we can join Him, worship Him and live forever in utter paradise. Amen.