Heaven. Where people dwell in happiness with God after mortal life. What do you think about heaven? What do your kids think? How about your neighbour? Thoughts about heaven cover a wide spectrum ranging from spiritualized notions where heaven is a mindset rather than a distinct reality, to where heaven is materialized with physical features and a physical location. Some views are God-centred, with heaven being an experience of God, while others are man-centred, with heaven consisting primarily of relationships, especially family and friends. When speaking with others about heaven, you may be surprised at just how far apart your view is from theirs.
Here’s Where They’re At
In conversation, here are some statements you might hear about heaven.
“Just be a good person and you will be rewarded with heaven. Even if you have been bad, you will get a second chance. After all, if there is a hell how can a good God send people there? Hell is here on earth.”
“Heaven is a state of mind. We die and then there is nothing.”
“I think God lets us come to Him in our own way. He does not require us to believe in any specific god. So when you say that unless I believe in your God I am going to hell, you claim that your beliefs are better than mine and that is judging. People of all religions will go to heaven.”
“We die and come back again.”
“Angels are human beings who have died and become perfect.”
“Jesus died for everyone so everyone will be forgiven and accepted into heaven.”
Here’s Where You’re At
You believe a decision on earth to seek God’s forgiveness based on the substitutionary death of Jesus is the only way to be sure of being accepted into heaven. People who reject God during their lives will have their earthly decision respected, and be rejected from heaven in turn. They will suffer separation from God in hell for eternity.
You believe only true Christians and babies and those with mental disabilities and maybe pets will be in heaven.
You believe heaven is a real place inhabited by God and His created angels and when a Christian dies he or she will go to heaven and be there forever.
Here’s Where Scripture’s At
The God of heaven inspired the Bible, so it gives us the truth about how to get there. Jesus lived in heaven before coming to earth so He knows more about it than anyone else who ever lived (John 3:11-13). Heaven is not a state of mind but a real spiritual realm populated by personal beings (Matthew 6:9; John 3:13,31; 6:38).
People can achieve heaven by keeping God’s commandments perfectly in thought, word, and deed (Romans 2:12-15). However, all people are sinners by nature, disobey Him and so are unfit for heaven (John 3:19; Mark 15:19). All by default are headed for hell (Matthew 5:20). Trusting in Christ as our Saviour is the only way to heaven (John 3:16; 14:6; Acts 4:12) and by doing so our souls immediately go to heaven upon death (Revelation 6:9,10; Luke 23:43). When Christ returns our bodies will be resurrected, glorified, and we will spend eternity with God (1 Corinthians 15:20-58; Philippians 3:21) in the new heaven and earth (2 Peter 3:13; Revelation 21:1). Everyone will be judged for his or her deeds and rewarded or punished accordingly (1 Corinthians 3:13-15; Revelation 20:12).
Where to Go From Here
- The Bible is your only authority for what happens after you die. Everything apart from Scripture, including near-death experiences, is not authoritative
- Make sure you know how to get to heaven (John 3:16). The Bible tells you to acknowledge your sin and to accept God’s provision of Christ’s life and death in your place. There is no other way into heaven and there is no second chance after death
- Focus on the fact that Jesus is coming again and will make all things right and new (Titus 2:13; Revelation 21:5). Be encouraged and encourage others in that
- Share the Good News that the God of heaven has provided eternal life exclusively through faith in Christ. Good works are not good enough
- Be ready to face Jesus who will preside over the final judgment and reward you according to your deeds. Live a godly and holy life (2 Peter 3:10-12) motivated by pleasing Him and your reward in heaven
- Joyfully anticipate living in an immortal body in a recreated new heaven and earth (2 Peter 3:13) in the presence of God forever (Revelation 21:3). Regularly meditate on that to keep your perspective about life on earth