Here’s What We Know …
Heaven is more than just hope for a better future. It is at the heart of God’s plan for all creation. It is also at the center of the human heart. The common experience of losing loved ones and the eventual loss of our own lives make the issue of Heaven one with which everyone must wrestle.
We wonder what happens when we die, when our loved ones die. Have we lost them forever? Are they in a better place? Will we see them again someday? What is life after death like? What is Heaven like? Can we even know something about Heaven?
Heaven is a source of hope, guidance, and meaning for every believer. Heaven gives:
- Hope for our future destination and strength for life in the present
- Guidance for living as God’s people today
- Meaning by giving us the certainty that there is more to life than this world
What Do We Mean by Heaven?
In popular culture, and for many believers, Heaven evokes images of a cloudy, ghost-like existence, or angelic beings floating about among the clouds. This image comes directly from the radical separation of the physical and spiritual worlds. Some of the misconceptions are:
- A place for disembodied, ghost-like beings
- A place where people sing all the time
- A place up by the clouds
- A place everyone goes after death
- A place where all beings live as angels
However, the final destination of believers is not an ethereal place like that. A very physical, concrete future awaits us when Christ comes back.
Will Heaven Be Boring?
Definitely not! People may get the idea that Heaven will be boring because we will worship God all day long in Heaven. It is true — we will worship God nonstop! But let’s revisit what we mean by worship.
Worship is not just the singing and praying part of Christian church services. Everything we do can be worship — from the moment we wake up, take our meals, relate to others, do our work, play games, and live life. Worship is not just an activity; it is primarily an attitude. Worship is the attitude that arises when we recognize who God is and who we are.
Worship is the attitude that acknowledges God’s presence at every moment in our daily lives, sometimes moving us to tears, sometimes to great joy, to repentance, to humility, to gratitude, to hard work, to commitment, to compassion, to love.
In the busyness of our lives, we often miss this reality: God is interested and active in our lives! We may go days or weeks without realizing that our words, actions, and thoughts have brought glory or sadness to God. This forgetfulness will find no place in the renewed creation; we will not miss God in our lives because He will dwell in our midst.
Who Will Be in Heaven, and How Do We Get There?
In popular culture, it’s common to believe that all people got to Heaven, and, in some cases, they become angels. However, biblical testimony does not support either of these ideas.
Just as we acknowledge the reality of Heaven, we must recognize the reality of hell. We don’t know very much about hell either, except that it exists, it is a place of punishment, and there is only one way to escape it. The other details are hidden from us.
The Bible is clear, however, to specify who will go to Heaven. Only those who have surrendered their lives to Jesus and who experience the renewal of their hearts will be allowed in God’s presence.
Excerpted from What’s So Great About Heaven by Benjamin Galan, © 2009 Rose Publishing. Peabody, MA. All rights reserved. Used by permission. www.hendricksonrose.com
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