If you’ve joined us for the last few weeks, you know that this is a subject that we’ve been talking about on Sunday mornings in our “Afterlife” series.
Unsurprisingly, the topics we’ve discussed have generated quite a bit of outside interest and discussion about other aspects of Heaven and Hell.
One of our main presuppositions has been that our understanding (and expectation) of heaven is usually wrong. Most go something like this…
1. In heaven, there will be no more sadness or pain.
2. In heaven, I won’t have to worry about making a mistake or going hungry. All of my worries will vanish.
3. In heaven, I’ll get to hang out with all of the people I love (and agreed with me) forever.
4. In heaven, we will all live in a beautiful mansion without a care in the world.
5. Heaven is a place where good Christians go.
We’ve picked apart some of these including that fact the Bible never actually says we are going to “go to heaven”. Instead, heaven is somehow coming here as a “New Jerusalem”.
The reality for many people is that their expectations of heaven will not and were never intended to be true. At least not in the spirit in which we intended them.
Jesus himself said that eternal life is none of things…
And this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. John 17:3 (ESV)
In many of our presuppositions above, Jesus only holds the position of gatekeeper. He is the one that gets us into heaven (or some variation of the 5 things mentioned above).
When Jesus describes eternal life, he says that the eternal destiny of those who love and follow Jesus is to KNOW God and Jesus.
How many people have attended church, written a check or led a Bible Study whose entire hope for eternal life is essentially living this same life without any of the stresses and struggles that commonly make us unhappy? The problem, biblically, with that is we can hope for that without any expectation or desire to spend an eternity knowing Jesus.
I’m convinced this is why Jesus said this:
21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ 23 And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’ Matthew 7:21–23 (ESV)
So, is heaven real?
The answer to that question rests on what you expect heaven to be. If it’s a place that makes you happy without any semblance of Jesus, then no, it isn’t real.
This is a question that we have to ask ourselves if we are going to honestly and fully follow Jesus into the future.
I believe heaven’s real. I just don’t believe our understanding of it is.
What about you?