“My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.” Jesus, as quoted by John in Chapter 14, verses 1-3 (NIV)
I’ll bet you haven’t thought much about heaven. Like most people, you’re probably good at living in the moment. Often, those moments are filled with work, family, activities, goofing off, eating and sleeping. When you do think about heaven, you might imagine it’s going to be boring. You might think that all you’ll be doing is sitting on a cloud, playing a harp and singing. That image does sound boring and I’m a musician!
In 2015, I had a lot of questions about heaven. That summer, my mother, one of my sisters and a dear friend all died within weeks of each other. Needless to say, I was on an emotional roller coaster and, after the shock of my loss began to wear off, I wanted to know more about heaven, that eternal reward promised to us in the Bible. I began to read…a lot. The most comprehensive book I found about heaven is by Randy Alcorn. In fact, the full title of the book says it all, “Heaven: A Comprehensive Guide to Everything the Bible Says About Our Eternal Hope (Clear Answers to 44 Real Questions about the Afterlife, Angels, Resurrection, and the Kingdom of God”. Whew! That’s quite a mouthful!
If you don’t have time to read through a book like Mr. Alcorn’s, here are some highlights:
Will we be ourselves? Will we recognize each other?
Job said, “And after my body has decayed, yet in my body I will see God! I will see him for myself. Yes, I will see him with my own eyes. I am overwhelmed at the thought!” (Job 19:26-27)
Jesus said after His resurrection, “Look at my hands. Look at my feet. You can see that it’s really me. Touch me and make sure that I am not a ghost, because ghosts don’t have bodies, as you see that I do.” (Luke 24:39)
Jesus called people in heaven by name (Luke 16:25, Matthew 8:11) so, obviously, we will be able to recognize each other and we will be ourselves.
What will our lives be like in Heaven?
As for what we will doing in Heaven, here are a few ideas from Mr. Alcorn’s book:
“Since work began before sin and the Curse, and since God, who is without sin, is a worker, we should assume human beings will work…”
“Our work will be joyful and fulfilling, giving glory to God. What could be better? Generally, unemployed people aren’t happy. Work is a blessing, and not just because of its financial rewards. Even in a world under the Curse, most of us have known satisfaction in our work.”
We can also be assured that, because of our faithfulness in our relationship with Jesus, we will be given work that is satisfying and rewarding. Consider this verse from Matthew where he wrote down Jesus’ parable of the talents: “Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.” (Matthew 25:23 NKJV)
Here’s the good news: heaven isn’t going to be boring.
Why Heaven? Why should we care?
I started this article by asking a simple question, “Why Heaven?” Why should we even care about Heaven? If you are a believer, then you know that we have an eternal soul given to us by God. Our soul inhabits a wonderfully made body (the temple of the Holy Spirit). Someday, our earthly bodies are going to deteriorate and no longer serve us. When that happens, where will our soul…the essence of us…go?
According to the Bible, we will either go to Heaven to be with Jesus or to eternal torment away from him (hell).
Jesus said in Matthew, “Don’t be afraid of those who want to kill your body; they cannot touch your soul. Fear only God, who can destroy both soul and body in hell.” (Matthew 10:28) A few verses later, Jesus goes on to say, “Everyone who acknowledges me publicly here on earth, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven. But everyone who denies me here on earth, I will also deny before my Father in heaven.” (vs. 32-33)
Hell is a terrible place, and no one would willingly want to go there. The scriptures about it are clear:
“But cowards, unbelievers, the corrupt, murderers, the immoral, those who practice witchcraft, idol worshipers, and all liars – their fate is in the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.” Revelation 21:8
“They will be punished with eternal destruction, forever separated from the Lord and from his glorious power.” 2 Thessalonians 1:9
Jesus said, “And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous will go into eternal life.” (Matthew 25:46)
How can we have the assurance of Heaven?
If you’re asking yourself this question, then you’re in a good place and in good company. It means that the Holy Spirit has brought you to a moment of acknowledgement of your need for salvation. Jesus said in the gospel of John, “For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him.” (John 3:16-17) Paul wrote in his letter to the Romans, “If you openly declare that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by openly declaring your faith that you are saved.” (Romans 10:9-10)
If you are looking for a better understanding of Jesus and salvation, these verses from Romans are a good illustration. Together, they are often referred to as “The Roman Road to Salvation”:
Romans 3:23, 5:8, 6:23, 8:1, and 10:9
Heaven is our home
You may have seen the acronym “NOW” on bumper stickers, T-shirts and baseball caps. The acronym stands for “Not of this world”. It is a proclamation that, as Christians, we are in the world, but not of it. We are God’s children, and our destination and eternal home is Heaven.
“Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people. Remember that the Lord will give you an inheritance as your reward, and that the Master you are serving is Christ.” Paul in Colossians, chapter 3, verses 23 and 24.
Paula Aiton is a local freelance writer, musician and artist. She is a member of Koinonia Church in Hanford, CA and can be reached at 559-582-1528.