WONDERFUL THINGS: Heaven is for real (& better than you think)
Everyone wants to know what comes after this life on earth (or if this life is all there is). This probably helps explain the booming popularity of a genre of books sometimes labeled Heaven Tourism. The basic storyline goes like this: a person dies, they go to heaven, they come back. Then they write a book to tell us what heaven is like. I’ve read a few of them — perused some others.
For what it’s worth, here is my conclusion: at best, who can know if these things are true? At worst, some people are pulling in lot of money by making up stories about the dwelling place of God. Just this past year the young man who wrote “The Boy Who Came Back from Heaven” recanted his whole story saying, “I did not die. I did not go to heaven … I said I went to heaven because I thought it would get me attention. When I made the claims that I did, I had never read the Bible. People have profited from lies, and continue to. They should read the Bible, which is enough. The Bible is the only source of truth. Anything written by man cannot be infallible.”
The Bible is enough. Amen. If you want to know heaven is for real then read God’s Word. And what will you find there? Interestingly, the Bible does not give us a lot of details about heaven (maybe this is why we want to know more). The Book of Revelation pulls back the curtain somewhat. However, there is no doubt that the most glorious and central aspect of heaven is made abundantly clear: Luke 23:43 (“Today you will be with me in paradise”); John 14:3 “I will take you to be with me, that you may also be where I am”); 2 Corinthians 5:6–8 (“be at home with the Lord”); Philippians 1:21–23 (“depart and be with Christ”); and 1 Thessalonians 4:14 (“God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him”).
What do all these Scriptures say? We will be with Jesus. Being with Jesus is what makes heaven “heaven.” And that is enough. That’s all we need to know. Jesus is the greatest longing of every heart — whether we know it or not. To gaze upon His beauty, to know His love, to find our joy in Him for all eternity, that is the heart of heaven. Jesus makes heaven “heaven.” It is not the streets of gold or seeing beloved family members or having no more pain. We will be with Jesus — that is heaven.
But Jesus is not only the true destination in heaven. He is the only way to heaven. Heaven is the home only for those who are God’s children. How do we become His children? “But to all who did receive him (Jesus), who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God” (John 1:12). Not by our good works, but only by trusting in the person and work of Jesus, do we become God’s children.
Anne G. Lotz, the daughter of Billy Graham, once wrote about her father’s house. His house sits at the top of a mountain at the end of a winding road in the mountains of North Carolina. This road is guarded by a gate and high fence. She says, “Suppose someone decided to challenge the privacy of my earthly Father’s house. That person would drive up the winding mountain road only to be stopped by a gate that is situated in a high fence. He or she could bang on the gate, and yell insistently, ‘Billy Graham, let me in. I’ve watched you on TV. I’ve read your books. I’ve attended your crusades. I’ve supported your ministry financially. Let me in.” But my Father would say in essence, ‘Depart from me. I do not know you.’
“On the other hand, if I drive up the same narrow road and come to the closed gate, I would call, ‘Daddy, this is Anne. I’ve come home. Let me in.’ The gate would swing open. Do you know why? Because I am my Father’s child!”
Do you want to know more about the glory of heaven? Then look to the glory of Jesus in God’s Word. He is enough. Do you want to know the way to heaven — how to become your Father’s child? Then look to the glorious Jesus of God’s Word. He is enough.
James Calderazzo is pastor of Safe Harbor Presbyterian Church in Destin. He can be reached at email@example.com.