There are a lot of views about this place. Some good. Some bad. And, some downright depressing. But, the fact remains that most folks still hope there is such a place where, as the old Gospel song says, “All will be peace forevermore on that happy, golden shore. What a Day, glorious Day that will be.”
Now, again, I know there are some who detest such a ridiculous idea. They believe Heaven and hell are what you make of things here on earth right now. And, like the ancient Epicureans, their motto is “Eat, drink and be merry—for tomorrow you die!”
Wow! Pretty exciting belief, isn’t it?
Not hardly—for it’s a fatalistic view of things that basically says “When you’re dead, you’re dead. You’re no different than that dead dog on the side of the road or that dead skunk in the middle of the road.”
How sad. How incredibly sad.
Makes you not want to get up in the morning. Or, it leaves you shaking your head and inwardly asking, “Why in the world am I here? What difference does it make?”
It doesn’t—IF you buy into such a dismal, void-of-any-hope view of things.
An equally disheartening belief is that which says it’s up to us to get it right. And, if we don’t, we’ll have to go through this all over again…and again…and again…until we do. Hopefully, one of these days we’ll finally “arrive” and reach that eternal state of bliss.
Then, there are those who believe that Heaven is reserved for those who have more good deeds than bad ones. If, when they die, the scales tip in the wrong direction, it’s too bad: you should have done more.
So, advocates of this belief spend their lives like caged circus animals…always trying to obey the commands given to them…and being afraid of the whip and the gun if they don’t. And, sadly, the one barking the commands and holding them in fear is God.
Thankfully, the Bible has a better understanding of this place called Heaven and how to get there.
Even though there’s no clear understanding of eternity or the afterlife in the Old Testament—for everyone goes to the same place of shadowy existence called “Sheol”—all that had changed by Jesus’ day. They believed the righteous went to “Abraham’s Bosom” or “Paradise” or “Heaven,” which was a beautiful, indescribable place of perfect peace and harmony. And, the wicked or unbelieving go to a temporal place of torment known as “hell, hades or gehenna.”
Again, there are differing views and interpretations of Heaven and what happens to a believer after he/she dies. Some, like Martin Luther, the one who began the Protestant Reformation, believe in “soul sleep,” where one is in a type of suspended animation until the Trumpet sounds.
Others, like me, believe “to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord” (II Corinthians 5:8). We also believe that those who died as believers in Christ as Savior and Lord are fully conscious, but have yet to receive their glorified or eternal body. They’ll receive those when Jesus comes back for His own and we’ll be reunited forever (Philippians 3:20-21; I Thessalonians 4:13-18; I Cor. 15:35-58).
One thing about Heaven is perfectly clear: it’s a “Place prepared” by Jesus and is more beautiful than anything we can imagine (John 14:1-4; I Cor. 2:9). It’ll also be the “Land of the Great No More’s” (Revelation 21:4) and a restoration of that original place God created for Adam and Eve in the beginning (Isaiah 11:1-9; 65:17-25; Rev. 7:9-17).
Yes, Heaven’s going to be a wonderful Place and I’m glad that the Heavenly Father’s reserved a place for me there (I Peter 1:3-5). Like the saints of old, I confess that I’m “a stranger and pilgrim on this earth…looking for a City not made with hands…eternal in the heavens… whose Builder and Maker is God” (II Cor. 5:1; Hebrews 11:10, 13).
I’m ready to go there when God calls. Are you?
NOTE: If you’d like to contact Bro. Tom or receive his daily e-mail devotional, entitled “Morning Manna,” you can write him at P.O. Box 10614, Fort Smith, AR 72917 or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.