I love to watch Robbie’s face when I talk about Heaven with him. His face lights up with such joy when I speak of the new body and mind that he will have in Heaven. A mind that enables him to speak and sing; a body that will walk and run, dance and leap for joy! There are stars in his eyes and a smile from ear to ear when I tell him that he will hug Jesus and hold his nail-scarred hands, and that he will see Grandpa again, as well. Robbie’s mind now is that of a one or two year old, and yet somehow he seems to understand about Heaven and the great hope we have in Jesus. Jesus Himself used the faith and humility of little ones as an example to us of how we must come to Him. “And they brought unto him also infants, that he would touch them: but when his disciples saw it, they rebuked them. But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Suffer little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God. Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child shall in no wise enter therein.” (Luke 18:15-17) The faith and humbling of oneself as a little child to accept the gift of salvation brings us to the Great Hope and reality of Heaven.
I’ve had Heaven on my mind all week. That is because I’ve been reading the book Heaven by Randy Alcorn. If you want to know something more about what awaits us after this life on earth, I highly recommend this book. It is enlightening, thought-provoking and potentially life-changing if one takes seriously the view of our eternal life as presented by Alcorn.
We tend to think that there is not much we can know about Heaven yet—that it is a great mystery, revealed in only snippets in the Bible and very much unimaginable. After all, I Corinthians 2:9 tells us, “But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.” That is true. What God has not told us about Heaven cannot even be dreamed of in our finite minds. What we fail to see, however, is that He has given us far more in His Word about Heaven than we may realize, and when we begin to search it out, comparing Scripture with Scripture, we begin to get a glimpse of what our eternal destiny will truly look like.
We frequently quote verse nine in I Corinthians 2, but how often do we connect the following verses with it? When we go on to read it in context, God very clearly says we cannot begin to imagine the glories of Heaven, however He has revealed to us in His Word and through His Spirit some of the things which He has prepared for us! “But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God. For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual… For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? but we have the mind of Christ.” (I Corinthians 2:10-13, 16)
Alcorn very carefully and systematically uses all of Scripture, Old Testament and New, to reveal what Heaven looks like now, and what it will look like at the end of the Millennium when the Lord creates the New Heaven and New Earth that we will inhabit for all eternity. “And I saw a new heaven and a new earth… I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven… And I heard a loud voice out of heaven saying, Now the dwelling of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God.” (Revelation 21:1-3) God’s dwelling place, Heaven, will be on the new, resurrected earth.
This book is not light reading. It is lengthy, thorough, and full of Scripture and quotes. The first half lays the groundwork for the answers to questions we all have about our future resurrected bodies and our future in Heaven. How will we pass the time in an unending, everlasting life? Will we do anything else beside worship? What will our glorified bodies be like? What will the New Earth and a resurrected creation look like? How will we relate to one another? Will there be animals in Heaven? What is the New Jerusalem? And so on… In all, Alcorn covers more than 44 questions about Heaven and our eternal destiny, based on what God has revealed to us through Scripture. Do not be discouraged by its length. It is well worth the read.
I came away from reading the book with much to think about and many questions answered. At the end, however, there was one question left unanswered: How will I live the rest of my life on this old earth in light of my new, expanded view of Heaven? I had a pastor who was fond of saying, “There are some people who are so heavenly-minded that they are no earthly good!” Our future in Heaven is secure when we know Christ as Savior. It is bright and glorious and something to be eagerly anticipated, to be sure. That does not give us a license to merely sit back and wait for it, however. There is much to be done in preparation for Heaven—not for entrance therein (our salvation through the blood of Christ has already provided for that) but for the crowns and rewards that Christ said we would earn by our work here on earth, and the greater responsibilities we will be given as we fulfill the work to which He has called us here. I would say that to be heavenly-minded we would be better on earth.
When our minds are set on Heaven, the acts of kindness we do; sharing the Gospel or a testimony; caring for the orphaned or elderly or handicapped; speaking out against abortion and other ungodliness; the cup of cold water or warm hearty meal given in Jesus’ name; the time and talents and money we give to encourage and help for the glory of God—these are treasures laid up in Heaven and recorded in His book to be rewarded at the Judgment Seat of Christ. When we stand before Him, will we regret the time we wasted on television and computer games? Will we wish we had used the money we spent so frivolously to help someone in need instead? Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. (Matthew 6:19-21)
Will a new view of Heaven change how we live in the here and now? II Peter 3:11-14 says, “You ought to live holy and godly livesas you look forward to the day of God…But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness dwells. So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him.” An old familiar bit of poetry said, “Only one life—‘twill soon be past. Only what’s done for Christ will last.” We are made for Heaven. When we live our lives in light of that, we will be better able to resist temptation and the wiles of Satan.
Our life’s journey is not yet over, but when at last we step through the door of death, it will be a new journey, a new beginning into eternal life. Paul said in Philippians 3:13-14, “But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” As an old chorus once put it:
With eternity’s values in view, Lord,
With eternity’s values in view;
May I do each day’s work for Jesus,
With eternity’s values in view.