More on Heaven

No, not moron Heaven (though feel free to make your own jokes about that), but more on Heaven than I noted in the post about the “I went to Heaven and came back” books / movies that contradict each other and the Bible.

Coincidentally enough, today was the last day of studying Christian Beliefs: Twenty Basics Every Christian Should Know and our teacher had a great list of Bible verses on Heaven.

Heaven is for real, even though the movie is not.  Read and enjoy!  If you are a Christian this will be your eternal home, so what could be more logical than to learn about it and think about it now?  And if you aren’t a Christian, you should think carefully about where you will spend eternity — because everyone will spend it somewhere, and it will be based on what you say and believe about Jesus.

Matthew 25:34 (ESV)

34 Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.

Isaiah 65:17 (ESV)

17 “For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth, and the former things shall not be remembered or come into mind.

Revelation 21:1–8 (ESV)

1 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. 2 And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. 4 He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” 5 And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” 6 And he said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment. 7 The one who conquers will have this heritage, and I will be his God and he will be my son. 8 But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.”

Revelation 21:22–27 (ESV)

22 And I saw no temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb. 23 And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb. 24 By its light will the nations walk, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it, 25 and its gates will never be shut by day—and there will be no night there. 26 They will bring into it the glory and the honor of the nations. 27 But nothing unclean will ever enter it, nor anyone who does what is detestable or false, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s book of life.

Revelation 22:1–5 (ESV)

1 Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb 2 through the middle of the street of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. 3 No longer will there be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him. 4 They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. 5 And night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever.

1 Peter 3:21–22 (ESV)

21 Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, 22 who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers having been subjected to him.

Luke 22:18 (ESV)

18 For I tell you that from now on I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.”

Matthew 6:19–21 (ESV)

19 “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, 20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

2 Peter 3:1–13 (ESV)

1 This is now the second letter that I am writing to you, beloved. In both of them I am stirring up your sincere mind by way of reminder, 2 that you should remember the predictions of the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior through your apostles, 3 knowing this first of all, that scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own sinful desires. 4 They will say, “Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation.” 5 For they deliberately overlook this fact, that the heavens existed long ago, and the earth was formed out of water and through water by the word of God, 6 and that by means of these the world that then existed was deluged with water and perished. 7 But by the same word the heavens and earth that now exist are stored up for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly. 8 But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. 9 The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. 10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed. 11 Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, 12 waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set on fire and dissolved, and the heavenly bodies will melt as they burn! 13 But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.

Isaiah 25:8–12 (ESV)

8 He will swallow up death forever; and the Lord God will wipe away tears from all faces, and the reproach of his people he will take away from all the earth, for the Lord has spoken. 9 It will be said on that day, “Behold, this is our God; we have waited for him, that he might save us. This is the Lord; we have waited for him; let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation.” 10 For the hand of the Lord will rest on this mountain, and Moab shall be trampled down in his place, as straw is trampled down in a dunghill. 11 And he will spread out his hands in the midst of it as a swimmer spreads his hands out to swim, but the Lord will lay low his pompous pride together with the skill of his hands. 12 And the high fortifications of his walls he will bring down, lay low, and cast to the ground, to the dust.

John 14:2 (ESV)

2 In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?

Luke 23:43 (ESV)

43 And he said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”

1 Corinthians 2:9–10 (ESV)

9 But, as it is written, “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him”— 10 these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God.

John 3:13 (ESV)

13 No one has ascended into heaven except he who descended from heaven, the Son of Man.

Matthew 18:10 (ESV)

10 “See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that in heaven their angels always see the face of my Father who is in heaven.

Revelation 4:1–11 (ESV)

1 After this I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven! And the first voice, which I had heard speaking to me like a trumpet, said, “Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after this.” 2 At once I was in the Spirit, and behold, a throne stood in heaven, with one seated on the throne. 3 And he who sat there had the appearance of jasper and carnelian, and around the throne was a rainbow that had the appearance of an emerald. 4 Around the throne were twenty-four thrones, and seated on the thrones were twenty-four elders, clothed in white garments, with golden crowns on their heads. 5 From the throne came flashes of lightning, and rumblings and peals of thunder, and before the throne were burning seven torches of fire, which are the seven spirits of God, 6 and before the throne there was as it were a sea of glass, like crystal. And around the throne, on each side of the throne, are four living creatures, full of eyes in front and behind: 7 the first living creature like a lion, the second living creature like an ox, the third living creature with the face of a man, and the fourth living creature like an eagle in flight. 8 And the four living creatures, each of them with six wings, are full of eyes all around and within, and day and night they never cease to say, “Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come!” 9 And whenever the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to him who is seated on the throne, who lives forever and ever, 10 the twenty-four elders fall down before him who is seated on the throne and worship him who lives forever and ever. They cast their crowns before the throne, saying, 11 “Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created.”

2 Corinthians 5:1 (ESV)

1 For we know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.

Hebrews 11:10 (ESV)

10 For he was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God.

Matthew 13:43 (ESV)

43 Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear.

Psalm 33:6 (ESV)

6 By the word of the Lord the heavens were made, and by the breath of his mouth all their host.

Revelation 5:9 (ESV)

9 And they sang a new song, saying, “Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation,

Revelation 2:7 (ESV)

7 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who conquers I will grant to eat of the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.’

Matthew 5:8 (ESV)

8 “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.

Revelation 7:9 (ESV)

9 After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands,

Luke 15:10 (ESV)

10 Just so, I tell you, there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”

Luke 10:20 (ESV)

20 Nevertheless, do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.”

Ezekiel 1:25–28 (ESV)

25 And there came a voice from above the expanse over their heads. When they stood still, they let down their wings. 26 And above the expanse over their heads there was the likeness of a throne, in appearance like sapphire; and seated above the likeness of a throne was a likeness with a human appearance. 27 And upward from what had the appearance of his waist I saw as it were gleaming metal, like the appearance of fire enclosed all around. And downward from what had the appearance of his waist I saw as it were the appearance of fire, and there was brightness around him. 28 Like the appearance of the bow that is in the cloud on the day of rain, so was the appearance of the brightness all around. Such was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the Lord. And when I saw it, I fell on my face, and I heard the voice of one speaking.

Revelation 14:1–3 (ESV)

1 Then I looked, and behold, on Mount Zion stood the Lamb, and with him 144,000 who had his name and his Father’s name written on their foreheads. 2 And I heard a voice from heaven like the roar of many waters and like the sound of loud thunder. The voice I heard was like the sound of harpists playing on their harps, 3 and they were singing a new song before the throne and before the four living creatures and before the elders. No one could learn that song except the 144,000 who had been redeemed from the earth.

Luke 20:34–36 (ESV)

34 And Jesus said to them, “The sons of this age marry and are given in marriage, 35 but those who are considered worthy to attain to that age and to the resurrection from the dead neither marry nor are given in marriage, 36 for they cannot die anymore, because they are equal to angels and are sons of God, being sons of the resurrection.

Matthew 19:21 (ESV)

21 Jesus said to him, “If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.”

Acts 7:55 (ESV)

55 But he, full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God.

 

Repent.

Kevin DeYoung is a terrific pastor who wrote a great piece on repentance: Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven Is at Hand.  I encourage you to read it all.  It is a key part of Jesus’ message that is so easy to leave out.

Revelation 9:20-21 “The rest of mankind, who were not killed by these plagues, did not repent of the works of their hands nor give up worshiping demons and idols of gold and silver and bronze and stone and wood, which cannot see or hear or walk, nor did they repent of their murders or their sorceries or their sexual immorality or their thefts.”

God’s word to the peoples of the world is not only an offer of grace, nor even less simply a call to live rightly, nor even less still a promise to make all our dreams come true if we just have faith. We have not heard all that God wants to say to us unless we have heard his command to repent.

Ezekiel said “Repent and turn from your transgressions” (Ezek. 18:30). John the Baptist said “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matt. 3:2). Jesus said “Repent and believe in the gospel” (Mark 1:15). Peter said “Repent and be baptized” (Acts 2:38). And Paul said God “commands all people everywhere to repent” (Acts 17:30).

Repentance has never been easy. No one likes to be told “Die to yourself. Kill that in you. Admit you are wrong and change.” That’s never been an easy sell. It’s much easier to get a crowd by leaving out the repentance part of faith, but it’s not faithful. It’s not even Christianity. Of course, there is a whole lot more to following Jesus than repentance, but it’s certainly not less. “Repent,” Jesus said, or “you will all likewise perish” (Luke 13:5).

If you don’t repent, you will perish.

His section on how repentance isn’t remorse, embarrassment or apology is important, because we often confuse those things and think we’ve repented.

. . . So regret is easy, embarrassment is easy, and apology is easy. Repentance, on the other hand, is very hard and, therefore, much rarer. Repentance involves two things: a change of mind and a change of behavior.

Repentance means you change your mind. That’s what the Greek word metanoia means– a changed (meta) mind (noia).

You change your mind about yourself: “I am not fundamentally a good person deep down. I am not the center of the universe. I am not the king of the world or even my life.”

You change your mind about sin: “I am responsible for my actions. My past hurts do not excuse my present failings. My offenses against God and against others are not trivial. I do not live or think or feel as I should.”

And you change your mind about God: “He is trustworthy. His word is sure. He is able to forgive and to save. I believe in his Son, Jesus Christ. I owe him my life and my allegiance. He is my King and my Sovereign, and he wants what is best for me. I believe it!”

Repentance is hard because changing someone’s mind is hard. In fact, when we’re dealing with spiritual matters of the heart, God’s the only one who can really change your mind. People are simply not predisposed to say “I was wrong! I was wrong about God and about myself. My whole way of looking at the world has been in error. I want to change.” That’s repentance. And it’s amazing when it happens.

. . .

Repentance also involves a change of behavior. It’s like a train conductor driving his train down the tracks straight for the side of a mountain. It’s one thing for him to realize and admit that his train his going in the wrong direction. It’s another thing to stop the train and it get it going in the opposite direction.

. . .

If we preach a “gospel” with no call to repentance we are preaching something other than the apostolic gospel.

If we knowing allow unconcerned, impenitent sinners into the membership and ministry of the church, we are deceiving their souls and putting ours at risk as well.

If we think people can find a Savior without forsaking their sin, we do not know what sort of Savior Jesus Christ is.

There are few things more important in life than repentance. So important, that Revelation, and the gospels, and the epistles, and the Old Testament make clear that you don’t go to heaven without it.

Please use discernment on all these Heaven books and movies!

It is so sad that people flock to books and movies like “Heaven is for Real.” Please let your friends know how these “I went to Heaven and came back” books are all false. The are un-biblical, anti-biblical and they don’t even agree with each other. If you want to know about Heaven then read the Bible and this: In Light of Eternity by Randy Alcorn. It is a terrific, simple read and thoroughly biblical.

Or least get this FREE booklet by the same author, Heaven: Biblical Answers to Common Questions.  It should be must-reading for anyone reading those other books or seeing the movies.

Please watch and share this:

About all those “I went to Heaven and came back” books . . .

I know these books are popular and have brought comfort to some people, but I encourage discernment in reading anything, and especially popular Christian books.  Here’s a good overview by Phil Johnson about this genre.

Blogger Tim Challies has labeled the genre “Heaven Tourism,” candidly dismissing one bestseller in the category as “pure junk, fiction in the guise of biography, paganism in the guise of Christianity.”  This is not a totally new phenomenon. Various survivors of near-death experiences have been publishing gnostic insights about the afterlife for at least two decades. Betty Eadie’s Embraced by the Light was number one on the New York Times Bestseller List exactly 20 years ago. The success of that book unleashed an onslaught of similar tales, nearly all of them with strong New Age and occult overtones. So psychics and new-agers have been making hay with stories like these for at least two decades.

What’s different about the current crop of afterlife testimonies is that they are being eagerly sought and relentlessly cranked out by evangelical publishers. They are bought and devoured by millions who would describe themselves as born-again Bible-believing Christians. Every book I have named in the above list comes from an ostensibly evangelical source.  . . .

These books are coming out with such frequency that it is virtually impossible to read and review them all. But that shouldn’t even be necessary. No true evangelical ought to be tempted to give such tales any credence whatsoever, no matter how popular they become.

Don’t miss this next point.

One major, obvious problem is that these books don’t even agree with one another. They give contradictory descriptions of heaven and thus cannot possibly have any cumulative long-term effect other than the sowing of confusion and doubt.

But the larger issue is one no authentic believer should miss: the whole premise behind every one of these books is contrary to everything Scripture teaches about heaven.

In an upcoming book dealing with this subject, John MacArthur says,

For anyone who truly believes the biblical record, it is impossible to resist the conclusion that these modern testimonies—with their relentless self-focus and the relatively scant attention they pay to the glory of God—are simply untrue. They are either figments of the human imagination (dreams, hallucinations, false memories, fantasies, and in the worst cases, deliberate lies), or else they are products of demonic deception.

We know this with absolute certainty, because Scripture definitively says that people do not go to heaven and come back: “Who has ascended to heaven and come down?” (Proverbs 30:4). . . .

All three biblical writers who saw heaven and described their visions give comparatively sparse details, but they agree perfectly (Isaiah 6:1-4; Ezekiel 1 and 10; Revelation 4-6). They don’t agree with the Burpo-Malarkey version of heaven. Both their intonation and the details they highlight are markedly different. The biblical authors are all fixated on God’s glory, which defines heaven and illuminates everything there. They are overwhelmed, chagrined, petrified, and put to silence by the sheer majesty of God’s holiness. Notably missing from all the biblical accounts are the frivolous features and juvenile attractions that seem to dominate every account of heaven currently on the bestseller lists.

. . .

Evangelical readers’ discernment skills are at an all-time low, and that is why books like these proliferate. Despite the high profile, high sales figures, and high dollar amounts Christian publishers can milk from a trend such as this, it doesn’t bode well for the future of Christian publishing—or for the future of the evangelical movement.

. . .

Some good news:

Spoiler alert: Heaven’s a lot more glorious than any of these current bestsellers suggest.

If you want an outstanding book on Heaven, read In Light of Eternity: Perspectives on Heaven by Randy Alcorn.  It is fairly short and easy to read but thoroughly biblical.

Oh, and the Bible is a good book to read as well.

Hat tip: Sola Sisters

Do you ask yourself questions like this?

Randy Alcorn had a great list of questions to think about in light of eternity.  Everyone spends eternity somewhere.  Don’t let the distractions of the world keep you from the most important questions in life.  See Questions in Light of Heaven – Blog – Eternal Perspective Ministries.

  • Do I daily reflect on my own mortality?
  • Do I daily realize there are only two destinations—Heaven or Hell—and that I and every person I know will go to one or the other?
  • Do I daily remind myself that this world is not my home and that everything in it will burn, leaving behind only what’s eternal?
  • Do I daily recognize that my choices and actions have a direct influence on the world to come?
  • Do I daily realize that my life is being examined by God, the Audience of One, and that the only appraisal of my life that will ultimately matter is his?
  • Do I daily reflect on the fact that my ultimate home will be the New Earth, where I will see God and serve him as a resurrected being in a resurrected human society, where I will overflow with joy and delight in drawing nearer to God by studying him and his creation, and where I will exercise, to God’s glory, dominion over his creation?
Think carefully and often about matters of eternity, because eternity matters.

If you are going to read a book about Heaven, make it “In Light of Eternity”

A friend of mine and I will be teaching In Light of Eternity: Perspectives on Heaven by Randy Alcorn to the High School youth over the next few weeks as part of a study called “Heaven and Hell.  Mostly Heaven.”  I highly recommend this book.  It is very easy to read, chock-full of Bible verses (in context!) and it is likely to change your view of Heaven for the good — and towards a more accurate assessment of it.  He addresses myths that even some Christians hold, such as that Heaven will be boring.

In the mean time, read Randy’s article about some other books on Heaven that appear to be less accurate: “Heaven Is for Real”, “90 Minutes in Heaven”, and other books about visits to Heaven or Hell.

Everyone spends eternity somewhere.  If you are a Christian, you should spend time thinking about your eternal home.  If you aren’t a Christian, you should give this some serious thought.  What could be more important?

Ugh: “Most Evangelicals Believe Good People are Heaven-Bound”

Sad but true: via StreetFishing: Author: Most Evangelicals Believe Good People are Heaven-Bound

The majority of Protestants and evangelicals believe that good people and people of other religions can go to heaven, according to author David Campbell.

Campbell, who co-wrote American Grace, How Religion Divides and Unites Us, contends that surveys of 3,000 Americans, used to write the book, show that American people of faith, though devout, are very tolerant. So much so that most believers also believe that good people, despite their religious affiliation, can go to heaven.

I wouldn’t describe those people as “tolerant.”  A more accurate term would be “ill-informed,” “wrong,” or even “rebellious.”

The Bible teaches 100+ times that Jesus is the only way to salvation and you can’t flip too many pages in the Old Testament without seeing strong warnings not to worship other gods.  Here is just one of those passages:

1 John 5:12-13 He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life. I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life.

Those things aren’t what make the claims true, of course.  We have other evidence for that.  But no Christian should ever claim that other paths lead to God.  At best people who say that are “saved and confused.”

Biblical ignorance in the church is appalling, especially on matters as clear and foundational as this.  It isn’t like I’m expecting people to compare and contrast the various views of eschatology (end times).  This is simple “everyone is a sinner, Jesus is the Savior” stuff.  If churches can’t get that right, then why do they exist?

If you are a Christian, please commit to doing everything you can to study more yourself and encourage others to do the same.