Do human beings experience eternity? If so, how? Either we simply cease to exist when we die, or we go on experiencing reality in some form. Scripture states that all people go on living after death in one of two realities. A person either experiences eternity with God (heaven) or away from God (hell). God wants all to experience heaven but he will not compromise the glory of heaven by allowing sin in (he allowed sin into the garden and look what happened!). If we are going to go to heaven, we need to get the sin out. Since we can’t do this, Christ came to die on the cross, absorb God’s wrath towards sin for us and remove our guilt. This is a free gift available to all, but it can be rejected. For those who reject it, heaven is not a possibility and hell remains the only option. Jesus compared hell to the smoldering trash heaps that burned continually outside the Jerusalem walls. While such a fiery existence sounds terrible, the worst thing about hell is that a person is apart from the glory and goodness of God.
What’s heaven like? The clouds and harps depictions of heaven (a la Simpsons) are a bit off the mark. The Bible describes heaven as a real place, replete with trees, rivers, streets, people, food, etc. The only difference is that all these things are of a quality several magnitudes greater than we experience them at present. The best thing about heaven is that God will manifest his presence most fully there. The veil that makes him seem distant in our present experience will be lifted.
Christians today don’t think about heaven nearly enough. The writers of the New Testament are forever talking about heaven and reminding us to keep our minds on the things of heaven. When we do, the things of this world are put in their right perspective and we find it easier to handle them in the most godly way.
Resurrection of body: 1 Cor. 15:12-58
Hell: Matt. 5:22; Revelation 14:9-11, Luke 16:28
Heaven: Rev. 21-22
“The Weight of Glory,” Sermon by C.S. Lewis
The Great Divorce, by C.S. Lewis
When the Kings Come Marching In: Isaiah and the New Jerusalem, by Richard Mouw
Heaven is a Place on Earth: Why Everything You Do Matters to God, by Michael E. Wittmer
- Memorize Revelation 21 (or if that’s too much, write it down on a 3X5 and carry it around with you). Read if before breakfast, lunch and dinner for a week. How does heaven help to put the things of your current life into perspective?
- Have a conversation with your Home Group on this topic… “What I look forward to most in heaven is…”