This post is one in a series of posts on a Bible study I am doing titled Heaven by Randy Alcorn and Dave McCleskey. The focus of this study is to get a Biblical view of what heaven is really like.
As I wrote about yesterday, many people have a skewed view about the true nature of God’s dwelling place. I, myself, have viewed heaven as a monotonous, uneventful, and unexciting place, where I won’t recognize anyone. I’ve thought that not knowing anyone there would lead to loneliness, or perhaps worse, if I did recognize people there and realized that someone I loved was not there, I would experience sadness. But I believe that scripture actually refutes my beliefs. So, I’m completing this study in an attempt to get an accurate view of what heaven is like and what living there for eternity will be like.
Today’s study discussed the fact that we are all going to die (unless, of course, Jesus comes back soon). Death is something that we all have to deal with, and most people fear it, or at least deny that it will happen to them. By denying death, I don’t mean that people truly believe that they will live forever, but that they do everything they can not to think about death. Alcorn tells of Louis XIV, the king of France, who made it a law that no one could mention anything related to death in his presence, and in a lot of ways we do these same things today. My wife’s family hates to talk about death – if someone brings it up, they all get pained looks on their faces and say things like “why talk about such depressing stuff?” I think that this is the most common expression of people’s feelings regarding death today.
So why do we fear and deny death? Because we cannot imagine what it is like after we die. None of us has truly experienced it (or else we wouldn’t be here), so therefore we do not understand. We fear things we do not understand, and as Alcorn put it, “we cannot anticipate or desire what we cannot imagine.” And as we talked about yesterday, as long as Satan can ensure that we do not anticipate or desire going to heaven, he takes away a lot of our joy and our effectiveness as witnesses (who wants to share the ‘good news’ of going to a place where you’re not sure you really want to go?).
Alcorn argues that there are plenty of clues in scripture that allow us to imagine heaven. He says “the writers of scripture present heaven in many ways, including a garden, a city, and a kingdom.” These are all easily imagined by most of us, yet many times people shrug these off as allegorical, thinking that they are not accurate descriptions of heaven and that heaven is a purely spiritual realm that cannot be imagined. But Jesus said “In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you.” (John 14:2, emphasis added). Catch that? A place! We have no reason to believe that this “place” is any less physical than any other “place” we can imagine. On top of this, Alcorn says that “God made us both physical and spiritual. He did not design us to live in a nonphysical realm.” And since as physical beings we use our senses to gather information about the things around us, in order to imagine something it has to be physical, where we sense it. So again, we should consider the plausibility of heaven being a physical place, that can be understood, at least on some level, by our finite minds.
So if heaven is a physical place that we can imagine, what kinds of things might we imagine seeing there? Alcorn lists things that we would see on earth today – dogs, flowers, grass, blue sky. Joyful people with powerful, healthy bodies, who you can laugh, play, talk, and reminisce with. This is because the heaven we live in will be a new earth, and since we can imagine what earth is like now, we should be able to imagine what a new earth will be like – only add in that there will be no corruption, sin, illness or death.
If you are anything like me, this excites you. I can imagine these things. I understand what earth is like, and I can imagine it much the same way, only better. And if you’re like me, you are longing for some scriptural backup for these arguments. Hopefully Alcorn will be providing these in the remainder of this study.
Click HERE to see the next post in this series.