Do you think we will study in Heaven?
Question from a reader:
I was talking to a Bible translator about Heaven and one of the scholarly ladies said she can't wait to get to heaven so she can study! I know God will delight us all, but I didn't happen to share her enthusiasm in this area.
Answer from Randy Alcorn:
I believe that reading and study and discussion, all forms of intellectual exploration, will surely only be enhanced in a world where we remain God's image-bearers, fully human, and at last untainted by sin.
Here’s an excerpt from my book Heaven that speaks to your question:
When we enter Heaven, we’ll presumably begin with the knowledge we had at the time of our death. God may enhance our knowledge and will correct countless wrong perceptions. I imagine he’ll reveal many new things to us, then set us on a course of continual learning, paralleling Adam and Eve’s. Once we’re in resurrection bodies with resurrected brains, our capacity to learn may increase. Perhaps angel guardians or loved ones already in Heaven will be assigned to tutor and orient us.
We will also study. Martin Luther said, “If God had all the answers in his right hand, and the struggle to reach those answers in his left, I would choose God’s left hand.” Why? Because it’s not only truth we want, it’s also the pleasure of learning the truth. God reveals himself to us in the process of our learning, often in bite-sized chunks, fit for our finite minds. The great preacher Donald Gray Barnhouse once said that if he was told he had three years left on Earth, he would spend two years studying and one preaching. Expressing a similar desire, Billy Graham said that if he had his life to do over again, he would study more and preach less.
Will we study doctrine in Heaven? Doctrine is truth, which is an extension of God’s nature, and therefore also cannot be exhausted. We will have eternity to explore it. Truth will be living and vital, never dry and dusty. We will dialogue about truth not to impress each other but to enrich each other and ourselves as we discover more and more about God.
To study creation is to study the Creator. Science should be worshipful discovery because the heavens and all creation declare God’s glory. God reveals his character in flowers, waterfalls, animals, and planets. God’s name is written large in nature, in his beauty organization, skill, precision, and attention to detail. He’s the Master Artist. On the New Earth everything will be a lens through which we see him. Biology, zoology, chemistry, astronomy, physics—all will be the study of God.
Will we discover new ideas? I believe we will. Jesus, the God-man, was sometimes “astonished” at what he saw on this earth (Matthew 8:10). If there was ever a man incapable of surprise, wouldn’t we have expected it to be the “one who came from heaven” (John 3:13)? But if Jesus could be astonished on this old Earth, surely we will often be astonished at what we see in God, people, and creation on the New Earth.
There’s so much to discover in this universe, but we have so little time and opportunity to do it. The list of books I haven’t read, music I’ve never heard, and places I haven’t been is unending. There’s much more to know. I look forward to discovering new things in Heaven—forever. At the end of each day I’ll have the same amount of time left as I did the day before. The things I didn’t learn that day, the people I didn’t see, the things I was unable to do—I can still learn, see, or do the next day. Places won’t crumble, people won’t die, and neither will I.