Heaven: Who Really Knows What's Ahead?
Readers might like to check out this article about Randy, which appeared on the front page of The Oregonian newspaper on Easter Sunday. The online version of the article, which focused on Randy's beliefs about Heaven, is followed by several comments, many of which are quite hostile. "I think this reflects the anti-Christian mood in this area of the country," Randy said about the comments. "The level of intolerance of pro-tolerance people is sometimes amazing."
Here are a few excerpts from the story:
On Easter, Christians celebrate their conviction that Jesus was resurrected and is preparing a place for them in heaven. But many are uncertain about the details.
A 2005 Newsweek poll found that 80 percent of Americans believe they're headed to heaven but only half of them think of resurrection as a physical event, one that will include a new body for every believer.
That comes as no surprise to Randy Alcorn of Gresham, a former pastor and author of more than 50 books that are widely read by evangelical Christians. His 2004 book, "Heaven," has sold more than 500,000 copies [It’s now 600,000] and inspired a line of study guides and related books. Alcorn is convinced that many Christians don't know or understand what the Bible says about the afterlife.
"A lot of people think heaven is [limited to] where you go when you die," he says. But Randy Alcorn says Christians' final destination is the "New Earth," which he describes as "a resurrected life in a resurrected body, with the resurrected Christ on a resurrected Earth."
Alcorn was a pastor at Good Shepherd Community Church in Boring when his mother became gravely ill in 1981.
"I sat with her every day and read these chapters to her over and over," he says, opening his well-worn Bible studded with Post-it notes. "What struck me, as I read, was how tangible it all was." The description of a new heaven and earth "wasn't 'floaty' or spiritualized."
"There was a river going through the city. And a tree of life grew there, and it was bearing new fruit every month. The kings of the Earth were bringing their treasures into the city. There were streets, people walking and eating. There was water, vegetation and animals [I said that not based on this passage, but Isaiah 60 and 65]. ... This was New Earth."
And I thought to myself, 'Wow.'"
"Knowing the story—the unfolding drama of redemption—knowing where it starts and where it ends is immensely helpful when you're living in the middle."
Stephanie Anderson is the communications and graphics specialist at Eternal Perspective Ministries.