Looking Forward to Heaven?
With the deaths of several celebrities on the forefront of people's minds, I want to focus this week's question and answer on Heaven. Because the reality is, as human beings, we all have a terminal disease called mortality. The current death rate is 100 percent. Unless Christ returns soon, we’re all going to die. We don’t like to think about death; yet, worldwide, 3 people die every second, 180 every minute, and nearly 11,000 every hour. If the Bible is right about what happens to us after death, it means that more than 250,000 people every day go either to Heaven or Hell.
David said, “Show me, O Lord, my life’s end and the number of my days; let me know how fleeting is my life. You have made my days a mere handbreadth; the span of my years is as nothing before you. Each man’s life is but a breath” (Psalm 39:4-5). Picture a single breath escaping your mouth on a cold day and dissipating into the air. Such is the brevity of life here. The wise will consider what awaits us on the other side of this life that so quickly ends.
God uses suffering and impending death to unfasten us from this earth and to set our minds on what lies beyond. I’ve lost people close to me. (Actually, I haven’t lost them, because I know where they are—rather, I’ve lost contact with them.) I’ve spent a lot of time talking to people who’ve been diagnosed with terminal diseases. These people, and their loved ones, have a sudden and insatiable interest in the afterlife. Most people live unprepared for death. But those who are wise will go to a reliable source to investigate what’s on the other side. And if they discover that the choices they make during their brief stay in this world will matter in the world to come, they’ll want to adjust those choices accordingly.
Yet you may be wondering, How can I change my perspective so that I truly look forward to Heaven?
Consider these Scriptures:
Luke 6:21 says, "God blesses you who weep now, for in due time you will laugh."
Luke 15:10 says, "There is joy in the presence of God’s angels when even one sinner repents."
Nobody wants to leave a good party early. Christians faced with death often feel they’re leaving the party before it’s over. They have to go home early. They’re disappointed, thinking of all they’ll miss when they leave.
But the truth is, the real party is under way at home—precisely where they’re going! They’re not the ones missing the party; those of us left behind are. (Fortunately, if we know Jesus, we’ll get there eventually to join the party.)
One by one, believers will disappear from the world. Those of us who are left behind will grieve that our loved ones have left home. In reality, however, our believing loved ones aren’t leaving home; they’re going home. They’ll be home before us. We’ll be arriving at the party a little later. Laughter and rejoicing—a party awaits us. Don’t you want to join it? (If you aren’t certain you’ll be at the party, check out How Can We Know That We'll Go to Heaven?)
Yet even that party, in the present Heaven, is a preliminary celebration. To be in resurrected bodies on a resurrected Earth in resurrected friendships, enjoying the resurrected culture with the resurrected Jesus—now that will be the ultimate party! We will all be who God made us to be—and none of us will ever suffer or die again. As a Christian, the day I die will be the best day I’ve ever lived. But it won’t be the best day I ever will live. Resurrection day will be far better. And the first day on the New Earth—that will be one big step for mankind, one giant leap for God’s glory.