Sports in Heaven?
The following is an edited transcript of Randy’s interview with Tony Reinke, who invited him to be a guest on Desiring God’s “Ask Pastor John” podcast in June 2014.
Tony Reinke: We’re back with Randy Alcorn—an expert on what the Bible says about Heaven. Randy, thanks for joining us. So here’s a question near to my heart: will there be baseball in Heaven? In other words, we know there will be play in Heaven. (Isaiah 11:8 and Zechariah 8:5 seem to indicate this.) But will competitive sports carry over from this world, games like baseball and basketball and golf?
Randy: We know we’re speculating on this, but I believe there is every reason to expect there would be. There is continuity. Instead of asking the question: “What will there be on the New Earth that will be the same as on the old Earth?” We should turn it around and ask, “What would we expect to be different?” Well, we know there won’t be sin. The New Earth will be the place in which righteousness dwells (2 Peter 3:13). We know that for sure. So there won’t be sin.
Now when we say sports in Heaven, you know, there is the Present Heaven, the pre-resurrection Heaven. So I am not even talking about that. I am talking about the eternal heavens after the resurrection that will actually be centered on the New Earth. The new heavens and New Earth will be a physical realm.
I actually had a pastor who disagreed with my comment that I would expect there to be sports on the New Earth tell me, “But there couldn’t be sports, because sports bring out the worst in us. Sports make us sin.”
I said: Well, first of all, sports don’t make us sin, but certainly I know what you are talking about. I coached high school tennis for many years. I have seen guys at their worst. But also I have seen them at their best in sports.
And he also said: “Well, yeah, but we can’t have anybody lose ever in a game in Heaven.”
And I am thinking: Well, why not? Why could we never lose? It is OK to lose. It is OK to have a competition and not have it all be about you. And I even used the illustration of how when I played tennis with my high school guys that I coached, I wanted them to develop to the point where even though I tried as hard as I could to win, they were finally able to beat me. And when that happened, I celebrated with them. This, I think, is an example of how even in this life we can have vested interest in someone else’s success. But certainly on the New Earth sin won’t be there. As Paul Helm says: “We will not sin. We won’t want to sin. We won’t want to want to sin.” It just won’t be part of our world.
So I would say: Where did sports come from? Who gave us the ingenuity to even create them as human beings? Clearly it is from God. We are made in His image. Satan did not come up with the idea of sports.
Tony: Interesting. So to lose does not mean one has sinned or has been sinned against—that’s helpful. Thank you for that, Randy. I cannot wait to see what my glorified fastball looks like. For more on this and so many other topics, see Randy’s bestselling book, simply titled Heaven. Also, check out Randy’s ministry, Eternal Perspective Ministries online at www.epm.org. I’m your host Tony Reinke, and thanks for listening to the Ask Pastor John podcast.