Know Your Bible

VOL. 8                           May 10, 2009                           NO. 16


          The late Madalyn Murray O’Hair, one of the world’s most out-spoken atheists, once stated that "Heaven is a delusional dream of the unsophisticated minds of the ill-educated clergy." Such is the attitude of many people today toward the idea of a final reward called heaven. And it is truly sad, indeed, when we don’t even hear members of the Lord’s church talking about their eternal destiny.

         Of course we can’t assign percentages to eternity, but if we could, then 99.999 percent of our existence would be spent in our eternal destiny - heaven for those who faithfully serve the Lord. Shouldn’t we be concerned about heaven, the place of our hopes and our dreams? When we get too busy to think about and to talk about heaven, then we are just too busy!!!


Is There Really a Heaven?

         Human reasoning attacks and denies the concept of heaven!Humanism (Humanist Manifesto II, 1973): "Promises of immortal salvation are both illusory and harmful. They distract humans from present concerns, from self-actualization (achieving your potential), and from rectifying social injustices." Such is utterly false. Despair is paralyzing, not hope.

The keynote of Christ’s message was "repent." To put it simply, changed people change their world. Heaven is indeed an incentive for God’s people to roll up their sleeves and get to work in this bitter world in which we live.

         Dr. Alfred North Whitehead, a famous Harvard professor once stated: "Can you imagine anything more appallingly idiotic than the Christian idea of heaven?" Personally, I can’t think of anything more appallingly idiotic than a man speaking with authority on life after death when he has never even been dead!

         So, the flickering candle of human philosophy ridicules heaven, but we must remember the words of the apostle Paul in Col. 2:8 when he said, "Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the worlds, and not according to Christ."

         It is truly sad when people who claim to be followers of Christ even deny the existence of heaven. One denominational minister said, "Heaven is that ridiculous spiritual roof garden of the next world." Another admonished his listeners in a sermon to "leave heaven for the sparrows." For such people there is no excuse!

         Even though human reasoning attacks and denies the existence of heaven, human existence itself demands heaven. Heaven has always been desired. God has never given an instinct or intuition that does not respond to a fact. The newborn kitten, even before its eyes are open, seeks nourishment from its mother’s breasts. God placed that instinct in the kitten and the instinct responds to a fact. The kitten needs nourishment and nourishment is only found in the mother’s breast. It doesn’t matter that the kitten can not see its mother. We have eyes because there is light. We have ears because there is sound.

         C.S. Lewis once wrote, “Creatures are not born with desires unless satisfaction for those desires exists. If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world." Heaven has always been believed. The native Americans believed in the "happy hunting ground" if they lived worthy lives. The ancient Egyptians called the next world "Yaru." Many other cultures, although skewed from the truth, believed in an afterlife of some sort. More specifically, they believed in a place of eternal reward for a life well lived.

         The reason why heaven has always been desired and heaven has always been believed is that our Creator gave us an instinct for eternal life. The preacher, or Solomon, stated in Ecclesiastes 3:11 that "He has put eternity in their hearts" God gave us the desire to live forever. We are not made for this world, but for the next.


Divine Revelation Discloses Heaven

         We have a sure word on this subject, however. We find the truth in God’s word. 1 Cor. 2:9-10 God has promised great things to those who love Him. He reveals those things to us through the Spirit-the word of God.

         The words "heaven" and "heavens" are used at least 718 times in the scriptures, and there are countless other allusions of heaven. 2 Cor. 12:1-4 Paul tells us a man was caught up to paradise, or the third heaven. Rev. 4:1; 21:5; 22:6. The apostle John received a tour, as it were, of heaven and it is emphasized that the things he saw were faithful and true. John 3:11-13; Jn 14:1-4 Jesus’ own testimony of the certainty of heaven.

         A minister once said at a funeral, "I cannot conclusively prove that there is a heaven, for I have never been there. However, I have a Friend who has been there and I trust that Friend." Jesus came from heaven and we can trust His testimony about the certainty of heaven. If Heaven does not exist then Jesus was a liar, our faith is based on a lie, and Christianity is the greatest hoax there ever was. If that were the case, the apostle Paul describes our condition in 1 Cor. 15:19 when he stated, "If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable." Friends, there is a heaven! God’s word makes it abundantly clear that such a place exists!!!

         Heaven is a prepared place for a prepared people. Jn 14:1-4. Jesus has gone to prepare a place for all those who would obey Him. Are you prepared to go to heaven?


---Michael Rhodes

(Condensed for space.)


Page 1


"Death is not a period but a comma in the story of life."


         A comma is used in a sentence to indicate a pause. A period is end punctuation. It is used to show the end of a sentence. With this idea in mind, the above quotation says a great deal. It speaks of the immortality of the soul.


         There is more to man's existence than life on earth. Man has an immortal soul. We do not live forever in our body as life on earth does end. However, the soul endures forever. Ecclesiastes 12:7 describes death. It says, "Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it." This passage shows a distinction between the body and the soul. It also shows the existence of the soul after death.


         It is not just the souls of the righteous that are eternal. Everyone has an eternal soul. This is good for the righteous because they will dwell eternally in heaven. However, it will be dreadful for the wicked as they will dwell an eternity in hell. Notice what Jesus said in Matthew 25:46 when He spoke of the fates of the wicked and righteous. He said, "and these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal." The words "everlasting" and "eternal" come from the same word in the Greek. The word means "never ending."


         We need to keep in mind the immortality of our souls. It is important to become a Christian and be faithful in our service to God (Acts 22:16; I Cor. 15:58) so that we can dwell "forever" in heaven.


         Remember, death is not a period: it is only a comma in the story of life.


---Mike Johnson


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