– Opelika-Auburn News
Lately I am wondering what heaven
will be like
recent newspaper obituary stated that “Sam Smith” was “welcomed to heaven” last
Saturday. You have to admire the admiration Sam’s family had for him. They were
sure that when Sam breathed his last breath his soul went straight to heaven.
of us knows for certain what happens when the body dies. But that is where
faith comes in. Faith helps us believe that those who trust Jesus for salvation
are heaven bound.
advancing years bring me nearer to a cemetery lot, I cannot help but wonder
what heaven will be like. That may explain why I catch myself singing songs
about heaven, songs tucked away in my memory bank.
of those songs has the delightful refrain, “I am bound for the promised land.”
I reckon Sam Smith loved that song too. Like me he may have pictured himself
standing on “Jordan’s stormy banks” and wondering what he would find when he
crossed over to “Canaan’s fair and happy land.”
precious words are the last verse of that old song:
I shall reach that happy place,
be forever blest,
for I shall see my
and in his bosom rest.
songwriter Fanny Crosby, though blind, expected in heaven to see Jesus “face to
face.” That pretty much nails it for me;
the finest sight in heaven would surely be the face of Jesus. For the
Christian, Crosby’s memorable words say it all:
day the silver cord will break,
I no more as now shall sing,
O, the joy when I awake
Within the palace of the King.
I shall see Him face to face,
tell the story saved by grace.
finally see Jesus would be wonderful but what does the Bible say about heaven?
Does the Bible back up what our songs tell us about heaven? Do the Scriptures
support the common idea that heaven is “up” yonder and that hell is “below”? We
need to examine what the Good Book says.
in the Book of Revelation, tells us about a new, redeemed earth. He sees the
holy city Jerusalem “coming down out of heaven from God.” The city is
unbelievably huge. But wait, the “city” is actually the people, the redeemed
whose names are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.
observes that there is no temple in the city. The temple was important to the Israelites. It was
there they offered sacrifices for their sins. It was there they found
forgiveness. It was there they shared rich fellowship with others as they
worshiped the living God.
John sees that no temple is needed in heaven. Instead the Lord God and the Lamb
temple. The presence of God is all that the redeemed will need since in heaven
there is no separation from God. People are one with God and God is one with
and the Lamb will provide all the light that is needed. In the days of our
flesh night follows day. Nighttime brings on fear for evil works under cover of
darkness. Gates are closed and security systems are turned on as the sun goes
down. Some people, paralyzed by the terror of the night, only find relief when
the first rays of dawn appear. For them it means something that the Lord is
known as the Bright and Morning Star.
In heaven there will be no night. Gates will
be open. The glory of God will furnish perfect light forever and ever. Never
again will any of us be “afraid of the dark.” We will never hurt again for
there will be no pain and no tears. We will have new bodies, spiritual bodies,
to replace these worn out bodies of flesh.
will be no more hurt feelings, no more aching grief caused by irreconcilable
differences between family members and loved ones. We will be at peace with God
and with each other at last. We will live together in the perfect harmony that
genuine love creates. No wonder many of us love that wonderful song composed by
all my labors and trials are o’er,
I am safe on that beautiful shore,
to be near the dear Lord I adore,
through the ages be glory for me.
that will be glory for me,
Glory for me, glory for me.
by his grace I shall look on His face,
will be glory, be glory for me.
I sing that song I feel like shouting “Glory!”
in every age have been impressed with precious jewels, pearls, diamonds and
gold. John knows this. So he uses such imagery to describe the beauty of the
holy city. In his vision John sees twelve gates made of pearls and streets of
pure gold. John employs this symbolic language to describe heaven as more
beautiful than anything we can imagine.
John sees two groups of people: the redeemed
who are the church, the bride of Christ, and those who are in the lake of fire.
While we may wish for all to be saved at last, John says that only those whose
names are written in the Lamb’s Book of life will live in the holy city. This
will be true not because God shuts unbelievers out but because unbelievers
choose darkness rather than light. Heaven exists for those who worship the
Lamb. Some, preferring to worship other gods or even themselves, choose not to
worship the Lamb. Their choice determines their eternal destiny.
I love fruit I especially love John’s description of the tree of life that
produces fruit constantly, not just seasonally. Not only that, it provides
twelve kinds of fruit! The symbolism again is beautiful.
wife and I once flew to Hawaii. There our tour group stopped to observe
pineapples growing in a large field. Our host offered us freshly cut pineapple
to eat. Never had we tasted such sweet, delicious pineapple! I know now that
what we enjoyed was a “foretaste of glory divine”! Dare I say that the taste was heavenly!
life-giving water, fresh fruit in abundance, no more night, no more tears, and
no need for the light of the lamp or the sun! Thus does John describe eternal
life: living forever in the presence of the Lord God and the Son, the Lamb who
was slain for our salvation. Faith in such a heaven calms
our fear of death and gives us peace about what is across the Jordon.
wonder the songwriter exclaimed, “When we all get to heaven, what a day of
rejoicing that will be”! There we will “all see Jesus” and realize that the
place Jesus prepared for us in the Father’s House is all we will need – and
more! Glory! + + +