(From my upcoming newsletter to my Arapahoe Road Baptist Church family for May 2014)
May brings about a very special month in the life of our church: Senior Adult Sunday (May 4th), Mother’s Day (11th), Student-Led Sunday/Graduate Recognition (18th), Memorial Day Sunday (25th). Plus, we start a study on Discovering the Biblical Jesus on Equipped Wednesdays.
Yet, the very issue that captures the minds of many are the issues of heaven and Christ’s return. The movie Heaven is For Real (based on the popular book) hit theatres recently; along with the ‘Blood Moon’ on the morning of the 15th is taking our minds from this world to the next. Christians have much to think about.
Heaven is For Real outlines an account of a four-year-old boy who, will having surgery, says that he had an experience when he not only saw the doctors working on his body, but also knew where and what his mom and dad were doing. He also had a time when he sat on Jesus’ lap, when Jesus “had the angels sing to me because I was so scared. They made me feel better.” He met long-departed relatives and saw how really big God was.
We have no shortage of books on this matter: 90 Minutes in Heaven by Don Piper, Flight to Heaven by Capt. Dale Black, Appointments with Heaven by Reggie Anderson, and numerous other ‘touring heaven’ books. While we take comfort in many thinking about heaven, we must also comfort each other in thinking rightly about heaven.
In Scripture, consider:
- Only four visions take place regarding heaven: with Isaiah (Isaiah 6), Ezekiel (Ezekiel 1), the Apostle Paul (2 Corinthians 12), and the Apostle John (Revelation).
- While the majority of these ‘touring heaven’ books occur during near death experiences, none of the biblical authors had this.
- While each of these ‘touring heaven’ authors felt the need to write these ideas down, God compelled these authors to write—they were in no hurry. John was told to “write the things that are” (Rev. 1:8); Paul sat on his vision for 14 years.
- Three of these writers saw the Lord and felt they were doomed (Isaiah 6:5; Ezekiel 1:28; Revelation 1:17-18).
- When Paul was caught up into the dwelling of God (“the third heaven”), he said he “heard things that cannot be told, which man may not utter” (2 Corinthians 12:4)—much different from the ‘touring heaven’ authors who felt free to share everything they saw.
- Don Piper noted that in heaven, he heard many songs, some of which he knew and others he didn’t. “But later I realized that I didn’t hear such songs as ‘The Old Rugged Cross’ or ‘The Nail-Scarred Hand.’ None of the hymns that filled the air were about Jesus’ sacrifice and death. I heard no sad songs and instinctively knew that there are no sad songs in heaven. Why would there be?” Yet, those same angels in heaven were singing about just that in Revelation 5:9-10. God used the old rugged cross to bring about the nail-scarred hand for our salvation and entry to heaven! Without that, no heaven—neither for 90 minutes or all eternity.
I could go on. But what’s my point in writing all this? First of all, the Bible is our authority on all things, not books on the bestseller list. We must look to the sufficiency of Scripture first and judge all things according to what God’s Word (i.e., the Scriptures) say.
Secondly, given all the news and press this generates, this should show us that people are longing to understand what’s next coming. Solomon wrote that God “has put eternity into man’s heart” (Eccl. 3:12), and these movies, books, and TV shows demonstrate this. I submit that even unbelievers and skeptics won’t ignore it because (possibly) they don’t want this to be true, but sense this is not all there is.
Heaven is for real—I know this because God told me so. And it’s more glorious than any book can capture. Be discerning, dear brothers and sisters in Christ. Trust the Word! Let Christ and the Bible be your guide!
I love and treasure you all,