If you are like me, your first tendency is not to believe what you read or hear on the news these days unless it’s from a source you trust. Even then, I have initially believed some stories that I later discovered lacked credibility.
Unfortunately, we also hear fake stories about heaven. With the wide variety of false images about our life in eternity circulating about us, it’s no surprise that few believers feel excited about heaven.
Randy Alcorn, in his book Heaven, wrote, “As long as the resurrected universe remains either undesirable or unimaginable, Satan succeeds in sabotaging our love for Heaven.”
What are some popular stories about heaven that the enemy of our souls uses to sabotage our desire for the home Jesus is preparing for us?
- Heaven is Not Real
In late 1971, the song “Imagine,” written and performed by John Lennon, started its climb to the top of the charts. The lyrics ask the listener to imagine that heaven and hell do not exist. Today, this still represents the top fake news story about eternity: the denial of heaven and hell’s existence.
The Bible, our infallible source of truth, verifies that both heaven and hell do indeed exist. Jesus repeatedly promised eternal life to those who believe in Him, and many times warned about the awful fate of hell for all those who reject Him. You cannot deny the existence of heaven or, for that matter, hell and still maintain Jesus’ greatness as a teacher; He taught that both exist.
I recently heard a pastor say that the New Jerusalem was an allegory of God’s presence on the new earth. His words shocked me. Those who falsely make the new earth the totality of our eternal hope deny a key aspect of biblical teaching about heaven and open the door to additional false teaching.
Do not fall for the lies that maintain heaven does not exist or that it does not include a glorious city. The New Jerusalem that the apostle John described in detail is not a symbol; it is a real physical city of immense proportions (Rev. 21-22).
- Heaven Consists of Just the New Jerusalem
For many years I thought heaven consisted only of the New Jerusalem. While I still believe the saints of all the ages will dwell in glorious homes in the New Jerusalem, we will also enjoy the wonders of the new earth (Rev. 21:1). The fact that the apostle describes it as the “new earth” indicates a similarity to the present one, only without the effects of sin and the curse.
There will be a visible continuity with our current world.
My wife and I spent our honeymoon in Estes Park, Colorado. I wish I could go hiking in the Rocky Mountain National Park at least once a month; I loved gazing at the mountains and could sit for hours next to the mountain streams.
I also loved watching and listening to the waves of Lake Michigan crash against the shores of Michigan. The scenic vistas of the Blue Ridge Parkway remain in my mind, and I long to go back to the Blue Ridge Mountains and hike in the Smoky Mountain National Park.
I have only seen a tiny part of the stunning and unforgettable scenes of this present earth, but I will have all eternity to explore the wonders of the new earth where I will see similar and still greater wonders.
- Heaven will be Boring
Perhaps the most widely held fallacy regarding heaven is that it will be boring. Nothing could be further from the truth!
Randy Alcorn, in his book Heaven, addresses this popular delusion:
“Our belief that Heaven will be boring betrays a heresy—that God is boring. There’s no greater nonsense. Our desire for pleasure and the experience of joy come directly from God’s hand. He made our taste buds, adrenaline, sex drives, and the nerve endings that convey pleasure to our brains. Likewise, our imaginations and our capacity for joy and exhilaration were made by the very God we accuse of being boring. Are we so arrogant as to imagine that human beings came up with the idea of having fun?”
Don’t let the devil deceive you into thinking you will be bored in heaven. In Psalm 16:11 David says, “In your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” Does this not sound much different than sitting on clouds with harps?
We will be in the Lord’s presence from the rapture forward to all of eternity (see 1 Thess. 4:17) where we will find “fullness of joy” and “pleasures forevermore.” This totally negates the lie that heaven will be boring.
- We will be Solitary Saints Playing Harps Seated on Clouds
The media loves to portray heaven as solitary saints sitting on clouds and playing harps. Nothing dampens enthusiasm for eternity as does this fake image, and understandably so.
Scripture never paints such a lonely and dull picture of our future paradise. The Lord promises that we will live forever with immortal bodies, enjoying the beauty of the new earth while we live in the most beautiful city imaginable, the New Jerusalem. Our lives in eternity will be an unending exiting and joyous adventure.
- Heaven will be an Endless Worship Service
The images of worship in Revelation 4 and 5 cause many to assume heaven will consist of a long, unending worship service.
Of course we will praise the Lord with voice and instruments throughout eternity. When we see Jesus in all His glory and fully realize the price He paid for our salvation, thanksgiving and worship will pour from us as an unstoppable response. We will never cease praising the Lord in eternity.
The Bible, however, tells us the Lord has much more in mind for us. We will reign with Jesus after His return to earth (Rev. 5:9-10), which implies the Lord will assign a variety of activities during His thousand-year reign on earth and then in the eternal state.
Yes, we will always praise our Savior as we do now, but we will also be part of a never-ending and exhilarating adventure as we reign with Jesus and explore the wonders of the new earth.
- We will be Angels Seeking Wings
I love the movie It’s a Wonderful Life, but someday we will be far more than aspiring angels jumping into icy waters to earn our wings. Unfortunately, many Christians today assume we become angels when we go to heaven. When Jesus said we would be “like angels in heaven” (Matt. 22:30), He made the comparison in terms of marriage. He never said we would become angels.
The apostle Paul later said that we will “judge angels” someday (1 Cor. 6:3). I am not sure of all that implies, but it certainly distinguishes us from them. Many other passages also clarify that angels and believers are differing in many ways.
- Our Dreams Die When this Life Ends
The millennium and eternal state (heaven) will be the wondrous time of renewal and restoration that Jesus promises us in Matthew 19:27-29. The dreams and aspirations Jesus puts on our hearts in this life do not fade away when we die or are caught up to meet the Lord in the air.
For lives cut short due to tragedy and illness, the millennium will be a time to again use God-given gifts and talents. As for the desires the Lord places in our hearts that do not reach fulfillment in this life, this will be a time when those aspirations come to full fruition. For dreams cut short by the evil actions of others, our reign with Christ will be a wondrous time of restoration beyond our fondest dreams (read Matt. 19:27-29 again).
I like what Randy Alcorn said – something similar – in his book Heaven:
“Without an eternal perspective, without understanding the reality that the best is yet to come, we assume that people who die young, who are handicapped, who aren’t healthy, who don’t get married, or who don’t _________ [fill in the blank] will inevitably miss out on the best life has to offer. But the theology underlying those assumptions is fatally flawed. We’re presuming our present Earth, bodies, culture, relationships, and lives are superior to those of the New Earth.
“What are we thinking?”
Regardless of our circumstances, for those in Christ, the best is yet to come; and it will be far better than anything this life has to offer.
- Peter Allows Entrance into Heaven Based Upon Good Works
Perhaps the most fatal of all fake news stories regarding eternity pictures a lonely person straggling up to Peter at the gates of heaven to plead why his or her life merits entry into the glorious city. This picture contradicts the clear teaching of the New Testament.
Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6). Jesus is our path to heaven. The apostle John later wrote this, “And this is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life” (1 John 5:11-12).
We receive eternal life solely on account of God’s love and mercy based upon the blood Jesus shed on the cross. Even our faith comes from above: “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast” (Eph. 2:8-9).
Jesus is the door to heaven. If we have Him living inside us through the Holy Spirit, we already possess eternal life. It’s His righteousness alone, applied to us, that saves us. If we depend on our goodness to gain entrance to heaven, we will fall far short.
Yes, heaven exists; and once there, the Lord will forever shower us with the kindness of His grace (Eph. 2:7). This life is just the warmup for what lies ahead. Today we experience disappointment, rejection, and pain; the tears flow at many times in our lives.
But a much, much better day is just ahead. Jesus is coming soon for His church to take us to the place He is preparing for us. All sorrows, tears, frustrations, and death will forever end in eternity (Rev. 21:4).
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