Talk to Christians about heaven and what that will be like, and you have so many variant answers. That is normal, for none of us knows any details, and a lot of what we think is more in line with our own assumptions.
What will you do there?
Will we meet our friends and family?
Will we eat and drink?
Do we have jobs or work to do “to keep us busy”?
Will we live in special rooms (that old mansion/room debate of John 14:1)?
Can we talk individually to Jesus?
AND dozens and dozens of other questions we wonder about.
Now I do not intend to speak on any of those except the second one. One thing I will make clear absolutely is that I totally reject all these accounts and stories about people being taken to heaven to look around. I even heard of one where the claim was made that Jesus took him around and showed him all these wonders and the people he met. No one has ascended into heaven except the Son of Man who has come down from heaven. A lot of these stories come from the Pentecostal/Charismatic side of the fence, and if any of the readers on RR belong to that organization of people, I do not wish to insult you.
Some of the accounts in this area of “going to heaven to visit” center around near-death experiences with people recovering from a coma or being declared dead and then being revived. All I will say about that is that the brain is an incredibly complex organ, and we all know how we daydream, even getting carried away in our thoughts; some can have the most graphic and fanciful dreams (more so when seriously ill). It is not my area of expertise in any shape or form, but I am prepared to say none of these experiences of people leaving the body and having a conducted tour in heaven can be classed as people going to heaven and returning.
The accounts I have heard of people relating journeys who detailed their time in heaven when taken there miraculously and returned, and the things they say, are nonsense, e.g., Jesus taking them around on a tour of heaven or being given a message to bring back with them. All these people are either grossly deluded or are liars.
I was alerted to what Terry James wrote of his own experience, a near-death experience. No one has the right to dismiss the honest experience of a Christian brother. However, I want to make it clear that these experiences that are mingled with medical procedures and operations (near-death experiences) are NOT what I am talking about when I write of those who claim they have been taken to heaven to talk with people and who go on guided tours. That is false.
NOW THE QUESTION
Getting back to that second question in the list – Will we meet our friends and family in heaven? Many things I will say cannot be proven, so we look partly at speculation.
I suppose all of us have a great desire to reunite with family, relatives, and people who meant so much to us. Take the case of a mother who lost a very young child, or a man who lost his wife in childbirth a year after marriage, or a spouse tragically lost in a motor accident. These are heart-rending examples, but they are part of the trauma we can have in this world. Is there not a burning desire to reunite in heaven? Would God ever deny that?
That brings us to another aspect. Will we know people in glory? For example, that mother who lost a very small child: will she know that one? At the Rapture, the new bodies of those who have died, and the bodies of those living at the time of the Rapture, will they have the same bodies (appearances) as when we know them, and if not, what body will they have? I know these questions cannot be answered. The resurrected body of the Lord gives some hint.
Will we know Peter, John, Gideon, and almost anyone else? If so, how will we know them? Speculation will not answer those questions. Remember Peter, James, and John on the Mount of Transfiguration; well, they knew Moses and Elijah, but how? I am sure Elijah did not greet them and say, ‘Hello, I am Elijah.’ In Paradise and Hell (Sheol), before the ascension into heaven, the rich man knew Lazarus, and that may seem an easy one because they were of the same timeframe; however, they did not have bodies because they were spirits. How can one spirit know another one before the resurrected body and even then after that?
It is a big mystery. I am sure a man or woman who dies at age 95, wrinkled and in pain, even disfigured, will not have a 95-year-old body in the resurrection. We just don’t know, and there is no profit in continuing with the questions. Now that we may have thought about these things, I am going to make a suggestion with no proof whatever.
I think, in the resurrection we will all enjoy at the Rapture – because we are all one Church, all one Bride, all one Pearl, all one Spiritual House, all the Household of God, all members the one Body – we shall all know one another from the time of Adam to the last soul saved. There will be no strangers in heaven, no aliens (not the science fiction type), no orphans. I know that is gigantic, but it sort of makes sense to me, but our thinking is not God’s thinking, so who can say?
Who can possibly imagine what joy it will be, fully redeemed, fully in completed holiness, bathed in love and light, and every single saint the same way? Righteousness will be everywhere, BUT none of it is our own, for we are the Righteousness of God in Christ. 2 Corinthians 5:21 “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” All our filthy garments of unrighteousness will be gone and remembered no more forever.
WHAT IS THE CRUX OF HEAVEN?
What is the first thing you want to do in heaven? I have heard some really materialistic views on this. Some want to examine their room and take in all the gold and see what they are going to have. Can I say that is the most selfish thing? Heaven is not about materialism or riches or pleasing your worldly behavior.
Two verses should be our aspiration. Consider this incident: John 12:20-21 “Now there were certain Greeks among those who were going up to worship at the feast. These therefore came to Philip who was from Bethsaida of Galilee, and began to ask him saying, ‘Sir, we wish to see Jesus.”
WE WISH TO SEE JESUS! There can be no higher aspiration than the one that desires to see Jesus. The question that is the title of this message is, “Whom will YOU meet in heaven?” Just for a moment, I will change the emphasis of that and ask, “Whom do YOU want to see in heaven?”
“Well, there is my brother, my children, yes, my grandparents, and Queen Elizabeth because she is/was a Christian and… and…”
“Hold on there for a moment! Let me ask you, “WHOM do you want to see in heaven?” Now we are getting to the point. Matthew 10:37 “He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me, and he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me.” There we have our answer! It is Jesus we must desire to see more than ANY other thing or person. He is heaven’s delight, our dear Bridegroom, the Head of the Church, AND the individual Saviour of us all. It is the Lord Jesus Christ we ought to have an undying desire to see when we first touch base with heaven. Every single thing subsequent to that is secondary.
BUT, you know what? I have the greatest confidence that you will not enter heaven and be confused like a fish out of water. I feel certain that the Lord will be there to meet you as soon as you pass from here. 2Corinthians 5:6-8 “Therefore, being always of good courage, and knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord—for we walk by faith, not by sight—we are of good courage, I say, and prefer rather to be absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord.”
There is a verse penned by David even while his own life was in danger from his enemies. It is a very unusual verse and throws quite a light on a righteous death and the Lord. Psalm 116:15 “Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of His godly ones.” Taking that verse at face value, we are safe in thinking that the Lord will immediately welcome His precious saints when they pass from the body to Him. My life is in the Lord’s hands. My times rest with Him. Psalm 31:14-15 “But as for me, I trust in You, O LORD. I say, ‘You are my God.’ My times are in Your hand; Deliver me from the hand of my enemies, and from those who persecute me.”
NOW… WHOM DO “I” WANT TO MEET IN HEAVEN?
Now going back to the original question yet again – “Who will YOU meet in heaven?”
And this time, I’d like to ask, “Apart from the Lord and your relatives, whom would you like to meet?” This answer would be different for each one of us. [Someone said he’d like to meet Eve and ask why she did it.] Well, that is not what I mean. I would like to share with you just three whom I would love to meet. If not limited to three, we would fill books!
- JEREMIAH: I love the prophetic books, all of them. I have been studying them since the age of 16 (62 years ago!), as you might gather from all my articles. Jeremiah has a very special place in my heart, and I can’t really say why. Maybe it is his style; maybe I can relate to his suffering and his aspirations; maybe it is the content of his prophecy. Here we have a humble and faithful prophet of the Lord who wrote in troubled times, and his generation did not relate to him, as some saw him as a traitor because he called for the people to surrender to Nebuchadnezzar before their own destruction that was inevitable.
My heart goes out to Jeremiah, a man set in his time as Christians are today, a time of looming destruction, and all we can do is warn and plead the message of God. The Tribulation is not far away. But who has believed our report? Who takes heed; only the ones and twos. People’s hearts are as sinful as they were in Jeremiah’s time and made of the same granite rock. Jeremiah was a man of faithfulness, and he warms my heart. I’d love to spend time with Jeremiah – but what is “time” in heaven, and can that be done one on one?
- JOSIAH. Of all the kings of Israel and Judah, I love Josiah the best. He may not have been as mighty as David or Hezekiah, but this man had a heart for the Lord like none other besides David. Not one indiscretion was recorded against him. Everyone else, yes, but not Josiah. Sadly, he died at age 39, a young man, and in very troubling times, as great Babylon began to make its appearance. Also, I believe he would have known Jeremiah.
Josiah’s father was a wicked man, Amon, descended from the most wicked king ever to sit on the throne of Judah (Manasseh) and who had the longest reign. How despairing it was to have such horrible wickedness reigning for such a long time (Manasseh was king for 55 years), only to be followed by another wicked king – but then came Josiah.
Goodness does not come from out of evil, so how could Josiah result from evil Amon and Manasseh? There is a profound but simple answer to that. It is GRACE. The grace of God that calls a man or woman to Himself. Josiah was faithful to his call all his life. I want to meet him because of the admiration I have for him.
Josiah’s sons returned to the wickedness of their grandfather and great-grandfather. They had the godly example of their father but chose the path of wickedness and suffered under Nebuchadnezzar for that. The leaders of the world today are exactly in the same time frame as the sons of Josiah. Most are wicked men and women and are sitting on the edge of destruction also, as the Tribulation is “just around the corner.”
Of course, I’d love to be with Abraham and David and John and Paul, but that is too overwhelming for me here now. It is like, “they are too far above me,” and I’d hide away, peeking around a corner. However, considering what I said earlier, I am sure heaven will not be like that.
There is only one more I will do, and when I first read about this woman in the works of Eusebius, I was horrified and filled with love and sympathy for her; such pathos. In history, there are some accounts of people that leave an indelible mark in our souls for the extent of their suffering because they loved the Lord, but Satan hated them. I am going to quote for this last one, the account recorded for us by the Christian historian Eusebius (280 – 360 AD).
The great and horrible persecution in 177 AD in the City of Lyon (in France) and throughout the churches was stirred up by the mob and executed by the Roman authorities in the time of Emperor Marcus Aurelius (one of the 10 great persecutors). We will look at a young woman named Blandina who suffered tortures from the deepest hell. (A letter was written from the church at Lyon detailing all the persecutions at that time.) Eusebius quoted the whole letter in his works, but this is the section on Blandina.
“For while we all trembled, and Blandina’s earthly mistress, who was herself also one of the witnesses, feared that on account of the weakness of her [Blandina] body, she would be unable to make bold confession, Blandina was filled with such power as to be delivered and raised above those who were torturing her by turns from morning till evening in every manner, so that they acknowledged that they were conquered, and could do nothing more to her. And they were astonished at her endurance, as her entire body was mangled and broken; and they testified that one of these forms of torture was sufficient to destroy life, not to speak of so many and so great sufferings.
“Maturus, therefore, and Sanctus and Blandina and Attalus were led to the amphitheater to be exposed to the wild beasts, and to give to the heathen public a spectacle of cruelty, a day for fighting with wild beasts being specially appointed on account of our people.
“But Blandina was suspended on a stake, and exposed to be devoured by the wild beasts who should attack her. And because she appeared as if hanging on a cross, and because of her earnest prayers, she inspired the combatants with great zeal. For they looked on her in her conflict, and beheld with their outward eyes, in the form of their sister, Him who was crucified for them, that he might persuade those who believe on him, that every one who suffers for the glory of Christ, has fellowship always with the living God.
“As none of the wild beasts at that time touched her, she was taken down from the stake, and cast again into prison. She was preserved thus for another contest, that, being victorious in more conflicts, she might make the punishment of the crooked serpent irrevocable; and, though small and weak and despised, yet clothed with Christ the mighty and conquering Athlete, she might arouse the zeal of the brethren, and, having overcome the adversary many times might receive, through her conflict, the crown incorruptible.
“After all these, on the last day of the contests, Blandina was again brought in, with Ponticus, a boy about fifteen years old. They had been brought every day to witness the sufferings of the others, and had been pressed to swear by the idols. But because they remained steadfast, and because the multitude despised them, they became furious, so that they had no compassion for the youth of the boy nor respect for the sex of the woman.
“Therefore they exposed them to all the terrible sufferings and took them through the entire round of tortures, repeatedly urging them to swear, but were unable to effect this; for Ponticus, encouraged by his sister [Blandina] so that even the heathen could see that she was confirming and strengthening him, having nobly endured every torture, gave up the ghost.
“But the blessed Blandina, last of all, having, as a noble mother, encouraged her children and sent them before her victorious to the King, endured herself all their conflicts and hastened after them, glad and rejoicing in her departure as if called to a marriage supper, rather than cast to wild beasts.
“And, after the scourging, after the wild beasts, after the roasting seat [roasted on red hot iron chairs], she was finally enclosed in a net, and thrown before a bull. And having been tossed about by the animal, but feeling none of the things which were happening to her, on account of her hope and firm hold upon what had been entrusted to her, and her communion with Christ, she also was sacrificed [died]. And the heathen themselves confessed that never among them had a woman endured so many and such terrible tortures.
“After the bodies of the martyrs had been exposed for six days, they were burned to ashes and thrown into the Rhone River. The bodies of those who had been suffocated in prison were thrown to the dogs, and guards were stationed to prevent the remaining Christians from burying them. So the pagan authorities vainly hoped to prevent the hope of resurrection for the Christians, being ignorant of the fact that, for the Christian, being absent from the body is to be present with the Lord.
“The willingness of Blandina and her fellow Christians to embrace these excruciating tortures, followed by an equally agonizing death, might have appeared madness to the mocking crowds in the arena, but it was based on a clear conviction – that Jesus Christ had risen from the dead and was standing by their side. As once He had suffered the excruciating agony of being nailed to the cross, so they were willing to follow him and share his sufferings in order that they might share his risen glory in eternity.”
They would have reckoned with the Apostle Paul that “our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all,” or as Paul to the Hebrews puts it, they “were tortured, refusing to be released so that they might gain an even better resurrection.”
Blandina’s testimony is a golden light through all the centuries. How can we ever know what this woman suffered? I want to meet her, one of faithfulness and courage. Today she is peacefully with her Lord wearing the martyr’s crown.
Maybe someone reads this and is not a Christian, and you do not have the glorious hope before you because you are not saved. You could never endure what Blandina did because you do not have the hope of heaven before your eyes. Do not let it pass and then go to a lost eternity. Repent and turn to God, receiving Jesus Christ as your personal Saviour.