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The Truth About Heaven Might Surprise You

The Truth About Heaven Might Surprise You

By David Jeremiah

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Perhaps one of the saddest misrepresentations of heaven in popular culture is in the chorus of a 1979 song by the new wave band Talking Heads: “Heaven, heaven is a place, a place where nothing … ever happens.” Critics debate what the songwriters meant by their words. On the face of it, the song makes heaven appear boring. I fear too many Christians might, in their heart of hearts, be inclined to a similar view—that heaven is going to be an eternal vacation, a never-ending nap, a courteous place full of love and well-wishes.

Such ideas arise when Christians fail to discover what the Scriptures have to say about heaven. Here is the truth: Rather than being a place where “nothing happens,” heaven will be a place filled with eternal energy and excitement. How do we know that? Because even the sin-cursed world we live in is filled with energy and excitement. And heaven is going to be everything good about life on earth as we know it, multiplied by infinity.

God has saved us from something (a temporal life and world dominated by Satan—Colossians 1:13; 1 John 5:19) and for something (an eternal, sinless life lived out in the image of Christ—Romans 8:29). That automatically suggests heaven is going to be better, doesn’t it? Earth is a beautiful, joyful place in many ways because God’s grace protects it. But we haven’t seen anything yet.

To wrap our minds around the biblical idea of heaven and what is going to happen there, we must consider three things: what is true, what is ahead, and what is behind. 

What Is True 

More than twenty times the Old Testament patriarchs and prophets referred to God as the “God of heaven.” That could mean several things: the God who is in heaven, the God who is ruler of heaven, the God by whom heaven can be characterized. So let’s summarize it this way: In order to know what heaven will be like, we start by knowing who God is. Embracing fundamental truths about God will make our estimation of heaven all the more exciting.

Here is the fundamental truth we need to know: God is infinitely big. In every way—love, grace, forgiveness, blessings—He exceeds our imagination. The apostle Paul makes this point in two ways in Ephesians 3:17-21.

First, there is a “width and length and depth and height” to all that God does (verse 18). That tells me that God fills the world and universe, in every direction and every dimension, with His presence, plans, and purposes. Paul is suggesting that God’s person is infinite. Like our continually expanding universe, the person of God goes on and on and on.

Second, God works “exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think” (verse 20). This is a New Testament way of affirming God’s words through Isaiah—that His ways and thoughts are far beyond ours (Isaiah 55:8-9).

What does that mean about heaven? It means it is going to be bigger, better, and more beautiful than our best dreams. We are finite creatures; He is the infinite God. When we reach the outer limits of our understanding and comprehension, there is still infinitely more to realize.

Even the Bible’s amazing description of heaven (the New Jerusalem) in Revelation 21 was written by a finite apostle. Inspired by the Spirit, he described in human terms the vision of heaven he saw. And it is fantastic! But the reality of it will go far beyond John’s words when we see it in person.

All considerations of heaven must begin with this premise: It will be greater than our biggest dreams and desires because of who God is. 

What Is Ahead 

The apostle Paul borrowed an idea from Isaiah 64:4 when he wrote, “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him” (1 Corinthians 2:9).

Look at three key phrases:

First, “God has prepared.” God is a planning, preparing God. He has things in store—including eternity in heaven—for those who love Him.

God is a planning, preparing God. He has things in store—including eternity in heaven—for those who love Him.

Second, “which God ordained before the ages for our glory” (1 Corinthians 2:7). Everything God has prepared was prepared before time began. Heaven is not the invention of over-active first-century imaginations. God, in His wisdom, has planned everything—including heaven—“for our glory” from eternity past.

Third—and this accounts for the world’s mishandling of heaven—“which none of the rulers of this age knew” (1 Corinthians 2:8). Heaven is a spiritual truth which must be spiritually discerned (1 Corinthians 2:10-12). Only the Holy Spirit can reveal God’s wisdom to mankind (1 Corinthians 2:13-16). Only the Spirit of God can reveal to us the wisdom and wonder of God’s plan for our eternal destiny in heaven.

If you have the Spirit of God through faith in Christ, there is a future planned for you that you’ve not seen, nor heard, nor even imagined. As you read the Bible about heaven, ask the Spirit of God to help you comprehend what is coming. It will fill you with hope as you pursue God’s will for you on earth, knowing that it is just a sliver of the joy God intends for you in eternity. 

There is a future planned for you that you’ve not seen, nor heard, nor even imagined.

What Is Behind

There are two times in the Christian’s life when “forgetting what is behind” is important. The first is on this earth when we become a Christian. The apostle Paul writes extensively about this in Philippians 3:1-14. All of his worldly pride and ambition as a rising star in the Jewish religion brought him great shame when he saw those things in the light of Christ. He “counted [them as] loss” for the sake of knowing Christ (verses 7-8). He purposed to “[forget] those things which are behind” (verse 13) and look only to a future filled with knowing Christ.

The second time we forget “what is behind” is when we enter heaven. Everything that makes us long for eternity now—pain, suffering, death, failure, and sorrow in this life—will be forgotten: “And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away” (Revelation 21:4).

It is impossible to put those feelings and experiences out of our mind right now because they are a constant part of life. But when we get to heaven, I don’t believe we will even remember them.

Are you ready for heaven? It’s going to be far bigger, bolder, and more beautiful than the world we live in now—a world beyond anything we could imagine.

This article originally appeared in the June 2017 issue of Turning Points devotional magazine. Request your complimentary subscription today!

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