By Elizabeth Prata*
What will heaven be like? It is a marvelous question those of us who long for our heavenly home ask often. On the one hand, the glimpses given to us in scripture are wonderful and awe-inspiring. On the other hand, those glimpses make us long to be there even more!
There are some things the Bible is silent on however, regarding our future in eternity. We know heaven will be a place where we will be active, and working for Jesus. We don’t know exactly what we will do. “Rule and reign”, worship Jesus, of course, and it won’t be boring. But as to exactly what we will do in the eternal state, the Bible is silent.
We do know that our citizenship is in heaven, our new name is in heaven, our brethren are in heaven, our reward is in heaven, our life is in heaven, our hope is in heaven- Jesus is in heaven!
But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. (1 Peter 4:13)
As John MacArthur says in his essay What heaven Is–
Everything we love, everything we value, everything eternal is in heaven. Nevertheless the church in this century has tended to be self-indulgent, proof that many Christians have lost their heavenly perspective. Too many don’t want to go to heaven until they’ve enjoyed all that the world can deliver. Only when all earthly pursuits are exhausted, or when age and sickness hamper their enjoyment, are they ready for heaven…
It is so important to have a heavenly perspective. The Bible mentions heaven 550 times! It is obviously important to God that we know about it, or He wouldn’t have mentioned it so much. One of the most wonderful things about heaven is that we will see God.
“We will see He who is…according to 1 Timothy 6:15…the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords who alone possesses immortality and dwells in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see.” We will see Him then. Matthew 5:8 says, “They shall see God.” In that city we will be engulfed in His presence. We will be exposed to the full blaze of His eternal glory. Christ will be the radiant focal point of that manifestation. Christ will be the centerpiece, if there is such a thing, of that diamond blazing glory of God. (source)
We will be consumed with the glory of God!
And this then really is the joy of heaven. The hymn writer said, “The bride eyes not her garment, but her dear bridegroom’s face. I will not gaze at glory, but on my King of grace.” In other words, the believer is going to follow the glory back to the face from which it radiates. (source)
It is equally important to also to have the right heavenly perspective.
To that end, I am reminded of something Billy Graham once said about heaven. In Ken Garfield’s biography, Billy Graham: A Life in Pictures, Graham is quoted,
“Somebody once asked me, ‘Will there be golf courses in heaven?’ I said, ‘If they’re necessary for our happiness, they’ll be there.’”
And that is precisely the wrong heavenly perspective.
I’ve written about Mr Graham a few times in the past. Mr Graham unfortunately was a liberal ecumenical who had a worldly perspective and had preached inconceivable contradictions. For example, preaching the Gospel at his conventions yet also declaring Muslims are in the body of Christ even if they don’t know Jesus, or that Mormons are not a cult outside Christian orthodoxy or that the Pope is a fine Christian and a terrific evangelist.
Mr Graham was famous for his interview with Robert Schuller in 1997 whereupon Mr Graham said he believed people can attain heaven without knowing Christ. He said the same in an interview in McCall’s magazine in 1978 and again before that in his own Decisions Magazine in 1960. His apostasy can be traced far back, even to his youth, when Graham was rejected for membership in a youth group due to him being too worldly, and later when chafing under Bob Jones’ University biblical standards, he transferred to the less strict Florida Bible Institute. Here Mr Graham is quoted as saying,
“I used to play God, but I can’t do that anymore. I used to believe that pagans in far-of countries were lost – were going to hell – if they did not have the gospel of Jesus Christ preached to them. I no longer believe that. I believe that there are other ways of recognizing the existence of God – through nature, for instance – and plenty of other opportunities, therefore, of saying “yes” to God. (James Michael Beam, “I Can’t Play God Anymore,” McCall’s (January 1978)
Compared to the glories of heaven as described in scripture, and compared to those glories as summarized above, Mr Graham’s worldly perspective about golf needing to be in heaven for him to be happy is certainly disappointing.
The hope of heaven should fill us with a joy of anticipation that loosens us from this transitory world. It’s easy to become so attached to the world that we spend our energy consuming things that will perish rather than accumulating treasure in heaven (Source)
If, as Mr Graham said, whatever is necessary for our happiness will be in heaven, I ask, what if sex is necessary for our happiness? Will it be there?
The Bible says no. (Matthew 22:30).
What if my happiness in heaven depends on my unsaved parent being there, will I then be unhappy? The Bible says no. (Isaiah 65:17)
The perspective that whatever made us happy on this earth is what we “need” to make us happy in heaven gives short shrift to the incomparable riches of His grace, His holy habitation, and His personal presence. JESUS is what is necessary for our happiness in heaven, and we will have it. No earthly game, activity, or item we enjoyed on this earth will be missed.
And just kidding now, what if basketball was necessary for my happiness, and bowing to my ‘needs’, our Exalted God created heaven around my need to throw a bouncy ball into a net? Won’t every shot be a basket? Won’t every golf swing result in a hole-in-one, every baseball swing a home run? Because everything in heaven is perfect. Does Mr Graham believe that he won’t make par in heaven? If so, then there will be disappointment, and heaven is not a disappointing place.
Hinging our heavenly ‘happiness’ on the needs of our earthly desires is small minded. Expecting our God to create a place for us based on the activities we enjoyed while on the cursed earth, fails to keep in mind that what we do here is only a shadow of things to come. (Colossians 2:17).
Praise God that heaven is so stupendous, that He chose us for salvation, and that we will be with Him!!
Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. No longer will there be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. And night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever. (Revelation 22:1-5).
*This essay appeared on The End Time in June 2014