SIMPLE TRUTH: Heaven and how to miss it

Published 10:04 am Tuesday, October 29, 2013

By Charles Christmas

The words on the Clanton Church of Christ’s front sign once read, “Heaven: Don’t Miss It For the World.” I have a sincere appreciation for the “messages in a nut shell” which this congregation provides for passersby. Today, I emphasize two simple truths referred to on the sign. First, what is heaven like, and second, how can you miss heaven?

First, what is heaven like? All we know about heaven is found in the Bible. A lot of words are said and sung concerning heaven and how to get there which have no Biblical foundation whatsoever. I will be scriptural, factual and simple.

Heaven is a place where the will of God is done perfectly. In Matthew 6:10, our Lord taught us to pray, “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” Living in this world of rebellion against God, it becomes very appealing to me personally to learn that there is a place called heaven where the will of God is consistently done. As we are committed to experience the will of God being done in our own lives and in the lives of others here in this world, we desire that we shall experience some of heaven on earth now—and we do, to some extent.

Heaven is a place where the primary focus will be on our Heavenly Father and our Lord Jesus Christ rather than our previous earthly relationships and affections. Jesus said, “that where I am there you may be also” (John 14:3). The Apostle Paul said, “absent from the body but present with the Lord” and “so shall we ever be with the Lord.”

Heaven is a permanent place. Things in this world are temporary. Change and decay are all about us and are a part of one’s entire life journey. We are challenged to build anew out of decay and adapt to the changing, but finally, each of us will succumb to change and decay within our bodies and within our own personal world. A summary of the New Testament’s teachings on heaven’s permanence is found in 1 Peter 1:4: “An inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade.”

Heaven is a place where each will have a glorious body. Thank God, all the beauty contests will be over. Here we live in a body affected by birth, injury, diseases of various kinds, an aging process, mental and emotional illnesses, and sometimes, seemingly unbearable pain. You may read, in detail, about the glorious body believers will have in heaven in 1 Corinthians 15:35-57. It is summarized in 1 John 3:2: “We know that when he shall appear, we shall be like him: for we shall see him as he is.”

How can you miss heaven? Jesus said that most people will miss heaven. In Matthew 7:14, Jesus said, “Narrow is the gate and narrow is the way that leads to life, and only a few find it.” Jesus is more specific in John 8:24 where he says the following: “I told you that you will die in your sins; if you do not believe that I am the one I claim to be, you will indeed die in your sins.” In John 14:6, Jesus says, “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

You can miss heaven by one of two simple and opposite ways. On the one hand, you can feel that you are so sinful that there is no hope for you. On the other hand, some even feel they have done enough good things that they have earned an entrance to heaven. Both are wrong. No one is so sinful but what the cross of Christ is sufficient for forgiveness and a saving experience. But no one is so good that he or she is accepted before God without a humble admission of helplessness and hopelessness apart from the cross of Jesus Christ. Our only certainty of not missing heaven is in Jesus Christ and his good news. “Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures and rose again the third day according to the scriptures.” Make sure your hope for heaven rests upon a committed faith in Jesus Christ alone and what he did for you on his cross.

—Charles Christmas is a religion columnist for The Clanton Advertiser. His column appears each Thursday.