Why is it that people are so willing to believe in Heaven, but not in Hell? And what is the basis for believing in Heaven? Why would someone believe in a place that they have never been to? Nor have they ever talked to anyone who has been there. There are some people who say that they have been to Heaven and then have come back to earth and often write books about their experience, but most people do not take these accounts seriously. Some believe that if you’re a “good” person you will go to Heaven when you die, but if you’re “bad enough”, like Adolph Hitler, then you won’t. It is clear that many misconceptions exist about Heaven, so what are we to believe?
How do We Know Heaven Exists? We know that Heaven is real because the Bible describes it as a real place. See the Bible page for information on how we know that the Bible is the true word of God. In the Bible, the word ‘heaven’ or ‘heavens’ occurs almost six-hundred and fifty times, so it has a lot to say on the subject. Generally though, the majority of people couldn’t accurately describe to you what the Bible says about Heaven.
What is Heaven? Most people’s beliefs about Heaven are based on what they were told growing up, what they’ve seen in the media and maybe books they’ve read. Even ordained ministers have wrong ideas about Heaven, one describing it as “floating around in the clouds strumming harps forever…doesn’t sound much better than Hell.” But what is Heaven really? The Bible leaves no room for doubt about what Heaven is and it would take a whole book to describe it. Thankfully, theologian and pastor Randy Alcorn has written such a book titled “Heaven” (Tyndale House Publishers 2004, ISBN 978-0-8423-7944-1). This book is a must-read for anyone interested in knowing what the after-life could be for them.
So what is Heaven? From my perspective as one who has studied the Bible and learned a lot about Heaven and also having read the “Heaven” book I just mentioned, Heaven will be everything that we have always hoped and wished for in this life. I think that it is a universal desire to be happy, content, at peace, productive, to have perfect relationships with people you know and to gleefully look forward to all that you want to be and accomplish in the future. And most importantly, that you would fulfill the reason for which you were created. That will all be true in heaven, but Heaven won’t be what or where you imagine it will be. Consider this
“But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up. Since all these things are to be destroyed in this way, what sort of people ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be destroyed by burning, and the elements will melt with intense heat! But according to His promise we are looking for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells.” [2 Peter 3:10-13]
God is going burn up this old, corrupted, decaying earth and replace it with a brand hew, perfect one that will never decay or get old. Who wouldn’t want to e go to a perfect world like that some day?
Who Goes to Heaven?
Right now, Heaven is not yet this new, perfect world (note in the above passage that it is the “day of the Lord” that will usher in the new world). Right now there is an intermediate, temporary Heaven. Everyone who is there has been born-again. In John 3:3 Jesus says, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God." Only those who are perfect can go to Heaven, but as we know, none of us are. We don’t qualify and just like the woman who had a million dollar fine to pay, we need help. Jesus Christ is that help. “When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions, having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.” [Colossians 2:13-14]
Jesus cancelled out our debt by paying it himself. He died a horrible death on a Roman cross and was dead three days and then was resurrected. He can now take away our sin and replace it with his righteousness. He replaces our imperfection with his perfection and then declares us blameless and acceptable.
How to go to Heaven This is the simple part. All you have to do is admit to God that you are a sinner in need of a Savior, that you are unacceptable to be received into Heaven and that you cannot help yourself, and then ask Jesus to forgive your sin and receive him into your life as your Savior and Lord. If you do this, truly and genuinely, then you have been born-again, your debt is paid and you are qualified for Heaven.
If you reject God’s offer to be forgiven so that you will be accepted into Heaven, you only have one other option, and I don’t think anyone in their right mind would want to push this button: