Listen: Chris Witts presents Morning Devotions.
In 1998 Robin Williams starred in a movie called What dreams may come. By all accounts it’s a truly awful movie, but it does have spectacular scenes of Heaven.
Production designer Eugenio Zanetti imagines a Heaven of brilliantly coloured flowers and trees and sunshine. Other people have a different vision of Heaven. If you listened to some men, you might think it is one big golf course. Rugby people talk about rugby as the game played in Heaven. People have all kinds of ideas about Heaven, and it stands to reason we can’t all be right. Maybe Heaven won’t be what some people imagine.
What the Bible Says About Heaven
So, what does the Bible say our existence will be like in Heaven? A few sentences about it were written by the Apostle John in 1 John 2:28-3:3. The Apostle John said there is a lot we don’t know yet about Heaven. “Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known” (3:2 – NIV).
If there is golf in Heaven, God hasn’t told us yet—”…what we will be has not yet been made known.”
There will not be…
Long-time preacher Ray Steadman pointed out that there are things we know won’t be there. The Bible says, “There will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain” (Revelation 21:4). It says Satan won’t be there (Revelation 20:10), and the Bible says in Heaven we won’t have human bodies that get sick and wear out (1 Corinthians 15:35-44).
We know a few things that won’t be there. But there remains an awful lot we have not been told. As far as Heaven goes, we do not have the 100-page glossy book full of pictures and text. We don’t have the coffee table book—we just have the attractive travel brochure.
We will see Jesus
But there is one thing we do know for sure: “We shall see him as he is.” We will see Jesus as he is. “But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is” (1 John 3:2 – NIV). If there is a cover picture on that travel brochure for Heaven, it is a picture of the Lord Jesus Christ.
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We will see Jesus. That is why, when the Apostle Paul talked about going to Heaven, he used the expression to be ‘with Christ’ (Philippians 1:23). That is what Heaven is: to be ‘with Christ’.
Think for a moment about those you loved who have already gone to Heaven. They see the person who said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28 – NIV). They have met the man who healed the lepers and the blind, and they see his glory.
We will be changed
Now there is one more thing that John tells us about Heaven. He wrote, “we shall be like him”. “But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.”
Songwriter Graham Kendrick said that when we truly worship now, we are changed. In fact, he said there is “transformation through adoration”. Well, if worshipping him whom we don’t see transforms, what effect will worshipping him face-to-face have?
“We will be like him.” You won’t be exactly the same in Heaven. You and I will be Christlike.
That means there are some things you can’t take with you. You might hang onto old habitual sins now, but you can’t take them with you. There won’t be any dirty movies or cutting words or selfishness in Heaven. You can’t take them with you. In Heaven there won’t be any of the resentments that people hold onto in this life. You can hang onto them all your life and die bitter, but you can’t take them with you. And our pride won’t get in. Our arrogance won’t survive. You can’t take them with you. “But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.”
In a John Goodman’s movie called King Ralph, somehow the entire British royal family gets wiped out and the next in line for the throne is Ralph from Brooklyn—or somewhere in the United States. So Ralph gets set up in the palace and learns to eat with the fancy silverware and greet important guests, but he hates it. He would rather go bowling. He sneaks out at night and goes to bars and meets an ordinary girl. His life just hadn’t prepared him to live in a royal palace. For Ralph, royal living is one huge disappointment.
You have to wonder whether Heaven could be a disappointment for a person whose life has not prepared them for it. If we prefer to hang onto un-Christian ways now, might we be—at least initially—disappointed to have them taken away from us in Heaven?
Or if worship leaves us cold now—we just sing the songs—won’t we be terribly disappointed with a Heaven where people and angels worship Jesus Christ? Will we shuffle our feet and not know where to look?
What if we have never seriously set out to know Jesus Christ? We have never surrendered our life to him. We hardly pray at all. Why do we presume that the day we arrive in Heaven we will be thrilled to see Jesus as he is?
A few sentences earlier, John wrote:
And now, children, stay with Christ. Live deeply in Christ. Then we’ll be ready for him when he appears, ready to receive him with open arms, with no cause for red-faced guilt or lame excuses when he arrives. (1 John 2:28-29 – The Message).
So do you truly believe what the Bible says about Heaven? If you do, get ready for it now. If we go back to 1 John in chapter 3, John wrote,
Everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself just as he is pure. (1 John 3:3 – CSB).
Live suitably for Heaven now—and avoid disappointment.
Author: Major Peter Farthing