Daily Devotional for Monday June 18, 2007
Is There Really a Place Called Heaven
(Revelation 22:14; John 14:2; Philippians 3:20; 1 Peter 1:4)
Last December, Barbara Walters had a special on ABC about Heaven and whether it really exists and all of the different beliefs people hold regarding Heaven. Of course, Walters gave equal time to all of the false religions of the world to espouse their perverted beliefs about Heaven, as well as those who don't believe there even is such a place. Rather than critiquing her special or getting into a deep theological discussion on the Doctrine of Heaven, let me deal today with Heaven from what God has told us in His Word, our final and only authority in all matters.
The Scriptures clearly teach that there is a real and literal place called Heaven. It is spoken of in the Bible far more than hell. Heaven is the place the eternal souls of men who have accepted Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior will spend eternity. The Bible teaches we will have a glorified body and dwell forever in Heaven with God our Creator. We know from God's Word that Heaven will be a place of singing, of fellowship, of serving, and of learning. We don't have lots of specifics in the Bible about the eternal home of Believers, and there are many unanswered questions about Heaven. Please be very cautious of those who take the glimpses we get in the Word and try to add details and make definitive statements about Heaven that are simply not supported by Scripture.
Here is the most important fact for you to know about Heaven. There is only ONE WAY to get there, and that is by putting your faith in Jesus Christ. PERIOD! Heaven is the home of God, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. It is a place of perfection. That is why sin can't exist in Heaven. We are all born with the sin we inherited from Adam and we all sin during the course of our life. It is our sin that separates us from a Holy God. Jesus was God's one and only answer to man's sin problem. He died as the one-time perfect sacrifice for the sins of all mankind. That is why there is no other name by which men are saved. It is faith in Jesus Christ, and Jesus Chris alone that saves you since He is the One who died for your sins.
Of course, all of the cults and false religions have their version of Heaven. Many of those beliefs were expressed on the ABC special. Never forget, all cults and false religions were started out of the hearts and minds of men who rebelled against God and the Truth of His Word. So their version of Heaven is a perversion of the Biblical Heaven and doesn't even exist except in their imagination. They have not only promised their followers eternity in a place that doesn't exist, but in reality, led them to everlasting punishment in hell for rejecting God's ONLY way to Heaven...faith in Jesus Christ.
(I am always amused at how cults like Mormonism and false religions like Islam dangle unlimited sex, food, and luxury, all powerful motivations of this finite life, as the reward for those who follow their damnable lies!)
Outside of the imaginary "heavens" the cults and false religions have dreamed up, there are two prevailing views on Heaven held by the masses the ABC special documented and I deal with every day here at Liveprayer and on the TV program. The first is that there is no such place as Heaven. For those who have rejected God, rejected His Word, and rejected Jesus Christ, they have also rejected the existence of Heaven. They hold to the belief that you simply die and that is it. Life ends, there is no more. For these people, their "heaven," is found on earth. Their concept of a "heaven" is the good things that happen throughout your life. These people view Heaven and hell simply as "states" we are in during this life.
However, the most popular view and belief held by most people of Heaven is that it is a place where good people go after you die. Your entrance to Heaven is determined strictly by the amount of good works you do in your life. If you are simply a good person, do good things, help others during your life, when you die you will go to Heaven. Sadly, this is also the prevailing belief held by most people who go to church! It is a combination of two great lies, salvation by works and as long as you do your best you will get to Heaven when you die. These are particularly troubling to me since again, these are the views that are actually taught from the pulpits in many churches across the nation! Pastors who teach and preach these lies are no better than a Muslim Imam, a Jewish Rabbi, or a cult leader, guiding the souls of their followers straight to an eternity in hell !!!
Paul said in English easy enough for a 3rd grader to understand in Ephesians 2:8,9 that, "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith-and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God- not by works, so that no one can boast." NOT BY WORKS! WHAT PART OF "NOT" DON'T PEOPLE UNDERSTAND??? There is NO AMOUNT of good works that is going to get you to Heaven. I don't care how many elderly women you help across the street, how nice you are to your dog, how much money you give to Jerry's kids on Labor Day, or the fact you don't hit your wife or cheat on your taxes, YOU ARE NOT SAVED BY WORKS, BUT BY YOUR FAITH IN JESUS CHRIST AND GOD'S GRACE. PERIOD!!!
Also, this universalism lie from the pits of hell that everyone is going to make it to Heaven is simply that, a lie from the depths of hell itself! The fact is, everyone is NOT going to Heaven. Only those who have accepted Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior by faith will be in Heaven. The Bible teaches that those who reject Christ's love will be cast into hell and punished for all eternity. I didn't say it, God did. The problem is people think they are "good people," when in fact the Bible says "There are none that are good, no not one." We are ALL sinners. The Bible declares we have ALL sinned and fallen short of God's glory. There are NO good people, only lost souls who need a Savior. The only ones who will be going to Heaven are those who ask Christ to forgive them of their sins and accept Him into their heart and life by faith.
MEMO TO JOEL OSTEEN: The next time Larry King or Barbara Walters or anyone else interviewing you asks you the very simple question any Sunday School child can answer, "Will Muslims, Jews, and anyone else who rejects Jesus Christ be saved?" Your answer is an emphatic, "NO, only those who have put their faith in Jesus Christ will be saved." You are not judging anyone Joel, and you are not condemning anyone to hell. GOD ALREADY JUDGED MAN AND ALL YOU ARE DOING IS WHAT GOD CALLED YOU TO DO, AND THAT IS TELL PEOPLE WHAT HE SAYS IN THE BIBLE!
I love you and care about you so much. There is so much about Heaven we don't know. I get emails every day from people asking me specific questions about Heaven that I have to tell them I don't know the answer. The greatest thing though is that those who know Jesus will find out one day very soon all those answers because we will be in Heaven and experience it first hand. I can't wait! While there is so much about Heaven we don't know, we do know the most important thing and that is how to get there! We also know that we will be forever with Jesus. Knowing we will spend eternity in Heaven and that we will be forever in the presence of our Lord is really all I need to know about Heaven. All the rest, the crowns, the rewards, how old we will be, what we will look like in our glorified bodies, who and what we will know, will all be known to us once we get there.
I will be praying for you today. Praying that God will give you the courage the next time you end up in a dissuasion about Heaven to take a stand for the Truth of His Word. This is a common topic with those who aren't saved, since most do believe there is a place called Heaven. They are simply confused about how to get there. That is where you come in. Remember, you are not condemning people to hell, you don't have that ability. The only way a person can go to hell is if they choose to go there. God's desire is that ALL men come to repentance, that none be lost. I'm convinced after nearly 2 decades of evangelistic ministry that very few people really want to go to hell, they simply don't believe there is such a place or nobody has ever told them how they can avoid going there.
I love when they do these types of specials, even though they give a forum to all the false religions of the word, since it is a great opportunity to talk to unbelievers about Heaven and about knowing Jesus so they can get there. Sadly, Walters didn't interview anyone with the guts to simply look into the camera and boldly and without shame give a clear presentation of the Gospel. You can't talk about Heaven without talking about how to get there, and the Bible tells us clearly that the ONLY way to Heaven is by accepting Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior by faith. There really is a place called Heaven and I'm not only looking forward to getting there, but also in fellowshipping with all those in the Liveprayer family that I never got to meet during this life.