< What I Learned Teaching Sunday School: Myths and Truths About Heaven and Hell

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Myths and Truths About Heaven and Hell

Part 3

What’s Heaven like? First let’s look at some myths about Heaven:

1. Heaven’s main occupation will be sitting on a cloud, plucking the strings of a golden harp. Again from Billy Graham’s book, “Heaven will be a place where we have work to do. It may be the kind of work we have never experienced on earth. No frustrations, no freeways, no failure or fatigue. Cliff Barrows, our song director, and Bev Shea, our special soloist, have been with me for forty years. They occasionally tease me by saying that when we get to Heaven, I’ll be out of work, but they won’t! Have you ever done anything that was so exhilarating, so rewarding, that you hoped it would never end? It’s been said that no work is as wearisome as doing nothing. In Heaven our work will be stimulating and rewarding. In Revelation 22:3, John wrote: “His servants will serve Him.” Each one of us will be given some task that we will enjoy doing. Some may be cooks who prepare heavenly dishes; some may play with the children. Perhaps we will be called upon to tend the gardens or polish the rainbows! Our imaginations are limitless. Whatever we do, the Bible says we will serve Him. Just think – loving the work you are doing and never getting tired!”

2. That life in Heaven will consist largely of rest and contemplation. (Rest in the Biblical terms means not rest from activity, but rest in activity.)

3. There will be nothing interesting to do in Heaven. This is a groundless fear. One of Heaven’s rewards for faithful service on earth will be the allocation of various spheres of authority. Luke 19:12–19 and John 5:17. Heaven is not a resort for the lazy or listless. God will have plenty of congenial work for us to do.

4. That Peter guards the pearly gates. There is no Biblical support for this. It’s probably a misinterpretation of Matthew 16: 18-19 "And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be[e] loosed in heaven." The gates are said to be made of 1 pearl.
Pearls are formed when a small grain of sand becomes embedded in an oyster, irritating it. To soften the irritation, the oyster coats the grain of and with a smooth layer of what is called mother of pearl. As long as the oyster can feel the irritation, it continues to coat the sand with layers of pearl, making the pearl bigger and bigger.

What kind of irritation would have been necessary to form the pearls that make up the gates to our heavenly city where they are so large they can fit into a wall that is 200 feet thick? It must have been severe suffering. People have suggested that the pearl gates will be a reminder to everyone who goes in and out of the city of the suffering and great price Christ paid for us.

5. That we will become angels. Again, no scriptural support.

Here are some truths now about Heaven.

1. We will enjoy eternal life in the immediate presence of the triune God.

2. All that diminishes the quality of life on earth will be banished from Heaven. (No sin, no tears, no pain, etc.)

3. The heights of joy we have experienced on earth will be eclipsed in Heaven. You might be saying, “But I loved earth!” There is nothing wrong with loving life. In fact we should enjoy it to the hilt. It’s a gift from God. But in Heaven we will enjoy it even more. Billy Graham wrote, “What will we gain? I can only imagine that whatever we loved on earth will be magnified in its pleasure in Heaven. We may not be married in Heave. Some of us who love our wives or husbands very much may find that sad, but the more I think about the promises of Heaven, the more I believe whatever God has in store for us will be unbelievable more joyous, more delightful and more wonderful than what we now enjoy. I trust Jesus with my eternal tomorrows and know that He will solve all the questions we have now. We will be able to understand one another, for there will be one universal language, the language of love, that will enable us to talk freely with people who lived in other earth countries. The “communication gap” will be closed. Night comes on earth, filled with darkness and peril. In many cities on our planet we are warned not to go out on the streets at night. But in Heaven, there is no night. We will not need to sleep, because on earth sleep is to restore our strength. But in Heaven there will be no energy drains, so sleep will not be necessary. Night is a time when many crimes are committed. In Heaven, evil is gone and the light that will surround us will be a reflection of the light of the world, Jesus Christ.

4. We will be “saved to sin no more.” Failure and its consequences will be a thing of the past. On earth we fail all the time. In Heaven we never will. Revelation 22:3 tells us there will no longer be any curse. When God is allowed to have full control on our lives we will know what kind of people we can really be.

5. No more will we be subject to temptations from the world, the flesh and the devil. As children of God we will have victory and be able to rest.

6. Knowledge will no longer be limited. 1 Corinthians 13:12 says, “Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part: then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.”

7. Limitations of the body will hamper us no more. Again from the book Heaven, Better By Far: We will have bodies fit for the full life of God to indwell and express itself forever. We will be able to eat, but will not need to. We will be able to move rapidly through space and matter. We will be ageless and not know pain, tears, sorrows, sickness or death. We will have bodies of splendor. In a promise to the Old Testament saints, written in Daniel 12:3 the Lord compared our glorious bodies to the shining of the moon and stars. Christ’s glorified body is described as shining like the sun in its strength.

Tomorrow's post will finish up this lesson with some information about our resurrected bodies.

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