Published May 20, 2014

Paul's Epistle
"Heaven Is For Real"

Recently a movie was released based on a book by that title – the story of a four-year-old boy who had a near-death experience during emergency surgery and went to heaven to visit with Christ and relatives before being sent back and revived. He later told of some of the amazing things he saw while visiting heaven — and some things he learned about his family that he could not otherwise have known. This column is not a commentary on that movie (which I haven't seen, but I have read the book), but the story reminded me of a column I wrote a dozen years ago about heaven – and I wanted to share it with you again.

We've been doing a lot of interior renovations at home lately. In fact, for more than a year, some room or other has been torn up.

As long as I've lived in our house (about 25 years) there have been things that have been unseen and unknown to me — pipes, wires, etc. — behind or inside the walls.

But now, because we had to open some of the walls, and because I've been doing much of the work myself, I can see and understand what's there. I always knew these things had to be there because I saw the effects – electrical outlets had power, sinks had water supplies, etc. I just couldn't see them before.

Thinking about all of this today, it occurred to me that this is lot like how our eyes will be opened to a whole new reality when we get to heaven.

I've been hearing about heaven as long as I can remember. I know heaven is real, because Jesus said it is. It's there now — but unseen by us. We can only imagine the sights we will eventually find there. And there will be things that are far beyond our most extreme imaginings. Indeed, "Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him." (1 Cor. 2:9.)

We're told that as Marco Polo, the famous Venetian traveler of the 13th century, lay dying, he was urged by his detractors to recant – to withdraw the amazing and, to many, unbelievable stories about the wonders he had witnessed in China and the lands of the Far East. But he refused, saying simply, "I have not told half of what I saw."

So it was with the Apostle John, writing his eyewitness account of heaven in the book of Revelation. He tried very hard, but just couldn't find the words adequate to explain all that he saw there. He couldn't even come close to telling half of what he saw.

But what he did tell was enough. Because there in the midst of heaven was the One who has made it possible, by His grace, for us to go there. There is the One who died for us, rose for us and, soon, is coming for us. The classic hymn says it well:

1"When all my labors and trials are o'er,
And I am safe on that beautiful shore,
Just to be near the dear Lord I adore,
Will thro' the ages be glory for me....
When by His grace I shall look on His face,
That will be glory, be glory for me."

Indeed, the Carpenter of Nazareth has been doing a lot of construction work there: "I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also." (John 14:2-3.)

And I don't think we have long to wait. As Rodney Griffin wrote in a song Greater Vision sang,

2"Soon we will see the portals of glory
Soon we will see the Great I Am
Soon we will hear the angels cry, ‘Holy!'
Soon we will see the Lamb."

And it could happen any day now.

Those who have accepted Christ as Savior and received forgiveness for their sins long for that "blessed hope." (Titus 2:13.) But those who have not done so are – or certainly should be – justifiably terrified. (John 12:48.)

Does the prospect of meeting the Creator of the universe face-to-face excite you? Or does it terrify you? Don't wait until your eyes are opened to a whole new reality to set the matter right – because then it'll be too late. Because, after all, heaven IS for real!

- Paul

Note: This column first appeared here in June, 2002.

1. "O That Will Be Glory," Charles H. Gabriel and Edwin Excell, 1900.
2. "Soon We Will See," Rodney Griffin, Songs of Greater Vision BMI. Excerpt used by permission.

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