Not to completely poke at the Heaven is for Real book/movie currently out, but ever so partially. While I haven’t read or seen it, nor do I have any plans to at this juncture, I suggest any serious inquiry into the existence of heaven, or hell, needs to be sought after through Scripture, first and foremost. Once we’ve got a firm grip on what God says is for real, perhaps then could be a good time to widen our intrigue into what the common man does. My grip on the realities of both destinations is lacking, so cultural cinematic previews will have to wait. I confess that I don’t spend much time thinking about either heaven or hell, but as often as each are mentioned throughout the Bible, they’re clearly for real. God’s Word provides readers with a plethora of topical teachings; however, where we go after we die is an interest for us all, even if only in sporadic instances where our mortality reminds us of its imminence.
Of the two, I begin with heaven, mostly because it is where I eagerly await going. For me, my core beliefs bring me to long for the final arrival in heaven due to the eventual realization of all that I read through Scripture about the God I worship while here. To finally be able to see His majesty in fullness, without the hindrances of the faulty lenses of the flesh in this life, is the heaven that I look forward to. I don’t find myself contemplating what I’ll be like, what I’ll be doing, who I’ll recognize from here, how it’ll look, or any other wonderment wrapped up with what heaven is. Heaven is not only for real, it is when, where, how, and why I’ll have an unbridled ability to broaden and wholly embrace my awe, worship, reverence, and intimate knowledge of this God who brought me to Him from before I gasped for my first breath out of the womb until I let out my last as I transition from this finite life to everlasting life. “And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life” (1 John 5:11-12).
As for hell, the destination spot for the “others to shame and everlasting contempt” (Daniel 12:2), those whose “name (weren’t) found written in the book of life, (that were) thrown into the lake of fire” (Revelation 20:15), and those “assign(ed) to a place with the hypocrites, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matthew 24:51), it is undoubtedly as real as is heaven. Due to the saving grace of Christ alone, I don’t think of hell much. I certainly don’t push the issue with unbelievers if I’m attempting to witness, but I don’t push the issue of heaven much either in these cases. For the simplistic reason that, if one isn’t able to see the Truth, to threaten hell on them, or promise heaven to them, likely isn’t going to make a lasting impression on them. Besides, is the reality of heaven and hell really meant to be a motivating factor for any of us?
I can only testify to my own motivations and, most assuredly, seeking after heaven, rather than hell, was never part of my journey. As some use heaven as the proverbial carrot to draw people closer to God, those same may utilize the threat of hell to scare others into believing in Him. Neither make much sense since someone who has blinders on their eyes, earplugs blocking their hearing, and all around ignorant to the existence of the Creator will be unscathed by bright promises of a heavenly realm or dreary threats of hellish proportions. “The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God” (2 Corinthians 4:4). If given the gift of salvation, ordained long ago by God, those who’ll eventually see, hear, and know Him will do so, without looking back. As those of us who already do know Him, using life’s end locations to draw another in may not be the path most wise to take.
Heaven is for real and so is hell. Each of us are destined to end up, eternally, in one or the other. As from the beginning of creation, to the fruition of all He created, the end will bring us to Him, as we dwell with Him in heaven, or apart from Him in hell, where we suffer forever without Him. That, for me, is heaven: to be with the God that has chosen me. That, for me, is hell: to exist devoid of His presence. Those definitions can be written out for us in the here and now, without concern for the eternal future. Even the glimpses He shows me during this lifetime, the hope through adversity, the perseverance through pain, the peace through trials, and the ray of light He provides beaming through any darkness, are but a drop in comparison to what is to come. The fulfillment of heaven will be when I get to go home, to spend eternity with my Father, and bow down before Him in all His holiness, with the full measure of gratitude deserving of Him and to never again have to draw closer after drifting away due to worldly distractions. It’s difficult to wait for that day, but trust that He’ll call me home when He decides I’m done down here. Until then, I may have to read or watch Heaven is for Real so I can critique it more fairly. Nah, probably not.