Heaven is Real & God is Just, Not Cruel
I am not setting out to simply discredit a book. If this book leads people to read the bible and seek Jesus in his glory then I will rejoice. But that is not what I am seeing. I see my brothers and sisters suffering and struggling with questions and looking to works of fiction for answers – and not finding them.
What do all these verses have in common?
Matthew 16:24: If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.
Matthew 10:21: Brother will deliver up brother to death, and father, his child. Children will rise against parents and have them put to death, and they will be hated by all for my namesake. The one who endures to the end will be saved.
John 16:1: The hour is coming when whoever kills you will think he is offering service to God.
2 Timothy 3:12: Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.
1 Peter 4:12: Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that comes upon you-it’s no surprise-to test you as though something strange were happening to you
Philippians 1:29: For it has been granted to you that for your sake, you should not only believe but suffer.
2 Timothy 1:8: Therefore, do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord or me, his prisoner, but share in suffering for the gospel, for the power of God.
Acts 5:41: they left the presence of the council rejoicing that they had been counted worthy to be shamed for the name.
These verses, and many more, demonstrate that this life is, as Lord’s Day 9 of the Heidelberg Catechism teaches, a life of sorrow. In this life we will suffer, if we walk with Him, if we are his.
Now, allow me to tell you a story.
Imagine if you will, a family is out on a day trip to Stanley Park in Vancouver. After a day at the aquarium, walking the seawall, feeding the squirrels and ducks, a 4 year old wanders away from her parents and gets lost. She is curious of the sights and sounds of Robson Street and she wanders further away. The steam clock in Gastown intrigues her, and the cobble stone streets are beautiful in the evening and she plays with the pigeons, giggling and carefree. But the sun is setting. She is lost; lost late at night in the dark alleyways of Vancouver’s down town east side. Scared, alone, weeping, she scrapes her knee when she trips over a broken beer bottle. A stray dog chases her, and she gets away by hiding behind a trash dumpster. She lost a shoe in the chase; the dog is chewing on it at the corner; her clothes are torn, she cries, “I want my daddy.” She remembers her daddy telling her that he would always protect her, always be there for her, yet she wanders the streets, as prostitutes, drug addicts and drunks leer at her. She is miserable, terrified and she longs for home. Then a familiar voice calls out, it is her dad. He scoops her up in his arms and takes her home. He wipes her tears, kisses her, bathes her and dresses her in the cleanest pyjamas and cuddles up with her on the couch. The fire is lit, daddy is reading her a story. All is right in her world. Daddy has taken her home. But. Then daddy says, “It is not time for you to come home yet.” He picks up his daughter and takes her back to the alleyway where he found her, and drops her off.
He drives away.
The dog growls…
Horrible isn’t it? That is an imperfect analogy of the so called “near death experience.” Let me state, emphatically, that when you go home, when daddy calls you home, when you gaze upon his face in glory. He will not send you back. Hebrews 8:27 says,
And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgement, so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.
We die once. Heaven is real and God is just, not cruel. We die only once. It is appointed for us to die once. When we see heaven, we will stay there. When God calls us home, it is final. He will not toy with us. He will not tease us. He will not bring us home, or let us in the door, and then slam the door in our face. No. He will pick us up, take us in.
“Welcome home, my son, my daughter, I love you.”
Don’t look at what you see to find hope. Please. Don’t find hope in dreams and stories of heaven and near death experiences. Do not lose heart. Find your hope in Christ. Oh my friends, I implore you, seek him! Look to his promises. He is all satisfying.
Do we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.
He will swallow up death forever. The Sovereign LORD will wipe away the tears from all faces; he will remove the disgrace of his people from all the earth. The LORD has spoken. In that day they will say, “Surely this is our God; we trusted in him, and he saved us. This is the LORD, we trusted in him; let us rejoice and be glad in his salvation.” The hand of the LORD will rest on this mountain; but Moab will be trampled under him as straw is trampled down in the manure. They will spread out their hands in it, as a swimmer spreads out his hands to swim. God will bring down their pride despite the cleverness of their hands. He will bring down your high fortified walls and lay them low; he will bring them down to the ground, to the very dust.