I’ve been preaching through the Book of Revelation over the last couple of years and we have finally made our way into chapters 21 and 22. These chapters contain a great deal of information about the subject of heaven, which has been made popular again in recent days.
I got to thinking about an old saying that you would be familiar with, particularly if you have been running in evangelical church circles over the last few decades. Sometimes the phrase is used by church goers and sometimes by those outside the church, but directed at a church goer. Here’s the phrase, “he (or she) is so heavenly minded that they are no earthly good.”
Well, I’m going to go out on a limb here, but I’m convinced that the primary problem with church goers these days is that “they are so earthly minded that they are no heavenly good.” Truth be told, most of the talk about heaven is biblically uninformed. People speak of a “better place” but have little concept of the biblical teaching on heaven. While our culture brushes off heartfelt believers whom they mock as having their heads in the clouds the reality is that most church folk are focused in the horizontal, not the vertical.
Biblically we can set the record straight quickly. “Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth” (Colossians 3:2, NKJV). If the Apostle Paul is correct a Christian is supposed to be “heavenly minded.” In fact, of himself he said, “For I am hard-pressed between the two, having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better” (Philippians 1:23, NKJV). “Far better.” Indeed, and for this reason we should be mindful of heaven and think on heavenly things; where Christ is, and where He rules and reigns.
What will heaven be like? Where shall we get the answers? In the book, “Heaven is for Real,” the author, Todd Burpo, makes this statement: “When you look at the book of Revelation and other biblical teachings about heaven, it’s kind of fragmented” (page 149). I looked up the meaning of the word “fragmented.” The dictionary says, “a part broken off, detached, or incomplete.” Is Mr. Burpo correct? I think not. Surely the biblical information does not tell us everything about heaven, but it does tell us everything God intended us to know about the subject. If we needed to know more He would have told us more – in the Bible.
In a very good work on heaven, titled, “Heaven, Better by Far,” J. Oswald Sanders says, “… to one who has unshakeable confidence in the complete inspiration and final authority of the Bible, while it does not tell us all we would like to know about heaven, it does reveal all we need to know. And the picture it paints is so glorious as to leave us breathless in wonder” (page 10).
No, the biblical information is not fragmented. The idea you get from Mr. Burpo is that God was holding back all these years and neglected to tell us what we needed to know about heaven. He would have us believe that in these latter days God relented and allowed Mr. Burpo’s young son an opportunity to come up, check the place out, and then report back to the rest of us earthlings. The experience described in “Heaven is for Real” is subjective. There is no objective evidence that the young boy actually went to heaven. A rudimentary understanding of the spiritual world, and particularly of spiritual warfare, would be sufficient to cause one to question the account.
But we need not depend on subjective experiences because we have the objective reality of God’s Word. And one of the things the Word tells us is that if someone actually did get into heaven and then return to earth he would have seen that which he would be unable to tell in words that we could understand. In fact, the Apostle Paul had that very experience, “And I know such a man—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows—how he was caught up into Paradise and heard inexpressible words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter” (2 Corinthians 12:3–4, NKJV).
But Heaven is indeed a wonderful place and it is where we will enjoy eternal life with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. But entry into heaven is not automatic. God has a plan and it would do one well to know the plan of redemption, the price of restoration, and the promise of reward. God’s plan of redemption? Jesus plus nothing. God’s price of restoration? The shed blood of Jesus Christ for our sins. The promise of reward? The gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord (Rom. 6:23).
Where is your focus? Are you so earthly minded that you are no heavenly good? In other words, are you so consumed with, and concerned over, your present life on this earth that you have failed to “set your mind on things above?” Perhaps I should phrase it this way, “are you so earthy minded that you are not good for heaven?”
What would make you “good for heaven?” Most people think it is their good, their deeds done with the best of intentions. My friend, you could never do enough good to merit heaven. But God has made a way. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life, no one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6). Only the way of the cross will lead you home to heaven.
In future posts I intend to explore what the Bible says about heaven and demonstrate that Mr. Burpo’s comment about the information being fragmented is not at all correct. For example, the Bible is very clear that heaven is a real place, a place that has been prepared for a specific people. There is no fragmentation in this statement, “Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. 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 to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also” (John 14:1–3, NKJV). Even so, come Lord Jesus!
Should the Lord permit, we will also explore what the Bible says about the way to heaven and debunk many of the myths about the pathway to eternity. Searching the Scriptures … the path to understanding.