HEAVEN IS FOR REAL
This is one of the longest post I have published. If you are interested in knowing what the Bible teaches about how to enter into HEAVEN, please take time to read.
A book was recently published entitled Heaven Is For Real, but it wasn’t based on the Bible or what the Word of God tells us. It is based on a child’s experiences.
Many religions teach their ideas of heaven based upon what someone ‘thinks’ a certain verse may mean or what an organization teaches. JW’s witnesses, who believe in the teachings of Watchtower, believe heaven is only for 144,000. All other JWs will live on paradise earth. Mormons believe that all people lived in heaven prior to this life and will do so again. Catholics believe in purgatory, a sort of holding area where people will stay for an indefinite period of time. If you discuss this issue with different people you will get many different answers. Sadly, few people base their belief on the Bible and the words of Christ and/or the Apostles.
Regardless of how many non-biblical ideas are held regarding Heaven, the Bible is clear. Heaven is a real place created by Almighty God.
WHAT DOES THE OLD TESTAMENT TEACH ABOUT HEAVEN?
Since it is from the Bible that we learn of heaven, doesn’t it make sense that the Bible is the only reliable source of information to learn about Heaven and how to get there?
Our first glimpse of Heaven as a place is given in Genesis.
And he (Jacob) dreamed, and behold, there was a ladder [fn] set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven. And behold, the angels of God were ascending and descending on it! And behold, the LORD stood above it [fn] and said, “I am the LORD, the God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac. The land on which you lie I will give to you and to your offspring. Your offspring shall be like the dust of the earth, and you shall spread abroad to the west and to the east and to the north and to the south, and in you and your offspring shall all the families of the earth be blessed…And he was afraid and said, “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.” Genesis 28:12-14, 17
In Exodus we learn that Heaven is above the earth. Here God is referring to the space He has created that contains stars and other heavenly bodies. In Exodus 20:22, God speaks to Moses about heaven.
“You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. Exodus 20:4
Later God shows that He speaks from Heaven.
And the LORD said to Moses, “Thus you shall say to the people of Israel: ‘You have seen for yourselves that I have talked with you from heaven…Exodus 20:4
God dwells in Heaven where He reigns, but He reigns on earth as well:
Out of heaven he let you hear his voice, that he might discipline you. And on earth he let you see his great fire, and you heard his words out of the midst of the fire…know therefore today, and lay it to your heart, that the LORD is God in heaven above and on the earth beneath; there is no other. Deuteronomy 4:36-39
There are levels in Heaven:
But who is able to build him (the LORD) a house, since heaven, even highest heaven, cannot contain him? Who am I to build a house for him, except as a place to make offerings before him? 2 Chronicles 2:6
From Heaven God watches mankind:
God looks down from heaven
on the children of man
to see if there are any who understand,
who seek after God. Psalm 53:2
Heaven is God’s throne:
Thus says the LORD:
“Heaven is my throne, Isaiah 66:1
The number of beings in Heaven cannot be counted:
As the host of heaven cannot be numbered…33:22
WHAT ARE SOME THINGS THE NEW TESTAMENT TEACHES ABOUT HEAVEN?
The first mention of Heaven in the New Testament comes from John the Baptist when he is preaching that Christ will soon be made known to the people. Christ coming is referred to as “…the kingdom of heaven.” We know this from reading…
1 In those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the wilderness of Judea 2 and saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near.” 3 This is he who was spoken of through the prophet Isaiah:“A voice of one calling in the wilderness, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for Him.’” Matthew 3
The next mention is when God’s voice from heaven identifies Christ.
…and behold, a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.” Matthew 3:17
In Matthew 5, Jesus describes rewards and some of the characteristics of people who will be found in heaven.
3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 4 Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. 5 Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. 6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. 7 Blessed are the merciful,for they will be shown mercy. 8 Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. 9 Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God. 10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
We also learn that the old Heaven and Earth are going to pass away:
For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. Matthew 5:18
We see that we will be considered greater in Heaven if we keep the commandments. Jesus doesn’t say keeping the commandments will get us there, but it will have an effect upon our status.
Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 5:19
TO WHOM WAS JESUS SPEAKING ABOUT HEAVEN?
The answer to this question is crucial to refuting the teaching that only 144,000 will be allowed to enjoy Heaven. Jesus would not have preached heaven to the ‘crowds’ if they had no hope of heaven. We find that He was speaking to the crowds in chapters 5, 6, and 7.
And great crowds followed him from Galilee and the Decapolis, and from Jerusalem and Judea, and from beyond the Jordan. Matthew 4:25 Seeing the crowds, he went up on the mountain, and when he sat down, his disciples came to him. And he opened his mouth and taught them, saying: Matthew 5:1-2 And when Jesus finished these sayings, the crowds were astonished at his teaching, for he was teaching them as one who had authority, and not as their scribes. Matthew 27:28-29
For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 5:20 “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust [fn] destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in Heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. Matthew 6:19-20 (Why would the crowds need to lay up treasures in heaven if there is no hope for them to ever go there?
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Matthew 7:21 24 For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.”
He put another parable before them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven is like a grain of mustard seed that a man took and sowed in his field. It is the smallest of all seeds, but when it has grown it is larger than all the garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches.” He told them another parable. “The kingdom of heaven is like leaven that a woman took and hid in three measures of flour, till it was all leavened.” All these things Jesus said to the crowds in parables; indeed, he said nothing to them without a parable. This was to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet: [fn]
“I will open my mouth in parables;
I will utter what has been hidden since the foundation of the world.” Matthew 13:31-35
But Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 19:14 (Why didn’t Jesus say this about men who are virgins rather than children if only male virgins are going to be in heaven?)
The passage that completely destroys Watchtower’s theory in my mind is found in Matthew 22. Notice how Christ describes the way He fills the banquet hall in Heaven. It isn’t with those who have joined the correct organization or those who have been anointed to be in the 144,000. Look careful at these people. They are those willing to come when called.
1 Once again, Jesus spoke to them in parables: 2 “The kingdom of heaven is like a king who prepared a wedding banquet for his son. 3 He sent his servants to call those he had invited to the banquet, but they refused to come. 4 Again, he sent other servants and said, ‘Tell those who have been invited that I have prepared my dinner. My oxen and fatlings have been killed, and everything is ready. Come to the wedding banquet.’ 5 But they paid no attention and went away, one to his field, and another to his business. 6 The rest seized his servants, mistreated them, and killed them. 7 The king was enraged. He sent his troops to destroy those murderers and burn their city. 8 Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding banquet is ready, but those I invited were not worthy. 9 Go therefore to the crossroads and invite to the banquet as many as you can find.’ 10 So the servants went out into the streets and gathered everyone they could find, both evil and good, and the wedding hall was filled with guests.
WHAT DID THE APOSTLES TEACH ABOUT HEAVEN?
But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself. Philippians 3:20-21
We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love that you have for all the saints, because of the hope laid up for you in heaven. Of this you have heard before in the word of the truth, the gospel, which has come to you, as indeed in the whole world it is bearing fruit and increasing—as it also does among you, since the day you heard it and understood the grace of God in truth, just as you learned it from Epaphras our beloved fellow servant. Colossians 1:3-7
For Christ has entered, not into holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true things, but into HEAVEN itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf. Hebrews 9:24
But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering, and to the assembly [fn] of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel. See that you do not refuse him who is speaking. For if they did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, much less will we escape if we reject him who warns from heaven. Hebrews 12:22-25
Peter spoke the following to a huge number of people. ( To those who are elect exiles of the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia,)
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept IN HEAVEN for you, 1 Peter 1:3-4
THE VISION JOHN SAW WHILE ON THE ISLE OF PATMOS
John did see 144,000 Jewish men who were virgins in Heaven. The Bible identified them as being from the 12 tribes of Israel. They appear just prior to the opening of the seventh seal during the Tribulation period and an angel places God’s seal on their foreheads. Later we learn:
It is these who have not defiled themselves with women, for they are virgins. It is these who follow the Lamb wherever he goes. These have been redeemed from mankind as firstfruits for God and the Lamb, and in their mouth no lie was found, for they are blameless. Revelation 14:4-5
From where did these 144,000 come?
14 I said to him, “Sir, you know.” And he said to me, “These are the ones coming out of the great tribulation. They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Revelation 7:14
However, these were not all who John saw in Heaven:
Revelation 7:9 After this I looked and saw a multitude too large to count, from every nation and tribe and people and tongue, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands. 10 And they cried out in a loud voice: “Salvation to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” 11 And all the angels stood around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures. And they fell face-down before the throne and worshiped God, 12 saying, “Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanks and honor and power and strength to our God forever and ever! Amen.” 13 Then one of the elders addressed me: “These in white robes,” he asked, “who are they, and where have they come from?” 14 “Sir,” I answered, “you know.” So he replied, “These are the ones who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.
There are still people on earth as we will see in the remaining part of Revelation 14. These are the ones who did not have their robes washed and made white by the blood of the Lamb of God.
14And I looked and saw a white cloud, and seated on the cloud was One like the Son of Man,c with a golden crown on His head and a sharp sickle in His hand. 15Then another angel came out of the temple, calling in a loud voice to the One seated on the cloud, “Swing Your sickle and reap, because the time has come to harvest; for the crop of the earth is ripe.” 16So the One seated on the cloud swung His sickle over the earth, and the earth was harvested. 17Then another angel came out of the temple in heaven, and he too had a sharp sickle. 18Still another angel, with authority over the fire, came from the altar and called out in a loud voice to the angel with the sharp sickle, “Swing your sharp sickle and gather the clusters of grapes from the vine of the earth, because its grapes are ripe.” 19So the angel swung his sickle over the earth and gathered the grapes of the earth, and he threw them into the great winepress of God’s wrath. 20And the winepress was trodden outside the city, and the blood that flowed from it rose as high as the bridles of the horses, for a distance of one thousand six hundred stadia.
WHAT DOES THE BIBLE TELL US WE MUST DO TO BE CERTAIN OF ENTERING HEAVEN?
Numerous, (too many to place here), verses tell us that to enter into eternal life, we must confess Jesus as Lord and believe in Him as Savior and Redeemer. Below I have placed a part of the verses Jesus used to explain how we can be assured of entering Heaven. Jesus made it clear that isn’t by works, but by doing the will of the Father.
Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Matthew 7:21 …39 And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that I shall lose none of all those He has given Me, but raise them up at the last day. 40For it is My Father’s will that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in Him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.” John 6:40
Thankfully God has given us all we need to be assured that if we have saving faith in Christ we will enjoy eternity with Him in Heaven.