July 26, 2013
READ: 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18
Since we believe that Jesus died and was raised to life again, we also believe that when Jesus returns, God will bring back with Him the believers who have died (v.14).
Everyone wants to know what heaven will be like,and over the past several years a spate of books have promised to tell them. Don Piper was first with his 90 Minutes in Heaven. Following that bestseller, The Boy Who Came Back from Heaven and Heaven Is for Real were published and enthusiastically received by readers. One book went in the opposite direction—literally—23 Minutes in Hell.
These books that claim to provide firsthand accountsof the afterlife have encouraged many, but I’ll limit my words to what we find in Scripture. Read Luke 23:43,2 Corinthians 5:6-8, Philippians 1:21-23 and1 Thessalonians 4:14, and you’ll discover that one thing Scripture says about heaven is that it’s where we’re with the Lord. This is enough, because the presence of the Lord is what makes heaven ‘heaven’. Why wasn’t Lazarus upset when Jesus raised him from the dead? Why didn’t he complain? I think he may have been glad to come back to life because Jesus was there. Lazarus’ house in Bethany had become a corner of heaven.
We get another glimpse of heaven in Revelation 6:9-11. John writes of the martyred saints shouting to the Lord, “How long before you judge the people who belong to this world and avenge our blood?” They’re not suffering, for they’ve been delivered from the grasp of sin. But they aren’t entirely satisfied either. As great as it is to be a disembodied soul in heaven, there’s something even better: to be a whole person living on Earth.
And so these saints pray for the return of Jesus and the resurrection of their bodies. Let’s join them in the closing prayer of Scripture, “Amen! Come, Lord Jesus!” (Revelation 22:20).—Mike Wittmer
› Matthew 18:10-22
Read Revelation 21-22 to learn what will happen when Jesus returns to Earth.
What burning question do you have about heaven? Why do you think Scripture doesn’t answer it? What should you do withthis question?