This weeks topic on Lift Your Voice is “Heaven.” It is a very broad subject and I have yet to sit down and discuss with Dr. H as to how we will approach the subject as a whole. But, the inspiration for the topic this week is the book “Heaven is for Real” by Todd Burpo. I was given this book for Christmas and I read it in one day. It is an excellent book and it chronicles the true story of a Todd’s son Colton and his trip to Heaven. I would recommend this book to anyone. It is a heartwarming true story, and it can strengthen the faith of many believers.
On that topic in particular I will be discussing. For our regular listeners you will recall that we did a show on doubt several months ago. When I was younger one of my biggest doubts and worries was about the after life. It was a struggle for me, and I believe for many people still living because we simply do not know what will happen when we die. Will I see a bright light? Will it be like I’m sleeping? Will I just cease to exist? Even though I was a young believer these were the questions that graced my mind. But, thankfully as I’ve grown I trust in what the Bible says. I believe that upon my earthly bodies death I will see my Savior in Heaven and spend eternity with Him there.
But there are still doubts and doubters out there. They ask questions like what proof is there other than the Bible? We live in a culture that seeks evidence. As Dr. H often says Christianity and the Bible is not about blind faith, but about having evidence to back up what we believe. Thankfully in a book that was given to me for Christmas there is an article that tackles this very subject. The following portion of this post is taken from the book “The Complete Bible Answer Book” by Hank Hanegraaf. The title of the article is called “Is There Evidence for Life After Death?”
–IS THERE EVIDENCE FOR LIFE AFTER DEATH
Atheists believe that death is the cessation of being. In their view, humans are merely bodies and brains. Though they reject metaphysical realities such as the soul a priori (prior to examination), there are convincing reasons to believe that humans have an immaterial aspect to their being that transcends the material and thus can continue to exist after death. Christian philosopher J. P. Moreland advances several sound arguments for the existence of the immaterial soul.
First, from the perspective of logic, we can demonstrate that the mind is not identical to the brain by proving that the mind and brain have different properties. As Moreland explains: “The subjective texture of our conscious mental experiences—the feeling of pain, the experience of sound, the awareness of color—is different from anything that is simply physical. If the world were only made of matter, these subjective aspects of consciousness would not exist. But they do exist! So there must be more to the world than matter.” An obvious example is color. A moment’s reflection is enough to convince thinking people everywhere that the experience of color involves more than a mere wavelength of light.
Furthermore, from a legal perspective, if human beings were merely material, they could not be held accountable this year for a crime committed last year, because physical identity changes over time. Every day we lose multiplied millions of microscopic particles—in fact, every seven years, virtually every part of our material anatomy changes, apart from aspects of our neurological system. Therefore, from a purely material perspective, the person who previously committed a crime is presently not the same person. A criminal who attempts to use this line of reasoning as a defense would not get very far. Legally and intuitively, we recognize a sameness of soul that establishes personal identity over time.
Finally, libertarian freedom (freedom of the will) presupposes that we are more than mere material robots. If I am merely material, my choices are merely a function of such factors as genetic makeup and brain chemistry. Therefore, my decisions are not free; they are fatalistically determined. The implications of such a notion are profound. In a worldview that embraces fatalistic determinism, I cannot be held morally accountable for my actions, because reward and punishment make sense only if we have freedom of the will.
While the logical, legal, and libertarian freedom arguments are convincing in and of themselves, there is an even more powerful and persuasive argument demonstrating the reality of life beyond the grave. That argument flows from the resurrection of Jesus Christ. The best minds of ancient and modern times have demonstrated beyond a shadow of doubt that Christ’s physical trauma was fatal; that the empty tomb is one of the best-attested facts of ancient history; that Christ’s followers experienced on several occasions tangible post-resurrection appearances of Christ; and that within weeks of the resurrection, not just one, but an entire community of at least ten thousand Jews experienced such an incredible transformation that they willingly gave up sociological and theological traditions that had given them their national identity. Through the resurrection, Christ not only demonstrated that he does not stand in a line of peers with Abraham, Buddha, or Confucius but also provided compelling evidence for life after death.
-Adapted from Resurrection
For further study, see Gary R. Habermas and J. P. Moreland, Beyond Death: Exploring the Evidence for Immortality (Wheaton, Ill.: Crossway Books, 1998).
“Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.”
(This excerpt is taken from pages 121-124 of the Book “The Complete Bible Answer Book” by Hank Hanegraaf)–
I found truth in these words and I pray that you do as well. I also found comfort in the words of Colton from the book “Heaven is For Real.” On page 119 Colton is talking with a man who is dying and he says these words… “It’s going to be okay. The first person you’re going to see is Jesus.” For followers of Christ we can trust those words. And what amazing words they are. I cannot wait to see Jesus face to face in Heaven and if He truly is the first person I’ll see when I get there how grand it will be.
Brandon Witmyer–Host and Director of Lift Your Voice Ministries