“Well, we know _________’s in a ‘better place’.” Oh, how often we hear these words spoken at funerals; words that are intended to comfort those who have just lost a loved one to the “last enemy” which is death. I fear that sometimes (not always) people take a false comfort in this idea which is actually, if you really think about, missing the point.
Don’t get me wrong, I believe that Heaven is a place, and I do believe it is a better, much better, place than here. I do not think it is a place, however, that any technology devised by humans, no matter how sophisticated we may get with it, will get us to, though, because it is in another dimension, and you must be in spirit to arrive there, in that place.
I have a funny little story about when I asked someone once about how to get to heaven. It is humorous upon first read, but then, when you think about it, is a most profound realization. Once, when trying to explain the Gospel to my 6 year old daughter (who is now 18 and in college!), I asked her, “What do you have to do to get to heaven?” So the little child, in her childlike innocence and concrete thinking, said “die.” You see? Perhaps you chuckled; I laughed out loud (LOL) when I first heard it! But upon further reflection, she is so right. Paul even makes this quite clear when he writes,
50 Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does corruption inherit incorruption. 51 . . . we shall be changed. 53 For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. 54 So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.
(1 Corinthians 15:50-54).
You see, we have to be “changed” to experience our eternal and immortal inheritance. Paul also says in 2 Corinthians 5,
1 For we know that if our earthly house, this tent, is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. 2 For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed with our habitation which is from heaven, . . . from the Lord. 7 For we walk by faith, not by sight. 8 We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord.
Notice what Paul says here. He acknowledges that in our flesh, “this earthly tent,” we are “absent from the Lord” but when we are “absent from the body” we are “present with the Lord.” Paul here not only indicates clearly that we must have a different form when we reach heaven (that is, I would venture to say, why people who report NDEs, like Colton, do not disappear, but their physical bodies remain in front of us, while the true person has an ‘out of body’ experience), he also makes a most significant observation about being in heaven; and this is what it is all about, I believe. He says, “to be absent from the body [is] to be present with the LORD!” There it is; the most glorious truth of heaven. Not so much that it is a better place, but what makes is such a “better place” and that is because the best Person is there. People who focus on the “place” of heaven miss the important point that heaven is really about a Person; and that person is the LORD Himself. For Paul, this reality was what made death such “gain” for him (Philippians 1:21). Read again what he says to the saints at Philippi,
21 For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain. . . 23 For I [have] a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better.
(Philippians 1:21, 23)
It seems clear that Paul’s anticipation of heaven was not the better place, but being “with” the best Person, and this is what makes heaven “far better” indeed. To die is gain not because we will be in “a better place,” but be in the very presence of the very best Person – our Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ. This brings a whole new meaning to RIP – Rejoicing In the Presence!
Colton’s testimony about heaven had two powerful ideas, Jesus told him, a four year old, that He died so we could “be with His Daddy” and later, Colton told that dying man that he had no need to worry because the first person whom He could expect to see when he arrives to heaven is Jesus!
Frankly, I do not know, nor do I really care, what heaven is as a place, the most important thing to me is the Person that awaits me there; the One, and only One, who, because of His love, left his royal throne and glory and came into this dark, sin-infested world and willingly suffered its pains and shocks, to experience the ultimate humiliation of death by cross in order to, as Colton said, as well as Peter the Apostle, “bring us to God” (1 Peter 3:18).
Do we really understand Heaven if all we anticipate about it is its being a “better place” and are not wanting with all our soul, to be with the Best Peron? For that matter, do we really understand the Gospel, if all we are concerned about is what kind of “place” it is, and what kind of “mansion” we will have (which I do not think Jesus taught) and we are not focused on being “with” the Person that paid the necessary price to make the way for us to get there?
Blessings In Christ,
P.S. – Jesus said ““You are from beneath; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world. 24 Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for if you do not believe that I am He, you will die in your sins” (John 8:23-24). Understanding this, Peter tells us clearly, “18 For Christ also suffered once and for all for sins, . . . that He might bring us to God” (1 Peter 3:18). You will die, and when you do, as the Scripture says, “the body returns to the dust from which it came, and the spirit returns to God, who gave it (Ecclesiastes 12:7). You have an eternal and immortal spirit, the real you, and if you die without having come to Christ for the forgiveness of your sins for which He died, you will not be with Him for eternity. Trust that He is the one who died and paid for yours sins now and heaven will be your home, and Jesus will be the first one you will see when you awaken in that new dimension after your death.