I used to joke around with my grandchildren making unbelievable statements. One of my them loved to say, “Uh-uh! For reals, Mimi?”‘
“Just kidding!” I’d reply.
There are some things they never question with, “For reals?” Words like, “I love you! You’re so special! I’m really proud of you!” I hope they know Mimi never kids about those things. They are definitely “for reals.”
Jesus made numerous unbelievable statements in the Bible–words that seemed too outrageous to be true. Promises about heaven are at the top of that list. How do we know if heaven is real?
A Place Prepared for You
In John 14:1-3 Jesus talked about a prepared mansion with rooms, an eternal home with God that He was going to prepare for us. Through John’s vision in Revelation, God revealed a beautiful, magnificent place: no more sorrow, no more pain, no more sickness, with unspeakable joy. Still, our Thomas-doubting hearts, so limited by earthly boundaries, sometimes cry out foolishly, “For reals?”
Books about Heaven
Books like Randy Alcorn‘s Heaven paint beautiful, realistic pictures of a new heaven on earth–a final home for all of Christ’s followers. His pictorial word descriptions whet our spirit’s appetite again and again, and we silently, hopefully, whisper, “For reals?”
Near Death Experiences
Then along come some alleged true eye-witness accounts, like Don Piper’s 90 Minutes in Heaven and we hear more and more about NDEs (near death experiences)–all convincing more people there may be a heaven for sure. Actually there have been millions of documented NDEs, but we only hear about a few.
I Can Only Imagine
We listen to songs like Bart Millard‘s (Mercy Me) “I Can Only Imagine” sung at funeral after funeral. And as tears roll down our cheeks, we agree with the Psalmist who cried out, “As the deer longs for streams of water, so I long for you, O God” (Psalm 42:1 NLT). We leave with one foot planted firmly on earth, and one in heaven, trembling at the joy and reality that heaven could be nearer than we think. But what will it be like? We can only imagine.
Todd Burpo – From the Eyes of a Child
But one testimony seems to verify what our hearts have longed for all along. Based on four-year-old Colton Burpo‘s NDE is the book, Heaven Is for Real, by Todd Burpo, the boy’s father. Somehow, seen through the eyes of a child, perhaps we can grasp for the first time the truly unbelievable: heaven is real.
Faith of a Child
I decided to be a follower of Jesus when I was only eight years old. A year later, someone expanded my limited knowledge of fringe benefits associated with following Jesus. With child-like faith and excitement I replied, “You mean I really get to go to heaven?” In other words, “Is it for reals?” “Yes,” I was told, “heaven is real.”
Yes, Virginia, There Is a Heaven
Yes, Virginia, there is a place called “Heaven.” It is “for reals.” If you haven’t read Todd’s book, you need to. If you read it with an open heart and mind and spiritual eyes, it will push you back into the pages of God’s Word. There, you can see Jesus’ words fresh and new, spoken as if just for you: “If it were not so, I would have told you” (John 14:2).
Jesus Really Said It – Heaven Is Real
In other words, Jesus already told us, “Yes, heaven is real.” We only see glimpses, because we aren’t ready yet to absorb the totality of our future: that unbelievably, magnificent home. We can’t totally understand the immense truth that Jesus’ death and resurrection opened up the gates–and guarantee–of heaven for the after-death arrival of those who have chosen Him and love Him.
Proof–in the Fire?
Skeptics will always find reasons not to believe. Scientists, like Thomas, need proof. Jesus told a powerful story of a rich man and a beggar named Lazarus who both died. The rich man, tormented by the flames around him, and seeing the beggar in heaven (at Abraham’s side), cried out for some relief. “Couldn’t Abraham send Lazarus across the great chasm to cool his tongue with a touch of water?” The rich man wanted relief from the fire.
When Jesus told the rich man the gulf was impassable and impossible, then Lazarus begged for Jesus to send someone to his home on earth and warn them so they wouldn’t “come to this place of torment.” He caught a glimpse of heaven across the chasm, but it was not a near death experience. He was already gone and experiencing his hellish home. He just knew his brothers would believe if someone from the dead would just go back and tell them the truth: heaven is real–and so is hell.
Who Will You Believe?
Essentially, Jesus told the rich man that if people didn’t believe the testimonies and warnings on earth, (from Moses and the prophets) they wouldn’t believe it from anyone who rose from the dead (See Luke 16:19-31).
I wonder, with so much incredible evidence, why hearts still refuse to believe today. The question is not do you believe Colton Burpo’s vision or anyone else’s near death experience. It’s really a matter of, do you believe Jesus’ own words?
Because you see, Jesus wasn’t kidding. Heaven is for reals.
“In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going thee to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am” (John 14:1-3 NIV).
What do you think?