For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. But each in his own turn: Christ, the firstfruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him. 1 Corinthians 15:22,23
Thomas Edison, the inventor of the incandescent globe, or the “light bulb” as we call it today, was never one to waste words. Hard of hearing, he avoided a lot of social conversation; but when he said something, people listened. That was especially true of the night Edison lay dying. Struggling to say something, his wife and doctor leaned down to catch his dying words. With a smile he clearly and distinctly said, "It is very beautiful over there!"
Strange, though, how seldom we think of heaven. No wonder C. S. Lewis wrote, "It is since Christians have largely ceased to think of the other world that they have become so ineffective in this." Do you think much about heaven--who is going to be there, and what we will do once we've arrived? Some of you do. You are the ones who have written recently with questions--good questions, too--which deserve answers. Like what? Like these...
Question: What will we do? Float around on clouds like they do in the movies? In heaven there will be marvelous times of worship and praise, times of feasting (the marriage supper of the Lamb), and times of rejoicing. Forget the images portrayed by Hollywood. Most of the folks there won't have to worry about what's done in heaven anyway. The Bible is the only book in the world that tells us for sure what heaven will be like.
Question: Will my wife still be my wife in heaven? This was the very question that arose in the ministry of Jesus. So important was it that Matthew, Mark and Luke recorded Jesus' discussion. The discussion was the response to a question which the Pharisees put to Jesus--a trick question--about a woman had been married to seven different men. Jesus rebuked them, telling them they didn't know the law.
Jesus answered the question of marriage in heaven very clearly saying, "At the resurrection people will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven" (Matthew 22:30). No, there will not be marriages in heaven. But relationships will be meaningful.
Question: Do people in heaven know what is happening here on earth? I would answer saying, "Yes!" Here's why. In one of the parables, Jesus talked about rejoicing over a lost sheep, and then he said, "I tell you that in the same way there is more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent... In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents" (Luke 15:7,10). If it is not the angels who rejoice, it must be God's children, who are now in heaven, in the Lord's presence.
Question: Are there tears in heaven? Yes and no! Twice the book of Revelation says that God shall wipe away all tears from our eyes (Revelation 7:17, 21:4), and in heaven, there will be no sorrow, but rejoicing. Initially there may be some tears over our failures to tell our friends and family how to get to heaven. It's too good to keep to ourselves.
A final question: Do you know how to get to heaven? That's my topic on the next edition of Guidelines.
Resource reading: I Corinthians 15.
Sermon Topics: Heaven