Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. (Revelation 21:1)
Whenever I travel overseas and I have not been to a particular place before, I always am curious about what to expect when I get there. I want to know about the weather, the geography, the people, and my wardrobe--what kind of clothes I should bring, which is usually determined by what I'm going to be doing when I get there.
If you asked ten people if they expect to go to heaven when they die, most would say, "Yes--I hope so!" Yet very few people ever think much about who is going to be there, how you get there, and what we are going to do when we do get there.
For sure, heaven will be filled with surprises--for us and for others, as well, who are just as surprised that we've made it. In recent days, I've received a number of letters from you, friends of Guidelines, asking specific questions about these issues. I'd like to answer some of these questions briefly, giving you answers based upon what the Bible says–which, after all, is the only authoritative book that gives us answers to questions about heaven.
Question #1: Who is going to be in heaven? That's easy to answer. The Bible says that heaven is the eternal home of those who have been redeemed by the blood of the Lamb, Jesus Christ. It will be the home of God's people of all ages and races. Make a note of John 14 in your New Testament, where Jesus made it very clear that He is “the way, the truth, and the life," the door through which we enter heaven.
Contrary to what people often believe, heaven isn't the home of all the good people in the world. It is the place which Jesus Christ has gone to prepare for those who know and serve Him.
Question #2: Will we know each other in heaven? At the transfiguration Jesus took Peter, James, and John into a mountain, and while they were together Moses and Elijah appeared. You read about this in Matthew 17. Jesus didn't have to explain, "OK, boys, that's Moses on the left; Elijah's the short one on the right, the one with the bushy eyebrows and the fiery looking eyes." They knew immediately. In eternity you will no longer have memories dimmed by the frailties of the flesh. We'll be beyond the limitation of time and space. 1 John 3 says that when we see Christ, we will know Him. You will recognize loved ones. Heaven will be a time of rejoicing for God's children.
Question #3: Do babies go to heaven? Answer--unquestionably, "Yes!" When David's child by Bathsheba died, he cried, "Can I bring him back again? [Answer expected: No!] I will go to him, but he will not return to me" (2 Samuel 12:23). You can expect to see a child resting in the arms of Jesus when you die and go to heaven. For centuries, rabbis have taught that the age of accountability is 12. This has been based more on tradition than any clear statement in the Old Testament, but according to Romans 2, in the New Testament, until there is a clear knowledge of right and wrong, a child who dies is innocent before God. This is good news for anyone who has ever had a baby snatched from his arms in death.
Question #4: Does it matter if someone is an infant or someone is old, in heaven? It matters a great deal here, but it won't matter in heaven, according to Isaiah 65 and 66. In heaven, no longer bound by the laws of time and space which now limit us, age will no longer be a factor. Why? Heaven is timeless, and if it is timeless, it is also ageless. More on this important topic tomorrow.
Resource reading: Revelation 21
Sermon Topics: Heaven