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Youth Supplement – Myths about heaven

July 2009 | by Lowri Iorwerth

Myths about heaven

 

In 2008 ‘The Streets’ released the first single from their eagerly awaited album, ‘Everything is borrowed’. It was called ‘Heaven for the weather’ and the chorus went like this: ‘I want to go to heaven for the weather, but hell for the company. I want to go to heaven for the weather, but hell seems like fun to me’.

 

It was a big hit. It’s an upbeat, feel-good track, with a catchy tune designed to get you singing along. But I wonder how many people agree with it?

     At school I studied Christopher Marlowe’s play Dr Faustus and my teacher asked us to share our opinions on heaven and hell, angels, demons and damnation. I was surprised at the things my classmates believed, and they were surprised by my own opinions – mine being drawn from the Bible and theirs mostly from the Simpsons!

     Many people go through life with no idea of what lies beyond the grave. What’s more, many Christians don’t know where to start to put people right. So here are three common myths about heaven that we should set straight:

 

Myth 1: All nice people go to heaven

 

If you asked a stranger on the street, ‘Who gets to go to heaven?’ they might answer, ‘Everyone does’. But very few people really believe that. After all, nobody expects to see Stalin or Hitler in heaven.

     Whether they realise it or not, most non-Christians believe there is a standard to be met to get into heaven. Their mistake is to set the bar far too low, and rate themselves too highly. They think that being good, in their own terms, is enough.

     What does the Bible say?

     ‘There is no one righteous, not even one’ (Romans 3:9-11).

     ‘All our righteous acts are like filthy rags’ (Isaiah 64:6).

     ‘Be perfect, therefore, as your Heavenly Father is perfect’ (Matthew 5:48).

     The standard for heaven is perfection. Nothing less will do. I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t want to spend eternity in a place that wasn’t perfect, that had all the failings of this world.

     The problem is that none of us can achieve perfection. The only way sinners like us can enter heaven is to have Jesus deal with our sin and swap our ‘filthy rags’ for his spotless righteousness.

 

Myth 2: When people go to heaven they become angels

 

What most people think of heaven is like a Bugs Bunny cartoon. Bugs gets crushed by a falling anvil. Then his see-through soul emerges from his body and floats up to a cloud where he sits in a white robe with wings and a halo playing a harp.

     What does the Bible say?

     The Bible tells us that angels and humans are different creatures altogether. Angels are God’s messengers; they appear in the Bible to pass on messages to particular people (like Gideon or the shepherds at Christ’s birth).

     Angels know and worship God only as their Creator, not as their Father as we do. Christ did not die for angels but paid the price for human sin. He loves us more than words can express, and therefore our worship is all the more pleasing to him.

 

Myth 3: Heaven is boring

 

If heaven really were about wearing white and playing a harp, it would be rather dull and I’m sure we’d all get bored. We crave excitement and entertainment, but there’s no place for thrill-seekers in the heaven of our imaginations.

     Perhaps so many people live by the rule ‘eat, drink and be merry’ because once they reach the ‘for tomorrow we die’ bit, the party’s over. No more fun, no more freedom, no more doing whatever you want.

     What does the Bible say?

     ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away’ (Revelation 21:4).

     ‘In your presence is fulness of joy; at your right hand there are pleasures for evermore’ (Psalm 16:11).

     We need to have the right picture in our minds. In Revelation 21 John describes his vision of heaven, and it is breathtaking. But not only is heaven beautiful, it is a place where sin does not exist. No one can hurt us there, nothing will go wrong, everything is perfect, and we will be too.

     We also need to understand the point of being there. What makes heaven amazing – beyond all the things mentioned above – is that God is there. The thrill and never-ending excitement of heaven lies in experiencing the glory of God, something that brings uninterrupted delight. There’s nothing boring about heaven!

     So, knowing what heaven is really like, wouldn’t it be selfish to keep it to ourselves and let our friends go on thinking that hell would be more fun? Pray for an opportunity to tell them how amazing heaven really is, so that they might seek it for themselves.

Lowri Iorwerth