Why heaven will not be boring

In high school, I once overheard some friends say that they’d rather go to Hell instead of Heaven. I was like, “WHAT?!” That seemed crazy to me!

So I listened in on their conversation to find out why. It turned out they wanted to go Hell because they thought Heaven would be boring.

Sometimes the way I hear people talk about Heaven makes me not want to go there either, and I’m a pastor. Like when someone once told me that they thought Heaven would be a never-ending church service… depending on your church experience that might not be too fun. Thankfully, though, heaven is not like that.

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How accurate do your beliefs have to be to go to heaven?

On Facebook the other day a friend posted a link to the poem “When I say am a Christian”. The poem was attributed to Maya Angelou. After reading the poem, I was deeply moved and just about to “share” the link. But then my eyes caught a glimpse of a “related article” by snopes.com. I clicked on the snopes’ link and to my disappointment learned that the poem was not written by the late Maya Angelou.

Now the posting from my friend was a harmless mistake. But that got me thinking, what did Maya Angelou actually believe? Did she go to heaven?

Turns out Maya Angelou was part of the Unity Church. You can watch her talk with Oprah about it here. And you can find out what the Unity Church believes here…

If you clicked on the links above,  you many have noticed that what the Unity Church believes about Jesus is very different than what orthodox Christians believe about Jesus.  But does that matter?

How accurate does a person’s  beliefs have to be to go heaven? Or to put it another way, what exactly does a person need to believe about Jesus, in order to be saved by Jesus?

In the Bible

In the Bible, there was one person who surely had a minimal understanding of who Jesus was. Yet we know that  he went to heaven. The man met Jesus the last day of his life. He was one of two criminals sentenced to death, and crucified next to Jesus.

The story takes place in Luke 23:32-43. Luke writes:

32 Two other men, both criminals, were also led out with him to be executed. 33 When they came to the place called the Skull, they crucified him there, along with the criminals—one on his right, the other on his left. 34 Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” And they divided up his clothes by casting lots…39 One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: “Aren’t you the Messiah? Save yourself and us!” 40 But the other criminal rebuked him. “Don’t you fear God,” he said, “since you are under the same sentence? 41 We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.”42 Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” 43 Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.”

On the last day of his life the nameless criminal put his faith in Jesus and was promised entrance into paradise.

But what exactly did he believe about Jesus?

At the very least the criminal had three beliefs about Jesus:

1.  Jesus was a sinless man sent from GodDon’t you fear God (v.40)…We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.”(v.41)

2.  Jesus was a king Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” (v.42)

3.  Jesus was able to save him “Jesus, remember me…”(v.42)

There was a lot the criminal did not know about Jesus. He didn’t know that Jesus was the second person of the Trinity. He likely did not comprehend the duel natures of Jesus. He likely knew none of Jesus’ parables. Or Jesus’ teaching concerning the Old Testament Law.

In the moments just before his death all he knew was that Jesus was the Messiah (God’s holy “sent one”), the Lord (king over of all) and the Savior (the one who could save him from the consequences of his sin).

This was all Jesus had revealed to him. But it was enough to ignite his faith, and cause a response. It was enough for the criminal to be welcomed into heaven. (v.43)

 What about Maya and us?

I don’t know if Maya Angelou believed that Jesus was the Messiah, her Lord, and her Savior. I pray she did. Because without trusting in the divine authority and saving work of Jesus, we all are like that criminal hanging next to Jesus on the cross- a condemned man about to face the  judgement of God, for the sins committed against God.

But the good news is that Jesus cares about condemned criminals (like you, me, and Maya).  And he is eager to invite even criminals into paradise.  That’s why he has revealed himself to us as the Messiah, the Lord, and the Savior.

For if these beliefs are the only beliefs we have about Jesus, they are enough to cause our hearts to repent.  Thy are enough for us to put our trust in him.  And they will be enough for each of us, on the day of our death, to hear his words, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.”

 

 

 

Will There Be Snow In Heaven?

File:BrockenSnowedTrees.jpg

As a person born and raised in sunny southern California, but now residing in not-so-sunny eastern Michigan, I have a kind of love-hate relationship with snow.

On the one hand snow makes everything beautiful. It doesn’t matter if its the county landfill, throw some snow on it, and proof, its gorgeous.

But on the other hand snow can be a real pain–especially when combined with sub-zero temperatures.

And that makes me wonder, is there snow in heaven?

 

If you grew up in a climate like I did, your knee jerk response is likely, “No! There is no snow in Heaven.” Because your reasoning is something like this :

Snow is cold.

Cold is bad.

Bad things don’t exist in heaven.

Therefore, there is no snow in heaven.

 

But if you are from any state east of Colorado (and north of the Ohio River) your response is likely,  “Of course there will be snow in heaven!” That’s because your reasoning is something like this:

Snow is fun.

Fun is good.

All good things exist in heaven.

Therefore, there is definitely snow in heaven.

 

In the Bible there are 23 references to snow, unfortunately none of them directly pertaining to heaven. But here are three good biblical reasons for why I think there will likely be snow in heaven.

Snow shows the greatness of God (Psalm 147:1,16-1, 20)

 Praise the Lord. How good it is to sing praises to our God,
how pleasant and fitting to praise him!…He sends his command to the earth;
his word runs swiftly.He spreads the snow like wool
and scatters the frost like ashes.He hurls down his hail like pebbles.
Who can withstand his icy blast?…Praise the Lord.

Snow reminds us of God’s greatness here on earth. Therefore it would make sense that snow will exists in heaven as a  continual reminder of how great God is.

Snow shows the sovereignty of God (Psalm 148:7-8)

Praise the Lord from the earth, you great sea creatures and all ocean depths,
 lightning and hail, snow and clouds, stormy winds that do his bidding…

If God uses snow to do his bidding on earth, why not also in heaven?

Snow reminds us of the grace of God (Isaiah 1:18)

“Come now, let us settle the matter,” says the Lord.
“Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow;
though they are red as crimson,they shall be like wool.

Snow is one the greatest pictures of God’s grace in our lives. Though spiritually we were fifthly, in Christ, God made us white as snow.  Since snow is such a wonderful picture of God’s grace, it would make sense that snow will be in heaven for us to enjoy and to always remind us what Jesus Christ has done for us.

I still find snow hard to live with sometimes, but thankfully such hardship are only for a season.  If there is snow in heaven (and I’m pretty sure there will be) it will always be fun and good. I don’t know how that will work, but I can’t wait to find out.

 

 

So what do you think about snow and heaven?