Three-year-old Colton Burpo had a near-death experience (NDE) while on the operating table. When it was over, he described his “three minutes in heaven” in vivid detail, including encounters with Samson, John the Baptist, and Jesus, who had sea-blue eyes and owned a rainbow-colored horse.
Colton’s father, a Wesleyan pastor, believes the lad’s experience was real because he shared it with “the simple conviction of an eyewitness.”
You may read Colton’s story in Heaven is for Real: A Little Boy’s Astounding Story of His Trip to Heaven and Back, which ruled the best-seller list for 44 weeks. Millions of people have devoured the book, watched the youngster’s appearances on TV shows, and viewed the major motion picture based on his story.
Less popular but equally intriguing are books about NDEs in which people “die” for brief periods and experience the horrors of hell. To Hell and Back by cardiologist Maurice Rollins, for example, tells us that hellish NDEs have to be recorded and verified immediately after the person “returns” or the horrifying memories are repressed.
In any case, stories like Colton’s appeal to our desire to know more about the afterlife. Continue reading →
In the previous column we saw how Scripture describes heaven as the intermediate state between death and resurrection for followers of Jesus as they await future resurrection and glorification. Now, we look in more detail at heaven as well as the new heavens and new earth.
What about heaven?
The New Testament reveals many truths about this intermediate state for followers of Jesus. Here are 12:
(1) The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit reside in heaven, yet they have immediate access to earth (Matt. 3:16-17).
(2) God’s will is done completely in heaven – and one day will be done on earth (Matt. 6:9-10).
(3) Angels surround the throne in heaven (Matt. 18:10), as do majestic heavenly creatures and redeemed people (Revelation 4-5). Continue reading →
Is heaven the final destination of all who rest in Jesus? Or do we spend eternity someplace else?
In 2 Corinthians 5, the apostle Paul describes two different and mutually exclusive states of existence for the Christian. While we are on earth, “at home in the body,” we are “away from the Lord.” And when we are “out of the body” we are “at home with the Lord” (5:6, 8).
The New Testament teaches that upon death, believers’ souls/spirits separate from our lifeless bodies and enter the presence of God in heaven (see also Phil. 1:21-24). There, we enjoy intimate fellowship with our Lord while awaiting the future resurrection and glorification of our bodies (John 5:28-29; 1 Cor. 15:51-58; 1 Thess. 4:13-18). Continue reading →
You’re going to live forever. The questions are where, and how. With so many views about the afterlife — from reincarnation to annihilation — is there any way to know for sure what lies beyond the grave? The answer is a resounding yes!
The same God who created you in His image has revealed important truths about your destiny.
What Everyone Should Know About the Afterlife briefly addresses what the Bible says about death, judgment, heaven, hell, and much more.
Our response to God’s offer of salvation carries everlasting consequences.
Each chapter concludes with probing questions, making this an ideal resource for personal or group study.
Rev. 21:22 – I did not see a sanctuary in it, because the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb are its sanctuary. (HCSB)
I did not see a sanctuary
John notes in verse 22 that he does not see a sanctuary in the heavenly city “because the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb are its sanctuary.” Historical Jerusalem is known as the city of God because His presence resides there in the temple (1 Kings 8:10-13).
The people of God approach Him indirectly through a mediator, a high priest who offers atoning sacrifices for the sins of the people in the Holy of Holies on the Day of Atonement. The atoning blood is carried through a thick veil and sprinkled on the mercy seat, above which the Shekinah glory resides. There, the wrath of God is satisfied and His grace and mercy are extended to His sinful creatures. Other sacrifices, offerings, and forms of worship take place on the temple grounds outside the inner sanctuary.
All that takes place in the sacrificial system has a forward-looking importance. The day is coming when God Himself provides a sacrifice – the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. When Jesus dies on the cross, the veil of the temple is torn in two, from top to bottom, signifying that Jesus has fulfilled the types and shadows of the Old Covenant and through His shed blood has provided direct access to the Father without the need for a human mediator.
Now, in verse 22, we see the promised intimacy fulfilled as the redeemed enjoy face-to-face fellowship with the Father and the Lamb.