“Heaven is a fairy tale for people afraid of the dark.” —Stephen Hawking
I’m afraid of the dark.
If we’re talking about the endless kind of darkness that offers no light anywhere, no hope ever and nothing but nothingness, who among us would not panic at the thought of that?
I expect people like Mr. Hawking simply find the idea of Heaven too good to be true, and thus conclude that it must be a product of man’s delusional yearning for “pie in the sky by and by.”
And yet, there are solid reasons for reasonable people to believe in the concept of a Heavenly home after this earthly life. Here are some that mean a lot to me. By no means is this list exhaustive. It’s simply my thinking on the subject.
One. Jesus believed in Heaven. In fact, He claimed to be a native.
The Lord said to Nicodemus, “No one has been to Heaven except the One who came from there, even the Son of Man” (John 3:13). No one knows a place like a native.
Jesus told the dying thief, “Today you will be with me in Paradise” (Luke 23:43). So, wherever we go when we die, it’s a paradise.
True, He left us a thousand unanswered questions on the subject, but what He told us is pure gold. For instance, when He returns, the dead in Christ accompany Him (I Thessalonians 4:14). It appears that our eventual destination is somewhere different from the initial, intermediate place called “Paradise,” but we have no trouble leaving the details to Him. After all, we can trust the One who died for us.
Two. Scripture consistently teaches the existence of Heaven. We must not let people get by with saying the Old Testament knew nothing of Heaven. “I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever,” said David in everyone’s favorite psalm. Or this one: “As for me, I shall behold thy face in righteousness; I will be satisfied with Thy likeness when I awake” (Psalm 17:15).
Job said, “My Redeemer liveth and at last shall stand upon the earth; yet even after my skin is destroyed, yet from my flesh I shall see God; whom I myself shall behold, and whom my eyes shall see and not another” (Job 19:25-27).
Neither must we cave to those who say the only way to understand such verses is to get inside the mind of the one who said those words originally, as if what they said is determinative and authoritative. Peter said the prophets said more than they understood and even angels couldn’t fathom some of these things (I Peter 1:12).
Three. I believe in Heaven because I believe in earth. It’s so wonderful. There is nothing else like it in the universe.
Suppose we lived in some distant world and all we knew was the planets we have seen—the barren, rocky planets that are molten in the day and frigid at night, those covered with acidic clouds or endless hurricanes—and if someone told us about earth, with its steadiness, its atmosphere, its lovely scenery and its plant life and the richness of its minerals and a thousand other delights, we would find it hard to believe.
And yet here it is. We are residents of this amazing planet.