As a Christian, I have a reasonable expectation of Heaven, based on the clear teaching of Scripture and the logical consequence of God’s nature. I also anticipate a particular experience in Heaven based on the teaching of the Old and New Testament. I’m looking forward to what each of us will become when we are united with God. At the same time, I recognize there are some earthly pursuits I will abandon in the next life. While many of our cravings and desires will be satisfied once we are reunited with the One who has created us in His Image, some needs will simply vanish once we leave this world. As we think about the future with God, let’s remember what won’t be needed in Heaven so we can live differently while we are here on Earth:
The Need to Have Faith
Faith is the mechanism through which we are saved, and although the nature of faith (as it is described in Scripture) is not blind, it does require us to trust in the most reasonable inference from the evidence Jesus provided, even though we don’t have first-hand access to Jesus or the eyewitnesses who wrote the Gospels:
Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.
In this life, we are asked to trust in something often unseen (God), on the basis of something that was seen (Jesus as He was described in the Gospels) and for which there is sufficient evidence (as observed in our universe and world). God’s “hiddenness” requires us to draw conclusions and inferences from evidence, but a day is coming when we will see him directly. In that day, faith (as we understand and experience it here on earth) will no longer exist. We will simply know.
The Need to Study
We won’t find ourselves cracking the books in Heaven to have knowledge about God. We won’t be in seminary classes, trying to understand the complexity of the Trinity or the nature of God. In Heaven, our direct contact with the God of the universe will open our eyes to the mysteries we’ve been struggling to understand:
1 Corinthians 13:11-12
Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
Our desire to learn will be fully satisfied in Heaven. Much of what we spend hours trying to master here on earth will be available to us immediately once we are in God’s presence.
The Need to Comfort
We also won’t find ourselves crying on each other’s shoulder in Heaven. In fact, we won’t find ourselves crying at all. We won’t need each other’s comfort in difficult times because there won’t be any difficult times:
And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He shall dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself shall be among them, and He shall wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there shall no longer be any death; there shall no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.”
Our current struggles with sin (and the consequences we often experience as a result of our poor choices) will vanish in the next life. Better yet, our search for mercy and justice will be fully realized in God’s presence.
The Need to Reach Others
We won’t be planning missions trips in Heaven. We won’t be trying to figure out the best way to witness to the lost or reach those who don’t yet know Jesus. Truth is, there is only one chance to place your faith in Christ, and that time will have expired by the time we get to Heaven:
Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.
We die just once, and then we are judged. There is no second chance in Heaven, even though there are so many chances for each of us here on earth. This is the place where we are asked to trust the most reasonable inference from the evidence; to place our faith in what cannot be seen. Once it has all been revealed to us, the opportunities to do this will be gone.
The more I understand about the nature of Heaven (what I can expect and what I cannot), the more committed I am to an intentional life here on earth. Some activities and pursuits will be unnecessary or irrelevant in Heaven; they’re only important while we are living our daily, temporal lives. As I get older, I’ve learned to do the things today I won’t be able to do later. Now is the time to run a marathon; I won’t be as physically able in the years to come. All of us have a “bucket list”; a series of temporal goals we want to achieve before the opportunity is lost forever. It’s time to rethink our “bucket lists” and embrace heavenly goals before we pass from this life and the opportunity is lost forever. Now is the time to reason from the evidence and trust, to learn and defend, to comfort those in need, and to share the Gospel.
J. Warner Wallace is a Dateline featured Cold-Case Detective, Senior Fellow at the Colson Center for Christian Worldview, Adj. Professor of Apologetics at Biola University, author of Cold-Case Christianity, God’s Crime Scene, and Forensic Faith, and creator of the Case Makers Academy for kids.