Humans have been thinking about life after death from the earliest of times. Heaven has been the topic of ancient authors and contemporary thinkers. Countless books, movies and television programs have been produced on the topic. This year’s entry, Heaven is for Real, continues the long tradition of fascination with the afterlife. But is Heaven reasonable? Are the any good reasons to believe there might be a life beyond the grave, aside from the very obvious teaching of the Bible? This week, I’ll spend some time examining the case for Heaven and we’ll look briefly at the nature of Heaven as described in Scripture. We’re also providing a Bible Insert for March 2014 summarizing this information.
As a theist, I obviously believe the evidence for God’s existence is strong. I didn’t always believe this to be the case, but having arrived at this conclusion, the following reasoning would incline me to consider the existence of Heaven, even if I didn’t have access to a Bible:
The Evidence Persuades Us a Good God Created Our World
There are good, reasonable arguments for the existence of a Creator God and the mere existence of a world in which love is possible (in spite of the presence of evil) is an indication this God is good.
A Good God Would Not Create a World in Which Justice, Satisfaction and Joy Are Unattainable
If God is good, He wouldn’t create beings for whom justice, satisfaction and joy are elusive and unavailable.
Justice, Satisfaction and Joy Is Often Unattainable in This Temporal Earthly Life
Yet our common experience tells us justice is not always served here on Earth (bad people often get away with their crimes) and while we continually pursue satisfaction and joy, we find that it is fleeting and transient.
Therefore, If There is a Good God, It Is Reasonable to Believe He Has an Eternal, Heavenly Life Waiting for Us in Which Complete Justice, Satisfaction and Joy Will Be Realized
So where is justice, satisfaction and joy to be found? If God has designed us for eternity, and offers complete justice, satisfaction and joy in the next chapter of our existence, He will accomplish all we expect of Him and everything His nature demands.
If the case for God’s existence is reasonable, the case for Heaven’s existence is also reasonable. Thoughtful consideration of this reality (in light of God’s nature) can also tell us something about the nature of Heaven. Even if I knew nothing about what Christian Scripture teaches about the afterlife, I would still be inclined to believe Heaven is a place of perfection:
If there is a Creator God, He created everything from nothing; matter from non-matter, life from non-life.
If God can do all that, he has unfathomable power
If God has unfathomable power, he has the power to eliminate imperfection
If God has the power to eliminate imperfection, He can certainly eliminate it from the realm in which He exists
Therefore, Heaven is a place of perfection
Even from this simple line of reasoning, it’s easy to see why we might believe Heaven is a place of perfect justice, satisfaction and joy. This reality ought to give us reasons to rejoice and reasons to be concerned. While Heaven will certainly be a place of perfection, all of us should think earnestly about our own imperfection. Are any of us qualified, based on our own merit, to enter such a prefect, holy realm? The case for Heaven’s existence and perfect nature should cause us to examine the nature of Salvation as offered through the sacrifice of Christ. The reasonable existence of Heaven points to the reasonable necessity of Jesus’ death on the cross.
Be sure to visit the right column of the homepage to download this free Bible Insert on the Case for Heaven (you’ll also find our complete collection of Bible Inserts).
For more information about the reliability of the New Testament gospels and the case for Christianity, please read Cold-Case Christianity: A Homicide Detective Investigates the Claims of the Gospels. This book teaches readers ten principles of cold-case investigations and applies these strategies to investigate the claims of the gospel authors. The book is accompanied by an eight-session Cold-Case Christianity DVD Set (and Participant’s Guide) to help individuals or small groups examine the evidence and make the case.
J. Warner Wallace is a Dateline featured Cold-Case Detective, Senior Fellow at the Colson Center for Christian Worldview, Adj. Professor of Christian Apologetics at Talbot School of Theology, Biola University, author of Cold-Case Christianity, God’s Crime Scene, and Forensic Faith, and creator of the Case Makers Academy for kids.
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