Copyright Rev. Stanley L. Derickson Ph.D. 1992



The classic story concerning death and graveyards is the question, "Why do they have fences around graveyards?" People are just dieing to get in. In reality, people ought to be dieing to accept the Lord so they can enter into heaven.

Heaven, when I was a child was that which religious leaders talked about, and that place which I assumed that I would go to. It was in my mind a place, rather than an existence. It was up there somewhere above the clouds and beyond the stars, where God had prepared a beautiful utopia for those of us that were to go.

Heaven in reality is much more than a place. It is eternity, it is eternity with our Lord and Savior, it is eternity with all the saints of all time, and it is eternity with peace.

We might make mention of one other fact that was long in coming to light in my foggy mind. All of mankind, past, present and future have eternal existence! The quality of that existence is the problem. Some have eternity in all that is good, while others have eternity in all that is bad! We will spend eternity in one existence or the other! The choice is up to the person!


Hendrick Van Loon a Dutch historian in a book called, "THE STORY OF MANKIND", suggests that eternity is something like this: "High up in the North, in the land called Svitjod, there stands a rock. It is one hundred miles high, and one hundred miles wide. Once every thousand years, a little bird comes to this rock to sharpen its beak. When the rock has thus been worn away, then a single day of Eternity will have gone by!" (Tan, Paul L.; "THE INTERPRETATION OF PROPHECY"; Rockville, MD: Assurance Publishing, p 358)

Tan suggests another illustration:

"When a baby is born, he is -- 0 YEARS OLD. If properly cared for, he becomes -- 10 YEARS OLD. If very properly cared for, we add another zero -- 100 YEARS OLD. Now, suppose we continue to add zeros: If we should fill the remaining pages of this book with zeros, and cover the earth and universe with zeros - and then comprehend its total value - we shall have discovered the length of one day in Eternity."



Newsweek March 27, 1989 had an article that listed some statistics of interest. It detailed the fact that many do not believe in a literal hell, and that many do not believe in heaven. That should key us into some thinking about how we witness! If many Americans don't believe in Hell, then we ought to use this concept in our witnessing to people.

CHANGING VIEWS OF HEAVEN: The article has some interesting information.

Roman Catholic: Since Vatican II much literature has been set forth from the church, yet nothing has been mentioned about hell. The Newsweek article mentioned a Catholic Theologian, James Burtchaell, that feels that eternity is underway at this point in time. What you do here determines your relationship with God as you go forward in eternity. You will change modes of existence somewhere along the line.

I would agree in thought to the fact that eternity is now going on - that when we change modes of existence we will have a set relationship with God. The difference between us would be that his relationship seems based on works while the Bible requires that the relationship be based on the person of Jesus Christ.

Evangelicals: The article mentions that the evangelicals are changing their thinking about heaven and hell. This is evident in the fact that they don't talk about hell anymore. The author suggests that some are having a hard time stressing the Christ only method of salvation. They struggle with good men like Gandhi spending eternity in hell.


Fundamentalists: The author mentions that the fundamentalists still have a strong belief in heaven and hell. I suspect that they may be wrong, however because many do not preach about hell anymore.

The article also gives some other views of hell that might interest you if you can find the magazine in a library.

Let us consider some facts about heaven:

1. There will be many mansions. Jn 14 1-3

2. We will recognize others. Lu 16:19-31 tells of the account of the rich man and Lazarus, and the rich man recognized those on the other side of Sheol. The transfiguration would indicate this fact of recognition as well.

3. We will have eternal life. The New Testament is full of references to our eternal nature with God. One we might mention is I Thess. 4:16-18. Vs. 17 mentions, "...and so shall we ever be with the Lord."

4. Some view Romans 8:22-23 as proof there will be animal life in eternity. The whole of creation was affected by the fall. There were animals before the fall, all creation was affected by the fall so the restoration of things should include animals. We know there is plant life in eternity, and there are animals in the millennium, so there may be animal life in eternity. I'm not saying, folks, there will be a kitty and puppy heaven, but there may be animals. We might mention the fact that Christ returns on a horse, thus possibly indicating animals in eternity. Rev. 19:11ff You must remember there will be 1000 years between this occasion and eternity, so it may not indicate animals in eternity.

4. We will have new bodies. Philippians 3:21

5. We will be with Christ. Jn 17:24, "Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me...."

6. We will have pleasure. Ps 16:11, "Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore."

7. We will have joy. Ps 16:11. The contrast of pleasure and joy would be the tortures of torment.

8. It is a specific place. I Pet 1:4 tells us that something can be stored there.

9. It will be with God. Lu 11:2

10. It will be with the angels. Matt 22:30

11. We will be like Christ. I Jn 3:2. Some heavy thoughts there! Be like Christ. See Him!

12. It is far better than this life. Phil 1:23

13. It will be beautiful. Rev 21 This describes the new Jerusalem.

LEST SOMEONE EMBARRASS YOU, MAY I RELATE THERE IS ONLY ONE STREET OF GOLD. (There may be more, but the Revelation only mentions one.)

14. There will be worship. Rev 19:1

15. There will be rewards. Rev 22:12

16. The light will be from Christ. Rev 21:23

17. It will be a holy place. Rev 21:27

18. There will be no tears/death/sorrow/crying/pain! Rev 21:4

19. There will be no curse. Rev 22:3

20. Based on our being like Christ and what we know of His post resurrection body, we assume the following will be true. Capacity to eat, if we want to. Capacity to move through walls. Some physical features - the wounds of the cross and lance. Communication skills.

21. It is up. Acts 1:9, in speaking of Christ being taken it states, "...he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight."

22. Misc. items: Created by God, Gen. 1:1; Everlasting; High, Ps 103:11; God's dwelling place - Matt 6:9.

Eyewitness accounts of heaven:

1. Christ: He spoke of it, as one that has first hand knowledge in that it is his eternal home, both past, present, and future.

2. Paul mentions it: II Cor. 12:1-9 He mentions being caught up to the third heaven.

3. John: Rev 4:1-2 mentions him being caught up. He saw the throne scene of God.

4. Old Testament saints: Isaiah and Ezekiel both observed the throne scene.

I assume that heaven will be the complete opposite of the place of torment. This would mean that heaven will be as peaceful as torment is without peace. This would mean that heaven will be as beautiful as torment is dark. This would mean that heaven will be as neat as torment is terrible. This would mean that heaven will be everything that torment is not.


I would guess that a study of torment would give a real appreciation for what we will have in eternity with God. We will have a study on hell next.

In the practical area we might consider:

1. We will be able to accept ourselves as God accepts us.

2. We will be satisfied for the first time in our existence.

3. We will totally enjoy every moment of all of eternity. Never bored!

4. We will have total and free access to Christ and all the other saints of all times. Imagine those potlucks!

5. It will mean never having indigestion.

6. It will mean having hair, or not having hair - depending on which is really heavenly. If there is hair in the spiritual realm.

7. Never having those problems with the dentist.

8. This list could go on forever. INDEED, IT WILL!!!!

Heaven should be a glorious thought to the believer, not something to be shunned or avoided in preference to worldly things, activities nor desires. A couple of quotes will show how some believers have reacted to the thought of heaven.


"Origin of 'Sweet By-and-By

The origin of the familiar hymn, 'In the Sweet By-and-By,' is given by a writer in The Christian Advocate, and it is a story of unusual interest. Sanford F. Bennett was a New Englander with a gift of writing verses, who in 1836 removed to Elkhorn, Wisconsin, where he conducted a drug store. Joseph P. Webster, also a New Englander who had come to Elkhorn, had some musical skill, and Bennett and he became intimate friends. Webster, who was subject to moods of depression, one day in 1867 went into Bennett's store and stood at the stove without speaking to anyone. Bennett saw he was depressed, and here the story runs as follows: 'Seeing that something was wrong, the latter asked, 'What is the matter now?' 'It is no matter,' Webster replied. 'It will be all right by and by.' Like a flash the idea of the hymn came to Bennett, who exclaimed,'The Sweet By-and-By. Would not that make a good hymn?' 'Maybe it would,' returned Webster indifferently. Bennett turned to his desk and in a few minutes handed Webster the paper containing his verses. Meanwhile two friends, N. H. Carswell and S.E. Bright, had entered. They watched Webster as he read the words. Bennett said: 'Ad he read it his eyes kindled, his whole demeanour changed. Stepping to the desk he began writing notes rapidly. Presently, taking a violin, he played the melody. In a few moments more he had the notes for the four parts of the chorus jotted down.' It was not half an hour from the time Bennett began writing before the four men were singing the hymn in the form in which it was afterward published in the 'Signet Ring.' It was while they were singing it that R.R. Crosby came in, and after hearing the song, cried out, with tears in his eyes, 'That hymn is immortal.'"

"'It was in 1876 that I wrote 'Beulah Land,' said Mr. Stites. 'I could write only two verses and the chorus of 'Beulah Land' when I was overcome and fell on my face. I could only weep and write no more. That was on Sunday. On the following Sunday I wrote the third and fourth verses and again I was so influenced by emotion that I could only pray and weep. The first time it was sung was at the regular Monday morning meeting of Methodist ministers at 1018 Arch Street, Philadelphia. Bishop McCabe sang it to the assembled ministers. Since then its story is known wherever religious people congregate.'" (Lawson, James Gilghrist, "Best Sermon Pictures"; Chicago: Moody Press, No copyright.)

Might I challenge you to come to a place in your life when you shed tears of joy over the thrills of eternity with the Father, but at the same time be able to shed tears of sorrow over the torment of the lost!

This study should not end without comment on what has been termed near death or after death experiences. These experiences are related to us from people that have died and then been brought back to life, or people that were very near death.

The experiences vary around the basic, seeing of bright light down a long corridor and a being at the end calling them. These people are certain they were on their way to heaven to be with God.

A couple of thoughts that you might be able to use in relation to this discussion. First, the fact that this is almost a universal experience with the near death people, leads me to believe they would have us believe that all people that die are going to heaven. The Scripture is quite definite on the falseness of that theory.

Second, in recent days doctors are finding out that the people that were pronounced dead, may not have been really dead. They have found that people with no pulse, may have a pulse so weak that the doctor cannot feel it with his finger. Research in such cases with new technology have proven that in some cases the pulse is there, but is very weak. The pulse is large enough to keep blood going through the brain, which would allow for impressions of light etc. to be retained in the memory. Indeed, this bright light may well be that viewed through their closed eyelids and the voice may well be that of doctors or friends.

To accept these experiences as real and allow them to contradict the clear teaching of Scripture is foolish. We must take such experiences as suspect, but truly the experience of the person.

We might well be glad for the usual change of life for the better in the people that have had these experiences.

Heaven will undoubtedly be a picture of all that God is and all that He can do, so we can only hint at what it might be like.