“Heaven is for Real” is a movie being released today in a theater near you! It’s the continuing trend of movies that Hollywood is producing to appeal to the “Christian market.”
The movie is based on the story of a 4-year old boy, Colton Burpo, who almost died on the operating table during emergency surgery. When he recovered, Colton claims that he went to heaven. Saw his own surgery. Observed the prayers of his anguished parents. And met Jesus.
At first, his father, Todd, a Nebraska preacher, listens to Colton’s stories with amused skepticism. However, soon Todd and his wife, Sonja, become convinced Colton actually went to heaven based on the stories he told and the glimpse of the afterlife he vividly described.
Subsequently Todd Burpo wrote a book about Colton’s experiences called “Heaven is for Real.” It was a NY Times #1 best seller in 2010. The movie is based on the book.
Last night on the O’Reilly Factor, Bill asked, “Is there hard evidence that Heaven is a real place?” To address the issue and answer O’Reilly’s questions, was guest, Robert Jeffress, a Texas preacher and author.
Jeffress made a couple of good points by citing the historical evidence of the empty tomb of Jesus. And from that deducing that there is an afterlife. Also he argued that God created man with a innate desire for immortality. Since God never placed within man a legitimate desire that could not be fulfilled, he reasoned that there must be an eternal place called heaven.
The popularity of the book, the movie and the segments on news shows indicates great interest and intrigue in the topic of heaven. People wonder what happens after death. They want some answers into the next life. They are curious about heaven and want to know what it’s like.
I, too, believe in heaven. But my reasons may be a bit different. I’m reminded of the children’s song “Jesus loves Me.” The lyrics begin: “Jesus loves me. This I know. For the Bible tells me so.”
I know there is a heaven because the Bible says so!
(1) Jesus said “I go to prepare a place for you” (Jn 14:3).
Heaven is not a myth. Or the imagination of a fundamentalist preacher. Or the childish longing of a little boy. Heaven is a real place. Jesus said so. Jesus promised it.
(2) The apostle Paul got a glimpse of heaven.
He writes in 2 Corinthians 12:4 about a man who was “caught up into Paradise and heard inexpressible words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter.” I believe that man was Paul. And interestingly, he was not allowed to tell what he saw! Or share any stories! But the Bible affirms heaven is real.
(3) The book of Revelation describes the reality of heaven.
The apostle John really did see visions that the Holy Spirit directed him to write down. They are recorded in the last book of the Bible.
John tells us that heaven is like a bride prepared for her husband. God has purposed a place called heaven. He planned it. And prepared heaven for His people.
With figurative language, John pictures the beauty and grandeur of the city of God with its jasper walls and streets of gold whose entrance is only through its pearly gates. It’s a land of unclouded day with a crystal clear river through the land beside which the tree of life that is in a perpetual state of bearing fruit. As you walk you hear something and it’s the angelic choir singing the most beautiful songs you’ve ever heard.
Then you see a majestic awesome throne and on it is the ALMIGHTY..and all around are those arrayed in white giving him praise. You soon realize that the flowers never fade and the light never dissipates. It is a place of perpetual, breath taking beauty.
Heaven is a real place. I believe it. Not because of a movie. Or the story told by a 4-year old boy. But because the Bible tells me so!
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman