3 Common Misconceptions About Heaven
What happens after we die? It’s one of the most gripping questions that human beings have wrestled with since the beginning of time. Thankfully, we are not left in the dark on such an important issue. The Bible gives us the answers.
However, much of what people think about the afterlife – in particular, about heaven and hell – is misinformed. This post will deal with three common misconceptions about heaven, and I will publish a follow-up post covering three misconceptions about hell.
For now, here are some common misconceptions about heaven.
Misconception #1 – Most people go to heaven when they die
It is common for people to speak of those who have died as having gone “to a better place”. We also often declare for them “RIP” (rest in peace). Yet, do we know for sure that they have gone to a better place? Do we know that they are resting peacefully?
We tend to believe that the vast majority of people go to heaven, or some state of bliss, after they die. But is that true? The Bible teaches that some people do indeed go to heaven when they die, and praise God for that! But it also indicates that the percentage of people who do so may not be as high a number as we hope. Consider, for instance, the words of Jesus in Matthew 7:13-14…
 “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many.  For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.
Jesus plainly states that the path to destruction (hell) is “wide” and “easy” and that “many” find it. In contrast, the path to life (heaven) is “narrow” and “hard”, and only a “few” will find it.
These words should be concerning. Not nearly as many people as we’d like to think went to heaven are actually there. It’s not easy to think about, but it is the truth.
There is only one “gate” to heaven. The gate is Jesus himself. He states in John 14:6 “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No man comes to the Father but by me.” The teaching of the Bible is that only those who trust in Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of their sins will enter into heaven when they die. Sin is what disqualifies us all from heaven. And since we cannot remove or repay our own sins (Ephesians 2:8-9), we must have a Saviour do the work for us. That is what Jesus accomplished on the cross. He died to pay the penalty for our sin, so that if we place our trust in him our sins have been paid for and we can live in paradise forever. This is good news!
Heaven is not our default destination. We must be saved from hell by Jesus. Anyone who is not a believer in Jesus as their Saviour is not on the path towards heaven. If that is you, please trust what Jesus has done for you!
Misconception #2 – Heaven is “out there somewhere”
Heaven is most definitely a physical place. It is not a state of mind, or some ethereal experience with a foggy feel to it. Jesus clearly says “I go to prepare a place for you” (John 14:2). So where is this place located?
We tend to think of heaven as existing somewhere beyond the sky, out in the universe. To some measure this is true. In the Bible, when people see visions of heaven, they always seem to be looking up into the sky (Acts 7:55, Revelation 19:11). But this is not how heaven will exist for all of eternity. In fact, the Bible teaches that the final state of heaven is joined with the earth.
Sound weird? Read it for yourself! Revelation 21:1-4 says…
 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more.  And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.  And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God.  He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”
Notice that both heaven and earth are re-created. Peter, one of Jesus’ disciples, described how heaven and earth will be consumed with fire at the end of time, only to be re-created. The book of 2 Peter 3:10-13 states…
 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed.  Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness,  waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set on fire and dissolved, and the heavenly bodies will melt as they burn!  But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.
All of this is to say that, even though heaven is currently in an unknown place somewhere in the universe, it will not remain that way. When the end of time comes, God destroys heaven and earth as we know it and joins the two together. It is a dramatic image of God living among his people. So, even though heaven is currently separated from earth, it will one day be brought back together, as it was intended to be.
Misconception #3 – Heaven is boring
Christian art has done a lot to erode the excitement of heaven. The typical imagery is fat, baby-looking people floating around in diapers and playing harps…hardly what I’d like to be doing for the rest of eternity! If Christians are going to spend eternity in heaven, what exactly will we be doing? After all, if we will be there forever, hopefully there’s something interesting going on!
The Bible describes what heaven will be like in two ways. The first way is what the garden of Eden was like before sin entered into creation (Genesis 1-2). The second way is what the new heavens and earth are described as being like at the end of time. If we pull together insights from these descriptions, heaven will be something like this:
- There will be no crying, death, mourning, or pain (Revelation 21:4).
- We will recognize and know one another (1 Corinthians 13:12).
- It will be brand new (Revelation 21:5).
- It will be a place of beauty and opulence, with streets of gold and buildings of jewels (Revelation 21:15-21).
- There will be no night, and the light of the glory of Jesus will replace the sun (Revelation 21:23 and 22:5).
- We will see Jesus face to face (1 John 3:2).
- There will be no sin or sinners there (Revelation 21:27).
- There will be no sickness (Revelation 22:2).
- There will be pure water and delicious food to enjoy (Revelation 22:1-2).
- We will worship Jesus (Revelation 22:3).
- Every blessing is free (Revelation 22:12).
- It will be a place of pure joy and pleasure (Psalm 16:11).
- Children will be playing in the streets (Zechariah 8:5).
- The lion and lamb will lie down together (Isaiah 11:6-9).
- We will be perfectly healthy and full of energy, like a leaping calf (Malachi 4:2, Isaiah 35:5-6).
- We will have resurrected, perfected bodies like the one Jesus rose with (1 Corinthians 15:35-55).
- There will be a great feast of celebration (Revelation 19:6-10) where God will sing over his people (Zephaniah 3:17).
- Everyone will have God-appointed tasks to do that will be enjoyable and not burdensome, including care of the earth, building things, and preparing food and drink (Genesis 2:15, Isaiah 65:21-22, Revelation 21:24).
- It will be even better than anything we could ever imagine (1 Corinthians 2:9).
Some people worry they won’t get to enjoy their favourite hobbies in heaven. Though I can’t say for sure, it seems likely to me that there will still be fashion, song writing, sports, and maybe even technology in heaven.
In other words, imagine the best day ever, times a million, every day for the rest of your eternal life. Sounds pretty sweet!
Please make sure that know you will get to enjoy heaven and be with Jesus forever by putting your faith in him today!