I’ve been doing a lot of reading and studying recently about heaven and hell. Our youth group kids had a lot of questions about the afterlife, so on Wednesday nights we’re diving into Scripture to find out what has been revealed to us.
I am by no means close to reaching any definitive conclusion for myself about what happens when we die, but I’m on that journey. I’m currently reading a book by N.T. Wright called Surprised by Hope: Rethinking Heaven, the Resurrection, and the Mission of the Church. So far, it’s very interesting. Wright has already touched on a lot of the questions I have, and I’m excited to see where he goes with all of this.
That being said, I want to simply put my own questions out there. Maybe you’ve wrestled with some of them yourself. If you have any good book suggestions or any other thoughts on the issue, I would be more than happy to hear from you.
My initial thoughts & questions:
- Are heaven and hell only experienced after you die?
- Is the whole point of heaven to be a place where disembodied souls go to rest on the clouds and get a good base tan in the constant sunlight?
- Have we gotten our whole concept of heaven wrong, especially in our beloved hymns? I mean, is it even biblical to think that one day we’ll “fly away” to “God’s celestial shore”? Where did that idea come from?
- Is the resurrection promised to believers the same as that experienced by Jesus – a full, bodily resurrection? Or is that resurrection merely the continuing existence of our spirits?
- Is heaven really going to be a purely spiritual existence or is it going to be a continuation, a remaking, of the purified and redeemed physical universe?
- Why can’t we, as a church collectively and as believers individually, come to some clear consensus about the afterlife?
- If the only hope of eternal life and heaven is to be realized after we die, then what’s the point in praying that God’s will be done on earth as it is in heaven?
I've wrestled with this issue for a few years now and I find the concept of following Christ to get a \”heavenly reward\” seems to fly I'm the face of what Jesus taught and expects from his followers. I think emphasizing the reward of heaven instead of the meaningful change in one's life is placing an importance on numbers of bodies on seats and not actually spiritual growth.