If heaven is such a super-fantastic place, why aren’t all the heaven preachers eagerly competing with one another to get there first?
Did you know that the (King James) Bible uses the word “heaven” over 580 times? But — is there even one verse which literally says, “heaven is the reward of the saved” or another which says “when we all gather together in heaven” — as is commonly believed? Where does it say that in the Bible?
A Sampling of Beliefs About Heaven
Due to satanic influence, there is confusion in the wide variety of contradictory beliefs concerning heaven. Wikipedia has a compilation of beliefs concerning heaven which include various ancient pagan cultures and all major religions today. Below is a sampling of their distinctive features:
1. Buddhist Heaven
There are several heavens, all of which are still part of samsara (the eternal cycle of birth, suffering, death, and rebirth). Those who accumulate good karma may be reborn in one of them… their stay in heaven is not eternal — eventually they will use up their good karma and will undergo rebirth as a human, animal, or other being… [Thus] Buddhists focus more on escaping the cycle of rebirth and reaching Nirvana (which is not heaven but a mental state).
2. Chinese Heaven
Heaven (Tian) is an important key concept of Chinese mythology, where the ancestors reside and from which emperors drew their mandate to rule in their dynastic propaganda. It is on one end of the spectrum a synonym of Shangdi (“Supreme Deity”) and on the other naturalistic end, a synonym for nature and the sky.
3. Egyptian Heaven
Heaven was a physical place far above the Earth in a “dark area” of space… beyond the Universe. According to the Book of the Dead, departed souls would undergo a literal journey to reach heaven, [where] there could exist hazards and other entities attempting to deny the reaching of heaven. Their heart would finally be weighed with the feather of truth, and if the sins weighed it down, their heart was devoured.
4. Hindu Heaven
Attaining heaven is not the final pursuit in Hinduism, as heaven itself is ephemeral and related to physical body… a heavenly paradise of pleasure, where most of the Hindu Devatas (Deva) reside along with the king of Devas, Indra, and beatified mortals. Since heavenly abodes are also tied to the cycle of birth and death, any dweller of Heaven or Hell will again be recycled to a different plane and in a different form per the karma and “maya” (the illusion of samsara).
5. Islamic Heaven
The concept of heaven in Islam differs in many respects to the concept in Judaism and Christianity. Heaven is described primarily in physical terms as a place where every wish is immediately fulfilled when asked. Islamic texts describe immortal life in heaven as happy, without negative emotions.
6. Heaven in Judaism
The term for heavens in the Tanakh is shamayim, located above the firmament (a solid, transparent dome which covered the earth and separated it from the “waters” above). Yahweh, the God of Israel, lived in heaven or in the “Heaven of Heavens” (the exact difference between these two, if any, is unclear).
7. Catholic Heaven
With God in heaven are the souls of the just. We are told that Christ conducted to heaven the patriarchs who had been in limbo (limbus patrum), according to Ephesians 4:8. Thus the term heaven has come to designate both the happiness and the abode of the just in the next life.
The book, My Catholic Faith, further documents:
What do we mean by “LIFE EVERLASTING”?
Heaven is usually represented as a place, but it is essentially a state—the blissful union with God, with Christ. Even when the Blessed Virgin Mary, for example, appears to men, she does not leave heaven, which she carries with her, in the state of her soul.
This is why the good and holy have a foretaste of heaven even here on earth, in the peace and joy they possess in their hearts.
The greatest joy of heaven is the Beatific Vision. This is the sight of God face to face.
~My Catholic Faith (1949), Bishop Louis LaRavoire, page 176
8. Christian (Orthodox) Heaven
Traditionally, Christianity has taught that heaven is the location of the throne of God as well as the holy angels — although this is in varying degrees considered metaphorical. It is considered a state or condition of existence (rather than a particular place somewhere in the cosmos)… of the supreme fulfillment of the beatific vision… also understood as the abode for the redeemed dead in the afterlife, a temporary stage before the resurrection of the dead and the saints’ return to the New Earth.
Surprisingly, the Bible Speaks of Three “Heavens”
1. The First Heaven: Earth’s Atmosphere
Then God said, “Let the waters abound with an abundance of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the face of the firmament of the heavens.”
2. The Second Heaven: Outer Space
All the bright lights of the heavens I will make dark over you, And bring darkness upon your land,’ Says the Lord GOD.
3. The Third Heaven: The Throne of God
[The Apostle Paul is identified here] I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago — whether in the body I do not know, or whether out of the body I do not know, God knows — such a one was caught up to the third heaven.
~2 Corinthians 12:2
Whose Original Idea Was It to Go up to Heaven?
How you are fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How you are cut down to the ground, You who weakened the nations! For you have said in your heart: ‘I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; I will also sit on the mount of the congregation On the farthest sides of the north; I will ascend above the heights of the clouds, I will be like [“rival” (Moffatt Translation)] the Most High.’
[NOTE: Of course, Satan was cast down from heaven to earth (Luke 10:18 and Revelation 12:9).]
Contrary to popular claims, the Bible says no one has gone to heaven.
No one has ascended to heaven but He who came down from heaven, that is, the Son of Man who is in heaven.
[NOTE: Since Christ Himself came down from heaven, He should know which humans were there, if any! But clearly, He said “no one has ascended to heaven.”]
Men and brethren, let me speak freely to you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his tomb is with us to this day.
For David did not ascend into the heavens…
[NOTE: On the Day of Pentecost in A.D. 31, the Apostle Peter preached that King David, the “man after God’s own heart” (Acts 13:22) was still “dead and buried” after having died about 1,000 years ago then. He then clearly said, David “did not ascend into the heavens.” If even the “man after God’s own heart” did not ascend, could any lesser mortal have ascended — contrary to the plain words of Christ?]
We have just done a survey of present-day contradictory beliefs and saw that they do not conform to what the Bible says about heaven. No wonder, no one is in such a great hurry to get there!
Since this is a big subject, please watch out for the next article here on BiblicalTruths.com which will answer the question, “What Really Is the Bible’s Description of Heaven?”