In a series of studies, I became impressed with some serious misconceptions of heaven that are common among believers and non-believers alike.
One misconception is that heaven is a physical place with physical relationships. Jesus faced this same misconception among the people of His day. In Matthew 22:28-30, someone asked whose wife a woman would be in the afterlife because she/had been married more than once. His reply was, “For in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels of God in heaven.” In our day, we find people talking and joking about doing physical activities in heaven such as golf, fishing, and the like. I do not have enough information to determine whether we will know one another in heaven. I do know that heaven will be such a beautiful existence that nothing we have ever experienced on Earth can begin to approach it. No negative physical emotions exist In heaven – neither sorrow, nor pain, nor tears, nor crying, nor death (Revelation 21:4).
One of the prominent misconceptions of heaven by many people is that it’s a literal city of gold floating in the sky. Second Peter 3:10-12 describes the end of time as when the “elements are dissolved with fervent heat.” Nothing physical will remain, and our existence will be one of a “spiritual body.” “Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God… we shall all be changed … and put on immortality.” (1 Corinthians 15:44-58). We must remember that Christ clearly stated: “My kingdom is not of this world” (John 18:36). In Christ’s day, people refused to accept that He would not rule a literal, physical kingdom, and so today people expect a temporal rule of an earthly nature.
Time-dependent existence is another of the misconceptions of heaven. Not only will there be no physical form or physical problems in heaven, but time itself will not exist. A child asked me what would happen when heaven was over. Like a lot of us, this child had not considered what eternity really is. Time does not exist in eternity. This also means that all the things associated with time will not exist either. God is the Alpha and the Omega. Before time was, God was. We think too small when we try to lock God into our time capsule.
Another one of the common misconceptions of heaven is that it will be boring. A man once told me that he did not want to go to heaven because he did not want to spend eternity singing hymns and/or playing a harp. This was an intelligent and sincere man who said everything he read about heaven in the Bible sounded as “boring as church.”
There are indeed statements in the Bible about being with God and singing to God. Again the problem is attaching physical significance to heavenly acts. Heaven will not be an eternal church service. It will be a union with God which has some parallels with our worship on Earth, but it will be free of the negative feelings and irritations we sometimes experience here. Those of us who have had the privilege of participating in a worship service which raised our spirits, brought us great peace, and lifted us through song and prayers may have had a taste of the feeling we will have in heaven. It will be a timeless spiritual “high” with our God which is so beautiful that our limited minds can only faintly comprehend it.
There are undoubtedly other misconceptions of heaven, but their root is probably the same as what we have already considered. In our present materialistic realm, we cannot understand a non-physical existence, and thus we will have misconceptions of heaven and hell. Although we “see in a mirror darkly,” with study and thought we can “press on to the mark.” Praise God for all we have now and all we have to look forward to!
— John N. Clayton © 2019