Heaven Is For Real, by Todd Burpo, came out on November 2, 2012 and has since captured the interest of millions. According to Wikipedia, within 3 weeks of it’s release, the book debuted at No. 3 on the New York Times bestseller list. By January 2011, there were 200,000 copies in print. By April of 2012, over one million ebooks had been sold. I think it’s fair to say the subject of Heaven deeply fascinates us. And it’s no wonder – we are eternal beings. I think part of us wants to know more about what we might expect. At one point Todd is asked if he really believed his son went to Heaven. And I think it’s the question (or perhaps the answer to that question) that drove thousands into his tiny church and millions to read the book or watch the movie.
Have people seen Heaven? I believe God delights in showing us “great and unsearchable things we do not know — (Jeremiah 33:3).” I believe it is up to his good pleasure to reveal to some and not to others. I believe that he loves leaving fingerprints of himself in every arena of life, and he is generous in his efforts in leading us to know him. So I would not be surprised if accounts like Todd Burpo were true. Can we prove it — probably not. I cannot say that I know with unshakable certainty that Todd Burpo’s son went to Heaven. But as Andy Stanley has suggested in his Starting Point series, we must consider the probable vs. the possible, examine the evidence and make wise determinations resulting from the investigation. I find this topic to be seriously relevant, because Todd Burpo is not the first, nor will he be the last, to claim supernatural insight; which means there are some questions we must ask upon these declarations.
Is the description reliable and accurate? Can we trust it? The main truth I encourage you to consider is that God does not contradict himself; so he will not reveal something to one person that directly violates what he has already told us. God has offered us a powerful book to reveal himself; to reveal truth through, and if someone offers an account contrary to the Bible’s unshakable foundation of truth, it is not trustworthy. I do not believe Todd Burpo falls into this category. While there are certainly remarks he made about what his son experienced that are not found in scriptural revelation, nothing he claims is contrary to scripture. So take those “extras” for what they are worth.
Is Heaven for real? You don’t have to read a story or live much of life to find motivation to ask this question. And scripture is chopped full of insight about what those who put their faith in Jesus will experience.
“And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.” – Revelation 21:4
I don’t know about you, but when I consider all the ugly, twisted, horrible realities that people face on a daily basis all over our world… I like the idea of no more pain. And there is SO much more… but here’s the deal: If we are going to accept what scripture has to say about Heaven (and it’s totally breathtaking) we must first answer another question: Who is Jesus to me? If Heaven and Hell are not real and we have no fear of separation from God, we don’t need Jesus. If Jesus is who he claimed to be, then we can trust that Heaven is what he claimed it to be. Once you find Jesus to be trustworthy, and his Word worthy of investigation, you can start exploring what he has to say about what comes next. And when we start exploring the realities of the eternal, we start perceiving all of life with eternal lenses on. And it changes everything.
Dear friends, Heaven is the great thing that we hope for BECAUSE it is full of the presence of God. The absence of God is the absence of beauty and hope, goodness and love. It is the absence of peace, order, freedom and all things truly satisfying. When we reject God, we reject all that comes with knowing him. When we reject God, we ask for a place without him.
Here are some great sources if you want to learn more:
I can think of nothing more worthy of investigation. It matters desperately to us all.