First Days in Heaven
(RVK- Scripture revised by Kent McClain)
Throughout my lifetime I have had the opportunity to talk and minister to several Christians who were dying. Some were members in the churches I worked for, and some were friends, and others were family members. At the moment I am dealing with my own mother who is very ill and probably not long for this world; she is 92. And only few months ago, my wife and I dealt with her mother who passed away at 96.
In regard to my mother, she only wants me to do a simple memorial with close family members present. In preparation, I realize there is no need to present the lifesaving Gospel, because everyone coming are Christians. But if this was not the case then I would present as clearly as possible Christ as the only path to salvation and heaven. Jesus’ own proclamation speaks best, for it corners all listeners to either accept Him as the Son of God who alone is able to offer salvation and heaven, or a self-deceived religious man who borders on extreme foolishness or great mental instability. No doubt in my mind Jesus is the Son of God.
Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life: no one cometh unto the Father, but by me.” John 14:6
Jesus said, “I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth on me, though he die, yet shall he live; and whosoever liveth and believeth on me shall never die. Believest thou this?” John 11:25-26
So instead of talking about Jesus as Savior, my talk at my mom’s funeral will be about what she and other believers need to focus on during one’s last days on earth, and then the 1st seven experiences to count upon when entering heaven. Five are new, one is a renewal, and the first and last have great celebrations attached to them.
Last days on earth
During a believer’s last days on earth, like my mother’s, the talk, prayers, and focus should be on what’s ahead in heaven, rather than the various medical procedures and scenarios to keep the fading body going. The Scripture definitely encourages this through Paul’s writings cited below. I know this focus on heaven to be true and effective, because of my conversations with a close friend who died a few years ago. My chats and prayers with him centered upon what he was about to encounter in heaven, and very little about his pain, pills, and deteriorating body. After each time we talked, his heart was more at rest, and when it came time to pass on, he peacefully did with a real sense of joy and excited anticipation. I suggest you do the same with those you know who are death’s door, or better put, heaven’s waiting room. I certainly am with my mom. It’s the only thing that brings her true peace.
“If then ye were raised together with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is seated on the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things that are above, not on the things that are upon the earth.” Colossians 3:1-2
Seven experiences in heaven
Below are the first seven experiences about heaven you can share; they may not be in the order I have put them, but they are all indicated in Scripture.
1st experience in heaven
(A new way of seeing God)
The 1st experience upon entering heaven is a new way to see God the Father, Son, Spirit, and even some of the angelic realm, particularly those who celebrated our coming entrances to heaven when we repented and believed in Christ while on earth. (I Thessalonians 4:13-14; Luke 15:10) This experience is new because for the first time we will visibly see God and the angelic realm. What will be said during this first meeting cannot be fully known for now, but be assured it will bring each of us great comfort, affirmation, excitement, understanding, and celebration. How long this time with God will be can’t be known either, but keep in mind that neither the Father, Son, nor Spirit are ever in a hurry to rush any meeting. They have plenty of time for each of us, as well as whatever else needs to be done for the kingdom. (II Peter 3:8)
“For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.” I Corinthians 13:12
“Being therefore always of good courage and know that while we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord (for we walk by faith, not by sight); and we are of good courage, I say, and are willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be at home with the Lord.” II Corinthians 5:6-8
2nd experience in heaven
(New physical body)
Simultaneously to seeing God for the first time face to face, comes a gift of a brand new body. Not like the one we had on earth, for this body will be without deterioration, shortcomings, ugliness, or limitations; it will rather be one that is indestructible, strong, beautiful, and totally equipped for heaven. What a joy this will be, especially for those of us who suffered with earthly bodies afflicted with disease, paralysis, disfigurement, or the maladies attached to old age. As to what each of us will look like, I do not know. I can only surmise we will look many times better than what we had hoped to look and feel like while on earth.
“God shall fashion anew the body of our humiliation, that it may be conformed to the body of His glory….” Colossians 3:21
“If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual. There are heavenly bodies, they are imperishable bodies.” I Corinthians 15:44, 40
3rd experience in heaven
(Renewal with family and friends)
A third experience is time set aside to be reunited in heaven with all believers. This likely will begin with the loved ones and friends we shared life with on earth. What a glorious time this will be to see these loved ones and friends again, to be in their presence, to hear their voices, and be able to touch, kiss, and embrace them as never before. In my mother’s most discouraging moments, as she clings to life, I particularly remind her of being with her mother and father once more, who were very loving parents and good Christians. It delights her to think of those days ahead. This is perhaps yet another reason why we need to keep presenting Christ to loved ones and friends in doubt of going to heaven, that is, if we want to see them there too?
“But I would not have you misunderstand, brethren, concerning those who have passed away, for if they believed in Jesus, who died and rose again, God will take care of them in heaven.” I Thessalonians 4:13-18- RVK
4th experience in heaven
(A new view of your earthly self)
A 4th experience in heaven each of us will grapple with is what we did on earth both good and bad. During this session God will bring before us the good things we contributed to the kingdom, as well as those that didn’t. This includes everything, even the loving or hurtful relationships we had with others. As to how long this reflection will be is not known, but it doesn’t matter, because time is never an issue with God as I shared earlier, especially when it comes to getting each of us ready for the next steps in His eternal plan.
Lastly, the great thing about this time of self-reflection is there won’t be any need to explain, justify, or argue for what we did, because our sin-nature which plagued us on earth will be gone. (Romans 7:18-24; Romans 8:1) For the first time we will truly see ourselves as God saw us throughout our lives. And praise to His name, those things that were bad will be burned out of our memories forever as this session comes to an end. Those things that were good will remain forever. So as long as each of us is breathing we still have time to add to those good things that will last forever.
”For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.” II Corinthians 5:10
“Now if any man builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each man’s work will become evident; for the day will show it because it is to be revealed with fire, and the fire itself will test the quality of each man’s work. If any man’s work which he has built on it remains, he will receive a reward. If any man’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire. Do you not know that you are a temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?” I Corinthians 3:12-16
5th experience in heaven
(New relationships with those we struggled with)
It is my assumption that after a good self-look at our lives from God’s perspective, then the next experience in heaven is to settle any wrongs, hurts, disputes, or misgivings we had with other believers while on earth. As to how many of these will be, or how long it will take to make things right, is different for each of us. But be assured God wants this to happen as He stated time and again throughout the Scripture. And not having a sin-nature to deal with anymore should make this restorative time with others quite natural, loving, unifying, and exceedingly joyful.
“And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.” Matthew 6:12 “I do not ask on behalf of these alone, but for those also who believe in Me through their word; that they may all be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us…”John 17:20-21
6th experience in heaven
Even though we are in heaven, there is still lot’s to do until God calls an end to this part of His kingdom. This means for each of us there will be new responsibilities to accomplish before Christ returns to earth. Amidst the joy of being with God, loved ones, and others we’ve been restored with, there will be important assignments for all to complete. As to what those will be cannot be known either until we get to heaven. Perhaps some of us will help the heavenly realm do their job, for there is still a war going on in heaven with evil forces as Paul indicated in his Ephesian and Galatian letters.
“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places”. Ephesians 5:10-12
“But though we, or an angel from heaven, should preach unto you any gospel other than that which we preached unto you, let him be anathema.”Galatians 1:8
Maybe others of us will assist God Himself as Moses and Elijah did at the Transfiguration. (Luke 9:28-31) And it could be that many will help nurture children who died early in their lives, or even the millions of babies aborted in this generation. Regardless of what each of us ends up doing, it will be incredibly helpful, significant, and critical to the kingdom. The only exception being that sometimes God brings home some believers who were doing such a poor job representing Him on earth. For the sake of the kingdom He had to remove them. I pray this will never be true of you.
7th experience in heaven
At a time nobody knows, God will call an end to everything by sending Jesus again to earth. It will be a triumphant, celebratory, and glorious event. Those on earth who have not believed will fall on their knees and confess that Jesus was truly the Lord. (Romans 14:11-12) But it is too late for them, for they will never see heaven nor live in it. On the other hand, all believers on earth during this return by Christ will join us who have come down from heaven, and together we will surround Christ with joyous song, celebration, and worship. And then we will all go back together to heaven for eternity and the next set of His plans.
“For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we that are alive, that are left unto the coming of the Lord, shall in no wise precede them that are fallen asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven, with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first; then we that are alive, that are left, shall together with them be caught up in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort another with these words.” I Thessalonians 4:15-18
In the Lord Prayer it says, “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” Therefore as best you can operate your life here on earth as if you were in heaven. Particularly in respect to others you have been at odds with. Now granted you still have a sin-nature to deal with as they do, but this does you mean you can’t make every faith-effort to make things right. At least try!
Thus in this Teachable Moment exercise, find a quiet room and practice making things right with those whom have angered or hurt you in the past. If possible, through God’s help, go and make things right with them. If they don’t accept what you’ve tried to do, they will when they get to heaven, that is, if they end up there.
God speed, see you in heaven, if I don’t see you again on earth.
Scriptures references within the context
I Thessalonians 4:13-14 But we would not have you ignorant, brethren, concerning them that fall asleep; that ye sorrow not, even as the rest, who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also that are fallen asleep in Jesus will God bring with him.
Luke 15:10 Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth.
II Peter 3:8 But forget not this one thing, beloved, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years,and a thousand years as one day.
Romans 7:18-24 18 For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the willing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not. 19 For the good that I want, I do not do, but I practice the very evil that I do not want. 20 But if I am doing the very thing I do not want, I am no longer the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me. 21 I find then the principle that evil is present in me, the one who wants to do good. 22 For I joyfully concur with the law of God in the inner man, 23 but I see a different law in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin which is in my members. 24 Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death? 25 Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, on the one hand I myself with my mind am serving the law of God, but on the other, with my flesh the law of sin.
Romans 8:1 Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.
Luke 9: 28-31 28 Some eight days after these sayings, He took along Peter and John and James, and went up on the mountain to pray. 29 And while He was praying, the appearance of His face became different, and His clothing became white and gleaming. 30 And behold, two men were talking with Him; and they were Moses and Elijah, 31 who, appearing in glory, were speaking of His departure which He was about to accomplish at Jerusalem.
Romans 14:11-12 11 For it is written, “As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to Me, and every tongue shall give praise to God.”12 So then each one of us will give an account of himself to God.