We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord (2 Corinthians 5:8 KJV).
Two recent books have made the subject of heaven popular. 90 Minutes in Heaven recounts the story of Don Piper, a Baptist minister, driving home from a conference when his vehicle collides with a semi-truck. Piper is pronounced dead at the scene, but for the next ninety minutes inhabits heaven. Back on earth, a fellow conference attendee is passing the lethal scene. Even though Piper is dead, the minister prays for him. Piper miraculously comes back to life.
Heaven Is for Real exposes the story of Todd Burpo’s son who nearly died during an emergency surgery. Burpo was pastoring a church in Nebraska when the incident materialized. Shortly after surgery, their son Colton began revealing events impossible for him to have known. He claimed he met Jesus and his great-grandfather—who died thirty years before his birth. Most telling was his account of meeting his miscarried sister whom he was never told about.
An earlier biblical account appears to answer the question as well. One of the thieves crucified beside Jesus asked to be remembered when Jesus came into his kingdom. Jesus replied, “Today, you shall be with me in Paradise.” Apparently, the apostle Paul—battered and bruised from repeated persecutions—believed the same thing.
Two basic answers have been proposed throughout Christian history. We either enter heaven immediately upon our death, or our souls sleep until the Second Coming of Christ and the accompanying resurrection. Most have chosen to believe what the Bible appears to overwhelmingly propose: our souls (spirits) penetrate heaven immediately after we take our final breath. Our re-made bodies are later re-united with our spirits at the resurrection.
But when we go to heaven is not as important as knowing we’re going. Our residence there is assured when we accept Christ’s payment for our sins and commit our lives to serving him. Don’t forget to make your reservations.