It is presumptuous to think I know what happens after death, but certain traditional understandings of God and what I suggest may determine the depth of our relationship with God or if we even desire such a relationship. My answers are purposefully brief as I hope if interested you will search for a Post title below using the search feature on my website:
What May Happen After We Die?
Why Atheists And Unspiritual Folks May Be In Heaven?
Is There Life After Death For All?
How The Hell Do You Get In Heaven – Will We Be With All Our Loved Ones?
When Jesus was asked how one obtains eternal life, Jesus said simply to love God and love others as yourself (Lk.10:25-27). Changing directions, not perfection, was the message or heaven will be empty. Jesus didn’t talk so much about life after death; Jesus talked about how true living begins here on earth by understanding how much your Creator loves you. Such knowledge empowers one to shun evil and be the unselfish person we all desire to be deep down.
- What does the Bible say about heaven? Enough biblical passages suggest all will face God one day for an accounting of their deeds – good and bad (Mt: 12:36, Rom. 14:10, 2 Cor. 5:10, Heb.9:27). We can look forward to our eventual citizenship in heaven (Philip. 3:20). The new heaven and earth spoken of in Revelation (21:1-4) is not speaking about a time in the future on earth but that the grave is no longer our destination just like Jesus.
- Why doesn’t the Bible say more about heaven? A solely heavenly focus can lead to passive earthly living, similar to focusing on Jesus’ coming rather than making a difference in the world we live in currently. Jesus talked about how we now can be the person we desire to be.
- Does anyone really go to Hell? The word Hell in the Bible is a substitution not translation for certain Hebrew and Greek words. Hell is an invention over the centuries to scare people into submission and obedience. Like God is going to sadistically torture people forever for their beliefs while here on earth a short time!
- Does the possibility of eternal decisions after death lead to less urgency to change on earth? We may want to tell an addict after the 10th relapse there is no hope, but this is not God’s nature. God’s continual encouragement and mercy, not fear, is our necessary nourishment for true changes of the heart. God wants peace for us to begin here on earth.
- Do we get into heaven based on decisions and beliefs here on earth? Is a thief going to enter Paradise but not others with lesser sins simply because they weren’t next to Jesus hanging on Cross right before their last breathe? Some opinions about God are based on false representations here on earth. Some despise their Heavenly Parent because of their earthly parents. Some can’t stomach a God who supposedly burns people forever because of unbelief. God doesn’t determine one’s future destiny on choices they didn’t have on earth.
- Why do beliefs on earth matter if they don’t determine our eventually destiny? Do you really think it doesn’t matter how you treat others here on earth if there isn’t a law against your actions? Jesus conveyed God’s unimaginable love to inspire us being even a better partner, parent, and friend. Some will admit faith in God turned them away from being totally evil.
- Aren’t atheists and unspiritual folks just rebellious? Romans 1 doesn’t suggest all who don’t believe in God are suppressing what they know to be true; instead, some ignore God to justify wicked ways. Let’s not accuse those who believe as needing a crutch and those that don’t believe of being wicked and not knowing their feelings. If it is a sin to doubt God exists, then Christians sin if they doubt God in troubled times.
- Can atheists or unspiritual folks here on earth go to heaven? Why wouldn’t a God who gives millions of chances here on earth give one a second change when meeting their Creator after death if justice can be defended in such a scenario? Some biblical passages can be interpreted to suggest all enter heaven one day while some passages can be interpreted to the contrary.
- Why do some pursue God on earth and some don’t? Do we really think we believe in God because we are more enlightened or moral? We are surely influenced by choices we have on earth. God created a free world for a reason, but all will eventually have a chance to know what God is really like to make decisions based on the truth.
- What about different religions? A Muslim or Christian may or may not worship the same God but strive to love others how they wish to be loved. That is what Jesus said was the main thing (Mt. 24:37-38). Jesus wanted all to listen to their heart about what is right and wrong. Some Muslims believe in the virgin birth and some Christians don’t. Some Buddhists have more the heart of Jesus than those who call themselves Christians. The Israelites got it wrong thinking they were the only nation or religion under God. All religions have some truth and contradictions must be weighed.
- What about those who have never heard of Jesus? Some believe Jesus came to tell you to drop to your knees and come to Jesus or you can go straight to Hell. More people than not born into the world have never heard the name of Jesus. Entrance into Heaven doesn’t depend on a decision one didn’t have an opportunity to make. Specific knowledge of Christ or saying the right words is suspect as being necessary. The same John that penned John 3:16 possibly wrote “whoever loves has been born of God and knows God” (I John 4:7).
- How can there be justice for victims if all go to heaven? We may seek revenge or an eye or an eye, but a parent can’t return a childhood lost due to abusive behavior. God’s justice in the afterlife may have an educative component and cleansing. Confession is what leads to healing. Victims will be vindicated when the guilty face their sins. We like God may forgive our tormenters if they truly seek forgiveness and desire to make amends.
- Can our suffering on earth ever be justified? Evil chosen leads to so much suffering, but there may be compassionate reasons why God doesn’t interfere. Forcing my rebellious son to do right presently may lead to further rebellion or staying away forever. Patience may allow time for moral development on earth, so he may freely choose to live with me forever in heaven. Loving parents allow freedom for the possibility of authentic relationships.
- Will we have freedom in heaven and does it matter? God values freedom because freedom is necessary for authenticity, the highest good in relationships. Without freedom, thus the possibility of suffering, we could accuse God of not creating the “best” world. Human or spiritual parent brings children into the world hoping their children freely reciprocate their love because controlling or destroying free, moral decisions doesn’t result in true love.
- If there is freedom in heaven, is it plausible that there is no sin in heaven? God clearly values freedom here on earth so why wouldn’t God value freedom in the life to come. If freedom and determinism are compatible, a loving God would create a world in which all persons freely did good at all times. Our character developed here on earth limits our ability to sin here and in heaven. Eventually, you may not see any good reason for not doing good.
- If there is freedom in heaven, what if there is sin in heaven? One may logically entertain the possibility of sin in heaven because of the presence of freedom. God’s presence surely will have a greater impact than earthly, human authority to dissuade selfishness. Certain qualities of parental love such as integrity and understanding bring out the best in us. Heaven will not have temptations such as poverty or negative peer influences because of God’s presence.
- Can one choose to eventually not enter heaven since we have freedom? I am a hopeful Universalist. It seems no one in their right mind would deny living in heaven with a loving God. God will remove all components that led to irrational thinking. But, God clearly values freedom of choice. There may not be a time limit for one coming to their senses. We may be able to be happy not living with a loved one if we know that is truly what they wanted.