Heaven Or Not?
This website and commercial assert that being good is critical to entering heaven; further, only Jesus can save them.
Scripture describes heaven as an eternity without time or space limitations, where perfect communion with God leads to peace, joy, and rest.
What is Heaven?
“Heaven” can have different meanings within different religious traditions. In one context, “heaven” often refers to an imagined paradise where those deemed righteous can enjoy eternity with God. Additionally, heaven may refer to an eternal state of blissful peace and love where there will no longer be sickness, sorrow, or pain; Psalm 16:11 says there will be only everlasting pleasures instead (ESV).
The heavenly realm is home to God, angels, and spirits of the dead. It exists independently from the earth, hell, and spiritual forces of evil; those who trust Christ as their savior will eventually reach it as their final destination.
Many ancient cosmologies described multiple heavens or heavenly realms. In the 19th-century Spiritualist movement inspired by Emanuel Swedenborg and Franz Anton Mesmer’s writings, clairvoyance combined with religious teachings was mixed to describe luminous spheres where souls worked for causes like abolition, social equality, and domestic peace.
Modern religions have also developed models of heaven, most prominently Christianity. The Bible provides glimpses into heaven through passages such as Revelation 21:9-10 that describe an immense city with streets made of gold and gates of pearl. Some Christian theologians have criticized this description as being too similar to the New Jerusalem and not actually representing heaven itself.
Hinduism holds that Vaikuntha or Vyoman, the highest heaven, exists above the six worlds or lokas that make up material existence. Here, immortally liberated souls who have attained moksha or freedom from this material existence reside together with Lakshmi and Narayana (a manifestation of Vishnu).
Norse mythology describes heaven as gardens of perfection, while Jainism offers fragrant paradises replete with jewels, fruits, and flowers – never suffering extreme climate or discord – these paradisaic places beckon those who have achieved moksha to become part of its beauty until eventually reaching complete union with the supreme.
What is Hell?
Christian theologians generally don’t discuss hell very frequently; however, Jesus made frequent references to it during His ministry, often in parables or illustrations. Only in the New Testament did suffering become more tangible: its most frequent reference being Gehenna, which refers to a specific valley south of Jerusalem where people practiced idolatry or worshipped things other than God.
Hell is often perceived to be an eternity of conscious torment, though Christians may disagree on its purpose; some view hell as serving to prevent people who have rejected Him from ever wanting to turn back, while others see suffering as teaching people the horrors of sin in order to avoid repeating its destructive ways in future life.
Some Christian denominations, like the Roman Catholic Church, view hell as an everlasting punishment of unquenchable fire. According to scripture, those who do not repent of their sins will experience “eternal death” or “everlasting destruction,” while Catholic Church Catechism defines hell as being definitive self-exclusion from communion with God and blessed souls along with suffering beyond all human understanding.
Other Christian groups believe that God will eventually reconcile all humanity to Himself, including the wicked who have gone to hell. Their main text supporting this belief is 2 Corinthians 5:19, which states that He has made peace through the blood of Christ and does not count their transgressions against them.
Latter-day Saints (LDS) holds that hell is an intermediary state between death and resurrection in which souls who failed to repent during mortal lives will be punished for their sins. According to LDS doctrine, those who commit the unpardonable sin that violates the Holy Ghost doctrine will be banished to hell (sometimes known as outer darkness). When in hell, they become completely isolated from God’s presence, and all joy will vanish away forever.
What is Salvation?
One of the central themes in Scripture is salvation. Defined, salvation refers to preservation or deliverance from destruction, difficulty, or evil (see American Heritage Dictionary of English Language Fifth Edition), while in Christianity specifically, it means liberation from sin and its effects; soteriology studies this topic academically.
Salvation is a complex topic with multiple layers; it includes spiritual and material dimensions, individual needs and community issues, past and future considerations. Biblical writers frequently address salvation within specific relationships: between humans and God, humans among themselves, and with nature.
Historical development has seen the biblical concept of salvation evolve around physical danger and suffering. Hebrew word yasa (meaning to save or rescue), most frequently found in Old Testament passages, refers to material peril as well as protecting and restoring life from material harm or danger; New Testament authors more frequently employ Soteria (meaning deliverance from spiritual risk and suffering).
Christian salvation derives its concept from Jesus’s role in saving or redeeming us from our sin and its effects, often known as the “past tense” aspect of salvation as it involves total and permanent relief from its consequences.
Lastly, the New Testament describes salvation as the ultimate deliverance from evil portrayed by the Exodus story and Passover lamb gospel type; that is to say, believers are saved from the wrath and judgment of God.
Biblical writers acknowledge that human choice and free will play a central role in salvation, yet they believe salvation can only come about through God’s grace and Jesus Christ’s work. No one thinks God coerces people into Heaven against their will; instead, all who choose God and follow Jesus can find salvation – that’s the gospel! Ultimately, no matter how complex or simple one’s understanding of salvation may be, salvation always revolves around Jesus.
What is Resurrection?
Christians believe that once saved by Jesus from sinful behavior, you will be resurrected to heaven at the end of your life with both physical and spiritual bodies in tow for eternal bliss.
Some religions view heaven as both a physical location and state of being, with some believing a person can enter by living an ethical, good life, while others believe they must endure great suffering or sacrifice to reach it. Some religious faiths believe God awaits those in need with grace for eternal blissful happiness.
When people think of heaven, the first image that often comes to mind is of a vast sky full of stars where those who have passed on can look down upon us on Earth from above. Although this thought can be fascinating and comforting, this view doesn’t match up with what the Bible teaches about heaven.
The word “heaven” appears 276 times in the Bible and indicates that it exists as a physical reality. According to scripture, God dwells there with his followers; angels also live here, and He reigns supreme.
In addition, the Bible indicates three heavens exist: The first covers Earth and is home to clouds and birds, while above that lies another world with sun, moon, stars, etc. Paul also visited a third heaven, which he was forbidden to discuss due to what he witnessed there.
Resurrected bodies will resemble those from before death – this belief is known as human continuity – an important one for Christians as it gives them physical assurance of salvation and understanding of their faith.
Thus, materialist supporters of CDR find it hard to explain how their resurrected bodies would be numerically equivalent to their bodies before death. The problem becomes even more challenging if Christians believe they will possess the same spirit after they die.