A Question I Was Asked:

Four Questions About Heaven

The Questions:

I have some questions for you.

1. Why would a person want to leave a paradise such as Heaven, and return to a sinful and hard place like Earth? (I ask this because you said that, following death, righteous souls await the Lord's return in heaven).
2. Also, when they come back, will they have no recollection of where they have been?
3. Would you say that Lazurus went to Heaven for the four days before Jesus restored him? If he was in Heaven on what grounds did he get there seeing as Jesus had not yet died and had not reconciled God back to Mankind?
4. Up until Jesus, no man had gone to Heaven, not even Abraham? No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven - the Son of Man. (John 3:13). Many thanks.

UK Apologetics Reply:

Okay, here we go:

1. You ask why any would want to leave a heavenly paradise to return to earth. The answer would appear to be that even though Heaven is a glorious paradise, the souls of the deceased saints are purely there as souls and Revelation shows that the saints will eagerly look forward to the full resurrection of body and soul and long to see Godly justice carried out upon earth.

When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God and the testimony they had maintained. They called out in a loud voice, "How long, Sovereign Lord, holy and true, until you judge the inhabitants of the earth and avenge our blood?" Then each of them was given a white robe, and they were told to wait a little longer, until the full number of their fellow servants, their brothers and sisters, were killed just as they had been. (Revelation 6:9-11).

You worry about the earth being "a sinful and hard place," but, of course, there will be no more sin in that future Eternal State. The age of sin will be past! It is also possibly a mistake to see the final home of the saints as being simply and entirely earth. As all-powerful resurrected sons and daughters of God, we will also be able to fly to Heaven, although the New Heavenly Jerusalem - our principal home - will be upon this earth. But it won't be purely physical as the present Jerusalem is, it will be 'heavenly,' and in the divine spiritual dimension. So it will be nothing like the present physical realm of things; the beauty, I am sure, will be astonishing.

2. You ask, "...also, when they come back, will they have no recollection of where they have been?" I presume you are asking about those in the resurrection and whether the truly righteous among them will recollect their time in heaven. Why not? I see no reason why the Lord would wish to block out such a lovely memory for the saints.

3. Did Lazarus go to heaven while he awaited Jesus calling him from the grave? I have no idea, possibly not. But if God did allow him to go to heaven for those few days, the timing won't have been important; after all, God already knows His own elected saints whose names are already entered into the Book of Life. The fact that Jesus had not yet died upon the cross at that point in time-history does not matter. Don't forget that the saved of the Old Testament were only saved through the blood of Christ although - time-wise - the cross was still ahead at that point in time. Don't forget the message of Revelation 13:8 on that point; Jesus - effectively - was slain from the foundation of the world.

4. Had no one entered heaven until Jesus went to the cross? Actually no, the Bible states differently. Three heavenly places are described as 'heaven' in Scripture. The throne of God the Father appears to be in the 'third heaven.' However, Enoch and Elijah were received into heaven at their deaths. See 2 Kings 2:11, for instance. But, even then, they could only be saved through the blood of Christ - no other way. The comments of Jesus in John 3:13 might be better seen as addressing a pagan concept that passage between earth and heaven was possible for many people. When Enoch and Elijah entered heaven they were 'translated' and were there as souls.

Robin A. Brace. February 22nd, 2014.