Reason For Assurance #1: God Offers Us A Sneak Preview Of Heaven, Right Now!
Jesus once asked a questioning Nicodemus, “But if you don't believe me when I tell you about earthly things, how can you possibly believe if I tell you about heavenly things?” (John 3:12). Notice that Jesus suggests a logical progression to the development of faith. First, we must believe what God says about the things we have seen. Then, and only then, is it possible for us to believe what He says about things like Heaven, things we've yet to see.
By this simple question, Jesus points out the real problem with the skeptic, whether modern or from His own time. It’s not their hesitance to believe what they can’t see as much as their blindness to the significance of what is right in front of them. Before they can look to Heaven with eyes of faith, they must first look at the earth with eyes of faith.
Looking at this world through the eyes of faith means believing what the Bible says; that this world was originally intended to be our Heaven; that God will come back to His original plan by creating a New Earth; and that the meek will inherit the New Earth as their eternal abode. When we simply believe what God tells us about this earth, what it originally was and what it will one day be, we take an important step in our faith walk, one that prepares us for something more.
From this vantage point, it now becomes much easier to believe what the Bible says about Heaven. Just imagine this world as it was, before sin entered the picture, before there was suffering and before there was death. If you can imagine life on this planet without conflict, without selfishness, without lying, without anger, without jealousy, without hatred, you can see Heaven right now!
This earth, as damaged as it has been by God’s judgments of man's sin, still bears a powerful witness to God’s original plan. Just as the discovery of a shipwreck provides empirical evidence of the ship that once was, so our earth provides empirical evidence of a Heaven that once was. By taking a fresh look at the world around us through the eyes of faith, we can both observe and experience Heaven in a tangible way. When we see it, when we touch it, when we taste its fruits, we are seeing, we are touching, we are tasting Heaven!
Once we understand what we’re really looking at when we observe life here on earth, we will realize that we are, indeed, being given a sneak preview of the Heaven promised to us! Remember, it’s to a world filled with plants and animals and people that God speaks of a Heaven that will be filled with plants and animals and people. Why should that be so hard for us to believe? There is no doubt God did it once. Why should there be any doubt that He can or would do it again? If the earth was our Heaven once, there's no reason it can't be our Heaven again.
But just in case this is not enough to move you in the direction of faith, God offers one more compelling assurance that Heaven is real.
Reason For Assurance #2: What God Says Will Happen Always Happens!
The Bible is the best-selling book in history, yet it is amazing how ignorant the world seems to be of its content. Even those who claim to believe that the Bible is the standard for Christian faith and practice are often unfamiliar with those aspects of the Bible that prove those claims.
For example, did you know that the Bible has an incredible track record when it comes to revealing the future? From Daniel’s prediction of the sequence of the next four Gentile world powers to Jesus’ prediction that His crucifixion would draw the whole world to Himself, the Bible is filled with incredible prophecies about future events that eventually came to pass. There are prophecies about Gentile nations, cities, and individuals, as well as prophecies about Israel and the godly line. Amazingly, nearly 25% of the Bible was prophetic when it was written, so we’ll need to narrow our focus to just one line of prophecy—to the central focus of the Bible’s prophetic vision, the coming of Jesus.
From the writings of Moses in the 15th century B.C. to the writings of Malachi in the 5th century B.C., Jesus’ coming was described, with 320 details being given. It’s important to note that it is undisputed among Bible scholars that the entire Old Testament was completed hundreds of years before Jesus was born.
I point this out because when the untrained are introduced to these prophecies, they often assume they had to be written after the time of Christ. But the fact is, with the aid of the Dead Sea Scrolls, we have actual extant (i.e., in hand) copies of the Old Testament that precede the birth of Christ by at least one-hundred and fifty years.
Of the 320 details the Old Testament reveals about Christ, here's a sampling:
• That the Christ would be conceived of a virgin (Isaiah 7:14);
• That the Christ would be born in the town of Bethlehem (Micah 5:2);
• That the Christ would arrive exactly 483 years after the decree was issued to allow the Jewish people to rebuild the walls of their besieged city (Daniel 9:25);
• That the Christ would heal the blind and the deaf (Isaiah 29:17-19);
• That the Christ would present himself as Messiah by humbly riding into Jerusalem on a donkey (Zechariah 9:9);
• That the Christ would be betrayed for 30 pieces of silver (Zechariah 11:12-13);
• That the Christ would be unfairly judged and condemned to die (Isaiah 53:8-9),
• That the Christ would be abandoned by his disciples (Zechariah 13:7-9);
• That the Christ would be rejected by his own people (Isaiah 53:3);
• That the Christ would be crucified (Psalm 22:11-16) as an offering for our sins (Isaiah 53:4-6);
• That the Christ would rise from the dead (Isaiah 53:10-12);
• That the Christ, although a Jew, would become a light to the Gentiles, and bring salvation to the whole world (Isaiah 49:5-6).
How do these fulfilled prophecies offer us a greater assurance that Heaven is real? It’s simple. Because the Bible has so accurately revealed detailed events that would happen here on earth, we have every reason to believe that the many details it forecasts about Heaven will, likewise, come to pass. Once again, the key to believing what God has to say about Heaven is to come to faith in what He has said about what has already happened here on earth. Since the prophecies about earthly events can all be verified, the prophecies about Heaven can all be trusted—the one being intended to build our faith in the other.
Yes, Heaven is real. To help our unbelief, God has given each of us a sneak preview of just how real it is, allowing us to “observe” and “experience” glimpses of Heaven right here and now! And just in case that isn't enough for some of us, God has also given us hundreds of detailed prophecies, fulfilled in history, to assure us of the certainty of all that He has promised us about Heaven.
So, don’t let your heart be troubled by doubts. Instead, allow the loving promises of God to be your confidence, bringing you hope and encouragement in a fallen and troubled world.
"I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life" (1 John 5:13).