Recently there was an officer involved shooting near our home. Two men were wounded, and unfortunately, one of the police officers died. At our son’s school, kids were given the opportunity to write letters and draw pictures to encourage the local police department. When he came home from school and shared what he knew about the incident, our other son launched into a textbook “Why does God allow evil?” interrogation. He was so upset in that moment by the injustice and the loss of life.
Eventually, our conversation led us to God’s justice and our eternal home. I explained that our forever home with God will dwarf our suffering during this life. Neither child could conceptualize where people “are” after they die, or where they’ll be for eternity. They had the vocabulary mostly right, but there was a disconnect between the words and the meaning, and they were obviously confused. So we sat down and drew a diagram to help them “see” what happens when we die.
These days, after/near-death experience stories are quite in vogue. It’s no small wonder since we will all (one way or another) die, and the questions we ask about what comes next have been asked for centuries. In the first grade Sunday school class that I help teach, many of the children’s questions revolve around what Heaven will be like. “Will we have wings?” “Unicorns will be THERE, right?!”
At a recent event, a woman visited the Picture Book Apologetics table and shared that explaining Heaven rightly to children is something she finds very important. We agree. There is so much junk, so many misconceptions, and so many unsubstantiated opinions about Heaven that diminish the promised glory of it all. Fortunately, I sat in on a class taught by Dr. Clay Jones in which he explored the biblical picture of what Heaven will be like. Below are insights gained from his lectures in a way that parents may find helpful for explaining how the Bible describes Heaven to their kids and combating some of the false ideas that the world offers. We will briefly look at the Bible passages that shed light on what OUR BODIES will be like on the New Earth.
You’ve probably heard this before:
“People who are basically good and do their best will go to Heaven. I’m nice and I do more good things than bad things, so I’m going, too.”
Now, before we dive into the reasons that this thinking is flawed and dangerous, let’s first see what the Bible says about who gets to go to Heaven. Christianity’s teaching on this matter is unique, because other religions would largely agree that good works are the basis for a pleasant afterlife (We will address the false belief that “all religions are basically alike” in a future post).