I remember spending the day with the famous worldwide evangelist, Luis Palau, who was dying at the time from stage 4 lung cancer. And I remember asking him whether he fears death, and he told me, I don’t really. I’m so convinced from scripture that after I closed my eyes for the last time, I go to be with God. The apostle Paul says, to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord.
He described to me how his father had died when Luis was just 10 years old. Not long before his passing, his father sat up in bed and sang a hymn about heaven, “Bright crowns up their, bright crowns for you and me.” His head fell back in the pillow and he pointed upward, and then he said, “I’m going to be with Jesus,” and after that, he quoted the apostle Paul’s words in Philippians, “which is better by far.”
Luis told me that his father taught him how to die, “with a hymn in my heart and scripture on my lips.” And I would add, “with a hope that permeates his entire being.” Friends, we can have that kind of confidence and we can revel in that kind of hope. Yes, we can be assured that if we follow Jesus, he will lead us to a place, which is better by far.
When I mentioned hope, one of my favorite verses always comes to mind, Hebrews 10:23 says, “Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.” All of our hope, in other words, is contingent on God being ready, willing, and able to fulfill the promises that he has made to us, especially his promise that an eternity of wonder and awe, and joy awaits his followers. So wonderful is Christianity’s depiction of heaven, that even the atheist philosopher, Luke Faery, concludes this. He said, “I grant you that amongst the available doctrines of salvation, nothing can compete with Christianity provided that is,” he said, “that you are a believer.”
Are you a believer? If so, why? Is it because your parents were believers and you simply inherited their faith?
Is it because you hope beyond hope that it’s true even if you don’t have good reasons to believe it? Is it based on wishful thinking or blind optimism? Do you simply take the words of the Bible at face value or do you have good evidence that it’s telling you the truth?
Well, as you may know, my background is in journalism and law. One thing both of those professions have in common is the pursuit of truth through reliable and persuasive evidence. I need to know why I should believe something. That’s just my nature. I need to have my questions answered and my curiosity satisfied.
I remember, when I was a kid, my parents gave me an electric train for Christmas. That afternoon, my father found me in the garage hurling the locomotive against the concrete floor as I was trying to break it open. And when he asked me, what in the world I was doing? I said, “I want to find out how it works.”
Maybe you have that kind of curiosity. You’d like to believe in an afterlife. You’d like to believe that Jesus has opened the door of heaven. But you need reasons to believe.
Watch the first session of The Case for Heaven (and Hell) below
You can download the first session of the study guide here:
Each of us wants to know what awaits on the other side of death. Is there any convincing proof that we will live on in eternity? If so, what will our experience be like?
- How can we know there is an afterlife?
- What will heaven be like?
- Does God really send people to hell?
- Will we have the same personality after we die?
- What does it mean to live with an eye on eternity?
Along the way, you will encounter explorations of such topics as angels, Satan, demons, and the exclusivity claims of Christ. In addition, you’ll receive a unique perspective from Lee based on his own experience of nearly dying several years ago. Follow Strobel on this journey of discovery of the entirely credible, believable, and exhilarating life to come.