Do we really go to heaven after we die?

If the hymnal I sing from at church is to be believed, then, yes, we go to heaven after we die. That became clear after I took phrases from 13 old favourite hymns and put them together. The picture that emerged was this:

“I’m homesick for a country and for worlds unknown far beyond the starry sky, where there are no sunsets, time doesn’t matter, and all the things of earth dim and lose their value because they were only borrowed for a while anyway. I’m looking forward to death when I’m free at last from life here on earth, I no longer have to walk here anymore, and I’m safe on God’s celestial shore. At last, in just a few more weary days when the shadows of this life are gone and my soul is waiting like a falcon for the roll call up yonder to be called – and God calls me home – then my soul will be released and I’ll take my heavenly flight with the angels who’ve come from the stars to bear my soul away and I’ll fly away like a bird from my prison bars, upward and onward to my home beyond the skies where my eyes shall behold the city, and at his door on that fair shore looking in on the heavenly fields I will knock and wait. And soon Jesus’ beauty I will behold for he is waiting at the open door and the pearly gates will open so that I may enter in through the gates of the city in a robe of spotless white and a crown on my head. He will walk me through the golden streets to my mansion bright and blessed that he prepared for me so I can look on his face forever. My soul is home at last in heaven with my Saviour.”

This all came from hymns in a popular Christian hymnal. The message is clear, that our real home is heaven not the earth, it’s our soul that’s being saved not our bodies, because our bodies are only temporary. Death, therefore, is a welcome friend because at death our soul is released from its bodily prison and rises to meet Jesus in heaven, where we live with him permanently and forever.

None of that, however, is in Scripture. It comes straight out of Greek philosophy, namely Plato. It was his idea that death is our friend because it releases our soul from its bodily prison to live with the gods forever in its real home beyond the stars. The early Christian church rejected Plato, but we seem to have picked him up again.

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