Is heaven our last stop?

For many Christians saving one’s soul and having one’s soul transferred to heaven is the ultimate goal. Their mission, therefore, is not only to get their own souls saved, but also to save as many other souls too, because once a soul is in heaven, they believe, it’s safe in God’s presence forever, out of that awful sin-filled body, and away from that awful sin-filled world. Heaven to many Christians, therefore, really is the last stop.

Other Christians, however, question heaven being the last stop because Scripture talks of humans being resurrected from the dead, given bodies like Jesus’ resurrected body, and staying here on the earth to co-rule with Jesus. So now we’ve got two vastly different views being taught by Christians, both of which, ironically, are in the hymnal I sing from at church. Hymn No 772, for instance, is entitled, “When we all get to heaven.” Verse 4 states: “Onward to the prize before us! Soon his beauty we’ll behold; soon the pearly gates will open, we shall tread the streets of gold.” What inspired the writer of that hymn was the belief that one day he, and many others, will step through the pearly gates of heaven and behold Jesus’ beauty, and that’s where they will stay forever.

Hymn No 754, however, is entitled, “Lo, he comes with clouds descending,” in which verse 1 states: “Thousand thousand saints attending swell the triumph of his train. Alleluia! Alleluia! God appears on earth to reign.” And the last line of verse 4: “O come quickly! O come quickly! Everlasting God, come down!”

So, is God coming down to reign on the earth, or are we going up to be with him in heaven? Which is it? Pity a new person walking into church for the first time, seeking an understanding of what Christians believe is the ultimate goal in life, and up pops the song leader who says, “Let’s all sing No 772 that tells us we’re all going to heaven to be with our Lord forever, followed by No 754 that says we’re all going to be here on the earth with our Lord forever.”

Some Christians manage to combine both hymns together, by saying Jesus descends in the clouds, we meet him in the air and then he whisks us off to heaven. But that requires dead Christians having to wait until Jesus returns, which doesn’t go down well with those who’ve been singing for years that they’re stepping through the pearly gates immediately after they die. With all this in mind, it sounds like Christians need to take a good look at what they’re singing – and take a look at why there’s such confusion too.

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