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Heaven - Where Is It? What Is It?

Updated on August 14, 2016
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Brian Gray, obtained his degree in Language from Lee University, and has been a published author and professional writer since 1985.

What John Saw In The Book Of Revelation

Revelation 21King James Version (KJV)

21 “And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea.

2 And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.

3 And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God.

4 And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.

5 And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful.

6 And he said unto me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely.

7 He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son.

8 But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.

9 And there came unto me one of the seven angels which had the seven vials full of the seven last plagues, and talked with me, saying, Come hither, I will shew thee the bride, the Lamb's wife.

10 And he carried me away in the spirit to a great and high mountain, and shewed me that great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God,

11 Having the glory of God: and her light was like unto a stone most precious, even like a jasper stone, clear as crystal;

12 And had a wall great and high, and had twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels, and names written thereon, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel:

13 On the east three gates; on the north three gates; on the south three gates; and on the west three gates.

14 And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and in them the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.

15 And he that talked with me had a golden reed to measure the city, and the gates thereof, and the wall thereof.

16 And the city lieth foursquare, and the length is as large as the breadth: and he measured the city with the reed, twelve thousand furlongs. The length and the breadth and the height of it are equal.

17 And he measured the wall thereof, an hundred and forty and four cubits, according to the measure of a man, that is, of the angel.

18 And the building of the wall of it was of jasper: and the city was pure gold, like unto clear glass.

19 And the foundations of the wall of the city were garnished with all manner of precious stones. The first foundation was jasper; the second, sapphire; the third, a chalcedony; the fourth, an emerald;

20 The fifth, sardonyx; the sixth, sardius; the seventh, chrysolyte; the eighth, beryl; the ninth, a topaz; the tenth, a chrysoprasus; the eleventh, a jacinth; the twelfth, an amethyst.

21 And the twelve gates were twelve pearls: every several gate was of one pearl: and the street of the city was pure gold, as it were transparent glass.

22 And I saw no temple therein: for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it.

23 And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof.

24 And the nations of them which are saved shall walk in the light of it: and the kings of the earth do bring their glory and honour into it.

25 And the gates of it shall not be shut at all by day: for there shall be no night there.

26 And they shall bring the glory and honour of the nations into it.

27 And there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb's book of life.”

With these written words of John in the Book of Revelation, a new ideology of what Heaven was going to be for believers began to take hold and evolve throughout the Early Church, and eventually, throughout the known world. Perhaps by this passage from the Book of Revelation more than any other, the ideas of “what Heaven is” have been colored. I am often asked about what Heaven is, as well as where Heaven is, especially because of the experience I had at age fifteen when I was taken out of my body and into the presence of the Great Creator. I wrote about this in detail in my article titled “Does God Exist?”, so no need to retell all of that detail here. Suffice it to say, because of what I experienced, I have a different view of the afterlife than most people, and because of my education among various world religions and world philosophies, I do not share the standard view of what Heaven actually is. Explaining Heaven is far more complicated than the average mind can begin to comprehend, but I still think it is wise to explore the subject. After all, everyone born on this planet is destined to leave this plane of existence sooner or later, and ignoring what comes after this existence will not change destiny.

Not Every Christian Describes The Same Heaven

In the Book of Revelation, John describes a new Heaven and Earth, and he sees a city that is a new Jerusalem that is brought down to this planet, a city with streets of pure gold and a construction that is dazzling to say the least. Whatever we are to make of this vision of John, there are several things to remember here: in John’s world, Jerusalem would be akin to Washington, D.C. Jerusalem was a power center, both politically and religiously, so what better focal point for a new beginning for this planet? At least in the world of the apostles, this idea would have resonated as highly probable. To believers, this is a sacred vision, while to atheists, John was hallucinating, nothing more, nothing less. After all, they will point out, the Apostle Paul wrote often about the “end of time,” and Paul expected that to take place in his lifetime. In Paul’s idea and John’s vision of the New Kingdom, suppression excesses of the Roman Empire would be done away with, and in the place of corrupt humans, God, Himself, would rule with supreme justice...right here on Earth. The center of political and religious life, this new Jerusalem, would become the center of the universe, and the early apostles would have very important places of respect in this new order. It is easy to draw conclusions about the desires of the oppressed, those who suffered greatly under Roman occupation. Longing to be released from the centuries of brutal Roman rule was a desire passed down from generation to generation. Thus, a new Heaven and Earth had to come, and with it a new Jerusalem, a Jerusalem so perfect that even the very streets were paved with gold that was so pure, it was translucent. In fact, John’s vision had the entire city made of this translucent gold. Since that vision of John’s so many centuries ago, John, who had the vision, and Paul, who truly expected to see the new kingdom in his lifetime, both have long since passed into history, never having seen their beliefs come true. But the story of that visionary city with streets paved in gold did not die with Paul or John. To the contrary, that vision of the heavenly kingdom on Earth has evolved into a belief in a Heaven filled with the most luxurious of rewards for those who are believers. The concept of Heaven, the belief in Heaven, has been told and retold down through the centuries, and if you think that your idea of Heaven matches that of the Early Church, you are very wrong. Yet still, most Christians think that all Christians think alike on that subject, that all share the exact same picture of what and where Heaven is. But what is reality? Does the Heaven described by most Christians actually exist?

Is Heaven "Up There?"

Can We Know The Truth About Heaven?

To answer that last question, let’s dig deeper. For many Christians, it is easy to simply think that Heaven is some perfect and idyllic paradise that has been described to them since childhood. The idea sits somewhere in the back of their heads. Pressed for details, a strange look comes over their faces, and they excuse their lack of detail by saying that the exact details will all just sort themselves out after death. Faith... you simply believe it is so...and it is. Simplistic? Yes, and yet, this may be all that most people need to get through life. If one’s life span was five years, dying as a child, don’t you think it would be convenient to simply allow the child to have a story that brought calm, as opposed to one that brought apprehension? When we are children, adults tell us about Santa Claus, about tooth fairies, even the Easter Bunny, and these elaborate tales keep us happy as children. The stories seem to make sense to a young mind, and after all, they are told to us by those older and wiser than ourselves. Why question? We children simply believe... and it is so. At what point do these same adults tell these happy children that life is a bit more complicated? That life is not as simple as they made it out to be? And what changes then? Does the world change, or does a story change? The factual world is reality. What is real will always be real, regardless of how we paint over the window that looks into that reality. Regardless of the stories we tell each other to keep us happy and calm, none of our stories will change reality. If there is no Santa Claus, then there never was one. But when it comes to our religious beliefs, beliefs that were handed down to us and taught to us with the utmost belief in their sanctity, at what point in our lives are we willing to pull back the curtain separating us from truth and peer into the “other room?” When do we desire to know the real answers to the questions, questions that we are taught have answers that can only be accepted by faith, not logic? Can we “know” the truth about Heaven?

Do Souls Just Float Up To Heaven?

Who Is Right? Who Is Wrong?

When we study history, there are several facts that come into play here. One, we all come from a common starting point, but as the centuries passed, we evolved into the various colors, ethnicities, and we even developed a variety of religions. And each of the religions developed a unique outlook on the afterlife, as is significantly evident when we peruse the vastly different approaches to burying the dead. Greatly important is to examine how these methods for burying the dead changed over the centuries, and from culture to culture. Observe how the internal organs, including the brain, of the Egyptian pharaohs were put in jars to accompany the mummified bodies. Observe how the Chinese emperors were buried with armies to accompany them in the afterlife. And while Egyptians handled the dead bodies, Tibetans would not think of touching a dead body lest it render them impure. In Tibet, the dead bodies are taken out to be hacked into pieces and fed to the vultures by the outcasts known as the Body Breakers. The rituals for burying the dead throughout history would fill volumes, and all of these rituals were based on religious beliefs. Who was wrong? Who was right? And how many of these rituals survive today? Are they necessary?

Tibetan View Of Death Is Unique

Truth Is The Ultimate Reality

A second point to study is that, though we originated from one, we are now so varied in appearances, let alone languages, that we tend to congeal in little groups. Go to any major city and look at “Little Italy,” “Chinatown,” and a host of other ethnicities that have their own section of the city. Each of these conclaves is formed out of a desire to be with others who look, think and act like themselves. And here’s the part we need to magnify—this ethnocentricity causes those in that group to exclude others who are different. Therefore, in the context of world religions, they all teach an exclusion of others. And in the Afterlife of each religion, notice who is missing—members of other world religions! So, the description of the Afterlife has not only changed over the centuries, it has evolved according to whatever religion has described it. Furthermore, each religion has a myopic and prejudiced opinion that says that only their belief system is the correct one. But, here is One Great Reality—All adherents to all the religions since the beginning of time have one thing in common...they all died. Thus, their beliefs did not alter reality, and that reality is that, regardless of what they believed would happen after death, once dead, they would be experiencing the ultimate reality—Truth.

Prepared For The Journey

Is Life Here Simply An Illusion?

Mao Tse Tung once declared religion to be the “opiate of the masses,” and he immediately declared Atheism the religion of the State. Mao saw religion as a tool used by religious institutions to herd people, to use those herds as pawns for the political and power-driven purposes of the leaders of those religious institutions, and he saw no reason to believe any of what these religious people taught. Mao was all about realism, and religion held no allure for him. But what Mao Tse Tung missed was simply this: for each of us, there is a level to life. For some of us, Santa Claus will be real until the day we die, even if that is at the ripe old age of 100, while for others, Santa Claus will disappear at an early age, and we will still be happy in our lives. And for each and every one of us, the sun will still rise in the morning and set at night, and we will live out our lives according to our desires. But, whether we believe in Santa Claus, or whether we disbelieve, that same sun rises and sets, and that same destiny awaits us all...death and the afterlife. Death comes to the believer just as surely as it comes for the non-believer. And here is where the discussion becomes heavy. Atheist, Christian, Buddhist, Muslim, Jew...we all are destined to leave this plane of existence and experience the ultimate, mind-expanding journey into genuine Truth. Life is the illusion, as the Tibetans teach, but Death is the truth, and Death will show us realities that, for the most part, we failed to acknowledge.

Starting From Zero

The Christian Heaven taught by many does not have any room for non-Christians. And this first “bump in the road” causes great debate among even Christians, let alone non-Christians. For example, why would a loving God deprive those who never heard of Jesus the opportunity to live in this paradise? Whatever your response, why were these people not given the opportunity to meet Jesus? As many Christians teach, without a belief in Jesus Christ, there is no entry to Heaven. And for the really legalistic, what about those who came before Jesus was born? Of course, there are arguments about those who were born before the advent of Jesus being “held in reserve” somewhere, awaiting judgment, thus giving them a chance to earn a seat on the bus without the modern requisite of knowledge of Jesus Christ. All of these arguments are for Theological hairsplitters and the legalistic wrangling that reconciling their interpretation of the Bible with questions of reality causes to arise. Here is a simpler approach—throw out all of your pre-conceived ideas, especially those taught by your religious leaders, and start from zero. And here is “zero:” Every person on this planet was born, and every person on this planet will die. Let me reiterate that for clarity: We all have the commonality that we were born, and we all have the commonality that we will die. Further, every religion on this planet has tried to figure out what happens after we die, and they all have their ideas on what to expect. Can they all be correct? Let’s look at some empirical evidence.

Elaborate Preparations For Death

Where Did Everybody Go?

The “abode of the dead” has been described in every known religion since the beginning of recorded history, and elaborate rituals for the preparation for the journey from “here” to “there” fill volumes. Look at the elaborate preparations of the bodies of the ancient Egyptian pharaohs. Look at even the simple burials of ancient Philistines wherein a bottle of perfume was placed next to the head of the deceased. Why? Study the manner in which ancient civilizations sacrificed living humans to appease their gods. Over the many centuries, we have evolved in “what” we sacrifice, but we are still trying to figure out “what” is desired of the “gods.” Ancient mythology is filled with elaborate stories of the world beyond this one, and these stories are equally filled with the various ways a human being arrived there. Why are they myths? Why were they so believable in the day and age when they were first concocted, yet, within a few centuries, are relegated to the bins of lore? Century after century, a new religious view is born, evolves, is taught and believed, even defended by wars, then dies out and is later studied in historical documents with intrigue and amusement. And here is a puzzle for you to ponder: where are all those souls? They were born, and they died. They were taught their beliefs systems, they either believed or disbelieved...and they all died. Millions who were never introduced to the Christian concept of Heaven...where did they go? Think long and hard on this one...where did they go? Don’t skip over this point, and don’t relegate this one to the bin of “not-sure-but-who-cares?” Where did all of those people who never even heard of your religion, who had entirely different ideas on the Afterlife, where did they go? This one thing is common and true...they ALL met Death. Then what?

Mummified Tibetan Monk

Getting Rid Of Easter Bunnies

Of all the world’s current religions, I would say that the one that most devotes itself to the studies of death and the world beyond this one would be the religion of Tibetan Buddhism. This is not an endorsement of any one religion, but of all the ones I have studied, I find that Tibetans spend more time dedicating themselves to this search than any other. Before the horrible invasion by the Chinese in 1950, every Tibetan family donated their first son to the temple to become a monk for life, such is the connection between everyday life and the world beyond this one, and one would think that this constant search for closeness to the “beyond” has to result in some evidence. But, even the Tibetans could be wrong, especially when all religions try to “dumb down” their findings. Eventually, they all create Easter Bunnies and Santa Clauses, because there simply are more people who cannot comprehend the truth than there are people who can. Even Jesus Christ had secret teachings for just His disciples, teachings that were not to be shared with the common folk. You will have to ask God why that discrepancy among us, but we are most certainly NOT created equal. That diversity among the Creation must be for a reason, but that reason is still being researched. The Tibetans believe that there is a sort of pyramid of life, that most beings begin at the bottom of the life cycle, and through successive reincarnations, they move up to higher planes of existence, finally leaving this life plane to move onto the next level of reincarnation, reincarnation after reincarnation, each life moving one ever-upward, even in the life beyond this plane of existence, all of which leads ultimately to reuniting as one with the Great Creator of all of this. An example, you see a man lying in the gutter, a total drunk, having never achieved anything and obviously at the end of his life. How is he different from a nuclear physicist who has a wonderful life in a greatly rewarding job at a major university? Ponder it long, but the reality is that they will both die, but each will have a different ending to his life, an ending that is quantitative. And by quantitative, I do not mean how much money was in the bank account, but, rather, what peace was in their hearts. One reincarnation tenet teaches that, at the moment of death, all that you are, everything about you, your passions, your hatreds, your loves, all of that is the seed for your next life.

Reincarnation - A Bump In The Road?

Here are some more speed bumps. In his book, “The Case For Reincarnation,” Joe Fisher relates a memorable story about a young boy, aged five, who kept telling his parents about his “previous life.” The young boy told them that he had been married, that he had died in a car accident, and that his wife was now a widow living alone in another city a few states away. The parents at first thought it was cute, then puzzling, then eventually undesirable. Nothing they did could stop their son from his belief in his story, so they finally decided that the ultimate cure would be to take him to the exact location of the house where he said that he once lived in his past life. The boy had given them the exact street name and address, along with a description of the house and the woman he claimed was his wife in the past life. When they arrived at the address, there was the exact house as the young boy had described. The parents knocked on the front door, but the young boy had told them that in his previous life with his wife, he had told her never to answer the front door when he was not there. She had been told to always look out the side door to see who was there. Still rattled by all of this, the parents went to the side door and knocked, and, sure enough, a woman answered the door. A bit embarrassed, the young boy’s parents related to her why they were there, and she invited them in. Once inside, they were ushered into the living room, and there on the mantel was a photo. The lady of the house told them that it was a photo of her deceased husband.

The young boy recognized the photo and told everyone present that he had been that person. The lady gave her name exactly as the young boy had told his parents it would be, and she told them that her husband had died in a car accident, exactly on the date and under the exact circumstances that their five-year-old son had told them. How did this young boy know all of these details long before ever meeting this widowed lady?

If Your Theology Conflicts With God's Reality...

I often say, “If your Theology conflicts with God’s reality, then you need to revisit your Theology.” What is proven reality should ultimately be the basis for all understanding of the Great Creator. But, what is reality and what is illusion? What have we spent lifetimes deluding ourselves about? What childhood stories have we handed down to our children, who then, in turn, have modified and passed on to the next generation, each religious story gaining in embellishment and sacredness? Baggage that has been handed to you by others is often difficult to unpack...because they threw away the key. This is one of the reasons so many people have great, secret, internal battles throughout their lives, because they are trying to balance what they are beginning to understand with what they were taught, and they often find that the truth that is revealed to them conflicts with their Easter Bunny stories. Easter Bunny stories are always so much more cuddly and warm, and for some, they can be heartwarming and reassuring right through the death experience...but for those who think and study, death is the mouth of a huge black cave that looms directly in front of them, and for these people, the Easter Bunny is no comfort.

We Still Dress The Dead For The Journey

Remains of Bishop Peder Winstrup Present New Mystery
Remains of Bishop Peder Winstrup Present New Mystery

John Never Got To See His Vision Fulfilled

John had the vision of the New Jerusalem, but he died without having ever seen that happen. Paul preached about the end of times being in his day, and he went to his death without ever having witnessed that event. I am fully aware of those who say that the Bible does not even give these two apostles the right to predict the end, and that the end will come when it will come. And preachers have been calling their day and time the end of days ever since Jesus Christ left, yet here we still are with preachers calling this the end of days, the end of time. And we have their defenders saying that scoffers will come in the “end of days” wondering why the end has been preached about, but has not happened. This classic rebuttal is designed to shut down all dissent, as if wondering why the “Rapture” has not happened in all of these centuries is a thought worthy only of apostates. That guilt trigger stops most Christians from having an original and investigative thought. But there is nothing wrong with asking why time has not come to an end, why Jesus has not come back to Earth, why John’s vision in Revelation has never been realized on this planet. This is a healthy question for believers and non-believers alike. Why would the Apostle Paul choose death by beheading rather than change his beliefs? That set the gold standard for many Christians to come, even if the ideology of Heaven changed over time, and we tend to hold on to all religious teachings as fact, because that is what we were taught. But what do we feel?

Is Heaven Paradise?

In Luke 23:43, we read these words: “καὶ εἶπεν αὐτῷ Ἀμήν σοι λέγω, σήμερον μετ’ ἐμοῦ ἔσῃ ἐν τῷ Παραδείσῳ. “ “Kai eipen auto Ameyn soi lego, seymeron met’ emou esey en to Paradeiso.” Translating, “And He said to him, Truly, this day, thou shalt be with me in Paradise.” The word used here in the Greek is “Παραδείσῳ” - “Paradeiso,” “Paradise.” Now, most Christians just think that Jesus was saying Heaven, but He said Paradise. At the time of Jesus, the concept of Paradise, as held by Jews, was a location in Hades, the abode of the dead, and this particular section of Hades was reserved for the righteous souls until the resurrection. Even the word “Paradise” was invented by the Persians and borrowed by the Jews, eventually making it into the Christian system of beliefs. The word Paradise does not exist in the original Hebrew description of the Garden of Eden. Here is Genesis 2:8 in Hebrew:

וַיִּטַּ֞ע יְהוָ֧ה אֱלֹהִ֛ים גַּן־בְּעֵ֖דֶן מִקֶּ֑דֶם וַיָּ֣שֶׂם שָׁ֔ם אֶת־הָֽאָדָ֖ם אֲשֶׁ֥ר יָצָֽר׃

Vayita Adonai Elohim gan-beden miqedem vayasem sam et-haadam asher yatsar.

The word for “Garden” here is גַּן “Gan.” Later, as an example of the evolution of the word for garden, or park, in Nehemiah 2:8, we see the word for the king’s “forest” rendered in Hebrew as “hapardes,” הפרדס with “Pardes,” meaning a garden, or park, with the same meaning as “gan.” Centuries later, the translators of the Septuagint follow the Persians and change Eden from “gan,” “garden,” to “Paradaiso,” “Paradise.” As stated earlier, the Jewish concept of Paradise, even as early as the 3rd Century before Christ, was one of a repose after death for the righteous. However, as the Early Church began to form, and even as Christ ministered on Earth, the concept of the abode of the dead, the afterlife, was evolving even faster. Christ tells the thief in Luke 23:43, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.” The Apostle John writes, in Revelation 2:7: “Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who is victorious, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.” But we see variations on the theme with this passage in 2 Corinthians 5:1 “For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands.” Here, Paul uses the words “… in heaven,” “ἐν τοῖς οὐρανοῖς ” (actually, “in the heavens”) en tois ouranois. Now, where is Paul going with his placement of the “abode of the dead?”

Note, as well, how this evolution in Christianity continues to place the abode of the dead, the departed souls of the righteous, in “Heaven, a city prepared by God.” Hebrews 11:13-16 “All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance, admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on earth. 14 People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. 15 If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. 16 Instead, they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.

Life After Life

Now, we can debate all day what and where Paradise is, when the concept began, and what it has come to mean, but Jesus on the cross simply told the thief who was being crucified with Him that the thief’s soul would continue on to another plane of existence, a plane of existence that was superior to this one. Christians of today generally teach that Jesus was referring to Heaven, but He simply said...Paradise. And for purists, this would be in keeping with the prevailing beliefs of the Jews of the time of Jesus, the place in Hades reserved for the righteous dead awaiting the resurrection. Interestingly enough, centuries after Jesus, the Early Church taught that Paradise was the origin of our first ancestors, a place where they dwelt before the Great Fall. They taught that this Paradise still exists, but that it was neither in the heavens, nor on the Earth. Paradise, the original home of the soul, was in a world beyond all of what we see. Now THAT is interesting! This concept of “Paradise” actually meshes with the study of death and the accounts of those who have been to the “Other Side” and back. What they see and report is not a vision of a city, but a plane of existence that could very well be in a parallel universe, since those who have experienced these Near-Death, or Out-Of-Body, events find themselves instantly there and often able to see back into this plane of Earth while being invisible to those here on Earth. In his book, Life After Life, Dr. Raymond Moody spent many years clinically investigating the stories of thousands of patients who had been pronounced dead and who had returned to tell what they had experienced while dead. A fascinating clinical study, the book shows the parallels each person had when out of their bodies, the meetings with dead relatives and loved ones in another lane of existence, as well, in many instances, of seeing “God.” Dr. Moody stated: “I don't mind saying that after talking with over a thousand people who have had these experiences, and having experienced many times some of the really baffling and unusual features of these experiences, it has given me great confidence that there is a life after death. As a matter of fact, I must confess to you in all honesty, I have absolutely no doubt, on the basis of what my patients have told me, that they did get a glimpse of the beyond.”

An Interesting Study

Wow!

A vast array of religions have come and gone down through the ages, and this current world is equally filled with a comparative array, each with their beliefs on what we experience once we leave this human body. Much of the universe does not make philosophically logical sense when one starts to ask too many questions. Such questions as “Why are we here on Earth as opposed to elsewhere?” - “Why do we exist?” - “Why is this world filled with war and pain?” - “Why doesn’t God just tell us the answers to everything?” and countless others come to mind, questions that often make simple faith either easy of difficult. There are three ways to look at it all. The simplistic, Fundamentalist method is total belief in a set of taught ideals, never questioning, always accepting, and using that core of beliefs to bring peace and happiness to a life lived to the end. The fatalist Resigned method is to have questions nagging at the brain, but to simply suppress them with a thought that it will all work its way out in the end, and to tell oneself that we cannot know anything for sure. These people either follow a religious ideal blindly hoping that it is true, or they become atheists who hide their fears in a locked closet. And is the Reality method for those who have minds that have been freed from fear and who are willing to explore in their search for God and Truth. For all three groups, death will come equally and without bias, the Afterlife will come as constructed by the Great Creator, even if we, with our finite minds, cannot reason the equation with satisfaction. Heaven, after all, may be just a “waiting area” where, as the Tibetans teach, we plan our return in another life here on this plane of existence, or we move up a latter of successive incarnations to finally merge with the Spirit of our Great Creator. And for whatever purpose the Great Creator made all of us, made all of the confusing and conflicting history that we have recorded, both horrific and peaceful, both fearful and heart-warming, both despicable and inspiring, the bad and the good, all have their source in the Great Creator who allowed it all to happen, and having allowed it all to happen, for reasons known only to the Great Creator, ordained its passage in time. The Great Creator is the author of all that has ever been, all that is and all that ever will be. When we have ended our lives, we are instantly transported to the next “station” in the plans of the Great Creator. But, there the mystery deepens. Once “there,” do we await a return to this plane of existence for some “educational” experience, as is taught by the believers in reincarnation? Do we stay on the other side in the realm of the Afterlife never to go anywhere else? Does the Great Creator have another set of plans that will begin another “play” similar to the one written by the history of this planet? Is there another Creation set somewhere in the far distant future? Did the prophet Isaiah get it right when he said in the book of Isaiah 65:17 “See, I will create new heavens and a new earth. The former things will not be remembered, nor will they come to mind.” The Great Creator made all that is, ever has been and ever will be, which includes every living creature on this planet. I cannot speak for the Great Creator, nor can I speak for the plans of the Great Creator regarding what awaits us in eternity, but I do know that what I experienced when I was taken out of my body and into His presence, the dead loved ones with whom I spoke while there, all point to one thing that I DO know about the Afterlife; call it what you will, but we leave this plane of existence, without ever losing consciousness, and we are immediately in a plane of existence that operates on a totally different set of physics principles. Believe what you will until you get there, call it whatever name makes you comfortable, but there is most definitely something waiting for all of us. In the dying experience of the famous computer genius, Steve Jobs, just as he expired and his physical eyes gave way to the eyes of those who are transitioning to the Afterlife, he uttered just one word - “Wow!”

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    • always exploring profile image

      Ruby Jean Fuller 9 months ago from Southern Illinois

      There is much to take in and decipher in this piece. My grandmother Minnie believed there were different stations in heaven. The more faithful and obedient were at a higher station. She was a oneless Pentecostal. She believed it was a sin to cut your hair, her hair reached the floor. She spoke in tongues. It took my mother a lifetime to see differently. I remember as a child, she took me to different churches and I was always afraid of God. I now attend a methodist church and believe in the trinity. God the father, Jesus the son and the holy spirit. I'm sure there is much more to learn, but this concept makes me content. And, if I will agree that God loves everyone and everyone is equal, then I can exist until that day when I die and find out the complete truth. I enjoyed your writing and message. I might add one more experience I had as a R.N. working in a nursing home. I worked the second shift and the day nurse had received a patient that day who was dying of bone cancer. He was comatose and had been placed there for comfort care only, no CPR, nothing. That evening I checked on him about every two hours to see that he was being turned and cared for. That night I was on my way to clock out and passed his room, I stepped inside and stayed by the door. He had never opened his eye's all evening. As I was turning to leave he opened his eye's and the most beautiful smile appeared on his face as he looked up at the ceiling, then he closed his eyes. I left the room knowing he saw something. He died that night. He was 34 years old and a minister. I never knew what church he had, but he made a believer out of me. Thanks again...

    • Hanavee profile image
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      Brian Gray 9 months ago from Pennsylvania

      always exploring,

      What a wonderful and insightful experience you had as you witnessed the transition of that minister. That experience will help guide you through life. I wrote this article to hopefully cause people to explore the reality of the phenomenal world that the Great Creator has waiting for us on the other side of this experience. Far too many people are afraid to discuss death and the Afterlife until it is either too late to enjoy the benefits of preparing one's life to be more attuned with the concept, or too late to remove the fear of the transition. I am among those who want to know what awaits, and even though I was raised Pentecostal, I was given a brain and the will to seek the truth. I think all of us are given a choice somewhere in life, and that is to either go with what everyone wants you to believe, or seek the absolute truth. It's obvious that I am a seeker of truth.

      Thank you for reading my latest, and glad that you enjoyed the message.

      Brian

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      Damian Fedorko 9 months ago

      A very interesting article. I, often, think about heaven. What it would be like, what would we be doing? Would we be worshiping the Lord 24/7? What else is there to do? The next time we meet we need to discuss this topic.

    • Hanavee profile image
      Author

      Brian Gray 9 months ago from Pennsylvania

      Damian,

      Thanks for reading my latest article. When I was taken out of my body at the young age of fifteen and transported to the plane of existence beyond this one, I saw my grandmother, my aunt and two members of my church, all of whom had died years earlier. It was a world of energy, not grass and trees, which is difficult for many people to comprehend, since we are always taught that Heaven is this "paradise" with lush, green grass and exotic trees, flowing streams and idyllic settings. I cannot say that what I saw was the complete extent of "heaven," because I was not there long enough for that, but it showed me that the Afterlife is going to surprise people with how different it really is from what they have been taught. I do believe, however, that no matter what we think, no matter who we are, we are all going to this plane of existence after we die.

      Brian

    • Dont Taze Me Bro profile image

      Banned cause of pissants promisem and deantraylor 7 months ago from TWO OF THE MANY LYING LIB CRYBABIES OF HUB PAGES

      When you say you believe "that no matter what we think, no matter who we are, we are all going to this plane of existence after we die." is that based on your experience because why would you say no matter what we think or who we are if the only people you saw there were people who had accepted Christ as their savior?

      When you were there you say you saw your grandmother, your aunt and two members of your church. I assume these were people who you knew or believed had accepted Christ. Did you see anyone there that you believed or knew had not accepted Christ? If not wouldn't that suggest to you something different about who goes to heaven and who doesn't? The Bible clearly states sinners who have not accepted the savior will not go to heaven otherwise there is no need for a savior but it also compares death to sleep more than fifty times. After death we are asleep, we are unconscious; we are not aware of the passing of time or of what is going on around us. That is what death is like as well. The Bible says, “for the living know that they will die; but the dead know nothing… their love, their hatred, and their envy have now perished” (Ecclesiastes 9:5, NKJV, see also Psalm 146:4; 115:17). It makes sense that after Lazarus was raised from the dead, he doesn’t share what he saw or experienced. He didn’t have anything to tell, except that once he was dead, and now he is alive! He didn’t experience hell or heaven. He was simply “sleeping” in his tomb. Peter on the Day of Pentecost said the same of King David. “Men and brethren, let me speak freely to you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his tomb is with us to this day…For David did not ascend into the heavens…(Acts 2:29, 34)..

      Maybe what you experienced wasn't heaven, maybe it was your imagination or a dream. If the Bible be true we can't believe anything that contradicts it, Jesus never contradicted scripture.

    • Hanavee profile image
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      Brian Gray 7 months ago from Pennsylvania

      Dont Taze,

      Thank you for writing and expressing your thoughts. I will respond to each of your thoughts in their order.

      The "plane of existence" to which I refer is neither man's constructed and invented ideas of Heaven or Hell, but is the place from whence we came, and the place to which we return. The simple fact is that we are all energy, and without us, the mortal bodies in which we reside would be nothing more than inanimate objects. We energize these bodies, and where does this "energy" that we are come from? From the Great Creator. We are emanations from the Great Creator. We do not have the power to create ourselves, so the power that created us is also our source. For lack of a better pronoun, "He" is the reason we exist, "He" is where we originate, and into "His presence" is where we return. I believe we existed with "Him" before we came to this plane of existence, and we will return to be with "Him" once this sojourn has ended. The Great Creator gave us a great principle of physics, that we humans can neither create nor destroy anything, and that being fact would imply that the energy that we are, that energy which moves the bodies in which we reside, that same energy leaves the body and continues on somewhere else..the plane of existence beyond this one. I have personally watched people die, and at the moment of death, you visibly sense that some "energy" that once animated that body has left the room. The body no longer is cabable of doing anything, because without that "energy force," the body is nothing more than clay.

      If you read my story about my journey outside of my body, I only met with four people whom I had known in this life, but one of them was an aunt who was so severely mentally retarded in this world that she could never have understood the concept of "accepting Jesus as her personal savior." What about her? I pose a lot of questions in my article, because I like to challenge people to think for themselves and explore the world of truth. Much of reality does not square with many "accepted" theologies, and as I often say, "If your Theology conflicts with God's reality, then you need to revisit your Theology."

      You sound like someone who thinks there is a literal Heaven and Hell as taught in most Christian churches, yet you miss the point I made that no one shares the same description of these places, even within the same churches. Why is that? And who is right, and who is wrong? They can't all be right. What is "right" is God's reality, whatever that may be. And if you read my article closely, you would know that the current concept of Heaven did not exist in the time of Christ.

      Any time that the term "asleep" is used in the Bible to describe death, it is used as a euphemism, not a literal statement of fact. If it were otherwise, then, as an example, when the witch of Endor brought up the spirit of Samuel, she would not have found him awake with the other spirits "moving to and fro."

      You quote Ecclesiastes, as if it means that the dead are asleep and unconscious. It does not say that. The point is being made in the ninth chapter that the deceased have lost their ability to affect change in this world, as the writer states in verse 6: "Never again shall they have a part in anything that happens under the sun." But, to my point of all of us having the same destiny, i.e., death, Ecclesiastes 9:1-2 points to the same observation I have made: "So I reflected on all this and concluded that the righteous and the wise...All share a common destiny - the righteous and the wicked, the good and the bad, the clean and the unclean..."

      Regarding Lazarus, we know nothing about his experience beyond death, because nothing is written anywhere in the Bible. To infer that he had no experience while out of his physical body is expressing as fact that which cannot be proven.

      When Peter spoke of King David in the second chapter of Acts, he was not referring to anything except David's prophetic proclamation that Jesus Christ would be the Lord of Lords. Peter was demonstrating that even though David had not had direct access to God at His heavenly throne, David was able to recognize and prophetically declare Jesus the Messiah. If you want to really get into Theology, the concept of the afterlife in the time of King David was completely different from the concept taught and accepted in the time of Peter, and the concept of the afterlife as taught by Peter bears little to no resemblance to that of today's Christians.

      Finally, when you say that "maybe" what I experienced was something other than what I wrote, then explain to me how that my aunt who was severely mentally retarded in this life was capable of displaying the awesome wisdom and knowledge that so shocked me when I saw her again? Had this been merely some dream or illusion, I would have seen her as only the way my brain remembered her...severely retarded. Further, if you read books such as Life After Life by Dr. Moody, you will see that I am not the only person to have had such an experience. We can't all be delusional. There is a reality beyond this life, and while some people want to disbelieve, or ignore it, or hang on to a comfortable tale that they were taught, only facts will prevail on the other side. Reality will be what it is.

      Brian

    • Dont Taze Me Bro profile image

      Banned cause of pissants promisem and deantraylor 7 months ago from TWO OF THE MANY LYING LIB CRYBABIES OF HUB PAGES

      Hey Brian, if you were dreaming your aunt could have appeared as anything your mind dreamed up. I'm sure you've had dreams, they are not predictable.

      I am not challenging what you believe. You are free to believe whatever you want without ridicule. I question what you base your beliefs on as you have not said one thing about your beliefs that is based on anything except your perceptions. I base what I believe on what the Bible says, not on what any church says but the word of God, your creator and the creator of the universe says. If you want to know the truth that is were it can be found and almost everything you say you believe is contradictory to the Word of God and by your own admission merely the product of the whims of your own imagination.

      That is fine for you if you wish to ignore the truth and trust in your own "opinions" but I guarantee you they will not get you, your aunt or anyone else to heaven unless you have repented from your sins and accepted Christ, the price HE paid for YOUR sins. If the God of the Bible is who he says he is and loves us he wouldn't leave our destiny to our limited human understanding and opinions and he hasn't. He has provided you with the truth, his plan and a basis of facts on which to base your beliefs in His Word, the Bible. I suggest you study it. I've studied your beliefs (or opinions) as expressed in your hub page and find no serious basis on which to accept them as anything other than your imaginative whims about heaven.

    • Hanavee profile image
      Author

      Brian Gray 7 months ago from Pennsylvania

      Dont Taze,

      To help you understand, since you suggest I read the Bible, I have a degree in Theology, and am also degreed in Hebrew and Greek. I have read the Bible through from beginning to end numerous times, even studied the Dead Sea Scrolls in the original for further education. I have equally studied the various manuscripts that exist from ancient times regarding the Bible, so when you suggest I read the Bible, I think I have done my homework. I earned my degree more than forty years ago, and have continued studying since then, so, I think I have earned the right to use my intensive biblical training to write about the subject.

      As far as dreaming the event that was thoroughly described in my article titled "Does God Exist?", I saw more than just a few deceased relatives...I saw God. I was at a church altar praying when I was taken out of my body and into Heaven. Neither you, nor any other person so inclined, will ever come close to convincing me that what I saw while I was there was anything other than reality. What I was shown by God left me forever convinced of His existence and of my eternal destiny. You will never change that, because the experience was then, and still is, as real as the day it happened. Dream? Absolutely not! Your attempt to dismiss my experience, because it somehow threatens your view of the cosmos, shows that you are most likely a Fundamentalist who does not dare question what he was taught, including imperfect interpretations of the Bible. When you suggest that I ignore the truth, you could not be further from it. I know what I experienced while in the presence of God, and your inability to think past what was taught to you does nothing for me. It merely hampers your ability to know God better.

      I can show you countless contradictions in the Bible. Does that negate the truths that the Bible does contain? No! The Bible is nothing more, nothing less, than a collection of writings preserved over the millennia, writings that show man's attempts to understand the universe. I suggest you study more than just what comes out of your local pulpit.

      Brian

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