Ankerberg Monthly Letter January 2013 - Ankerberg Theological Research Institute, John Ankerberg Show

Ankerberg Monthly Letter January 2013

This month on television we are going to talk about the wonders of Heaven.
If you have ever planned a trip to Disneyland, skiing in Aspen, or a trip to Europe, you usually look at the brochures and websites to find out in advance what it will be like. Such information excites us about going there.
The Bible says, “We [Christians] are looking forward to the new heavens and the new earth he has promised…” (2 Peter 3:13). But if Heaven, or as the verse calls it, “the new Heavens and new earth,” will be your home someday, what do you know about it?
This month I have invited Dr. Randy Alcorn, one of the most knowledgeable Christian scholars on Heaven, to be my guest and teach us about the many wonderful things God is preparing for us in our future home in Heaven.
I’ve called our first series, “What’s So Exciting About Heaven?” Many Christians have the idea that Heaven is one long church service, one hymn after another. We see it as eternal boredom. It doesn’t sound like good news.
But Heaven is a real place, just like New York or Chicago, where we will live in real resurrected bodies and be with people we love on a resurrected Earth with beautiful gardens and rivers and mountains and experience untold adventures and friendships.
In this series we will answer questions such as: what happens to us the moment after we die? When we enter Heaven, what will it be like? In the future, how will God expand Heaven to include both the New Heavens and the New Earth? What will our heavenly life be like then?
Some things will be a surprise, but other things will be familiar. For example God tells us Heaven contains gardens, cities, and a kingdom. These things are not beyond our imagination and are familiar to us. This world we live in today—including its natural wonders—gives us glimpses of the way God will recreate Earth in the future. Why? Because when God made us He gave us the current desires we have.
Places like the Grand Canyon, mountain ranges, lakes, rivers, and trees that we really like on the old Earth, I believe we will see many of them on the New Earth—but they will be recreated and better than ever! The biblical picture of Heaven assures us the New Heavens and Earth will be a place of sensory delight, breathtaking beauty, satisfying relationships, and personal joy. We will experience real excitement and adventures as we enjoy the New Jerusalem and God’s new restoration of Earth.
Sometimes people ask, how old will I be when I arrive in Heaven? If a 5-year-old child dies, or a person 92 years old dies, what age will they be when they arrive in Heaven? Further, where will we live? Will we each have our own mansion in Heaven?
What will we do in Heaven? The Bible describes Heaven as a place where we will enjoy working, banquets, feasts, laughter, and singing. The best parts of our old world are foretastes of the joys we will experience in our future home. In Heaven there will be no more death, or mourning, or crying, or pain. That will all be wiped away.
Finally, what will it be like to actually see God? Will we spend most of our time with Jesus, or will we have other friends too? Will there be marriage, families, and friendships in Heaven? If some person we love goes to Hell, will we be sad in Heaven?  We will answer all of these questions in these first three television programs.
Then, Dr. Alcorn and I recorded a second series called, “Heaven: What Will It Be Like?” The city at the center of our future Heaven is called the New Jerusalem. The Bible tells us the dimensions of this city are 1,400 miles in length, width, and height (Revelation 21:15,16).
To give you an idea of how big the New Jerusalem will be, a metropolis of this size placed in the middle of the United States would stretch from Canada to Mexico and from the Appalachian Mountains to the California border. Further, the city is 1,400-miles high. I don’t think we need to worry about Heaven being crowded.
The ground level of the city will be nearly two million square miles. That is forty times bigger than England and fifteen thousand times bigger than London. It’s ten times as big as France or Germany and is far larger than India. But remember, that’s just the ground level. Given the dimensions of a 1,400-mile cube, if the city consisted of different levels (we don’t know this), and if each story were a generous twelve feet high, the city could have over 600,000 stories. If we lived on different levels, billions of people could occupy the New Jerusalem, with many square miles per person. Best of all God says He will live in the city; His presence that will be its greatest feature.
Will we work in Heaven? Absolutely. On the New Earth, we’re told “his servants will serve Him” (Revelation 22:3). Will we travel in Heaven? Yes, since we will rule with Christ over a vast New Earth and possibly over faraway places in the New Heavens, it would seem likely we could quickly travel great distances.
Perhaps we will dwell directly in the presence of Christ, worshipping Him before His throne in the New Jerusalem, then attend to our duties far away, only to come back to Him regularly. We do know, however, that the New Jerusalem will have streets and gates, suggesting conventional modes of travel.
We then devoted one program to answering the questions your children or grandchildren ask you about Heaven. Because there are a lot of wrong ideas about Heaven, we must base our answers on what God tells us about Heaven in the Bible.
According to the Bible, Heaven is a place where you can live forever someday—a place without fear, anger, sadness, or sickness. And it’s not just a place without bad stuff. It’s a place full of great stuff: beauty, joy, fun, lots of activity, and rest when you need it. We will have endless adventures together with Jesus and each other. It’s a place you can hang out with all sorts of kind and interesting people who will be your friends forever. How can we know for sure about Heaven? It’s simple: God tells us about Heaven in the Bible and He would never lie to us.
Of course there are many things about Heaven that we won’t know about until we get there. But that’s okay, because in Heaven there will be great surprises, and God says He has a lot of them waiting for us. By knowing what Christ’s resurrection body was like, we can know what our bodies will be like. We also answer children’s questions like: will they see their pets again in Heaven? Is Heaven up? Where exactly is it? Do people in Heaven remember life on Earth? Will Heaven ever be boring? Will there be sports on the New Earth? Will God let us explore the new universes?
Our final program discusses the most important question for both children and adults—“How can you be sure you are going to Heaven?”

To Order Our Television Series And Books about Heaven This Month

If you would like to order the six programs with Dr. Randy Alcorn, “What’s So Exciting About Heaven” and “Heaven: What Will It Be Like?”; each series contains three programs and is available for a gift of $39 each, or both series for $78.
Second, our two new study guides accompany these television series for your personal study or Bible study group. They contain in-depth knowledge of the Bible’s answers regarding Heaven and are available for $8 each or five or more copies for $5 each.
Third, along with co-author Dr. John Weldon, I have written a new book called How to Know with Absolute Certainty That You’re Going to Heaven. There is no more important topic than this, and our book is available for a gift of $10.
You may order these resources individually, or if you wish or you may order all of these materials together in a special package for only $99. Please see the enclosed card for further details.
Our goal is to present the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the lost and encourage those of you who love the Lord. I hope you enjoy this month’s series on Heaven. Since January is often a low financial month for us, you’re help this month is extremely important.
Keep in mind that for only $1 per day, $30 per month, you can help us reach people around the world. Possibly God would lead you to give more. If you have not already become a monthly member of our Inner Circle of Friends for 2013, I’d like to ask you to prayerfully consider becoming one today. You may use our enclosed card to respond or pick up the phone and call us at 1-800-805-3030. Your help is key part of our ministry.

For the sake of the Gospel,

Dr. John Ankerberg