We know that Rev. Billy Graham, a devoted evangelist and believer, has gone home to be with Jesus. But do we really know what that means?
Scripture describes what heaven will be like but still, questions remain. Thankfully, Rev. Graham answered some of our most common questions about heaven before he passed. Graham’s wisdom here teaches us that heaven will be beyond anything our earthly minds can comprehend; we will experience unspeakable joy.
Read on to hear Rev. Graham’s teaching on heaven.
Editor’s Note: Content taken in part from the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.
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1. What happens to us in the first minute after we die?
“... the Bible certainly does indicate that when we die we enter immediately into God’s presence if we belong to Christ. From our earthly point of view, death looks somewhat like sleep—but not from God’s point of view. Paul declared, ‘We are confident (of eternal life), I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord’ (2 Corinthians 5:8). Elsewhere he wrote, ‘I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far’ (Philippians 1:23).
“Later, we will be given new bodies—bodies that will never age or be subject to death, because they will be like Christ’s resurrection body. As the Bible says, ‘The dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed’” (1 Corinthians 15:52).
Takeaway: Death is not to be feared or dreaded if you are a follower of Christ. When we die, those who have accepted Christ will immediately enter God’s presence. We will receive new bodies that do not age, and enjoy eternal life in heaven.
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2. Will we recognize our loved ones in heaven? Will they recognize us?
“Perhaps you are thinking of Isaiah 65:17: ‘Behold, I will create new heavens and a new earth. The former things will not be remembered, nor will they come to mind.’ But this verse has nothing to do with whether or not we will be reunited with our loved ones in heaven if we know Christ. Instead, it gives us a great promise: Someday all the sins and pains and failures of this world will be over, and we will be with Christ forever.
“More than that, God has promised that in heaven nothing—even the memory of this world’s sin and pain—will cast a shadow over the joy He has in store for us there. Think about that for a moment. In this world, even the memory of what someone did to us years ago can still cause us pain. But that won’t be true in heaven, because our focus won’t be on the past but on Christ and what He means to us.”
Takeaway: We do not need to worry about being separated from our loved ones in heaven. All we need to know is that we will experience immeasurable joy from being with Jesus.
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3. When we get to heaven, will we know what's happening on earth?
“The Bible doesn’t answer all our questions about heaven—and we don’t know exactly how much knowledge those in heaven have about what happens here. The Bible does say that ‘we are surrounded by… a great cloud of witnesses’ (i.e., those who have already entered heaven) but it isn’t clear if this means they are able to observe our lives (Hebrews 12:1).
“But what we do know about heaven is that we will be with God—and because of that, heaven is a place of supreme joy. The Bible says, ‘You will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand’ (Psalm 16:11). And even if we do see something of what is happening on earth, we’ll see the whole picture then, and we’ll realize how it all fits in with God’s eternal plan. We’ll realize too that evil and death will be defeated, and Christ will be victorious. That will give us joy!”
Takeaway: We don’t know everything there is to know about heaven because we haven’t been there. But if we can see what’s happening on earth, we will see past the pain and sadness because we will be able to see with a heavenly perspective; we’ll know how God is using the suffering on earth for his eternal plan.
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4. When we die, does an angel accompany us into heaven?
“Yes, the Bible indicates that when a believer dies, the angels will escort them safely into Heaven.
“In one of His parables, for example, Jesus told about two very different men. One was a rich man, who lived only for himself and ignored both God and others. The other was a poor beggar who had nothing as far as this world’s goods were concerned, but had faith in God and His promises. When the rich man died, he received what he deserved: a life of misery, separated from God forever. But “when the poor man died, the angels accompanied him safely into God’s presence. (You can read this parable in Luke 16:19-31.)
“Although we may not see them or even be aware of their presence, God’s angels are real, and when we know Christ, we know they are always with us to safeguard us from Satan’s attacks. If they safeguard us now, can’t they also be trusted to safeguard our journey to Heaven? Of course. The Bible says, ‘Are not all angels ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation?’" (Hebrews 1:14).
Takeaway: Angels do God’s work, including escorting believers to heaven. We know this from Scripture. Our guardian angels protect us from Satan, and they will guide us to heaven as well.
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5. Will there be animals in heaven?
“Heaven will be a place of perfect happiness for us—and if we need animals around us to make our happiness complete, then you can be sure God will have them there.
“Heaven will be glorious—far beyond anything we can fully imagine. It will be glorious first of all because it will be perfect. All the sufferings, conflicts and disappointments of this life will be over, and death will no longer exist. Sin will be banished, and Satan will never again have any influence over our lives. One of the Bible’s greatest promises declares, ‘There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away’ (Revelation 21:4).
“But heaven will be glorious most of all because we’ll be in the presence of God and of Jesus Christ. Even the most glorious thing we can imagine on earth or in the heavens is but a pale reflection of the glory of God. Think of it: If you know Christ, some day you will be with Him forever!”
Takeaway: Heaven will include everything we need. We cannot even imagine the joy that we will experience when with are in the presence of God. We will finally be at home with the Lord!
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