By Billy Graham
A young man with an incurable disease was reported to have said, “I don’t think I would be afraid to die if I knew what to expect after death.” Evidently this young man had not heard of what God has prepared for those who love Him.
The man had within him the fear of death. For the Christian there need be no fear. Christ has taken away the fear of death and has given hope.
Jesus said, “I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go … I will come again and receive you to Myself” (John 14:2-3). And that place, according to the Apostle Paul, is a “far better” place. Paul wrote, “having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better” (Philippians 1:23).
The grave is not the end. For those who don’t know Christ, death is a calamity—eternity in Hell. For the Christian, death holds a glorious hope—the hope of Heaven. But you ask, “What kind of place is Heaven, and how can I go there?”
First, Heaven is home. The Bible takes the word home, with all of its tender associations and with all of its sacred memories, applies it to the hereafter and tells us that Heaven is home.
Just before Christ went to the cross, He gathered His disciples in the upper room and talked about a home. He said: “In my Father’s house are many mansions” (John 14:2). When Jesus spoke of Heaven as “My Father’s house,” He was referring to it as home. The Father’s house is always home.
The Bible teaches that you have a soul. Your soul has certain attributes, such as conscience, memory, intelligence and consciousness. Your soul is the real “you.” Your body soon goes to the grave, but your soul lives on. The Bible teaches that the moment Christians die they go immediately into the presence of Christ (2 Corinthians 5:6-8). We go home to a place the Bible calls Heaven.
The body is the house in which the soul resides temporarily. The soul is never completely satisfied and happy here, because the soul is not home yet. The true home of the soul is with Christ.
Second, Heaven is a permanent home. One of the unfortunate facts about the houses people build for themselves is that they are not permanent. Houses do not last forever.
The Greek word translated mansion that Jesus refers to in John 14:2 does not mean an imposing house. The idea in the Greek is that of a home that is permanent. It is translated in the margin of the American Standard Version, “abiding place.” It comes from the same stem as the English word remain.
During Christ’s ministry on earth, He had no home. He once said, “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head” (Matthew 8:20).
Those who for Christ’s sake had given up houses and lands and loved ones knew little of home life or home joys. It was as if Jesus had said to them: “We have no lasting home here on earth, but my Father’s house is a home where we will be together for all eternity.”
Amid all the changes that sooner or later will come to break up the earthly home, we have the promise of a home where Christ’s followers will remain forever.
The Bible teaches, “Here have we no continuing city, but we seek the one to come” (Hebrews 13:14). The Bible says, concerning Abraham, that “he waited for the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God” (Hebrews 11:10).
Paul said in 1 Thessalonians 4:17, “Thus we shall always be with the Lord.” Our permanent home is not here on earth. Our permanent home is Heaven. Sometimes when things do not go right down here, we get homesick for Heaven. Many times in the midst of the sin, suffering and sorrow of this life, there is a tug at our soul. That is homesickness coupled with anticipation.
You may be lying on a hospital bed today, you may be suffering from terrible disease or financial loss or bereavement, and there is a tug in your heart. You are longing for home. You are longing for Heaven.
Third, the Bible teaches that Heaven is a beautiful home. Almost all of us like to beautify our homes. There is something wrong with the home where there are no flowers in the yard and no pictures on the walls, where no effort at all has been put forth to make the home attractive.
Very few people have their homes as beautiful as they would like to have them, but the Bible teaches that Heaven will be a glorious and beautiful place. Heaven could not help but be so, because God is a God of beauty.
I have traveled all over America and in many parts of the world. I have never seen a place that I did not think had some charm and beauty. There is even something about a bleak desert or a bare mountaintop that has its charm. It seems that all of nature is beautiful, and only the disposition of mankind is ugly.
Nothing made by human hands has ever been so beautiful as moonlight on the water or moonlight on the snow. And the same heavenly hand that made trees and grass and flowers and snow and seas and hills and clouds and sky has made the Father’s house.
If, in a world cursed by sin, God has made so many beautiful things, how much more beautiful must be that home where there is no sin to mar His perfect handiwork!
The description of Heaven and the holy city given in Revelation 21 and 22 is beyond understanding. The Bible talks about gates of pearl, streets of gold, a river of life and a tree of life. It is a place so beautiful that when the Apostle John caught a glimpse of it, the only thing to which he could liken it was a young woman on the crowning day of her life: her wedding day. He said that the holy city was like “a bride adorned for her husband” (Revelation 21:2).
Fourth, the Bible teaches that Heaven will be a happy home. I know many beautiful homes that are not happy. They are homes made beautiful by everything that culture and wealth can do, yet there is something wrong, something lacking. They are homes that bring to mind the wise man’s words: “Better is a dry morsel with quietness, than a house full of feasting with strife” (Proverbs 17:1).
God’s house will be a happy home because there will be nothing in it to hinder happiness (Revelation 21:4).
This world has in it much happiness for those who know how to find it. Sooner or later, however, something interferes. No face is so perfect but that it has some blemish. Every rose has its thorn, every cup of sweet has its drop of gall.
But in the Father’s house there will be nothing to mar the happiness. Think of a place where there will be no sin, no sorrow, no quarrels, no misunderstandings, no hurt feelings, no pain, no sickness, no death!
The Father’s house will be a happy home because there will also be work to do. Certainly this is true in every well-ordered home on earth. Some people are so overworked that their greatest longing is for rest. The Bible verse that most appeals to them is, “There remains therefore a rest for the people of God” (Hebrews 4:9). But the time will come when they will be rested and will become weary of doing nothing. I can think of no more terrible fate than to be condemned to sit forever and ever in idleness.
John wrote in Revelation 22:3, “His servants shall serve him.” Each one of us will be given exactly the task that suits our powers, our tastes and our abilities. Whatever we do, the Bible says we shall serve Him.
And the Father’s house will be a happy home because friends will be there. Have you ever been to a strange place and had the joy of seeing a familiar face? Not one of us who enters the Father’s house will feel lonely or strange, for our friends will be there.
Many people write and ask, “Will we know each other in Heaven?” Certainly we will know each other in Heaven. On the Mount of Transfiguration, did not Elijah and Moses know each other? (Luke 9:28-33). And in the story that Jesus told about the rich man and Lazarus, did not the rich man, after death, recognize Lazarus and Abraham? (Luke 16:19-24).
If you are a Christian, you are going to see again those who have accepted Christ. In Heaven families and friends will be reunited.
God’s house will be a happy home because Christ will be there. He will be the center of Heaven. To Him all hearts will turn and upon Him all eyes will rest.
Once in a miserable attic there lived a widow and her son. Years before, she had married against her parents’ wishes and had gone with her husband to live in a strange land.
Her husband had proved to be irresponsible and unfaithful, and after a few years he died without having provided in any way for her and the child. It was with the utmost difficulty that she managed to secure the bare necessities.
The happiest times in the child’s life were those when the mother took him in her arms and told him about her father’s house in the old country. She told him of the grassy lawn, the noble trees, the wide porches, the lovely pictures and the delicious meals.
The child had never seen his grandfather’s home, but to him it was the most beautiful place in all the world. He longed for the time when he would go there to live.
One day the postman knocked at the door. It was quite an event. The mother recognized the handwriting on the letter he brought and with trembling fingers opened the envelope. There was a check and a slip of paper with just two words: “Come home.”
Some day a similar experience will come to all of us who know Christ. It may be when we are in the midst of our work. It may be after weeks or months of illness. Some day a hand will be laid upon our shoulder and this brief message will be given: “The Father says, ‘Come home.’”
All of us who know Christ personally are not afraid to die. Death is not the “grim reaper” to Christians. For us it is not the last great enemy. Death to the Christian is “going home.”
Perhaps you are not a Christian. You have never bent your will to the will of God. You have never accepted Christ as your Savior. You have never been born again. You have never been converted to Christ.
Some day you are going to die. To you, death will be a terrible, agonizing enemy. You will be banished from the presence of God into another place that Jesus called Hell.
Right now, at this moment, you can make your decision for Christ and start on the road that leads to Heaven!
Jesus said there are two roads. One is a broad road that leads to destruction. The other is a narrow road that leads to Heaven. You can receive Christ in a moment, renounce your sin, turn by faith to Him, and you can know with certainty and assurance that if you died this moment, you would go straight to Heaven.