Years ago, Warren Beatty starred in a movie about a quarterback for the Los Angeles Rams, who was killed in an automobile accident. He gets to Heaven and discovers he was taken prematurely and is due many more years on earth. However, it’s impossible for him to return to his old body. So he takes the body of a greedy multimillionaire and goes back to earth to try to get his old life back. The title of the movie was HEAVEN CAN WAIT.
Tragically, there are millions of people living their lives right now according to that philosophy: Heaven Can Wait! But the truth is, HEAVEN CAN’T WAIT!
In his new book, THE REAL HEAVEN: What the Bible Actually Says, Chip Ingram says, “Heaven will be wonderful for everyone, but it will not be equal. What you do in this life will have direct impact on the quality of life in Heaven. No one will have a bad life in Heaven, but some will have greater reward than others. I encourage you to carefully read Jesus’ teachings in the parable of the talents (Matt. 25). People were rewarded differently based on how they used what had been entrusted to them.”1
For example, “Jesus gave us some great insight about where to put our priorities in this life. In Matthew 6:19-20 He said,
Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal.
But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven,
where moths and vermin do not destroy,
and where thieves do not break in and steal.
Storing up treasure for yourself on earth is a bad return on investment. Storing up treasures in Heaven is a wise investment. Did you notice that little phrase, ‘for yourself’? Jesus’ advice is investment counsel to benefit us when we reach our final and eternal home. This passage tells us that what I do in this life actually impacts Heaven. It is like I have an account there, and as I live for eternal things and give my time and resources for eternal things, it is like I am wiring money ahead. Giving generously of your time and talent and treasure is an investment in your future in Heaven. And God is not a communist or a socialist. Heaven will be wonderful for everyone, but it will not be equal.” 2
Erwin Lutzer said, “There are degrees of punishment in Hell and degrees of reward in Heaven. This does not mean that Heaven will be divided into the haves and the have-nots. Eventually, everyone will be happy in Heaven because God will comfort us by wiping the tears from our eyes. Everyone will be a servant and enjoy the fellowship afforded to all who enter the presence of God through Christ. But we shall not all have the same privileges, for the way we live will have a ripple effect that will go on for an eternity.” 3
He goes on to say, “Hell will not be the same for everyone and Heaven will not be the same for everyone. The way we live here will have eternal, unchangeable, and profound consequences. The cup of cold water given in the name of Christ will not be forgotten; nor will the impure, self-indulgent Christian inherit the full blessings of the kingdom. Earl Radmacher says that ’the person I am becoming today, is preparing me for the person I shall be for all of eternity.’
“Much will change about us in eternity, but much shall also remain the same. We will be the same people we were here on earth, though with a new nature and eventually a new body. And because our position in eternity will be momentous, the life I live today is momentous – eternally momentous! Only in this life can we impact our eternity.” 4
This is serious stuff. Why? Because, how you and I live right now is determining how we are going to live and where we are going to live in eternity.
Matthew Henry said, “It ought to be the business of every day to prepare for our last day.” But most people aren’t preparing for the next life. They’re too busy enjoying this one.
If you’re not a Christian, this world is as good as it’s ever going to get. But if you are a Christian, this world is as bad as it’s ever going to get.
Chip Ingram asks the question: “Do your current priorities and passions reveal an eternal or temporal perspective? One of the phrases Paul uses to describe those who don’t live with an eternal perspective is ’their god is their stomach’ (Philippians 3:17-21). That is a phrase that is about appetites and passions for the stuff of this world. They live for the stuff they can acquire and consume now. They act and behave and make decisions as though this life is all there is. They are shortsighted in their perspective, and this accurately describes how so many people live in our generation. Their entire focus is on temporary pleasures and material possessions. They spend all of their energy and time trying to figure out how they can get ‘more.’” 5
Don’t make the mistake living for this world and ignoring the next. Because the overwhelming, unmistakable and undeniable reality is this:
… HEAVEN WON’T WAIT!
© 2016. Barry L. Cameron
1 Ingram, Chip, and Lance Witt. The Real Heaven: What the Bible Actually Says. Baker. 2016. Grand Rapids, MI. Pg. 146.
3 Lutzer, Erwin W. Your Eternal Reward: Triumph and Tears at the Judgment Seat of Christ. Chicago, IL: Moody, 1998. Chicago, IL. Pg. 12.
4 Lutzer, Erwin W. Your Eternal Reward: Triumph and Tears at the Judgment Seat of Christ. Chicago, IL: Moody, 1998. Chicago, IL. Pg. 18-19.
5 Ingram, Chip, and Lance Witt. The Real Heaven: What the Bible Actually Says. Baker. 2016. Grand Rapids, MI. Pg. 156-157.
Barry L. Cameron has been the Senior Pastor of Crossroads since 1992 when the church was averaging 188 in morning worship. Pastor Cameron and his wife, Janis, have three children and two grandsons. He’s the author of the bestseller: The ABCs of Financial Freedom, Contagious Generosity, and The Financial Freedom Workbook. The Cameron family has been completely debt free since November 2001.