Will Heaven ever get boring?
Eric, U.S., writes in,
What do you think of the claims in this source that basically teach that no matter what we can do for eternity it will eventually be boring, so can only be suffering, so the only way to not suffer is to not exist eventually? [Link removed as per feedback rules—Ed.] One of the commenters of the article said that the Lord’s prayer in, Aramaic, refers to Heaven as a state of mind and that this is evidence Jesus didn’t teach that there is eternal continuation. There are reports of people who were dead for a few minutes and didn’t have any consciousness during that time. There is research that has concluded that there is always some activity still in the brain when a person is dying and is only able to be revived if the brain is still active. This would be evidence that no consciousness before revival doesn’t mean no afterlife, but also means that no NDE or OBE can be experienced without some brain activity still left, so no evidence for an afterlife either
Lita Sanders, CMI-US, responds:
Thank you for writing in. The eternal life believers look forward to is one of the chief benefits of salvation in Christ—so much so that Paul tells us if the resurrection is false, we of all people are to be pitied (1 Corinthians 15). So it is important that we understand the nature of what we have to look forward to. Happily, we don’t have to dread the endless existence in heaven like the author of this piece suggests, because she is wrong in how she thinks about some key concepts.
First, humans will be morally perfected, in that we will be free from sin—we will neither be able to sin nor will we desire to do so. The author suggests that this will take away free will, leaving us as automatons. However, Jesus was without sin, and there is no indication that He was an automaton. Every school of Christian theology accepts that in this life, human will and God’s will interact, and there is no reason to suspect that it won’t be the same in eternity. The difference is that, as perfected believers, there will be no conflict between our will and God’s; ours will be perfectly in line with His.
This moral perfection does not mean that there will be nothing left for us to learn, or experience, or do—we will not become omnipotent or omniscient, meaning that there will always be things left for us to learn and experience. Most importantly, we will never exhaust all there is to learn about God. There will always be new things to learn about Him and to praise Him for. Because our lives on the restored earth will be characterized by worship (in the real meaning of the term), this is the main reason we can be confident that we will never become bored—much less so bored that Heaven resembles Hell.
The article also stated that because our bodies will be perfect, we will not be differentiated any longer, so individual excellence becomes meaningless. I think this reflects a lack of imagination. We will be resurrected as perfect versions of ourselves. The Apostle Paul says, “For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality,” (1 Corinthians 15:52), which implies some continuation between the current body and the resurrection body.
That means that some might have greater physical abilities than others; some might have greater mental abilities than others, some might be taller than others, etc. The point is that all our gifts will be manifested at the perfect level God intended for us as individuals, and we will use those gifts to glorify God and bless each other, forever. Indeed, this will be much better than on Earth, because no longer will there be sinful envy of each others’ gifts, and striving to prove superiority over others.
The article asserts that there will be no more pleasure associated with risk or satisfaction of physical drives like hunger and thirst. Again, this indicates a rather one-dimensional view of heaven. Does adrenaline only surge when there is actual risk? Video games disprove this—actual risk is not required to enjoy an experience. And the idea that we will never be hungry or thirsty is only one way to interpret the biblical teaching about Heaven—another is that as physical beings, we will experience hunger or thirst, but there will never be a lack of food and water as so many experience today so it will never become painful.
The author of the article displays more misunderstanding of the biblical teaching by asserting that gems and streets of gold define heavenly wealth and beauty. Another way of looking at it is that gold and jewels become so mundane that they are paving—albeit beautiful paving. Heaven will not be defined by earthly concepts of wealth.
Furthermore, the author wonders how people can be happy in Heaven knowing people are suffering in Hell, as if no one has ever addressed that question before. First, everyone deserves Hell; people only go to Heaven because of the merciful sacrifice of Jesus. Second, people go to Hell because they reject Christ. Third, on the judgment day, no one will be able to say that they got a wrong judgment, because God will enact perfect justice. Finally, I like C.S. Lewis‘ perspective in The Great Divorce that those in Hell will not be able to hold a tyranny over those in Heaven, stealing the happiness from Heaven’s residents that they refused for themselves.
Lastly, the author is horrified by the thought of even the best paradise continuing forever. But again, this displays a complete lack of imagination. Imagine an eternity of perfect relationships with God and fellow believers. There is work to do, there are new things to worship God for every day, and there is a universe to exercise dominion over for God’s glory. There are new experiences we can’t even imagine in this life. Furthermore, there are none of the futilities and struggles that characterize post-Fall existence. We won’t be burdened with even the desire or possibility to sin anymore, so we will be free to live in perfect harmony and service to Christ. What could be better?
As creationists, we understand that the doctrine of creation is foundational for explaining the Gospel, but it’s also crucial for explaining eschatology—that is, the final state of the restored earth. We can’t understand the doctrine of Heaven without knowing the Bible’s ‘big story’ of creation, Fall, and restoration.