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Stewarding Heaven By Jon Lewis

A Heavenly Wake-Up Call

A little over a week ago, my world was rocked by the tough, unexpected news that my younger brother had been diagnosed with an inoperable malignant brain tumor. Even now, we are still awaiting biopsy results that will inform us about possible medical treatments that might extend his time with us. The abrupt shock of such news and the prospect that my brother may be checking into his heavenly mansion much sooner than expected has prompted me to return to Randy Alcorn’s book Heaven and review what can be gleaned from biblical sources about the nature of God’s promised life after death.

I’m not sure I agree with all of Alcorn’s conclusions, but one thing he says certainly rings true: as Christians, we are not very good at presenting heaven in a clear, compelling, and biblically accurate way to the world around us. We often allow popular but mistaken images of heaven to dominate in our culture and even in some of our church communities. Worse yet, we tend not to talk much about heaven at all. Illustrating this, Alcorn points out that Louis Berkhof’s 700-page Systematic Theology textbook devotes thirty-eight pages to creation, forty to baptism and communion, and only one page to heaven. Pastors’ sermons, he points out, focus more on eschatology and the end times than on what the Bible says about heaven. All this convinces me that part of our responsibility as ambassadors of God’s good news is to be good stewards of knowledge about heaven.

Suggestions for Stewarding Heaven

So, what might it look like to be a good steward of Heaven? Let me offer three ideas taken both from Randy Alcorn’s thoughts as well as my own:

  1. Misinformation battle – Just as our spiritual enemy sows inaccurate perceptions of God and creation in the popular culture, so too is he active in getting most people to think incorrectly about heaven. On the one hand, there is the fairy tale image of people with wings floating forever in a cloud world, playing harps and singing in choirs. On the other hand, there is the widely held idea that because mankind is good, heaven is simply a “pie in the sky” place where everyone eventually winds up to enjoy endless bliss.  As stewards of the knowledge of heaven, we can correct these misperceptions and present a more accurate picture taken from many passages that quote Jesus, the prophets, and the apostles on the subject.
  • Not beyond imagination—Randy Alcorn points out that many use 1 Corinthians as a reason why it doesn’t even pay to imagine what heaven might be like: “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him”  (1 Corinthians 2:9.)  However, he says, they often forget that the very next verse, states, “But God has revealed it to us by his Spirit.” Of course, this doesn’t give license to wild speculation, but it certainly does offer careful, Spirit-led, and Scripture-informed imaginative descriptions of what God might have in store for us. After all, Paul also reminds us a few verses later, “We have the mind of Christ” (1 Corinthians 2:16.)
  • Thinking About Heaven—C.S. Lewis’ famous quote from Mere Christianity gives us one more good reason why disciplined thinking about and articulation of the nature of heaven is a beneficial means of stewarding a proper conception of heaven for those around us,

“If you read history, you will find that the Christians who did most for the present world were just those who thought most of the next… It is since Christians have largely ceased to think of the other world that they have become so ineffective in this. Aim at Heaven and you will get earth ‘thrown in’: aim at earth and you will get neither.”

Mere Christianity p. 134 by C.S. Lewis

Heavenly Encouragement

Ultimately, the most important reason to be a good steward of the knowledge of heaven is given by Paul,

Brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep, or to grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope”.

I Thessalonians 4:13

Instead, he says in the subsequent verses, steward an understanding of heaven by presenting a clear and compelling picture of what we, as redeemed children of God, have as our assurance in the life beyond this life:

And so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage each other with these words.”

1 Thessalonians 4:17-18

I can assure you that after receiving such devastating news about my brother, it is only words like these about our heavenly expectations for the future that offer any possible encouragement to us in the present.


Jon Lewis is a Senior Associate for Partnership Advancement with OC International. He focuses on encouraging global Christian leaders toward greater ministry effectiveness. With over 40 years of experience, he has served as an MAF mission pilot in Africa and as CEO of Partners International.

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