United Methodist Beliefs: Heaven
Do you have questions about the meaning of some of the terms and teachings of The United Methodist Church? In this series, we ask clergy to share their understanding of topics. No preaching, just conversation.
The Rev. Adam Hamilton: "So, one of the biggest questions I receive from people is, ‘Do you really believe in heaven?’ And that’s easy for me to answer and my answer is always the same. I not only believe in it but I’m counting on it.
C.S. Lewis once said that what you believe about the afterlife changes everything about how you live your life. If you believe there’s an afterlife, then you’re willing to take risks. You don’t believe this is the end. When you face death, the death of a family member, somebody you care about, you know it’s just goodbye for now. So, how you grieve is different.
The Apostle Paul says, ‘I don’t want you to grieve as people who have no hope,’ when he was talking to people who lost their loved ones. So, the afterlife gives me hope but that’s not a reason to believe in it. It’s just something that is the benefit of it.
I believe in the afterlife in heaven and in the afterlife because Jesus talked about it. I believe in Jesus. I think He was right about who He was and what He said, and so, because I believe in Him, I believe in what He said. Jesus demonstrated there was an afterlife by His resurrection. And so, if you believe in His resurrection, He said, ‘Because I live, you shall live also.’ I think He was right. I believe the testimony of those who saw Jesus risen from the grave. And I believe that in His resurrection, He was addressing this fundamental dimension of our human existence, our fear of death, the fact that all of us are going to face death someday, and in Jesus’ resurrection, he was saying, ‘You don’t have to be afraid cause this is not the end.’
And I love how C.S. Lewis described the life on earth that we have on earth is like the preface. Or maybe the title page to the preface of the book that God has, and after that comes chapter after chapter of the adventure that goes on.
I believe in heaven because there are people I have been with as they were dying, and they were describing things they heard. I remember a man who described, people, they were speaking to him and he said. ‘Can you hear them?’ And I said, ‘No, I can’t hear them.’ And he said. ‘They’re calling my name.’ And when we asked him, ‘Who?’ He described people who he had loved who had died, who had gone before him.
And I think about people who have had near death experiences, who died for just a moment and then they came back and they describe meeting people who had died and gone before them. They described hearing the sound of music, of people calling them, and the joy they felt and the peace they felt. For all of those reasons, I believe in heaven. And I would say again. I not only believe it, but I’m counting on it.”
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This video was first posted on October 31, 2017.