While re-reading Heaven by Randy Alcorn in preparation for teaching women’s Bible study this fall, I came across this quote from John Eldgredge:
“Nearly every Christian I have spoken with has some idea that eternity is an un-ending church service…We have settled on an image of the never-ending sing-along in the sky, one great hymn after another, forever and ever, amen. And our heart sinks. Forever and ever? That’s it? That’s the good news? And then we sigh and feel guilty that we are not more ‘spiritual’. We lose heart, and we turn once more to the present to find what life we can.”
Now, as a song leader at our church, I LOVE to sing. And I love to sing as an expression of worship. But the idea of doing nothing but singing all of eternity leaves me a little flat. And yet the Bible does tell us that we will worship God for eternity in heaven. So what does that mean?
I think the problem is that in today’s church, the word worship has come to mean music. “First we have worship, then the offering, then the sermon.” Christian music is not worship. It is one expression of worship. Believe it or not, there are many other expressions of worship. The Bible tells us to do all to the glory of God.
“Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God – this is your spiritual act of worship.” Romans 12:1
The dictionary defines worship as reverence and honor for a supreme being and any act that expresses reverence and honor for a supreme being. Is God more honored and worshiped when I sing to Him than when I change my baby’s diaper? No. If I am changing her diaper as an act of obedience and to glorify Him and express His love to my daughter, then that is an expression of worship. Can I change a diaper without it being worship? Of course! If I’m changing her and all the while muttering, “Why did you have to do this now? Don’t you know we were supposed to be at the doctor’s office five minutes ago?!” (which I have done) — then I am probably not expressing worship – at least not of God. I could be worshiping my schedule or my expectations, though. Can I sing worship songs and have it not be worship? Absolutely. If I am singing worship songs and in my head thinking, “I wonder if anyone can hear how wonderfully I’m singing? Can they see me raising my hands? Don’t I look holy?” (sad to say, I have also done this) — then I am definitely not worshiping God. It is much more likely I am worshiping myself.
So if worship doesn’t mean just singing, and we will worship God eternally in heaven, what will we do in heaven? Randy Alcorn presents some very strong scriptural evidence that we will do many of the same things on the New Earth that we do here on this earth. Things like: serving each other, reading and learning, working, eating and drinking, laughing and talking, and yes — singing. You may be reading this and thinking, “That’s not what I’ve been taught about heaven!” I encourage you to read this book. And I leave you with this quote from Mr. Alcorn:
“From the beginning, I want to make it clear that it’s vitally important that this book be true to Scripture. I believe that most of my conclusions, even those that significantly depart from current evangelical thinking, will stand up to biblical scrutiny. Inevitably, however, some may not. In the context of prophetic statements, the apostle Paul says, “Test everything. Hold on to the good” (1 Thessalonians 5:21). It’s up to you to test by God’s Word what I say, hold on to the good, and reject the bad.
Through biblical study and extensive reading, dialogue, and critique, I’ve tried to detect any conclusions that don’t pass Scripture’s test, to eliminate them before this book was published. But despite my best efforts, some errors undoubtedly have slipped through. I call on readers to be like the Bereans, who “examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true” (Acts 17:11). Don’t throw out the baby of truth with the bathwater of what you regard as my mistakes — but, by all means, do throw out the bathwater!
I invite you to contact me if you believe you have biblical grounds for disagreeing with anything in this book. I am open to correction — in fact, I seek it and I will make any warranted changes in future editions. (Keep in mind, though, that “I’ve never heard this before…” and “I’ve always thought that…” and “Our denomination teaches…” are not biblical arguments.)
Many things in this book will be new even to readers who are veteran students of Scripture. New ideas are rightly suspect because they are often heretical. However, when biblical truths have been long neglected or ignored, attempts to present them may sound far-fetched. They may appear to be adding to or misinterpreting Scripture, when in fact they are simply portraying what Scripture has said all along but we’ve failed to grasp. In these pages I will introduce some biblical truths that I believe have been long ignored or spiritualized and thereby stripped of their richness and significance.”
Isn’t humility refreshing in an author? Read this book — it is well worth the time.