John 17:3: “And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.”
In recent years, the concept of an afterlife has captured many minds. The story of young Colton Burpo’s death and trip to heaven, entitled Heaven is For Real, is a best-selling book and a top-grossing movie. Several years ago, a man named Don Piper wrote of his death and subsequent journey to the afterlife in his book 90 Minutes in Heaven. Piper traveled the nation, speaking in churches and other settings about his experience.
Is there an afterlife? Is heaven for real?
To be honest, there is no way to be sure in this life. There will remain too many unanswered questions. Even the Bible states that “eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.” (1 Corinthians 2:9) In spite of the fascinating stories of heaven, and even some accounts of going to hell (see Bill Wiese’s book 23 Minutes in Hell), life after death is still a mystery.
According to Jesus’ words, however, the true meaning of eternal life has nothing to do with flying angels, reunions with deceased loved ones, heavenly choirs, streets of gold or mansions just over the hilltop. Jesus said that eternal life is not about a place. Eternal life is about God. More specifically, eternal life is about knowing God and having a relationship with Him through Jesus Christ.
If you are born again, and therefore know God and His Son Jesus, then you possess heaven already. You have already received “eternal life”. You and I can be in “heaven” right now, in spite of our circumstances and trials. What is eternal life? Eternal life is a personal relationship with God, not a destination that we are headed to.