Evangelist Billy Graham has said that Christians can know Heaven is real by the fact that Jesus came to the world to overcome death's sting, and because of His resurrection from the dead.
In aIn a Q&A published Friday by the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, Graham was asked: "Is Heaven real? How do you know? Maybe someone just dreamed up the idea of Heaven because they couldn't face the fact that this life is all there is (which is what I believe)."
The 98-year-old evangelist began by acknowledging that if death is the end, then there is no Heaven - and if there is no Heaven, then this life is all there is, and we have no hope of anything past the grave.
"We'll be like those of whom the Bible speaks, who ‘grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope' (1 Thessalonians 4:13)," he said.
However, Heaven is real - and we can know there is life beyond the grave, Graham contended.
"Is this simply wishful thinking? No, not at all-not if we understand what God has promised in His Word. From one end to the other, the Bible tells us that we were not made for this world alone. We were made for eternity and for God-and in our hearts we all sense this. The Bible says, ‘He has also set eternity in the human heart' (Ecclesiastes 3:11)."
How then, can we know that Heaven is real? Graham said that we know it first of all because Jesus Christ came to overcome death's sting and open Heaven's door for us.
"Only one thing will keep us out of Heaven, and that is our sin. But Christ came into the world to conquer sin's power-and He did this by becoming the final sacrifice for our sins through His death on the cross," explained the evangelist.
Even more importantly - we know Heaven is real because of Christ's resurrection from the dead.
"Death could not hold Him-and neither can it hold us!" Graham said. "Don't give in to hopelessness, but put your faith and trust in Christ-both for this life and the life to come."
According to statistics from the Pew Research Center, roughly seven-in-ten (72%) Americans say they believe in heaven, but just 58% of U.S. adults also believe in hell.
In his latest book, "Where I Am", Graham said far too few people think about eternity and that he is "always grieved to have to interrupt a marvelous picture, such as eternal life in Heaven, to talk about another eternal place that Jesus calls Hell."
"It has no similarities to what is typically called home, nor is Hell a resting place, a holding place, or a graveyard. Hell is a burning inferno," he wrote.
"More than the description, I want to point out the greatest darkness of Hell-it is a place where Jesus is not," Graham said. "This is the great anguishing nightmare-to be eternally separated from the Son of God. It is unimaginable. For this reason alone, to be in Hell is the most terrible of all judgments."
He continued: "Let me tell you; the devil is not in charge of Hell, nor is it his headquarters. Satan is the "prince of this world" (John 16:11, KJV) and has taken up residence in many hearts. But He knows what the end is for him. He made his choice long ago and wants to take a world of people with him to Hell, where he will serve out his eternal sentence.
The Bible says that the everlasting fire was created for the devil and his angels (Matthew 25:41). Jesus said, ‘I have the keys of Hades and of Death' (Revelation 1:18). The devil does not own Hell. It is not his home-it is his judgment."
Thankfully, for those who know Christ, death is like "going home," Graham said.
"No one who has died in the Lord would ever want to come back to this life. To depart and be with Christ, Paul said, ‘is far better' (Philippians 1:23). The Bible says that we are strangers and pilgrims on earth, seeking a homeland, a place prepared for us by God (Hebrews 11:16) where the Lord will receive us into ‘an everlasting home' (Luke 16:9). I have never known a man or woman to receive Christ and ever regret it."