What is Heaven? What is Hell? Are They Real?

For Episode 013...

Brandon D. Smith joins us to talk about heaven, hell, and all the questions surrounding the two. We talk about heaven, hell, the new Jerusalem, judgment houses, and how we will not be sitting on clouds playing a harp for all of eternity.

You can listen to the Questions Kids Ask episode answering What is Heaven? What is Hell? Are They Real? on iTunes, Stitcher, and Google Play, or listen below.

Brandon Smith works with the Christian Standard Bible, serves as Editorial Director for the Center for Baptist Renewal, and co-hosts the Word Matters podcast with Trevin Wax. He is also one of the pastors at City Church in Murfreesboro, TN and has written a few books, including They Spoke of Me: How Jesus Unlocks the Old Testament.

We started off by asking Brandon to share with us what book has changed your life and parenting.
He recommended The Way of the Dragon or the Way of the Lamb by Jamin Goggin and Kyle Strobel (which I haven't read but will be reading ASAP!). This book is all about how it so easy to be concerned with appearances, when the way of the Lamb is sacrifice, compassion, love, and service.

Our tough question is:
What is Heaven? What is Hell? Are They Real?

Scripture talks about these as real places, and if we believe that Scripture is true, then we know that these are real places. We do need to reshape the way we talk about these, though. We should not talk about salvation as fire insurance, which so often we do with kids.

Instead, heaven and hell are best described as the holding place for those who trust and obey Jesus (heaven) or those who choose not to do so (hell) until Jesus returns. 1 Cor 15

To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord is true, but heaven is not the final place that Christians will be. Before Adam and Eve sinned, there was no great separation between the realms of heaven and earth. God dwelled with Adam and Eve. God created the world good, and God does not give up on His creation. God will resurrect all of creation when Jesus returns. One day, all Christians will live as perfected men and women on this earth, not sitting on clouds and playing harps, but serving God and being with Him for eternity.

The easier way to help kids understand this is to help them talk about living forever in God's Kingdom and helping them understand how wonderful it will be. Brandon talks about trusting and obeying God with his kids instead of putting a ton of focus on heaven and hell. Helping kids understand sin and consequences is great, but of course, talking about hell needs to be done carefully so as not to confuse or overly scare kids.

Featured Resources

Last question for Brandon, and it was this one:

How Do You Teach Kids to Love God's Word?

Read to them - Bible stories, Disney classics, board books, picture books, chapter books. Raise kids who love books and you are way more likely to also have a kid who loves the Bible. 

Your kids will think normalcy is what they grow up seeing - so if you are reading in front of them, they will know that reading the Bible is important in adult life and that it really is as important as you say it is.