Episode 250: Understanding the Future Promise of Heaven: Dr. Michael Youssef

Is there something more than this life? This world is full of crises, conflicts, difficulties, and troubles, but this world will not last. No matter your age, your earthly life is slowly slipping away. This is why Jesus encourages us not to store up treasures on this earth but to invest in heaven. 

In this 250th episode of Candid Conversations, Dr. Michael Youssef joins Jonathan to share insight from his new book, Heaven Awaits, a book written to help you understand the future promise of heaven in Christ Jesus. Explore what the Bible says about heaven and envision the wonders and glories awaiting those who believe in Christ. 

Heaven is real, far more real than your earthly experience right now. 

After you listen to this episode, you may have your own questions. We would love to hear from you! To ask Jonathan a question or connect with the Candid community, visit https://LTW.org/Candid

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This transcript recounts Candid Conversations with Jonathan Youssef Episode 250: Understanding the Future Promise of Heaven: Dr. Michael Youssef

[00:01] JONATHAN YOUSSEF: Today, we have a very special guest in Dr. Michael Youssef. And he comes on our program because he’s written another book. And we have you on quite often because you write a lot of books.


[00:17] DR. MICHAEL YOUSSEF Thank you. And I’m glad to be in your Dr. Youssef show now, Dr. Jonathan Youssef.


[00:23] JONATHAN YOUSSEF: And we have to change the title.


[00:24] DR. MICHAEL YOUSSEF Congratulations.


[0:25] JONATHAN YOUSSEF: Thank you very much. You have written a book on heaven. This is your first book on heaven as far as I’m aware. Tell us about why.


[00:39] DR. MICHAEL YOUSSEF I’ve thought of heaven since I was a young man. I’ve never really been away from that thought. But also I am seeing so much confusion, so much confusion—not just in the world at large, which you can understand the devil sold us a lie in order to deceive people, but the churches are now confused, pastors are confused about heaven. And the world basically entered into their hearts, into their thinking, and everything is about this life, this life, this life, which is a very tragic situation that we find ourselves in as a Church of Jesus Christ. And my biggest concern is to alert and wake up the bride of Christ as to their greatest day, and it’s yet to come.


Where you’re going to spend eternity is so important. In fact, the very first story I open up the book with was back in 1977. In February of ’77, my wife and I and two little ones came here from Australia. But we’ve done a lot of research finding out where we’re going to live, what the country is about, what the culture is about, and so on, and this is just for a place we’re going to live for two years, which we did, in Pasadena.


And how much more should we be doing those same preparations and research for where we’re going to be forever? I mean, just think. People can’t fathom that. Because they can’t fathom it, they take it out of their mind forever and ever and ever. 


[02:34] JONATHAN YOUSSEF: —Gives you a little bit of a buzz, doesn’t it, just the thought of it. Yeah, because everything we know comes to an end. This is the only thing I think we can consider has no end.


[02:44] DR. MICHAEL YOUSSEF Exactly. And the point I make even in the early part of the book is that there is only one ticket that takes you to heaven, and that is the ticket that's stamped with the blood of Jesus. I say there are a lot of fake tickets out there. that have been handed by Satan through Hollywood, through false churches, through false teachers and false preachers. 


[03:12] JONATHAN YOUSSEF: Or your own mind.


[03:13] DR. MICHAEL YOUSSEF Or your own mind. But those are the tickets that are not going to get you to heaven. Only the one that's stamped with the blood of Jesus Christ. On what basis do I have the confidence that I’m going to heaven? The blood of Jesus Christ, period. My ticket’s stamped with that blood. 


[03:26] JONATHAN YOUSSEF: That leads us to the next topic, which is let’s talk a little bit about the misconceptions out there, and you can blend the two—but coming from the Hollywood mentality. Are those the same as what you see in churches that have lost their way? Are they different?


[03:53] DR. MICHAEL YOUSSEF Slightly different, but they lead to the same hell.


[03:57] JONATHAN YOUSSEF: Right. They go to the same place. 


[03:58] DR. MICHAEL YOUSSEF Because Hollywood and the New Age movement, even with this lady who supposedly died and went to heaven and came back and she was interviewed by Oprah, and she said to her, she said, “Jesus told me He’s not going to judge anybody. Live any which way you want.”


And then Oprah said, “Well, if I think Jesus is as cool as I think He is, He would have said that to you.”


[04:21] JONATHAN YOUSSEF: Contradicting Himself? [overlapping voices]


[04:26] DR. MICHAEL YOUSSEF Yeah. And so the fact that everybody is going to go to heaven is absolute lie from the pit of hell. But then you go into the other side of things in some traditional churches and some mainline churches who said if you’re good you go to heaven. Well, I’m good. Sure, I’m not perfect, but I’m good, so everybody sees themselves as good. 


[04:50] JONATHAN YOUSSEF: According to whose standard, right?


[04:51] DR. MICHAEL YOUSSEF And they are contradicting the Bible, because the Bible said no one is good. I had an email came third-hand to me. A guy said, “I love that statement on page 47,” and I still remember it because he said, “You said only bad people in heaven. The only good person in heaven is Jesus.”


And those are the redeemed people who recognize they’re sinners and they cannot make it to heaven without Jesus. And that's what really I meant by it. But he said, “That just gave me such confidence and comfort to know that I’m redeemed by the blood of Christ and that's the only way I’m going to heaven.”


And so I’m so glad so many people are now sending me comments and saying how much this book has encouraged them in their walk with Christ. And the whole reason—not only to refute all these falsehoods—but another reason for writing the book is I want to put people on the right track to realize that heaven is not, well, in the by and by when I die, but heaven is now. Heaven influences my thoughts, decisions, investments, and money—where I put my money. Is it in heaven or is the inflation going to eat it up? And so all these are very important decisions.


C. S. Lewis made a statement years ago that impacted me, has been for nearly fifty years since I read it. He said, you know, they talk about “Oh, he’s so heavenly minded, he’s of no earthly good.” I’ve heard that so many times, even back in the sixties, seventies, and he said if you examine history, you find that only those who were heavenly minded were of any earthly good and he goes on to give examples. 


I mean, I think Lord Shaftesbury, who impacted the culture in England probably like very few people said, “There was not a day went by without me thinking of heaven.” And that's what caused him to be a reformist. Wilberforce fought for forty years to outlaw slavery. That's because of the thought of heaven.


And so anybody who says, “Well, heaven is just going to be distracting from what you’re doing now,” absolutely lies.


[07:15] JONATHAN YOUSSEF: No, it’s a driving force.


[07:16] DR. MICHAEL YOUSSEF Exactly. And I tell people all the time, unashamedly, I work, and I work harder at seventy-five than I did when I was forty-five or twenty-five, and simply because I live for one thing: hearing those words from Jesus’s lips, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”


[07:36] JONATHAN YOUSSEF: There’s also the misconception that it can be earned, you can do enough good works. Not necessarily about being a good person, but that the works are sort of counterbalancing you in this either sort of a karma sense or a works righteousness from a theological mindset.


[07:56] DR. MICHAEL YOUSSEF This is as old as my ancestors, the ancient Egyptians.


[08:00] JONATHAN YOUSSEF: It might be as old as the Garden.


[08:03] DR. MICHAEL YOUSSEF Probably. But I remember even growing up in Egypt and studying Egyptian pharaonic history and seeing some of the pictures that go back five thousand years, and the scale. And the scale was held by one of the gods.


[08:20] JONATHAN YOUSSEF: Like a weight scale.


[08:21] DR. MICHAEL YOUSSEF A weight scale, yeah. And you see here’s your good deeds versus your bad deeds and you’ve got to make the good deeds outweigh the bad deeds. But again, another lie from the pit of Satan’s hell. And we need to be absolutely certain that people understand that you’re not going to heaven based on anything you’ve done, but it’s based on the grace of God that He has given you through Jesus Christ. Period.


Then the rewards in heaven are a whole different story. And that requires faithfulness if you want to be rewarded. There are five crowns in the Bible it talks about. Faithfulness, there’s a crown for those who love His appearing. There’s all kinds of crowns. And those are not crowns we will just kind of put on our heads, but the crowns that we will take and lay at the feet of Jesus in our gratitude and thanksgiving for saving us.


[09:23] JONATHAN YOUSSEF: I think a lot of people like to imagine and picture what heaven looks like. Fill in some of the gaps for people who have maybe an incomplete view. There’s the picture of the sitting on a cloud playing a harp, wearing a robe, singing nonstop, just being bored.


[09:47] DR. MICHAEL YOUSSEF Right. It’s medieval art.


[09:49] JONATHAN YOUSSEF: Exactly.


[09:51] DR. MICHAEL YOUSSEF The cherubic, fat kids—


[09:53] JONATHAN YOUSSEF: Yeah, we’ll all be fat babies.


[09:54] DR. MICHAEL YOUSSEF And absolutely it is absolute falsehood. And I’m not even big on these so-called heavenly tourism. Why do I listen to somebody who says they died and came back when I—Paul himself, when he was taken into heaven, he said, “I’m not allowed to even talk about it.” And when I have the real deal, I have Jesus, who tells me exactly what heaven is like.


[10:23] JONATHAN YOUSSEF: That’s all you need.


[10:24] DR. MICHAEL YOUSSEF And that's what I do in the book,Heaven Awaits. I stick with the Word of God. I see people go off the rails when they deviate, and so my focus is the Word of God. I’m always having people on social media ask me, am I a Calvinist, and I Arminian, am I a dispensationalist, a postmillennialist, a premillennialist. I’m none of these. I’m a Bible-believing Christian—that is, if it’s in the book of God I’m going to believe it and preach it, but not try to be a follower of a man theory. I follow Jesus and I try to focus on that until the Lord takes me home. I will not deviate from it, no matter how much the pressure is put on me.


[11:14] JONATHAN YOUSSEF: All right, so let’s fill in some of the pictures for people. Let’s talk about our bodies. There’s a lot of concepts. We can even take a step future back, the idea of soul sleep or … Fill in a little bit of those gaps for us. 


[11:35] DR. MICHAEL YOUSSEF Sure. Well, this is again following some man’s theory, theological theory.


[11:43] JONATHAN YOUSSEF: Or misinterpretation of texts.


[11:46] DR. MICHAEL YOUSSEF But you know when you think about this, so much thing about the end times eschatology now is driven by a theory that was devised by a man in Plymouth, England, in 1825 by the name of John Nelson Darby. Most of them would not know this, but that's what they are. They are doing only following somebody, you know, chart. I follow the Bible. I stick with the Word of God. And there is no soul sleep in the Bible. The Bible talks about sleep of the believer. This is to indicate that it’s temporary. Jesus died, but we sleep. He took our death so that when we die, we only sleep—it’s a temporary thing because immediately our soul goes into heaven, according to 1 Corinthians chapter 15, and Paul says it’s not going to be floating souls in heaven. When the disciples of Jesus were in the Mount of Transfiguration, they didn’t see the soul of Elijah and the soul of Moses; they saw them in a glorified body. In fact, Peter was so ecstatic, he wanted to hang in there for a long time. 


[13:02] JONATHAN YOUSSEF: Let’s camp here for a bit.


[13:03] DR. MICHAEL YOUSSEF Yeah. And so these are glorified bodies in heaven. When we die, there is a body that's prepared for us in heaven. It’s a body like Jesus’s body after the resurrection. And those are bodies that are totally righteous and holy, and therefore, we would be able to see the face of God when Moses couldn’t see the face of God, but we will. Because we can never see the face of God in this body.


[13:34] JONATHAN YOUSSEF: Those bodies are indestructible and not ravaged by the effects of the Fall and sin.


[13:42] DR. MICHAEL YOUSSEF In fact, I think it’s the mercy of God that Moses did not see the face of God. He would be incinerated because in this sinful body we can’t do it. But in the glorified body that is immediately prepared for us as soon as we enter heaven in a glorified body, we will be able to see and do and have no physical limitation, no pain, no suffering. And all of those promises in the Scripture are very clear. 


[14:12] JONATHAN YOUSSEF: I don’t remember reading it in the book, but I mean there’s a sense that there will be gardening and working and building and we’ll be active. We’re not just sitting around.

[14:25] DR. MICHAEL YOUSSEF No. In fact, John said in Revelation “and the servants to serve Him.” And the Bible says that we’re going to reign and rule with Christ. Think of the universe, and our God is sitting on the rim of the universe right now, ruling and reigning, and we’re going to be participating in that. It’s mindboggling. Sometimes I let my mind soar, but then I bring myself back to reality.

[14:48] JONATHAN YOUSSEF: Levitate for a moment.


[14:49] DR. MICHAEL YOUSSEF But yeah, it’s incredible when you think about it. We will be working. We will be serving, and we’ll be doing great things for God. We’re praising Him, of course, thanking Him. I just try to imagine that moment and I get so overwhelmed I want to go.


[15:05] JONATHAN YOUSSEF: Let’s talk a little bit about fears and perspectives, the things that can kind of creep in and the enemy can try and steal—


[15:14] DR. MICHAEL YOUSSEF One of the things that also is prevalent, particularly among those so-called “progressive” churches or liberal churches, I’ll never forget thirty-five years ago I was having a discussion with one of those so-called “liberal”—ministers in one of those churches and we were talking about heaven. And he said, “How arrogant of you to think that you’re good enough to go to heaven.”


I said, “That's exactly the falsehood that you believe, and that's you think a person is going to heaven based on his good, how good he is or she is.” But I only have the confidence because Jesus promised it. And that is really the most important thing that we need to emphasis. People don’t think that we are just full of ourselves. We think we’re better than everybody else. We’re going to heaven and you’re not. No, no, no, no, no. I’m only assured of heaven because Jesus said so. He promised it. And God keeps His promises.


[16:16] JONATHAN YOUSSEF: Despite my sinful nature, despite—


[16:20] DR. MICHAEL YOUSSEF Yeah. In fact, it’s because of my acknowledging of my sinful nature and my need for salvation.


[16:25] JONATHAN YOUSSEF: Yeah. To your point, it’s not good people in heaven; it’s bad people in heaven who had the goodness of Christ because He covers us.


[16:31] DR. MICHAEL YOUSSEF We’re born again. 


[16:32] JONATHAN YOUSSEF: Yeah. And let’s move to that because you have a chapter on what does it mean to be born again and looking at Nicodemus. Talk to us a little bit about—Because the question does remain, well then, who is in heaven? And I know we talked a little bit about that earlier, but let’s fill that picture out.


[16:49] DR. MICHAEL YOUSSEF Those who are born again. What does it mean to be born again? That's very important. That's the message I take to evangelistic events and when I preach. It’s a very important message. Because to be born physically means you’re alive physically. And so to be born spiritually, it means you are spiritually alive. How come? Because every one of us, every human being who is ever born of a woman was born spiritually dead. I mean, physically alive, running around, but spiritually dead. Not comatose, dead, dead, dead. And so when the Holy Spirit opens our eyes and then we spiritually become awake and alive, that's born again. That's when you become born of the Spirit. Jesus said you’re going to be born of the Spirit of God because God has to do something on the inside of us to change us.


And I remember that day like yesterday when my whole life changed. My views of everything just changed overnight. Of course, it’s taken me sixty years of walking with Christ to grow in the knowledge and so forth, but that day was the beginning when I knew that it was totally transformed by the power of God and I became conscious of sin and confession of my sin and the closeness with God and the thirsting for righteousness and all of that.


[18:19] JONATHAN YOUSSEF: I remember as a boy when you would preach on heaven you would always talk about that this life was like a dress rehearsal. And it’s interesting because you were talking about you remember the moment when you became spiritually awake, but in the sixty-odd years, you’ve grown in your sanctification, you’ve grown in your knowledge and love for the Lord. 

They talk about the theological concept of the already and the not yet. Like you said, there’s a concept now in my mind and an understanding of the reality of heaven, and I’m now living in preparation for that, and that's what the Christian life is preparing you for.


[19:00] DR. MICHAEL YOUSSEF Well, just as, you know, I sought to set an example for you and your siblings, I had others who set that example for me. My grandfather and my mother, they set the example of their being motivated by heaven, and therefore, they have done so much on the Earth because of their motivation of heaven. And so I am so grateful for their example, and I sought to also set an example, not just for you as my family and children, but also to congregations and people that I minister to. I told one of our pastoral care ministers one time, I said, you know, I have been privileged to teach for now fifty-two years since I was ordained to show people how to live for Christ. I don’t know how the Lord is going to take me home, whether it’s going to be sudden or not, that's in His sovereign will. Either way He does it is fine by me. But if He privileged me to have a slow death that I pray that I will be able to teach people how to die in Christ. I taught them how to live in Christ, now how to die in Christ is very important.


[20:21] JONATHAN YOUSSEF: We can’t have a conversation about heaven without having a conversation about hell. And thankfully, you do have a chapter in your book that delves into that. Let’s go there.


[20:40] DR. MICHAEL YOUSSEF Okay, well, as you know, I have never preached on hell without tears. Sometimes I mean broken down completely, not just shedding a tear or two. And the reason I do that and the reason—actually it’s out of my control; if it was in my control, I wouldn’t cry—but the reason I do is because I know hell is real. Just as heaven is real, hell is real. It’s a place, and there is going to be suffering, the Bible called that the lake of fire. The Bible talks about the worms that do not die, and the fire that would not die, and the gnashing of teeth. And the descriptions, a dark place where you feel falling all the time but there is no bottom. And it goes on and on and on. 


I try to put those descriptions that Jesus gave us, not—


[21:27] JONATHAN YOUSSEF: Not your own mind or some philosopher.


[21:28] DR. MICHAEL YOUSSEF —or fantasies of other people. It’s what Jesus said. And the Bible makes it clear: hell was prepared for Satan and his angels. That is for whom hell was prepared. Unfortunately and sadly, there are so many who follow Satan who will end up with him in that lake of fire. And I have dedicated my life and whatever years I’ve got left, or days, it doesn’t matter, I am dedicating them to warn people why should you perish? Why should you follow Satan, who takes you straight into that eternal life of torment?


You say, “How do you know that?” Well, Jesus, again. He talked about Lazarus and the rich man. This is before His own resurrection, before His own opening paradise for the believers, where they were still in a waiting, holding pattern, as it were. But even then, before Christ’s resurrection, they were in two different places: one is a torment and pain and suffering and burning of the tongue, and the other one is a joy in what they used to call the bosom of Abraham. 


And so the conversation goes on, the man cries out from Hades to Abraham and he said, “Please send Lazarus,” the guy whom he didn’t even pay a minute’s notice, he said, “Send him with a drop of water in his finger to just cool my tongue and give me relief.”


Had he said, “We have a huge gap between us. We cannot cross to you and you cannot cross to us.” And that is what really makes me cry and weep, because once you cross over to the other side, there is no return. No matter how much you try and say, “I repent, I change now.” No, no, it’s too late. It’s like the days of Noah—and Jesus said that—it’s like the days of Noah. And he kept warning, 120 years he’s been preaching—it’s so difficult for me even to comprehend. And there’s, “No, no,” and made fun of him. And then in the end, of course, when the flood came, “Okay, we’ll get in.” No, no, no. God shut the door.


God will shut the door one day, and so my longing, the longing of … the longing of my heart (and I do this in the book, especially that last chapter) is I’m pleading with people, come to Christ now. The opportunity is now. The moment is now. The hour is now. Don’t put it off. And in the end, it’s like Ezekiel says. If you warn people and they get into trouble, you’re innocent. And that's what I want to be, a watchman who’s innocent. But if I didn’t warn them and I know danger was coming, then I have their blood on my hand, and I don’t want that to happen. I don’t want blood on my hand.


[24:29] JONATHAN YOUSSEF: Let’s just sort of, as we conclude, who’s the book for and why should they buy it?


[24:37] DR. MICHAEL YOUSSEF Actually, this book is for everyone. Seldom do I say that because there are some books specifically. But this is for the believer, to encourage them and uplift them; for the non-believer to be forewarned and give them a chance to turn to Christ. So really, a believer will read it and be encouraged, but then give it to somebody who needs to know about the plan of salvation and hopefully then you—


[25:00] JONATHAN YOUSSEF: Someone who has a false view of heaven.


[25:01] DR. MICHAEL YOUSSEF Exactly. And then you, who will give that book to somebody else, will be receiving the reward, even more than me who has written, because you have been an instrument of God of handing this warning to people and telling them to wake up while it’s time.


[25:21] JONATHAN YOUSSEF: Yeah, yeah. Well, the book isHeaven Awaits: Anticipate Your Future Hope, Your Eternal Home, Your Daily Reality by Dr. Michael Youssef. Dad, thank you so much for returning and gracing us once again with your presence onCandid Conversations.


[25:38] DR. MICHAEL YOUSSEF Thank you Dr. Jonathan Youssef. Thank you for your ministry. I appreciate it.

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