Those who have followed my blog know that my wife and I have been caring for my mother-in-law as she approached the end of her life on earth. Early in the morning of April second she saw her Savior face-to-face and now resides in heaven. I write these statements with full confidence that there is a God Who fills all of space-time and abides in the fullness of His glory in heaven and that those who have repented of their sins and placed their faith in the Lord Jesus Who died for their sins and rose again will be in the presence of their Lord upon their physical death (John 11:25, 26; II Corinthians 5:1-8; Philippians 1:20-23; I Thessalonians 4:13, 14). One of the purposes of apologetics is to strengthen the faith of believers in such times giving them the confidence that their loved ones are indeed with the Lord.
Most families who go through the loss of family members comfort themselves with the hope that their loved one are in “a better place.” Often, this is based on the idea that everyone goes to heaven or that good people go to heaven and that their loved one – no matter how they lived – were “good enough.” In times of grief and loss it is a way to handle our emotion. Skeptics would argue that this thought process is always merely a device to handle our emotions, an evolutionary development to enable us to cope. In fact, for many, this hope is unsupported by the Bible though sincerely believed. How can we know that our loved ones are really in heaven? How can we know that our hope is real and so really offers comfort? We who are truly God’s children have the inner testimony of the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:10-16) giving peace and joy in the midst of sorrow (Philippians 4:6-8; I Peter 1:6-9) which is a very real and valid evidence though one which cannot be seen externally and so is open to the charge of being subjective and not unique to Christianity (cf. Sam Harris, The Moral Landscape, pp. 163-167) even though it is shared by millions of individuals.
However, this real but internal evidence is also supported by the external, objective, evidence supplied by apologetics. We are not just holding on to some pipe dream or practicing some psychological technique to make us feel better, but there is a real hope based on a rational belief that there is a God Who has accurately revealed Himself in the Bible. The reality of God is revealed through His creation through His word and through Jesus Christ, God in the flesh, through the working of the Holy Spirit and in the personal testimony of millions of Christians. He reveals in His word that there is a heaven and those who have met the condition of repentance and faith will really go there. The Bible has proven itself to be trustworthy and is demonstrated through many evidences to be the very word of the God Who truly exists. Therefore, the statements of the Bible are truth (John 17:17) and so provide real comfort allaying any doubts that may arise.
Apologetics often comes across as merely a series of intellectual salvos in a war of ideas. We are challenged to contend for the faith by producing clear evidences and sound logic to counter the ideas of atheists and false religionists. However, I have found that it is also a real source of confidence in the spiritual realities undergirding the truth that comforts us. My wife and I have full confidence that Mom is in heaven with our Lord not because we have some vague hope or because we were told so by others seeking to comfort us, but because we have the testimony of God Himself. This is not blind faith, but a rational belief based on many powerful, objective evidences supporting the clear inner testimony of the Holy Spirit. Together these produce real peace in our lives and a reason to rejoice even through our tears.