Questions about heaven:
How big is heaven?
A four year old does not have a great understanding of measurement but Colton describes heaven as a city that keeps getting bigger and bigger.
What does heaven look like?
Heaven is a very beautiful place with lots of intensely bright colors. More details are included in the children’s book, “Heaven is For Real-for Kids.”
What type of animals did you see?
Colton saw many different kinds of animals. It seemed to him that most all of the animals we have here on earth are also in heaven.
Did it appear to Colton that the dogs in Heaven had once belonged to someone (as in the dog that belonged to your Pop)?
Colton remembers playing with animals but doesn’t know how they got there or who they were connected with.
How do animals get to heaven?
Colton doesn’t know. Although he saw the same types of animals he has seen on earth, he didn’t learn anything about how they made the trip to heaven.
Are there any houses?
It appeared to Colton as though everyone had a place they could go to. Much like Jesus references in John 14: 2 “…there are many rooms.” Colton talks about going to Pop’s place and describes many houses in heaven.
Is everyone brothers and sisters?
Colton knew who his grandfather was, and who his sister was, and definitely distinguishes his relationship with them as different from others in heaven.
How will we know each other in heaven?
The Bible is unclear on this. But according to Colton’s memories, both his sister and his great-grandfather Pop introduced themselves to him. Colton had never met either one, but they both obviously knew Colton. When Elijah and Moses visited Jesus on earth, they all recognized each other as well.
What does Mary look like?
Mary, the mother of Jesus, has dark hair, brown eyes, and by Colton’s remembrances is a little taller than his mom, Sonja. She had a dark sky blue sash and a light above her head. She seemed to be in her late twenties or early thirties, like the rest of the adults in heaven.
What did the lights look like that were above the heads of the people in heaven?
Colton says the lights above their heads looked like a halo and that they were very bright.
Do we really get wings in heaven?
As Colton says, “You get to choose if you want to walk or fly.” Again, the Bible is silent on this issue. No verse says that our heavenly bodies will or will not have wings. Colton clearly remembers wings, and because he remembers so many other smaller details that align with Scripture, it would be unusual for him to mistake something as obvious as wings on everyone’s backs.
How are the wing sizes determined?
Colton describes the wings on people’s backs as going from their feet to above their shoulders so that your wings are as long as your body is tall.
Can you get lost on the way to heaven?
No. Jesus explained to His disciples that He would come back Himself to take His followers to His Dad’s house. Jesus is preparing a place just for you, and He is going to make sure you get there, just like He did for Colton.
Questions about God:
Can you explain what God looks like?
Colton describes God the Father by his love explaining you can feel his love everywhere, but he has no person or thing to measure him against. He remembers that the angel Gabriel is the being in heaven that most resembles God the Father. The colors Gabriel had on his clothes were the same colors that God the Father wore. Also, God the Father had wings just like Gabriel did.
How big is Jesus?
Colton describes Jesus as being of normal human height. Gabriel is about one and a half times as tall as a man and Michael at least two times taller. Even though these angles are taller than Jesus, according to Colton, Jesus is way more powerful.
Do God and the Holy Spirit have wings?
Colton says God the Father has wings but the Holy Spirit does not. He describes the Holy Spirit as bluish and transparent, you can see through him. And even though you can’t see a form or figure, because he is almost ghost-like, Colton is very quick to point out that you know he is there and that you can recognize him. He is hard to describe, but you know he is there.
Is God on earth today, or is He just in heaven?
He is actually in both places. Before Jesus returned to heaven, He told His disciples He would send the Holy Spirit to help them. God is actually three Persons: God the Father, God the son, and God the Holy Spirit, who is everywhere! Because of the Spirit, you never have to worry about being alone. Even though you can’t see the Holy Spirit, He is always with you.
Questions about Satan and demons:
What are your thoughts about demons?
Like God and the angels, Satan and demons are real. Jesus gave Colton a glimpse of Satan. He also showed Colton the final battle describing many of the demons that were fighting alongside Satan as monsters.
Is there any way you could explain Satan to me?
The Bible describes Satan as a fallen archangel. (Isaiah 14:12; Revelations 12:7-9) Colton remembers Satan in two different ways—a seven-headed dragon with ten crowns and as a figure with wings who was nearly as large as the angel Michael. Colton told his dad that Satan’s light had been extinguished a long time ago.
Questions about the picture of Jesus:
Have you met the girl who, according to Colton, drew God correctly?
Todd, Sonja and Colton were pleased to be able to meet Akiane and her father, Mark, after all of them appeared on the Katie Couric Show (October 8, 2012).
Are there copies of Akiane’s picture available for purchase?
Regarding the picture by Akiane Kramarik, the Burpos are very grateful that her family allowed them to share her painting in the book. The exclusive U.S. sales site offering items by Akiane to purchase is www.artnsoulwrks.com or you could call (303) 670-0362 for more information.
Questions about/for Colton:
What is Colton like today?
Colton is 16 years old and still remembers most of his trip to heaven very clearly, but some details have faded. One day he hopes to become a musician. Colton enjoys listening to TobyMac, wrestling, playing football, and singing in show choir. But, he is not too excited about doing the homework that comes with going to school.
Do you remember many of your experiences there?
We have a lot more details about heaven that are included in the children’s book--”Heaven is For Real-for Kids” and in “Heaven Changes Everything.”
Did Colton see more than what is written in Heaven Is For Real or Heaven Is For Real For Kids?
Yes. Not everything can fit into the pages of a book, but almost all of his favorite memories are included in these two books.
How did Colton “have Jesus in his heart” as a four year old?
Colton personally believed in Jesus at an early age. In fact he was five when he requested to be baptized at church. I (Todd) think because he grew up in our home where we pray and talk about Jesus a lot he was aware earlier than most kids might be of the need to invite Jesus into his own heart and life. We believe, and many churches also teach, in the principle of the age of accountability which means children are not held accountable for their sin until they understand sin, forgiveness, and judgment. (John 16:7-11) Ultimately God is the one who decides when that is.
Does Colton know how old his sister was when he met her in heaven?
Colton has never talked about his sister’s age but instead refers to her as being almost as big as Cassie. He always refers to her as a big sister.
When you came home and saw your son crying because he missed his sister, how did you feel?
Though our initial concern was for our babysitter, who was surprised by the story, the whole episode was an affirmation of what Colton had seen. As we comforted him we were reminded that his feelings were sincere and what he had experienced was real.
Did Colton ever get to where he didn't want to talk about his experience or not want you to share the story so much? How did you handle it?
We never pushed or prodded which is why the story unfolded over months and years. We just allowed him to tell us about it on his own timetable. When he did share things with us we would discuss them with him to help him keep his memories. Today he gets somewhat weary of the media attention, but he continues to be grateful when he hears how his memories are helping other people.
What about the children who die before they can understand the concept of God and His Son?
We believe, and many churches also teach, in the principle of the age of accountability which means children are not held accountable for their sin until they understand sin, forgiveness, and judgment. (John 16:7-11) Ultimately, God is the one who decides when that is.
Abortion—what about forgiveness?
Regarding forgiveness, the unforgivable sin is not abortion, it is *blasphemy of the Holy Spirit, so abortion can be forgiven. To comprehend the magnitude of God’s forgiveness is to know that God’s grace changes everything! And any sin that we measure as overwhelming is a special opportunity to experience that amazing grace.
There are several scriptures that address forgiveness—in Luke 7:40-48 we read a story Jesus told about servants who had debts way beyond their ability to ever repay. The heart of God is clear as we see forgiveness offered and love restored. Even on the cross Jesus addressed God the Father on behalf of those who were causing his death by saying, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.” Luke 23:24 (NIV)
And Stephen, the first Christian martyr, models God’s forgiving heart in Acts 7:59-60 (NIV). While he is being stoned he falls on his knees and cries out, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.”
Another example is David and Bathsheba—as a result of a sinful act, Bathsheba was pregnant with David’s baby. David was punished (the baby died), but he was also forgiven after he repented of his sin.
*Blasphemy against the Holy Spirit is defined in Matthew 12:31 (NIV), “And so I tell you, every kind of sin and slander can be forgiven, but blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven.”
Abortion— what happens to the baby?
God does not hold the sin of the parents against the child so the child is with Him in heaven.
When Colton describes you (Todd) as fighting, do you have wings on, which would indicate you are in heaven or are you fighting Satan here on earth?
Yes, Colton’s description includes me having wings but we don’t know where the actual battle takes place. When he saw me fighting it was my heavenly body not the earthly one. But just like Pop, he was able to recognize me.
What was the nature of the homework that your son did in heaven?
Many of the things revealed in the book come from “teaching times” when Jesus was with the children. Colton said that Jesus was his teacher and that all the kids learned a lot of things. We are often asked how he remembers so much from his time there—perhaps it could be due in part to his homework, a practice or rehearsal of what he learned.
Did you name your daughter?
Todd and Sonja still lovingly agree to disagree on the name for their daughter in heaven. Todd wanted to call her Kelsey but Sonja liked Caitlin so they still joke that they’ll see who gets to heaven first to win naming rights.
Is there anything more you have learned from Colton about his experience not given in the book?
We have more details about heaven that are included in the children’s book--”Heaven is For Real-for Kids” and in “Heaven Changes Everything.”
I was just wondering if Colton ever told you that Jewish people are in Heaven. You know, since they're the chosen people.
Colton talks about many of the Bible characters (David, Samson, Abraham, Mary). There is no distinction in heaven between Jew or Greek, Baptist, Catholic, Wesleyan, etc., so we are not sure how he would have been able to distinguish that. He is very emphatic that you have to follow Jesus to get to heaven.
When Colton describes the war between the forces of Heaven and Hell, how does he see it? If it’s the final battle, how did he see it? Was it a vision, or more of a continuous thing?
The way Colton describes the battle that is depicted towards the end of the book is from the perspective of a spectator. He said he saw both the beginning and the end.
Do you know of anyone that has eventually come to Christ because they had first read your book about your son's awesome testimony?
Yes, we have received many testimonies from people through letters, email, Facebook and at events that share about the book’s influence in their personal decision to put their faith in Christ. It’s been incredibly humbling and awesome, all at the same time, to think that the story of our struggles and God’s faithfulness would have this impact.
After being touched by your story I spoke with my husband about getting our boys baptized. I am unsure how to introduce Jesus to my sons?
As an introduction to Jesus, it might be a good starting place to read the book to your kids to see how they respond and to use it to answer questions they might ask you. Then, the next step would be to make sure they have accepted Christ as their Savior. That would be important to do before the second step which would be baptism. In addition, it’s vitally important to find a Bible-based church to be a part of. Adults and children grow best in community.
How do you answer to critics who say the book is not biblical?
Though there are some issues (i.e. wings) that the Bible is silent about or does not refer to, there are more than 31 separate scriptures in the book that directly support the story. It is important to us that nothing stated is in direct opposition to God’s Holy Word. In fact, as we compare Colton’s testimony against the truth found in scripture, our prayer is that his testimony would point people directly to the Bible as their source of authority.
Markers—Based on archaeological digs, some teach that Jesus wrists were nailed to the cross and not his hands. This is a question regarding the translation that hands could also mean forearms. We believe Colton’s experience aligns with scripture for two reasons:
1. Without exception, every time Jesus’ crucifixion is mentioned, the nails are always described as being nailed in his hands. Thomas asked to see the nail prints in his hands.
2. When the Pharisees asked to kill the thieves, because they wanted them dead before the Sabbath, they broke their legs. This was because the weight of the body on the cross was held on the legs, not the arms.
The top of page 104 it implies that Colton knows about the trinity and that the bible specifically describes the trinity. How can this be when the Bible never specifically describes the trinity or uses the term, but it is rather a constructed doctrine from the 4th and 5th centuries that continues to be disputed between various Christian sub-groups? For me, this puts everything in the book in question.
Though the word Trinity is never used in scripture, God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit are referenced many times in the Bible. For example in the Gospels there are two references, Matthew 3 and Matthew 28, but there are many others. The term Trinity might have been coined at a later time to describe their relationship, but Scripture supports the concept. Jesus always talked about God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.
After reading "Heaven is for Real" the only question I have for you is, how do you answer appointed for man to die once? Hebrews 9:26-28
Hebrews nine deals with Christ’s ransom for sin. The Hebrew writer is making a comparison between a man’s death and Christ’s death. He says that after a man dies he faces his personal judgment for his own sin – once. There are no consecutive trials or judgments. Christ’s death brought about his redemption for mankind – once. The offering does not have to be repeated over and over. There are no consecutive offerings. This passage is not a statement ruling out God’s option or power to raise the dead. It is just teaching about the consequences to sin after one dies. Some believe that sin can be atoned for after death rather than forgiveness through Christ before death. According to these verses in Hebrews, all the evidence brought to trial will have been collected before we die. But this passage should not be used to exclude God’s power or wisdom for raising the dead. For example, is the Gospel of John chapter eleven true or not? Did Jesus raise Lazarus from the dead? I certainly believe He did! Did Jesus raise Jairus’ daughter from the dead? Again, yes! Did we forget about the woman of Nain’s son who was also raised? I hope not. Taking a verse or two like these from Hebrews and dismissing other recurring Biblical truth is called proof texting and it is dangerous! So, don’t do it. But is resurrection of the dead just a NT occurrence? No! Elisha helped raise the Shunammite’s son in 2 Kings Chapter 4. And an entire army was raised from the dead at the Valley of Dry Bones in Ezekiel Chapter 37. In Hebrews chapter eleven, the very same writer describes Abraham’s faith in God’s power to raise the dead when he offered Isaac as a sacrifice (Heb. 11:19). Although he received his son back figuratively, God’s ability to raise the dead at his discretion was never questioned. The Hebrew writer commends Abraham for his faith in believing that God would raise his son and give him back if necessary. If the Hebrew writer believed that one could not be raised from the dead, why would he commend Abraham for believing otherwise? Colton’s experience is much like this in the sense that he was close to death but never actually crossed that threshold. According to our doctor, Colton never coded in surgery, but he obviously left his body. Even with Colton’s body being septic, he never stopped breathing. He was allowed to see what God chose to reveal to him without medically dying. And God, in His great mercy, gave him back to us without him losing his life.