Do all dogs really go to heaven?

John MacArthur – Grace to You

Psalms 8:4-8; Isaiah 11:6-9

Our pets are precious to us. And sometimes it is difficult to imagine heaven without them. One Canadian broadcaster even wrote, “I was quite shaken by this revelation: an afterworld that deprived me of my dog seemed to me less than heaven.”

Though we can appreciate that man’s attachment to his pet, we have to look to the Bible for an answer to the question of animals in heaven. Obviously, the Bible doesn’t give a direct answer. But it does provide information about heaven and animals to guide us to a better-informed discussion of the matter.

The Bible teaches that people are unique beings on this earth. We were created in the image of God (Gen. 1:27) and given dominion over the earth-including the animal world. Psalm 8:4-8 says,

What is man that You take thought of him,
And the son of man that You care for him?
Yet You have made him a little lower than God,
And You have crowned him with glory and majesty!
You make him to rule over the works of Your hands;
You have put all things under his feet,

All sheep and oxen,
And also the beasts of the field,
The birds of the heavens and the fish of the sea,
Whatever passes through the paths of the seas.

Since we are uniquely provided with an exclusive role on earth, we can expect differences in how God shapes our future. Redeemed humanity will be in heaven praising God, particularly for His redemption provided in Christ. Unredeemed humanity will exist in eternal torment for their sinful disobedience and rejection of Christ. We have moral souls accountable to God even after our bodies die (Heb. 9:27).

Animals don’t have a moral dimension to their existence. They don’t sin against God and cannot understand the good news about Jesus, so they cannot become Christians. Animals are not spiritual beings like humans are. So animals do not go to heaven in the way that humans do by believing in Jesus and gaining eternal life.

That doesn’t necessarily mean, however, that there will be no animals in the future. Isaiah 11:6-9 says that they will be on the earth when Christ comes back to rule for a thousand years. And when God creates the new heaven and earth (see Rev. 21 and 22), He may choose to create some animals for His glory and our enjoyment. But since the Bible doesn’t say either way, we just have to trust God to provide everything we need for happiness in heaven.

For more information on heaven, see John’s book, The Glory of Heaven.

Copyright 2007, Grace to You. All rights reserved.  Used by permission.

HL – http://www.gty.org/resources/Questions/QA103_Do-all-dogs-really-go-to-heaven#.TlNMql2C7T0

Picture link :   http://www.kennel-emmani.dk/photogallery/Tegninger/doggie_heaven-767087.jpg

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19 thoughts on “Do all dogs really go to heaven?

  1. Good insights here, but I got an idea: Ask God, not just the Bible. The Bible is a tool to help us get closer to God, but it is only a tool. Like a hammer, it can be used to build a house or to hit someone over the head. Just because the Bible doesn’t specify the best way to cook my eggs in the morning, does not mean I should never speculate and experiment in cooking eggs to find out for myself. Likewise, the Lord will give us all the assurances we need if we experiment upon His Word by asking, praying and meditating. Inspiration and insight will eventually come, but like frying eggs, we might burn some now and then getting there.

    I think that you know this already, or you wouldn’t be speculating on subjects like this. If the Bible is all there is, you would just quote the relevant passages and leave it at that—not conjecturing at all, because that would mean the Bible is incomplete, right?

    Well, all mortal life is incomplete and by its very nature imperfect, and everything within it (except Christ Jesus, of course) and that includes the Bible. Christ’s atonement redeemed the whole world, all His creations. That includes animals, which, though sinless, are still in a fallen state. That lamb being eaten by the lion still feels pain and fear on some level. But, animals are not rebelling against God, like we humans. In fact, they are only in this fallen state because of us! When we accept Jesus Christ’s redemption, it applies to all of us. Our pets and infinitely more that makes up who we are and who we are to become, are redeemed with us. Not just the sinful, but the sinless (maybe especially so) world was redeemed through Christ. We, being beings who can act and not just be acted upon, must accept that redemption and turn from sin, but all else is already saved and will be there to meet us (in glorified form, which is way beyond our comprehension) in heaven.

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    • John

      Thank you for a sensitive and insightful comment on this subject. Certainly, as with all things it is the best idea, or rather, the only idea we should have, to pray about matters such as this. We must trust that inspiration and meditation will eventually come, as you say, but according to His will, even if it is not according to our expected time schedule. Patience, faith, humility and submission.

      In fact, they are only in this fallen state because of us!

      The point you make here just “hammers home” (please excuse the pun), the sorrow we should feel for the pain that the extent of our sin caused to all creatures.

      Our pets and infinitely more that makes up who we are and who we are to become, are redeemed with us.

      This further emphasizes the all-encompassing extent of the atonement of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.

      I do, however, believe that the Bible is complete and contains everything God wants us to know about Him. I do not believe that we can receive extra-biblical information or prophecy, so if we cannot find the answers we prefer within Scripture, we are expected to accept that which is provided for therein. I’m not saying that the Bible contains all there is to know (ever), but all of that which we expected to know at this point.

      If the Bible does not give explicit detail on a specific subject, I accept that it is not incomplete due to error or omission, but due to God having wanted to be so. We should thus investigate all things by way of the means you mentioned.

      I loved your comment, thank you for your thoughts.

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    • Hello John:
      I’m aware I’m leaving this reply almost a year after. But, I just found this great website and although my main language is Spanish, I love its content, the discussion, and your point of view. I will be coming back often.
      Anyway, just needed to tell you that I’ve never seen a comment so close to my way of thinking about the Holy Bible anywhere in my whole life. I’m 49 y.o. Also the passion (almost childish) by which you state your ideas is also very similar. But don’t feel bad, Jesus said: “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.”
      By the way, this just came to my mind, isn’t animals just like little children in so many beautiful ways??? Of course children are not animals and are way above them, but the other way around??? Think about that in the context of this discussion. Maybe we will share some more thoughts and ideas in the future.

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  2. Grant,

    Thanks for your reply. I guess I don’t share your confidence in the Bible being all that God wants to give us. I believe He wants to give us all we can handle. Revelation never stopped, we just lost our ability to receive it for awhile. The Bible does contain the fullness of the Gospel, but you must admit it is pretty obscure at times. It had to be in order to escape unhallowed editor’s hands through the ages. The Lord was finally able to get through to us through the Reformation and made the Bible proliferate enough that it is now safe from unholy editing—through a world-wide pool of checks and balances, so to speak. Therefore, the obscurities are no longer necessary. I enjoy the poetry of Isaiah, but now the Lord can give us the clearer “straight talk” when needed. If a child is truly hurt over a lost pet, God has personal and institutional revelation, and prophesy when needed, on the Earth today to give specific comfort. Back-up copies of His Word (contained in the Bible and other sources) can be made in the millions almost instantaneously throughout the world to compare and contrast. In addition, He can inspire sacred writing for different people at different times for different circumstances—all based on eternal and never-changing truth, of course.

    We live in a truly amazing age now, where “all truth can be circumscribed into one great whole.” Or at least it could be if we are all righteous. To say “A bible, a bible, we’ve already got a bible and there is no other bible!” is just blatant ignorance in my opinion. I don’t think God wants a bunch of sheep. He wants children who are in His image with all that that implies. We shouldn’t bite off more than we can chew of course, but if the Bible is not clear, we are perfectly justified in asking and obtaining scripture for ourselves, and the community and world when necessary. It’s up to the world to accept or reject such revelation, of course. If our heart is pure, we are all on the same Path—just at different spots along the way.

    Anyway, sorry for “going off” here. Just want you to know there is more being offered (infinitely more) if we choose to strive for it. God does not want to keep us in ignorance. He would want nothing more than to hand us heaven right now, but we must be ready to accept it. By setting up dogmatic limitations, out of justifiable fear, no doubt, we are only hindering the divine process.

    Okay, okay, I’ll sit down now. : )

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  3. John,

    Much appreciation again for taking the time to write this comment. Unfortunately, this time around it contains far less with which I can be in agreement.

    I’ll comment in a while.

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  4. Understandable, Grant. I don’t wish to be argumentative, I just feel passionately about everything. Too much caffeine, I suppose. Anyway, I offer my comments in the hopes of sparking thought and consideration. I am very grateful that we both have the freedom to disagree and, I believe, God’s Grace will compensate for anything misguided or lacking.

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  5. Love reading this and the replies…I would like to add, however, that the Bible was written for man and how to live man’s life and follow God’s word. Animals do not need salvation, therefore it was not needed to be addressed in the Bible… It does say in the Bible that God loves all of His creatures, therefore it stands to reason if He loves them, when they pass on, they would be with Him. Take the picture of Jesus holding a lamb…I understand the symbolism, but it could have been a baby in his arms rather than a lamb and the story could have been about a wayward child opposed to a wayward sheep…

    God’s love for us is without a doubt and without ending. He blesses the ones that love His creatures and give to them without expecting anything in return…I believe that He knows what makes us happy and being in heaven with our pets WOULD make us happy.

    My question isn’t merely “do pets go to heaven” it’s more like “why WOULDN’T they?”

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  6. Unredeemed humanity will exist in eternal torment for their sinful disobedience .Theres your freewill worship me or suffer for eternity hmmm thats my choice.quest why ,how could god create an angel that could go so bad. ie the devil being all powerful why not just destroy evil. Who put the snake in the garden of eden re orig sin , why would adam or eve sin if god made them , Why do all people suffer forever for adam eves sin .nice forgiving god rite…why create evil and allow it to run on the earth..

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    • pat

      Thank you for your comment. You have certainly made a very diverse number of points and asked some questions which would need much time and space to answer satisfactorily. I am not quite sure that I have understood correctly what you have tried to say, or ask, in all of them. We remain ultimately grateful to God for providing the answers in His Word, and for His granting us the ability to understand it. I’ll try to respond in short to some of the points you have made and the questions you have posed.

      Unredeemed humanity will exist in eternal torment for their sinful disobedience .

      Yes, you are correct. Those who reject redemption will exist in eternal torment because that is what they want.

      Theres your freewill worship me or suffer for eternity hmmm thats my choice.

      We have been given the opportunity to choose to obey God, or to disobey Him. That is our choice. God created us and He gives us that free will, He gives us warning of the result of our sin, He promises those who do worship Him an eternity in heaven and He gives those who want to worship Him the opportunity to do so. He also gives those who want to suffer for eternity the opportunity to do so. So, if we choose to disobey Him, does He not have the right to make us suffer for rejecting Him?

      why ,how could god create an angel that could go so bad. ie the devil being all powerful why not just destroy evil.

      We cannot know why or how God created an angel that turned so evil. The fact is that He did, and He did it for His good purposes. If God destroyed evil today, which He can do and will do at some point, it would not give us the opportunity of opposing evil and thereby glorifying Him. We would then all be like pre-programmed robots with no purpose and we would automatically all do what God programmed us to do. By destroying evil, God would also destroy free will and remove all choice from us.

      Who put the snake in the garden of eden re orig sin , why would adam or eve sin if god made them ,

      When God made Adam and Eve, He could have done many things with them rather than placing them in a perfect garden. He could have placed them in the desert or in an ice world, where they would have suffered incredible hardship from the outset. But God loved them enough to give them a perfect world, and a free will. He even explained to them how free will works and that the consequence of using it wrongly would be death. All they had to do was to obey His simple instruction to leave certain trees alone, which they chose not to do.

      Why do all people suffer forever for adam eves sin .nice forgiving god rite…

      All people do not suffer forever for Adam and Eve’s sin, only those who choose to continue to reject God. Those who choose to obey God by accepting His Son Jesus Christ as their Saviour from eternal punishment, will no longer suffer, never again. He is a wonderfully forgiving God. He sacrificed His only Son, so that those who believe in Him could be forgiven. If you had only one child, would you be willing to sacrifice that child for the sake of forgiving someone else who continues to hurt you on daily basis? God did that to forgive you and me.

      why create evil and allow it to run on the earth

      God did not create evil, He provided a solution to evil. Evil exists and good exists. Eternal punishment exists and eternal glory exists. Why choose eternal punishment, when the alternative is eternal glory for believers through the work which has already been done on our behalf by God Himself? There is a perfect solution to evil and we don’t even have to do anything to solve the problem. Everything has already been done for us. Evil has been defeated by the shedding of the Blood of Jesus Christ, because we were powerless to do anything about it. If you simply believe in that, you will receive the answers you require and the peace you are looking for.

      May God grant you His Grace and may you be blessed

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  7. Great reply, Grant. God put us here to test our will to become like Him. (“Be ye therefore perfect”) It wouldn’t be a test if he gave us all the answers outright. Would we love our neighbor out of a pure motive if we knew of every glorious detail of an eternal reward for doing so? Our motivation is to love despite our ignorance, despite the evil we see and experience. If we can do that first, God is more than willing to give us all the answers we’re ready for. I believe there are many who have received that gift to one degree or another, but they cannot convey it to us. We have to develop the love ourselves.

    My advice to Pat would be to let go of the anger, don’t seek excuses to not love God or your neighbor, and you will be surprised by the gift of love and understanding. Just choose to love and you will comprehend why evil exists, why we were sent here, and what our potential really is.

    As far as eternal suffering or “punishment” goes, that is something we bring upon ourselves. If we choose anger, hatred, selfishness, and so forth, we will not be happy or even comfortable in God’s presence. We choose not to become like Him, and therefore cannot abide in His glory. God is incorruptible and cannot have an angry, hateful, or depraved person in His paradise. God does not punish us, we do that to ourselves. The “torment” is really our eventual knowledge of our choice to do wrong, to defy what we knew to be right, our failure to love. We get what we deserve, and I believe, in exact proportion to our choices. Some will be “tormented” more than others. The miracle of the Atonement of Christ is that we don’t need to worry about to what degree we do things right or wrong. If we accept Him and give ourselves over to Him, He guarantees we will have all that He has, despite our present imperfections. All God really wants is our sincere effort to love as He loves us.

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  8. Ecc 19-21 says Man and beast have one spirit and share the same fate. There is another verse about the spirit returning to god , even beast I think can’t find it. But also Isiah has the verse about a lamb and lion being cool with each-other in a new earth with man ruling over them.

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  9. Pingback: Do all dogs really go to heaven, (or did they never leave?) | For the Love of His Truth

    • Greg

      I call your attention to Revelation 22:15.

      Without going into much detail, it should be clear that the word dog is used descriptively, figuratively in this verse. That is, outside of the holy city are such persons who are comparable to dogs for their filthiness, impudence, and voraciousness, as are persecutors, heretics, apostates and Sodomites, as in Deut. 23:18. In that verse, it refers to the wages of a dog. It would be absurd to assume that dogs actually earned a salary, therefore it should be understood as figurative speech, which refers to the price paid to Sodomites, prostitutes also. The same inference is made by the usage of the word “dog” in the context of Rev 22:15.

      There is also a saying of the Jews, and with the understanding that these words in Rev 22 were originally written by a Jew, “when a man dies, if he be worthy (or righteous) he descends in the likeness of a lion to receive “his” soul, but if not, in the likeness of “a dog”.

      To further clarify this, see what David says, in Psalm 22:20: “Deliver my soul from the sword, my precious life from the power of the dog!” No literal dog would have had the power over David’s darling soul, his precious life. In this verse, the figurative use of the word “dog” refers to Satan, of course.

      There is much figurative use made of many animals in the Bible. Even our precious Lord, Jesus Christ was called the Lamb of God. In 2 Tim 4:17, Paul describes having been delivered from the mouth of a lion, yet his captors were men.

      In Psalm 22:16 we see: “For dogs encompass me; a company of evildoers encircles me; they have pierced my hands and feet—“ In reality those who committed these acts were certainly not dogs, but Roman soldiers, although they are figuratively referred to as dogs as it was common for Jews to call Gentiles “dogs” in those days.

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  10. I find it interesting that anyone who knows the Lord; who has studied His Word; learned about Him; and who has considered the wonders of His Creation, would have any difficulty at all in believing that our incredible, mind-blowingly creative, God – who obviously delights in an overflowing abundance of diversity – would not, in addition to untold ‘new’ wonders, have MORE in Heaven of everything that makes our lives interesting, satisfying, enjoyable, and wonderful…

    Yes, the Bible does not speak specifically to that fact, as it does not speak to a gazillion others… But, does anyone who knows and loves the Lord really think that this fallen planet is going end up having had a greater degree of diversity and abundance of life than our abodes in Heaven? For eternity???

    It’s clearly not a matter of salvation whether someone believes that there will be animals – or other forms of created life for that matter – throughout the universe in the eternal state, but I feel sorry for someone who believes that the God of the Bible would have less manifestation of His love for creative expression in Heaven, than He has shown us on this small, fallen (but glorious) planet. The lion will lay down with the lamb, which tells us right off the bat that there will be creatures that are familiar to us on the restored Earth during the Millennium, and that they will dwell in peace with each other – as well as us.

    I believe it was C.S. Lewis who said something along the lines of, “If you need your pet in Heaven, for it to be Heaven, then your pet will be there.” Obviously, the very fact that YOU will be in Heaven in the first place is because you’re saved and, because you are saved, you will naturally be praising and worshipping God – regardless of whatever else Heaven has in store. But I don’t believe that the God of the Bible will bring us into the glorious salvation of His Son – for eternity – and have that reality be LESS – in terms of God’s creative expression – than it is on this planet in any way. And I do believe that, in some cases, the animals we have loved, will be among the created life that populates the universe into eternity…

    I too, like the comment made by several others; ‘Why not?’ It’s not like God can’t do it… And it’s not like there’s not going to be any more creative acts of God into eternity; that that’s all wrapped up – forever… And, if He already knows that our hearts are ‘right’, and that Fido isn’t going to be a stumbling block to us, but rather a blessing, then why not???

    At the end of the day, however, I believe the issue is best left with the statement that, if God does not, for whatever reason, include our beloved pets in the afterlife, then, when that day comes and we experience what God does have in store, there’s no way that will be a ‘bummer’… All we are going to be saying at that time (when we gain the composure to speak at all) is, “How absolutely, totally, awesome; how unbelievably righteous, loving, wise and good, Thou art! All praise, honor, and glory by Yours – forever!”

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  11. Fascinating. Didn’t know about the Jewish tradition of “dogs” and “lions.” Makes sense. Always thought that somehow Paul had a run-in with some real lions. This seems much more reasonable.

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