Do our pets go to heaven?
In full sensitivity to all the pet lovers in the world, I must honestly respond by saying that I have never found conclusive biblical evidence that would suggest that "our pets"--meaning the very animals we currently have or have had--will be with us in the presence of the Lord. That's not to say that there will not be animals. Animals will certainly be present in the Millennial Kingdom, and the new heaven and new earth are assumed to have animals since God is restoring Creation to its original perfection which most certainly included animals of all kinds. (Genesis 2)
But to suggest that our departed pets will be be with us in eternity is to suggest that animals will be involved in some kind of resurrection from the dead, and/or that they are, by design, spiritually immortal creatures. Not only is it not possible to prove biblically that animals are spiritually immortal, I can't find proof that they are spiritual at all!
So, will animals be part of the renewed Kingdom? Undoubtedly. Will we be rejoined with pets that we shared life with on earth? My opinion is that is very doubtful.
A reader of our Q&A section emailed me after seeing my response to this question and offered the following comment:
I reviewed the question section and would like to add something regarding the pets going to heaven. I’ve actually been asked that before and have wondered myself, so having pondered and researched this, I find nothing said about pets. However, I offer this. The scripture tells us to “preach the gospel to every living creature” and I have always done so. If we are told to do this…for what purpose then, if it didn’t matter? That scripture seems to bring comfort to those who are grieving the loss of a pet.
You correctly quoted Mark 16:15, which, in the King James Version or New KJV, says:
And He said to them, "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature." (NKJV)
However I find two problems when citing that verse as comfort for a grieving pet owner who wants to believe that their deceased pet is in heaven.
First, when using a passage for any purpose, it's always a good idea to read the verses around it to make sure we’re using it correctly. This is especially true in this passage because the very next verse (:16) does shed some needful light to this issue. It says:
He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.
The two verses together constitute one complete statement by our Lord Jesus concerning salvation and makes clear WHO (of the “creatures” being preached to) will be saved.
The answer? Those who BELIEVE.
I think it’s obvious that an animal cannot place their faith in Christ for the forgiveness of sins. In addition to this, there is nothing in the Bible that suggests Jesus died to pay for the sins of animals.
The whole reason we preach the Gospel is so that the lost might be saved. And while the animal kingdom is definitely affected by man’s sin, animals themselves are nowhere characterized in the Scriptures as lost and needing forgiveness.
The second reason I would not use Mark 16:15 is because the Greek word for creature is ktisis and it is better translated by using the English word creation. In fact, that’s how the New American Standard Bible renders it:
And He said to them, "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation." (NASB)
So, if you're going to believe that Mark 16:15 includes a mandate for us to preach the Gospel to more than people, you will find that your job just got bigger! The word creation is even broader in scope than creature, encompassing literally everything that God ever made—including the sun, the moon, trees, rocks…I think you get my point.
When we see words like creature or creation related to preaching the Gospel, we need to translate the scope of those words by other passages in the Bible. (You’ve probably heard the saying, The best commentary on the Bible is the Bible.) And the witness of Scripture is clear: Jesus came as the second Adam, representing the sons of Adam in a way the first Adam failed to do. (1 Cor. 15:22; 45). (The word Adam actually means man.) Therefore, Jesus clearly came to represent mankind.