Have you ever wondered what Heaven is like? I believe God wants us to know. Yet, there are so many misconceptions about heaven. When I was young, I would lie awake at night and wonder what I would do for eternity. I could not get my head around it. Plus, I thought it would be boring. Now, I love church – which helps, considering I am a pastor – however, I thought being in a worship service for eternity would be almost unbearable. In addition, I never wanted to play a harp or sit on a cloud all day. Yet, as I have studied God’s Word more and more, that is so far from the truth regarding the incredible place that God has prepared for us!
We are the first generation of Christians who have not longed for Heaven. Every other generation couldn’t wait for Heaven! They experienced problems, hurt, and pain, so they were excited about, and looked forward to, a place of perfection! Even though we have the same problems, hurt, and pain (since we live in this fallen world), we medicate ourselves. With drugs, money, travel, spas, and more we mask the pain. In addition, we do not know what the Bible actually says about Heaven, so we live with the misconceptions. Yet, when we actually understand Heaven, it changes everything about how we live this life!
What does the Bible teach about Heaven?
1. It is a place
Jesus told His disciples, “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in Me. In My Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you.” John 14:1-2. Heaven is a place. It is both spiritual and physical. It is in the continual Presence of God. He is the light of Heaven. God is Love, and we will be eternally in the Presence of everything good.
2. It is paradise
Jesus told the thief on the cross, “I tell you the truth, today you will be with Me in paradise.” Luke 23:43. Paradise literally means a beautiful, “well-kept garden.” Think about the Garden of Eden. Think about a perfect place where you can enjoy, eat, be in right relationship and share life.
Now, the Bible clearly teaches that if you are in Christ (Jesus said in John 14:6, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”), then when you die, you will immediately go to Heaven. However, here is the amazing part: There is more to this incredible story! This Heaven will not be our permanent home. God is doing something even greater!
In the book of Revelation, God gives the apostle John a glimpse into His ultimate work because God wants us to know what it is like. He doesn’t want us to dread going to Heaven; in fact, He wants us to be excited about this place that He is preparing for us. Here is what John writes in Revelation 21:1-5, “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Now the dwelling of God is with men, and He will live with them. They will be His people, and God Himself will be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.’ He who was seated on the throne said, ‘I am making everything new!’ Then He said, ‘Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.’”
Think about this: “A new heaven and a new earth,” and “God is making all things new.” Do you know what this means? God is redeeming this world in which we currently live. One day Christ will return, and this current world will end (The “End Times”). He will banish satan for all eternity, and He will stop the pain, hurt and suffering we all endure (by the way, there are more prophecies about Jesus’ Second Coming than His first). At that time, God will bring Heaven to Earth. The Holy City – streets of gold, fine jewels, etc. – will descend to this earth. God will reside with His people and He will make everything new. We will have brand new, resurrected bodies that will never wear out. No more tears, and no more death. Forever in the Presence of God. (You can read more in Isaiah 60, 65-66 and Revelation 21-22). Think about all these “re” words in Scripture: Re-birth, Re-newal, Re-turn, Re-demption, Re-conciliation. God is Re-deeming and Re-storing us and His Creation!
Now, Imagine Heaven:
- Imagine a place that is perfect.
- Imagine being in the Presence of God – fully known and fully accepted.
- Imagine seeing your loved ones again – those who have gone before you.
- Imagine having time to explore, see and experience waterfalls, mountains and places you have always dreamed of seeing.
- Imagine all of our senses being fully utilitzed – not dulled by sin or the Fall. Perfect taste buds, sense of smell, sight in high def, feel and touch.
- Imagine no more war or fighting, but just grace and love.
- Imagine having a job to do, and it is in your sweet spot – your gifts and talents. Doing what you love and having the time. (Work was actually given before the Fall).
- Imagine time to create, dream and build.
- Imagine taking walks with your friends and having time to spend together.
- Imagine animals and man in perfect harmony.
- Imagine worshipping God with Christ-followers from every nation and tribe.
This is Heaven! This is our eternal home!
C.S. Lewis wrote in Mere Christianity, “If you read history, you will find that the Christians who did the most for the present world were just those who thought most of the next. The Apostles themselves, who set on foot the conversion of the Roman Empire, the great men who built up the Middle Ages, the English Evangelicals who abolished the Slave Trade, all left their mark on Earth, precisely because their minds were occupied with Heaven. It is since Christians have largely ceased to think of the other world that they have become so ineffective in this. Aim at Heaven and you get earth ‘thrown in’; aim at earth and you get neither.”
D.L. Moody wrote, “Soon you will read in the newspaper that I am dead. Don’t believe it for a moment. I will be more alive than ever before.”
Heaven is better than we can dream or imagine! What we do here on this earth impacts eternity. Therefore, let’s live our lives here for the glory of our great God who has prepared this awesome place for us! Heaven!