Every civilization that has ever existed has had some belief about the after-life. The Egyptians, Vikings, Greeks, Romans, Jews and the list goes on believed that there was more to this life. Most of these civilizations spent incredible amounts of time, money and resources to prepare for the after-life. Think about the pyramids or King Tut’s Tomb. And, it is not only civilizations, deep down inside every person that has ever lived there is a belief that we were created for more than this. But, what is the after-life actually going to be like? Well, let’s see what the Bible has to say about where we will spend eternity.
Heaven is a place
Jesus tells us that Heaven is a place. Jesus tells His disciples in John 14:1-3, “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.” We are not some disembodied spirit when we die. We do not float around in space. We do not become angles when we die and float around playing a harp. No, we go to a place – a place God has prepared for us. Now, this place is more than we can even imagine.
If you are in Christ, then you go to this place, Heaven, immediately when you die. When Jesus was crucified, He was put on a cross between two common criminals. One criminal mocked Him; the other criminal revered Him. This later criminal said to the one mocking Jesus, “‘Don’t you fear God,’ he said, ‘since you are under the same sentence? We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.’ Then he said, ‘Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.’” Now, notice Jesus’ answer to him, “I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise.” Today – there is no purgatory or holding place. If you are in Christ, then immediately after you die you will awaken to the face of Christ. And, you will be home in Heaven.
Heaven is the place God dwells
The most famous verse in the Bible is John 3:16. This was spoken by Jesus, “For God so love the world that He gave His One and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.” God made a way for us to spend eternity with Him. It is not about what we do, but about what He has done for us through Christ on the cross. Jesus paid for our sins. Sin is what separates us from God. We can never be “good enough” to get to a perfect, holy God, so God made a way for us. Christ is our Savior and our goal; heaven is the reward. Our call is to fix our eyes on Christ and to know that our eternity is secure. Our forever home awaits because of God’s grace, mercy and love.
Now, think about this: Heaven is the place God dwells, so Heaven will be everything that God is – and God is love, light, joy, peace, life, and the so on. The very character and nature of God permeates this place. Therefore, since Heaven is where God dwells, then this means that hell is the absence of God – no love, no light, no joy, no life, no peace. God wants all people to be with Him, and He has made a way for us through Christ. We will be with the Lord forever. How awesome to think about being fully known and fully loved by God – to know Him intimately and to live in perfect relationship with Him, as well as others, forever.
Heaven is more wonderful than we can imagine
In the book of Revelation, God pulls back the curtain (this is what “Revelatio” means in Latin) and allows the apostle John to take a peek into Heaven. Here’s what John writes: “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.’” Revelation 21:1-4. This “new heaven and new earth” means that God is preparing something incredible
If you go back to Genesis 1-2, you see as God created the “heavens and the earth” and it was perfect. God was in right relationship with man (Adam and Eve) – he would “walk with them in the garden” – and they were in right relationship with one another – “they knew no shame.” Then, came sin – man rebelled against God. When sin entered the picture, so did death, decay and destruction. Now, you have a separation of a Holy God from sinful man. Sin always has consequences. Work became toilsome, pain in child-bearing, the earth in decay and death for all living things. But God! God sent His Son to pay the price and to redeem mankind from sin through substitutionary atonement (taking our place on the cross). And, then in the Last Days, God will make “all things new.” This means, He will redeem all of creation – new heaven and a new earth.
Revelation 21-22 takes us back to when the world was perfect. All of sin is banished, satan defeated and the all things made new. Therefore, think about a renewed and redeemed earth – rivers, mountains, sheer beauty; think about a perfect relationship with God and a perfect relationship with one another (without sin to spoil or taint any of our relationships). This is what it will be like. The Bible tells us that we will have new “resurrected” bodies (1 Corinthians 15), that we will know our loved ones (can’t wait to see my dad and others who have gone before me), and we will reach our full potential. God created you. He put the desires in your heart. And, He will fulfill those desires through all of eternity. You will be in your forever home, and you will be fully alive.
We can prepare for Heaven now
We don’t wait to prepare for our eternal Home until we die, we prepare now. Jesus tells us, “Do not store up for yourselves treasure on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But, store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Matthew 6:19-21. There will be two judgments we will all face. The first judgment will come when we die. God will ask us, “What did you do with My Son, Jesus Christ.” We will have to give an answer – not my parent’s faith, my church’s faith or even my country’s faith, but my faith – what do I believe about Jesus? Is He truly God’s Son and the Savior and Redeemer of my life.
The second judgment will center around what we have done here on this earth. God will ask us, “What did you do with what you were given?” Again, we will have to give an answer. What did we do with the time, resources, talents and abilities God gave us – did we invest in simply building our own kingdom or did we invest in building His Kingdom? We will be given rewards based on what we did with our 70, 80, 90 or 100 years on this earth. Rewards will be given (or crowns), but I believe we will turn around and lay them at the feet of Jesus – all for His glory! What we do here on this earth matters. Spending time in worship, growing in God’s Word, sharing Christ with a fried all have an eternal impact.
C.S. Lewis writes, “Aim for heaven and you get earth thrown in. Aim for earth and you will get neither.” Are you living for the things of God or the things of this world? The best of your life is still to come. Focus on Christ and invest in what will last. Don’t get distracted by things that are temporary because God is preparing an eternal home for you that will far exceed anything this world can offer. The best is yet to come – Heaven!