What is Heaven All About?November 1, 2020 Save Article
Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also. (John 14:1-3)
Can you imagine a place designed for you by someone who loved you so much He gave His Son to die for you? The Apostle John said, “In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son...” (1 John 4:10).
That’s love, isn’t it? We’re limited in our knowledge of the details about Heaven. God has purposely withheld some things from us. But He gives us all we need to know, and what we know leaves us in breathless wonder.
When the Apostle Paul took his trip to Heaven, he later said he saw and heard “inexpressible words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter” (2 Corinthians 12:4).
A Gallup poll found that 72% of the American people believe in Heaven, 60% believe in Hell, and only 4% think they are going to Hell. That leaves a vast majority believing they’re going to Heaven, but as the old Gospel song says, “Everybody talkin' 'bout heav'n ain't goin' there.”
Here are some facts God does give us about Heaven.
1. Heaven is a real place.
Heaven isn’t a philosophical idea or a vague state of mind. It’s a real place on God’s map. When Paul described his experience of visiting Heaven, he wrote, “whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows” (2 Corinthians 12:3). That indicates you can go to Heaven in your body or in your spirit.
Paul also said he was “caught up” into the “third heaven” (2 Corinthians 12:2-4). There is one place on the globe that’s always up. It’s not by accident that no matter where you are on planet Earth, people say “down south,” and “up north.” Why? Because north is a fixed position. This tells us Heaven is in a direction—“up”—like the North Star. I believe the Bible teaches that Heaven is north. In these passages of Scripture, the direction of Heaven is north.
In Isaiah 14:13-14, Lucifer said, before he fell, “I will also sit on the mount of the congregation on the farthest sides of the north…above the stars... above the heights of the clouds.”
In Leviticus 1:11, God said the altar before Him was on the north side.
Psalm 75:6-7 says exaltation does not come from the east, west, or south but from God, and only one direction remains: north.
Why would Paul mention the “third heaven”? Because there are three.
- The Bible speaks of the “fowls of the heavens." That’s the atmospheric heaven, the atmosphere surrounding earth.
- “The stars of Heaven” indicate the second heaven, the stellar heaven.
- The third heaven is the abode of God, a real place to which Jesus ascended in His resurrection body.
Someone said of these three heavens, “The first we see by day, the second we see by night, the third we see by faith.” One day you’ll be there in a resurrected body—a real place to put your resurrected feet on.
2. The saved go to Heaven immediately at death.
Every believer in Christ goes immediately to Heaven at death. Some people think the soul sleeps in the grave, awaiting the resurrection. No. The body awaits the resurrection; your spirit goes immediately to be with Jesus. For example:
- Jesus told the dying thief on the cross, “Today you will be with Me in Paradise” (Luke 23:43).
- Jesus Himself as He died, said, “Father, into Your hands, I commit My spirit” (Luke 23:46).
- Stephen, the first Christian martyr, stoned for his faith, “looked up steadfastly into Heaven, and saw the glory of God,” then said, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit” (Acts 7:59).
There comes a time when we move out of this body and into a position with our Lord in Heaven. The Apostle Paul said he desired, “to depart and be with Christ, which is far better” (Philippians 1:23). The soul goes directly into the presence of God.
3. We will know our loved ones.
People ask whether we will know one another in heaven. In Bible times, you couldn’t see a reflection as clearly as we can today with a modern mirror, so Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 13:12, “For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known.” Of course, we will know one another in Heaven. When King David’s newborn son died, David wrote, “He shall not return to me. I will go to him” (2 Samuel 12:23). We go to our loved ones in Heaven.
When Paul was writing to the Thessalonians about the return of Christ, he assured them they could look forward to the Rapture and our being gathered not only to meet the Lord but to meet one another as we are “caught up together” (1 Thessalonians 4:15-17).
When Old Testament saints such as Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, and Aaron died, the Bible says they were “gathered to their people” (Genesis 25:8, 35:29, 49:29, 49:33, Numbers 20:24, 26, and Deuteronomy 32:50).
Paul told the church in 1 Thessalonians 5:10, “Whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with Him.” Jesus spoke of a great family reunion in Heaven: “And I say to you that many will come from east and west, and sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 8:11).
We’re going to fellowship there with these people. We’ll know them. On the Mount of Transfiguration, Elijah and Moses appeared, and the disciples, though they’d never met them, recognized them.
4. There will be joyful activity in Heaven.
One of the myths about Heaven is that we’ll wear wooly robes with halos, sitting on fluffy clouds, plucking harps. No, we’ll be busy! Heaven is rest, but it’s not laziness. We will help God rule His vast universe (Revelation 7:15). Paul said, “If we suffer with Him, we shall also reign with Him” (2 Timothy 2:12), and it will be our greatest joy. What a privilege! It won’t be boring; it will be thrilling.
5. Heaven is a place of absolute perfection.
The Bible tells us more about what will not be there than what will. God’s Word says there will be no more sin, sorrow, suffering, no more doubts, tears, pain, disease, or death, “for the former things are passed away” (Revelation 21:4).
On Earth, we see God’s creative genius. Look at a mountain range or into the face of a flower. See the God who sculpted the rose, crafted the delicate butterfly’s wings, painted the rainbow, and gives us glorious sunsets. Even in a world marred by sin, you catch a glimpse of that glory.
But Heaven will be the consummate work of God’s creative genius. That’s why the Apostle Paul said, “For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21).
Heaven is the presence of all that’s good and the absence of all that’s bad. Heaven is all the loving heart of God desires, the incredible mind of God can conceive, and the almighty hand of God can create. God’s love, His mind, and His power are on display in Heaven. No wonder Paul said, “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him” (1 Corinthians 2:9).
6. Jesus is Heaven’s crowning glory
To me, Heaven is not primarily a place. Heaven is a person. Jesus said, “I go to prepare a place for you…that where I am, there you may be also” (John 14:2-3). Heaven is where we get to be with Jesus.
If you’re not looking forward to being with Jesus, if you’re just waiting for an eternal vacation, you’re not going to Heaven. What makes Heaven, Heaven? To be with Jesus. Jesus wants us to see His glory and to be there with Him (John 17:24).
7. Only the redeemed are going to Heaven.
You had an earthly birth; you need a heavenly birth. You must be “born from above” to go to Heaven. Citizens of Heaven have “washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb” (Revelation 7:14). What does that mean? That you’ve received Christ and His atoning blood for your sin. What church or denomination you belong to means nothing. No denomination ever got you to Heaven. John says the only people there are “those who are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life” (Revelation 21:27).
The only way into Heaven is through Jesus. Heaven has a password: Jesus. If you’ve given your heart to Christ, if you’ve been born again, if you can sincerely say “In my hand, no price I bring; simply to Thy cross I cling,” the gates of Heaven will open wide.
Have you ever done that? Have you said: “Lord Jesus, thank You for dying for me. Lord, I’m not trusting my religion or anything good I’ve ever done. I’m trusting You.” If you do that, I promise you on the authority of the Word of God, you’ll be Heaven-born and Heaven-bound, and I’ll meet you just inside the Eastern Gate.
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