I am the resurrection and the life; he who
believes in Me will live even if he dies.
Jesus often talked about heaven. The details of heaven are incomplete,
probably because a full understanding of heaven would make it difficult to
concentrate on the responsibilities God has given us on earth. Yet the Bible
reveals some realities about heaven to whet our appetites for this future
Heaven is an actual location. Jesus taught that heaven is an actual location,
not a state of mind. He said, “I go to prepare a place for you” (John 14:2).
The word translated “place” is the Greek word “topos,” which was often
used to describe a geographical destination.
Heaven is an immediate destination. Jesus assured the penitent thief
on the cross that upon his death he would immediately be in Paradise
(Luke 23:43). Paul said for a believer to be “absent from the body” is “to
be at home with the Lord” (2 Corinthians 5:8). However, unlike where
Christians go immediately when they die, heaven is a location that is still
under construction. In Revelation 21, John describes “a new heaven and a
new earth” and a “new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God”
only after “the first heaven and the first earth passed away” (vv. 1-2).
Heaven will be a re-created earth. Some people think heaven is in some
galaxy far, far away. But the Bible teaches that the eternal dwelling place
for Christians will be a re-created earth (Psalm 37:9; Matthew 5:5;
2 Peter 3:13). God is just as intent on reclaiming a sinful earth as He is in
rescuing sinful mankind.
Heaven is a continuum of our earthly existence. The Bible describes our
lives as a continuum that begins on earth and extends beyond the grave. The
mountains, rivers, and trees that were part of God’s original design will be
present in the new earth. There is also continuity between our earthly bodies
and our eternal bodies. We will possess new bodies that are vastly superior,
yet also similar, to our present bodies. And the choices we make in this life
extend beyond our death and reverberate throughout eternity.
Heaven is reserved for those who trust in Christ. Jesus declared that the
only way to escape hell is to believe in Him. If you conclude that Jesus’
teachings about heaven and hell offer the most reliable information about
the destinations that await us when we die, then you must embrace the
reality that the only way you can be welcomed into heaven is by receiving
God’s offer of forgiveness on this side of the grave.