"This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in just the same way as you have watched Him go into heaven." Acts 1:11
One morning in early 1971, John Lennon composed what became the anthem for the ages: “Imagine.” In that one-word tribute to utopian ideals, Lennon asked us to imagine what it would be like if there were no heaven. Where do we go to find out if heaven is a real place or just a figment of our imagination? Since the Bible is the inspired truth from God, Scripture is the place we turn to find out whether heaven is a real place or a state of mind.
A good place to start is with the only person who actually lived in heaven and came to earth to tell us what heaven is like. His name is Jesus Christ. In John 14:2-3, Jesus said, “In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. 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.”
There are three key words in this passage that help us answer the question: “Is heaven a real place?” The first Greek word, “topos,” is translated “place.” Jesus said three times: “I go to prepare a place for you.” Heaven is a place, an exact geographical location. The second word, “mone,” is translated “dwelling places.” This word refers to the domicile of a person. Jesus was saying, “In My Father’s house, there is a place designed just for you.” The third word is “prepare.” Jesus said, “I go to prepare a place for you.” You do not have to prepare a state of mind. Jesus is in heaven right now preparing a future residence for us.
After Jesus rose from the dead, He spent 40 days on the earth in His new resurrection body. At the end of those 40 days, He fulfilled His promise to ascend back to His Father in heaven. Jesus’ followers gathered with Him on the Mount of Olives, and Luke recorded what happened: “He was lifted up while they were looking on, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. And as they were gazing intently into the sky while He was going, behold, two men in white clothing stood beside them. They also said, ‘Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into the sky? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in just the same way as you have watched Him go into heaven’” (Acts 1:9-11). Jesus was at the Mount of Olives, and He ascended into heaven.
Can you go from a geographical location into a state of mind? That does not make sense. Jesus went from one location, the Mount of Olives, to another location, heaven. The angels said one day Jesus is going to come from heaven, a real location, back to a real place on earth. You don’t come from a state of mind back to a physical location. And He will return in the same way. Just as Jesus was literally and visibly brought from earth to heaven, one day Jesus will literally and visibly return from heaven back to earth. And when He comes, every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. Heaven is a geographical location.