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.
Today, there is a great deal of interest in our culture about the subject of heaven. We see that interest in some of the best-selling books and movies about heaven. Many of these books use so-called near-death experiences to try to fill in the blanks about what heaven is like. This week, we will look at the top 10 questions people have about heaven and what the Bible says.
The first and most foundational question is this: “Is heaven an actual place or is it simply a state of mind?” What does the Bible say about the reality of the place called heaven? 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.” That word “place” is the Greek word “topos,” which means a geographical location. It’s as if Jesus were going out of His way to say that heaven is an actual place.
We see an illustration of that in Acts 1:9-11. Jesus was getting ready to ascend into heaven from the Mount of Olives, and His disciples were around Him. After reminding them of their mandate, “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.’” Did Jesus leave a geographical place and go into a state of mind? The angel said one day Jesus is coming from heaven back to this very real earth. Does it make sense to say Jesus is coming out of a state of mind back to a geographical location? No, both are real places. The Bible doesn’t stutter on this subject: heaven is an actual place, not just a state of mind.
That leads to a second question about heaven: “Where do Christians go when they die?” We often say, “When a Christian dies, he goes to heaven.” That is partly true, and it is partly untrue. In 2 Corinthians 5:8, the Bible is very clear that for a Christian, “to be absent from the body” is “to be at home with the Lord.” The moment a Christian dies, his spirit goes immediately into the presence of Jesus. And in that sense, he is in heaven. But the heaven that a Christian immediately goes to is not his final and eternal home. The Bible says that one day this present heaven and earth will be destroyed by fire (2 Peter 3:10). Then what happens? In Revelation 21:1, John says, “I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away.” When we die, we go immediately to be with the Lord, but that is not our eternal dwelling place. Ultimately, we will inhabit the new heaven and new earth that are yet to be constructed.
Today’s devotion is excerpted from “The Truth About Heaven” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2015.
Scripture quotations are taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.