Last week we considered the reality of hell. If you have yet to read the post on hell, I would encourage you to do so. The subject of our thoughts today, however, are on the opposite end of the spectrum, I want us to consider some truths about heaven. When someone hears the word “heaven” there is no telling what mental picture might appear? Maybe an angel in a long white robe, sitting on a cloud, and playing a harp? Maybe Peter standing at the pearly gates ushering people in? Still others have no idea what heaven is like and they just think of it as a place to be preferred over hell. As always, if we want the truth about a matter we need to look into God’s Word, the Bible. Of all the things the Bible tells us about heaven, there are three that I want to share with you here.
First, just as hell is a literal place, so is heaven. When we see the word heaven in the Bible it can speak contextually of one of three places. It can mean the space in our atmosphere, it can mean outer space where the stars and planets are, or it can mean the place of God’s throne. The place where God’s throne resides is a literal place, just as inner and outer space are a literal part of what we can see. One day Jesus told His disciples that He was going away. He was speaking of His death, burial, resurrection, and ascension back to heaven. The idea of Jesus leaving troubled His disciples greatly. In response, Jesus said, “Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. 2 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. 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also” (John 14.1-3). Jesus has prepared a literal dwelling place for all those who are saved by faith in Him. Heaven is a literal place where the redeemed of Christ will abide with Him.
Another aspect of the reality of heaven has to do with our existence there. Heaven is not some ethereal place. Being in heaven will not be like walking in the mist or sitting among the clouds. Many have the tendency to think of heaven as some dreamy place where we will just float around. Much to the contrary, the Bible describes heaven in clear literal terms. The apostle John tells us in Revelation 21 and 22 that there will be a new heaven and a new earth as well as a new Jerusalem. These places are described in vivid detail with a river, trees, the throne of God, and dwelling places for the redeemed. Those who are saved by faith in Jesus Christ will have resurrection bodies like the one Jesus has. The saints of God will be able to recognize one another just as we are known here in these bodies. What an encouragement to meditate on the reality of heaven and what it will mean to live there.
Secondly, just as hell is a forever place, so heaven is a forever place. The new heaven, the new earth, and the new Jerusalem are eternal in nature. The resurrection bodies the redeemed will receive are eternal bodies that will never get sick, never get tired, never get old, and never die. What a glorious change that will be from this life. Paul told the church at Corinth, “For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens” (2 Corinthians 5.1). Paul said here that when this body is dead and gone, we who are saved by faith in Jesus have a new body that will last forever.
Finally, heaven is a holy place. Isaiah the prophet had a vision of God on His throne and in that vision he could see the worship of the seraphim who surround the throne of God. Isaiah heard the seraphim saying, “Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of His glory” (Isaiah 6.3b). God is holy beyond human comprehension and therefore the place where He dwells is absolutely holy, devoid of the slightest imperfection or sin.
The implication of the holiness of heaven means there will be no one there who is unholy. God will not allow sin into His presence, nor will He allow sin of any kind into His holy heaven. The apostle Paul said it this way, “Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, 20 Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, 21 Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God” (Galatians 5.19-21). I will not take the time to deal with each of the sins listed here individually, but suffice it to say, Paul covered every area in which we might sin. The point here is simply this, we are all guilty of one or more of these sins in word, thought, or deed. None of us is holy enough to get into God’s heaven. That is why we need God’s forgiveness of our sin and his righteousness applied to our account to get into heaven. Only God can make us holy enough to be in His presence in His heaven. The only way to be forgiven of sin and receive His righteousness is to confess our sin to Him and ask Jesus to forgive our sin and save our soul. The only way to be saved is by faith in Jesus Christ and Him alone. That’s the truth about heaven, are you going to be there? It is my prayer that if you are not sure, you will pray and receive Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior today.