What Does the Bible Say About Heaven?

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, October 9, 2017 0 comments

by Katie Erickson

This week begins our new series of topics regarding what the Bible says about a variety of topics. Last week, we explored why the Bible is an authority on such matters.

So what does the Bible say about heaven? A lot, actually. First of all, heaven was created by God: “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1). God created the earth as a dwelling place for His people (more on that in a couple weeks), and the heavens as the place where God was to dwell. After the fall of mankind in Genesis 3, heaven became a place that humans could no longer go without a right relationship with God. God cannot be in the presence of sin, and humans had sinned. Heaven (and more importantly the presence of God there) is where we should all long to be, because it is a perfect place, free of any sort of sin or evil (Revelation 21-22).

While heaven may be known as a big, big house with lots and lots of rooms, that is essentially how Jesus Himself described it. John 14:1-3 says, “‘Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.”

How do we get to heaven? Jesus answers that question, just a few verses after the previous passage, in John 14:6: “Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.’” We know that Jesus Christ will reign in heaven, seated at the right hand of God, and we will get to go there to join Him if we have faith in Him (Colossians 3:1-4).

We learn a number of things about heaven (and hell - more on that next week) from the parable of the rich man and Lazarus in Luke 16:19-31. We know that a person cannot cross between the two. Heaven is the reward for those who have faith, and our life circumstances on earth don’t matter there. This is the only passage where we see any correspondence between the two sides of heaven and hell.

Read Revelation 21-22 for a pretty detailed description of what heaven will look like and it’s physical characteristics. But remember that language is limiting; John (the author of Revelation) probably had no words to describe the majesty, glory, and perfection of the glimpse of heaven that he got to experience. Our limited human minds and vocabulary just can’t grasp or understand the complete and inexplicable brilliance of this glorious place!

Have you ever wondered about Revelation 21:1, which says, “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea.” This same idea is echoed earlier, in Isaiah 65:17-25. The new earth makes sense, since this one is full of sin. But why a new heaven? The answer is in the concept of the current heaven versus the eternal heaven.

The current heaven is the heaven that exists right now, where all believers in Jesus who have physically died now exist. We who believe will all go to the current heaven when we physically die, assuming Jesus’ 2nd coming has not yet happened. The current heaven is like when you’re waiting to get into a really great concert, but they haven’t opened the doors yet; it’s still awesome to be there, but it’s not quite the main event yet.

We know that if we have faith, we will get to go to the current heaven immediately when we die (Luke 23:39-43). What’s happening in the current heaven? We can eat from the tree of life (Revelation 2:7) and experience that eternal life that is promised to us. Those who have been killed for their faith are there, crying out for justice on earth and praying (Revelation 6:9-11). The saints there will serve God day and night, they will never hunger or thirst, and they will not have any sorrow (Revelation 7:13-17).

So what’s the deal with the new heaven then? The new heaven is the eternal heaven, that will happen after the second coming of Jesus. This is like when the concert doors finally open and you’re let into the main event - it will be way beyond the most amazing thing you can imagine! This is the house of many rooms that Jesus spoke of in John 14:1-3. We know from Matthew 22:23-33 that earthly family relationships really won’t matter there, since we’re all the family of God. We as believers will get to live on forever there (Isaiah 66:22). The eternal heaven is where God’s righteousness dwells (2 Peter 3:13). If we have followed Jesus in this life, we will receive our eternal reward there (Matthew 19:28-30).

Do we know exactly what heaven will look like? Nope. But do the details really matter? If you’re only concerned about things like how big your room there will be or who will get the room next to yours, then I’d encourage you to check your focus. The point of heaven is for God’s creation to finally be able to dwell with Him forever and spend our days doing the best thing ever - giving glory to God. How awesome is that!

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