In an earlier blog, we looked briefly what happens when a believer in Jesus Christ dies. But where is heaven, how does it look, who will we find there, how big is it? These and many more questions have been asked about heaven.
A little city girl was in the country for the first time and saw the night sky. “Oh, mother, if heaven is so beautiful on the wrong side, what must it be like on the right side!”
Jesus Christ indicated that heaven is the dwelling place of God (Matthew 6:9). Jesus, during his earthly ministry, repeatedly claimed that he had come from heaven (John 3:13; John 6:33–51). On at least three occasions a voice from heaven confirmed these claims (Matthew 3:16–17; Matthew 17:5; John 12:28). Heaven is where the true tabernacle stands, of which the earthly tabernacle was just a shadow (Hebrews 8:1–5). Paul had this in his mind when he wrote of “the third heaven” (2 Corinthians 12:2). Heaven is the place where God himself is (Matthew 23:22; Luke 15:18).
When Jesus ascended into heaven, Acts 1:6–11, two angels reminded the disciples that Jesus would return again from heaven on the day of the Second Coming. This was later confirmed by the apostle Paul (1 Corinthians 15:1–11; Ephesians 4:7–16; 1 Timothy 3:16).
Jesus Christ and His relation to heaven is very clear and woven through the New Testament. Jesus Christ, after He ascended into heaven sits on the “right hand of God” the Father, where He pleads with the Father for you, who gave your life to Jesus Christ in faith (Hebrews 7:25; Mark 14:62).
Paul said that the believer’s body will be changed and be like the body of Jesus Christ when Christ returns from heaven (Philippians 3:20–21). The believers need such a heavenly body to match their heavenly citizenship. The term “citizenship of heaven” implies that the children of God live in a foreign country (on earth) where they observing the laws of their homeland (heaven) instead of the land in which they live (Acts 22:28). This means that believers in Jesus Christ are to live according to the moral and ethical principles of heaven as God revealed it in the Bible regardless of the standards proclaimed by the world (Colossians 3:1).
From heaven Christ has blessed his followers “with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms” (Ephesians 1:3). This expression suggests that these blessing can be lived and perceived by faith here and now. That is why believers are expected to live their heavenly calling already on earth (Hebrews 3:1; 6:4).
In the meanwhile, believers look forward to a new heaven and a new earth with the new Jerusalem. There will be no tears, sorrow, pain, death, and night there because the Son of God will be there (Revelation 21:1–4, 27; 22:1–5), and in the resurrected state there will be no marrying or giving in marriage (Luke 20:27–38).
We know of at least two Old Testament saints, Enoch (Genesis 5:22–24; Hebrews 11:5) and Elijah (2 Kings 2:11) went directly to heaven into the presence of God. We also know according to Matthew 8:11 that Abraham, Isaac and Jacob are in heaven. We also know that John saw was called into heaven (Revelation 4:1), and when John saw all of this, he heard a “great multitude” of people in heaven (Revelation 19:1). All believers will ultimately be in heaven with their resurrection bodies, which they will receive when the Lord comes for them from heaven (1 Thessalonians 4:16–17; Revelation 19:1–4). The Lord will also give treasures and rewards at that time (Matthew 5:12; 1 Corinthians 9:25; 2 Corinthians 5:1; 2 Timothy 4:8; James 1:12; 1 Peter 1:4; 5:4; Revelation 2:10; 4:10).