We know from Scripture that heaven is a real place. Are there sufficient Bible verses to tell us what heaven looks like? Are the images of angels and the saints playing harps while lying on the clouds an accurate depiction of heaven? Can we know for sure what heaven will be like? Everyone wants to know about heaven and everyone wants to go there.
Though most of us are not in a hurry to pass away, we all have questions about it. The only things we can know for certain about heaven are things revealed in the Bible. Everything else is speculation and hearsay. We also know from Scripture that there is only one way for us to see heaven and Jesus is Christ is the one and only access to it. There is no other way possible to go to heaven but by the Son of God. While the Bible tells us everything we need to know about heaven, there are a number of things that many believers don’t know.
Here are six surprising and important truths about heaven.
There are three heavens described in the Bible: our immediate atmosphere, outer space and the home of God. The first heaven is what is called the firmament or sky that covers the earth. This is the realm of birds and clouds that surrounds the entire earth. The second heaven is where the sun, the stars and the moon reside. This is the space beyond the earth and it covers the entire universe.
The third heaven is unseen and is the residence of God, including Jesus Christ. This is where the dead martyrs and the saints are today. This is the location of the throne of God and where the holy angels surrounding His throne sing day and night, Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord our God. We can conclude that there is such a specific place as the third heaven. It is always spoken of as being above the first and second heaven.
In addition, since these first two heavens are actual places we should also conclude that the third heaven is a real place too. There is no reason for us to assume it is symbolic especially since the first two heavens are speaking of known realities.
God is Preparing a Place For Us Now
A common sentiment heard at funerals, spoken in an effort to bring peace to the hearts of those left behind, is that the departed loved has gone on to be with Jesus and is now enjoying the afterlife in the heavenly paradise, looking down upon us. When the person presiding over the funeral uses Scripture to support this claim of immediate life after death, they often reference John 14. The Bible tells us, “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” (John 14:3).
When King David says, “And I will live in the house of the Lord forever,” he’s saying that God has prepared a place for him in heaven. Jesus did, indeed, promise that He left the earth to go and prepare a place for those who would eventually follow Him to heaven. On that point, the Bible is unmistakably clear. As Christians, we are right to find comfort in that promise.
Not Everyone Will Enter
In the book of Matthew, Jesus reminds us that not everyone will enter heaven. Jesus said, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord, will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heave. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and cast out demons in Your name, and do many might works in Your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’” (Matthew 7: 21-23).
We are taught in the Bible that in eternity many people will seek to enter heaven, but will be stopped and turned into hell instead. Most religious people die with an expectation of God letting them into heaven, but it doesn’t work that way. You have to enter into heaven God’s way, which is through Jesus Christ.
We Will Have Work to Do
The idea of working in heaven is foreign to many people. Yet, the Bible clearly teaches it. When God created Adam, He “took the man and put Him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it” (Genesis 2:15). Work was part of the original Eden. It was part of the perfect human life. God Himself is a worker. He didn’t create the world then retire. Jesus said, “My Father is always at His work to this very day, and I, too, am working” (John 5:17). Heaven too will be a place where we serve and work. Revelation mentions this several times; how we will be serving God. That is why God gave us work to do in the garden.
We Will Still Experience Emotions
In Scripture, God is said to enjoy, love, laughter, take delight and rejoice, as well as be angry, happy, jealous and glad. To be like God means to have and express emotions. Therefore, we should expect that in heaven emotions will exist for God’s glory and our good. We know that people in heaven have lots of feelings – all good ones. We’re told of banquets, feasts and singing. People will laugh there (Luke 6:21). The Bible says, “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying or pain” (Revelation 21:4).
These are the tears of suffering over sin and death, the tears of oppressed people, the cries of the poor, the widow, the orphaned, the unborn and the persecuted. There will be crying no more, though we might shed tears of joy. Imagine the joy flooding from your eyes as you meet Christ and as you’re reunited with loved ones.
The Struggle of Sin Will Finally Be Over
One of the greatest things that we have to look forward to is that the struggle over sin will finally be over. We all struggle with sin every day. We know that in the kingdom of heaven “nothing unclean will ever enter it, nor anyone who does what is detestable or false, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s book of life” (Revelation 21:27). This is only possible because of Jesus.
We have no fear of being judged for our sin because it was already judged and taken away at the cross by Christ. We will have heavenly bodies, free from sin. We will no longer face the challenges and limitations we face one earth.
Can you imagine what our first glimpse of heaven will be like? It will cause us to gasp with amazement and delight. That first gasp will likely be followed by many more as we continually encounter new sights in that endlessly wonderful place.
We know from Scripture that Heaven is not only a real place, but also a dwelling place of God. His throne is there, the angels are there, and the Lord Jesus Christ is there. What greater place do we have to look forward to?
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