For many eternity is something we don’t often talk about or think about. The bottom line is that we are eternal beings created by God to live for eternity. And the future condition of every human being is determined by the decisions you make here on earth today. Moral decisions and ultimately the decision to make Jesus Christ the Lord of your life or to reject his offer of salvation will determines our eternal destiny. Since heaven or hell are the eternal place for everyone on earth, it is surprising that so little is said about it from our pulpits.
Because of the fear of the unknown, we avoid talking about Heaven. This is also one of Satan’s primary goals, to make little of heaven and our eternal home with our Heavenly Father. Satan firstly wants to convince us that Heaven does not exist, then if he fails in that he will try to convince us that Heaven is a boring and unattractive place that we go to after our “real life” here on earth is done. The truth is that Satan hates the New Heaven and the New Earth that we read about in the Revelation to the apostle John.
“Grasping what the Bible teaches about Heaven shifts our center of gravity and radically alters our perspective on life”. Alcorn
In John 14 we see Jesus’ final remarks during the last supper as he was preparing his disciples for his death. Then Jesus made the statement; “Trust in God; trust also in me.”He was not suggesting that they should or could trust in him to make good on his promises. He was probably giving them a command to trust in him to have faith, because Jesus knows that he is faithful and that all the promises of God are true and trustworthy. God is able to make good on any promise he makes. We too can and must trust him.
Jesus goes on to tell his disciples that he is going to prepare a place for them, his disciples must have had a hundred questions; What is this place? Where is it? What is it going to be like? How do we get there?
Today we also have many questions regarding Heaven. The first issue that is questioned about heaven is whether or not it is an actual place or a state. Since God is spirit and we are to be in close communion with him, some say Heaven is only a state of mind and not a real place. However, Jesus ascended to heaven in a resurrected body and we too will receive resurrected bodies to live in heaven (1 Corinthians 15). Thus it must be a place where we can live in a real existence. While it is probable that heaven is in another dimension, we still can be assured that heaven is both a place and a state.
So if heaven is a real place, can we look at anything here around us and say, that this is what heaven will be like? Just like it is impossible for us to describe God using our vocabulary and things we can identify with, so to it is impossible to fully describe heaven. We also want to understand heaven through the lens of what brings us pleasure here on earth, and we simply cannot do that, because we live in a world tainted by the effects of sin. Heaven will be filled with pleasures that are infinitely more real and lasting than anything we know here in this lifetime.
But the primary joy of heaven will not be the state of our being, or the weather or the experiences we will taste. Far superior to all of that will be the fact that we will be in the presence of God.
We were made to have communion with God, God created man in his own image way back in the book of Genesis to have fellowship with him. But when sin entered the world, that relationship was broken and there was a separation that took place. Inside every human being is a longing and an unfulfilled desire that can only be met by the perfect presence of God himself (Ecclesiastes 3:11).
Being in the presence of God for eternity is heaven and being separated from God for eternity is hell. Our selfish and humanistic mindset cannot even begin to grasp what it will be like to be in the presence of God and to worship him, in his presence. My friends, it will not be boring, that is a lie from Satan. In our “what’s in it for me” culture, we have no idea of what it will be like to be in the presence of the creator of the universe. Heaven will be primarily a place filled with the glory of God (Revelation 21:23).
So heaven will be a place of rest, peace and worship of God, but heaven will also be a place of service and work. We will not be idly sitting on clouds playing harps. God is a creative God and he designed us to be creative beings along with him. We see in Genesis 1, that God created man to rule and take care of the creatures of the earth. God is still creating, he will continue to create and we will work in various capacities and roles of authority in the new heaven and the new earth (See the parable of the Bags of Gold in Matthew 25:14-30).
The final question we must face is how do we get there?
If heaven is real, and our lives here on earth are very temporary, we need to know how to get to Heaven, our eternal resting place, with God. Thomas asked the same question (John 14:5)
Jesus is the way, and the Bible is clear that he is the only way. I know that this is not politically correct in our modern society, but it is not a popular message. Only those who have committed their lives to Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and savior will enter into Heaven (Matthew 7:13 & 14).
Life on earth is temporary, but eternity is forever. You and I will all live forever somewhere.