Summary: Heaven is: 1. Real 2. Right 3. Relational 4. Rewarding 5. Residence of God
The Bible is full of wonderful promises, but perhaps the most wonderful of all is this: “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him” (1 Corinthians 2:9). There are many things we do not know about what heaven will be like, because it is beyond our ability to comprehend. But one thing we can be sure of is that it will fulfill our greatest longings, it will dazzle us with its beauty, it will obliterate our greatest problems with its power and splendor, it will be greater than anything we could imagine or dream, it will be a place where love and joy will reign unspoiled. God is busy preparing all of this for us.
For the last two weekends we have been busy keeping our granddaughters. Last week it was Lisa and Jeremy’s daughters while they led the youth retreat. This weekend it is our oldest daughter’s children as she and her husband are away on a combination business and getaway trip. In preparation for their coming, we stocked up on ice cream, cookies and candy. Sue bought finger paints and little plastic smocks. She went to the Salvation Army and bought dress up clothes for the girls to play in. I bought a children’s video, and Sue planned some small cooking projects for them. We made all kinds of preparations to make their time with us memorable and enjoyable. Why did we do all that? We did it because we love our grandchildren and want the best for them. The point is, if we make those kinds of preparations for our grandchildren’s visit, how much more does a God of love prepare for the time his children will come to his eternal home. The Bible says, “If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” (Matthew 7:11). Jesus said, “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” (John 14:2-3).
Unfortunately, heaven has met with bad press by those who do not understand what God has prepared for those who love him. People see heaven as sitting on a cloud wearing a halo, while little angels play harps as they float through the heavens. Others see it as an unending church service, or singing hymns for all eternity. Some think of it as a sort of a celestial retirement city. It all seems like an apparition — so unreal. No wonder so many people see heaven as a place of numbing boredom, or secretly say to themselves, “Is that all there is?”
There is so much that could be said about heaven, but first let me say that: Heaven will be real. Heaven will not be some ethereal existence where we float about as spirits without bodies. Why would God take the trouble to create a new earth if there was not going to be anyone to live on it? Why would we be given new bodies if we were not going to live in a material world? It is my understanding of Scripture that we were originally created to live as earth dwellers in a material world. Adam and Eve were not placed on a cloud, but on the earth. Heaven will be Eden restored. We have been living east of Eden since Adam and Eve sinned, but the day will come when the original paradise God intended us to be a part of will be restored. The new Jerusalem is not floating in space, but comes down to earth.