Summary: An insightful look at the Beauty Realm of God and the eternal dwelling place of Believers.
When I was a young Christian, I heard a song written by Andréa Crouch titled “If Heaven Was Never Promised” that resonated deep in my soul about what my relationship with Jesus meant to me.
The song spoke of the unspeakable joy found in Heaven with its streets of gold and Angels singing for all of eternity. Yet, even if none of the things were ever promised, it was worth just having Jesus in my life.
Many years later those same feelings about Heaven have only intensified as I continue daily to grow closer to Jesus, and He continues to prove Himself more trustworthy every day.
For centuries Christians were taught that they should focus their attention on the blessed hope of Heaven as a way to overcome the struggles and trials of this world because it is not their ultimate home. Within the last century, teaching has emerged that Christians should occupy this world and focus on such things as politics, the environment, improving human potential and society so they can quickly usher in the new heaven and earth.
So many Christians are content just to get forgiven and go to Heaven when they die! And that’s great, except for the fact that because they are going to Heaven, they often think that they can ignore and avoid dealing with life’s many problems in the here and now! When they find themselves challenged by life’s stresses and pressures, they think they can emotionally and psychologically avoid dealing with those problems by just ‘hoping for the day of the Lord’s appearing.’ This makes it really easy to avoid having to confront their present reality.
When this type of behavior takes place, the “blessed hope” of the Church dissolves into a way to avoid problems. The trouble with this kind of thinking is that it doesn’t allow room to appropriate what God has already done in daily circumstances. The promise of eternal life is not something that starts in the future. Eternal life begins the moment a person receives Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. A Christian is supposed to be living in the world with an eternal understanding that they are actually no longer of this world, but merely passing through.
Too many Christians carry this negative understanding of what eternal life means. They don’t have to be dead and buried in the grave for eternal life to begin in them. No one can inherit a million dollars when they die. They inherit it when their ancestor dies and wills it to them! Jesus already died so every Christian can inherit His promises in the here and now! Eternal life doesn’t start the day of physical death. It starts on the day a Christian begins dying to self - by surrendering their life to Jesus and submitting to His Lordship.
The Bible does not provide multiple details about Heaven but it does give a minute glimpse. It says that Heaven is not merely a state of being but an actual dwelling place. It is mentioned over 238 times in the New Testament alone. The word “heaven” is also used in the Bible in reference to the Earth’s atmosphere and interstellar space. (Gen 1:17, 20)
Heaven is most commonly understood as the abode of God and the Angels, as well as the final destination of all who have put their faith and trust in Jesus (Ps 2:4; Matt 5:3,12, 22:30; 2 Cor 5: 1, 12).
It is also known in Scripture as the:
kingdom of heaven (Matt 5:3),
great reward (Matt 5:12)
kingdom of the Father (Matt 13:43),
life everlasting (Matt 19:16),
joy of the Lord (Matt 25:21),
kingdom of God (Mark 9:46),
kingdom of Christ (Luke 22:30),
house of the Father (Jn 14:2),
incorruptible crown (1 Cor 9:25),
holy place (Heb 9:12),
city of God, the heavenly Jerusalem (Heb 12),
inheritance of Christ (Eph 1:18),
eternal inheritance (Heb 9:15),
crown of life (James 1:12),
crown of justice (2 Tim 4:8),
crown of glory (1 Peter 5:4).
There are three heavens referenced in the Bible.
Second, there are the stars of the sky, which are the planets in outer space. (Gen 1:14-18, 15:5; 22:17; 26:4; Deut 1:10; Isa 13:10; 14:13; Eph 4:10, 7:26; Heb 4:14)
Third, there is the Heaven of heavens. (Known as the third heaven - 2 Cor 12:1-9) This is the dwelling place of the Triune God.(Gen 1:1; Deut 10:14; Isa 14:12-14, 66:1; 2 Cor 12:2; Rev 21:2,10).
It is a place of beauty (Rev 21:1-22:7), of life (1 Tim 4:8), service (Rev 22:3), worship (Rev 19:1-3), and glory (2 Cor 4:1718). The apostles John and Paul were called to this place. (Rev 4:1) Paul was forbidden to reveal what he saw and heard there. (2 Cor 12:1-9)