Do you ever look around our world and long for heaven? I was interested in a discussion recently on heaven and there seemed to be some differing views about what it actually is, where it is and what we are told about it in the Bible. With the emergence of books and films that like to claim people have been there, it is easy to use these as a framing reference, instead of the Word of God.
To help, I’ve put together some information about heaven and what we are actually told about it in the Bible. I will do this in two parts- Part 1 on the basic information we know, Part 2 on the New Heaven and Earth.
Heaven is where:
- The Father is (Matthew 6:9)
- Our Saviour Jesus is (Hebrews 9:24)
- The angels are (Matthew 22:30)
- Those who have died who had faith in Jesus are (Hebrews 12:23)
- Our citizenship is (Philippians 3:20)
- Our inheritance is (1 Peter 1:3-4)
- Our rewards are (Matthew 5:12, Matthew 6:19-21)
- In a number of verses we are told heaven is high up (Isaiah 57:15, Psalm 102:19)
- God looks down from heaven (Isaiah 63:15)
- It is an actual place from where God looks out (Psalm 33:14)
As John MacArthur says, “Now listen, heaven is up. It’s up beyond everything that we know in the material universe. It is as big as God. It is that which engulfs within it the material universe as we know it which is billions and billions and billions of light years to its extensions. And it is that which is the heaven of God which embraces this universe in its midst. Now, you can’t keep thinking about that because what you’ve got beyond the universe that’s created, the universe of time and space as we know it, is infinity. And it is as, an infinite as God is infinite and that’s how infinite heaven is. We can’t handle that because we are captive to a time-space mentality. We cannot conceive of endless, eternal heaven. But that’s what the Bible teaches.”
Does a person go straight to heaven when they die?
Yes, immediately on death:
- Jesus tells thief on the cross “today, you will be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:42-43)
- Paul would prefer to be away from his body and present with the Lord (2 Corinthians 5:6-8)
What is Heaven Like?
- There is a throne where God is (Revelation 4:1-3), where lightning, thunder, majesty, glory and colours come from (Revelation 4:5) and where the Spirit of God is (Revelation 4:5, cf Isaiah 11:2). On each side of the throne are 4 living creatures (Revelation 4:6-8).
- Around the throne are 24 thrones with 24 elders on them (Revelation 4:4).
- In front of the throne is a sea of glass (Revelation 4:6).
More information: John MacArthur has a series on Heaven that is worth a listen.