Most people would say that they have heard of Heaven. Whether Christian or not, they want to believe in a perfect place of eternal rest. However, many individuals have an erroneous conception of Heaven. Still others have unanswered questions about how to get there, where it is, and what it will be like. The answers to those questions are all available in the Bible.
Heaven is a Place
Jesus himself assures us that heaven is not a figment of imagination or unanchored desire. As he was preparing his disciples for his crucifixion, burial, resurrection, and ascension back to Heaven, he promised them that they would meet again. As part of their anticipation of that meeting, he drew an abbreviated, but vivid word picture for them of that magnificent place (John 14:1-3). This description wasn’t as striking as the apostle John would later offer in Revelation 21-22, but the take-away was that Jesus was speaking about reality, an actual place.
When he told them, “I go to prepare a place for you,” Jesus used the Greek word topos for place. It has come over to us in English as topography. A topographical description of a location addresses hills, valleys, rivers – things that actually exist. Taken at face value, Heaven had substance and was tangible to Jesus.
Heaven has People
In some ways, life in heaven will parallel life on earth, but heightened and enhanced to a degree that we can only imagine. Just as a highlight of holidays is being able to see family and friends we haven’t connected with for some time, so we will have that ongoing experience in heaven. The promise of several New Testament passages is that we will once again join with those we have shared a common faith in Christ and a personal relationship with on the earth. 1 Corinthians 13:12 seems to indicate we will be recognizable to each other, even as Christ’s disciples recognized him when he joined them after his resurrection. And there won’t be anyone there we don’t like to be around because we will all be perfect!
Heaven will have Jesus
Even the incomplete descriptions we have in the Bible of heaven still help us anticipate keenly the wonder of its gates, its buildings, the river, and it bordering fruit trees. However, all of those are peripheral to the central reason for Heaven’s perfection. None of those things would have any meaning if Jesus wasn’t there. Christ has made it possible for those who will be there to enter. He is currently preparing the setting we will enjoy when we arrive.
When Jesus reassured his disciples concerning his imminent absence from them in John 14:1-4, their reunion was central to his description of heaven. “Where I am, there you will be also.” The surroundings will be unsurpassed, but it is Jesus who will make heaven all that it will be.
Many people want to know: How do I get to Heaven? When Jesus Christ died on the cross, he paid the penalty necessary to purchase your invitation into Heaven. Just as anyone would value highly an engraved dinner invitation from the White House, so should anyone personally value the invitation Jesus gave to his disciples and extended to anyone who will accept. Is yours unopened? Did you notice the return address? If opened, have you sent in your R.S.V.P.?