If you’ve ever found yourself wondering ‘is heaven a real place’? Or, maybe you’re sure of life after death but have no idea what it will be like? Well, you’re not alone!
Even if you’ve been a Christian all your life, understanding the ins and outs of heaven and the heavenly realms can be a lot to take on.
Here’s one important thing to know: you will come across vastly different understandings of heaven, even within Christianity. Some people will have been taught one thing about heaven and others what can feel like the complete opposite.
But, even with all the difference across denominations, one thing is certain: Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross defeated death and made it possible, by Him atoning for our sins, for us all to gain eternal life in heaven.
There are intricacies to the study of heaven, for example, did you know there is a heavenly council, widely referred to in the Old Testament? This heavenly council also noticeably shapes the understanding of the heavenly realms in New Testament thinking. Speaking of heavenly realms, most scholars agree that there are three.
If you haven’t spent much time reading up on heaven then that might come as a surprise! Let this be your invitation to dive deeper into the realities of heaven. There’s no better subject to spark hope and transform your perspective than that of our eternal future in paradise.
First things first…
Is Heaven A Real Place?
For a Christian the unequivocal answer is yes! The Bible is consistent in its talk of heaven and the promise of life after death for all who follow Jesus.
In John 14:2-3, Jesus says, “In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. 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.”
This passage shows that Heaven is a real place that Jesus is preparing for believers to go to after death.
Similarly, in 2 Corinthians 12:2-4, the Apostle Paul describes being “caught up to the third heaven.”
Not only does this verse confirm Paul’s belief in and experience of heaven, it notes a third heaven.
So, we know that heaven is our promised inheritance after death. But, what is it meant to be like? What will we do there and what sort of place is it?
So, What Does The Bible Say About Heaven?
Heaven, the eternal dwelling place you can eagerly await, is described as a place of great beauty, unimaginable joy, and perfect peace. How amazing is that? In Revelation 21:4, it says, “He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”
This verse has helped many Christians endure the hardest of times. No matter what we face during this life, we can all hold onto the very real hope in heaven to come.
The Bible also paints a picture of heaven as an incredibly beautiful place, unlike any we’ve seen before.
The book of Revelation is critical in understanding heaven. Chapter 21 has some of the most detailed passages about our eternal dwelling place. Here are some key sections:
“Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,” for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God.”
These verses make a few important points. Firstly, it implies a renewal of Earth. So our heavenly future is one of a renewed, remade, perfect heaven and earth. In this context think of heaven as the sky, or the atmosphere around us.
Secondly, the description of there being no more sea might seem odd, but in Biblical times the sea was associated with chaos. Saying there will be no more sea is a way of saying no more chaos, no more mess, no more rebellion.
Finally, this passage clearly spells out that God will live with us. His dwelling place will be among us, His people. Just as He always intended it to be!
“The city was laid out like a square, as long as it was wide…The wall was made of jasper, and the city of pure gold, as pure as glass. The foundations of the city walls were decorated with every kind of precious stone. The first foundation was jasper, the second sapphire, the third agate, the fourth emerald, the fifth onyx, the sixth ruby, the seventh chrysolite, the eighth beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth turquoise, the eleventh jacinth, and the twelfth amethyst. The twelve gates were twelve pearls, each gate made of a single pearl. The great street of the city was of gold, as pure as transparent glass.”
These verses go into detail about the beauty and design of heaven. Here’s a wonderful meditative exercise you can try: read these verses through slowly, imagining what they describe as you go.
“Nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life.”
This verse reminds us that heaven is a place for God and His children, for those who follow Jesus and have been made clean by His blood.
What Evidence Is There Of Heaven’s Existence?
For Christians, the Bible is evidence enough of heaven. We live by faith and believe the Bible is the true, living word of God.
Have you ever read any of the numerous recorded accounts of people who describe seeing heaven? Some of these are during near-death experiences.
Of course there can be no scientific evidence of heaven. Just as there is no scientific evidence of our souls, or of angels or even that God created the world. But, as we said, Christians live by faith and God’s tangible goodness and companionship is evidence enough.
What Does It Mean To Be Saved And Go To Heaven?
As a Christian, the concept of being saved and going to Heaven is a central part of our faith. In simple terms, being saved means that we are saved from the eternal consequences of our sin and are granted eternal life in Heaven with God.
The Bible tells us that all human beings have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). Our sin separates us from God, and the consequence of sin is death (Romans 6:23). However, God loves us so much that He sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to die on the cross for our sins (John 3:16). Through His sacrifice, we can be forgiven of our sins and reconciled to God (2 Corinthians 5:18-19).
Going to Heaven is not something that we earn or deserve on our own merit. Our faith in Jesus Christ is what saves us and grants us access to the Kingdom of Heaven (John 14:6). Once we are saved, we can rest assured of our eternal destiny in Heaven (1 Peter 1:4).
Is Heaven A Physical Or Spiritual Place?
The short answer is, it’s both. Today we experience heaven as a spiritual place but we live in the confident hope that one day our whole physical reality will be in heaven too.
Make sure you don’t confuse the truth of our faith with Eastern religions and spirituality. Most Eastern wisdom is rooted in a belief that our spirits will reside in a spiritual realm after death. As Christians we believe we will live for eternity, with God, in a renewed heaven and earth. That includes new, unblemished, resurrection bodies and a perfectly remade world. Body, spirit and soul together, thriving, in oneship with our maker.