With the increasing understanding of solar systems, planets, stars, and galaxies, it is inconceivable (and possibly arrogant) to believe that human beings are the only intelligent life in the Universe. It makes sense to realize that there is a country out in the Universe, perhaps even the Universe itself, known by the Bible writers as Heaven. Whatever we consider to be a joy here on earth will be heightened millions of times beyond anything we can conceive when we get to Heaven.
Heaven, where the streets are made of gold. Heaven, where you never age or grow old. Heaven, where life’s secrets unfold. Heaven, where the secrets are told. Heaven, where flowers grow wild. Heaven, where once again you are a child.
Heaven, the weather is always warm and mild. Heaven, where wings lay open in piles. Heaven, can’t you see? Heaven, it’s for you and for me. Heaven, where we are FREE.
Where is Heaven?
There are several points in answer to this question.
- The most important fact is that Heaven is a real place. Listen to the words of Jesus on the night before he was crucified: “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. 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.”
- Twice in three verses Jesus calls Heaven a place. He means that Heaven (“my Father’s house”) is a real place, as real as New York, London or Chicago. The place called Heaven is just as real as the place you call home. It’s a real place filled with real people, which is why the Bible sometimes compares Heaven to a mansion with many rooms (John 14:1-3) and sometimes to an enormous city teeming with people (Revelation 21)
- The Bible also tells us that Heaven is the dwelling place of God. His throne is there, the angels are there, and the Lord Jesus Christ is in Heaven. Philippians 3:20 says very plainly that “our citizenship is in Heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ.” That’s why Jesus told the thief on the Cross, “Today you will be with me in Paradise.”
- The Bible hints that Heaven is not as far away as we might think. The Bible states: We’re not that far from Heaven. We’re not that far from the angels. We’re not that far from our loved ones in Heaven. We’re not that far from God. We’re not that far from Jesus himself. Heaven is a real place, it’s where Jesus is right now, and it’s not far away from us.
I love the old story of the rich man who, on his death bed, negotiated with God to allow him to bring his earthly treasures with him when he came to Heaven. God’s reaction was that this was a most unusual request, but since this man had been exceptionally faithful, permission was granted to bring along just one suitcase. The time arrived, the man presented himself at the pearly gates, suitcase in hand- BOTH hands, actually, since he had stuffed it with as many bars of gold bullion as would fit. St. Peter said, “Sorry, you know the rules-you can’t take it with you.” But the man protested, “God said I could … one suitcase.” St. Peter checked, found out that this one would be an exception, prepared to let the man enter, then said, “OK, but I will have to examine the contents before you pass.” He took the suitcase, opened it, saw the gold bars and asked quizzically, “You brought PAVEMENT?”
[Note: This story is from the sermon “Heaven” by Dr. David Leininger, March 30, 1997]
Will we recognize people in Heaven?
We do know that we will be able to recognize our loved ones in Heaven, and we will experience great joy over being reunited with them. Your real self will live on in Heaven, not some shadowy part of you. You will never feel so alive as when you enter into the heavenly city, the New Jerusalem God has prepared.
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Also published on Medium.