What is Heaven?
“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. 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’ ” (Revelation 21:3–4, NIV).
With these words the ancient Christ-follower named John paints a vivid image of the Christian after-life known as Heaven. Elsewhere in Scripture Heaven is described as a house with many rooms (John 14:2) or simply “Paradise” (Luke 23:43). People throughout the ages have made many attempts to describe what may very-well be the indescribable. Still, the topic of Heaven deserves our attention and examination. So, just what is Heaven?
While little is known about such things as its physical make-up or location, perhaps the best way to think of Heaven is in a spiritual sense. John’s description in the Bible Book of Revelation states that Heaven is “…God’s dwelling place…” which is “…now among the people…” (Revelation 21:3). Heaven might best be described, then, as the place where God resides and the place where God’s people reside with him. In this sense, Heaven is not just a then and there destination realized upon death, but rather a here and now reality for the Christian believer.
Heaven might further be described as God’s ultimate desire to spend eternity with the people he created. This relationship, perfect in the beginning, soon corrupted by human sin, was mended by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on a Roman cross. God’s grace has been extended to all people to be received through faith. By such faith, we receive the gift of Heaven, not by what we do, but by what God has done for us in Christ.
With this said, we must be careful that the doctrine of Heaven does not become for us some sort of cold, calculated, mathematical formula for attaining eternal life. Rather, the sweet mystery of this most precious of Christian beliefs should stir our hearts in loving response to God. Imagine “…no more death or mourning or crying or pain…” (Revelation 21:4, NIV). Heaven, the very presence of God, is available to all, simply to be received by faith in the redeeming work of Jesus.