I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies.
Jesus often talked about heaven. The details of heaven are incomplete, probably because a full understanding of heaven would make it difficult to concentrate on the responsibilities God has given us on earth. Yet the Bible reveals some realities about heaven to whet our appetites for this future destination.
Heaven is an actual location. Jesus taught that heaven is an actual location, not a state of mind. He said, “I go to prepare a place for you” (John 14:2). The word translated “place” is the Greek word “topos,” which was often used to describe a geographical destination.
Heaven is an immediate destination. Jesus assured the penitent thief on the cross that upon his death he would immediately be in Paradise (Luke 23:43). Paul said for a believer to be “absent from the body” is “to be at home with the Lord” (2 Corinthians 5:8). However, unlike where Christians go immediately when they die, heaven is a location that is still under construction. In Revelation 21, John describes “a new heaven and a new earth” and a “new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God” only after “the first heaven and the first earth passed away” (vv. 1-2).
Heaven will be a re-created earth. Some people think heaven is in some galaxy far, far away. But the Bible teaches that the eternal dwelling place for Christians will be a re-created earth (Psalm 37:9; Matthew 5:5; 2 Peter 3:13). God is just as intent on reclaiming a sinful earth as He is in rescuing sinful mankind.
Heaven is a continuum of our earthly existence. The Bible describes our lives as a continuum that begins on earth and extends beyond the grave. The mountains, rivers, and trees that were part of God’s original design will be present in the new earth. There is also continuity between our earthly bodies and our eternal bodies. We will possess new bodies that are vastly superior, yet also similar, to our present bodies. And the choices we make in this life extend beyond our death and reverberate throughout eternity.
Heaven is reserved for those who trust in Christ. Jesus declared that the only way to escape hell is to believe in Him. If you conclude that Jesus’ teachings about heaven and hell offer the most reliable information about the destinations that await us when we die, then you must embrace the reality that the only way you can be welcomed into heaven is by receiving God’s offer of forgiveness on this side of the grave.
Today’s devotion is excerpted from “How Can I Know I’m Going to Heaven When I Die?” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2012.
Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960,1962,1963,1968,1971,1972,1973,1975,1977,1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.