We relate to heaven in three forms: the sky where birds fly (Gen 1:20); outer space, where the sun and stars are (Gen 1:14-17); and the ‘spiritual’ heaven being a different realm where God is – “Our Father who is in heaven…” (Ps 11:4; Mt 5:16, 6:9; 2 Cor 12:2-4). The Bible says nothing that would validate a belief in a 'seventh heaven', which by the world's values is considered 'the best, and happiest place to be'. Heaven is the dwelling place of God – there multitudes of angels worship and serve Him (Deut 26:15; 1 Kgs 8:30; Ps 103:20). Jesus, the Son, is in heaven at God’s right hand while the Holy Spirit dwells in the believers on earth (Mk 16:19; Act 7:56; 1 Cor 6:19; Heb 1:3, 8:1). To illustrate the immeasurable superiority of God's thoughts and ways against ours, the comparison is made that heaven is so much higher than earth (Isa 55:8,9).
die' (termed universalism) this will only be the everlasting home of those who have
Entry into heaven is not automatic
acknowledged they are sinners, accepted Christ's offer of forgiveness and in gratitude and obedience are walking a new way of life (Mt 7:21, 25:46; Jn 1:12, 3:3,15,16,36, 5:24, 6:47; Act 16:31; Rom 6:4, 10:9,10; 1 Jn 5:12). Due to our inherited sin nature we are prone to do wrong in God's sight and He has declared the penalty is eternal separation from Him (Ezek 18:20; Rom 3:23; Rev 21:8).
Jesus talked often about the Kingdom of heaven/God, which is the rule of the eternal, sovereign God over the entire universe, specifically in the hearts and lives of those willingly submitted to Him. One of the keys to advance that Kingdom, is binding and loosing whereby the authority ‘in the name of Jesus’ is used to inhibit evil besides speaking freedom to what is desirable, and worshipping God as we live responsively for Him (Mt 16:19). As part of that advance, Jesus advises us to store up treasure in heaven (Mt 6:20,21). There it will last forever and will not deteriorate in anyway. Do I place an eternal significance on my resources?
God’s intent is that through the church His wisdom and power should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly or spiritual realm, including Satan who is called the Prince of the power of the air (Eph 2:2, 3:10, 6:12). Satan’s home was in heaven but he was cast out because of his sin (Isa 14:12-14).
An ‘open heaven’ is God pouring out His Spirit liberally in revealing, convicting, empowering, refreshing and working in miraculous ways (Deut 28:12; Ezek 1:1; Joel 2:28-32; Mal 3:10; Mt 3:16; Mk 1:10; Jn 1:51; Act 7:56, 10:11). Jesus lived and walked in the freedom and power of this open heaven as He operated continually under the Father’s direction. As we respond in obedience and increasingly live righteous lives, we will experience more of the presence of Jesus and an open heaven above, enabling us to live with a conscious realization of a direct uninhibited, continually available connection to heaven, rather than from an awareness of the enemy and his plans as this indicates we are reacting to darkness. By turning on the light (Jesus), we expel the darkness (Satan). Our lifestyle reflects the spiritual nature of the world we are most aware of. If there is unconfessed sin in our lives, figuratively the heavens are unresponsive or ‘closed’ with the Psalmist saying, “He would not have listened if I had not confessed my sin” (1 Kgs 8:35; 2 Chr 6:26, 7:12-14; Ps 66:18; Mt 23:13).
The “new heaven and earth”
At the end times the present physical universe will vanish and be replaced by a new heaven and a new earth which fully express the will of God in a state of perfection and with the believers living in His presence and having the privilege to serve God for all eternity (Isa 65:17, 66:22; 2 Pet 3:10-13; Rev 21:1,3, 22:3,4). Although the majority of people assume they will automatically go to heaven when they die, because they ‘never killed anyone’ and tried to live a good life, they will not be allowed access, instead being consigned to the lake of fire, also called hell (Mt 7:21-27, 25:41; Jn 3:1-18). Those who enter heaven have been washed by the blood of Jesus, passing from death to life, and will include people from every ethnic group (Jn 5:24; 1 Jn 3:14, 5:12; Rev 7:9,14, 21:8,27).
Have I prepared for heaven?
in heaven” (Jn 14:2,3; 1 Pet 1:4). We are not to rejoice in our power or exploits, rather that our names are recorded in heaven, where there will be differing rewards and crowns given, depending on our earthly involvement in His Kingdom (Mt 18:1; Lk 10:20; 2 Cor 5:10; Rev 21:27, 22:12).
Are the dead Christians there now? At death the spirit goes back to God, while the body awaits resurrection (Eccl 12:7; 1 Cor 15:42,52-54; 2 Cor 5:8; 1 Thes 4:15-18). Obviously, this present condition of deceased believers is not on the glorious level it will be after the end of the world, when everyone who has ever believed will be together and united with their glorified eternal bodies. This temporary state is sometimes referred to as paradise. There is also a view that they could be in a state called ‘soul sleep’, being completely unaware of anything until the resurrection at the last days.
What will do we do in heaven? The Bible says, “No one has seen or heard or their mind comprehended what God has prepared for those that love Him, but God has revealed it [to a very limited degree] to us by His spirit” (1 Cor 2:9,10). In this place of complete and perfect happiness our primary role will be to worship Him for His amazing salvation, besides serving and ruling with Him (Rev 7:15, 22:3). Jesus will forever bear the scars of the cross in His hands, feet and side; a reminder of the sacrifice made to redeem us. There will be no marriage, sickness, pain or blight of sin in any form in heaven, where God is the light (Mt 22:30; Rev 7:16, 20:6, 21:4,10-27).
See also: earth, eternal life, new heaven and earth, universalism.