When I think back to some of the greatest days of my life… my wedding day or the day one of my children was born… it’s almost as if I am taken back to that moment in time. I feel the joy again of seeing Virginia walk down the aisle, or the wonder of holding one of my children for the first time.
Now what if, instead of being there on those special days, I had only read a book about weddings or childbirth, and never truly experienced it myself? Although I might have had a vague idea of the joy of a day like that, it would be nothing compared to actually being there myself!
This is so true when we think about heaven. While we can read what Scripture tells us about what life will be like in eternity with God, even the most vivid description will not compare to actually experiencing heaven itself!
This is exactly the idea that Paul had in mind when he was writing his first letter to the Corinthian church. Quoting Isaiah, he told them, “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him” (1 Corinthians 2:9). We should understand Paul’s words here to mean that there is no possible way that the joyous rewards of heaven could ever be fully described. Our glorious expectation of heaven is truly indescribable! And while heaven is wonderful beyond all words, God has given us a sufficient understanding of heaven in His Word.
One of the clearest descriptions of heaven in the Bible comes from the book of Revelation. When Christ returns, He will reign on earth for a thousand years (Revelation 20:4-7). Then, He will bring the heavenly kingdom to earth, which the Bible calls the “new heaven” and “new earth” (Rev. 21:1). Heaven is not just a place in the sky where our souls go when we die. It will be an actual physical existence that is more real than the ink on this page!
John, the author of Revelation, gives us a glimpse of how we will be different in this new state. He writes that in heaven, “the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God” (Rev. 21:3). Also, God “will wipe every tear from (our) eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain” (Rev. 21:4).
From these verses, two things can be known for sure about what heaven will be like: we will have an eternally restored fellowship with God, and there will be no more sadness or pain. Those who have faith in Christ will not only escape judgment, they will enjoy restored fellowship with God forever! This is wonderful news!
So how can a biblical understanding of heaven change your life today? First, it should help you persevere through tough times because you know that your reward is coming. This is what Paul refers to when he says that “our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us” (Romans 8:18). Second, it should motivate you to live a bold life for Christ because you want those you know and love to go to heaven as well!
Heaven is so much more than just a place. It is a hope! And it’s my prayer that you are encouraged by this hope, and that you daily live in the light of our glorious expectation!