A Real Place for Real People

But now they desire a better, that is, a heavenly country. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them. - Hebrews 11:16

The Bible has much to say about what heaven is like. First, heaven is an actual place. Jesus told His disciples, "I go to prepare a place for you" (John 14:2). Heaven is a real place for real people, and when we get there, it will be amazing and fantastic.

The Bible uses a number of words to describe heaven, including "Paradise." Jesus said to the thief on the cross who came to his senses, "Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise" (Luke 23:43). The Paradise Jesus was speaking of, literally translated, is a word that would have been used in the first century to describe the garden of a king. It is hard for us to imagine how luxurious and splendid this would appear to someone living in this time. If you were a relatively impoverished person and were given the privilege of going into the walled garden of a king, you would be overwhelmed by the fragrance and beauty of it all. So "paradise" was a point of reference for people. Although limited, it gives us a sense of how heaven will overwhelm our senses.

The apostle Paul died, went to heaven, and came back to earth. In describing his experience, he said he was "caught up into Paradise and heard inexpressible words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter" (2 Corinthians 12:4). Heaven will be better than anything we could imagine, and Scripture gives us descriptions and hints of what it will be like.

So what does it mean for us today? If we are heavenly minded, then it will affect the way we are living on earth. And if it doesn't affect the way we are living on earth, then how heavenly minded could we really be?