You hear people talk about Heaven and how wonderful it will be. But honestly, sometimes it’s hard to wrap our minds around a place we have never been to — and can barely imagine.
Part of our problem is that our minds have been filled with all sorts of caricatures of Heaven from Hollywood and cartoons and other sources. It’s difficult for us to conceive or visualize what Heaven must really be like.
Is it even real? What will we do there? Will we know one another? What will our new bodies be like?
First of all, Heaven is an actual place. That’s why I write it with a capital “H.” It’s a real location with real people living there — like Paris or Honolulu or Los Angeles.
Just hours before His crucifixion, Jesus said to His men — and to all of us who know and love Him: “I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also” (John 14:2-3, NKJV).
Heaven is a real place for real people to do real things. We often think of Heaven in a mystical way. Ridiculous pictures come to mind of people in floor-length robes sitting on clouds plucking harps with fat little baby angels hovering around. That is not biblical Heaven. That is cartoon Heaven. Heaven is real — just as real as where you are right now.
The Bible describes Heaven as a paradise. Remember that when Jesus died on the cross, a thief was crucified next to Him. Actually, he was probably more than a thief. He was most likely a murderer and an insurrectionist — someone today we might refer to as a terrorist. Looking over at the Lord, he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”
Jesus looked into the man’s eyes and replied, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise” (John 23:42, 43, NIV).
The apostle Paul writes briefly about the experience of dying and going to Heaven. Yes, Paul was stoned! He was pummeled with rocks by his enemies and left for dead. During that interval, before he came back to life again, he entered Heaven itself.
Speaking about this experience, Paul wrote: “I know a man who, 14 years ago, was seized by Christ and swept in ecstasy to the heights of Heaven. I really don’t know if this took place in the body or out of it; only God knows. I also know that this man was hijacked into paradise — again, whether in or out of the body, I don’t know; God knows. There he heard the unspeakable spoken but was forbidden to tell what he heard” (2 Corinthians 12:2-4, Message).
Hijacked into paradise. What a picture.
Heaven is also a city. On more than one occasion the Bible describes Heaven with that term. In Hebrews 11:10 (NLT) we read: “Abraham was confidently looking forward to a city with eternal foundations, a city designed and built by God.” In Hebrews 13, the writer says, “For here we do not have an enduring city, but we are looking for the city that is to come” (v. 14, NIV).
Think of any city you have been to in your life. What did you see there? Cities have roads, buildings, art, music, culture, goods, restaurants, services, and events. So will Heaven. Don’t think about sitting around on a cloud, think of the best cities you have ever visited. Whatever greatness or beauty you have experienced on Earth will be so much better when you get to Heaven.
Heaven is the original. Earth is the imitation. C. S. Lewis referred to life on Earth as the “shadow lands.”
The Bible also describes Heaven as a country. In Hebrews 11:13 (NIV), the writer speaks of God’s people who “were longing for a better country — a Heavenly one.”
Yes, in many ways, Earth is wonderful. We know that God created our world, and we celebrate His handiwork. Very honestly, I don’t think anyone enjoys life on Earth more than a Christian. No one enjoys the beauty of a mountain sunrise or a sunset walk on the beach more than a follower of Jesus Christ because we see the signature of our Father there. We know the God who did that.
When Jesus walked on our planet, He took time to admire a simple wildflower. Picking one up He said, “Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these” (Matthew 6:28-29, NKJV).
Here is something we should all consider: For the Christian, living on this earth is as bad as it will ever get. But if you are a nonbeliever, this is as good as it’s ever going to get.
The best is yet to come! That’s extremely good news. When you arrive, God will give you a new body. No, you won’t become “another person”; you will still be you. But you will be a radically upgraded version of you! The blueprints for your glorified body are in the body you now possess. Heaven is the earthly life of the believer, glorified and perfected.
Sometimes people ask, “Will we know one another when we get to Heaven?”
Of course we will. Do you think you will be more stupid or insensible in Heaven than you are on Earth? We will all know so much more because God will give us that ability.
We will be reunited with friends and family. When Jesus died and rose again from the dead, He appeared to His disciples. He was popping up practically everywhere. He is there with Mary at the tomb. He is there with the two disciples on the Emmaus Road. Then He is there with the fishermen apostles down there by the Sea of Galilee. Then we see Him appear to 500 people at once.
And with all of these people, it’s as though He picked up right where He left off when He died. If you have a loved one in Heaven and you belong to Christ yourself, you will see that loved one again.
What will we do in Heaven? We will worship the Lord, serve the Lord, and we will even eat in Heaven. It’s true! The Bible says in Revelation, “The angel said to me, ‘Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!’” (Revelation 19:9, NIV).
I love that word, supper. I have a lot of friends in the south. When you’re with them and you’re going out for dinner, they will sometimes say, “Let’s have supper.” Can you imagine not only being reunited with friends and family, but meeting the great patriarchs and matriarchs of scripture? In Matthew 8:11 NKJV) Jesus said, “I say to you that many will come from east and west, and sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of Heaven.”
Can you imagine sitting down and having a meal with these great men and women of God?
“Moses, would you mind passing the manna?”
“Elijah, my meat is a little underdone. Could you give it a little more fire?”
“Lot, could you pass the salt? Oh Lot, you are so sensitive. Get over it.”
Because God has given each one of us free will, you can choose where you will spend eternity. You are the one who will decide your eternal address. You are the one who must choose whether you will go to Heaven — to that paradise, that better country, receiving a new body and being reunited with loved ones on Earth who have died in faith. Or you can choose to go to a place called hell, where you will be separated from God — and every hint of light, hope, or joy — for all eternity.
I heard the story of a Christian man who was terminally ill and on his deathbed. Knowing he had little time left, he called his three boys to his bedside—two of whom were believers. To the boys who had trusted Christ, he said, “Good bye boys, and I will see you in the morning.”
Then he turned to his third son who wasn’t a Christian. With sadness in his voice, the father said, “Good bye, son.”
The boy was distressed. “Dad, why did you say, ‘See you in the morning’ to my brothers, and not say that to me?”
The father said, “Son, it’s because you have never asked Jesus Christ into your life to be your Savior. What breaks my heart is that I will never see you again.”
The boy began to weep and said, “But Dad, I want to see you again.” “Then you need to trust in Christ right now,” he said.
And that’s what the young man did. He prayed and accepted the Lord so that his father could say to him as well, “I will see you in the morning.”
That is our hope.
Will I see you in the morning? Have you put your faith in Jesus?
You don’t go to Heaven to find Christ; you go to Christ to find Heaven. And you can do that right now.
Greg Laurie is the pastor and founder of the Harvest churches in California and Hawaii and Harvest Crusades. He is an evangelist, best-selling author and movie producer. “Jesus Revolution,” a feature film about Laurie’s life from Lionsgate and Kingdom Story Company, releases in theaters February 24, 2023.