Heaven - what is it like? Who is in heaven? How do we get to heaven?
What happens after we die? Where do we go? What do we become? These and similar questions have been pondered and debated since the beginning of time. Do we come from nothing, spend a lifetime here, and then return to nothing? Are we subject to the concept of Karma in which we die, are then reincarnated and our next life will be based on how good or bad we were in this life? Or, is there universal salvation in which everyone, regardless of what they believe go to a place of peace and happiness, freed from the restraints and suffering of this world?
Let’s consider universal salvation since it is a common belief. Many people feel that regardless of beliefs or religious affiliation, that everyone is doing the best they can, and everyone ends up in the same place after death. But how could all people upon death go to a place of peace and happiness if human nature is there? It doesn’t take a genius to look at human history and the world around us and understand there is something very evil at the core of human nature - this is the doctrine of total human depravity. How could there be universal salvation, a place of peace and happiness after death if human nature has not been dealt with and corrected? Human nature is not physical it is spiritual, and the corrupting influence of human nature would make a place of universal peace and happiness after death an impossibility because our nature would still be a part of us. The evil of human nature would continue to be carried out on the spiritual plane just as it is on the physical plane. So how do we deal with the issue of evil human nature?
Therefore if anyone is in Christ, [he is] a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. ... He made Him who knew no sin [to be] sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. - 2 Corinthians 5:17,21
Jesus said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me. - John 14:6
The answer to overcoming evil human nature is answered in 2 Corinthians 5:17,21 and John 14:6 above. Because of our fallen and sinful nature we are separated from God who is perfect and holy. We have broken his law and the wages of our sinful transgressions are death and eternal damnation. The only way to be reconciled to God is for our sins to be atoned for and our penalty paid - but no finite creature could ever atone for sinning against an infinite, perfect, and holy God. But there is a way and that way is through faith and trust in the person and work of Jesus Christ. Jesus lived a perfect and sinless life, then took on our sin and paid the horrific penalty for it on our behalf when He suffered and died on the cross. Then after three days in the tomb, He rose for our salvation. If we repent of our sins, have faith in Him, and trust in His perfect righteousness we are assured of spending eternity in absolute joy and bliss with Him in His glory. Those in Christ are freed from the bonds of sinful human nature - it was crucified with Christ and we are a new creation in Him. We will be in heaven with Him and spend eternity with Him. He is the only way, his word is the only truth, and He is the source of eternal life. How do we get to heaven? Through Jesus Christ.
But, as it is written, “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him” - 1 Corinthians 2:9
Heaven, as we are told in 1 Corinthians 2:9, is beyond our imagination. Our finite minds lack the capacity to conceive or fully comprehend what heaven is and what it will be like. However, it seems there is much to learn about heaven by learning what it is not and what will not be in heaven.
Genesis 1:31 says, “And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good.” Heaven, and after judgment day, the new heavens and the new earth will be perfect as God created it and intended it to be - God's perfect creation. There will be no more sin, no more entropy, no more disease and pain, no more sorrow, the effects of sin will be gone.
For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience. - Romans 8:18-25
Paul is telling us to have a proper perspective, to look to and hope for the better country that we are promised in Jesus Christ. That is the hope that we have faith in. Think of the pain, suffering, and affliction of this world and then consider that in heaven there will be no tears, no sorrow, no death, no pain, no sickness, no darkness, no un-Goldy people, no sin, no temples because we will worship in the Lord’s presence, no sun or moon because the glorious light of the Lord will illuminate, and no curse from the sin of Adam that we inherited. All of the evil and darkness and sin of this world, everything that has afflicted and caused us suffering in this age – it will all be gone.
Since we have the same spirit of faith according to what has been written, “I believed, and so I spoke,” we also believe, and so we also speak, knowing that he who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and bring us with you into his presence. For it is all for your sake, so that as grace extends to more and more people it may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God. So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal. - 2 Corinthians 4:13-18
All that we suffer from and all the evils and sin of this world are but a light momentary affliction, incomparable to the eternal glory that we will enjoy in the Lord’s heavenly kingdom with Him. Considering and meditating on heaven and the truths of heaven give us a proper perspective, lifts our eyes to Christ, and the promises we have in Him.
"You will bring them and plant them in the mountain of Your inheritance, The place, O LORD, which You have made for Your dwelling, The sanctuary, O Lord, which Your hands have established. "The LORD shall reign forever and ever." - Exodus 15:17-18
Chad Prigmore is Pastor and President of The Way R122 Ministry USA & Kenya.