You don’t have to be a Christian to have questions about heaven. The afterlife is a topic most people wonder about, which makes books and movies about near-death experiences or visions of heaven so popular. Bestselling books like “Heaven is for Real” and “90 Minutes in Heaven” have even been made into movies.
What happens when we die? What is heaven like? How do I know if I’m going there? If you’ve ever wondered, here’s what the Bible says about heaven.
READ ALSO: 8 BIBLE VERSES ABOUT HEAVEN AND ETERNITY
Is Heaven A Real Place?
“The heavens declare the glory of God, the skies proclaim the work of his hands.” – Psalm 19:1 (NIV)
Lift your eyes to the glorious expanse of the sky – the billowing clouds, the sun, the moon, the stars. The heavenly view tugs on a person’s soul and creates a longing inside to experience the One who created it all. The physical heaven points us to God.
But heaven is also a real place. Jesus talked about it in a somber moment on the night He was betrayed. He encouraged His disciples, “‘My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you?’” (John 14:2 NIV)
Don Piper’s heavenly experience made a believer out of him. In his book, and the movie based on the book, “90 Minutes in Heaven,” he was pronounced dead in a tragic car accident and transported to heaven where he experienced blissful moments in God’s presence. He even spent time with people who had died before him and were now in heaven. Don miraculously came back to life after a pastor came upon the accident scene and prayed for him.
Don now shares his “to heaven and back” experience with others. His remarkable story offers great encouragement as he verifies that God is preparing a place for us and heaven is real.
What is Heaven Like?
In heaven, God’s will is done. On earth – not so much. When the disciples asked Jesus to teach them how to pray, He encouraged them to pray the good things of heaven into the earth.
“Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” – Matthew 6:10 (NIV)
On earth we are caught between the tussle of good versus evil, but in heaven, there is no war! No sickness, no death, no sorrow, no crying. The Bible says every tear will be wiped away.
“He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away... ‘I am making everything new!’” – Revelation 21:4-5 (NIV)
The Bible paints a peaceful picture of a heavenly place where wolves and lambs feed together. The angels sing in worship. The King sits on His throne in glory. Everything is good and beautiful and exactly as God intended it to be. See Isaiah 11:6, Revelation 5:11, Revelation 20:11, Revelation 21:4 on Biblica for more.
Will I Recognize People in Heaven?
We long for the comfort of knowing we will see our loved ones in heaven. The Bible says that multitudes will gather around God’s throne in heaven, but it’s challenging to explain heaven in ways our natural minds can understand.
The Bible says that “we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is” (1 John 3:2 NIV). Jesus explained to the religious leaders of His day, “At the resurrection people will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven” (Matthew 22:29-30 NIV).
Can you imagine a heavenly meeting with the angel Gabriel whom God sent to Mary, the mother of Jesus? Or with the archangel Michael who disputed with the devil about the body of Moses? (Luke 1:19, Jude 1:9) Knowing that God’s angels have names and identities offers insight into what our encounters will be like in heaven.
In the movie “Heaven is for Real,” four-year-old Colton Burpo visited heaven and later shared the experience with others. While in heaven, Colton spent time with Jesus and met family members who had passed on. His experience comforted many, including his father who greatly missed his deceased grandfather, and Colton’s mother who had miscarried a child. If you’re longing to see someone in heaven, your heart will be encouraged by Colton’s story.
READ ALSO: WHERE IS COLTON BURPO NOW?
What Will We Do In Heaven?
Heaven is a noisy place filled with worship and singing and even shouting! Angels, elders and people from every tribe, tongue and nation worship the Lord God Almighty with shouts of triumphant victory and songs of rejoicing.
“After this I heard what sounded like the roar of a great multitude in heaven shouting, “Hallelujah! Salvation and glory and power belong to our God … Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory!’” – Revelation 19:1, 7 (NIV)
Although it may be difficult to imagine this atmosphere of worship, the glorious presence of God will surround you and you will not be bored as you join this jubilant assembly. Life will be happening all around you – a life that is beyond our current human imagination.
How Do I Know if I’m Going To Heaven?
Evil does not reside in heaven, which means that those who enter must have their sins washed by the blood of the Lamb, Jesus Christ. The Book of Revelation describes those in heaven as the ones who “have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.” These are the ones whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life.
If you want to be sure to go to heaven when you die, repent of sin and allow the blood of Jesus to wash you clean. Salvation is a gift from God, and if you confess your sins, He promises to forgive.
“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” – 1 John 1:8-9 (NIV)
What About 11th-hour Christians? Does Everybody Get Into Heaven?
We will see people in heaven we never dreamed would gain entrance. But that is the power of Jesus’ blood over sin. You never know what happens in someone’s last moment on earth. A person can be saved in the twinkling of an eye with a final acknowledgment that Jesus Christ is Lord.
It happened with the thief who hung on the cross next to Jesus. With his dying breath, he acknowledged Jesus as Lord and King.
“Jesus answered him, ‘Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.’” – Luke 23:43 (NIV)
If you think it’s unfair for God to let someone into heaven with a split-second of repentance, then remember Jesus’ parable of the workers in the vineyard in Matthew 20. The workers who had worked all day long in the hot sun grumbled when those hired at the end of the day received the same wages as them. The heart of God is shown in the landowner’s response to their grumbling, “‘Don’t I have the right to do what I want with my own money? Or are you envious because I am generous?’” – Matthew 20:15 (NIV)
Never discount the generous nature of God. He desires all men to be saved – even if it’s the 11th hour.
Do I Have To Live A Perfect Life To Go To Heaven?
Only Jesus lived a sinless life and through that life made provision for the cleansing of our sins. God’s will for you as a Christian on earth is to be a light in the world and bring God’s good and perfect will into the earth by being His ambassador. That doesn’t mean perfection; it means living a holy life empowered by His spirit.
When we sin, we quickly repent. When we fall, we look to the One who can lift us up.
Remember Jesus’ prayer for God’s kingdom to come “on earth as it is in heaven”? Though you may feel weak in your humanity at times, you have an opportunity in this life to reconcile others to God and populate heaven.
“We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf; be reconciled to God.” – 2 Corinthians 5:20 (NIV)
As you contemplate heaven, consider ways you can inspire others to have faith in God. God has prepared a place for His people. Heaven is real.
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