The Reality of Heaven
The man who is about to sail for Australia or New Zealand as a settler, is naturally anxious to know something about his future home, its climate, its employments, its inhabitants, its ways, its customs. All these are subjects of deep interest to him. You are leaving the land of your nativity, you are going to spend the rest of your life in a new hemisphere. It would be strange indeed if you did not desire information about your new abode. Now surely, if we hope to dwell forever in that “better country, even a heavenly one” we ought to seek all the knowledge we can get about it. Before we go to our eternal home we should try to become acquainted with it.
–J. C. Ryle
A few weeks ago I started this three-part journey, which I like to call The Reality of Life series, by discussing the reality of death. I spoke of how if death is real, then to the Christian individual there are two possible outcomes, Heaven and Hell. My last article touched on the reality of hell, and what that should mean to us as Christians. This time around I’m going to focus on the other part of the death equation, Heaven.
What is Heaven? According to the Bible, Heaven is the eternal resting place for those who have put their faith in Jesus Christ and asked for forgiveness of their sins. It is our new home, where we can enjoy the fellowship of God and other believers. Heaven is the ultimate reward for our commitment and faith.
Yet what is it really like? That’s a hard thing to discover, as those who are in Heaven don’t usually come back down and show us their otherworldly vacation photos. Sometimes I feel we don’t think of Heaven as a real physical place, just some sort of essence where our spirits play harps all day long. But Heaven isn’t some magical place up in the clouds, despite what comic strips may lead us to believe. It is a real physical place. The Bible speaks of Heaven having gates and streets of gold, and that we will receive new bodies when we arrive. This leads me to believe that Heaven will be as real to us as our present surroundings are now. But do we ever think of it that way? Have you ever taken the time to just sit and really imagine what Heaven will be like?
There almost seems to be this stigma about Heaven preventing us from trying to imagine what it is like—we have the mindset that “we cannot possibly imagine Heaven, so why bother trying?” I feel that this is a mistake. While Heaven is greater than anything my finite mind can come up with, it does not hurt for me to try to picture its glories. In fact the Bible often says that we should fix our gaze on Heaven, and have it ever in our thoughts. For Heaven is our end goal, our final retirement home, the reason we should be living our lives for Christ.
I believe that the promise of Heaven should constantly be in our minds, as it will affect how we live on a day to day basis. If we can keep our thoughts on things above, then we will certainly live our lives with a new sense of purpose. It is a huge shift in perspective, the idea that we have something greater waiting for us. I know that for me the thought of Heaven makes the ups and downs of this life more bearable. Heaven is going to be a place filled with joy and love, and the knowledge of that coming fulfillment helps me to keep going day after day. For we are not living for this life, but for the next. Because what is coming next is going to be a wonderful thing, and I hope to share it with all of you.