How many times have you heard someone say, “When I get to heaven…” and then they go on and on saying what they’re going to do or who they’re going to see or ALL the questions they plan to ask God. There are dozens of songs about it too. I think the focus will not be on us and what we want, but on Christ and worship of him.
When I anticipate my first glimpse of heaven, I remember the first time I walked from the parking lot of the visitor’s centre to the south rim of the Grand Canyon. As you walk up you saw nothing of the canyon and then all at once there it was, wide open, majestic, wonderful, incredible. I was mesmerized. I actually went back and walked up again just to experience it over again. I think it will feel something like that, only way way more.
What is heaven really like? Let’s see what the Bible has to say.
Heaven is the place where his presence uniquely dwells to bless. It’s the place of our treasure (Matthew 19:21), our citizenship (Philippians 3:20), our inheritance (1 Peter 1:4–5), and our stored-up hope (Colossians 1:5).
Heaven is a real location (John 14:2–3; Acts 1:9–11; 7:55–56). When followers of Jesus die, though our bodies remain on earth, our souls immediately enter God’s presence (Philippians 1:23; 2 Corinthians 5:8).
We still won’t know everything. God alone is omniscient. When we die, we’ll see things far more clearly, and we’ll know much more than we know now. But we’ll never know everything. In heaven we’ll be flawless, but not knowing everything isn’t a flaw. Righteous angels don’t know everything, and they long to know more (1 Peter 1:12). They’re flawless but finite. We should expect to long for greater knowledge, as angels do.
We will recognize one another. Scripture gives no indication of a memory wipe causing us not to recognize family and friends. Paul anticipated being with the Thessalonians in heaven, and it never occurred to him he wouldn’t know them. Look at 1 Thessalonians 4:17-18” After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage one another with these words.”
1 Corinthians 2:9-10 says, “The things God has prepared for those who love him” are “revealed to us by his Spirit.” To counter false, unbiblical notions, we need to study and meditate on “words taught by the Spirit” (1 Corinthians 2:13). Our eternal home is a real place (John 14:1-3) where we will reside in real, physical bodies (1 Corinthians 15) and where we will experience everlasting joys, rewards, and treasures (Matthew 5:12; Matthew 6:19-20; Luke 6:23).
God dwells there (Revelation 21:3) and the light of Jesus will permeate every corner of this place (Revelation 22:5). Charles Spurgeon said, “To the lover of Jesus it is very pleasant to observe how the Lord Jesus Christ has always stood foremost in glory from before the foundation of the world, and will do so as long as eternity shall last.”
We shall see the Lord “face-to-face” (1 Corinthians 13:12). The fact that our all-knowing, all-powerful Creator will dwell with us and we shall know him in an even more intimate way should be sufficient for the true Christian to rest assured that they will be satisfied there.
I think we will have meaningful work to do. Work was part of God’s original plan for humans before the fall (Genesis 2:15). God is always working (John 5:17) and Jesus said his mission was to finish the work of doing the Father’s will (John 4:34) to bring God glory (John 17:4).
The descriptions of the new heaven, earth, and heavenly city in Revelation 21—22 provide a dazzling picture of the believer’s future home, a place that should cause us to greatly anticipate living there for eternity.