Veronica Neffinger wrote her first poem at age seven and went on to study English in college, focusing on 18th century literature. When she is not listening to baseball games, enjoying the outdoors, or reading, she can be found mostly in Richmond, VA writing primarily about nature, nostalgia, faith, family, and Jane Austen.
Heaven is a word that many of us likely use without thinking too hard about its actual biblical meaning and the implications of its reality.
Culture has conditioned us to think about heaven as “the better place” people go to when they die, a place where chubby little angels flit about and every day is like a beautiful spring day.
While some of these things are based on what the Bible actually tells us about heaven, looking deeper into what the Bible reveals to us about this place will help to increase our faith and encourage us to look forward to this place God has prepared for us.
In his article for The Gospel Coalition titled “Is There Proof of Heaven?” Matt Smethurst notes that it takes conscious effort and attention to scripture to view heaven correctly. It is easy to begin thinking about heaven as a sort of fictional place if we simply listen to what culture tells us about it.
Although the existence of heaven cannot be proven by the scientific method or by mathematical logic, Christians believe in its reality because we believe the truth of God’s Word which so clearly speaks of heaven. Belief in heaven, like belief in God requires faith; nevertheless, it is not a blind faith.
Hebrews 11:1 says that “Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”
The words “assurance” and “conviction” are strong words, suggesting that this faith is based on a sound foundation.
So, what does the Bible really say about heaven and why is it important to know what it says on this subject?
In the Crosswalk.com article “3 Sobering Reasons Why You Should Study Heaven,” Chip Ingram and Lance Witt note that “We are commanded to think about heaven. It’s not just a good suggestion or a nice idea.”
Ingram and Witt then go on to quote Colossians 3:1-2: “Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.”
So, what are we to “set our minds on” when it comes to heaven?
Smethurst discusses a few important things God’s Word says about heaven.
Firstly, heaven is a real place, not just a concept or state of mind. When we pray the Lord’s Prayer, we say “Our Father who is in heaven” (Matt. 6:9), reminding us that heaven is God’s dwelling place.
Heaven is also the place where our treasure should be stored up (Matt. 19:21), the place of our true citizenship (Phil. 3:20), the place of our inheritance (1 Pet. 1:4-5), and the place of our stored-up hope (Col. 1:5).
Smethurst, as well as Ingram and Witt, note that chubby cherubs, people floating around on clouds, angels playing golden harps, and other similar cultural pictures of heaven only obscure the true glories of heaven.
Smethurst says that in heaven, “We’ll be running and working and playing and singing and working and laughing and resting and reveling in the endless wonders of good and beautiful God.” It will be like the best times on Earth, but without sadness, without grief, without fear. We will always be with God, and Revelation 21:4 tells us that God will “wipe away every tear from their eyes.”
The truth about heaven should also inspire in God’s children a longing for it. We have likely felt this longing at times when we realize even on the best days, even with all the wealth, all the success, all the blessings we can achieve and be bestowed with in this life on Earth, there is a part of us that yearns for something still more fulfilling.
C. S. Lewis once said that “If we find in ourselves a desire that nothing in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that we were made for another world.”
We are told in scripture that this other world will be better than anything we have ever experienced here on Earth. For those who believe in Jesus, the promise of heaven is nothing short of rejoicing in the presence of God forever.
Photo courtesy: Thinkstockphotos.com
Publication date: April 6, 2016
Veronica Neffinger is the editor of ChristianHeadlines.com