The True Nature of Heaven
Throughout history, there have been many stories about the true nature of Heaven. There have been stories told by philosophers, religious men and women, lay people, and even the smallest of children. Some people have experienced Heaven through the suffering of a near-death experience, while others have claimed to have had vivid visions of this most secret of holy places.
No matter what you believe or where the stories have come from, the general sentiment has been the same: Heaven is a place of unimaginable beauty, peace, and happiness. It is a place where we leave the constraints of our human bodies and transcend the earth to once again be reunited with our loved ones. And no matter what your faith may be, most people will admit they have pondered the idea of Heaven at some point in their lives.
Written throughout the pages of the King James Bible are stories and descriptions of Heaven. Though many of these references are vague, they are reminders that within the Christian faith there are some things that must be believed in rather than see. Heaven is the one great mystery that we will all eventually unravel. It is a place that our corporeal selves can not fully comprehend, so, for now, we must imagine what it will be like.
One of the very first biblical references about Heaven is actually made in Genesis 1:8.
“And God called the firmament, Heaven: and the evening and the morning were the second day.”
Though the statement is unclear in its description, it is the first account of a place beyond the stars that God has created. A place that is beyond human understanding and experience. Later in the New Testament, Jesus tells his disciples that he will soon be going to Heaven to prepare a place for them. Through Jesus’ statement, we are given a clearer picture of the reality of Heaven.
“Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.”
Jesus’ comment about Heaven not only tells us that there is a physical place that we go to when we die, but it also tells us that it is only through God and the sacrificed life of Jesus that will enter this holy place.
1 Corinthians 15:54-57
Then, when our dying bodies have been transformed into bodies that will never die, this Scripture will be fulfilled:
“Death is swallowed up in victory.
O death, where is your victory?
O death, where is your sting?”
For sin is the sting that results in death, and the law gives sin its power. But thank God! He gives us victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ.
For believers in Christ, Heaven is a place that exceeds anything earth can offer. It is a place where our earthly ailments, unhappiness, and sorrows are forgotten and replaced with deep spirituality and contentment. This sentiment is expressed very plainly in Revelation 14:13
“And I heard a voice from heaven saying, ‘Write this down: Blessed are those who die in the Lord from now on. Yes, says the Spirit, they are blessed indeed, for they will rest from their hard work; for their good deeds follow them!'”
One of the most vivid descriptions of Heaven comes from the Book of Revelation. Thought to be written by the apostle John while he was imprisoned by the Roman Empire in the penal colony of Patmos on the Aegean Sea, the book tells of a vivid vision John was given of what Heaven looked like. In the vision, John describes seeing a holy city brilliant like the precious jewel jasper, and clear like crystal.
“And had a wall great and high, and had twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels, and names written thereon, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel: on the east three gates; on the north three gates; on the south three gates; and on the west three gates. And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and in them the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.”
The description goes on to include details about the appearance of Heaven. Estimated to be the size of Europe and shaped like a huge mountain or pyramid shape, John describes the streets as being made from gold and gemstones.
“And the building of the wall of it was of jasper: and the city was pure gold, like unto clear glass. And the foundations of the wall of the city were garnished with all manner of precious stones. The first foundation was jasper; the second, sapphire; the third, a chalcedony; the fourth, an emerald; the fifth, sardonyx; the sixth, sardius; the seventh, chrysolite; the eighth, beryl; the ninth, a topaz; the tenth, a chrysoprasus; the eleventh, a jacinth; the twelfth, an amethyst. And the twelve gates were twelve pearls.”
Further on in his account, John recalls how he is told by an angel that in Heaven there is no day and no night. There is also no conflict or separation between people over beliefs, gender, creed or worldly goods. It is a place of equality and acceptance.
“And I saw no temple therein: for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it. And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moons, to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof.”
With such a place of beauty and splendor available to all souls, there are a few things that the Bible states will stand in the way of a person getting into Heaven. Trust, faith and acceptance of God and his son, Jesus is paramount in ensuring entry into Heaven, but it is also clear that a life lived in darkness will prevent a person for living out their eternal life in peace. And as one of the most famous Bible quotes states, it will be easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than a rich man to get into Heaven. Worldly possessions and great wealth will have no power or sway in Heaven and in fact, may even hinder a person from entering through the pearly gates.
“He that overcometh shall inherit all things, and I will be his God, and he shall be my son. But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.”
As for the physical form we take on when we are in Heaven, the Bible states it will be a form unlike any we have ever experienced. Rid of our heavy bodies, the spirit will be free to move throughout Heaven and will be void of impediments, disabilities, or illnesses. Gone will be the things that held us back while we were on earth; trials and tribulations will be forgotten and our spiritual transformation will begin.
“I declare to you, brothers, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed—in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality.”
Though there will never be a way to verify the stories, tales, accounts and Biblical scripture that describe Heaven, the reality of such a place existing is something most choose to strive for and will continue to imagine in vivid color, beauty and splendor. It is a place that for many holds great hope, promise and happiness.
“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. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. Because of these, the wrath of God is coming. You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived.”