What the Bible Really Says About Heaven
The most important belief of the whole Christian faith is that Jesus resurrected from the dead, defeating sin and death. This event is still celebrated by billions around the globe some 2,000 years later every Easter. Jesus’ resurrection offers hope to all those who put their faith in Him that they, too, will rise from the dead upon His return at the end of history.
The most well-known verse in the Bible, John 3:16, promises that “whoever believes in [Jesus] should not perish but have eternal life.” But this begs the question, what is this “eternal life” like? Will we be disembodied souls floating through heaven forever? Will we be handed harps and a pair of wings to join the angel band singing worship songs to God?
What the Bible says
Scripture is surprisingly vague about the specifics of our life after death, outside of a few important details. First, we will be with Christ. Jesus told the thief on the cross, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:43). In Philippians 1, Paul explained that he was not afraid to die because to “be with Christ” is far better. And yet, he also knew that God still had important work and ministry for him to do so he walked in peace and boldness.
“And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God Himself will be with them as their God.” - Revelation 21:3
But the Bible is much more interested in what scholar N.T. Wright calls “life after ‘life after death.’” The story of Scripture ends with the final bodily resurrection of believers into the new heaven and new earth, where we will live with God forever. Our bodies will be both physical and spiritual, fulfilling their original design to live at the intersection of heaven and earth.
How we live matters
Because our eternal destiny is a physical one, how we live on earth today matters. This world is not heaven’s waiting room. We have been redeemed to fulfill our purpose as God’s representatives on the earth, caring for His creation for the benefit of all.
“So God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” - Genesis 1:27-28
With this in mind, how should we make the best use of the time we have left in this life? First, look up, and remember the biblical vision of an everyday relationship with Jesus. God created us for a relationship. Christ restored our broken relationship. And the Holy Spirit guarantees our future relationship with Him (2 Corinthians 5:5).
Next, look in, and ask God your big questions with wonder and awe. It’s common to hear someone say, “I’ve got some questions for God when I get to heaven!” Why not ask Him those questions now? We can dream about our eternal life with God, yet still remain focused on the mission He has given us right here—right now. By staying grounded in what He has revealed in Scripture and by His Spirit, we live in the present and prepare for the future.
“For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what He has done in the body, whether good or evil. Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade others.” - 2 Corinthians 5:10-11
Finally, look out, and see a world that needs to know the God that loves it. The Bible calls us ambassadors for Christ and ministers of reconciliation. With an eye on our future resurrection, we want everyone everywhere to have an everyday relationship with Jesus Christ.