Primarily, “the essential and immediate dwelling place of God and the eternal home of His people”;1 also “the place where God most fully makes known his presence to bless.”2
- From scripture:
In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. 4 And you know the way to where I am going.” (John 14:2-4 ESV)
And when he had said these things, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. 10 And while they were gazing into heaven as he went, behold, two men stood by them in white robes, 11 and said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.” (Acts 1:9-11 ESV)
- From the Westminster Larger Catechism:
Question 86: What is the communion in glory with Christ, which the members of the invisible church enjoy immediately after death ?
Answer: The communion in glory with Christ, which the members of the invisible church enjoy immediately after death, is, in that their souls are then made perfect in holiness, and received into the highest heavens, where they behold the face of God in light and glory, waiting for the full redemption of their bodies, which even in death continue united to Christ, and rest in their graves as in their beds, till at the last day they be again united to their souls.
Question 90: What shall be done to the righteous at the day of judgment?
Answer: At the day of judgment, the righteous, being caught up to Christ in the clouds, shall be set on his right hand, and there openly acknowledged and acquitted, shall join with him in the judging of reprobate angels and men, and shall be received into heaven, where they shall be fully and forever freed from all sin and misery; filled with inconceivable joys, made perfectly holy and happy both in body and soul, in the company of innumerable saints and holy angels, but especially in the immediate vision and fruition of God the Father, of our Lord Jesus Christ, and of the Holy Spirit, to all eternity. And this is the perfect and full communion, which the members of the invisible church shall enjoy with Christ in glory, at the resurrection and day of judgment.
- From Big Truths for Young Hearts by Bruce Ware:
Yes, heaven too is a real place! The Bible speaks about the final home for believers as a place of never-ending joy and happiness, a place always in the presence of God and his beauty, and a place of great satisfaction and fulfillment. The early verses of Revelation 21-22 help us see some of the wonder of heaven.
…First, heaven is on earth—the new earth that God will make. John pictures the new Jerusalem coming down from heaven, showing that our final home will be on the new earth. Believers are in their resurrect bodies (1 Corinthians 15:35-58), and they are made fully like Christ (1 John 3:2). As people fully remade, in both body and should we will live and love and work on the new earth that God has made, with great joy and great fulfillment. Second, we will reign with Christ forever. Even though we know very little about all that heaven will be, we know that it will be a place of deep satisfaction in the work God gives us, reigning and working with Christ. In our fallen world, work often does not sound like a good thing. But most of us learn over time that the deepest pleasures in life come through great labor and toil. Work with Christ and work for God will be our great joy in heaven. Third, Revelation 22 pictures us as back in the Garden of Eden with its tree of life. But the picture here shows a Garden of Eden better than before with its twelve kinds of fruit and leaves that heal the nations. So, we are not merely brought back to the place Adam was before he sinned. No, we are taken to a place far beyond what he had. Heaven is not merely restoring the world God made in Genesis 1-2. Heaven far surpasses the first creation.
Finally, heaven is a place of endless joy, happiness, freedom, fulfillment, beauty, and love. Imagine Jesus himself wiping away every tear, so that we never again experience pain, suffering, or sadness. What God has in store for his people is far beyond what we could know fully. But aren’t you glad he’s told us something about heaven?
- Tim Challies: The Essential: Heaven
- GotQuestions.org: Where is Heaven? What is the location of Heaven?
- Blue Letter Bible: Does Heaven Actually Exist?
- John MacArthur: Looking Toward Heaven
- Russell Moore: When We All Get to Heaven?
- J. C. Ryle: Heaven
- John Blanchard: Whatever Happened to Heaven? (pdf)
- Jonathan Edwards: Heaven, A World of Charity or Love (pdf)
- David Fairchild: The Theology of Heaven - Part 1,The Theology of Heaven - Part 2 (audio)
1From Whatever Happened to Heaven? (pdf) by John Blanchard
2From Systematic Theology by Wayne Grudem
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