“I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.” (John 14:3)
It appears that the place we call heaven is seen by many people a bit like they see Father Christmas. We know he isn’t real but it makes the children happy. People will often speak of heaven in that way to children regarding a dead pet or loved one. Saying that a loved pet or person has gone to heaven somehow brings comfort to the child and relief to the parent. For the unbelieving parent it is an escape from a horrible reality for which they have no answer to offer their child. For some, there may be a vague hope that their loved one has found peace. R.I.P. may appear on many tombstones and monuments but it is probably more often wishful thinking than reality.
For the one who has trusted Jesus Christ for forgiveness of sin and a new life sourced in Him there is a sure expectancy of heaven. God has not chosen to give us a detailed description of heaven but He has given some information.
In the words of Jesus stated at the head of this article Jesus informs us that heaven is with Him and it is a place especially prepared for us to co-habit with Him. The apostle Paul wrote the same thing like this, “We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord” (2 Corinthians 5:8). Heaven is being with Jesus.
Since we are to be with Jesus forever in a place He has prepared, has God revealed anything about this place? Yes He has and it is in the Bible.
Ultimately, but not immediately, God will create a new earth on which we will have our home (Revelation 21:1). This will be a physical earth as we have now but without the corruption sin brought. It has to be physical because we are told that we will rise in physical bodies (1 Corinthians 15) and that Jesus rose in a physical body. The new earth is described in physical terms.
Jesus Christ came to redeem the world including the physical realm (Romans 8:20-22). He will bring about that which He intended in the original Creation, namely, God dwelling with men. Throughout the Bible God reveals His desire to make His home with the one and only being He created in His own image (Genesis 1:26).
Jesus said, “If anyone loves Me, He will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him” (John 14:23). This is the fulfilment of God’s plan in redemption but it is much more than both Father and Son indwelling believers by the Holy Spirit now. It is also prophetic, speaking of that time when God will dwell with redeemed people on the new earth (Revelation 21:22, 23). Job saw that day when he said, “For I know that my Redeemer lives, and He shall stand at last on the earth; and after my skin is destroyed, this I know, that in my flesh I shall see God, whom I shall see for myself, and my eyes shall behold, and not another. How my heart yearns within me!” (Job 19:25-27). In this passage we see that Job believed that his body would physically die and that in a new resurrected physical body he would see God in a physical body. Through the eyes of faith he saw the incarnate Son of God born, crucified and risen and himself raised and in God’s presence.