Monday, July 22 2024 - 2:45 AM
Stone steps beside the sea
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Is Heaven Real?

In most jokes about heaven, St. Peter guards the pearly gates, and some religious leaders get around on skateboards instead of Mercedes Benz chariots. But is there an actual location, a real place, where a person can walk on the streets, pet a lion, putter in their garden, and partake of food at a banquet table?

One of the oft-quoted promises of Jesus gives His disciple friends and followers the promise of eternal life in heaven. John 14:2, 3: “In my Father’s house are many rooms [mansions]; I am going there to prepare a place for you. I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.”

Christian communities agree that all believers with a true faith experience in Jesus as Savior and living Lord can be assured of their place in this wonderful destination. But is heaven a tangible place out in “deep space” or a metaphor for simply being in the spiritual presence of God and the angels?

Where Is Heaven Now?

It seems plain that the “New Earth” is to be a perfect and pristine real home for the saved at the close of the age. Isaiah 65 speaks about building and living in houses, the enjoyment of satisfying work, and the abundance of a peaceful life where the wolf and the lamb feed together. But in our present sin-soaked age, where is heaven now?

Revelation 21 gives physical details about an actual, inhabitable city with specific dimensions, four walls, 12 gates, and God’s great throne. The Tree of Life and River of Life are glorious splendors. Some of these may be metaphors. C. S. Lewis suggests that visual pictures like “streets of gold” are feeble human attempts to communicate divine elegance. John’s observation that there is “no more sea” provides a picture of safety from alien attack.

Two biblical points lead us to believe that heaven is a wonderfully real and physical place even today. John the Revelator describes the New Jerusalem as an entire holy city “coming down out of heaven” to become the global capital of a restored paradise here on earth following the final judgment.

A Level of Reality

Second, it’s plain that Jesus came out of the tomb with a nail-scarred but glorified real body; if heaven is His present home and throne, it must have a certain level of reality. “Look at my hands and my feet,” he said to the disciples. “It is I myself! Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you see I have” (Luke 24:39). To prove the point, He asked for food and ate it and later prepared a beach breakfast for his fisherman friends!

In Acts, He ascended into the skies in full view of His loyal disciples. Visiting angels assured them that this same Jesus, who “has been taken from you into heaven,” would return in the same fashion. Enoch and Elijah, presumably in glorified human bodies, were translated, or taken away, into heaven (Genesis 5:24, II Kings 2:11), where they live even now as physical men, awaiting the day of reunion.

A Mystery

Many things about heaven are a mystery, and Christians debate the timeline of last-day events. Varying views also abound on the state of man in death and in what bodily or spiritual form a saved person experiences God’s presence. But the ultimate reality is God’s promise of eternal life to those who claim His Son as their Savior.

David B. Smith writes from Southern California.

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About David B. Smith

David B. Smith

writes from Southern California.

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