Thanks Bill that is a good question and a lot of people, like yourself, would appreciate an answer. First, let me explain that the Bible gives us the answer to the question, so there is a realistic solution. Bill, let me ask you a question and I am not trying to put you on a guilt trip but it is a serious question: “Do you believe that the Bible is God’s eternal Word?” The reason I raise the question is that the Bible is where our answers come from. If I believe the Bible is God’s Word, then the Holy Spirit will help us understand the answer and apply it to our lives.
Here are some explanations that will perhaps help to solve the question:
1. We all are going to die at the end of our life. The Bible says that after we die that something happens that we ought to be concerned about: “And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment.” (Hebrews 9:27)
2. The following verse explains that Christ died for our sins. The Bible says that “all” have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) The Bible says that all who die and do not know God receive the wages of their sin, which means they miss heaven. (Romans 6:23) However, that same verses makes it clear that one can go to heaven if they want. Those who trust what Jesus did for them receive God’s gift of eternal life [heaven]. So you are wise to consider if heaven is real or not. You can find a fuller explanation in a previous question asked by M.S., “How May I Know that I Am Saved? After you have read the explanation for your question you might want to check it out.
3. The Bible says that Heaven is a wonderful place and if a person is wise they will make sure that they are going to arrive at that place when they close their eyes in this life. “We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord.” ( 2 Corinthians 5:8) In other words, having arrived in heaven where Christ is.
- We know where Christ is because God has told us: “If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God.” (Colossians 3:1)
- I see you in the next verse which says: “Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth.” In other words you are wise to be looking for answers about heaven because that is where Christ is, who you are seeking, whether you realize it or not.
- The next two verses should also be considered in view of your question: “For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in Glory.” (Colossians 3:3-4) In other words when we are God’s child through accepting what His Son did for us in His death, burial and resurrection. (John 3: 16) Having died in this life we will appear with Him when He returns to establish His kingdom. Well consider this, it answers part of your question. Since Christ is in heaven and those who know Him, return with Him, then heaven is real.
4. Let’s consider what Christ said before He left earth for heaven. “Let not your heart be troubled: you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you, and if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.” Thomas said to Him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going, and how can we know the way.” Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” (John 14:1-6)
OK, let’s look at this a little as it pertains to your question.
- First, Christ understood the tension that occurs in our lives when we consider something we cannot see…heaven. So He says I understand so don’t get up tight over your question about heaven because I am the answer to your question.
- Next, He says there is plenty of room for all who want to go to heaven. Why would He say this? Because He is God, who has all authority in heaven and earth and is constructing the heavenly home for those who want it.
- Then, He says to His child, don’t worry about it I will make sure that you get to heaven because I am going to come to get you. He is in heaven and so He will take you there. Pretty neat, Uh?
- Well, Thomas had a little problem because he could not see the road to heaven. When we all start looking at the concept of heaven, we all have the same problem. “How do I get from earth to heaven?”
- OK, Christ answers the question as He points out He is the way to get from earth to heaven. How is that, one may ask? Christ gave Nicodemus the answer: “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” (John 3:3) The Greek idea is that one must be born from above, in other words being born again is God’s action, not man’s. Then later Christ completes the answer, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16) In other words to go to heaven one must believe in Christ, God’s Son and His completed work. Again I would refer you to the question, ‘How May I Know That I Am Saved?” Let’s go on.
5. Christ told one of the criminals who were crucified at the same time, He said that he would be with Him in Paradise that day. In other words He is telling the criminal that heaven is a real physical place. (see Luke 23:39-43)
6. The Resurrection of Jesus Proves That Heaven is a Physical Reality. The central truth of Christianity is that Jesus rose from the dead with a unique, spiritual body that had physical dimensions. He was able to be seen, heard, touched, he ate literal food. He was more than just a ghost, the resurrected Jesus had a visible, tangible, and audible, recognizable body. It was designed to occupy a literal place.
Jesus’ literal resurrection from the dead not only proved that His death on the Cross was sufficient to pay for our sins, but also guaranteed our hope of experiencing eternal life [heaven]. One day, according to the Scriptures, all of Jesus’ followers will also have similar resurrected bodies. These new, improved bodies are designed for a literal Heaven.
Much more could be said about heaven and I would encourage you to continue your search. May God bless you on your quest. If you have further questions, go to our contact page and send an e-mail to Open Bible Ministries of TN.net.
Rev. Tom Shelton