Experiencing Heaven

experiencing heavenHeaven will not be boring. It is the place of God’s throne, of his glorious and holy presence, where countless angels and risen saints live and worship together with joy; and here there will be no hunger, thirst, suffering, or weeping (Revelation 4, 5, 7). The saints depicted in 6:9–11 retain their individual identity, show a sense of time passage, an awareness of what happens on earth, and concern for those still on earth. They’re aware of prayers that rise and accumulate before being answered (8:3–5). So keep praying.

Similar to those in heaven, Moses and Elijah appear from Heaven in a visit to earth and are recognizable (Matthew 17:3). The Bible never indicates that we will lose our sense of self, so we may expect to retain our self-identity and recognize others in Heaven. So make sure to give attention to who you become in life, you’ll take it with you forever.

We’ll also get rewarded—if we’ve earned it. While salvation is God’s gift equally given to all who believe, the experience of Heaven will not be the same for everyone. The New Testament clearly teaches that believers who obediently and faithfully live out their Christian lives will receive a reward. And the more sacrificially we live, or the more suffering we endure for our faith, the greater the reward (Matthew 5:11–12). If we demonstrate our spirituality for others to see, the admiration of other people is the only reward we’ll get; but if we practice our spirituality without fanfare, God promises us his reward (Matthew 6:1–18). Many people assume that if they just get saved, they’re set; but those who are saved and do not live so faithfully will enter Heaven “only as one escaping through the flames” (1 Corinthians 3:15). Another mostly overlooked point is that of possible shame and maybe even punishment. We generally think of Heaven as a place of eternal bliss, but Jesus seems to suggest in his parable of the faithful steward that disobedient believers (“servants”) may be punished for their unfaithfulness. Implicitly this appears to happen in Heaven (Luke 12:47–48). Could that be? First John 2:28 exhorts us to faithfulness so that we will be “unashamed before him at his coming.” So we might take that some believers will be ashamed at Jesus’ second coming. Yes, God is watching us.

The Apostle Paul was in some way raptured to Heaven and could only say he heard inexpressible things he was not permitted to tell (2 Corinthians 12:1–4). But he does indicate it’s an awesome place when he says, “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him” (1 Corinthians 2:9). And the next verse affirms, “but God has revealed it to us by his Spirit.” He indeed gives us glimpses into what Heaven is like.

Contrary to popular false assumptions, the Bible never says we will play harps or sit around on clouds. Aren’t you glad? Jesus does tell us he will prepare a place for us in his Father’s house (John 14:2). And it will be glorious (Romans 8:18). I’m also sure it will be plenty big.

Photo credit: Sattva   FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Leave a Reply