Questions about Heaven Answered

About this Episode

Questions about Heaven Answered is the topic that will be discussed today on RIOT Podcast, a Christian Discipleship Podcast.

In the Christian tradition, heaven and paradise have been conflated as an answer to the question “where do I go when I die?” The idea of the dead being in heaven or enjoying paradise often bring enormous comfort to the bereaved and hope to those suffering or dying. Heaven is a real place described in the Bible.

The word “heaven” is found 276 times in the New Testament alone. The words for heaven or heavens in both Hebrew (shamayim) and Greek (ouranos) can also be translated as the sky. It is not something that exists eternally but rather part of creation.

The first line of the Bible states that heaven is created along with the creation of the earth (Genesis 1). It is primarily God’s dwelling place in the biblical tradition: a parallel realm where everything operates according to God’s will. Many people have questions about heaven and today we're going to answer a few.

What is heaven like?
Scripture refers to three heavens. The apostle Paul was “caught up to the third heaven,” but he was prohibited from revealing what he experienced there (2 Corinthians 12:1-9).

The first is most frequently referred to in the Old Testament as the “sky” or the “firmament.” This is the heaven that contains clouds, the area that birds fly through. The second heaven is interstellar/outer space, which is the abode of the stars, planets, and other celestial objects (Genesis 1:14-18).

Heaven is a place of “no more.” There will be no more tears, no more pain, and no more sorrow (Revelation 21:4). There will be no more separation because death will be conquered (Revelation 20:6). The best thing about heaven is the presence of our Lord and Savior (1 John 3:2). We will be face to face with the Lamb of God who loved us and sacrificed Himself so that we can enjoy His presence in heaven for eternity.

Will there be marriage in heaven?
The Bible tells us, “At the resurrection people will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven” (Matthew 22:30). Evidently, there will be no such thing as marriage in heaven. This does not mean that a husband and wife will no longer know each other in heaven. This also does not mean that a husband and wife could not still have a close relationship in heaven. What it does seem to indicate, though, is that a husband and wife will no longer be married in heaven.

Will we be able to see and know our friends and family members in heaven?
Many people say that the first thing they want to do when they arrive in heaven sees all their friends and loved ones who have passed on before them. In eternity, there will be plenty of time to see, know, and spend time with our friends and family members. However, that will not be our primary focus in heaven. We will be far more occupied with worshiping God and enjoying the wonders of heaven. Our reunions with loved ones are more likely to be filled with recounting the grace and glory of God in our lives, His wondrous love, and His mighty works. We will rejoice all the more because we can praise and worship the Lord in the company of other believers, especially those we loved on earth.

Can People in heaven look down and see us?
Some see in Hebrews 12:1 the idea that people in heaven might be able to look down and see us: “Therefore since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses” The “witnesses” are the heroes of faith listed in Hebrews 11, and the fact that we are “surrounded” by them leads some commentators to understand those heroes (and possibly other people) are looking down on us from heaven.

What will we look like in heaven?
In the book of 1 Corinthians, chapter 15, Paul talks about the resurrection and the resurrected body. In verses 35 and following, he states that our heavenly bodies will be different from our natural bodies, with some stark contrasts. Whereas our earthly bodies are characterized by mortality (being susceptible to death), our resurrected bodies will be characterized by immortality (not susceptible to death). Likewise, while our earthly bodies are susceptible to decay (corruption), they will become incorruptible (1 Corinthians 15:53). Also, where our natural bodies are prone to weakness, our resurrected bodies will be characterized by strength (verse 43).

Will it be possible to sin in heaven?
The Bible describes heaven or the eternal state in great detail in Revelation chapters 21–22. Nowhere in those chapters is the possibility of sin mentioned. In fact, we have the promise that, in the eternal state, we will never experience death, sorrow, crying, or pain (Revelation 21:4) —the absence of those things is proof positive that sin is also absent since those things are the product of sin (see Romans 6:23)

Do we receive mansions in heaven?
The night before Jesus was crucified, He told His disciples that He would be leaving them and that they could not go with Him (John 13:33). Peter asked where He was going and why they couldn’t go with Him, and Jesus assured them that they would follow Him eventually (John 13:36-37). Jesus said, "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? 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" (John 14:2-3).

Is the New Jerusalem heaven described in Rev 21?
The New Jerusalem, which is also called the Tabernacle of God, the Holy City, the City of God, the Celestial City, the City Foursquare, and Heavenly Jerusalem, is literally heaven on earth. It is referred to in the Bible in several places (Galatians 4:26; Hebrews 11:10; 12:22–24; and 13:14),but it is most fully described in Revelation 21.

The New Jerusalem will be fantastically huge. John records that the city is nearly 1,400 miles long, and it is as wide and as high as it is long—the New Jerusalem being equal in length, width, and depth (Revelation 21:15–17). The city will be dazzling in every way. It is lighted by the glory of God (verse 23). Its twelve foundations, bearing the names of the twelve apostles, are “decorated with every kind of precious stone” (verse 19). It has twelve gates, each a single pearl, bearing the names of the twelve tribes of Israel (verses 12 and 21). The street will be made of pure gold (verse 21).

Who are the residents of the New Jerusalem? The Father and the Lamb are there (Revelation 21:22). Angels are at the gates (verse 12). But the city will be filled with God’s redeemed children. The New Jerusalem is the righteous counter to evil Babylon (Revelation 17), destroyed by God’s judgment (Revelation 18). The wicked had their city, and God has His. To which city do you belong? Babylon the Great or the New Jerusalem? If you believe that Jesus, the Son of God, died and rose again and have asked God to save you by His grace, then you are a citizen of the New Jerusalem. “God raised [you] up with Christ and seated [you] with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:6). You have “an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade” (1 Peter 1:4). If you have not yet trusted Christ as your Savior, then we urge you to receive Him. The invitation is extended: “The Spirit and the bride say, ‘Come!’ And let the one who hears say, ‘Come!’ Let the one who is thirsty come; and let the one who wishes take the free gift of the water of life” (Revelation 22:17).

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