If there’s one thing I’m certain of when it comes to Heaven, it’s this: It’s not going to be what you think. It’s going to be better.
You probably have some mental pictures of Heaven, right? Sistine Chapel-like harps and streets of gold ideas? Flying around in a white robe with angel wings? An eternal feast in the clouds?
There’s a lot more to the real Heaven than those cartoon images, I assure you! Think of 1 Corinthians 2:9:
“Things which eye has not seen and ear has not heard, and which have not entered the heart of man, all that God has prepared for those who love Him” (NASB).
But why should we even try to think about the real Heaven? At least three reasons pop into my mind. One, our misconceptions sort of dumb down our view of God. Two, the Apostle Paul instructs us to! (Read Colossians 3:1-4.) And three, our inadequate view of the afterlife can destine us to a wasted present life! Our priorities get all out of whack.
I confess I didn’t give Heaven much thought over the years until I started to actually explore what the scriptures teach about it. Rest assured I don’t want to leave this earth and go to Heaven prematurely. I’m truly enjoying life. I love traveling the world, hanging with my kids, reading a good book. Having early-morning coffee with my wife every day I’m in town is precious to me. And it’s definitely rewarding to see how God is using me to encourage people and point them to Christ. Who would want to give all that up?
But I do think of Heaven more these days. And to be honest, that has changed my relationship with God.
How? Learning more about Heaven has reinforced this ultimate, magnificent truth: God wants to spend eternity with you!
Did you get that? God wants to be with you forever! That’s why He made a way for sin to be defeated, by sending the Son of God to die on the cross and be resurrected. That’s why He will restore all of creation, establishing “a new heaven and a new earth” the way He intended them to be before sin ruined everything. That’s why you and I—if we’re believers and have accepted Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior—can look forward to living forever in His presence!
But remember, when I say “in His presence,” I don’t mean we’ll be a bunch of disembodied souls floating around, singing hymns forever. (Although I have no doubt will be plenty of singing!)
We will be residents of a tangible New Heaven and a New Earth, which the Book of Revelation describes as beyond mind-blowing. Words like “bigger,” “grander,” “more beautiful,” don’t begin to cover it.
Think of something you love. I love big cities. Chicago is a favorite of mine. Great museums, theater, restaurants, and that beautiful lakefront skyline! Hong Kong is another metropolis that captures my fancy, with its blend of the ancient and the modern, the Chinese culture and the British. So interesting! Maybe you’re drawn to Paris, New York City, Rome, San Francisco.
Now think about this: the heavenly New Jerusalem that God is creating for us will outshine any city you can imagine!
Here’s a taste: Revelation 21 says the New Jerusalem will be 1,400 miles wide, 1,400 miles long, and 1,400 miles high. This passage is where we get the “streets of gold” imagery but with this twist: they’ll be “as pure as transparent glass.” The walls will be of jasper, the gates of pearl. Foundations will be made with sapphire, emerald, onyx, ruby, turquoise and other gems.
Another interesting fact: There will be no temples in the New Jerusalem, because:
“the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp” (Revelation 21:22-23).
The point of all this?
This perfect environment that God has prepared because He loves you so much means you will have a new kind of relationship with Him, a new kind of relationship with sin, complete satisfaction, and a new, amazing home in which to experience the Creator. The signature quality will be the intimate, open, connected, face-to-face relationship we will have with God. Heaven will be heavenly.
Learn more about heaven in Chip Ingram’s series The Real Heaven.
Founder & Teaching Pastor, Living on the Edge
Chip Ingram is the CEO and teaching pastor of Living on the Edge, an international teaching and discipleship ministry. A pastor for over thirty years, Chip has a unique ability to communicate truth and challenge people to live out their faith. He is the author of many books, including The Real God, Culture Shock and The Real Heaven. Chip and his wife, Theresa, have four grown children and twelve grandchildren and live in California.More Articles by Chip