By Tom Shanklin
“Let not your heart be troubled: ye 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 unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also. And whither I go ye know, and the way ye know. Thomas saith unto him, Lord, we know not whither thou goest; and how can we know the way? Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” John 14:1-6, KJV.
All of us deep inside know that there is a hereafter. The scripture says that God has put eternity in our hearts. It seems in every culture there is some belief in life after death. Man has often tried to suppress that knowledge, especially through false science and pseudo-intellectual knowledge that exalts man above God. But no matter, the truth stands. In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth, and in the end, He will judge the world by His Son, Jesus Christ.
Heaven is a real place. It is definable and tangible, but it is in another realm. It has size and shape and is made of things that we can relate to on earth. The gates are made of pearls, the foundations are precious gems, and the streets are paved with gold. You won’t find heaven on a map though. You can’t get there by automobile or airplane, or even with a spaceship, but there IS a way to get there.
Heaven is the place where Father God lives, and Jesus is by His side. The greatest thing about heaven is that we will live in the presence of the Lord forever. In heaven, there is no need for a church or a steeple or a sanctuary, because the very presence of God permeates heaven. Now we see through a glass darkly, but then face to face. We will see Jesus face to face, and all sorrow and pain will pass away. We will never be lonely in heaven, and we will have no pain. The Lord Himself will wipe away all the tears and sorrows left over from this life.
There is a home for you in heaven. A home is a wonderful thing. Back in our hippie days, Susan and I at times lived in a tent or a tepee or under a tarp or in a cabin in the woods. We were always moving. Even later, when I served as a pastor, it seemed we were moving more than staying. But now we have a home. It’s an earthly temporary home. And though it was built in the 1880s, it’s quite comfortable. It fits like an old shoe. I really thank God for it, but my home in heaven will be better by far. It will be pleasant and peaceful and safe. I will enjoy my home in heaven.
Jesus said that He was going to prepare a place for us. Abraham lived in tents, too, but He looked for that city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God. Heaven is not some mystical realm with clouds floating about. It has foundations. In fact, it’s so solid that it cannot be shaken. There will be no earthquakes or tornados or terrorists or invasions of any kind in heaven. And I’m quite sure that in heaven there is no substandard housing. Thankfully, there are no mortgages, taxes or utility bills either. Everything is paid in full by the blood of the Lamb.
Heaven is a city, but there are no traffic jams or pollution or crime. When I think of heaven as a city, I might be dissuaded from wanting to go there. I’m a country person. I like the wide open spaces. But from what the scriptures tell us, it is quite a large city, and I’m pretty sure that the Lord can carve out a few acres for me. After all, He put Adam in a garden, and we know that heaven is better by far. Besides, Jesus said that He has gone to prepare a place for ME. So I believe my home will be custom built and I will love it. And the same goes for you.
I believe that the beauty of the place called heaven will far surpass anything that we have ever seen on earth. Think of your most wonderful day you have experienced on earth. Each day in heaven will be far better. Your relationships will all be blessed in heaven and you will experience the glory of God every day and in every way. There will be rewards in heaven and some people will enjoy greater privileges and responsibilities based on their faithfulness to God while they lived on the earth.
In heaven, we will have eternal life in the very presence of God. All that diminishes life will be banished. There will be no death, no sickness, no sorrow, no pain, no darkness, no crime, no jealousy or hatred, no confusion, and no depression. In heaven, we will experience greater joy than we have ever experienced on earth. The joy of the Holy Spirit that we experience on earth is only a small deposit of the glories of heaven. And all the limitations of the body will be removed.
In heaven, we will experience a reunion with loved ones who have trusted Jesus and gone before us, and we will know who they are. There will be no bad neighbors in heaven, and no crime. We will experience the greatest music we have ever heard. After all, music originated in heaven. Our God invented it and He is the greatest creative composer of all time. In heaven there will be a total release of the creative power of God in your life and a total satisfaction of every holy desire and aspiration.
Heaven will not be boring. I don’t believe we will just be playing a harp on a cloud. There will be growth and development. We will continue to increase in the knowledge of God, because only God can fully know God. It will be heaven’s occupation to progressively know God more and more. Heaven will be greater than any of us can imagine!
There is Also a Hell
The clear teaching of the Bible is that there is a heaven, but there is also hell. Jesus told the story of the beggar, Lazarus, and the rich man. “And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried; And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.” Luke 16:22-24, KJV.
When you die, it’s either up or down, heaven or hell. There is no in between, no purgatory, and no reincarnation. It’s one or the other. Hell was made for the devil and his angels. Heaven was made for God and His people. Jesus said “I go to prepare a place for you…” Heaven is prepared and waiting for you. But will you be there? Sooner or later, your physical body will die, but the real you, your spirit person, will live forever in heaven or hell.
God does not want anyone to spend eternity in hell. He wants everyone to be with Him. That’s why He sent Jesus to be the perfect sacrifice for our sins. When Jesus died on the cross, He died for the sins of the whole world. He did not have any sins of His own to die for. He was the Son of God, born of a virgin, who lived a sinless life and then died for your sins. The blood that poured from His veins was given to cleanse you of sin, and to make you pure. No one needs to miss heaven!
The Way is Made!
When we travel to places on earth, there are usually several alternative routes to get there, but there is only one way to get to heaven. Jesus said, “…I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” John 14:6, KJV. He said “I am THE way,” not A way. He’s the only way to heaven. Jesus doesn’t want you to lose your way and miss heaven. He wants you to have clear directions, so you can set your GPS and arrive safely to your destination. He wants you to find the home He has designed and prepared for you in heaven.
Every one of us has done wrong and every one of us needs a new heart. Sin came into the human race, not because of God’s will, but because man chose to listen to the devil. Adam and Eve’s disobedience brought sin and spiritual death into the human race. That’s why we all need a Savior. We need Someone to die for our sins.
How do you get to heaven? By receiving Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior. “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name:” John 1:12, NKJV. That’s the only way. Belonging to the “right” church, living a good enough life, baptism, or confirmation will not get you to heaven. You must accept what God has done for you through Jesus Christ. Receive Him into your heart today by praying this simple prayer with all of your heart:
Dear God, I thank you for sending Jesus Christ. I believe He died for me. I believe He rose again. I turn away from doing wrong and I choose to follow Jesus as the ruler of my life. I say “Jesus is my Lord.” Thank you, Father, for forgiving me, changing me, and making me your child now, in Jesus name. Amen.