Jesus Christ said there are two roads in life—a wide one and a narrow one (Mat 7:13-14). The two roads are the only two choices that man has available to him as he journeys through his time on earth. One road was labeled as the "Broad Road" that leads to destruction (Hell), and the other, the "Narrow Road" that leads to life (Heaven). Every person that has lived on this earth will spend their eternity in either Hell, the place of destruction, or Heaven, the abode of life. The subject of this file is the eternal place of happiness—Heaven.
A. The Location
Everything real in life has a physical location. Our homes are real places and have definite locations that are fixed. The home is located in a particular area or city. The city is situated in a state that is part of a larger space called a country. The country is situated in a part of a globe called the Earth that occupies a position in the Universe. The Universe itself is located in a particular area of space. Is there anyplace besides the Universe? God says there is; in fact, it was the Apostle Paul that defined the heavens as being three distinct places. He was, "caught up" to the "third heaven" and heard inexpressible things. (2CO 12:1-10). So great were the things that Paul experienced there that he was given a thorn in his flesh, to keep him from becoming conceited about his trip. Where is this "third heaven?"
To find the third heaven, one must first establish the location of the first and second heavens. The first heaven is simply the atmosphere of our earth where the birds and the planes fly. It has definite boundaries, running from the surface of the earth to the place where the atmosphere ceases to exist. The second heaven joins the first and is defined as "outer space" where the stars and all the planets are located. In the second heaven there are, seemingly, innumerable amounts of stars (at least
according to man); but the Bible declares that the number of stars (and planets) are fixed, "He determines the number of the stars and calls them each by name." (Psalm 147:4). God has the location of the universe fixed along with its borders. Crossing the limits of the Universe one enters into the third heaven, which is the place God calls Heaven. The Scriptures often referred to this place as simply heaven, which is in reality the "third heaven."
B. The Environment
When I was in grade school, I was often told that Heaven was simply a place that was totally spiritual and that all we did was "float around" like birds praising God for all eternity. Surely we will continually be praising the Precious God of the Universe, but in a place that has a definite reality. The Bible has much to say about what Heaven is and will be like:
1. A Place of Rewards: "Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven. . ." (Mat 5:12). Heaven itself would be reward enough, because what we really deserve is eternal judgment in Hell for our sins. Yet, God in his mercy has provided salvation for those who would yield their lives to Him. Rewards in Heaven are real, but we do not work for the rewards; yet we must acknowledge that they exist. In Revelation 4:10 we see some heavenly citizens bowing before the throne of Christ. They then remove their crowns (rewards) from their heads and cast them at the feet of Jesus. This makes sense when we realize that all the "good" we do as Christians is totally a result of the power and leading of the Spirit of God. What credit could we ever take for our service? None! Truly all rewards ultimately belong to Christ.
2. A Place of Children: ". . .unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven." (Mat 18:3). "Jesus said, 'Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these." (Mat 19:14). Heaven belongs to the children! In other words to be a resident of Heaven one must be "like" a little child. Little children are very trusting, dependent, innocent, and loving. In Heaven God's children will be trusting of His provision and care for all eternity. They will also be totally dependent upon Him, realizing that they have no power to provide any of their needs. In Heaven, only the redeemed will be there; therefore, there will be no sinners, only those whose sin has been removed to the "Cross of Christ."
3. A Place of Singles: "At the resurrection people will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven." (Mat 22:30). Marriage is the "spice of life" during this time of man on earth. It gives order to life and prevents gross immorality by each man having his own wife, and each woman her own husband. (1Cor 7:2). Marriage provides an intimacy between man and woman that is not possible in any other relationship. God calls the union of a man and woman in marriage "one flesh." Marriage serves a number of purposes on Earth, such as, a picture of the relationship of Christ and the Church. Marriage also provides a means of orderly procreation. Also the ordained union of man and woman in marriage provides the means of physical pleasure on Earth, a true gift of the Lord. But in Heaven, immorality will not be a problem because there will be no evil, lusting hearts there. Procreation will not be necessary for the human race will be fixed in number; no longer will God need to call a remnant out of a larger number. And lastly, the pleasures of Heaven will far exceed what we could possibly experience on this cursed Earth, a pleasure that, "No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love Him." (1Cor2:9).
4. A Place of Purpose: Often Heaven is presented as a place where there is nothing to do. Granted that the Scriptures call it a place of "rest," but do not confuse rest with boredom. In Heaven we will rest from all the struggles and problems of this life on Earth, but one will not vegetate. For evidence of this, one only needs to look at the Scriptures. For example we find God "resting" after the creation of the earth and the universe, yet we hear Jesus say, "My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I too, am working." (John 5:17). The angels in Heaven all appear to have tasks to perform, as the writer of the Book of Hebrews indicates, "Are not all angels ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation?" (Heb 1:14). Finally, in the Garden of Eden, we find man, before he became a sinner, working at a task, "The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. . .But for Adam no suitable helper was found. . .Then the lord God made a woman. . ." (Gen 2:15,20,22). Man in the sinless state had tasks to perform. God's other high order created beings the angels, too, are busy. I believe that our God is able to keep all the millions of Christians busy who will inhabit Heaven for eternity. God is a God of purpose and His people have direction and purpose too.
C. The Eternity
Heaven is eternal. That means that there will be no end to the duration of Heaven. One preacher explained it this way, "If you have been in Heaven for 10,000 years, how much Heaven would you have left? The same amount you had before the 10,000 years began!" Can you imagine an endless time of bliss, where there are no bad days, but only joy upon joy? It is hard for our finite minds to comprehend an endless life. Yet, in reality we are already in eternity! There will be no end to our beings. The only difference among the people of the Earth will be where they spend their eternity; some will enjoy the glories of God, and others will agonized in the fires of punishment. What a Great Savior we have to "give" to us an undeserved gift of eternal life!
D. The Availability of Heaven.
How available is Heaven? To put it in clear terms, heaven is free but it is not cheap. God will give us all that He has if we give him all that we have--our lives. The greatest gift of God is His Precious Son Jesus Christ. Heaven is good but the truly marvelous gift is Jesus. For if we don't have Jesus, then we will not have life, for, "Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God's wrath remains on him." (John 3:36). We need Jesus because we are full of sins that have not been paid for, and God offers us a choice—either yield our lives to Jesus and let Him pay for our sins on the cross, or go into the eternal fires to try to pay for our sins ourselves (which is impossible because they warrant eternal judgment).
Today every person alive will end up in Heaven or Hell, the choice is ours. Will we respond to the call of God and yield to Christ or remain stubborn in our sins and receive the full fury of His wrath? In order to receive the free gift of life that includes Heaven, then we must:
First, we must Repent of our sinful ways; that is, we must be willing to stop the known sins that plague us. For example, if a person is caught up in an immoral relationship, then there must “be a willingness” to terminate that sinful relationship immediately in order to become a Christian. To repent, a person becomes ashamed of their sins and wants to run from them. To repent is to have a “heart” that wants to “turn away from sins.” It is saying within, “I don’t want to live like this any more.” You don’t really have the power to turn from sin on your own, but if the Holy Spirit is truly leading you to become a Christian, then you will have a “desire” in your heart to turn from your sins, and fully intend to do it. Simply confess to Jesus Christ that you don’t want to live like this any longer, and ask Him to help you to turn from your wickedness.
Secondly, we must Believe who Jesus claimed to be. Jesus said, “If you do not believe that I am the one I claim to be, you will indeed die in your sins” [John 8:24] Jesus claimed to be God, “I and the Father are one" [John 10:30], He accepted worship as God, “Thomas said to Him, ‘My Lord and my God!’” [John 20:28]. Jesus also claimed to be the ONLY way to Heaven, “Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me’” [John 14:6], this verse means that you accept the simple fact that if a person does not come through Christ, then they can NEVER get to heaven, therefore all religions and beliefs that claim another way of salvation, other than by faith and faith alone in Christ are false damning religions that will lead men and women into hell (i.e., Buddhists, Muslims, Hindus, Judaism, Mormons, etc.). There is only on mediator between Man and God—Jesus Christ, “For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” [1 Timothy 2:5]. It is not Mary, or Allah, or Mohammad, or anyone else, the only mediator between God and man is Jesus Christ!
Thirdly, we must submit our lives to Christ. There must be a positive turning from the sin in order to receive eternal life, and a “willingness” to follow all of the Lord’s commands, by the power of the Holy Spirit, who comes to dwell within the heart of every new believer. In the Bible there was a rich young man who came to Jesus to be saved. He had a led a very good life and had no external evidence of any sin. Jesus told him that to inherit eternal life he must sell his possessions and give to the poor. The man couldn't do that because he valued his money more than Heaven or obeying Christ, and he went away unsaved and condemned to eternal fire. To become a Christian a person must be "willing" to obey all that Jesus will ask of him through the Word of God.
Peter said we must repent and be Baptized to be saved. (Acts 2:38). The point is that those pondering becoming a Christian must realize that Jesus demands public Baptism of all new converts, and a failure to be willing to be baptized is clear evidence that the heart is not ready to accept the Lordship rule of Jesus Christ in their lives. Baptism does not save you, but when you become a Christian, Christ now “controls” your life through His precious Word. The very first command that He gives to a new Christian is to be Baptized, by immersion, publicly—and this must be done as soon as practical.
Heaven is available to all who will call upon the Name of the Lord, with a heart broken and ready to obey all that Jesus will ask of us through His Holy Word. Heaven is more than a blissful place, it is the place where we can go and enjoy the beauty and sweetness of our sweet Jesus.