Heaven. It’s a place everyone has heard about it. It’s a place we think about, especially when someone we love is nearing the end of life or when they die. It’s a place most people believe they are going to end up when this life is over.
For most people the thought of heaven warms the heart and brings comfort to the soul. However, have you ever wondered what heaven looks like?
What Does Jesus Say about Heaven?
In Jesus’ earthly ministry he spent a good amount of time talking about eternity, and in one instance this is what he told his disciples:
“Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am” (John 14:1-3).
In this passage of Scripture, Jesus is talking about heaven. He is giving us a little peek into what is reserved for those who believe in him. Beyond that, what else does the Bible say about heaven? How can we know more and gain a better understanding of what the Bible teaches us? To answer this question, I invite you to come with me on this exploration as we consider what does heaven look like?
How Does the Bible Describe Heaven?
To understand a little better the description of heaven lets dive into Revelation 21. When you read this chapter, you will discover one of the most in-depth descriptions recorded in Scripture. I would encourage you to read Revelation 21 and 22 to get all the details John lays out. However, here are some of the highlights of what John reveals.
The first thing John mentions is a new heaven and a new earth where God makes everything new. The central point of our eternal home is the eternal city, the new Jerusalem. God spares no creativity and magnificence in creating this city. It has twelve walls with the names of the twelve tribes of Israel written on them. The city also has twelve foundations with the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb written on them. This lets us know that both Old Testament and New Testament believers will inhabit this city.
The wall surrounding this city is made of jasper, a type of gemstone, and the city itself is made of the purest gold, as transparent as glass. The foundations of the wall are each decorated with precious stones. Even the street in this city is made of pure gold. Truly, heaven will be a place of exquisite beauty that goes beyond anything you have ever seen or imagined. The beauty of heaven will blow your mind.
4 Things We Know about the Experience of Heaven
Nevertheless, the wonder of heaven is not just in what it looks like. The wonder is also in the experience of heaven which is found in this same chapter.
1. We Will Literally Be in God’s Presence
Revelation 21:3 – “And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God.’”
Heaven will be a place where we get to experience the fullness of God’s presence and the fullness of his glory. In Exodus 33 Moses asked God to show him his glory. God’s glory passed over Moses but God had to hide him in the cleft of the rock and Moses could only see God’s back, not his full glory. This will not be the case in heaven. We will experience the unmatched, unimaginable glory of God with no constraint or restriction. I can assure you, you have never experienced the presence of God like it will exist in heaven. That will be a glory that goes far beyond all our human words.
2. We Will Have Eternal Joy
Revelation21:4 – “He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more deathor mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”
The old order of things (the world we live in now) has been stained by the impact of sin. In heaven God will forever remove that stain. When that is gone, notice what is also gone with it: death, mourning, crying, pain. There will be no more tears, but eternal joy.
Warren Wiersbe wrote in his commentary on the New Testament, The Wiersbe Bible Commentary:
“The eternal city is so wonderful that the best way John found to describe it was by contrast – ‘no more.’ The believers who first read this inspired book must have rejoiced to know that, in heaven, there would be no more pain, tears, sorrow, or death, for many of their number had been tortured and slain. In every age, the hope of heaven has encouraged God’s people in their times of suffering.”
3. There Will Be No Need for the Sun or the Moon
Revelation 21:23-25 – “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. The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their splendor into it. On no day will its gates ever be shut, for there will be no night there.”
It’s clear from Scripture that God’s glory will outshine the noonday sun and the nighttime moon. God’s glory will be on full display. There will never again be a need for the moon or sun because his brilliance will be the only source of everlasting light.
4. Nothing Impure Will Ever Enter There
Revelation21:27 – “Nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life.”
Heaven is a place where a reservation is required. There is a VIP guest list called the Lamb’s book of life. Those allowed entry are those who have been washed in the blood of the lamb, Jesus. There will be nothing impure. Nothing sinful. A place where all of the impurities of sin will be done away with forever. The imprint and impact of sin will be gone and we will never have to deal with it again.
Where Is Heaven?
When thinking about the question what does heaven look like, it is natural to wonder where heaven is located. The simple answer to this question is that heaven is where God dwells in all his glory. Psalm 19:1 tells us that the heavens declare the glory of God. The heavens spoken about here refer to the sky above us and the wonder of creation. However, this is a veiled glory. It points to God and gives a hint of his majesty but doesn’t reveal it in its fullness. Right now, there is only one location currently where God exists in his full glory – that place is heaven.
How Do We Get to Heaven?
Since heaven is the place where God dwells and reigns with all his glory there really is only one way to get there. In John 14:6 we find the answer: “Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.’” This is the only way to get to heaven. There is no other way.
We get there by coming through the way provided for us. If you want to be in heaven you must receive Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior. These by the way are not my requirements, this is what God has established. So don’t shoot the messenger.
What Will We Do in Heaven?
The Bible does not go into great detail as to what we will be doing in heaven but here are a few things we know:
Rev. 5:13 – We will worship God
Rev. 22:2 – We will serve God and The Lamb (Jesus)
2 Timothy 2:12 – We will reign with him
Matthew 26:29 – We will partake in communion with Jesus
Matthew 8:11 – There will be a feast
Matthew 25 – We will be rewarded for our work
How will these things play out exactly? No one really knows. God has chosen not to reveal all the intimate details so we don’t know exactly how this will look. However, what I do know is that God has been planning this for a long time. If God has good things planned for us while we live on this earth (Jer. 29:11) how much greater are his plans when we spend our eternity with him in heaven. All I can say is this is one experience you don’t want to miss.
Is There an Alternative?
The Bible is very clear about the choices to be made. When speaking about eternity, Jesus only mentioned two options: heaven and hell. In the simplest of terms hell is everything that heaven is not. There is weeping, regret, torment, darkness and most importantly separation from the presence of God. God’s plan was never for you or me to go there but unfortunately for those who reject Christ this is the eternity that awaits them.
What about purgatory? When you search throughout the pages of Scripture there is no mention of purgatory. This doctrine is often taught in the Catholic Church but it was not taught by Christ or any of the New Testament writers. This is not the focus of our article today but if you want to read more about it, Michael F. Ross explains the concept of purgatory here.
What Can We Conclude for Today?
When asking the question “what does heaven look like,” you understand that God has given us a partial glimpse. We know we will be in God’s presence forever and the eternal city will be glorious and have a beauty that the world has not seen. However, I believe the best way to think about this is to remind you of the words Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 13:9-10:
“For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears.”
Everything we know about heaven today is in part. Yet, there will come a day when all of our faith will be made sight and everything will no longer be a mystery but will be complete. On that day, nothing will be hidden.
The only question left to ask today is will you be there? You don’t get there by working hard or doing more. You get there by putting your complete faith and trust in the finished work of Jesus Christ. If you will invite him in and receive him as your savior, you will one day experience all the glory that God has prepared for those who love him.