What Will Heaven Be Like?
by David Lautzenheiser
Pastor of Senior Adult Ministries and Pastoral Care, Christ’s Church, Mason
Do you ever wonder what Heaven will be like? Many people respond with this thought, “I think we will walk on streets of gold.” Another response often is, “It is a place where there will be no more sorrow and no more pain.” I am involved with the planning and carrying out of many memorial services for people in our church, and the subject of Heaven comes up quite a bit with people who are grieving over the loss of a loved one. Many folks want to know if they will be reunited with their loved one in the “next life.” Some people I meet do not believe that there is a literal Heaven or Hell where people will go when they die.
A few years ago, at a Seniors Conference at Johnson University in Knoxville, TN, guest teacher Gary Johnson, senior minister at Indian Creek Christian Church in Indianapolis, shared a thought that he called “the concept of continuance.” It resonated quite a bit when I first heard this concept, and it has really stuck with me. At the second coming of Jesus Christ a new Heaven and a new earth will be created (see Revelation 21, 22). God did this very same thing when he first created the heavens and the earth as written in the first book of the Bible, Genesis. On the seventh day the Creator God rested and took the time to reflect on his perfect creation. Then, in Genesis chapter 3we read how sin entered the Garden of Eden and God’s perfect creation was marred by the sinfulness of man.
Now for a moment, place yourself in the most beautiful garden that you can imagine, whether it is one you have visited or maybe one you have created yourself. Often, we find moments of great peace and joy in a place like that. I spend a lot of time working and maintaining my home gardens as a Master Gardener. Though the gardens are beautiful, they take lots of work, because they can easily get marred with weeds that need to be removed on a daily basis. Whether I am working the soil, designing a new flower bed, installing the bed, or maintaining that special space in the garden, it draws me close to God himself, as I mediate on him, and offer praise and prayers.
Here is the thought that changed how I view Heaven when I heard our speaker at the Seniors Conference. He asked us to take a moment and think about the last chapters of the Bible in the book of Revelation. Then he asked what these last chapters have in common with the first few chapters of the Bible in the book of Genesis. Here it is: God created the heavens and the earth before he created mankind. When Jesus returns a second time to the earth, the Bible says that God will create a newHeaven and earth. In other words, as Gary Johnson pointed out, “God will pick up at the end of Scripture where he left off in the opening chapters of the Bible.” And this new Heaven will be the home of all who have followed Jesus Christ as their Lord for all eternity. It will be a place of perfection. It will be free from sin. No evil will exist there. And peace will reign among all people. Our total desire will be to honor and exalt God forever and ever.
Revelation 5:11-13: “Then I looked and heard the voice of many angels, numbering thousands upon thousands, and ten thousand times ten thousand. They encircled the throne and the living creatures and the elders. In a loud voice they were saying: ‘Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!’ Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them, saying: ‘To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honor and glory and power, for ever and ever!’” (NIV).
Remember that special, beautiful place in your garden where the cares of the world seem to fade away? Now magnify that in eternity and the beauty of Heaven is almost indescribable. The apostle John, in the book of Revelation, did receive a vision of the pearly gates and streets of gold (Revelation 21:17-21), which tells us how indescribable it really will be. The fact that God created this in the beginning and then picks up where he left off is truly beyond explanation. Except to say, God did it out of love for his children! (1 John 3:1). He loved us so much and wants us to experience this place that he has prepared for us that he sent his only Son, Jesus Christ, to the earth to show us the way to experience that new Heaven and new earth.
Knowing that’s what Heaven will be like helps us get through the grieving process we face when we lose close friends or loved ones. It’s OK to cry, to miss them, to relive the great moments of their lives, and looking forward to that day when we see Jesus face to face in our heavenly home gives us the hope to carry on.