No one knows exactly what Heaven will be like. But the Bible does give us some clues about what’s waiting for believers after this life ends. And in an article from Crosswalk, Christian author Jean E. Jones shares her favorite 10 Scriptures about Heaven to help answer some of the questions surrounding the topic, as well as get us excited for what’s to come!
10 Scriptures About Heaven
As a child, I had a vague idea of heaven being clouds through which God sometimes poked his head to see whether people were being good or bad. Paintings, comic strips, and movies added winged angels and a white gate with someone stern looking down to see if the dead were good enough to enter. And I read Huckleberry Finn's portrayal of heaven as boring and filled with prudes who do nothing but play harps for eternity.
What a delight it was when I first started reading the Bible's descriptions of heaven. They were robust, alive, and action-filled. Heaven had gemstones, strange creatures, fruit trees, and a river. There were giant warrior angels who shone like stars. Heaven seemed glorious.
Here, then, are 10 of my favorite Scriptures about heaven that can give us a glimpse of the glories to come.
1. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)
I wasn't raised in the church and knew next to nothing about Jesus. At 15, I got hold of a New Testament and started reading, figuring that an all-powerful God would want to let people know how to find him in a way that untrustworthy people couldn't misrepresent. After reading through John 8, I was convinced that the only way to God was through Jesus.
But I mistakenly thought believing in Jesus cleansed you for your past sins so you could live a good Christian life. I hadn't really understood the most famous verse in the Bible. God loved people like me so much that he gave his only begotten Son to pay the penalty for people's sins-past, present, and future. When we believe in Jesus-that is, believe he is God's Son as he testified, that he's rightfully Lord, and that he died to pay for sins-God adopts us into his family and gives us eternal life.
2. “We are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.” (2 Peter 3:13)
Eternal life in a place like this earth, frankly, doesn't attract me. Wars, hatred, tyranny, backbiting, and lies weigh me down. God had good reason for shortening human lives after the flood: It limits the amount of sin any one person has to endure and it limits the harm any one person can inflict.
But the eternal life God promises isn't on this earth, for the heavens and earth we live in now will pass away and God will create new ones. God will actually dwell with all those whom he gave eternal life. No one who does not want God to rule over them will be there. No one can bring war or hatred or sin to the new heavens and earth. Because under King Jesus' rule, righteousness dwells.
3. “Angels… will gather out of his kingdom all causes of sin.” (Matthew 13:41)
Years ago, I worried over what would happen if I sinned in heaven. The problem was that I didn't understand the fullness of this verse. Jesus promises that before heaven's occupants enter, the angels will do away with all causes of sin. That includes the devil and his minions, who now tempt humans to sin (1 Peter 5:8).
Additionally, our resurrected bodies won't have the sin nature that we inherited from Adam and Eve. Our current flesh-and-blood bodies made from this earth have desires and cravings that belong to this world, and they'll all pass away (1 John 2:16-17). Those who have trusted Jesus as Lord and Savior will receive glorified bodies that don't have fleshly cravings. These bodies will have never sinned and will never have been sinned against. We'll live in God's presence, always aware of his love and always knowing truth.
4. “From the depths of the earth you will bring me up again. You will increase my greatness and comfort me again.” (Psalm 71:20-21)
Just after my husband finished his doctorate, he was misdiagnosed as having a deadly form of bone cancer. Having all our plans suddenly dissolve left me feeling purposeless.
The psalmist who penned Psalm 71 seemed to have felt something similar, for he prayed, "Do not cast me off in the time of old age; forsake me not when my strength is spent" (verse 9). But as he writes the psalm, his hope builds. He realizes he still has purpose, for he can tell the next generation of God's power and righteousness. Though for now his failing physical abilities have caused others to deride him, he realizes that when he dies, God will resurrect him from the earth's depths. Not only that, God will increase his greatness to greater than that which he had at his peak strength (more on this to come).
5. “For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison.” (2 Corinthians 4:17)
The verse just before the one above says, "Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day." This makes me laugh. Nine months ago, I badly injured my back lifting something the wrong way. The cause? Age-related deterioration! So yes, I have proof that the outer self is indeed wasting away. I'm still waiting for two herniated discs to heal and that is certainly renewing my inner self since I've had to grow in patience, humility, and requesting help.
But verse 17 gives me joy. However long it takes my back to heal is light and momentary compared to eternity in heaven. In fact, every affliction I've ever had or will have all combined will seem light and momentary compared to eternity. Enduring afflictions with trust and hope in God prepares us for something special: an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison!
6. “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore.” (Revelation 21:4)
Like most people, I've grieved over loved ones who have died. I've shed tears over wrongs I've suffered and wrongs I've committed. I've had a painful joint condition since childhood. I've watched loved ones suffer through cancer. That's why I love this verse about heaven. It reminds me what it will be like living eternally with the mighty King Jesus who loved us so much, he died for us: There will be no more mourning, crying, or pain.
I particularly love that God himself will wipe any tears from our eyes. We cannot see or touch God now, but then he will be there with us, showing the tender love he's always had.
7. “But our citizenship is in heaven, and… the Lord Jesus Christ… will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body.” (Philippians 3:20-21)
As if a pain-free eternity with God isn't enough, our resurrection bodies will be just like Jesus' resurrection body. He could eat fish and hug; he could enter locked rooms (Luke 24:36-43). His body was healed of all ailments except the scars that brought him glory. He could ascend to heaven from earth (Acts 1:9).
First Corinthians 15:35-54 tells us more. Jesus will raise our bodies in glory and power, making them an imperishable, spiritual body.
In Revelation 1:16, Jesus' face "was like the sun shining in full strength." Though much of the description is symbolic, the shining may not be. The Prophet Daniel described a warrior angel whose face shone like lightning (Daniel 10:6). The angel told Daniel that "those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the sky above; and those who turn many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever" (Daniel 12:2-3).
8. “You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will receive me to glory. Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you.” (Psalm 73:24-25)
I love this psalm. In it, a priest named Asaph asks God why he allows ungodly, arrogant bullies to have great health and wealth while he suffers. Envious, he declares living for God is useless. But he goes to the temple and realizes it's what happens in the end that counts. God will bring about justice and the wicked will perish. Asaph sees that envy and bitterness had blinded him to truth.
He realizes that despite his "brutish" attitude, God held him up and guided him until he saw circumstances from an eternal viewpoint. The wicked he envied will perish. But God guides him now, and later will receive him into glory. Asaph realizes that living for God is not useless after all, because being near God forever is worth more than any earthly treasure.
9. “Lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven.” (Matthew 6:20)
God actually intends to reward us in heaven. In the Sermon on the Mount, he tells us he will reward us for praying in secret, for suffering unjust persecution, for staying faithful through loss, for giving to the poor, for ministering to others, and more.
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On the Day of the Lord, fire will test all our service to God and others to see if they are valuable like gold, silver, and precious stones, or worthless like hay and stubble (1 Corinthians 3:10-14). And then we will receive our reward from God. This includes having those deeds follow us (Revelation 14:13) as well as commendation and position: "Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much" (Matthew 25:21).
Jesus said, “Behold, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done" (Revelation 22:12 NIV).
10. “They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever.” (Revelation 22:5)
God made Adam and Eve to reign over this earth (Genesis 1:26-28). But they disobeyed God, and Satan ruled instead. But Jesus defeated Satan at the cross and in the end will cast him and his followers into a lake of fire (Revelation 20:10). Then God will dissolve this heaven and earth and create a new heaven and earth (Revelation 21:1).
And in that new heaven and earth, those whose names are in the Book of Life will reign forever and ever. Their occupation won't be sitting on a cloud strumming a harp. No, their occupation will be to reign with Christ. God's purpose for mankind will finally be realized.
Jean E. Jones is co-author of Discovering Hope in the Psalms and a member of the International Society for Women in Apologetics. She blogs at jeanejones.net.
Credit: Crosswalk / Jean E. Jones
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