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A Place Called Heaven

By Charles F. Stanley

If you asked a number of people if they believe there is a place called heaven, most would probably say yes. But if you asked them what it’s like or how to get there, I suspect you’d get a variety of answers. Though many people cling to a belief in heaven and hope to go there when they die, very few have an accurate understanding of it.

Since human beings are earth-bound until death, misconceptions about heaven are common. Some people imagine it as a foggy haze where formless spirits float about or winged saints sit on clouds playing harps. Movies about the afterlife present their own version of what awaits. And a few people who have reportedly returned from near-death experiences have described what they believe they saw.

Amid all the confusing and contradictory views, we need to remember that the only sure source of accurate information about heaven is the Bible. In its pages, God gives us glimpses of celestial scenes. Although we may long for more details and descriptions, the Lord has revealed what He wants us to know and, more than likely, what we can handle. Our human limitations keep us from adequately comprehending the inconceivable glories above. We have no frame of reference for understanding all that God has prepared for us (1 Cor. 2:9). Many times we have more questions than answers.

How Do I Get to Heaven?

The Bible clearly states that after death, there are only two possible destinies for mankind—heaven or hell. In a story that vividly contrasted the comfort of eternal life with everlasting torment, Jesus explained that switching locations is impossible (Luke 16:19-31). Knowing this, we would be foolish to ignore God’s Word and risk relying on our own ideas about how to get to heaven.

Many people think that eternal destiny is determined by behavior. If their good works outweigh the bad, they believe God will accept them. But the Lord says all our good works are like filthy rags in His sight (Isa. 64:6). Since every person on earth inherits a fallen nature, no one is qualified to enter God’s holy dwelling place.

Our entrance into heaven has nothing to do with how good we are; what matters is how good Jesus is, and what He did for us. He lived an absolutely perfect life and paid the penalty for our sin by dying in our place. Those who believe this and accept His payment on their behalf are given a ticket to heaven which can never be revoked.

Why Should I Be Interested in Heaven?

Some Christians are content simply to know they are eternally secure. Sure, they want to experience the glories above but see no immediate connection between their daily lives and their future destiny. Therefore, they feel no desire to learn more about it. But Christ wants believers to know “the hope of His calling, . . . the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints” (Eph. 1:18). None of us would be uninterested in an earthly inheritance, yet many of God’s children make no effort to discover what He has prepared for them in eternity.

Heaven is our future home. That’s where our citizenship is; we’re only travelers on earth. A lifetime here will seem like a mere breath compared to the time we spend in eternity. Whenever you read a Bible passage that describes some heavenly scene or activity, put yourself in the picture, because that is going to be your reality. The pearly gates and the street of gold are not just a fairy tale. You will one day walk through those gates, step on that street, and come face to face with Jesus.

This eternal dwelling place is home for all of God’s family. We’ll meet the saints from every age and be reunited with our believing loved ones. But this reunion will be so much better than any we’ve previously experienced. There will be no conflicts or misunderstandings—only perfect love and intimacy. The ideal fellowship we all yearn for will be ours forever.

But the most important reason to learn more about heaven is because it’s the dwelling place of God. We will finally be in the presence of the One who died for us. For all of our earthly years, we have loved and served Him, but in eternity, our faith will become sight. The sin that kept us from perfect, intimate fellowship with the Lord will never again hinder our relationship.

What Is Heaven Like?

Because Jesus came from the Father to earth, He had firsthand knowledge of our glorious future home. Shortly before dying, He told His disciples that He was returning to His Father’s house to prepare a place for them and would come back to take them to their new home (John 14:1-3). Ever since that day, Christians throughout history have been waiting for His promised return.

Today, when believers die, their souls are ushered instantly into the Lord’s presence to experience all the joys and comforts of heaven (2 Cor. 5:6-9). Jesus will bring them with Him when He returns for His church, and their souls will be reunited with imper-ishable resurrected bodies (1 Thess. 4:13-17). Those of us who are alive at that time will be changed—our bodies will be transformed from weak, mortal, and sinful to glorious, immortal, and perfect.

If you want to know what your new body will be like, look at Jesus’ body after His resurrection. He was not an ethereal spirit but literal flesh and bone; the disciples could see and touch Him. He even ate with them (Luke 24:36-43). But the best thing about our new bodies is that they will be free of sin and its curse. Never again will we experience an inward struggle to obey the Lord. Nor will we ever live with the pain, suffering, and death that came as a result of the fall of mankind.

Many years after John heard Jesus promise to prepare a place for His followers, he was given a vision of the future. He saw a new heaven and earth that were completely cleansed of all sin. Standing on a high mountain, he watched the New Jerusalem come down out of heaven. The promised place was prepared and ready. The sight was beyond human description, but John did his best to put this celestial vision into earthly language (Rev. 21:1-22:5).

The brilliance of God’s glory radiated from the structure, and its foundations gleamed with various colors of precious stones. The gates were made of pearls and the street of transparent gold. This 1500-mile-long cube-shaped city was designed by the Lord as a place where He and mankind would share an intimate, perfect relationship forever.

Though we may have difficulty imagining the physical structure of this city, we have no trouble understanding the meanings of the things that are not in the New Jerusalem. There will be no pain, tears, mourning, or death. All frustration, boredom, and problems will cease. No one will have handicaps, and our bodies will never grow old, tired, or sick.

What Will I Do in Heaven?

Although most of us understand that heaven is a place of great joy and delight, we may wonder what we are going to do there. Some Christians have even voiced their concern that it might be boring—one long church service that never ends.

Although praise of our God and Savior will be an essential part of our activities, we must be careful not to view it strictly from the perspective of our present earthly experience. Right now we live in fleshly bodies and struggle with self-centered thinking, but then we will be free from selfishness and will take constant delight in praising the Lord. When the blinders of this mortal life are removed, we will see things as they really are (1 Cor. 13:12). Knowing fully what Christ has saved us from and seeing the glories He has provided for us, we will not be able to stop ourselves from joyfully thanking and exalting Him.

In fact, everything we do will be an act of worship. In Luke 19:12-26, Jesus told a parable that clearly shows we will be given responsibilities in heaven according to our degree of faithfulness with what God entrusted to us on earth. Even in eternity, we’re described as bondservants of the Lord (Rev. 22:3). Our service for Christ began the moment we were saved and will continue forever. Relocation to heaven does not bring about the end of service but rather the perfection of it—all the frustration, failure, and inadequacy that has accompanied our work since the fall will be removed.

How Can I Prepare for Heaven?

Knowing the glories of eternity should motivate us to live for Christ during our time on earth. Keeping an eternal perspective enables us to endure hardship and pain without losing heart. Like Paul, we will realize that “the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us” (Rom. 8:18). When the difficulties of this life become burdensome, remember that the only trouble and pain you’ll ever experience will occur during your earthly lifetime, but the ecstasy of heaven will be yours forever.

As long as we remain here, God has work for us to do. Because we’re Christ’s witnesses, it is our responsibility to tell others about the Savior so they, too, can be with Him forever. In fact, everything we do is to be done as for the Lord (Col. 3:23-24). Our purpose is to live for Him, not for our own pleasures and ambitions.

An awareness of eternity should also motivate us to live godly lives that are worthy of reward. When believers stand before the judgment seat of Christ, their eternal destiny will not be the issue; that was settled at the cross. But He will evaluate their works and compensate them accordingly (1 Cor. 3:10-15). Those who have been faithful servants will be rewarded with increased responsibility, a greater capacity for joy in heaven, and praise from the Lord (Matt. 25:20-23).

Each day is an opportunity to prepare for our eternal home. It’s so easy to get sidetracked with the cares of this life, but what we do today will shape our experiences in eternity. Let’s spend our lives in faithful service to God, glorifying Him by bearing much fruit, and selflessly storing up treasure in heaven. Christ’s commendation of “Well done, good and faithful servant” will be worth every earthly sacrifice.

Questions for Further Study

Description of Heaven

Read Revelation 21:1-22:5 and imagine yourself in the scene. Describe what you see as you approach the New Jerusalem and enter through its gate. What are you going to experience in this city? What will you not experience?

Benefits of an Eternal Mindset

How does Peter describe our inheritance (1 Pet. 1:3-5)? Knowing this, what attitude and perspective can we have (vv. 6-9)? Read 2 Corinthians 4:7-18. What difficult conditions are mentioned in verses 7-11? Describe the hope that is presented in verses 14-18. To prevent us from losing heart, where should our focus be?

Preparation for Heaven

As we wait for our eternal home, what ambition should motivate us (2 Cor. 5:6-9)? Read 2 Peter 3:10-15. What is going to happen to the earth and everything that goes on here? How should this knowledge shape our lives now? What does Jesus recommend that we do to prepare for eternity (Luke 12:15-34)? Read the parable of the minas in Luke 19:11-27. How did the slaves’ faithfulness affect their futures? How did the master respond to each one? What has the Lord entrusted to you? How can you use what He’s given you to faithfully serve Him?

Copyright 2014 In Touch Ministries, Inc. All rights reserved. www.intouch.org. In Touch grants permission to print for personal use only.


65 comments
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  • August 28, 2014 03:13 PM

    by

    Dr. Stanley, I have been following you for about 4 yrs now, you are absolutely my mentor in the teachings of the loving Savior and his teachings. It's because of your knowledge and lengthy background in Theology, as well as guiding me weekly in my devotions with the Word of God I am understanding more of who he is and what he wants and expects of me. You are such a loving example of what the Lord wants us to be like. I'm truly grateful for educated, wise, and truthful men such as you who have ministered the Word correctly and with whole heart. Thank you for all your amazing work! Most of all, thank The Lord for making it possible for each and every human being on this earth to be able to bathe in his everlasting love and presence. God Bless all of us, the lost and the saved. Gina
  • November 08, 2013 02:57 PM

    by

    Dr. Stanley,
    This is an amazing article, you have made it very understandable for the average person. I am over joyed by our lord and savior Jesus Christ and the eternity we will spend with him,praising him. And very thankful for your ministry and staff. Please keep up the awesome work. God bless your ministry and staff. You all are in my prayers daily.
  • March 13, 2012 03:15 AM

    by

    Dr. Stanley, I thank God for you and the In Touch Team. I have just finished reading "A Place Called Heaven" and I know my Redeemer Liveth, for He Lives in me. This touching article brought tears to my eyes. I know God loves me and I love Him. I am thankful to In Touch because you all make the difference in a true Christians life. Messages are always clear and I can follow withoutt struggling to do so. If a question pops upwhile I am reading, most times before I am through reading, it is resolved. I am so thankful God gives you the insight to be able to bless His people. You have helped me and are helping me in my personal walk with the Lord. I feel fully equipped to move forward as I continue to read/study daily and share with others to help strengthen their walk. I thank God for the gift of In Touch Ministry to the body of Christ. Patricia in Brooklyn-NY(USA)
  • May 25, 2011 09:29 PM

    by

    Heaven is real and it's not a fantasy. God would want us to be in His place because He created us for his glory.
  • May 22, 2011 12:34 AM

    by

    amazing
  • May 01, 2011 03:44 PM

    by

    Pastor Charles Stanley,
    I just wanted you to know I learn more from your style of preaching than any others. You are a great teacher of the bible. And explain things so the average person can understand. And I appreciate that you don't hollar at us listeners like we are stupid or deaf. You just state the truth as it should be. I hope the Lord allows you to continue your ministry for many more years. I watch you on TV. Hope to chat with you in heaven some day. God bless you .Nancy {70yrs} from Michigan.
  • May 01, 2011 12:44 AM

    by

    Pastor Stanley thank you so much for all you do. Love this article on heaven and the comments, you know by faith we are already sitting with Jesus in heavenly places. May God continue to bless us all.
  • April 30, 2011 01:48 PM

    by

    Dear Dr. Stanley
    Thank you for this answer to a prayer I prayed to my Abba Father this very morning. It has been exactly 100 days since my husband died of cancer. I prayed for God to please help me as I am suffering and so heartbroken without Cliff. A couple of hours later I came to your website and read this article on Heaven. God has truly answered my prayer and I thank you for your obedience to Him in sharing His Word with others like me. Most appreciatively, Sara
  • April 30, 2011 12:09 PM

    by

    very,very wonderful message! Awesome! thanks Pastor Stanley!
  • April 30, 2011 05:37 AM

    by Jennifer Coleman

    Thanks for the amazing insight!!! Your words are powerful!
    Your sister in Christ,
    Jenny
  • April 29, 2011 10:52 PM

    by

    As christians it is a must to all of us to fully grasp and understand that we are chosen to be in heaven. Heaven where Jesus lives and he is waiting for us to be there in the proper time. This message reminds us that Jesus is true to His promises that anyone who follows Him has nothing to fear or to lose because heaven is a free gift to us. Thanks God for the promise of heaven.
  • April 29, 2011 11:59 AM

    by

    this teaching is awesome ! it changed my life ! Amen!
  • April 29, 2011 08:18 AM

    by

    hi dr. stanley i realy like your ministries and its my honored to know your ministries i hope that someday i have a chance to be a member orfyour fellowship and to go there in your place. just pray for me and also my family. god blessed.
  • April 28, 2011 11:58 AM

    by Darhop

    Dr. Stanley has brought so much to me. After reading Romans, the first half, I was really fearful that I was lost and there was nothing I could do but the last half reassured me. then..you, Dr. Stanley, your messages have brought such clarity and encouragement to me and my family. I thank the Lord above for you and pray God gives you much more time on this earth to continue to bring the good news to us sinners. God Bless
  • April 27, 2011 02:45 AM

    by

    God I Love You and I just wonna be with You.
  • April 26, 2011 03:23 PM

    by

    Dear Dr. Stanley, I listen to you on tv as much as I can. I learn so much from you. I have often worried if I was really saved, after listening to you I know am. What a life changing feeling that is. I was raised Roman Catholic, and have been church hunting for quite some time. After listening to you I know I must be baptized as an adult , and not just as an infant. Please pray that I may find a good bible based church that will except me for what I am, Thankyou for all your powerful words and for helping me to understand about our dear Lord, Jesus
  • April 25, 2011 08:28 PM

    by

    My son passed away almost 2 yrs.ago.Since then,I have searched the bible & books on Heaven.Thankyou for more encouraging knowledge for me.I 've often thought I'm not good enough for Heaven & its rewards.I just don't want to sneak in the gate!I work everyday on becoming a more faithful servant to my Lord.Thank you for your sermons.\\Joan in Denver
  • April 25, 2011 06:06 AM

    by

    This is good now I have got a clear picture about what heaven is all about. God bless you.
  • April 23, 2011 11:00 PM

    by

    Thank you, Dr. Stanley, for giving light about our future home: heaven. Without a doubt, there is much to look forward to when our faith will become sight.
    God bless you!

    - Jen
  • April 20, 2011 07:37 PM

    by

    if we truely our CHristians our fruits will show it.
  • April 19, 2011 01:32 PM

    by

    Your message on Heaven has struck a painful chord in my heart. I truly do suffer from self-centered thinking - feelings of inadequacy and eventual failure - to the point of experiencing physical symptoms. I am a 54-year-old woman who, through administrative changes, has found myself in a job in which I am miserable. It is a Christian organization, but leadership is questionable. Does God expect me to persevere in such a situation? Will leaving show a lack of perseverance effecting to what degree I have been faithful with what God has entrusted to me on earth?
  • April 19, 2011 08:06 AM

    by

    Lord this is just what I needed today. I have just finished reading 23 Minutes in Hell. I study the bible inductively and I study every word and cross-reference words and phrases to find the truth for whatever subject the Spirit has me curious about. I cannot find scriptural error in the book where I have found in other near-death or out of body books. I have been disturbed enough by the Spirit in the past for my fellowman and now I am disturbed evermore that they might not go to that place. I thank you Lord for using Dr. Stanley for giving this message which shows the HOPE for those who will be called by Christ. I pray Lord that revive us (Christians) so that Jesus can live in us and draw others to You. Thank you for this article to print and share with those who we can give testimony to. In Your Name, Amen.
  • April 18, 2011 10:30 AM

    by

    Dr Stanley, what a great insight about heaven. God bless you and may He reveal more for the enlightenment of the believers..Amen JOHN MWANGI.KENYA
  • April 18, 2011 09:31 AM

    by

    Am so bless with this news letter thank you so much, i pray that good Lord will your your ministries to reach our more soul in this world.God bless us all
  • April 16, 2011 01:56 PM

    by

    Hello everyone Your comments are encouraging to me. This life can be so sad a d painful at times. It's nice to know we're not alone. I've prayed many times that Gos would keep Pastor Stanley from falling and that he would leave him here on earth for many, many more years to come. See you all in the New. Jerusalem
    Daniel in Pennsylvannia USA

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