Eternity with the Lord. That is one of our basic Christian beliefs. In the Apostles’ Creed, we state that we will enjoy “life everlasting.” And we spend this everlasting life with God in a place we refer to as heaven.
Jesus said that the gift of everlasting life in heaven with the Lord is promised to us if we believe and follow the will of God (Matthew 5:20, Matthew 7:21, Matthew 18:3). From Scripture, we also know that God made heaven and earth (Genesis 14:19), and God spoke from heaven (Matthew 3:17).
Most of us think that heaven exists somewhere above the clouds. Numerous Scriptural references attest to this. The Holy Spirit descended from heaven (Matthew 3:16). Jesus is said to have looked upward into heaven (Acts 7:55) and he said that he is the living bread that came down from heaven (John 6:51).
The word heaven may be derived from Anglo-Saxon, Germanic, or Latin words meaning roof, to cover, or ceiling. It also may come from the Hebrew words for on high or upper region. However, Catholic teaching states that heaven’s locality is uncertain.
Wherever heaven is, we are told it is a happy place because that is where we meet God face-to-face (Psalm 11:4, Ecclesiastes 5:2, Matthew 6:9). Psalm 16:11 says, “You show me the path of life. In your presence there is fullness of joy; in your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”
Other names for heaven found in Scripture include kingdom of heaven (Matthew 5:3), the kingdom of God (Mark 9:46), the holy place (Hebrews 9:12), paradise (2 Corinthians 12:4), heavenly city of God (Hebrews 12), great reward (Matthew 5:12), and eternal inheritance (Hebrews 9:15).
Scripture offers us parables of how to get to heaven and what it is like. In most, we are told to trust and believe in God. We can take comfort in knowing that the time will come when the angels will cross with us (Luke 16:22) and we become eternal children of God in heaven (Matthew 5:45).
(Young in the Spirit. Spiritual Strengthening for Seniors and Caregivers is available from Amazon.com, ACTA Publications, and my website. If you’ve read this book, I’d really, really appreciate it if you wrote a short review on Amazon).