Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world (John 17:24 NIV).
Since heaven is not presently accessible or visible to us, we should expect many honest questions on the subject. All that we can know is what God has chosen to write in the Scriptures, and in his word, we are not told many details. This can be somewhat frustrating, but this is the will of our Father in heaven. I think it is useless to speculate about God’s reasons, but since he is holy and wise, I’m sure that his reasons for not telling us more are best for us and most for his glory. Consider 2 Corinthians 12:3-4. The apostle Paul said by the Spirit, And I know that this man—whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, but God knows—was caught up to paradise and heard inexpressible things, things that no one is permitted to tell (NIV). God does not permit knowledge about heaven outside of what is written in the Bible. For this reason, do not be led astray by these supposed accounts of people that claim to have seen heaven’s glories. In this and a couple posts to follow, let’s consider various questions sincere questions that believers in Jesus have about heaven.
Is heaven a place or a state of mind?
Many outside the sphere of Bible-believing Christianity deny that heaven is an actual place, and they consider it to just be a state of mind. However, we do not determine truth by the opinions of people, but on the authoritative word of God. We have clear evidence from the Scriptures that heaven is an actual place that can be inhabited by physical beings.
- The Lord Jesus Christ ascended into heaven in his resurrection body (Acts 1:9-11; Colossians 3:1; Hebrews 1:3; 9:11-12, 24)
- The Lord Jesus was seen in heaven by Stephen at his martyrdom (Acts 7:55-56)
- The Lord Jesus promised to prepare a place for us to be with him (John 14:2-3; cf. 17:24)
- The Lord Christ will come from heaven (1 Thessalonians 4:16)
Where is heaven?
The Bible nowhere states where heaven is, and we have no way of finding out. In addition, we have no way of knowing how the universe will be formed after the reordering of all things in the new creation. Avoid empty on these matters.
Will we know one another in heaven?
Yes, we will. Why would we not? An example of personal knowledge is found in the account of Christ’s transfiguration (Luke 9:30-33). Peter could recognize Moses and Elijah, though he had never met either man. If we were not able to recognize one another in heaven, how could the words of hope and joy of the apostle be true (1 Thessalonians 2:19)? Clearly, the apostle expected to recognize his converts and to rejoice with them to the glory of Christ. Paul comforts us with the assurance that those who have died with Christ will be brought with the Lord at his return (1 Thessalonians 4:13-14). Where would the comfort be if we were unable to know one another? The point of his comment is that we are not parted in fellowship forever. We will be with one another again!
Grace and peace, David