Have you ever wondered what happens to you after you die? What’s in store for you when you get to the “other side”?—If there is another side. Is there a heaven? If so, what is it like? Will you be happy there? Will you find your loved ones there? How different will it be from your life on earth?
The Bible tells us a lot about what to expect when we get to heaven—what it will be like, what we will be like, what our bodies will be like, and what life will be like. There have also been numerous accounts from people who have had a near-death experience where they have died momentarily, gone to heaven, and returned to tell the tale of what they experienced.
According to the Bible, one of the biggest differences between the earth life and heaven is that heaven is a perfect realm, a place filled with God’s presence, where we can enjoy all the beauties and wonders that we have here on earth, but without the sorrow, pain, emptiness, loneliness, and fear that so often grip us, and without the selfishness, greed, hate, and destruction that we see in the world around us.
God’s kingdom will be filled with love, beauty, peace, comfort, understanding, joy, compassion, and most of all, will be enveloped in the love of the One who loves us more than anyone—God Himself. The Bible tells us that God is a God of love. In fact, He is the Spirit of love.1 Therefore His home, the kingdom of heaven, is a home of love, where there will be no more pain, sorrow, rejection, grief, or loneliness.2
We know from the Bible that in the afterlife we’re not going to be faceless, disembodied spirits, wisping around with no form whatsoever. We will have bodies, much like we do now, but without the sickness, discomfort, aging, or pain that we experience in our earthly bodies.3 We’ll be able to enjoy each other’s company and live happily together forever in the presence of the One who created us and who loves us.
Many people have the mistaken impression that heaven is a very boring place where Christians sit around on clouds, play harps, and sing praises to God. I’m sure that people can play the harp if they want to, and we certainly will be praising God, but our life in heaven will be much fuller than that! In fact, I believe that we will live much fuller lives than we do here on earth, except that we won’t have the stress, worry, sickness, and struggle for survival that we presently endure. We’ll be fully occupied with things that truly matter and that make a difference in other people’s lives. We’ll be investing our time in things that give us joy and inspire us instead of the drudgery, the drab routine, and the senselessness that many of us have experienced in our daily lives here.
The Bible tells us that Jesus Christ Himself will return to reign over the earth, together with us, His children, for a period of a thousand years known as the Millennium.4 One of the tasks during this time period for those who love God will be to help reconstruct, reorganize, and reeducate the people who remain on earth. We will bring His kingdom come on earth: a place where love, truth, and justice predominate; where everyone has enough, and no one has too much.
The last two chapters of the Bible’s book of Revelation describe a gigantic golden city,5 that will come down out of heaven after the Millennium to a newly restored earth and that God will dwell with man.6 Those who love God and have received Jesus as their Savior are going to live with Him in His wonderful golden city! The Bible describes the city streets as being made of gold, with a wall encasing the city made of twelve different types of precious gems.7
The good news is that, through believing in and receiving Jesus, anybody can enter into the kingdom of heaven and experience the joy, fulfillment, and everlasting love that God wants to give each of usin the life to come, and even if this life may not be transformed, we can each carry a little of that heavenly life in our hearts here and now. It doesn’t matter who you are or where you’ve been or what you’ve done. He promises to forgive.None of us are good enough to deserve entrance to heaven; none of us deserve to go there through our own merits. That’s why God sent His Son, Jesus, to this earth over 2,000 years ago. Jesus paid the price for our salvation by dying for the sins of humankind, and so, through believing in Him as our Savior, we can receive His gift of eternal life. That relieves us of the burden of trying to be good enough to go to heaven, which we couldn’t do anyway, because we are all faulty imperfect human beings.
Jesus opened the door to eternal life in His kingdom for each of us through His death on the cross. You can’t earn it, neither can you be too bad for it, because salvation is a gift of God. Jesus loves you just the way you are. He knows you. He knows your thoughts and everything you’ve ever done, even your deepest secrets. He knows it all, but He loves you anyway, because His love is infinite.
His love is so far beyond anything that we can understand or see with our eyes here on earth. His love can fill any emptiness and heal any pain or hurt. His love can bring joy where there was sorrow, laughter where there was pain, and fulfillment where there was a lack of purpose or meaning. Whenever you need Him, you can call out to Jesus, and His love will be with you and He will help you.
You can receive His love and be assured of your eternal destiny with Him in heaven by simply praying and asking Jesus for His gift of salvation. If you open your heart to Jesus and invite Him into your life, He will be with you forever. You can never lose Him! Once you receive Jesus, you’ve got a permanent reservation in heaven that can never be canceled, and when your life on earth is finished, you will dwell in His presence forever!
Although salvation is a free gift, once you have received Jesus in your heart, He wants you to do what you can to love others and tell them about God’s heavenly kingdom. Share with others the truth about Jesus and the love He has given you so that they can also experience joy in their lives—both in this life and in the next one!