Christians who believe they will spend an eternity in "heaven", seem to have little or no idea where this heaven is, what it will look like, or what they will do there. Either they have fleeting, half formed ideas about some ethereal place 'out there', or resort to pious phrases that amount to little more than spiritual gobbledy gook.
If this is the best we can do then then it is little wonder that atheists and non Christians are not in the slightest bit interested in our "heaven", and Christians themselves so rarely seem to look forward to the coming of the day of God. Luckily the Bible isn't at all silent on on where "heaven" is and, even more importantly, what it will be like. In fact, the Bible's description of the coming kingdom is far, far, more practical, and a lot less sanctimonious, than that of our theologians.
Part I.. Defining "Heaven"
"Heaven" That Ethereal Place In Christian Thought
Most beliefs about the afterlife are ill defined, impossible to understand and can be extremely depressing. Traditional Christian beliefs are no less vague. Fed by theologians who rattle on and on about the "promised glory of heaven" and "the beauty of the age to come" instead of clear teachings on the location and nature of the coming kingdom, is it any wonder that even Christians today so rarely seem to look forward to the coming of the day of God. In fact unless we understand exactly what God has in store for us, how can we convince nonbelievers that the coming kingdom is not some pie-in-the-sky fantasy place somewhere out there, but a real vibrant and very enticing world. Luckily the Bible isn't at all silent on where "heaven" is and, even more importantly, what it will be like. In fact, the Bible's description of the coming kingdom is far, far, more practical than that of our theologians.
“Heaven" vs. The "Kingdom of Heaven”
The one thing we need to get straight is that 'heaven' and the Father's coming Kingdom are NOT the same place.
Part II... The Location of Heaven - The Promises and The Prophecies
The Promises: God made three interconnected and inseparable promises to Abraham yet the church ignores, overlooks, or spiritualizes the third one.
The Prophecies: A plain reading of the words of many of the Old Testament Prophets makes it impossible to deny that they looked ahead to an undetermined time in the future when God would return to establish a literal, earthly kingdom. Although they might not have completely understood everything they themselves said, there is little question that they prophesied of a time when the Lord's anointed and a descendant of David would rule as king from Jerusalem. In fact, the idea of a restored and peaceful land inherited by the righteous was a recurring theme in Isaiah's prophecies. So how did the promise of earthly land become a promise of an unearthly heaven?
Part III ... Jesus' Second Coming and The Resurrection of The Body
According to the Scriptures, Christ returns with believers who have already died, then after their bodies are resurrected, believers who are alive at the time will be "caught up together with them" to meet the Lord in the air. This leaves two questions 1) When does this take place? and what happens next?
Part IV... ‘Glorification’ of The Body
Except to tell us that we will be conformed to Christ's body (Philippians 3:21), the Bible does not go into all that much detail about the resurrection body which makes it impossible to describe with absolute certainty. However, based on what the Scriptures do say, we can make some reasonable assumptions.
Part V ... A New Heaven and A New Earth
Whether the earth will be totally destroyed is, admittedly, not an easy question to resolve. However, there are a number of reasons including some oft overlooked prophecies not to believe that the earth will be totally obliterated.
How and when do heaven and earth become one?
Part VI ... No More Sea?
Many people understand John's words "there is no longer any sea", in Revelation 21:1, to mean that there will no longer be any oceans in the new earth. Unfortunately, what most seem to have done is pick up on these six words, assume John is talking about the oceans, and then search their Bibles for any possible reason (regardless of how far fetched) this should happen. The story behind John's six words is one of the most fascinating studies in Scripture.
Part VII ... The Bema Seat and Rewards in Heaven
Unfortunately many Christians, have come to the conclusion that since all our sins have been forgiven, our works cannot possibly be considered at the judgment Seat of Christ. Not true!