WHERE HEAVEN IS

Biblically, Heaven can take on at least three meanings but when viewed in the sense of being God’s abode, the question that naturally comes to mind is, “Where then, does God live?” Can a telescope find Heaven or is it purely a spiritual existence, a state of mind? Thomas A Kempis referred to Heaven as the believer’s native land. He submits for consideration that the believer is but a pilgrim on a journey through his lifetime, banished in his mortal body and ever striving and seeking toward that final destination of Heaven, which is the believer’s true home.[1] There are several reasons to believe that Heaven is a real place that physically exists, but perhaps the best reason is because of Jesus.

Outside the Evangelical world, the claim of Heaven’s physical existence is continuously denied, mainly because its existence can only be verified and known from the testimony of Scripture.[2] Of all the testimony of Scripture, Jesus provides the strongest proof. Jesus’ ascension may be one of the loudest proclamations for Heaven. The reader can see from Acts 1:9 that as Jesus’ disciples (apostles) watched, He was lifted up and the cloud took Him out of their sight. Acts 1:11 also states that the angels speak to these same disciples claiming “This Jesus, who was taken up from you into Heaven…” Both of these passages clearly show that Jesus ascended to some place. From the testimony of the angels, this place is Heaven. Additionally, John 14:1-3 shows Jesus speaking to His disciples and reassuring them not to be troubled. The reason they should not be troubled is because He was going to His Father’s house to prepare a place for them. He concludes this passage by stating that not only is He going there, but He will also come back for His followers and take them to the place He is going to and there they will dwell together. Again, this verse screams out that Heaven is a real place that is prepared in advance for believers. It provides a firm foundation for belief that Heaven is not merely a figment of one’s imagination, but a real tangible place. J. Oswald Sanders states that readers should not interpret references to Heaven in a woodenly literal and unimaginative way, as they might approach some type of scientific treatise.[3] He goes on to say that the gates of pearl and the streets of gold are plainly figurative and should be interpreted as such, and yet they do stand for something real and significant.[4] Furthermore, everywhere in Scripture Heaven is shown to be the throne of God and God’s fixed abode and dwelling place that has been everlastingly created for that purpose.[5]

Testimony clearly teaches a literal Heaven but perhaps it has been interpreted by eyes incapable of understanding and explaining it to its fullest extent. Perhaps the best way to explain the locality of Heaven presently is by relying on one word that holds rather strong connotations: Faith. Faith is what separates the known from the unknown. Heaven, though now a place, has a locale that is physically unknown to the believer. Its existence is unable to be perceived by the natural senses the believer has.[6] Presently Heaven is physically unseen and therefore must be taken as a matter of faith, but not blind faith. Seeing with the eyes of faith helps the believer envision the reality of Heaven; that is that it is transcendent.[7] Heaven exists apart from the material universe and therefore can not be perceived by the natural body. The natural man has no experience with Heaven because it goes beyond the limits of his experience. It reaches beyond what man can grasp and moves into the immanency and omnipresence of God. Is the believer able to say that Heaven is both far away and near at the same time? The answer to that question is, yes. This is so, because where God is, the Kingdom of Heaven is.[8]


[1] Don Thorsen. An Exploration of Christian Theology. (Peabody: Hendrickson Publishers, 2008), 402.

[2] Wayne Grudem. Systematic Theology.  (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Pub. House, 2000), 1159.

[3] J. Oswald Sanders. Heaven…Better by Far. ( Grand Rapids: Discovery House Publishers, 1993), 39.

[4] Ibid. 39.

[5] John Gerstner. Jonathan Edwards on Heaven and Hell. (Morgan: Soli Deo Gloria Pub., 1998), 17.

[6] Wayne Grudem. Systematic Theology. (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Pub. House, 2000),  1160.

[7] Joni Eareckson Tada. Heaven…Your Real Home. (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Pub. House, 1995), 80.

[8] Ibid. 80.

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