When We All Get to Heaven

The concept of heaven as some sort of an otherworldly paradise, better than anything our mundane existence on planet Earth has to offer, is embraced by nearly all religions. Billions of believers yearn to be there. But if heaven really exists, what is it like? Is it a literal three-dimensional place or is it merely a metaphorical mental state? Is it located on the surface of a cosmic sphere somewhere in outer space or is sequestered in a secret spot here on planet Earth? Is there only one heaven or are there multiple heavens? Is it inhabited only by divine beings or is it accessible to mortal earthlings? Is it entered by the redeemed immediately after death or do we have to wait until Jesus returns? Is it a blissful theme park where we fellowship eternally with friends and divine beings, or is it a monotonously boring place where we simply sit on clouds and play harps?


This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://spectrummagazine.org/sabbath-school/2018/when-we-all-get-heaven
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A great article. Thanks Floyd for the many questions and considered answers.
There is perhaps another question that could have been asked - When was Heaven created? Certainly before the angels were created there was no need for a literal Heaven. Was the creation story of the Earth also the creation story of Heaven?

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There are people who have answers for your question. Sorry I am not one opf them… :wink:

Robert –
GREAT question.
How BIG is “heaven”?
Does “heaven” Actually encompass the total Universe??
But through Sin the Earth is the Weird spot in the Universe [heaven].
And that is why Jesus wants us to ALWAYS pray that “heaven” will continue
to include Earth, and the activities and actions of humans on Earth will
match the attitudes of the rest of the Universe and beings who live there.
We also have to understand that God is not just “up there”. His Spirit
surrounds us here on Earth. His continued creative power is displayed every day
here on Earth.
Perhaps the reason that John at the END of Revelation stated there was “NO TEMPLE
in Heaven”. No NEED for one as wherever the Lamb and the Father go IS THE TEMPLE.
Because THEY are the Temple. Not building, not furnishings, not “seats”.
Could it be that the IDEA OF TEMPLE was for us humans, and we needed some
concrete “space” for God to be to make it easier for us sinful minds to worship a God.
To focus on God. To make God tangible since our “sinful eyes” could no longer be
able to SEE God as He is, and as He was when walking and talking with Adam and
Eve in the garden in the cool of the evening?
Perhaps we NEEDED the IDEA of “mercy seat”, tangible way to consider forgiveness
of our actions that were “un-heavenly”. To be aware of the ability to “begin again” each
day in our attempt with God’s help to make our lives a little “heaven on earth”.
Perhaps we NEEDED the IDEA of the “Rainbow” which reflected the memory of the
words God spoke to Noah. The IDEA of “Rainbow” being Peace between the Trinity
and Humans.
In the OT the idea of God in “Heaven” and the idea that God dwelt in Zion are spoken
of as ONE. That there is no “God is up there” or no “God is down here”. But God is
Everywhere – “up there” AND “down here in Zion”
In Leviticus it discusses people who live too far to go to the “Sanctuary – Temple”
for worship. It tells these persons it is OK to celebrate in community where they are.
They can meet with God, celebrate with God where they are.
And use their TITHE money to do it.

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I enjoyed the article and appreciated the thorough Biblical documentation. I often wonder why Christians spend so much time thinking, talking, and singing about heaven and little time discussing the new earth, where it appears we will have homes for eternity. Maybe heaven is easier to imagine for some folk.

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I don’t know about the rest of you, but I’m going to do science in heaven (If I make it there), and communicate about it to others. I’m doubtful God is going to give us the answers to everything; surely we will be given the opportunity to indulge lifelong (um…make that eternal) learning.

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Professor Jeff –
What about playing around with Genes? We humans do it on a limited scale
here now. And amazing wonders are discovered.

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Playing with genes doesn’t interest me now, but maybe it will in heaven. Who knows?

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No, you are not!.. :astonished:
Unless you land on the other side of the wall, where there will be no Adventists… :rofl:

Most of the enjoyable article I appreciatively agree with. But the author overlooked some obvious statements which were included in the article.

This is one of my pet peeves with religous discussions of eternity - The bible clearly states we will be eternally based (tho not necessarily confined) on the New Earth. Our time in Heaven is but a short period (1000 years vs eternity). The bible likewise indicates that Jesus himself will live with us on the New Earth.

This also leads me to believe many of our life experiences here (relative to Earth living) will have a parallel in the re-perfected New Earth.

But I spend little time conjuring or contemplating Heaven or the New Earth - Jesus has assured us it will be beyond our best hopes and desires.

As Paul wrote: Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. 1Cor2:9KJV

I’m certain we will be happily surprised.

The temple, in its original conception, was not a huge, imposing edifice; but a mobile tent in common with the tents of the people. When God had delivered Israel, He told Moses, “Speak to the children of Israel, that they bring Me an offering. From everyone who gives it willingly with his heart you shall take My offering … And let them make Me a sanctuary, that I may dwell among them. According to all that I show you, that is, the pattern of the tabernacle and the pattern of all its furnishings, just so you shall make it.” Exod. 25:1-9

It was a home for God by people who really wanted God to dwell with them, and in this sense the sign of Emmanuel, i.e. Jesus Christ. We know this because Jesus told the woman at the well concerning temples, “Woman, believe Me, the hour is coming when you will neither on this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, worship the Father. You worship what you do not know; we know what we worship, for salvation is of the Jews. But the hour is coming, AND NOW IS, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” John 4:21-24

The Advent of Christ fulfilled the symbol of the temple and since His ascension, we worship God in spirit and truth. THERE IS NO TEMPLE ANYWHERE AT ALL.


The Book of Revelation speaks of the temple only as a point of reference to ground the visions in a reality familiar to the Jews. This is its point: that the family of God, His House, has problems and all these things are the dirty linen hanging out for the whole world to see. God however, is one day going to pick it all up and throw everything salvageable in the washing machine; and refurbish His House.

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I’ve always wondered, and challenged my friends and acquaintances, all with whom I sit and chat, … after that first day of meeting and the ceremony is over, what would it be like? The quote implies that it would be an other worldly experience, something we cannot even now begin to imagine.

There are strong indications however that we would become so overwhelmed by all the Christmas presents that we would say a thousand and one THANK YOU’s, over and over and over and over …

NEVER MORE TO DIE! NEVER MORE TO CRY!
TO KNOW EVEN AS WE ARE KNOWN!
FOR JOY, FOR JOY!

How could it be?

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The heaven isn’t a place but a concept, just like love isn’t a thing but a concept. Thus, Heaven, just like love, takes different shapes and forms.

We tend to think of it as a place where God is, but heaven isn’t a “box for God” that people imagined it to be in the past. Of course, the problem in the past that our imagination is constrained by our conceptual models of reality, hence God wasn’t here on Earth, so He must be “up there”, hence the misnomer of “Heaven” associated with “up” or “clouds and sky”.

Thus, “Kingdom of God” is probably a more fitting label than heaven, since it’s a place where God directs reality through his creation who recognizes it as valid and viable. And hell is the opposite of that, a disarray that results from lack of direction or recognition of proper function.

Hence, heaven is a place where we find our ultimate purpose. And it actually a place that can be here and now. Ironically, we are used to communicating that it’s not a state we can have right now, hence we are taught that access to heaven rests in some form of organizational structure that guards it, and that one gets that after one’s death or, if one is fortunate, then when Christ is back with a giant bus to take the church people on the promised trip.

Yet, if we remove the filters and deconstruct biblical narrative, then Kingdom of Heaven is not something that’s somewhere else. It’s doesn’t have origin in this world, but …

"Now having been questioned by the Pharisees as to when the kingdom of God was coming, He answered them and said, “The kingdom of God is not coming with signs to be observed; nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or, ‘There it is!’ For behold, the kingdom of God is in your midst.”

A a short analogy… “Microsoft is wherever Bill Gates sets up a shop”.

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God is a great Scientist.
Making something out of nothing. Beyond my imagination.
God LOVES Chemistry. Loves to play with atoms.
God LOVES Physics. Invented light rays [visible, invisible] I have a plant that is
sensitive to the ‘invisible’ light rays. Wakes up in the morning at sunrise, goes to
sleep at night at sundown.
Then there are all radio, tv, micro. Who knows how much of these we will use.
God invented electricity and all the things can do with it. Invented sources of fuel.
Engines. Transportation.
The list is unending of all the things God has for His people to explore and use
for eternity.
No wonder Paul says, I can’t even describe all the things I saw in heaven. He would
be a loss for words if he showed up in our civilization today.

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…or beyond the universe. When God created the universe, He was outside of it, like an artist painting a painting; or the potter forming clay. The painter is in the painting, but not part of the painting.

When we delve into the sciences, we find there is all kinds of possibilities where “heaven” can be located (if indeed it is a PLACE). According to quantum physics there are multiple numbers of dimensions possible. We live in a three dimensional world, but Einstein concluded that TIME is the fourth dimension. How that could relate to “heaven” is anybody’s guess. Others have speculated that the universe exists as God holding it in His thoughts, sustaining it.

Some have difficulty with these science based concepts of what exactly “reality” is; but others have difficulty thinking of green fields and sunshine; and streets made of malleable gold as being the real picture of “heaven”. Those concepts resemble “pie in the sky” wishful thinking, making the biblical concepts of salvation and eternity with God a crutch to get us through the tough times in here and now.

The matter we call real - the stuff we can hold and look at, isn’t as simple as we might think. Matter is just another form of energy. When we investigate the molecular identity of matter, we find that our junior high models of atoms made of styrofoam with straws poking out, is not an accurate picture. Electrons don’t actually swirl around the nucleus in neat tracks like Saturn’s ring. The material universe is less “material” than we think. Atoms that make up everything in the universe are made of empty space more than actual particles.

Personally, I find these concepts fascinating when I think of God - what he is - what He’s created - and what eternity with God might look like. Forget the “old man with a white beard” concept of God.

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It wasn’t really the historical position in the philosophical circles of Christian thinkers that written on the subject thousands of years ago.

https://www.iep.utm.edu/div-simp

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Since 1897 when British physicist J. J. Thomson discovered the electron, there have
been somewhere around 150 subatomic particles identified.
When an inconceivably small particle called a muon was identified, the legendary
physicist Isaac Rabi is known for saying, “Who ordered that?”
Then there is the fact that electrons don’t orbit the nucleus in a continuous and
consistent manner, what the do is,
disappear in one place and then appear in another place without traveling the
distance in between!
Particles vanish and then show up somewhere else, leaping from one location
to another, with no way to predict when or where they will come or go.
Quantum Leaping as studied by Niels Bohr.
Light is particle AND wave at the same time.
From "What We Talk About When We Talk About God, by Rob Bell. Chapter 2,
“Open”, pg 34-36.

All this will certainly keep Professor Jeff busy for a VERY LONG TIME.

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Heaven possibly can not be anywhere in our universe since it is the dwelling place of God and God has to be outside of the universe because our universe was created and had to have a beginning.

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Yes, Sirje, let’s forget the idea of god being a old white guy with a long white beard and flowing white garments.

But let’s also give up on the notion that we are as detached from our creator as a painting is from the artist who painted it.

And while we’re at it, let’s recant our belief that the most effective way to learn about our origins is by studying 2,000 year old stories and sermons.

Instead, since we know god is all power, we can also be sure that our creator has the capacity to be experienced “in living color”, at any place, during any time and by any of his creations. That is, a maker capable of creating this astonishing universe must also be powerful enough to be—and to be known—right here, right now, evolving right along within all of his artistic expressions.

In which case—as Belinda Carlyse sang—“Ooh, baby, do you know what that’s worth? Ooh, heaven is a place on earth.”

(Only don’t ask how I know this. I only know what I know, while knowing little to nothing about how I know it. In my defense, however, and as a famous atheist once said “Competency does not require comprehension.” That is, my car and brain are similar in that I don’t have to know how they work in order to put them to use.

And BTW, I like to tweek that last line of the hymn and sing “…a place called earth.” but that’s just me being picky.)

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My comparison between God creating the universe, and the artist painting a picture, is of course limited. My point is that God isn’t just hanging out on some other planet we call “heaven”. The Christian claim is that the “painter” did choose to enter His painting, but that has nothing to do with WHERE heaven is located. Or does it…

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