The ultimate end of our faith is the new heavens and the new earth and to be present with Christ for eternity. It is often said that the Bible doesn’t speak much about heaven. “Going to heaven” has worked its way into Christian thinking and vocabulary without a great deal of biblical warrant. It is certainly true that we must see our destiny in terms of the resurrection of our bodies and the resurrection of the earth. We will spend eternity in a physical state which means physical bodies on a physical earth. Nevertheless, to say that the scriptures speak little of heaven is simply not the case.
What happens when we die is a vitally important issue. Theologians refer to this as the “intermediate state”. There is more to come for both believers and unbelievers once Christ returns to earth for the final judgement. This does not mean however, that the time between death and Christ’s return is of little consequence. The Bible is clear – unbelievers will be cast into punishment and believers will go to be with Christ. Where is Christ? He is in heaven seated at the right hand of the Father. We are to find comfort and hope in this reality.
Luke 16:22-23, “So it was that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s bosom. The rich man also died and was buried. (23) And being in torments in Hades, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom”
Luke 23:42-43, “Then he said to Jesus, “Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom.” (43) And Jesus said to him, “Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise.”
John 17:24, “Father, I desire that they also whom You gave Me may be with Me where I am, that they may behold My glory which You have given Me; for You loved Me before the foundation of the world”
2Cor 5:8, “We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord”
Phil 1:21-23, “For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain. (22) But if I live on in the flesh, this will mean fruit from my labour; yet what I shall choose I cannot tell. (23) For I am hard-pressed between the two, having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better”
Phil 3:20, “For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ”
Unless Christ returns first, you will die. And every Christian needs to be assured that they will immediately find themselves in that heavenly abode. As our eyes close on this side, they will open on the other side and we will behold the face of Jesus Christ. In the splendor of heaven, we will wait perfectly secure and perfectly happy for the consummation of all things. What happens when our souls depart from our bodies is of the utmost importance, and the Bible is not silent. The intermediate state is not uncertain nor is it irrelevant. Heaven is our destination. Heaven is to be with Christ where He is; it is to be free from sin and suffering; it is be at perfect rest.
As I conclude writing I do so in the knowledge that my deceased parents are in heaven. I am thankful for the grace that took them there, and I am thankful for the grace that assures me of it.