C. S. Lewis once said, “The Christians who did most for the present world were just those who thought most of the next” (Mere Christianity, 134). Those who are most heavenly minded are the ones who will be of the most earthly good. That is because they are convinced that the greatest good of this present life which is passing away is to lay up treasure in heaven by working for that which will not pass away (Matt 6:19-20). They are sending their treasures forward rather than keeping them here in a world that is perishing. That means those who live for eternity invest themselves in that which will last for eternity: people who will live forever in either heaven or hell. But once we get to heaven, what will it be like?
There is a great deal of misunderstanding about this question because heaven in the Bible is divided into two stages: the intermediate state where we go after we die to be with Christ until the resurrection (Rev 6:9-11) and the New Heavens and the New Earth (Rev 21-22) which come afterward. While I have written on the question of what happens when we die, this article will focus on eternity future. The New Heavens and New Earth is the eternal home of the people of God after the resurrection of the dead and the final judgment. There will be no more sin, crying, or pain, but all things will be made new (Rev 21:4). The saints will never hunger or thirst again because Christ will be their shepherd who is altogether satisfying (Rev 7:17). Marriage will be no more because all of Christ’s bride will be married to him (Rev 19:7). The Lord’s supper will be no more because we will feast and celebrate with one another and our risen savior (Matt 26:29). There will no longer be a weekly day of rest because heaven will be a never-ending Sabbath (Heb 4:9-11). God the Father will display his love and kindness to us for all eternity (Eph 2:7). Heaven is beyond anything we can ask or imagine (1 Cor 2:9). We will always be in the presence of God perfectly and without sin (Eze 48:35).
But what will we do in the New Heavens and New Earth? Heaven will be filled with worship (Rev 5:9-14), service (Rev 7:15), reigning with Christ (Rev 5:10), rejoicing (Rev 19:7), and fellowship with one another (1 Thess 4:17). We will see the face of God, the one who was crucified for us (Rev 22:4). The Christian view of heaven is one that is God-centered, not man-centered. In contrast, the heavens of Islam and Mormonism are centered around fulfilling carnal fleshly desires. God is not big enough in their religions to be satisfying. He needs to be supplemented with all these other pleasures because he is not enough in himself. But we believe that our God is big enough to fully satisfy the deepest longings of our heart (Psa 16:11). We must not fall into the trap of inventing a kind of folklore heaven that is based on what we want heaven to look like instead of how the Bible describes it. Anyone who claims to have been to heaven and back is either lying or delusional (2 Cor 12:4). Not even the apostle Paul was given permission to talk about the things he saw. But even if he had, he could not describe them.
For those who are lost, this world is the closest they will ever get to heaven. For those who are saved, this world is the closest they will ever get to hell. That should motivate us to go to hell on earth to reach those who are perishing in their sin. For more on heaven, see the sermon “Heaven is a World of Love” by Jonathan Edwards.