Destination Heaven?

Destination Trilogy



A familiar phrase at the time of death, in an effort to comfort someone, is, “Well, he (or she) is in a better place.” As we saw in our previous study, and many others we have done, we know that blanket statement is not true for everyone. Today the question is, what is that better place?


Is heaven really a final destination? Is it a first stop on a new journey? What is heaven? What is the final destination, assuming one is in Christ, and not in the lake of fire?


First let’s look at what the apostle Paul has to say about the death of a believer. Paul writes to the believers at Corinth concerning our heavenly dwelling.



For we know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.


2 Corinthians 5:1 ESV



What is the “tent that is our earthly home”? It is our body. When Paul refers to it being destroyed, that is the first death, the death of the body. As we saw in the last study, there is a second death which is being cast into the lake of fire. (Revelation 20:14)


Paul writes that when this tent is destroyed, we will have a building from God. In most cases I think we could agree that a building is better than a tent, as well as more permanent than a tent. He says of this building:

  • It is from God
  • It is a house
  • It is not made with hands
  • It is eternal in the heavens

The new building is the spiritual body we will receive which is the creation of God. It is not this decaying flesh and bone we currently have. It will be as the body of Jesus after His resurrection which we can read of in the gospels after that resurrection. (Matthew 28, Mark 16, Luke 24, John 20 and 21) Jesus gave the disciples the great commission, so they recognized who He was. He ate with some of the disciples, so eating isn’t out of the question. Jesus appeared and stood among the disciples in a room that had locked doors, so getting around appears to be no issue. Jesus invited Thomas to touch the nail marks in His hands, so there must be something solid to touch. Jesus built a fire and prepared food, so handling physical objects isn’t a problem.


The apostle John writes later in one of his letters concerning the new body.



Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when He appears we shall be like Him, because we shall see Him as He is.


1 John 3:2 ESV



John says we will be like Jesus.


Continuing on with Paul’s letter to the Corinthians, he writes of our desire for the new body.



For in this tent we groan, longing to put on our heavenly dwelling, if indeed by putting it on we may not be found naked.


2 Corinthians 5:2-3 ESV



This current physical body, as it breaks down and decays, longs for the day of the glorified body that will not suffer the effects that sin has brought upon us. Remember when God asked Adam and Eve, “Who told you that you were naked?” (Genesis 3:11) What were they clothed in at their creation? Was it the spiritual body? Did it die, and the glory that covered them fall away when sin entered the picture? They were created in the image of God.



For while we are still in this tent, we groan, being burdened – not that we would be unclothed, but that we would be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. He
who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee.


2 Corinthians 5:4-5 ESV



We aren’t looking to simply lose this body, but to put on a better one. The mortal would be overtaken by immortality. Paul says that God prepared us for this. Our preparation is through the salvation provided in Christ Jesus. God gave us the Holy Spirit as a guarantee, just as Jesus said would happen. (John 14:26, 15:26) Paul also tells the believers at Ephesus of the Holy Spirit being the guarantee of our inheritance.



In Him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in Him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until
we acquire possession of it, to the praise of His glory.


Ephesians 1:13-14 ESV



Paul concludes this section of his letter to the Corinthians commenting of being in good courage.



So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, for we walk by faith, not by sight. Yes, we are of good courage, and we would
rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord. So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please Him. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so
that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.


2 Corinthians 5:6-10 ESV



There is a lot packed into those verses:

  • Always of good courage
  • Walking by faith, not by sight
  • The preference is to be with the Lord in our new body
  • Whether here or there, our aim is to please Christ
  • We all must appear before Christ for judgment
    • Whether good or evil

Our judgment is for what we do in this body, “whether good or evil”. Our reward is the new body, being with Christ. Paul basically says that when we are absent from this body, we are present with the Lord. And where exactly is the Lord? The author of Hebrews enlightens us.



Now the point in what we are saying is this: we have such a high priest, one who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven, a minister in the holy places, in the true tent
that the Lord set up, not man.


looking to Jesus, the founder and perfector of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.


Hebrews 8:1-2, 12:2 ESV



Paul also wrote about this to the believers at Ephesus and Colossae. (Ephesians 1:20, Colossians 3:1) Paul also wrote of those who believe being positionally with Christ.



even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ – by grace you have been saved – and raised us up with Him and seated us with Him in heavenly places in Christ


Ephesians 2:5-6 ESV



So, it is established, we go to heaven where we undergo our judgment, and for those who are children of God, we receive our new bodies and dwell with Christ Jesus. But is that where we stay? Perhaps for a time, but I do not believe heaven is our permanent residence.


It is easy to see in the creation story that the earth was created for us to dwell on. Even though man was created in God’s image, mankind was created on this earth. If the plan of God is to restore things to the pre-sin times, why would we be in heaven rather than on a planet as originally planned? After all, there is going to be a new heaven and a new earth. Whether it is a brand-new creation, or a restored planet, as in this planet being cleaned up and remodeled, I do not know. But there is one none the less.



Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven
from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will
be His people, and God Himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, not crying, nor pain
anymore, for the former things have passed away.”


Revelation 21:1-4 ESV



Notice in these verses that the direction is toward the new earth from heaven. The holy city, new Jerusalem, comes  down out of heaven from God. God will dwell with man. This is the opposite direction of the child of God going to heaven to be with Christ. Though we initially go to heaven, we ultimately leave to dwell on the new earth. The rest of that chapter goes into great detail in the description of the new Jerusalem. Chapter 22 tells of some of the aspects of the city and life once the city is established on the new earth.


Before that happens, however, there is a marriage supper in heaven for the Lamb and His bride. The apostle John, the writer of Revelation, then tells of the return of Christ to this earth with the armies of heaven. They victoriously battle the beast and the false prophet and establish the millennial reign of Christ. (Revelation 19)


In chapter 20 we learn that the devil is bound and locked up for the one-thousand years. This is where we who believe actually return to this planet to live and reign with Christ for this period of time, so again, not in heaven.



Then I saw thrones, and seated on them were those to whom authority to judge was committed. Also I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for the testimony of Jesus and for the
word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or its image and had not received the mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ for a
thousand years. The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is the one who shares in the first resurrection!
Over such the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ, and they will reign with them for a thousand years.


Revelation 20:4-6 ESV



We need to correct what we think we know. The belief of going to heaven for eternity is simply wrong. We need to spend time in Scripture and allow it to direct our thoughts with truth.


And there is a cost to discipleship, for we must give up any love for the things of this world which are scheduled to pass away. We are to love God, and love one another. That is the commandment of God.



“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love
for one another.”


John 13:34-35 ESV



So far we’ve looked at what the apostles have written concerning heaven and the new earth. What did Jesus say about heaven?



“No one has ascended into heaven except he who descended from heaven, the Son of Man.”


John 3:13 ESV



That statement of Jesus to Nicodemus was true at the time He made it. Jesus had not yet gone to the cross, therefore, He had not yet paid the atonement for our sins. Under the old covenant, no one went to heaven when they died. They had not yet been covered with the righteousness of Christ. Prior to the resurrection, the place of the righteous dead was referred to as Abraham’s Bosom (Luke 16) or Paradise (Luke 23).


Jesus spoke more about eternal life or the kingdom of heaven than heaven itself. Mainly because those are descriptive of life rather than merely identifying a place of residence. But He did have a few things to say.


Doing a search on the phrase “Father in heaven”, reveals fifteen times that Jesus solidly refers to His Father in heaven. There are others that imply it a little less directly. He also instructs us that heaven is the abode of the Father.


Jesus also indicated that there are treasures, rewards, and joys in heaven. In the sermon on the mount, Jesus shares this about rewards.



Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they
persecuted the prophets who were before you.


Matthew 5:11-12 ESV



I don’t know if this reward is for everyone, but it is definitely for those who are scorned or persecuted for Jesus’ sake.



Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor
rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.


Matthew 6:19-21 ESV



Treasures on earth will die away, being destroyed and stolen. Treasures in heaven, however, are in a location the enemy cannot infiltrate. Being told to “lay up for yourselves” implies that we have some control over establishing those treasures now, even in heaven. How is this done? I believe it is through being obedient in love to the commandments of God. We choose whether or not to obey. It is in our control.



Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.


Luke 15:7 ESV



There is joy in heaven, rejoicing over every soul that is saved from the second death. Of course there are no “persons who need no repentance.” All people who hope to attain eternal life, and not share in the second death, need to repent and declare their faith in Christ Jesus. The comment, I believe, was aimed at the portion of His audience who were wrapped in their own self-righteousness.



Now the tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to hear him. And the Pharisees and the scribes grumbled, saying, “This man receives sinners and eats with them.”


Luke 15:1-2 ESV



Jesus was quick to enter the lives of those who needed Him. The jealous self-righteous had no such enjoyment of His company. The treasures, rewards, and joys in heaven are reserved for the humble who are moved to repentance and thanksgiving in love and truth, for those who believe in God, and believe God. Those humble persons will also enjoy the peace of God.



“Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in Me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go
and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. And you know the way to where I am going.”


Luke 14:1-4 ESV



There is a lot in this passage of Scripture.

  • Let not your hearts be troubled: this is only accomplished through trust and faith in Christ Jesus, receiving His peace
  • Believe in God: belief in mind and heart, manifested in action
  • Believe also in Me: belief in Christ, leading to repentance
  • In my Father’s house: where is that? Is it in heaven? Elsewhere?
  • Are many rooms: places for many people, each believer
  • If it were not so, would I have told you: God is not a liar
  • That I go to prepare a place for you: think of this in a personal sense, that He cares for you, preparing a place just for you
  • And if I go and prepare a place for you: which He is doing
  • I will come again: Jesus telling us of His second coming, first to gather His people, then to deal with the beast and its system
  • And will take you to myself: He gathers us into His presence
  • That where I am, you may be also: He is happy to have us with Him
  • And you know the way: the way is through Christ Jesus; the way, and the truth, and the life
  • To where I am going: to heaven, to earth to rule and reign, to the new Jerusalem on the new earth


Jesus says, “In my Father’s house are many rooms.” I wonder where that is. It is in that house that the Son is going so He can prepare a place for each one of us to dwell with Him. How many believers will have a place there? Two billion? More? That has to be an enormous place. Where is it, and where will it be? Here is my belief on this matter.



So then the Lord Jesus, after He had spoken to them, was taken up into heaven and sat down at the right hand of God.


Mark 16:19 ESV



At the present time, this being January 23, 2023, Jesus is in heaven with the Father. Therefore, heaven is the current place of His Father’s house where Jesus is preparing a place for us.


Jesus says He will come again to gather us to Himself. Jesus comes again to earth, but the Father’s house is still in heaven.



The saying is trustworthy, for: if we have died with Him, we will also live with Him; if we endure, we will also reign with Him; if we deny Him, He also will deny us;


2 Timothy 2:11-12 ESV



The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is the one who shares in the first resurrection! Over such the
second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ, and they will reign with Him for a thousand years.


Revelation 20:5-7 ESV



We will be reigning with Christ during the thousand-year time period between the second coming of Jesus and the release of Satan for a short time before the final judgment. We reign with Christ Jesus on the earth, but the Father’s house is still in heaven.



Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven
from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will
be His people, and God Himself will be with them as their God.”


Revelation 21:1-3 ESV



The Father’s house comes down from heaven to the new earth, “coming down out of heaven from God.” The dwelling place of God has come down to dwell with man. This is the place in which Jesus prepared a room for us. It came down to the new earth, a new creation of Almighty God. As the first earth was, I believe this new earth will be spoken into existence, a new creation.


I do not believe the new earth is a purification, renewal, restoration, or remodeling of this present earth. The verse we just looked at stated, “and the first earth had passed away.” Being designated as the first earth implies that the new earth would be a second earth. And the phrase “and the sea was no more” implies there is no sea on the second earth. The sea is a chaotic division between continents full of waves and storms and danger. There will be no divisions of a chaotic, sinful nature among mankind and the nations of the world. It represents that sin is no more.


The new earth will be different in that there is no sea, and this earth has approximately three-quarters of it covered by water. Our water-based system will be replaced by something greater. All life currently depends upon water for survival. On the new earth we will be reliant upon the Spirit of God. Though the current hydrological system will no longer exist, there is a river of the water of life that flows from His throne. “Let the one who desires take the water of life without price.”



In Revelation 21 there is a detailed description of the new holy city, Jerusalem. It measures to 1,380 miles and “Its length and width and height are equal.” Some believe this to be a cube, and some believe this to be a pyramid in shape. Just for reference, the United States of America is roughly 3,000 miles wide. The city is roughly half the width of our country. That is a very large city! And it is also that high! “The city was pure gold, like clear glass.” Just as the believer is purified in Christ, the city itself is also refined and pure. And of the streets it says, “and the street of the city was pure gold, like transparent glass.”


The city also has a wall around it which is 216 feet high. “The wall was built of jasper.” Though it is a wall, it consists of precious stones. “The foundations of the wall of the city were adorned with every kind of jewel.” The Scripture goes on to tell of the twelve foundations and the twelve different jewels, one for each foundation. The wall also has twelve gates, “each of the gates made of a single pearl.”


I encourage you to read and meditate upon the Scriptures that describe the city, our final destination, if indeed our names are written in the Lamb’s book of life. Chapter 22 of Revelation describes more of what is in the city. It also reiterates the return of Jesus Christ.


The city contains the throne of God and of the Lamb. God has truly come to dwell with man at that time in the new Jerusalem. This is the house of the Father. This is the final destination of the one who believes and trusts in Christ Jesus for eternal life. This is where Jesus prepared a place for us.


This, in a sense, could be considered heaven, as God dwells there, and as the kingdom of heaven is finally in operation as Jesus alluded to while on earth in his ministry to seek and to save the lost. Jesus described the kingdom of heaven in the parables He shared with the people of that day.

  • Like a grain of mustard seed – Matthew 13:31
  • Like leaven that a woman took and hid – Matthew 13:33
  • Like treasure hidden in a field – Matthew 13:44
  • Like a merchant in search of fine pearls – Matthew 13:45
  • Like a net that was thrown into the sea – Matthew 13:47
  • Like a master of a house who went out early to hire laborers for his vineyard – Matthew 20:1


Those who believe, who are born again, who are children of God, will be dwelling with God in the kingdom of heaven for eternity. Over such, the second death has no power. Having been gathered unto Christ, those believers have received their inheritance in Christ which includes eternal life.



Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.


Colossians 3:23-24 ESV



It is through Christ that our salvation is made available to us. It is through our obedience to Him that we secure eternal life.



And being perfect, He became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey Him, being designated by God a high priest after the order of Melchizedek.


Hebrews 5:9-10 ESV



As our high priest, Jesus secured our eternal redemption through the shedding of His own blood.



But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things that have come, then though a greater and more perfect tent (not made with hands, that is, not of this creation) He entered once
for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of His own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption.


Hebrews 9:11-12 ESV



Paul the apostle reminds us that we are joint heirs with Christ Jesus.



The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs – heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that
we may also be glorified with Him.


Romans 8:16-17 ESV



The apostle Peter writes of our salvation as our inheritance, being guarded by faith.



Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to His great mercy, He has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the
dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the
last time.


1 Peter 1:3-5 ESV



Our eternal salvation is the inheritance we have in and with Christ Jesus, lived out in eternal life in the kingdom of heaven whether it be in heaven or on the new earth or in the holy city, the new Jerusalem.


I close with this caution; eternal life and the kingdom of heaven is not for the double minded. As Jesus taught, one cannot serve two masters.



“No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.”


Matthew 6:24 ESV



And James stated:



But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything
from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.


James 1:6-8 ESV






Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you


James 4:7-8 ESV



Submit yourself to the Lord, your Savior, cleansing your hands and purifying your heart, that you may receive your inheritance, eternal life, as a joint heir with Christ Jesus, forever living in the kingdom of God, in the presence of God.