What Did Jesus Say About Heaven?

Have you ever asked that question? Was it easy to find an answer?

While the doctrine of heaven may be firmly established by using the whole of the revealed will of God, it is interesting to me how little Jesus himself says about heaven–at least in its future aspects.

For the most part, when Jesus talks about heaven, he is not concerned with what it will be like, but rather, (1) How you get yourself ‘in’, and, (2) the fact that it has begun now–and we are called to live in light of that reality.

It’s almost like if you asked Jesus, ‘What is heaven like?’ he’d answer, ‘You’re asking the wrong question.’ He would correct us, ‘Don’t think about heaven as some ethereal future hope–ask whether or not you have reason to believe that it is your hope.’ And then he would add, ‘Heaven isn’t an ethereal future hope–it is a present reality that begins when you live under my kingly reign now and you begin to experience my blessings now.’

All that being said, if we query the text of the gospels, I think we can find some details about the future reality of heaven from Jesus’ teaching.

  • Heaven is a place. According to the Sermon on the Mount (in particular, Matthew 6) and John 14, heaven is an actual place–not bodiless beings floating through clouds. It is the place where God is and his presence is made known to bless.
  • Heaven is a place of treasures. Again, from Matthew 6 we learn that the treasures and rewards we store up in heaven now will never be taken from us and they will never cease to give joy.
  • Heaven is a place prepared for us. In Matthew 25 Jesus speaks of heaven as the kingdom which has been prepared for us from before the creation of the world. Again, then, we see it is a literal place where God is intent on blessing us.
  • Heaven is a place of joy and reward. Still in Matthew 25, Jesus tells the parable where those who have been faithful with what they were given are commended by their master. The blessed words are this: ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’
  • Heaven is a place of justice. In Luke 16, while teaching an entirely different point altogether, Jesus tells the story of two men who receive a just reversal of fortunes on the other side of judgement.
  • Heaven is a place of single community. Luke 20 (cf. Matthew 22) teaches that humans will not be married or given in marriage in heaven. That being said, we are not community-less beings, but rather, we are like the angels, in fellowship with one another and ultimately, with God.

Can you think of any more places where Jesus talks about heaven? Any other details that can be gleaned from various places?

7 thoughts on “What Did Jesus Say About Heaven?

  1. Hey Julian,

    Sweet post brother! Do you think it is significant that many of us speak of "going off to a better place" in contrast to what Jesus says in the Lord's Prayer "your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven"? It seems to me that the kingdom of God is about God's gracious and saving presence coming to earth to reverse sin and its effectsthe effects.

    • Hey Nick,

      Yeah, I think there are some helpful correctives in perspective and priority there. However, what I do want to protect is the idea that while this reign of Jesus now, in this life, is the beginning of the new creation, it is not all that there is to the new creation. The New Heavens and the New Earth will indeed be new… not just what we see around us now.

      Plus, while you're right to point us to Jesus' instructional prayer there in Matthew 6, in the broader context of the chapter Jesus is encouraging people to live in light of 'a better place' (i.e. heaven, where the Father is). So I think there's a healthy tension that needs to be brought to bear. There is a reality to us 'going off to a better place' but that doesn't remove us from the realities of that place now; rather, it behoves us to bring about that reality here and now however we can.

      Does that make any sense at all?

    • Hey Nick,

      Yeah, I think there are some helpful correctives in perspective and priority there. However, what I do want to protect is the idea that while this reign of Jesus now, in this life, is the beginning of the new creation, it is not all that there is to the new creation. The New Heavens and the New Earth will indeed be new… not just what we see around us now.

      Plus, while you're right to point us to Jesus' instructional prayer there in Matthew 6, in the broader context of the chapter Jesus is encouraging people to live in light of 'a better place' (i.e. heaven, where the Father is). So I think there's a healthy tension that needs to be brought to bear. There is a reality to us 'going off to a better place' but that doesn't remove us from the realities of that place now; rather, it behoves us to bring about that reality here and now however we can.

      Does that make any sense at all?

  2. Luke 17:21 nor will people say, 'Here it is,' or 'There it is,' because the kingdom of God is within you."

  3. I believe in Heaven with my whole heart, soul and mind. My faith in JESUS is Unconditional. I myself had a near death experience at the age of seven. I was swimming in a salt water pool in Keansberg, NJ and went on a slide into the deep end of the pool. I could'nt swim and I went into a panic. I went down for the third time under water and was greated by an Angel in a tunnel of pure light. I had no fear being in his tunnel of light. The Angel was so kind and reassuring that I became calm and happy to be with her. Then all of a sudden, a girl of about 16 pulled me up out of the water and I came back as if nothing had ever happened. I believe in the many stories that people have had a near death experience and have lived to tell us . To me , these stories are a continuation of the many miricals that Jesus had performed when He was on earth.

  4. Hey Julian, it's Bill Janzen. I happened across this post via Google and was pleasantly surprised to see it was written by someone I know. Good post brother. God bless