Jim Denison on What is Heaven Really Like?

When Ronald Reagan was running for governor of California, a woman confronted him by his car one day and berated him severely. Finally, she said, “I wouldn’t vote for you if you were St. Peter.”

He smiled and replied, “No problem. If I were St. Peter, you wouldn’t be living in my district.”

What do we know about “St. Peter’s district”?

We’re all fascinated with the subject. I’ve written about hell, the place everyone wants to avoid. Today, let’s discuss the place everyone wants to see.

Each of us has loved ones there; I assume we all would like to spend eternity there ourselves. So let’s ask the word of God to tell us about heaven. Then let’s ask why our topic matters—why heaven is important for us on earth.

I don’t believe we can study a more motivating subject than this.

What is heaven?

What does God tell us about our eternal home?

First, he tells us that heaven is real.

It is certain—no figment of religious imagination, no superstition, no “opiate of the people” (to quote Karl Marx). He revealed it here to John: “I saw a new heaven and a new earth” (Revelation 21:1). According to God himself, heaven is real.

Second, heaven is a place (Revelation 21:1-2).

John “saw” it. He didn’t feel it, or dream of it, or hear about it. He saw it, and we only see things which are. Heaven is a place.

Jesus said, “In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you” (John 14.2; emphasis mine).

Where? “Up there”?

Heaven is a place beyond our locating or understanding. Just as you couldn’t dig down into the earth and find hell, so you can’t rocket into the skies and find heaven. God is bigger, more awesome than that, and so is his heaven.

One of the Russian cosmonauts came back and said, “Some people say that God lives out there. I looked around, and I didn’t see any God out there.”

Ruth Graham, Billy’s wife, says he looked in the wrong place. If he’d stepped outside the spaceship without his spacesuit, he would have seen God very quickly.

Third, heaven is where God is (Revelation 21:3).

John reveals, “Now the dwelling of God is with men.” When we get to heaven, we get to God. Psalm 11:4 is clear: “The Lord is in his holy temple; the Lord is on his heavenly throne.” Jesus taught us to pray, “Our Father, who art in heaven” (Matthew 6:9). Heaven is a real place, where God is. It’s being with God.