I’ve never had a near-death experience. I’ve never seen a bright light at the end of a tunnel, never seen my body from above, and will never write a best-selling book about my experiences in heaven. But I don’t need to go to heaven to have a clear idea of what it’s like.
I can already see heaven on earth, and you can too if you know where to look.
I realize this all sounds a bit weird and mystical. It sounds like I’ve been experimenting with odd psychological drugs.
But I haven’t. I’ve just been reading the Bible. And keeping my eyes open.
Heaven On Earth Is Redeemed People
When a person is saved and places their faith in Christ, that is a taste of heaven on earth. We are getting a tiny glimpse, a small sample of God’s massive redemptive work that will be on full display in heaven.
In Revelation 5:9-10, the curtain of heaven is opened and we hear the song that will be sung for all eternity:
Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation, and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on the earth.
The redemptive work of Christ is so powerful, so glorious, so comprehensive, that people from every tribe, tongue, and language experience its blessings.
And, the redeemed people are priests to God and will reign when God creates a new heaven and earth.
When a person is rescued from their sins, we are getting a visual reminder that heaven will be a gathering of diverse redeemed people. There is no “color blindness” in heaven. The glory of the gospel is that it spans every culture throughout time.
Heaven on earth is seen in millions and millions of people being rescued from their sins through the single, final, sacrificial death of Christ.
Heaven On Earth Is The Gathered Saints
Every Sunday, we get a taste of heaven on earth. When we gather with God’s redeemed people to worship God and learn about his glory, we are being given a tiny taste, a sample spoon if you will, of the worship that’s coming.
When we join our voices in song, lifting our loud singing in praise of God and his glorious works on our behalf, we are hearing the distant strains of the beautiful, loud chorus that fills heaven.
When we take the Lord’s Supper, we are looking forward to the day when we will all eat the Feast of the Lamb with Christ.
When we fellowship together, we are reminded that a time is coming when sin will be destroyed and all our relationships will be whole.
Churches are like little outposts of the kingdom that’s to come. They are places where we see the kingdom of God breaking into the here and now, and they are reminders that we live in the already/not yet.
Heaven on earth is seen in the gathered saints.
Heaven On Earth Is Communion With God
Every day, I get to commune with God through his word, through prayer, and through the created world. I can bring my requests to my good Father. I can hear him speak to me through his sacred word. I experience fellowship with God as I behold his creation which boldly proclaims his glory.
This communion with God is heaven on earth. Right now my communion with God is limited. I am not in his presence in the same way as I will be in heaven and in the new heavens and earth.
Revelation 21:3 reminds us of how we will experience God when he creates a new heaven and earth:
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.
In Eden, God walked with his people. They had direct access to his manifest presence. Sin severed that.
Now, we do have access to God’s presence, but in some ways that presence is limited. We don’t have the full experience of God’s presence.
When Christ returns, everything changes. Eden will be restored and God will be amidst his people again.
Heaven on earth is communion with God.
Heaven On Earth Is Miracles
On occasion, we have the privilege of seeing God do miraculous things. My grandmother was miraculously healed of arthritis after 20 years. My friend’s wife was healed of stage 4 cancer. Another woman in my church was healed of cancer, which led to several of her children becoming believers.
These miracles are the life that is to come in the here and now. When Christ returns, there will be no more sickness, no more sorrow, no more grief, no more tears. Sin and its grievous effects will be banished, and life and light will reign.
When we see miracles, it’s a preview of what’s coming. It’s a preview of the restoration of all things and the reversal of the curse. It’s a preview of coming attractions.
Heaven on earth is the miraculous.
Heaven Is For Real
I don’t need a book to tell me that heaven is real. I don’t need a near-death experience or a bright white light.
I know heaven is real because the Bible tells me so.
And I know heaven is real because I see it everywhere.