The door to heaven is opened to us the moment we accept Lord Jesus as the Lord and Savior but the bars of our own, self created hell, that lead us to justify ourselves and prove our worth hold us from entering heaven. The moment we accept that we in our individuality do not matter but are here to partake of and proclaim the glory of the Creator, we start living in that heaven here on earth itself awaiting our entry into the heaven above. God did send His Son to show us the path but we often are misled by the possibilities offered by the Devil and start following him. And then in our zeal we inflict untold misery and torture on others for not being on our side, believing that we are doing God’s work. But unknowingly and unintentionally we send these persons condemned by us to heaven while opening the doors of hell for ourselves. In fact without actually realizing we enter heaven not at the end but at the start of our Christian lives and never learn to rejoice and thank God for this great gift provided through His Son.
What is heaven? – God created heaven as a dwelling place for Himself and placed angels, equipped with powers and wisdom unimaginable for us due to our limited worldly knowledge, also there. Angels not only proclaim Divine glory but also execute Divine commands all over the universe. Heaven is where God is, for God cannot and will not be in an unholy place, For there are no shadows (darkness) in His presence. God created the Garden of Eden and placed Adam and Eve there while visiting them every day and God’s daily presence made that Garden also akin to heaven itself.
After the fall of man and his being expelled from the presence of God, the form of heaven was excluded from the earth till God decided to visit Moses and commanded him to make The Tabernacle for Him so that the Divine presence could be with man. Because of the sinful nature of man, God covered His presence behind a veil to keep us away and appointed Aaron and his sons as mediators to atone for our sins. Man was thus barred from entering the presence of God or even draw near to worship Him and any violation resulted in immediate death. God is love and in His love He did not completely abandon mankind and continued to visit His chosen people. Prophet Isaiah had one such visitation and knowing his own sinful nature and the prevalence of sin all around cried out “Woe to me! For I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips and I dwell in the midst of people of unclean lips, for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts” (Isaiah 6:5). God blessed him and his sinful nature was cleansed. Isaiah and other prophets, despite being surrounded by sin all around could maintain direct contact with God.
Heaven thus came to be in two separate forms – external and internal to the individual. Erection of the Tabernacle and later the Temple in Jerusalem resulted in the presence of God on earth also thereby causing two locations where God could be experienced in person. The external heaven thus descended to the earth while the real one remained in the sky. On earth this heaven gets created under the guidance and power of the Holy Spirit. God is love and our expression of genuine love for others creates the same Garden of Eden around us thus making us experience the Divine presence around us. We are ‘children of God’ and thus heirs to His Divine kingdom from the day we accept Lord Jesus as our Savior. Lord Jesus has assured all believers of a ‘mansion’ in heaven that is available and earmarked for us on our entry into heaven above after leaving this world (John 14:2-3).
Every believer is blessed with the indwelling Holy Spirit by the Savior once we surrender to His authority. Holy Spirit establishes the internal heaven in us by bringing the Divine Kingdom into us through His mighty presence.
How can we enter heaven here on earth? – Before we consider this question it is important to understand the reason of our seeking God. Since we are created in His Divine image and likeness, there is unquenchable thirst/craving to be one with the Creator since what was breathed into man by God yearns to be with the source. Heaven is, thus, not a place for pleasure as is made out by some, but a place of oneness and communion with the Creator. On earth our testimony of communion is weak due to the sinful nature inherent in and around us and our dissatisfaction with our life here is due to this reason itself. The spirit breathed into us longs to be with the Creator and His Godly righteousness. Even when He is near and with us, due to His omnipresence, we are unable to see Him due to the veil of our senses.
God did send His Son to break the physical veil of separation and the indwelling Holy Spirit helps us overcome the invisible veil of our senses. God is Spirit and must be worshipped or contacted in the spirit under the urging and guidance of the Holy Spirit (John 4:24). Our Lord assured us of the presence of the Holy Spirit in us to lead us into the Divine presence as also to guide us to become like Him while living in this sinful world. The separation from God ends and we remain in His presence even while being in the body on earth.
God has delivered us from darkness of sin into the kingdom of His Son – the Light of the world (Colossians 1:13). His Spirit establishes His Divine kingdom in us through His presence and He becomes King of our hearts by ruling over our feelings and desires to shift our focus from self to God and others. Since His kingdom gets established within us, we become citizens of the same Kingdom of God. Lord’s Prayer as taught by Him desires God’s will on earth as it is in heaven (Matthew 6:10). This prayer is answered by the indwelling Holy Spirit by leading us away from sinful living through understanding of the Scripture and Divine commands and following the same. The Holy Spirit helps in our weaknesses and helps us pray for and according to God’s will and plan for us and also prays for us (Romans 8:26).
Importance of earthly life to heavenly life – Entry into heaven is only possible in a state of perfection and towards this end Holy Spirit leads us through ‘teaching us all things and bring to remembrance all things’ that the Savior Himself has taught us (John 14:26). The Holy Spirit leads believers away from sinful living by convicting/warning them of sin at all the three stages of commission of a sinful act – during thought process, actual act and afterwards. In the first two stages it is to restrain and finally to repentance and seeking forgiveness. Through this process we are gradually restored to the image and likeness of God that we were created in. Lord Jesus being Son of God revealed God to us and we now have a comparative benchmark to aspire for. In the Garden of Eden God visited Adam and Eve every day to lead them to the stage of perfection to enable them to be in His presence always and the same task is performed by the indwelling Holy Spirit.
God is light and in Him there is no darkness or sin and repentance and seeking forgiveness from God is the process of removal of that darkness of sin from within us (1 john 1:5;9). Anything that defiles or causes an abomination or lie cannot enter heaven or Divine presence (Revelation 21:27). Perfection is achieved through repentance and turning from sin as well as through displaying the love of God as revealed to us by His Son by doing good to others. What is left of the process on the earth is completed by God by His grace by transforming us into the image of Lord Jesus on entry into His presence.
Shall we recognize our relatives in heaven? – Sadducees tried to trap Lord Jesus through a question about the duty of a brother to marry the widow of his brother to produce a child to continue the dead man’s name on earth (Deuteronomy 25:5). The widow was married off to all the seven brothers since all died one after the other and eventually the woman also died. They wanted to know that who will be her husband after they ate resurrected from the dead since she had married all seven of them. Lord Jesus clarified that in that stage the relationship is as of the angels to each other in heaven and there are no marriages there (Matthew 22:23-32).
After creating Adam God decided that it is not good that man should be alone but must have a partner to complement him physically, intellectually and morally since man was incomplete in himself (Genesis 2:18). Woman thus was created to continue the reproduction process as also to be a helper and partner to man. In heaven there is no discrepancy left in man or woman and each, like the angels, is perfect in God and not in himself. Since our perfection will be in God our entire focus will also be only on Him and nothing else. A wife will meet her husband of earthly life and both would be ‘looking unto Jesus’ all the while rather than towards each other.
As heavenly citizen our acts will also have to be as per the will of God that prevails there. Prophet Isaiah saw the two seraphim moving around God’s throne singing to each other, “Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of His glory”. Each of them had six wings – with two he covered his face and with the other two his feet while using only two wings to fly (Isaiah 6:2-3). The six wings of the seraphim denote their great might to move around at unimaginably very high speeds but their actions clarify three points. They cover their face – Hebrew word used here is ‘fanav’ meaning ‘face, honor or glory’ and ‘rag lav’ meaning feet, journey or walk’. They join and remind each other of the Glory of God displayed before them; conceal their own honor or glory and also surrender their walk or journey before God. Their entire focus remains on God’s glory and His worship.
After entering heaven we shall also maintain our focus on God and sing to each other His Divine glory rather than trying to remember our relationship on earth. It is His will in heaven and His will and command is “Be holy for I am holy” (Leviticus 19:2). His will is required to be implemented in our lives on earth also under the guidance and leading of the Holy Spirit and we are led into a life of holiness by Him through regular guiding. Our rewards are given to us in accordance with our deeds for the promise of our Lord is “if you have been faithful in what is another man’s who will give you what is your own?” (Luke 16:12). Our actions are evaluated to give more or withdraw what has already been given.
Importance of works when heaven is already assured – There were many widows in Israel but Prophet Elijah was sent by God to Zarephath to bless the widow and her son during the famine years, for God knows who is righteous and blesses them accordingly (Luke 4:26). Lord Jesus revealed God the Father to us and we are required to do good not because this will save us but because we have been saved through the love of God and we must reveal God’s love to others through our good works. Although salvation from this sinful world has been provided through the blood of Lord Jesus yet we are commanded to “work out your salvation through fear and trembling’ (Philippians 2:12-13). Apostle Paul further says that God works in us to get His purpose fulfilled by blessing us with a purpose to do something and then also gives us the power and resources to achieve that. First He wills it in us and then empowers us to fulfill that.
Though our salvation is already available through faith in the power of the ‘Blood of Jesus’ yet whatever we do on earth is also tested to reward us further. Thus our deeds that are not in accordance with God’s commands will bear no favor for us but we shall be saved (1 Corinthians 3:13-15). It is through our works that we bear witness of God and His love for mankind (John 5:36). Like the servants of the rich man we are also given talents in different forms – money, family, power, position, children and other such blessings. We shall be required to give account of how we have used the same to earn rewards through use of the talents to save souls for His Kingdom. The better we nurture and develop our gifts for use for God’s kingdom, the better is the use and our testimony (Matthew 25:14-30). Once we are found to use the gifts wisely our area of authority automatically gets increased by God to reveal His glory to others (Luke 19:12-26).
Heaven on earth – Every believer is blessed with the indwelling Holy Spirit who guides us towards a righteous and holy life. Holy Spirit being part of the Holy Trinity is God and His living in us establishes God’s kingdom in our hearts. God being in us and thus His kingdom being set up in us places us in the presence of God permanently. Kingdom of heaven gets established in our hearts and this impacts each and every action of ours and through us the lives of others. We become ambassadors of Christ the King and reveal His glory to others. Thus as witnesses of God by becoming ‘children of God’ we are the only messenger of God that many will ever meet or see. As citizens of the heavenly kingdom we must act also as such. By being in God’s presence on earth through the indwelling Holy Spirit, we are transported into the heaven above after the end of our journey on earth.
Heavenly living is to use to the utmost all that God has given to reach out and love others since that is what God disclosed through His son. The ideal situation would be to stand before God at the end of our lives, totally emptied out, due to overuse, of all the talents God endowed us with. To achieve this is to relish the real beauty of the heart, to cherish the real treasure that is the presence of God, long for the true salvation in and through the Son of God while whole heartedly submitting to God to seek His will, His power and His guidance. That is being in heaven wherever we are!!