What will we actually do in heaven?
Busting myths about eternal life.
In high school, I once overheard some friends say that they’d rather go to Hell instead of Heaven. I was like, “WHAT?!” That seemed crazy to me!
So I listened in on their conversation to find out why. It turned out they wanted to go Hell because they thought Heaven would be boring.
Even today, this breaks my heart. But honestly, I can’t really blame them for thinking that way.
Sometimes the way I hear people talk about Heaven makes me not want to go there either, and I’m a pastor. Like when someone once told me that they thought Heaven would be a never-ending church service… depending on your church experience that might not be too fun. Thankfully, though, heaven is not like that.
So what is heaven like?
Well, first you have to know something about heaven. This may come as a surprise, but heaven is not the place where believers spend eternity with God. (Say what?!)
Yes, heaven is where God lives now (Matthew 6:9). And it’s true that if you’ve put your faith in Jesus you will go to be with Christ when you die (Luke 23:43). But heaven is just the first stop. It’s not your final destination.
The Bible tells us that after God’s final judgment, God will make a new heaven and a new earth. It’s there that followers of Jesus will live forever. So when people talk about living in heaven forever, what they really mean is living in the new heaven and the new earth forever.
So the real question is, what will we do in the new heaven and the new earth?
For that question, Revelation 21:1-4 gives us some answers:
Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,” for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”
From these verses we learn three things about the new heaven and the new earth:
- First, the new heaven and the new earth are like a city (v.2)
- Second, God lives there with his people, and he is God over everything (v.3)
- Third, there is nothing bad there (v.4)
How does this tell us what we will do there?
Since it’s described as a city, we can expect to do city-like things there. For example, Zechariah 8:5 paints a picture of children playing. The Psalms describes people dancing, laughing, and making music (Psalm 30:11-12, 126:1-2, 150). Other Bible verses describe people eating (Isaiah 25:6), drinking (Revelation 21:6), and singing (Revelation 15:2-4).
Like word pictures in poetry, not all these images are meant to be taken literally. But they are meant to point to a very real truth. That the new heaven and the new earth will be a place of peace, a place of joy, and place of worship.
This is what David knew when he wrote the words of Psalm 16:11: “You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.” God’s presence is always a place of joy and great pleasure. This is something to look forward to!
We don’t know everything about what we will do in the new heaven and the new earth, but we do know one thing is for sure: whatever we do, it will definitely not be boring.