What do Christians believe about heaven?
Heaven is God's dwelling place.
Heaven is God's abode in the Bible. However, this does not make heaven divine, but - like earth - a part of creation. Therefore God is also “greater” than heaven; The Bible says that heaven cannot “hold” God (1 Kings 8:27). That God lives in heaven was a common idea in Old Testament times.
At the time of the Old Testament, in the Old Orient, i.e. in the areas around Mesopotamia, which also included Israel, the world was imagined with three floors. Below in the depths was the primordial sea, above the sea the earth rested, and above the earth the sky arched. The sky carried the celestial ocean, which was connected to the primordial sea. The ideas of this vault of heaven are very figurative. It is compared, for example, with a tent: the sky is stretched out like a tent roof (Isa 40:22). Heaven can also be a house with windows through which it rains (Gen 7:11), which rests on pillars (Hi 26:11) or on foundations (2 Sam 22: 8 [KC4]). These foundations can shake when God is angry.
Because heaven is part of God's creation, the same applies to it as to the earth: it will be made “new” by God at the end of time. Then all people will dwell in God's kingdom.
One of the most important images for the events at the end of time is the "heavenly Jerusalem". It is said of him to come down to earth (Rev 21: 2). Linked to this is the idea that God will then dwell with people: "He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and he himself, God with them, will be their God" (Rev 21: 3).
For Christians, heaven is not an inaccessible hereafter. Jesus Christ opened heaven for people because he came from God as a person and also returned to God again. He proclaimed the beginning of God's kingdom on earth, which is also called "kingdom of heaven" in the Bible. That is why Christians pray in the Lord's Prayer that it may be “on earth as it is in heaven”. So heaven and earth are two areas that are still separate now, but are destined to come together.
Further content and links
Do the dead go to heaven?
Answer: The idea of the dead going to heaven is a very comforting idea because it means that they are with God. They are safe and secure there. Christian hope goes one step further: When God's kingdom finally becomes a reality, all the dead will be resurrected and people will live in God's kingdom. This life will not be limited to Heaven for all of creation will be transformed. The earth will also become new (Isa 65:17; Rev 21: 1).
Can Christians also believe in other worlds in space?
Answer: Yes. Christians believe that God created the world with everything in it. They believe that he will care for his creation forever. That does not rule out that the world is bigger than people currently know or assume.
Christians have imagined heaven very differently throughout history. There are two fundamentally different directions: one focused on God, the other on people's lives. In the first centuries AD and in the Middle Ages, it was imagined that human existence in heaven was to see God face to face and to worship him. In the Renaissance, ideas were then rather shaped by the fact that human life continued in heaven. Above all, artists like Hieronymus Bosch imagined heaven as the restored paradise, in which people would live like Adam and Eve.
The Reformers again viewed the worship of God as the central activity of people in heaven. Later on, belief in human progress was decisive. For example, the philosopher Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, who lived in the 17th century, assumed that this progression was infinite and that humanity would continue to develop in heaven. This belief in progress seemed rather scary to people in the 20th century. The fact that many of these ideas were pure speculation and did not appear in the Bible was also criticized.
Theologians like Jürgen Moltmann turned back to the Bible, where they rediscovered the passages that speak of the renewal of creation. This renewal includes not only heaven, but also a new earth. The ideas about how great the continuity between human life now and human life then will be, however, diverge. The biggest questions when thinking about the new heaven and the new earth are how the human perception of space and time will change. How will people experience something like eternity? And how is it when all people live “with God”?
Jesus' ascension to heaven is portrayed in the Bible with an impressive scene: for 40 days after the resurrection, Jesus was with his disciples, then "he was lifted up before their eyes, and a cloud took him up, away from their eyes" (Acts 1, 11). The feast of Ascension is celebrated 40 days after Easter.learn more
Forty days after Easter Sunday, on a Thursday, the churches celebrate the return of Jesus to his Heavenly Father. But where is it actually, heaven? The theologian Eduard Kopp takes a close look at popular ideas.learn more
The fact that Jesus ascended to heaven and is sitting there at the right hand of God is recorded in the Apostles' Creed. Other foundations of the Christian faith are also formulated in this creed. You can read it here.learn more
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