I think there is something slightly off about our understanding of Heaven. All of our lives we were taught (as were our parents) that Heaven is up and Hell is down. The Bible clearly does support that concept but, is it meant to be taken literally?
Think about it. Do we live in a snow-globe? Is there a Heavenly realm where God stays that is literally up, above our planet and universe? If there is, what happens when we eventually fly far enough to reach the “edge”? Also, since our planet is circular; sometimes they would be flip-flopped and at any given point Hell would be either above or below us and the other side of the world would be the opposite.
My point isn’t to explore the unknowable or simply poke holes in our wrong ideas. My point is that when the Bible describes Heaven as above; God is probably using a concept that we can relate to and not literally describing the actual location of His home. Remember God actually lives inside you born-again believer.
Paul had the greatest insight into our new spiritual existence and it is part of the heart of the Gospel he preached. Consider how he exhorted the babes in Christ at Corinth ~
“There is a natural body and there is also a spiritual body. 45So also it is written, “The first man, Adam, became a living soul.” The last Adam became a life-giving spirit. 46However that which is spiritual isn’t first, but that which is natural, then that which is spiritual. 47The first man is of the earth, made of dust. The second man is the Lord from heaven. 48As is the one made of dust, such are those who are also made of dust; and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly. 49As we have borne the image of those made of dust, let’s also bear the image of the heavenly.” (1 Cor.15:44-49)
Admittedly, I don’t fully understand all of this. I imagine that this chapter really blew the Corinthians away but, he stresses that the born-again are no longer of the dust, earthly. We are of the heavens. We are spiritual because we have been born of the Lord.
We still have our natural bodies but the new has come! The heavenly realm has come to our earthly realm internally!
John described this concept in a different style in John 15 ~
(15:5a) I am the vine. You are the branches. (15:4) Remain in me, and I in you. (15:5b) He who remains in me, and I in him, the same bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. (15:4b) As the branch can’t bear fruit by itself, unless it remains in the vine. (15:2)Every branch in me that doesn’t bear fruit, he takes away.
Jesus is talking about the same thing Paul mentioned; ” let’s bear the image of the Heavenly.” Every Epistle, every “book” of the Bible speaks of the same thing in a beautiful variety of ways… Jesus Christ, the Kingdom of God, Heaven; has been “birthed” inside you.
Your spirit is joined to God’s Spirit. 1 Cor.6:17 ~
“But he who is joined to the Lord is one spirit.”
John 3 is such a profound revelation of the separation of man’s soul and spirit. The entire chapter articulates more than God’s love plan to save the world but also, how the Kingdom of God; the fullness of the Spirit is in when we are born of spirit.
God’s not simply sitting in some distant Tabernacle far beyond the reach of our most powerful telescopes. His Temple is you. His home is your spirit. You’re spirit is a branch on the vine of His Kingdom and he wants to bear fruit in every part of your being by “spreading” to your mind and heart.
Paul’s exhortation is always something like “put on the new man which is created in righteousness, holiness and truth”, “put on Christ Jesus”. John writes about us “abiding in Christ”, “remain in the Vine”, “remain in love”.
It’s all the same idea. Recognize who you now are in Christ, identify yourself with Him and keep yourself focused on Him in you. As we see who He really is; we see who we really are at our core, our spirit. Our mind is renewed and Christ is revealed to us, in us and through us! It has to happen in that order.
The Kingdom of God comes to earth. The church has been waiting for Jesus to return for 2,000 years but, He has been waiting for us to return this entire time. Yes, we look for Jesus to come to us but in the meantime; we should be growing more and more like him as we see who he really is in us! First we need to know who we really are in Him. It needs to be completely settled in our hearts forever.