The Bible promises that when followers of Jesus Christ die, they will be in heaven for eternity. But what is heaven like? Will believers know each other in heaven? Will we have physical bodies? What will we do in heaven? These and many other questions come to mind as believers reflect on heaven.
Enns, a Dallas Seminary graduate, serves as professor and director of the Tampa Extension of the Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. His wife died suddenly in 2005 after they had been married for forty-five years. He writes this book out of a heart filled with grief. He wrote that as a result of her death, “I am consumed with the thought of heaven” (p. 11).
This book shows how believers whose believing loved ones have died can have comfort from the Scriptures. The book is packed with Scripture. And unlike some books on heaven, this one does not veer into conjectures about heaven beyond what the Scriptures teach.
In chapter 2, “What Is the Transition to Heaven?” Enns comments that death is an advantage because it takes us into the very presence of God. He notes that at death angels will escort believers to heaven (Luke 16:22) and that Christ will welcome us (Acts 7:55). Believers will be with Christ (Luke 23:43), they will be united with loved ones (Gen. 25:8), and they will be “at home with the Lord” (2 Cor. 5:8) in His heavenly kingdom (2 Tim. 4:18).
In chapter 3, “Where Is Heaven?” Enns points out that heaven is not in outer space; instead “Heaven is nearby, in another realm” (p. 56). Enns discusses the future kingdom in chapter 4. He writes that the kingdom will be earthly, eternal, and spiritual, and that the earth will be restored and productive and will be a kingdom of health and of fellowship and celebration.
When a believer dies, he receives an intermediate body, which will serve him in heaven until the resurrection at the rapture (p. 74). This body will be like Christ’s body, will be a real body with a familiar voice (John 20:16), and will be recognizable (vv. 18, 20). It will be an imperishable body (1 Cor. 15:53) and a glorified body. Though physical, it will also be a spiritual body (v. 44).
Enns comments on the fact that continuity will exist between the earthly kingdom (the millennium) and the eternal state. In chapter 7 he comments on the fact that the present earth will be renovated, not annihilated (pp. 96–99). This new earth will be productive and peaceful, and God’s original purpose for the earth will be fulfilled. After noting that Isaiah, Joel, and Zechariah each refer to this renovation, Enns states, “The new heaven and new earth are frequently pictured together (Isa. 65:17; 66:22; 2 Peter 3:13; Rev. 21:1). Since God dwells with man on the new earth, and since God’s home is heaven, the new earth becomes part of heaven” (pp. 106–7). The new earth, he observes, will be like Eden, in which deserts will gush with water and animals will be peaceful.
In heaven there will be joy, restored health, security, and safety. And believers will no longer feel sadness or face death. They will recognize each other.