When people wonder about the location of heaven, they are usually thinking about more than just the direction it is in. They are really inquiring about the realm in which heaven exists. They want to know if heaven is part of our time-space universe—far, far away, perhaps, but still somewhere that can be located. Or does heaven exist in a completely different dimension, outside of and beyond time and space (like the “fifth dimension beyond that which is known to man” described in the classic TV series The Twilight Zone)?
To answer that question, we need to distinguish between the present heaven where God resides and the future heaven Jesus is constructing for us. The present heaven—sometimes called by theologians the “intermediate state”—is where Christians go immediately when they die to enjoy the presence of the Lord as Paul describes: “We are of good courage, I say, and prefer rather to be absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord” (2 Cor. 5:8).
The future heaven is where all believers will one day spend eternity, and this future heaven is still under construction. It is the “place” Jesus is preparing for us now—and its final location may surprise you, as we will see in future blog posts.
The idea of a present heaven and a future heaven is sometimes confusing. But think of it like this: couples who plan to retire sometimes buy a little plot of land next to a lake, or in the mountains, or along the seashore and begin to build a house on it. They may continue to live in their existing home or move to an apartment while their future retirement home is under construction. Their current address may be wonderful—plush and comfortable—but it’s only temporary.
The couple could truly be said to be in an “intermediate state” as they await the completion of their future home. In the same way, those who are in heaven today (the present heaven) are enjoying a wonderful existence in the presence of God while waiting for the completion of their final, forever home (the future heaven).
Dr. Robert Jeffress is the best-selling author of 24 books, a nationally and internationally syndicated TV and radio host and the senior pastor of the First Baptist Church of Dallas, one of the largest and most influential churches in America Pathway to Victory, Dr. Jeffress’ broadcast ministry, airs daily nationwide on more than 900 radio stations and is broadcast live to 195 countries. His latest book, A Place Called Heaven: 10 Surprising Truths About Your Eternal Home, will release September 2017. He is an evangelical advisor to the president of the United States, Donald J. Trump.