One of the most pervasive misperceptions about Heaven is that it is a purely ethereal, non-physical place—a place where disembodied spirits float around in an immaterial dimension, presumably playing harps! Some don’t even consider it a place at all, but have reduced it to a state of mind!
But this is not the Heaven described in the Bible.
Perhaps the strongest argument for a physical dimension to Heaven is the fact that Jesus is there right now, physically, in His resurrected body. And it’s not just Jesus who took a body with him into Heaven; the Bible tells us that Enoch and Elijah were also transported there in their physical bodies (Hebrews 11:5; 2 Kings 2:11).
So the Bible makes it clear that there are at least three people presently in Heaven who have a human, physical form. This strongly suggests that there must be a dimension to Heaven that makes accommodation for embodied people—that it’s not just an ethereal, non-physical place.
Adding a bit more food for thought is the fact that the Bible describes the Tree of Life (pun intended), first mentioned as being physically present in the earthly Garden of Eden, as now physically existing and producing fruit in Heaven.
Reason also supports the idea of a physical dimension to Heaven. Consider the following illustration:
Let’s say you’ve been invited to have dinner at the mansion of a friend who happens to be incredibly wealthy, with maids and butlers and cooks available at his beckoned call.
On the night of the engagement, as you’re in route, your car suddenly starts to sputter and then comes to an abrupt halt, stranding you nearly a mile from your destination. So you decide to walk the rest of the way.
With just a couple of blocks to go you hear a loud thunder clap, and the next thing you know you’re overtaken by high winds and driving rain.
As you bolt to get out of the torrential downpour, you stumble and take a hard spill on the sidewalk, badly scraping your knee. Moments later you arrive, soaked through to the bone and bleeding. Your host, happy to see you, quickly ushers you in from the storm.
But then your friend does the most bizarre thing. Actually, it’s what he doesn’t do that’s so surprising. Although he sees your terrible condition, and hears your shoes squishing and squeaking as you pass through the foyer, he makes no effort to respond to your obvious needs. No towel with which to dry off is offered, no clothes to replace the ones that are torn and wet, and no bandage is forthcoming for your injured knee. Instead, he invites you directly to the dining room where you spend the rest of the evening in his lovely home over a sumptuous meal, all the while dripping, shivering, and bleeding.
Here’s the point: The expectation most people have of Heaven bears an important similarity to the way the guest was treated by his thoughtless host. For although we anticipate God ushering us into the most amazing accommodations imaginable, most of us don’t expect that He will pay much attention to our physical condition. After all, it won’t just be warm clothing or a bandage for a scraped knee that we’ll be lacking, but our very bodies!
Think about how utterly absurd it would be to finally stand in the presence of the One Who loves you more than any other, of the One Who promises you a perfect Heaven, and to lack anything, let alone your entire body! Such an idea is not only an insult to God, it demeans Heaven itself—as though Heaven would offer us anything less than what we enjoyed on earth.
The possession of a physical body is a critical component of being human. The notion that we would exist in an incomplete state while in the presence of God makes God less, it makes Heaven less, and it makes us less.
Does this make sense to you? I hope so. But I must also humbly admit that just because something makes sense to me doesn’t mean that it is necessarily true. As the Bible reminds us, "’For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,’ declares the LORD” (Isaiah 55:8). That being so, we turn to the Scripture for a final word.
There are actually many passages that assert that there are physical dimensions to Heaven, but none address the issue of our need for a physical body as directly as 2 Corinthians 5:1-5 (NLT), which reads, “For we know that when this earthly tent we live in is taken down (that is, when we die and leave this earthly body), we will have a house in heaven, an eternal body made for us by God himself and not by human hands. We grow weary in our present bodies, and we long to put on our heavenly bodies like new clothing. For we will put on heavenly bodies; we will not be spirits without bodies. While we live in these earthly bodies, we groan and sigh, but it’s not that we want to die and get rid of these bodies that clothe us. Rather, we want to put on our new bodies so that these dying bodies will be swallowed up by life. God himself has prepared us for this, and as a guarantee, he has given us his Holy Spirit.”
Here we have a decisive statement by an Apostle who not only visited Heaven, he came back to tell us “we will not be spirits without bodies.” So, according to these verses, there aren’t just three people with physical bodies in Heaven—rather, every person in Heaven will be made whole and complete