The key to understanding the Christian viewpoint of Heaven is to understand that true Christians trust God implicitly -- we know, through our personal experience with Him and the study of the Bible, that we can trust Him to do what is good and right. That means we trust Him with our death, also.
Here are the Bible verses that best summarize our view of Heaven (taken from John 14:1-6):
Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you.
First, we know that Jesus has prepared a place for us where God the Father dwells. The word mansions was translated from the Greek word mone which refers to a dwelling place, a room, or a home. That means that when our life on this earth is over, we have a definite place to go, a place to belong -- and what safer place is there than where God is?
Secondly, we know that in Heaven we will be with Jesus Christ: "... that where I am, there ye may be also." If Jesus is there, then everything will be all right. He loved us enough to give His life that we could be saved. He was powerful enough to overcome our final enemy, death, when He rose from the dead. We can have confidence that Heaven is a good and truly wonderful place because Jesus is there.
Third, Jesus promises that He will be back to get us. After His death and resurrection, He left our realm for the dwelling place of God, where He sat down at God's right-hand. He promises that He will be back to get us. Let's look at another Scripture that explains how this works (I Thess 4:14 - 18):
But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope.
When Jesus comes back to earth, the dead in Christ will miraculously be reunited with their bodies -- but not decaying, rotting bodies, but new bodies that will go on forever. The dead in Christ will then be the first to arrive in Heaven with these new bodies, which the churches usually refers to as glorified bodies. These bodies, as I mentioned, are meant to last forever. That means that that glorified bodies won't get sick, suffer wear and tear, age, or decay. Sickness and pain will be a thing of the past.
Those Christians who are still alive at this time will be the next group to receive glorified bodies. They will join the others in Heaven ... and will forever be with Jesus Christ.
That gives us another source of hope, too: when our loved ones die and go to heaven, the separation is only temporary. In Heaven, we will be reunited with them.
Lastly, Jesus explained how we can get to Heaven. Thomas, one of His disciples, had asked him, "We don't know where You are going ... how can we ever get there?"
Jesus responded very simply: " I am the Way."
Many time people are offended at how Christians believe that Jesus Christ is the only way to God, but since we believe in the Bible that means we believe Jesus when He said that He is the only true way to God. Other religions may lead us on paths of enlightenment, self-sacrifice, contemplation, power, oneness with nature, or even claim to lead us to God or a higher being, but there is only one path that truly leads to God -- and Jesus Christ is that path.
As Christians, we can face death head on: we acknowledge the separation from our loved ones (often referred metaphorically as sleeping) and we acknowledge the decay and ruin of the human body. We acknowledge something else, though: that our Savior Jesus Christ, Who died for our sins and was resurrected from the dead, was victorious over death and offers to every single one of us the promise of eternal life. If you aren't on the path that leads to heaven, it isn't too late. Call upon Jesus, and He will help you get on the right path.
Brand, C., Draper, C., England, A., Bond, S., Clendenen, E. R., & Butler, T. C. (Eds.). (2003). Mansion. In Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary. Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers.
Sara McCaslin is an engineer, a computer scientist, and a freelance writer.