St Luke wrote that Jesus (at some point after He arose from the dead) was parted from his followers and carried off to heaven in a cloud of glory.
This sounds amazing to our modern minds, and you might well ask, but what is heaven, and where is it?
Where is Heaven?
I am convinced that heaven is in another dimension to our world of time and space as we understand it today and that it surrounds us but at the same time is separated from us by a veil. It is a place from where God’s being radiates throughout all time and eternity.
Heaven is a place where all souls departed from this world rest in peace under God’s care and, it is probably a lot closer than most people imagine.
I also believe that eventually, heaven and earth will become one and that we will live there with Jesus in a renewed, and perfect, world and that this has been God’s intention from the beginning of time. This is the hope that we have in Jesus.
The Lord’s Prayer supports this view as it says; thy kingdom come; thy will be done; on earth as it is in heaven.
Fulfilment of Old Testament Prophecies
At the events of Jesus’ Death, Resurrection, and Ascension, the Old Testament holy prophecies were being fulfilled concerning the coming of a Messiah or the King of Kings.
As a result, shortly after Jesus ascended to heaven at the Jewish Feast of the Harvest, (known today by Christians as Pentecost), the holy spirit was released on earth and accepted by those with faith in Jesus. 3,000 people (Jewish) accepted the Holy Spirit that day and it was on that day that the Christian Church was initially formed.
This course of events understandably might sound too much for many to even vaguely comprehend, but Christians accept them in faith without proof.
It might become a little more comprehensible by viewing it as; something divine from earth (the risen Christ) moved to heaven.
Because of this; something divine in heaven (the holy spirit) was able to move to earth.
These two events drew heaven and earth closer and were essential to the birth and development of the early Church because whilst the Holy Spirit had guided and protected various characters in the Old Testament, it did not stay with them permanently.
What Does This Mean for Us Today?
Today because of what happened at Pentecost, Christians are promised that the Holy Spirit will always be with them to guide and protect them as they participate in developing the Church.
The mission of the early Church was to carry the teachings of Jesus to all corners of the world and establish the Church amongst all nations, thereby drawing heaven ever closer to earth as the teachings of Jesus spread around the globe.
Jesus describes the width and length, the height, and depth he foresaw for the worldwide Church reaching out to every nation, race and creed in the Parable of the Mustard Tree.
Since the ascension of Jesus to heaven and the gift of the Holy Spirit, 2000 years ago, the disciples and those who went after them have faithfully taught generation upon generation the gospel truths of Jesus. From the ragtag of followers Jesus had at the time of his Ascension, the Church now has around two and a half billion members worldwide (around a third of the world’s population).
Christians have dedicated their gifts in many ways to glorify Jesus throughout the world and many examples can be seen in Christian art, music, architecture, and literature.
Simply being in a chapel, church or cathedral and gazing upon what has been put in place over the generations can bring us closer to heaven as the veil that divides heaven and earth can become thinner in these moments.
Many also feel closer to God’s presence in nature, I often feel the veil thinning as I wonder at the glory of all creation and the incredible beauty surrounding me as I walk in the countryside.
To become part of the worldwide Church and achieve the great hope Jesus offers of ultimately living in heaven with him is quite simple.
It is to accept and believe that Jesus is who he said he was, the son of God, and endeavour to live our lives according to what Jesus taught his disciples.