From the “Bible Facts” Newspaper Column, By Ian Kurylyk, March 2013
"And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise" (Luke 12:43).
The word Gospel means good news. One of the things that makes the news good is the promise of God that those who believe in His Son can look forward to paradise in the next world. We could roughly group the Bible’s teachings about heaven into three areas.
First, we learn that heaven is difficult for us to conceive of who are used to this present world under the curse of sin. “But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him” (I Corinthians 2:9).
Even the Apostle Paul confessed in I Corinthians 13:12 that we see through a glass darkly. And Abraham and the Patriarchs, who had set their eyes upon heaven throughout their earthly pilgrimage, did not have a close-up vision of what awaited them. “These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth” (Hebrews 11:13).
Second, we learn certain facts are discernible enough for anyone to realize the desirability of that destination. “And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away” (Revelation 21:4). “Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore” (Psalm 16:11).
Third, there are some insights into heaven that can only be experienced by those who have received Jesus Christ as personal Lord and Saviour. The Holy Spirit of God is called the “earnest” (which means down payment) of our inheritance in Christ. Through Him the Christian gets foretastes of Heaven and its deepest blessings in his present spiritual life. “In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory” (Ephesians 1:13-14).