our A: Yes, there really is a heaven.
What most people call "heaven" is actually an eternal city which the Bible calls the "new Jerusalem."1 It will be spectacular. As a sampling, here is what heaven will look like.
A river, clear as crystal, will flow from the throne of God and of the Lamb [Jesus] down the middle of the city. On each side of the river there will be a tree of life, yielding twelve kinds of fruit every month. The streets will be pure gold, like transparent glass. The walls of the city will be adorned with every kind of jewel, emerald, onyx, amethyst, topaz, etc. There will be no need for a sun or moon, and no need for a temple or church. The presence of the Lord will be its light.2
However, the real beauty of heaven is this:
"Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away...I am making everything new."3
Heaven belongs to Jesus. He created it. "For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible...all things were created through him and for him."4
Though Jesus initially came to the earth as a Savior, he will one day sit as Judge. All people will experience a bodily resurrection from the dead, and all will appear before the judgment seat of Christ.5
So it might be helpful to see what Jesus said about how a person gets to heaven.
Many people think it's by living a commendable life, or at least trying to avoid extreme sins like murder.
Yet here's what Jesus said about getting to heaven. "...unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven." The scribes and Pharisees were the admired religious models. They were the good people, the "holy" people!
Jesus reaffirmed what the prophet Isaish said. No one is deserving of heaven. No one is good enough. That's not how we get to heaven. It is why Jesus came...so that we could have eternal life.
And here is how. Heaven is given to all who will believe in Jesus. "everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him."6
When we begin a relationship with Jesus, it is a relationship that lasts eternally. Our names are written in his book of life. Jesus said, "whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life."7
Regarding heaven, it's our decision now whether to respond to Jesus and accept his gift of eternal life.
Jesus said, "For my Father's will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day."8
We're told in Scripture that in heaven there will be a multitude of people from every tribe, language, people and nation who will have eternal life because of their faith in Jesus.
What does it mean to believe in him?
It does not mean merely believing things about Jesus. There is a difference between your believing that Barack Obama was president of the United States in 2013, versus knowing him personally. In the same way, you might believe Jesus is God, without ever having him in your life.
Here is how you can believe in him and be sure that you have eternal life. Please see Beyond Blind Faith.
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|►||How to know God...|
(1) Revelation 21:2
(2) Revelation 21 and 22
(3) Revelation 21:3-5
(4) Colossians 1:16
(5) Revelation 20:11-13
(6) John 3:16,17
(7) John 5:24
(8) John 6:40