Some think there are different phases of God’s reward for the righteous. If you were to ask the people of Borneo about heaven they would point to Kinabalu and say, “Helo, Kinabalu.” Helo means way off over there in the great beyond – Kinabalu where they believe the spirits go.
The Buddhists in Thailand picture heaven as being a series of steps. You must get to the place where you have no desires.
The Hindus have the idea of the transmigration of the soul. At death, according to their belief, a good person goes to a higher form of life whereas a bad person would go into a lower form. A strict Hindu will destroy nothing that lives.
1. Does the Bible speak of more than one heaven?
“I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago — whether in the body I do not know, or whether out of the body I do not know, God knows — such a one was caught up to the third heaven. And I know such a man—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows — how he was caught up into Paradise and heard inexpressible words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter.” 2 Corinthians 12:2-4.
NOTE: Paul is telling of the visions or revelations which God gave to him. The vision of the third heaven was so real and vivid that he didn’t know whether he was transferred there bodily or just in thought. Just because he had been shown a glimpse of the glories of heaven was not the most important thing. Paul did not complain about the hard circumstances of his life. He just kept on realising that there were many things he would have to endure for Jesus Christ.
2. Where is the first heaven?
“And God called the firmament Heaven. So the evening and the morning were the second day …. Then God said, “Let the waters abound with an abundance of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the face of the firmament of the heavens.” Genesis1:8, 20.
NOTE: Read also Jeremiah4:25. “Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth?
Tell Me, if you have understanding….When I made the clouds its garment, and thick darkness its swaddling band.” Job 38:4, 9. The heavens are a very concrete thing. The air above our earth is the first heaven. It is in this heaven the birds fly. The Bible calls it the firmament. 2 Peter3:10-13 speaks of a time when this heaven will be destroyed and made new.
3. What is the second heaven?
“The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament shows His handiwork.” Psalm 19:1
“When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars, which You have ordained, what is man that You are mindful of him, and the son of man that You visit him?” Psalm 8:3, 4
NOTE: The second heaven is where the sun, moon, and stars are.
4. Where is the third heaven?
The third heaven is above the other two heavens. Of Christ, Paul says,“He who descended is also the One who ascended far above all the heavens, that He might fill all things.” Ephesians 4:10. Paul calls the third heaven “paradise” in 2 Corinthians 12:4. Paul did not describe the third heaven because human words are inadequate. Read 1Corinthians 2:9. when the dying thief accepted Christ he was assured of a place in paradise with Christ (Luke 23:43). So paradise or the third heaven is where Jesus is now and it is there to which Christ will take the righteous when He returns. According to Revelation 2:7and Revelation 22:1, 2 paradise is where the tree of life and God’s throne are located. Paradise is where God is.
5. Is Saint Peter in charge of letting people into heaven?
There is no scriptural basis for this assumption. Revelation 21:12 tells of there being twelve gates to God’s city. This text shows that angels are stationed at the gate.
The Bible indicates that someday in the future you can go to heaven. Who will go to heaven? Those who have believed in Jesus Christ. “And having been perfected, He became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him.” Hebrews 5:9. While Paul was awaiting execution in Rome he said, “For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally,there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord,the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing.” 2 Timothy 4:6-8. Be willing to follow Christ. Be willing to make any sacrifice. Someday heaven will be your reward.