The concept of heaven is incredibly difficult for anyone to understand. The Bible offers lots of hope that will one day live forever. The truth of eternity has a lot of implications for how we live our life on Earth. Many Christians have an unbiblical understanding of heaven. Many have given very little thought to the place where we’ll spend eternity.
Your child might have a ton of questions about heaven, and many of them might be difficult/impossible to answer. That’s okay. They might ask very literal questions and you might have to respond, “I’m not sure” frequently. Be authentic as you process this topic with your child.
Share God’s Word with your child as you discuss heaven together. A great place to start is the Bible. Read through God’s own Words about eternity before diving into the various questions your child likely has on the topic. Here are some Bible verses to get you started:
John 3:16 “For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life."
1 Thessonians 4:13-18 "And now, dear brothers and sisters, we want you to know what will happen to the believers who have died so you will not grieve like people who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and was raised to life again, we also believe that when Jesus returns, God will bring back with him the believers who have died. We tell you this directly from the Lord: We who are still living when the Lord returns will not meet him ahead of those who have died. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven with a commanding shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet call of God. First, the believers who have died[c] will rise from their graves. Then, together with them, we who are still alive and remain on the earth will be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. Then we will be with the Lord forever. So encourage each other with these words.
John 14:2 "There is more than enough room in my Father’s home. If this were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you?"
1 Corinthians 2:9 "That is what the Scriptures mean when they say, 'No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him.'”
Revelation 21:4 "He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.”
Psalm 73:26 "My health may fail, and my spirit may grow weak, but God remains the strength of my heart; he is mine forever."
While these answers are brief and the question list is far from exhaustive, use this list of FAQ’s to get the conversation started:
Is heaven a real place? What will it be like? Yes, it’s a real place. Heaven will look like a familiar place (a common misconception is that it will be something “different” than we’re used to). God describes is as a “New Earth” (2 Peter 3:13, Rev. 21:1). It will be like a city (Heb 11, 13) and like a country (Heb 11:16). It’ll be like an upgraded Earth, with better houses, cities, building, and streets.
What will we feel in heaven? Heaven is perfect. It’s a place with no sadness, no hurting, and no sin. The best part about heaven is that fact that Jesus is there. Heaven will be full of joy. Everything good, enjoyable, exciting, and awesome comes from God - and we’ll be right there next to Him!
What will God and Jesus look like? We don’t really know, and we can’t fully understand it. We will see God’s face (Rev. 22:4). God and Jesus will be like a really bright light (John 1:14). We know what God will be like, because we know what Jesus was like. But we don’t fully know exactly what they’ll appear to look like.
What will we look like in heaven? We’ll have a resurrected body that allows us to walk, talk, and eat (Phil. 3, 1 John 3:2, 1 Cor. 15). We won’t be ghosts or spirits, but rather we’ll have physical bodies.
Will we be ourselves? Yes, you will be you in heaven. We will not be angels, or any other type of “spirit”. You’ll still recognize friends and family, and they’ll recognize you, too. When some of the disciples saw Jesus after His resurrection, they recognized Him (John 21:7).
What will we do in heaven? We won’t be bored, that’s for sure. We’ll find our greatest pleasure is in God Himself, and we’ll be in His very presence. We’ll actually get to help God run the universe (Luke 19:11-27). We’ll have responsibilities, set goals, create plans, and share ideas as we do really fun and exciting work. Heaven will be endlessly fascinating.
Will there be animals in heaven? Yes, probably. God made animals part of His perfect, original design (Gen 1:25). Animals, along with all creation, longs for the new creation and redemption (Rom 8:19, 23). In the days of Noah, God’s promise of a renewed Earth after the flood largely involved animals.
Can you know that you’re going to heaven? Yes. If we believe and trust in Jesus, we will go to heaven. 1 John 5:13 says specifically, “so that you may know you’ll have eternal life."
Can those in the present heaven see what’s happening now on Earth? Yes, to some extent. In Revelation 6, 18:20, and 19, we see examples of people in heaven aware of the occurrences on Earth.
Is hell a real place? Yes. Jesus talks more about hell than anyone else (Matt. 10, 13, Mark 9). He talks about hell like it is a real place and he uses descriptive terms.
book: I Can Only Imagine: A Friendship with Jesus Now and Forever by Bart Millard
Article from Focus on the Family: Teaching Kids About Heaven