Heaven is both a place and a condition. All space in God’s universe is filled with either material or spiritual substance – there is no vacuum. The space contains places where existing things and beings find localities for their abiding. Heaven has many partitions or spheres and hence many places, all of which are real and substantial. Depending on the soul condition and qualification of each spirit, they are assigned to a realm or spheres and higher realms are impassable to them.
Soul development comes only through the operation of the Holy Spirit which is the vehicle for imparting the Divine Love. Spiritual development comes through the correct working of human moral faculties and purification of the natural love. The perfection of either will lead to one of the heavens.
Overall, there are two heavens in God’s Spirit Universe – Kingdom of God in the Spirit World and the Celestial Kingdom. They basically differ in the way that they are reached, in the type of love that the inhabitants possess, and what kind of beings inhabit each kingdom. Both are places of perfection and substance and consist of several spheres which differ in glory. They are all illuminated by the light of God’s love and mercy and are places of indescribable and humanly unimaginable beauty, love and happiness which pales the description in the book of Revelation into insignificance.
Kingdom of God in the Spirit World
Those in the Kingdom of God in the Spirit World, aka Kingdom of the Perfect Natural Man, have become purified in their natural love and are in harmony with God’s laws and will. Their state is the result of exercising their wills in renouncing evil and sin, and having their thoughts, desires and souls purified and made harmonious in the natural love. The way to this state was taught by Jesus and is contained in the New Testament in the form of moral laws – in a nutshell, to love God and neighbor, and to seek to live and think so as to avoid sin and evil. (The same way of life was taught in the Old Testament by Moses and the prophets.)
Those who have reached the purification experienced by the first parents before their Fall live in the Sixth and highest sphere of the Spirit Kingdom. These individuals enjoy supreme happiness as their restored condition is perfect and fully harmony with God’s will and laws. However, they will continue to be only created beings, having just the image of their Maker. Also, because of their great happiness, they don’t aren’t motivated to seek the higher form of Love, that would enable them to progress to the Celestial Kingdom. Most of those who have ever lived or will yet be born will, after their passing, live in the Kingdom of God in the Spirit World.
The Celestial Kingdom
The Celestial Kingdom is greater and differs from the Kingdom of the Perfect Natural Man in that its inhabitants have had their souls transformed from only the divine image into divine essence and thus they have acquired divine nature (1 Pet. 1:4) and experienced the new birth (John 3:3-7). This is the only way to the Celestial Kingdom and is brought about through the inflowing of the Divine Love into the soul and transforming it. In effect, these individuals have become new creatures (2 Cor. 5:17). Their natural love was changed in all its qualities into the Father’s Divine Love – in other words, the natural love became absorbed by the Divine Love. This Love contains in Itself the divine and with it immortality, which the natural love does not. It transforms an individual from a perfect human (spirit) into an immortal divine angel.
The inflowing of the Divine Love into the soul is the result of earnestly praying for It, which is possible while still in the flesh. It is the teaching that Jesus brought when on earth, but many of his spiritual teachings have not been preserved or been downplayed in the Bible. However, upon closer look, they are interwoven into biblical texts.
Progressing through the Heavens
While the way to these Kingdoms is not the same, in pursuing the way to the Celestial Kingdom, the way to the Kingdom of the Perfect Natural Man must necessarily be followed. In other words, a person who follows the way to the Celestial Kingdom will obey God’s laws and do those things that are necessary to reach the Kingdom in the spirit world. However, pursuing only the way that leads to the Kingdom of the Perfect Natural Man will not enable one to become an inhabitant of the Celestial Kingdom.
In progressing through the spheres of the Spirit Kingdom, where the Sixth Sphere is the highest, the Third Heaven or Third Sphere is the most familiar heaven. It is mentioned in the Bible in the context of the apostle Paul having visited it in or out of the body or in a vision (2 Cor. 12:1-4). This sphere is occupied by those with the Divine Love and those with the development of natural love together with the mind and intellect. The latter do not stay long, but move on to the Fourth Sphere, where they have more opportunities for mind advancement. There is little interaction between the two groups.
In the Third Heaven, there are beautiful homes of splendor and glory. An atmosphere of peace, happiness and love pervades life, with freedom from earthly cares. Rewarding work as well as pleasures of music, art, books, travel, and other leisure pursuits occupy the inhabitants. Spirits can choose to live in cities or beautiful country abodes. All love and worship the Father, and live so as to make their neighbors happy, and develop their souls so that as they increase in the Divine Love, they can progress to the higher spheres.
New Testament Revelations of Jesus of Nazareth, p. 371-72
Angelic Revelations of Divine Truth (PDF version) Volume 1, Chapters 8 and 9
For related articles on this website, see
Heaven is a place as well as a condition of the soul
Kingdom of God
Spheres in the Spirit World
Spheres in the Spirit World – graphic
Photo Credit: Ilona Kuusela