Popular depictions of heaven are full of misconceptions. For example, some people wrongly assume it will be boring as people live somberly in the clouds for all eternity. Other people incorrectly think heaven will be an individual’s customized utopia that even includes sinful behavior. The Bible refutes these groundless ideas of what eternal life with God will be like.
Heaven will consist of meaningful activity, social engagement, and worshiping God. In the New Heavens and New Earth, people will work, although not for all of the same reasons they do now. They will serve God, perhaps using their spiritual gifts. People will also contribute to and participate in culture.
What is work like in heaven? Won’t heaven be a place of rest? How will people serve God in heaven? Will heaven have music, sports, and other activities that cultures in the world right now have? Keep reading to learn the answers to these questions and others.
People will work in heaven
Sitting on clouds and strumming harps next to chubby, baby-like angels would be boring. Thankfully, that’s not the Bible’s description of heaven. A self-indulgent afterlife would make people the center of heaven, not God. It also shows contempt for Jesus Christ and his death on the cross.
After the Second Coming of Christ, people will live with God and each other on a New Heavens and New Earth (Isa. 65:17; 2 Pet. 3:13). People will also have new, physical bodies (Rom. 8:23; 1 Cor. 15:37-38). The idea that a person will spend eternity floating on clouds as a ghost-like spirit isn’t biblical.
God created work
Work isn’t an effect of sin. God commissioned Adam to work in the Garden of Eden before sin entered the world. Genesis 2:15 reads, “The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it” (ESV). Adam’s work was a part of his life in a sinless world. His stewardship of the Garden gave him purpose and had practical benefits like cultivating of food and flowers.
Won’t heaven be a place of rest? Work and rest are compatible experiences in the Bible, not enemies. God “worked” for six days and then he rested (Gen. 2:1-3). Similarly, in the Law of Moses, he commanded that people work for six days and then rest (Exod. 20:9-10). In heaven, people will have permanent rest from sin and its effects, yet they will also experience the joy, fulfillment, and results of working.
What kind of work will people do in heaven? Unfortunately, the Bible doesn’t contain a list of jobs that people will have in heaven. However, it’s safe to infer that some occupations like funeral directors, prison wardens, and pediatricians will no longer exist. People who spent their lives in those fields won’t be unemployed in eternity, but they will use their abilities differently (cf. Luke 19:17-19).
Will work in heaven be like work on earth? Work in heaven will have many differences from work on earth. People won’t work for money, titles, material goods, or status. It won’t include selfish ambition for promotion, bosses with anger and control problems, the loss of pensions and health benefits, or layoffs. Work will be transformed in heaven into a sinless activity of God-glorifying fulfillment.
People will serve God in heaven
One “job” everyone will have in heaven is serving God. In a sense, all the work a person does in heaven will be in service to God. In another sense, people will also serve God in more direct ways.
- Revelation 7:15 reads, “Therefore they are before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple; and he who sits on the throne will shelter them with his presence.”
- Revelation 22:3 reads, “No longer will there be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him.”
God gives all believers at least one spiritual gift (1 Cor. 7:7; 12:28-31). It’s unlikely that such gifts will be discarded in heaven. Instead, it’s more likely they will be enhanced. For example, those with the gift of helping others (1 Cor. 12:28) will probably continue in heaven. Likewise, those with the gift of administration (1 Cor. 12:28), may have leadership roles (cf. Luke 19:17-19).
Other spiritual gifts that people may use in heaven include the gifts of teaching (1 Cor. 12:28), exhortation (Rom. 12:8), and acts of service (Rom. 12:7). Other spiritual gifts won’t be a part of heaven, like the gift of discerning between good and evil spirits (1 Cor. 14:29) because Satans and demons will be in hell, and the gift of evangelism (e.g. 2 Tim. 4:5) because no unbelievers will be there.
People will contribute to culture in heaven
Music, dancing, and maybe even sports are examples of the kinds of cultural activities people will contribute to and experience in heaven.
Will people sing in heaven? People will worship God with their voices and with instruments in heaven. John says the redeemed will “sing a new song” with “harps” from God (Rev. 14:2, 15:2). Such descriptions may imply that people who have musical gifts will continue to serve God through leading people in worship.
Will people dance in heaven? Not only do people worship God with singing and music, but they will dance, too. Miriam (Exod. 15:20-21), David (2 Sam. 6:16), and the father of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:25) all danced to worship God and celebrate his work.
In Jeremiah, people respond to God’s love in dance: “I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you. Again I will build you, and you shall be built, O virgin Israel! Again you shall adorn yourself with tambourines and shall go forth in the dance of the merrymakers” (31:4-5).
Will people play sports in heaven? Author Randy Alcorn thinks so. “Sports and our enjoyment of them aren’t a result of the Fall. I have no doubt that sinless people would have invented athletics, with probably more variations than we have today. Sports suit our minds and our bodies. They’re an expression of our God-designed humanity.” 
The possibilities for creative, artistic expressions that glorify God may be endless.
The possibility of better Beethovens in heaven
Christian theologian Anthony Hoekema writes, “In the beginning man was given the so-called cultural mandate—the command to rule over the earth and to develop a God-glorifying culture. Because of man’s fall into sin, that cultural mandate has never been carried out in the way God intended. Only on the new earth will it be perfectly and sinlessly fulfilled. Only then shall we be able to rule the earth properly.”
He continues: “The possibilities that now rise before us boggle the mind. Will there be ‘better Beethoven’ on the new earth, as one author has suggested? Shall we then see better Rembrandts, better Raphaels, better Constables? Shall we read better poetry, better drama, and better prose? Will scientists continue to advance in technological achievement, will geologists continue to dig out the treasures of the earth, and will architects continue to build imposing and attractive structures?” 
 Heaven by Randy Alcorn. p. 411.
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