I grew up in a conservative evangelical home and church. Then I went off to a fundamentalist college. In all my theological training as a youth and college student, I was always told that heaven is my home.
But the more I read the Scripture and pieced together the grand story, the more I saw this was strangely deficient. Yet I started to speak a different message on this topic as my understanding grew. The Jews didn't think this. And the Jews who followed Jesus as Messiah didn't have this view either from what I could find.
On many occasions I would preface the point with, "Now, I know this sounds strange, but hear me out. Don't think I'm a heretic because of what I'm about to say. I just want you to think about it for a moment. If I'm completely off kilter, let me know."
Then I'd share how heaven is not our final home. And to this day, I've not yet had anyone correct me.
How can they? Read Revelation 21. Then, if you're not convinced, read the same promise in Isaiah 65. John, a Messianic Jew with a full understanding of God's promises, linked the Jewish promises with Jesus' promises. Our home is the Kingdom of God and that Kingdom will come on the earth at the end of all things.
Along with that promises is the resurrection of the dead. Death will die.
Humans were made for earth at the beginning and they will be on the earth at the end. And this answers the Sunday School question of "why did God make us on earth if he always intended us to be with him in heaven?" It's a question that pulls back the curtain on our theological inconsistency.
Over the course of a few years, I grew more confident in this, even though I wasn't finding evangelicals talking about it.
It is little wonder that a popular question among teens today is "What's the big deal about heaven?" Because on the common evangelical soul-winning model, heaven is the end-game. And heaven is a disembodied existence. It sounds like bad news, really. Yet the good news is what Jesus told us: Because I live, you will live also. The last chapter of my book, Living with Questions, is dedicated to this very question covering the resurrection, heaven, hell, a New Earth, and the Kingdom of God.
And I'm in good company. N. T. Wright, the preeminent evangelical-Angelical scholar is talking about it now too. His recent article on the matter is found in Christianity today under the title, "Heaven is Not Our Home."