A fundamental article of the Christian faith is that the resurrected Christ now dwells in Heaven. We are told that His resurrected body on Earth was physical and that this same, physical Jesus ascended to Heaven, from where He will one day return to Earth. It seems indisputable, then, to say that there is at least one physical body in the present Heaven. If Christ’s body in the intermediate Heaven has physical properties, it stands to reason that others in Heaven could have physical forms as well, even if only temporary ones. If we know there is physical substance in Heaven (namely, Christ’s body), can we not also assume that other references to physical objects in Heaven, including physical forms and clothing, are literal rather than figurative?
Given the consistent physical descriptions of the present Heaven and those who dwell there, it seems possible—though this is certainly debatable—that between our earthly lives and our bodily resurrection God may grant us some temporary physical form that will allow us to function as human beings while in that unnatural state “between bodies” awaiting our bodily resurrection. (To avoid any misunderstanding, I need to emphasize a critical doctrinal point. According to Scripture, we do not receive resurrection bodies immediately after death. Resurrection does not happen one at a time. If we have intermediate forms in the intermediate Heaven, they will not be our true bodies, which we leave behind at death. Continuity is only between our original and our resurrection bodies.)
In an interview with Pastor Todd Wagner, I share more thoughts related to this question.
Randy Alcorn (@randyalcorn) is the author of over sixty books and the founder and director of Eternal Perspective Ministries.