When people talk about "going" to heaven, I imagine our spirits floating up to some faraway place where we pass through pearly gates into a celestial city perched on clouds aglow with lots of gold paving.
(Spoiler Alert) Where is Heaven?
The sobering reality is that we do not "go" to heaven; we create it.
There is no celestial kingdom for us other than the one we create. Right here. On earth.
Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.
Now, some of you may be pouring ashes into your hair, screaming, "But Tim! You said in your last post that this place is hell. How can this be both hell and heaven?"
(In fairness, I did say the earth will become our heaven in its sanctified state.)
Former Utah Senator Orrin Hatch told Politico his favorite joke:
A man died and went up to the pearly gates and appeared before St. Peter and asked, “Where do I go from here?”
Peter said, “Well, you’re a border line case. You have the choice of either going to heaven or hell. Of course, I know which one you’re going to choose.”
The man responded, “Don’t be so sure, how about telling me the differences between the two.”
Peter said, “Well, Heaven is a land of smooth flowing brooks and streams, green forests, green pastures, and good companionship. Hell is just a vast hot dry desert.”
The man said, “Well, I kind of like the heat.”
Peter escorted the man to the gates of Hell. Peter shook his head, opening the gates, and sighed. “Okay, in you go. You made your choice.”
As the gates opened, the man looked in and his eyes widened. "Wow!" he said, admiring the lush green forests, green pastures, smooth flowing brooklets and streams.
Peter, looking in, exclaimed, "Oh, those damn Mormons! They’ve been irrigating again!”
Heaven on Earth
How is heaven created?
Christ is a Creator. He is the "Creator of heaven and earth" (Jacob 2:5). But he doesn't start from nothing, ex nihilo. He works with what he's got.
Read the following quote, which will be familiar to you, but look at it in the context of how God creates, or organizes, a celestial kingdom:
God Himself had materials to organize the world out of chaos--chaotic matter-- which is element and in which dwells all the glory. Element had an existence from the time He had. The pure principles of element are principles that can never be destroyed. They may be organized and reorganized, but not destroyed. Nothing can be destroyed. They never can have a beginning or an ending; they exist eternally.
("The King Follett Discourse: A Newly Amalgamated Text," by Stan Larson, BYU Studies, 18:2.)
God doesn't go off to some undeveloped corner of the universe and say, "I am going to put up some luxury apartments for the saints, and we'll plant a tree of life over there, and I'd like to have a river here, and this looks like a good spot for the pearly gates . . ."
No, God condescends to earth and makes himself a tabernacle of clay, and says to the rabble he finds lying around: "Let's start with picking up the garbage. And then we can plant some flowers to spruce things up. And, you know, it wouldn't hurt if you all took a shower."
I will comfort Zion, I will comfort all her waste places; and I will make her wilderness like Eden, and her desert like the garden of the Lord. Joy and gladness shall be found therein, thanksgiving and the voice of melody.
(2 Nephi 8:3)
So Christ has a marvelous work to do: he is going to organize a heaven from this existing hell.
The Law of Zion
Heaven is created when a group of people choose to live Christ's celestial law.
His law is the blueprint for creating the celestial kingdom here on earth.
This is the labor Christ invites us to join in as co-creators. But look carefully at our different roles:
Wherefore, go to, and call servants, that we may labor diligently with our might in the vineyard, that we may prepare the way, that I may bring forth again the natural fruit, which natural fruit is good and the most precious above all other fruit.
Wherefore, let us go to and labor with our might this last time, for behold the end draweth nigh, and this is for the last time that I shall prune my vineyard.
And thus they labored, with all diligence, according to the commandments of the Lord of the vineyard, even until the bad had been cast away out of the vineyard, and the Lord had preserved unto himself that the trees had become again the natural fruit; and they became like unto one body; and the fruits were equal.