Matthew 5:12 (NIV) states
Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
Suppose I have a gift for my daughter and I tell her “Happy birthday! I have a gift for you in the dining room”. Then I may mean that she should go to the dining room to receive it. Or I may mean that I am going to the dining room to get it and bring it back for her.
Similarly, there are two possible ways that our reward can be in heaven.
- The righteous can go to heaven to obtain it.
- The reward comes from heaven to the righteous (here on earth).
The second of these is true. This is made clear in the following passages:
- The reward is “kept in heaven” (1 Peter 1:4). “And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away.” (1 Peter 5:4).
- “For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what he has done.” (Matthew 16:27).
See also 1 John 5:11. cf. Colossians 3:2-4 and Revelation 22:12
Read Heaven and hell for more information on this topic.