Heaven

Heaven

 

Heaven is word that means great deal to ever Christian. It is the place that we are looking forward to going someday. We sing about and we wonder about it so I thought this morning we take a closer look at this place called heaven.

 

What is heaven?

 

Lets begin by look at some definition of the word to see if it will help understand the use of heaven in the Bible.

 

Webster 1. the expanse of space that seems to be over the earth like a dome

2. the dwelling place of the Deity and the joyful abode of the blessed dead b : a spiritual state of everlasting communion with God.

 

While these are pretty good definitions we can gain a greater understanding of what heaven is by looking a several scriptures. First of all I want to make it clear that heaven is a literal place and is not myth. In lesson I will increase your understanding of heaven however, we will never be able to learn from the written word exactly what it looks like  and everything it entails. The best place for us to begin is in the book of Revelation starting in 21:9. We need to understand that John does his best to give us a general idea of the wonderful beauty of heaven. However, his description will never do justice to what it really looks when we get to see it for the first time. Let me give you an example by way of a story.

 

Little girl canít see very well, but she can have a surgery at 12 years old to correct the problem. On their way to get surgery mom describes to her the mountain peek outside the hospital. When the bandages came off the daughter could see good for the first time and she began to cry when she saw the peek her mom described and she asked her why didnít you tell me how beautiful that mountain really was. She, told her tried to tell you but I just couldnít. Well this same this is true in what we are about to read as John describes heaven to us.

 

Revelation 21:9 Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls filled with the seven last plagues came to me and talked with me, saying, "Come, I will show you the bride, the Lamb's wife."  10 And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me the great city, the holy  Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God,  11 having the glory of God. Her light was like a most precious stone, like a jasper stone, clear as crystal.  12 Also she had a great and high wall with twelve gates, and twelve angels at the gates, and names written on them, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel:  13 three gates on the east, three gates on the north, three gates on the south, and three gates on the west.  14 Now the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them were the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.  15 And he who talked with me had a gold reed to measure the city, its gates, and its wall.  16 The city is laid out as a square; its length is as great as its breadth. And he measured the city with the reed: twelve thousand furlongs. Its length, breadth, and height are equal.  17 Then he measured its wall: one hundred and forty-four cubits, according to the measure of a man, that is, of an angel.  18 The construction of its wall was of jasper; and the city was pure gold, like clear glass.  19 The foundations of the wall of the city were adorned with all kinds of precious stones: the first foundation was jasper, the second sapphire, the third chalcedony (cal Ėsaid Ė knee), the fourth emerald,  20 the fifth sardonyx, (Sar-don-x) the sixth sardius, the seventh chrysolite, the eighth beryl (bear Ė l), the ninth topaz, the tenth chrysoprase (ChrisĖa-praise), the eleventh jacinth (jase-inth), and the twelfth amethyst.(am-ith-ist)  21 The twelve gates were twelve pearls: each individual gate was of one pearl. And the street of the city was pure gold, like transparent glass.  22 But I saw no temple in it, for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple.  23 The city had no need of the sun or of the moon to shine in it, for the glory of God illuminated it. The Lamb is its light.  24 And the nations of those who are saved shall walk in its light, and the kings of the earth bring their glory and honor into it.  25 Its gates shall not be shut at all by day (there shall be no night there).  26 And they shall bring the glory and the honor of the nations into it.  27 But there shall by no means enter it anything that defiles, or causes an abomination or a lie, but only those who are written in the Lamb's Book of Life.  NKJ Revelation 22:1 And he showed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding from the throne of God and of the Lamb.  2 In the middle of its street, and on either side of the river, was the tree of life, which bore twelve fruits, each treeyielding its fruit every month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.  3 And there shall be no more curse, but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it, and His servants shall serve Him.  4 They shall see His face, and His name shall be on their foreheads.  5 There shall be no night there: They need no lamp nor light of the sun, for the Lord God gives them light. And they shall reign forever and ever.

 

 John has done his best to describe to us what he saw and put it terms that  we can understand. He paint a very beautiful picture of heaven using precious gems stones to try to get us to contemplate the beauty that he was seeing. I personal like how describe the road as being Gold but looking like transparent glass. While we conjure up a picture of what this may look like I think we will all be surprised at how far off our picture was compared to the beauty of the real heaven. We learned from John that there is no darkness there and that the light come from God. John even describes a river that is clear as a  Crystal. Rev. 2:7 tells us that heaven is midst of the paradise of God. I donít know about you but I am looking forward to seeing heaven one day. We should take great comfort from what Jesus says in,

 

John 14:1 "Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me.  2 "In My Father's house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.  3 "And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.  4 "And where I go you know, and the way you know."  5 Thomas said to Him, "Lord, we do not know where You are going, and how can we know the way?"  6 Jesus said to him, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.

 

Jesus had made us a promise that he is off preparing a place in this wonderful place called heaven and when he comes back again he will take us to that beautiful city of  God. So from this we can know that heaven is something we have to look forward to in the future while we live out our life on this earth. Knowing that we have this hope of making it to heaven makes it easier for us to deal with daily grind of life. Paul was a man who longed to be in heaven.

 

Philippians 1:21 For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain.  22 But if I live on in the flesh, this will mean fruit from my labor; yet what I shall choose I cannot tell.  23 For I am hard pressed between the two, having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better.  24 Nevertheless to remain in the flesh is more needful for you.

 

I sure many Christians go through this type of struggle in their life. On one hand they think it would be great to die and go to heaven but on  the other hand they start thinking about all they can still do on the earth to help other people become closer to God. I also like what Paul says in,

 

2 Corinthians 5:1 For we know that if our earthly house, this tent, is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.  2 For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed with our habitation which is from heaven,  3 if indeed, having been clothed, we shall not be found naked.  4 For we who are in this tent groan, being burdened, not because we want to be unclothed, but further clothed, that mortality may be swallowed up by life.  5 Now He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who also has given us the Spirit as a guarantee.  6 So we are always confident, knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord.  7 For we walk by faith, not by sight.  8 We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord.  9 Therefore we make it our aim, whether present or absent, to be well pleasing to Him.

 

Again we see Paul contrasting being with the Lord and  living here on the earth. Heaven is defiantly a wonderful that we want to be but we need to make sure that we donít forget to do our best to encourage others to long after heaven as well. We also learn from Paul in the passage that we just looked at that heaven is eternal and it will never pass away.

 

Now that we have talked about the beauty of heaven and how much Paul wanted to be their lets answer the question,

 

Why we should we be interested in going to heaven? Do we just want to go because itís a beautiful place or because Paul wants to Go? Why wouldnít we just want to stay here on the earth?

 

In regards to these questions lets take a look a  several reason why we want to go to heaven for more than just its beauty.

 

First of what can living here on earth offer us. 1. Nothing is permanent here and when Jesus comes back this earth will be destroyed.

 

2 Peter 3:10  But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up.

 

None of the material possession we have satisfy us for very long because we keep looking for something new to bring up pleasure or comfort. Solomon was a man who had it all and he concluded that was nothing new under the sun.  This life on earth is full of sorry, pain, and death. We have to work and work and work  some more. When you really think about if we all had was our life here on earth it really isnít that grand. But now lets take a look at some scriptures that talk about the wonderful benefits of heaven. Again, we are going to go back to the book of Revelation.

 

Revelation 21:1 Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea.  2 Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.  3 And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, "Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God.  4 "And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away."

 

Wow, John just gave us six different reasons why we should be so interested in going to heaven. 1. He says that God will be there and we can be with him. 2. God will wipe away ever tear. What a comforting thought being in place where do not need to cry. 3. There shall be no more death. Can you image never dieing living forever, well heaven this is a reality because according to Paul in 1Corthians 15 we are given a new body that will not perish. 4. There is no sorrow there. How wonderful would that be nothing to worry about no heartaches only love, joy, peace and happiness. 5. There will be no more crying. Obviously if there is no death or sorrow their will never be a need to cry. Finally, 6 Their shall be no more pain. Again, I say wow, can you imagine being in place where you no longer have to deal with pain. No more headaches , no more diseases no more accidents. These 6 reason by themselves should make ever person desire to go to heaven. Ah, but there is more.

 

Revelation 14: 13 Then I heard a voice from heaven saying to me, "Write: 'Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.' " "Yes," says the Spirit, "that they may rest from their labors, and their works follow them." 

 

When we get to heaven we will also get to rest from our labors and enjoy a direct fellowship with God. Surely, we can see that heaven is the place to be. So far we have just compared heaven and earth. But since the earth will be destroyed when Jesus returns we have one other place we can choose to go and that is hell. It doesnít take very long at to see that hell is place that you donít want to be. Lets look at just a few scriptures that describe what will happen there.

 

First of we need to realize that hell is literal place and it will last forever as well. In Mat 25 Jesus describes who how the Christian and non-Christian will be separated and one will go to heaven and the other hell. But notice what he says in,

 

Matthew 25:46 "And these will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life."

 

Notice hell is described as a place of everlasting punishment. Mark describes hell as place where the worm does  not die and fire is unquenchable Mk. 9:48. John has this to say about hell,

 

Revelation 14:11 "And the smoke of their torment ascends forever and ever; and they have no rest day or night, who worship the beast and his image, and whoever receives the mark of his name."

 

Now if this sounds like the place for you then you must not be playing with a full deck. Hell is place reserved for the devil and his angels and for all of those who choose not to seek after heaven.

 

So, surely can see that we should all be interested in going to heaven.

 

Now that we see that there is only 2 destinations heaven or hell I want to answer the question, How can we make sure that we make it to heaven and avoid the pits of hell?

 

To answer this question lets take a look a several passages that make a contrast between those who will be saved in heaven and those who be lost. Once again let return back to book of Revelation in Chapter 21.

 

Revelation 21:6 And He said to me, "It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give of the fountain of the water of life freely to him who thirsts.  7 "He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be My son.  8 "But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death."

 

First of all notice everyone can obtain heaven if they want it but requires them to overcome the sin of the world and remain pure  before God. However, those who seek to please themselves will find their one way trip to hell.

 

Revelation 22:14 Blessed are those who do His commandments, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter through the gates into the city.  15 But outside are dogs and sorcerers and sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and whoever loves and practices a lie.

John says if want to be blessed, if you want to make it to heaven then you must do his commandments. I love what John says in,

 

1 John 5:3 For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome.

 

Some people think keeping Godís word is just to hard but John is telling us no there not because they are not burdensome. So, this means that  every single person is capable of living their life according to Godís will. Those who choose not to will never be let into heaven. We could look a several more passage that show this same pattern of how those who follow Godís word will make in to heaven and those who do not will find themselves in hell. I think John does a great job of summarizing this point in,

 

2 John 1:9   Whoever transgresses and does not abide in the doctrine of Christ does not have God. He who abides in the doctrine of Christ has both the Father and the Son.

 

So, if want to make to that beautiful place called heaven we must obey Godís commands.

 

Now I have one last thought I want to share with you this morning about heaven. First of I want you to think about who is heaven right now. We know that God is there and the angels are there. However the church also describe as Godís kingdom is not there yet but it will be in the future when Jesus returns.

 

1 Corinthians 15:24 Then comes the end, when He delivers the kingdom to God the Father, when He puts an end to all rule and all authority and power.

 

This is very important for us to understand that if we are not part of Gods kingdom which means belonging to the church then we will not find ourselves in heaven. We can also see this from what Paul says in,

 

Ephesians 5:23 For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body.

 

You see only those that have been added to the church will be saved. Paul makes it very clear that we are not added to the church until we obey the command to be baptized in the name of Christ for the remission of our sins.

 

1 Corinthians 12:13  For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body -- whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free -- and have all been made to drink into one Spirit.

 

In order to make into the one body which Jesus will save and take to heaven you must be baptized. We see this happening at the birth of the church Acts 2. Peter and the other apostles spoke a great message about Jesus death burial and resurrection and it made an impact on the audience that day because they realized they had crucified their Messiah. Lets pick up in verse 36.

 

Acts 2:36 "Therefore let all the house of  Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ."

 

Now watch the crowds response.

  37 Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, "Men and brethren, what shall we do?"

 

They wanted to know what they should do so Peter answer them.

 

 38 Then Peter said to them, "Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.  39 "For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call."  40 And with many other words he testified and exhorted them, saying, "Be saved from this perverse generation."  41 Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them.

 

You see those who gladly received Gods commands were baptized for the remission of their sins and they were added they were added to the church that day and Acts 2:47 tells us that it is God that add us to the church when we choose to be saved.

 

 Acts 2:47  And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.

 

Once we have become a part of the church or Gods kingdom then we must keep pressing to the goal of heaven by remaining faithful to God until the end of our life. When we do this we are promised that heaven will be our home.

 

Revelation 2:10  Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.

 

I hope this lesson has taught you how wonderful a place heaven really is and how important is for a Christian to remain faithful to Lord so that you can see the beautiful city of  God with you own eyes someday. Now, if you are here this morning and you have never become a part of Godís church surely can see from lesson that you must obey Gods command and be baptized for the remission of your sin in order to be saved and make it to heaven otherwise hell will be your destination and I can promise you donít want to go there. EtcÖ.