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Sunday, December 21, 2014 am                        Basics Index

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The End Times
What Does the Bible Say About Heaven?

 As we address the end times this month, we have established both the 2nd coming of Jesus and the judgment.  Today we begin discussing the dwelling place of the judged.  Today we want to talk about heaven, the dwelling place of the righteous.  Next week we will address the dwelling place of the wicked – hell.

As with every other aspect of the end times there is great discussion and speculation about our eternal destinies.  Part of the reason for this is that it is unknown.  Furthermore, it deals with our eternal destiny and this is reason to give consideration to it.  Is there something beyond this life? Is it affected by the way we live our lives?  Is there reward for living a life of sacrifice and thinking of others instead of ourselves?  If we live wicked and rebellious lives is there accountability? These and other questions are related to where we will spend eternity.

In this lesson we want to notice some things the Bible says about heaven.  There are many questions we could address, some of which we will not know for sure until we get there.  But one thing is clear – when you study the Bible you find is described as the place where you want to spend eternity (especially in contrast to the destiny of those who fail to make it there – next week).  So let’s get started.

 I.                    Heaven is a Real Place

a.        It is of a different realm – spiritual. 
Jesus told Pilate, “My kingdom is not of this world.” ( John 18:36).  This is the place He went to prepare a place for His disciples. (John 14:1-3)
Heb. 9:11, 24.  Speaks of Christ coming as our High Priest with the tabernacle not made with hands, “not of this creation.”  Vs. 24 says, “For Christ has not entered the holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us;

b.       But it is still very real.

                                                   i.      IT has foundations (Heb. 11:10, 16)

                                                  ii.      Jesus spoke of going to a place – His Father’s house where there are many mansions.  Jesus said, “I go to prepare a place for you.”  and coming again- John 14:3

c.        1 Peter 1:3–5, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.

d.       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.

 II.                  What will it be like?

a.        It is going to be different from this world as seen above. 

b.       A place of indescribable beauty – in this world, some of the most beautiful places (at least to me) are found in nature.  I love the outdoors and the beauty of the unaltered hand of God.  In such places, I think of how beautiful heaven must be.  I think of how it is described are but a glimpse of its actual glory. We sing about this in songs like, “How beautiful heaven must be” and “Alone at Eve”.
In 2 Cor. 12:4 – Paul described being caught up to “Paradise.”   It is actually a transliteration of the Greek word and had reference to an enclosed garden or what we might describe as a park.  The word is found here and in Rev. 2:7 where it refers to him who overcomes and is where the tree of life is round AND Luke 24:43 where Jesus said the penitent thief would be with Him that day.
In Rev. 21-22 John speaks of seeing a new heaven and a new earth and then he sees “the holy city, the New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride for her husband.” 
He proceeds to describe that city in Rev. 21:10-22:5.  It is described as measured, being built with all sorts of precious jewels. 
  Vs. 21 speaks its streets are of pure gold
 Vs. 22-23 describe God as its source of light and its temple.  There will be no night there.  IT will be eternal “daylight”.
 Vs. 23-26 – describes how the nations will bring glory and honor to God and the Lamb into it.
 Vs. 27 – nothing that defiles will be there, but only the saved!
 22:1 describes a river of water proceeding from the throne of God and the Lamb. 
 Vs. 2, the tree of life is there.
 Vs. 5 concludes, “And they shall reign forever and ever.”
NOTE: While I believe ultimately this is a picture of the kingdom of God victorious over the enemies of the book of Revelation, it is also descriptive of the quality of heaven, because that is where this New Jerusalem came from.  (21:10)
HOW Beautiful Heaven must be!

c.        A place of rest – Rev. 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.”

Heb. 4:9-11.  I see this to be one of the greater appeals of heaven.   I think of one who works hard and comes home and sits in his lounger able to finally relax for a few minutes.  OR the TRUE vacation where one can let his mind forget about all the troubles he deals with.  In this life we struggle and work to the point of exhaustion.  Often there is disappointment or uncertainty as to the results.  But in heaven we will finally rest.  Those cares and troubles will be gone.

d.       Nothing evil or unpleasant will be there -– in addition to the struggles of life, we face all sorts of troubles in this life.   We are told about heaven that it is a place with no sickness, sorrows, death. 
Revelation 21:4 says, “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.”
Rev. 21:27 reminds us, “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.”
Revelation 22:3 says, “there shall be no more curse” there.  The curse of sin on this world will not be in heaven. 
We will have no enemies, they will be elsewhere (cf. 2 Thess. 1: 6-10, Rev. 21:8, 1 Cor. 6:9-10, etc.)  We will discuss this next week.

e.       A place of joy and gladness – considering the descriptions we already see, we know it is a place of rejoicing.  But also consider these scriptures
Matthew 25:21, 23 – the faithful servants will be told, “Enter into the joy of your Lord.”
1 Peter 4:13 in addressing our suffering in this life for his cause, Peter says, “but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy.
1 Peter 1:6-9 describes that grief of trials but notes that in the end, “whom having not seen you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, receiving the end of your faith—the salvation of your souls.” (1 Peter 1:8–9)

Everything we read about heaven points toward there being great joy.

f.          2 Peter 3: 13 – a new heaven and new earth.  I am convinced this is about heaven.  We will be in a place that is NEW. IT will be BETTER. Unlike anything in this world.  There will be no worrying about bills, no accidents, hospitals, no weather disasters, wars, political parties, etc.   

g.        It is eternal – Matt. 25:46, 2 Cor. 5:1 says, “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.
Paul said when this world is over the righteous will be caught up in the air to be with the Lord forever.(1 Thess. 4:17).

 III.                What will we be like?

a.        We will be changed.  1 Cor. 15:50-54 tells us we will put on an incorruptible and immortal body.
We will see Jesus as He is – 1 John 3:2-3 tells us that when Jesus is revealed we shall see Him as He is and be like Him.
Beyond that we don’t know.  We just know it is going to be a glorious body.  2 Cor. 5:1-5 talks about how our new tent will be better.  Some of what we have discussed thus far verifies this.

b.       We will worship God – throughout scripture we find heaven is a place where God is praised and worshipped.  One passage is Rev. 4-5  where we find the throne of God.  In both chapters we find worship – 4:8-11, living creatures and 24 elders worship Him.  IN 5:8-14 describes not only these, but thousands of angels and “every creature which is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth…”(5:13) praising Him.  Vs. 14 reads, “Then the four living creatures said, “Amen!” And the twenty-four elders fell down and worshiped Him who lives forever and ever.
Again, in Rev. 7:9-17 records multitudes of the righteous before God’s throne praising Him.

c.        We will serve God – while we may not fully comprehend what we will be doing, we will be serving God.  Rev. 7:15. “Therefore they are before the throne of God, and serve Him day and night in His temple. And He who sits on the throne will dwell among them.

Rev. 22:3 in describing the throne of God it says “His servants shall serve Him.”
Again, we may not fully understand this, but we can be assured that it will be pleasant.

d.       Will we recognize each other?  I have my beliefs, (I think we will – and I believe there are clues that point toward this) but we cannot know for sure (some would say that if we recognize each other then there will be disappointment for loved ones who did not make it there) .

 

 IV.                Who will be in heaven?

a.        The Godhead – as we have seen in this lesson, God will be there – along with Jesus and the Holy Spirit
Psalm 11:4 says, “The LORD is in His holy temple, the LORD’S throne is in heaven.”
Isaiah 66:1 says, “Heaven is MY throne and the earth is My footstool…””
Jesus is seated at His right hand! (John 14:1-3, Matt. 16:19

b.       Righteous “heroes” of faith – Heb. 11 describes many OT godly men and women who died and had hope of a better city.  Moses and Elijah and Enoch are there.
We can know that Paul and Peter and other godly characters in the New Testament are in heaven.
Are not such, men who we would want to spend eternity with?

c.        Those who obey the gospel – Matt. 7:21 – he who does the will of My Father.

d.       Those who are faithful until death – Rev. 14:13 – those who die in the Lord.
Heb. 12:23 – souls made perfect
Rev. 2:10 speaks of those who are faithful unto death
Rom 2:7  speaks of those who by patience continuance in doing good seek for glory, honor and immortality.”
Mark 13:13 says that he who endures to the end will be saved.
Matt 25:34-40, 46  speaks of those who cared for His sheep in various ways will enjoy “the kingdom of heaven prepared for you from the foundation of the world.” (vs. 34)

 

The point is that heaven is where the saved will spend eternity.  As I conclude I want us to consider 1 Corinthians 2:9 says, “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, Nor have entered into the heart of man The things which God has prepared for those who love Him.”  I once heard a preacher say, “If you miss heaven, you miss all there is.”  Let us live this life so that in the next life we can live with Him and faithful – past, present and future.