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Sunday, July 9, 2017 pm                           

SOME THOUGHTS ABOUT HEAVEN

     As Christians, there are things we are called upon to give up in this life and at times we may even face troubles because of our convictions. When you study your Bible, you learn that we are to be different from the world, even when that does bring about these things.  So why do we do it?  There is the desire to please God (glorify Him as we noted this morning).  And most of us have a desire to make the world around us just a little bit better.  But one of the reasons we live the life of a Christian is because we anticipate an eternal reward in heaven when this life is over. 

     From time to time, as we grow weary, we need to remind ourselves of the end goal.  Paul in Philippians 3:7-21 addressed this by noting: 1) He did these things so that he might gain Christ (8); 2) That he might obtain to the resurrection of the dead (11); 3) He pressed toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus (14); 4) For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.

     Because this subject deals with the spiritual realm and the other side of our life, there is much speculation and great discussion about our eternal destinies.  But we are not completely blind about this.  The Bible does give us some insight into this subject.  We are simply going to notice what it says.   

NOTE: This is a subject to consider when studying with others about salvation, as it has a bearing on their eternal destiny (so does a study of hell). 

 I.                     Heaven is Real

a.       Not a place made up by preachers to increase membership or give false hope. 

b.       It is of the spiritual realm.  John 18:36 Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world”.  In John 14:1-3 – He spoke of going to prepare a place.

c.        Hebrews 11:10, 16 – Abraham waited for a city which has foundations.  It is described as a better, a heavenly country.

d.       1 Peter 1:3-5 describes it as an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away

e.       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.                   How is heaven described?

a.       A better place – 2 Peter 3:13 speaks of how we look for new heavens and a new earth – a new place, which is clearly better than where we are right now.  How is it better?  Consider some of the other descriptions of heaven.

b.       A place of rest – 2 Thessalonians 1:7 – as God deals with the ungodly, he “will give you who are troubled rest.”
Revelation 14:13 – they may rest from their labors…
Hebrews 4:9-11 speaks of there remaining a rest for the people of God. 
The life of a Christian is one of toil as we have noted.  But in the end, our reward will be rest.  This is an assuring thought and one of those of those descriptions of heaven that is appealing to me.

c.        A place of joy and gladness – everything we read about heaven describes it as a place of joy.  Matthew 25:21, 23 – enter into the joy of your Lord
1 Peter 4:13 in addressing our suffering in this life for Him, Peter notes that we rejoice with joy that when His glory is reveled, we may be glad with exceeding joy. 

d.       Nothing unpleasant will be there – hardly a day goes by that we don’t hear about and/or experience unpleasantness in this life.  We experience pains, troubles and difficulties.  We constantly hear about the evil that is abounding around us more and more – crime, wars, corruption, greed, selfishness, immorality, etc.   In heaven we read of a place where these are not concerns.
Revelation 21:4, 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.”
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 7:16-17, They shall neither hunger anymore nor thirst anymore; the sun shall not strike them, nor any heat; for the Lamb who is in the midst of the throne will shepherd them and lead them to living fountains of waters. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”

e.       The place where our real treasure is – Matthew 6:19-21.  Jesus calls for us to lay up treasures for ourselves in heaven.  Obviously, this is not silver and gold, but that which is meaningful.  In heaven we will be rewarded.    Consider what the Bible says about our rewards:
Revelation 22:12, And behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to every one according to his work.
Hebrews 11:26 – Moses gave up what he did because he looked to the reward.
Colossians 3:24 when we do what we do heartily, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ.

f.         We will be serving God day and night – Revelation 7:15, 22:3.  We don’t know everything we will be doing in heaven. We will be worshipping God (as is so often a part of the descriptions of heaven and the throne of God -cf. Revelation 4-5, 7:9-12, etc. ) and serving Him day and night.  Whatever this involves, it will be not be unpleasant as is often the case in this life.

g.       Indescribable beauty
In 2 Corinthians 12:4, Paul was caught us to “Paradise.”  The Greek word is descriptive of a garden or a park.  In this world, some of the most beautiful places are a part of nature God has provided for us.  I know I enjoy the outdoors and hiking.  When I think of these places, I realize they are but a glimpse of the beauty of heaven. Jesus told the penitent thief he would be with Him in Paradise (Luke 23:43). 
Revelation 2:7 tells us the tree of life is in the midst of the Paradise of God.
We sometimes sing songs like “How Beautiful Heaven Must Be” and “Alone at Eve”.  There is a reason so many of our songs are about heaven.  To remind us of what we look forward to.
I am also reminded of the picture of the New Jerusalem described as coming down out of heaven in Revelation 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 this is likely descripting of the Kingdom of Heaven that we are part of even now, it comes out of heaven and thus describes the quality of that which is there.

h.       It is eternal – Matthew 25:46, 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.
Man in this life is constantly seeking for ways to live just a little longer and to restore our youth and vitality.  Heaven is the TRUE “fountain of youth”, as we will live there forever.

 III.                 Who will be there?

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, Mark 16:19)

b.       Righteous “heroes” of faith – Hebrews 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 – Matthew 7:21 – he who does the will of My Father.

d.       Those who are faithful until death – Revelation 14:13 – those who die in the Lord.
Hebrews 12:23 – souls made perfect
Revelation 2:10 speaks of those who are faithful unto death
Romans 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.
Matthew 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)

 

Truly, heaven is described as a reward that we should be willing to give up ANYTHING to obtain.  And that is the exact point Jesus made in the parable of the hidden treasure and the pearl of great price (Matthew 13:44-46).  If our desire is not to do everything God calls upon us to do in this life, we probably do not have a good enough grasp of what heaven will be like.  Maybe we need to think a little more about heaven and do what we can to make it there AND to take with us as many as we possibly can.  As a preacher once said, “If you miss heaven, you miss all there it.”  So what about you?  Are you ready to go to heaven?