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BIBLICAL FACTS ABOUT A PLACE CALLED HEAVEN
Intro: Ill. D.L. Moody said, “The thought of Heaven has cheered the soul of many believers. Some say that we are fools to believe in Heaven. But, to deny Heaven is to deny Jesus, for He came from Heaven, it is to place our departed loved ones in the cold dark grave, it is to deprive millions of Christians of the greatest hope they have. To deny Heaven is equal to murder for it kills hope, to thievery for it robs joy, to slander because it calls God a liar.” Today, I would like to state for the record that I believe in heaven! In fact, you can get the net if you want to, but I am sure that I will live there one of these days!
We live in a world that does not offer the child of God much hope or encouragement. With sin, crime and ungodliness abounding everywhere, it is easy to become discouraged, disillusioned and disappointed. That is why it is important for us to remember where we are going! Ill. An American tourist visited the 19th century Polish rabbi, Hofetz Chaim. He was astonished to see that the rabbi's home was only a simple room filled with books, plus a table and a bench, the tourist asked, "Rabbi, where is your furniture?" "Where is yours?" replied the rabbi. "Mine?" asked the puzzled American. "But I'm a visitor here. I'm only passing through." "So am I," said Hofetz Chaim. Allow me to remind you that this world is not our home and that we are just passing through, Phil. 3:20; 1 Pet. 2:11.
That is why I would like for us to take a few minutes to look at the biblical facts surrounding a place called Heaven. I will say up front that I don’t know half as much about heaven as I would like to, but I surely don’t know as much as I will when I get there some day! As we take a few minutes this evening to look at some familiar facts about Heaven, let me just encourage you to learn to rejoice in what God has prepared for you and for all who will believe. There may not be a whole lot to get excited about down here, but there is plenty waiting on the other side!
I. v.3 THE PLACE CALLED HEAVEN
A. A Prepared Place - (Ill. Oriental Custom of the bridegroom going to prepare a place for His bride.) (Ill. Heaven is a place made by Jesus just for His bride the church.) (Ill. The description and dimensions of that city - Rev. 21:1-22:4.)
B. A Populated Place - Heaven wasn’t built joust to be the habitation of God. He built the city so that those saved by grace might spend eternity with Him there
C. A Perpetual Place - Ps.145:13 (Ill. The Light of that city will never dim nor go out! The glories of that city will never fade away. These homes we live in down here rot, rust and ruin, but Heaven will abide unchanged throughout the endless ages!)
D. A Perfect Place - Rev. 21:27 - (Ill. Christ's Perfection. To think of Jesus preparing anything that is less than perfect is unthinkable!) (Ill. A little girl was taking an evening walk with her father. Wonderingly, she looked up at the stars and exclaimed; "Oh, Daddy, if the wrong side of heaven is so beautiful, what must the right side be!")
1. Perfect existence - Rev.21:4 - Ill. The trials here!
2. Perfect Peace - Rom 14:17 - Ill. No disturbances allowed!
3. Perfect Joy - Rev 7:17 - Ill. Tears and all their causes banished forever! (Ill. God is good here! But, just wait until you get there! Ill. A widely respected man known as "Uncle Johnson" died in Michigan at the incredible age of 120. Perhaps his advanced years could be credited in part to the cheerful outlook that characterized his life. One day while at work in his garden, he was singing songs of praise to God. His pastor, who was passing by, looked over the fence and called, "Uncle Johnson, you seem very happy today." "Yes, I was just thinking," said the old man. "Thinking about what?" questioned his pastor. "Oh, I was just thinking that if the crumbs of joy that fall from the Master's table in this world are so good, what will the great loaf in glory be like! I tell you, sir, there will be enough for everyone and some to spare up there.")
4. Perfect Service - Rev 21:3 -Ill. Nothing to hinder our labors for Him!
II. v.3b THE PEOPLE IN HEAVEN
A. A Redeemed People - (Ill. Talking to disciples) (John 3:3) (Ill. Only those washed in the blood of the Lamb are worthy to enter that city!)
B. A Righteous People - (Rev.21:27; Rev. 22:15) (Rom.4:24) (Ill. Not righteous by their own efforts, but made righteous through His free grace - Phil 3:4-11.)
C. A Rejoicing People - (Rev. 4:6-11; Rev.5:9-14) (Ill. Family safe at home) (Il. Heavenly reunions - 1Thes.4:13-17) (Ill. Going to see Jesus - Rev.22:4) (Ill. enjoying Heaven's blessings - Ill. Phil. 1:21 - What gains?)
1. Presence of Christ - 1 Thes. 4:17; John 14:3 (Ill. All our feeble efforts to describe that city. They all fall miserably short of what that city will truly be like. However, I still want to go there. Don’t you? Ill. “There is a story told of a dying man who asked his Christian doctor to tell him something about the place to which he was going. As the doctor fumbled for a reply, he heard a scratching at the door, and he had his answer. "Do you hear that?" he asked his patient. "It's my dog. I left him downstairs, but he has grown impatient, and has come up and hears my voice. He has no notion what is inside this door, but he knows that I am here. Isn't it the same with you? You don't know what lies beyond the Door, but you know that your Master is there.")
2. Loved Ones - 1 Thes. 4:17 - Ill. “We” (Ill. An unknown author once said, "As a boy, I thought of heaven as a city with domes, spires, and beautiful streets, inhabited by angels. By and by my little brother died, and I thought of heaven much as before, but with one inhabitant that I knew. Then another died, and then some of my acquaintances, so in time I began to think of heaven as containing several people that I knew. But it was not until one of my own little children died that I began to think I had treasure in heaven myself. Afterward another went, and yet another. By that time I had so many acquaintances and children in heaven that I no more thought of it as a city merely with streets of gold but as a place full of inhabitants. Now there are so many loved ones there I sometimes think I know more people in heaven than I do on earth.")
3. Holy and Sinless - Rev. 21:27; 1 Cor. 15:42-57
4. Burdens lifted - Rev. 21:4
5. Rest - Job 3:17; Heb. 4:9;
6. Rewards - Rev. 22:12; 1 Cor. 3:11-15
(Ill. No wonder Heaven is always portrayed as a place of joy, happiness and excitement! There will be much to praise the Lord for over there!)
III.v.4-6 THE PATH TO HEAVEN
A. It Is An Obvious Path - (Ill.v.6) Acts 4:12 - Only those who walk this path will enter the gates of that city! Ill. “Someone has very well said: "At three things I shall wonder in heaven: first, that I shall not find many there of whom I was certain; second, that I shall find many there whom I was sure I wouldn't find; but lastly, and most wonderful of all, that I am actually there myself."
B. It Is An Open Path - Matt.28:11; Rev 22:17; Acts 16:31 (Ill. When a person meets Jesus, the Lord has a way of bringing heaven into a home! Ill. “One Sunday morning a faithful Sunday school teacher was teaching her class of boys about heaven. She asked the question, "Where is heaven?" And one happy boy replied, "It's in our home since my daddy became a Christian."”
Conc: A woman was diagnosed with a terminal illness and had been given three months to live. As she was getting her things in order, she contacted her pastor and asked him to come to her house to discuss some of her final wishes.
She told him which songs she wanted sung at her funeral service, what Scriptures she would like read, and what outfit she wanted to be buried in. She requested to be buried with her favorite Bible.
As the pastor prepared to leave, the woman suddenly remembered something else. "There's one more thing," she said excitedly.
"What's that?" said the pastor.
"This is important," the woman said. "I want to be buried with a fork in my right hand."
The pastor stood looking at the woman, not knowing quite what to say.
The woman explained. "In all my years of attending church socials and potluck dinners, when the dishes of the main course were being cleared, someone would inevitably lean over and say, 'Keep your fork.' It was my favorite part of the meal because I knew something better was coming—like velvety chocolate cake or deep-dish apple pie.
"So, when people see me in that casket with a fork in my hand and they ask, 'What's with the fork?' I want you to tell them: 'Keep your fork. The best is yet to come!' "
I have said has merely scratched the surface of what Heaven is like. It
will be far more wonderful that you or can could ever imagine. That is
why you need to keep your fork, the best is truly coming in the future!!