DO WE GO TO HEAVEN IMMEDIATELY
2 Cor. 5: 1-10 (p 818) January 22, 2012
Back in the 90’s…the 1990’s not the 1890’s I spent a lot of time on a place called the Appalachian Trail…It’s a 2300 mile trail through some of the most wooded, hilly, and mountainous places in our country…I’ve done about 250 miles out of the 2300…It starts in Georgia and ends in Main…specifically on Mt. Katahdin the last 12 miles are a mountain climb.
I spent 10 days in 1997 doing the last hundred miles in Maine ending with a 12 mile mountain climb up Katahdin…we backpacked the entire time…we made due with whatever we had, we cooked on a little stove, ate MRE’s (meals ready to eat) and slept in tents…Little tents because every bit of weight you saved was something you didn’t have to carry in your pack…and the difference between 45 pounds and 50 pounds at the end of the day is huge.
I loved those 10 days…I enjoyed the 100 mile wilderness…I saw a moose in the wild…but it was difficult living in a tent…a very small tent…the bugs were bad…it rained hard in Maine…It got cold at night…and one night the wind put my tent in a tree before I could take it down good…it smelled pretty interesting on day 10 also.
When I got back to my house in Lawrenceburg….the one with indoor plumbing, a king sized bed, a wonderful shower and a pantry full of food I knew…I wasn’t designed to live in a tent…
Listen to the Apostle Paul - 2 Cor 5: 1-10 (p 818)
The Apostle Paul compares our lives here on earth to the 10 days I spent living in a tent in Maine.
His entire point is that we as Christian’s are on a journey…we’re trying to get to the Mountain top…we’re trying to get home…
It’s essential every one of us realize.
I RIGHT NOW WE’RE CAMPING OUT IN A TENT
This is true whether we’re Christians or not…this is true regardless of our eternal destination…
Both the child of God and those who have never been born again live in the same earthly body…And regardless of how many trips we make to the gym or the plastic surgeon…it gets old, it wears out..
Paul uses such temporary terms to describe them. There’s no doubt how feeble they are…Jars of clay, Tents, perishable, mortar.
Even if your Raquel Welch who looks amazing at 70, or Jack LaLanne who is his 80’s could do 100 sit ups, or Gary Player who takes such good care of his body he could outwork someone half his age…you will not live forever…100 is pushing it.
[I had a birthday dinner with a wonderful woman named Ada Corn in Lawrenceburg to celebrate her 100th birthday. They had it catered by Morrison’s café a full spread, but Ada didn’t eat anything from the buffet….she had 8 bowls of soft serve ice cream and one of her daughters…(she was 80) told her that wasn’t good for her…and I laughed and said, “come on, what’s it gonna do? Shorten her life?]
Paul talks about our earthly tent being destroyed. He says that at times it feels like we are naked in the cold…and as long as we are camping out in this earthly tent here on earth…we groan and are burdened.
These temporary housings are susceptible to sickness, disease, pain, accidents, and even death… Like you…I’ve had my share of groaning.
[I remember being on the floor with a ruptured disc in my lower back…the spasms wracked my body and took by breath away…I could not sit, walk, or even move…the only thing I could do was groan…longing for relief…hoping the pain would subside…]
Some of you have experienced even worse…cancer, multiple sclerosis. Cystic fibrosis, Cerebral Palsy…horrible heart issues…things that remind you daily of how fragile and temporary this body is…constant reminders that make you groan to be clothed with your heavenly dwelling…dreaming of the day “what is mortal will be swallowed up by life”.
Some of our difficulties will be short lived, some will last the entire journey…I cannot answer the question about why… only God can answer that question…and some will reject God because of this question… The only answer I can give is one I’ve come to understand scripturally and very personally.
“God doesn’t want me to make this world my home and Satan does!” As you remember when Paul got to glimpse “paradise” he was caught up into the 3rd heaven…he didn’t know if it was a physical or spiritual event, but it didn’t matter…he heard and saw “paradise” It motivated him to long for heaven.
But he writes, to keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, these was given me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me.” 2 Cor. 12: 8 says, 3 times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away but he said to me, My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made prefect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
I will share this “Amen” testimony with the Apostle Paul…I love it when everything is good and I’m healthy and happy…when all the bills are paid and my job has no struggles...
But I’ve discovered that it’s when the bottom drops out, and my dreams are shattered, and my body is broken that god becomes my everything…and I’m better with God as my everything than having everything without Him… “When I am weak...He is strong”…and that’s a louder testimony to the world.
So as long as we are in this body we aren’t home, nor has the Lord returned yet…We have to live by faith, not by sight…
After prison, snakebites, stoning, and ship wreck‘s it understandable why Paul says “I prefer to be away from the body, but it home with the Lord...”
So let’s answer the question…When I die do I go to heaven immediately?
II WHEN DO I GET HOME WHERE I BELONG?
One of my favorite songs right after my conversion was a B. J. Thomas song called, “Home Where I belong” it said…
They say that heavens pretty. And living here is too.
But if they said that I would have to choose between the two.
I’d go home, going home, where I belong.
And sometimes when I’m dreaming, it comes as no surprise.
That if you look and see the homesick feeling in my eyes. I’m going home, going home, where I belong.
While I’m here I’ll serve him gladly, and sing him all my songs. I’m here, but not for long.
And when I’m feeling lonely, and when I’m feeling blue.
It’s such a joy to know that I am only passing through.
I’m headed home, going home, where I belong.
And one day I’ll be sleeping, when death knocks on my door. And I’ll awake and find that I’m not homesick anymore.
I’ll be home, going home, where I belong.
2 Cor 5: 1-10 is the Apostle Paul’s Home where I belong Song… Let me share with you…I’m not God (thank goodness) and I cannot answer every question about Heaven, or when certain things happen.
But I do know this…”If I die as a child of God before Jesus return…”My
Spirit will be with Jesus immediately. Verse 8 makes it clear…when we are away from this body we are at home with the Lord. I will share with you the answer to “When we die do we go to heaven immediately is both….Yes and No.
Anyone who dies in Christ before his return…and the redemption of all creation…including God’s children is with Jesus…In Paradise? I believe so. But remember we will not spent eternity…as disembodied spirits… In fact the Holy spirit has been given to us as a deposit guaranteeing what is to come…God made us for this very purpose… (v.5)
What purpose?... To live in a perfect relationship with Him…both in a perfect body with a perfect spirit. Verse 10 in our text reminds us…”For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad”
Regardless of your millionaire viewpoint…(I am on the welcoming committee and thank God, not the planning committee for Jesus return) Revelation chapter 20 records that Jesus will reign on earth for 1000 years, uninterrupted by Satan’s attacks because he is bound and thrown into the Abyss.
At the beginning of this reign of Christ on earth is the 1st resurrections…listen
Rev. 20: 1-6
At the end of that 1000 year reign the 2nd resurrection occurs…please know you want to be a part of that 1st resurrection of the saints… Here’s what happens upon Jesus’ return with those who have died in Christ…here’s what happens as redemption comes to completion.
1 Thess 4: 13-18
“The dead in Christ rise first…but there will be some of us still alive…it does not matter…because whether the bodies we formerly lived in have turned to dust…or whether we still reside in these temporary huts…they will be changed…a reunion takes place for those whom Jesus brings with Him…and an instant transformation for those of us still in these tents. Listen to what Paul told the Corinthians in his first letter to them…its chapter 15
1 Cor 15: 20-26 (p815)
If you want a more in depth understanding about this chapter I’ve got a sermon about it on our website called “How are the Dead Raised, April 17)
But a quick recap… 1 Cor 15: 35-37, 42-44, 50-58 (p 815)
Do you go to heaven immediately upon your death...Well if your lost…like the Rich man in Luke 16 I believe you go to Hades…until the final judgment in Revelations 20 when death and Hades are thrown into Hell along with Satan and His angels and as those whose names aren’t written in the Lambs book of life.
If you have been saved, redeemed by the blood of Jesus…If you have accepted Him as your Savior and Lord, then when you die your spirit goes to be in his presences…until His return and then He brings with him those spirits, the dead in Christ rise first….(their bodies) and even if you’re alive…your bodies are transformed instantly into perfect forever homes….we will be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life.
Folks, Jesus promised his followers in John 14 that He was able to provide security through grief and death…He promised His father’s house had plenty of room…and most importantly he promised he would provide a way for us to get there….
Thomas said, how can we know how to get there? And Jesus said…
“I AM THE WAY TO GET THERE!”
You see our salvation, our hope…. Even when it comes to death and the judgment isn’t about being good enough… or following the right system.
It’s about having a saving relationship with Jesus…right now…and he’ll know you well when you die or He returns.