Summary: Heaven is a place being prepared for us, as well as a place for which we should be preparing.
If there were ever a subject about which we sing more but preach less, it is the subject of heaven. Today, I will begin a special series of
sermons on the subject of heaven that will, hopefully, help correct this.
As a result of this lack of teaching and preaching on the subject of heaven, many people have very unbiblical ideas about heaven.
Gary Larson in one of his “Far Side” cartoons, captures the idea that most people have about heaven which depicts a man with
angel wings and a halo sitting on a cloud, doing nothing, with no one nearby. He has the expression of someone marooned on a
desert island with absolutely nothing to do. He has the look of absolute boredom about him. The caption shows what he is thinking. It reads: “I wish I’d brought a magazine.”
This may not accurately describe the idea of most believers have about heaven, but unfortunately, it is not too far off.
John Eldredge, in his book, The Journey of Desire, speaks of the resulting impact of misunderstanding what awaits us in heaven on the typical Christian: “Nearly every Christian I have spoken with has some idea that eternity is an unending church service . . . We have settled on an image of the never-ending sing-along in the sky, one great hymn after another, forever and ever, amen. And our heart sinks. Forever and ever? That’s it? That’s the Good News? And then we sigh and feel guilty that we are not more ‘spiritual.’ We lose heart, and we turn once more to the present to find what life we can.”
An accurate view of heaven, however, can excite and motivate us as believers. My hope for this series is that we might develop a more
accurate understanding of what awaits us in eternity, so that we might be more motivated to live for Christ with all our hearts today. So, let’s begin today by dealing with the question: “What is heaven?”
1. Heaven is a place being prepared for us.
Twice, Jesus speaks of heaven as being a place He is preparing for us who have believed on Him. Jesus is clear: heaven is a real place and heaven is under construction! You heard me right. God isn’t through yet with heaven, that is, the eternal heaven.
The Bible says that when believers die, we immediately pass into the presence of our Lord. This is what Jesus means when He says that He will “receive us unto Himself.” Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians 5:8 that to be away from the body is to be home with the Lord.
When the child of God dies, he immediately passes into the presence of our Lord and goes to heaven. In heaven today, the child of God enters the presence of Jesus; and in heaven today, the believer dwells in the wonderful city of God, the “New Jerusalem.” In fact, heaven is
described in the Bible as a country with a capital city.
“But they were waiting for a better country - a heavenly country. So God is not ashamed to be called their God. And he has prepared a city for them.” - Hebrews 11:16 (Easy to Read)
God’s plan is for His people to experience more than life through-out eternity as disembodied spirits dwelling in a celestial city. God’s plan is for His children to live a resurrected life in a resurrected body, with the resurrected Christ on a resurrected earth. In fact, Peter says that what the Christian should look forward to is that when eternity is ushered in, there will be a new heaven and a new earth.
“But we are looking forward to the new heavens and new earth he has promised, a world filled with God’s righteousness.” - 2 Peter 3:13 (NLT)
“I saw Heaven and earth new-created. Gone the first Heaven, gone the first earth, gone the sea. I saw Holy Jerusalem, new-created,
descending resplendent out of Heaven, as ready for God as a bride for her husband. I heard a voice thunder from the Throne: ‘Look! Look! God has moved into the neighborhood, making his home with men and women! They’re his people, he’s their God.’” - Revelation 21:1-3 (The Message)
The Bible teaches that now, before the resurrection of the saints which will take place at Christ’s return, when the Child of God dies, they pass into the presence of the Lord to dwell in the “New Jerusalem” in what is an “Intermediate Heaven.”
One day, however, when eternity is ushered in by means of our Lord’s return, there will be a new heaven and a new earth. This earth will be incorporated into the heavenly home of the Child of God, as the “Eternal Heaven” is brought into being.