Summary: The beauty and reality of Heaven
THE END IS NEAR
Part 6, “God With Us!”
Sunday, September 13, 2009
Pastor Brian Matherlee
I heard about a rich man who was determined to take his wealth with him. He told his wife to get all his money together, put it in a sack, and then hang the sack from the rafters in the attic. He said, "When my spirit is caught up to heaven, I’ll grab the sack on my way." Well he eventually died, and the woman raced to the attic, only to find the money still there. She said, "I knew I should’ve put the sack in the basement."
Open up with a Q & A time about heaven.
What I find most interesting about the Biblical account we have just read is that it tells us more specifically of what we won’t have than what heaven will be like. What we have just read is good enough for me—I want to go to that place, don’t you?
What is the Biblical record concerning Heaven?
1. Heaven is a real place
a. Jesus said, “I go to prepare a place for you”.
b. Jesus’ parable of the rich man and Lazarus points to the truth of a physical existence after death.
c. The Bible declares there will be a physical resurrection and that these bodies will not decay. Paul explains this in I Corinthians 15. Physical bodies exist in physical surroundings.
d. The passage we read describes crops & food. We will eat and it won’t be bad for us. We’ll have celebrations and feasting.
e. God makes a new Heaven and a new earth. They physical appearance will be something of what we have known but with no flaws. The Garden of Eden revisited.
f. The most awesome thing is that the new things God creates—the new heaven and earth, the new city of Jerusalem—that God will make His dwelling among us.
2. Heaven is a rejoicing place
a. Revelation 5:11-14, “Then I looked and heard the voice of many angels, numbering thousands upon thousands, and ten thousand times ten thousand. They encircled the throne and the living creatures and the elders. In a loud voice they sang: ‘Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and praise!’ Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them, singing: ‘To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honor and glory and power, for ever and ever!’ The four living creatures said, ‘Amen’, and the elders fell down and worshiped.”
b. If you don’t enjoy rejoicing here…it’s gonna be tough over there. If you like to tell people you don’t like new songs here, what are you going to tell God there? Revelation 5:9 says, “And they sang a new song.”
c. Our rejoicing will come because there will be no sorrow, no separation, no illness, no misunderstandings, no words spoken harshly, no worrying about our physical appearance, no worries about being loved or wanted, no desires unmet (because they are all found and met in Christ).
d. Our rejoicing will be a result of the constant state of learning and growth. It only makes sense that in heaven we will continue to learn more as finite beings about our infinite God and the infinite time we have together will still never change the fact that God is greater and wholly other than what we are.
3. Heaven is a rewarded place
a. Luke 19:12-19—the parable of talents is given in the midst of Jesus’ teaching concerning the kingdom of heaven. We will be judged by what we have done with what we have.
b. Jesus tells us in Matthew 19 about a rich young man who felt like he had followed all the commandments and yet chose riches over following Jesus and having eternal life. Jesus makes a radical statement, (19:23-24) “I tell you the truth, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.”
i. This statement is radical because Jewish teaching held that if you were blessed in this life it was because you were living right. If you were poor, sick or suffering it was for sin.
ii. So if this blessed man couldn’t make it to heaven then who had any hope to make it to heaven?
iii. The other thing to note is that Jesus answers the question they raise, “Who then can be saved?” by declaring, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”