Summary: How can we be sure there is a heaven, and what will it be like?
After having served for decades in Africa, a missionary couple, Mr. & Mrs. Henry Morrison, were returning to New York to retire. After years of service they had no pension, and their health was failing. They would have to find employment in New York to survive. They were worried and discouraged.
As it happened, they were on the same ship as President Theodore Roosevelt, who was returning from an African hunting expedition. The couple watched the fanfare that accompanied the President and his entourage as the ship docked. A band was waiting to greet the President. The mayor and other dignitaries were assembled in all their finery. But no one even noticed as the missionary couple departed the ship.
“Something is wrong,” the husband muttered. “We’ve given our lives in service to God in Africa and no one cares a thing about us. But this man comes back from a hunting trip, and everybody makes much over him.”
His wife smiled understandingly and gently laid her hand on his shoulder. “But dear,” she said, “you seem to forget. We’re not really home, yet.”
Writing to the Philippian believers, Paul said “our citizenship is in heaven.”
The Philippians understood this picture. Philippi was a Roman colony, a strategic military center, one of many the Romans established throughout the empire. In such places, the citizens were mostly soldiers who had served their time in the service and were rewarded with full citizenship. The common characteristic of such colonies was that, wherever they were, they remained a part of Rome. Roman dress was worn; Roman magistrates governed; the Latin tongue was spoken, and Roman morals were observed.” In a political sense, the Philippians knew what it was to be citizens of a far-off city which many of them had never even seen.
Christians, also, belong to a distant city, a “heavenly city” as Hebrews 13:14 points out. But some may ask, “How can you be sure there is a Heaven?” Well, there’s several reasons:
1. Because the soul has always longed for such a place. The anthropological view notes that, whatever culture you stumble across, whatever time in history, you will find some belief in the afterlife. I don’t believe God would plant in the soul a universal longing like that without making some provision for it.
2. Because the soul has always believed there was such a place. Like the little boy flying his kite and the kite was out of sight, and someone asked him where it was. He pointed up to the sky. They asked him how he knew it was there if he couldn’t see it, and he said, “I know it is there because I can feel it tug.” We can know in a similar way that there is a Heaven, because we can feel the pull of it, the tug of it on our souls.
3. Because God says there is such a place – as Heaven. I’d rather have God’s word about anything than the opinion of all the philosophers and scientists in the world. So, for the next few moments, I want to talk about Heaven, and why each of us should want to go there.
I. Heaven Will Be Ready.
We won’t have to wait in line for St. Peter to open the gate to let us in. There will be no lack of fruit on the Tree of Life. There will be no lack of water cascading through the city. Heaven has been prepared for us from the foundations of the world. It’s ready for our arrival.