Summary: Jesus is preparing a place for us. But don’t imagine a private room with walls and a door you can lock. There will be no need for locks in Heaven. Think about sharing a big house with all the other Heavenly Family members—more like a bed and breakfast.
In a cemetery in Indiana there’s a tombstone that has an epitaph with the intent to make people prepare for death. It says, “Consider, friend, as you pass by. As you are now, so once was I. As I am now, you soon shall be. So prepare, my friend, to follow me.” Someone scratched another verse on the tombstone that says, “To follow you is not my intent. Until I know which way you went!”
In this message I want you to consider the question, “Have you Confirmed Your Reservation in Heaven?” As I was preparing for this message I googled that phrase and I was surprised to find there is an organization called www.reserveaspotinHeaven.com. I clicked onto their website, and discovered they aren’t religious. There’s nothing about God and the Bible. But they offer you a money-back guarantee that you’ll have a spot in Heaven. How are you going to file a complaint with them if you don’t make it? According to the website for only $14.95 you get a letter confirming your reservation in Heaven. I’m not sure what zip code it comes from. You also get a certificate, suitable for framing, with your name on it, some bogus information about Heaven and an embossed nametag for Heaven. Of course if you want to upgrade, for only $10 more you can get a VIP all access pass for Heaven.
This organization also has a website named “reserveaspotinhell” and they offer the same packages, only for a different destination. Of course, this is a spoof, but I read that thousands of people give these as gag gifts every year. As P.T. Barnum said, “There’s a sucker born every minute.”
I’m not talking about some kind of novelty gift. Heaven is for real. People are more interested in the Bible than ever before. Over the past few weeks, the History Channel has offered a dramatized version of the Bible. Over 13 million Americans tuned in to the first episode—a larger viewership than the main networks. According to the Barna Research Group, one out of four Americans has tuned in to watch the Bible. When it goes into international syndication, it is estimated that over a billion people will view it within the next five years. It just shows that people are hungry for what the Bible says.
Americans are fascinated with Heaven. Just go to any bookstore and you’ll find a section of books on Heaven. Here are three New York Times Best-selling books written by people who claim to have died and gone to Heaven.
90 Minutes in Heaven is a book about a Baptist preacher from Texas, Don Piper. In 1989 Don was driving on a two-lane bridge across Lake Livingston when an 18-wheeler crashed head-on into his Ford Escort. He was pronounced dead at the scene. Ninety minutes later, while another Baptist preacher was praying over him, he resuscitated and started telling about his experience after death.
Heaven is for Real is the story of little Todd Burpo, a pastor’s son from Nebraska. In 2004, when Todd was four years old he underwent emergency surgery and died. After he was resuscitated, he recovered and started talking about Heaven. He claimed to have seen Jesus. He told his dad Jesus had “markers.” When his dad asked him what he meant, Todd pointed to his hands and feet.
To Heaven and Back is written by Dr. Mary Neal, an orthopedic surgeon. In 1999 she drowned while kayaking in a South American river. She claimed to have died and was escorted to Heaven by six or eight spirit beings who loved her and knew her. They led her down a beautiful pathway toward a domed structure, but then with sadness they told her she had to go back to earth because it wasn’t her time to die.
I’m not casting doubt of the experiences of these three people. In fact, Lazarus had been dead four days when Jesus called him back to life. I’m sure he could have written a first-person account of his experience and it would have been a Jerusalem Times bestseller. However, all three of those people, including Lazarus, had what we often call a near-death experience. But a near-death experience could also be called a no-death experience. Lazarus died again, and these three people will die also. None of them were resurrected; they were all resuscitated.
There is only one Man who ever died and was resurrected: Jesus. He died, but He rose from the dead and He is alive forever more. He is the expert on Heaven. It’s fine to read some of those books about Heaven. But the very best book to read about Heaven is this book, the Bible.
John 14:1-6. “‘Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.’ Thomas said to him, ‘Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?’ Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.’”