Summary: Nine reasons why we should want to go to heaven.
“Headed for Heaven”
Text: 1 Peter 1:3-9
As we focus on our theme this year, our goal is to be the type of Christian who is pleasing to Christ and not one who makes Him sick. But, if we continue reading the Lord’s message to the church at Laodicea, we read these words in Revelation 3:21 – To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne. My friends, that’s a promise of living in heaven with Christ. And, the book of Revelation gives us glimpses of what our eternal home will look like. The Drifters recorded a song toward the end of 1962 and became a hit early the next year. It was entitled “Up on the Roof”. But the words may reflect our sentiments from time to time:
When this old world starts getting me down,
And people are just too much for me to face—
I might as well give you another line because we older folks are going to be singing and humming this song all afternoon.
When this old world starts getting me down
And people are just too much for me to face
I climb way up to the top of the stairs
And all my cares just drift right into space
On the roof, it’s peaceful as can be
And there the world below can’t bother me
This old sinful world can certainly get us down and divert our attention and energies from what they should be directed toward. This is when we need to focus on the goal. All of us here this morning should be “Headed for Heaven” – and, if you’re not, I pray something from God’s word in the next few minutes will cause you to change course and get you headed in the right direction. I hope you’ll open your Bibles as we study some things about heaven. As always, I encourage you to search your Bibles every day this week to make sure I’ve told you the truth.
This month’s issue of Think magazine featured this cover and headline: “Is Heaven Real?” On the inside was an article – “10 Truths You Can Know About Heaven.” I didn’t copy the author’s ideas but I do want us to look at nine beautiful things we can look forward to about heaven. Many of us like to go to the beach or some other vacation spot but, the older I get, the less I like the travel time. Gail and I like to go to Chattanooga because it’s not that far away. But, Gail doesn’t like to go over Monteagle Mountain. However, I know what makes it tolerable for her – to think about the destination and what we’re going to do while we’re there. Folks, that’s the way life should be. Sometimes it gets tough along the way but thinking about our final destination – heaven – makes it tolerable. So what is heaven going to be like? First, we will be in the presence of God forever. Many passages point out that heaven is the dwelling place of God such as 1 Kings 8:30. In the Sermon on the Mount recorded in Matthew 5-7, Jesus refers to heaven as the dwelling place of the Father at least eight times. Secondly, Christ is there. Jesus gave up the glory of heaven to come to this earth and die for us, the just for the unjust. As Peter preached on the Day of Pentecost, he established that Jesus was the Messiah – the Christ. In Acts 2:33, he said this about Him: Therefore being exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He poured out this which you now see and hear. Then, in Acts 7:55-56, Stephen spoke these words before an angry Sanhedrin: But he, being full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God, and said, “Look! I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God!” The third thing about heaven I want us to notice is from our scripture reading this morning – in 1 Peter 1:4 – that heaven is incorruptible, undefiled and does not fade away – it’s always going to look brand new. Everything we buy is premature junk. Our houses and our cars need maintenance and repairs. And, if you’re past 40, I don’t have to tell you what’s happening to your bodies. All creation is in bondage to corruption according to Romans 8:21 but that will not be true of heaven. In fact, these old decaying, earthly bodies will be transformed in the resurrection so we can dwell in heaven. Let’s read 1 Corinthians 15:50-53 together: Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does corruption inherit incorruption. Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed – in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. Fourthly, heaven is eternal along with our inheritance. At the end of the great judgment scene in Matthew 25 where the Son of Man divides the goats from the sheep, we read about the different respective fates for each in verse 46: “And these (the goats) will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous (the sheep) into eternal life.” The apostle Paul further wrote about this in 2 Corinthians 5:1 – For we know that if our earthly house, this tent, is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. Someone once said, “Heaven is a prepared place for a prepared people.” And that’s what we read about in John 14:1-6. It is in this passage that we learn there is plenty of room for all who desire to go to heaven. Let’s read verses 2-3 from that text as Jesus tries to comfort His disciples about His forthcoming death: In My Father’s house are many mansions (or “dwelling places”); if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also. We’ll never find a “No Vacancy” sign on heaven. Jesus has been getting our place ready for almost 2,000 years – won’t it be wonderful! Unlike this decaying world, heaven will have no death, sorrow, crying or pain – Revelation 21:4. Many of you have been through so much of these four things and long for things to be different. All of us see evidence of these things daily all around us – and none of us are immune. But these will not exist in heaven. When God wipes away every tear from the eyes of His people, there will be no sadness in heaven. A seventh thing about heaven is that it is where righteousness dwells. We have already read from Matthew 25:46 that the righteous will go away into eternal life. I’d like for us to read 2 Peter 3:9-13 that provides us ample warning of what is coming and then this beautiful promise of heaven: The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up. Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be dissolved, being on fire, and the elements will melt with fervent heat? Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells. That’s why the apostle Paul could face his impending death with these promising words in 2 Timothy 4:6-8 – For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing. The eighth thing I want to mention about heaven is that it is priceless. As humans, we tend to put a price tag on everything – to assign a monetary value to things that are important to us. And, thus, when the Holy Spirit set out to describe heaven to us, He used terms we would understand – gold, pearls and precious jewels. Listen to these verses from Revelation 21 to describe the holy city: The construction of its wall was of jasper; and the city was pure gold, like clear glass. The foundations of the wall of the city were adorned with all kinds of precious stones…The twelve gates were twelve pearls: each individual gate was of one pearl. And the street of the city was pure gold, like transparent glass. With gold selling at over $1,650 an ounce, can you imagine the value of just the square of Murfreesboro? God wants us to know that the beauty and value of heaven is beyond the realm of our imagination. Finally, the ninth thing about heaven for our consideration this morning is that it is the reward for the faithful. As Jesus began describing the characteristics of the citizens of the kingdom of heaven in the Sermon on the Mount, notice His words in Matthew 5:11-12 – “Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” Paul was expecting a crown of righteousness as his reward. But Jesus called it by a different name in Revelation 2:10 – “Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.”