Summary: Heaven is more popular than Hell - for obvious reasons. But just what does Heaven mean to us? And is Hell really as bad as we
OPEN: An extremely nervous patient came to his dentist for root canal surgery. He was brought into the examining room and made comfortable in the reclining dental chair. The dentist then injected a numbing agent around the patient’s tooth, and left the room for a few minutes while the medication took hold. When the dentist returned, the patient was standing next to a tray of dental equipment.
“What are you doing by the surgical instruments?" asked the surprised dentist.
Focused on his task, the patient replied, "I’m taking out the ones I don’t like."
APPLY: When it comes to the teachings in the Bible, there are people who like to pick and choose the parts they can keep and the parts they can throw away.
For example, there are lots of folks who love the idea of Heaven.
A recent Gallup poll (2007) showed that 86% of Americans believe in Heaven.
And most of them thought they were going to be going there.
And why shouldn’t they believe in heaven?
Heaven’s going to be a great place to be.
The Bible describes it as a place filled with all the excitement and satisfaction of a great banquet. It will be as overwhelming as a visiting a majestic city filled with awe-inspiring structures. It’s going to be as beautiful as a royal wedding… where you and I get to be the guests of honor.
In addition, Revelation 21:3-5 tells about a new heaven and earth… and God declares:
"Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away."
He who was seated on the throne said, "I am making everything new!"
Considering the alternatives… who wouldn’t want to go to heaven?
ILLUS: A few years back USA Today surveyed the Richest People in America and asked them what they would pay the most for? You would think the #1 choice for these wealthy Americans would’ve been things like beauty, intellect, power or even love.
BUT the #1 desire for these rich people – was to have a place in heaven.
(The article said the rich would pay on the average $640,000 for the assurance of place in heaven)
Oftentimes – at funerals – people will comfort one another with words like these:
· “They’ve gone to a better place”
· “He’s gone over to the other side”
· She’s “gone home”
Statements like that reflect a hope for a future where we’ll see our loved ones after death. It’s comforting to believe in a future where we’ll live for ever, because - in our heart of hearts -everybody knows Death isn’t natural.
Our loved ones shouldn’t have died.
WE don’t want to die.
But we’re all going to.
And so there’s great comfort in Jesus words:
“In my Father’s house are many mansions: 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 unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.” John 14:2-3 (KJV)
Heaven is one of THE great promises of Jesus because Heaven is the cure for all of our fears. In Heaven there will not be any more death, or sorrow, or tears, or pain. It will be a place of ETERNAL life and pleasure.
And Jesus promised us that this place is real… and when He comes back, that’s where He’s taking us.
Matthew 25:46 says “… the righteous (will go) into life eternal.”
Heaven is the cure for all our fears… and Jesus is the ONE who brought that cure to us. Hebrews tells us “Since the children have flesh and blood, (Jesus) too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death— that is, the devil— and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death.” Hebrews 2:14-15
So, just about everybody in favor of heaven.
But not everyone is all that excited about Hell.
In that Gallup Poll we mentioned earlier 86% believed in Heaven, and most of them thought they were going to go there. But in that same poll only 69% of those interviewed believed in Hell. And just one-half of 1% of Americans expected to go to Hell upon their death. (Barna poll in 2009)
Hell’s not a popular idea.
Now granted… there are people we’d like to see in hell.
There’s folks like Osamma Bin Laden, Hitler, Stalin, Idi Amin, Saddam Hussein. Or folks closer to home: terrorists, rapists, and child molesters.