Summary: Heaven as a reality transforms the present.
Christ the King Sunday
Sermon ~ “Heaven”
2 Cor. 4:17-18; Revelation 22:1
As we consider the destination of faith in heaven, the place where Christ our King shall lead us, let’s consider two texts from sacred Scriptures. First, 2nd Corinthians 4:17-18: “For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” Reading from Revelation 22:1 “Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb.” These are Your words, Heavenly Father, sanctify us for heaven in Your Word, for Your Word is everlasting Truth. Amen.
Last week our topic was the doctrine of hell. Today we look to the destination of our faith-- heaven. It seemed right to preach on heaven, since we have spoken of its counterpart. Yet, I have a caution to state at the outset... A proviso... A qualification.
C.S. Lewis wrote a book dealing with conversations between two demons as they sought to corrupt and soul and secure it for hell. His book was entitled The Screwtape Letters. After it was written, people thought that Lewis should write a book about angels as they tried to guide and protect a Christian... you know, to balance off his other work dealing with demons.
Lewis replied, in effect, that although he could in his depravity imagine how demons might talk and seek to seduce a Christian into hell, he could not imagine how angels talked! Their’s was a speech to lofty and holy to be captured by the pen of a fallen creature.
Thinking along the same lines, from the bitterness and cruel tragedies that I have witnessed in this world–from the terrible tortures that I have heard men do to other men, I can imagine hell.
But the glory of heaven is so beyond my experience and the experience of any human being, that it will not easily give way to my descriptions. So be warned, I am far better to preach the doctrine of hell than of the glories of heaven.
Heaven, in the Hebrew is gal-gal and means literally “rolling cloud.” How it came to be, we
are uncertain. But I can imagine an ancient Hebrew walking within a scorching desert, feet blistered, limbs scratched and sunburned, thirsty and hungry. He looks up, there he sees a cloud floating pure and untouched by all the misery of this planet, and he longs to be that cloud–free, full of moisture, high above the problems of life.
Did I just describe you, fellow pilgrim? Have you tasted the bitterness and misery of this fallen world so that you look forward to the “rolling cloud” where all the evil and pain and misfortune is completely and forever banished?
Perhaps we speak of heaven too little. Perhaps it is not enough just to use the word ‘heaven’ in one little sentence and just to make a minor point in a series of other points. Perhaps it is time for us to put the word ‘heaven’ on a gigantic banner to wave above our
heads like the American flag waves above Perkins!
Think of how the lives of Christians would change if we could drink deeply of the meaning of heaven... if we could focus well upon the things unseen, rather than giving so much attention to what is seen!
Now I grant that it’s natural–no, even divine–to love and care for family and friends. St. Paul, when he considered whether or not he would be killed, said that he would rather die and go to the Lord, but better if he lived for the sake of those he had come to serve.
So we also, when we consider our death or the death of someone close to us, can grieve the temporary loss of relationships or that we no longer will be able to serve and assist those we love in this world.
Though we may grieve some practical problems that our death may cause for those whom we love, think of how our lives would change if we drank deeply of the certainty of heaven!
Fear of our greatest enemies–be they people, problems or diseases–would melt away. What could they do to us? Let our enemies do the worst to us, and all that would happen is that they would also force open a doorway into something so wonderful that it’s impossible for human language to express.
Although the Scriptures do suggest some things about heaven--and we shall look at these--it must not be assumed that there is any real correspondence between our present circumstances and heaven. To be sure we shall have bodies, but the place into which the