Summary: I want you to look at that blessed hope, which awaits those who dare to believe. Jesus said, “Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me.” Jesus wants us to trust Him and the Father. This is the key to heaven.
Heaven is a Real Place
Last week, the scripture lesson was about hell. We saw that hell is a real place, created by God for a specific purpose; we saw what hell was like, and we saw how we can escape going there. I know that none of us want to go there; we want to go to heaven, so let’s see what the Bible has to say about what heaven will be like.
But first, I want to make a point; the point is that as Christians, we sometimes do just the opposite of what Jesus would do. For example, Jesus is hard on the self-righteous and gentle on sinners. Here’s a case in point. He encountered a rich young man, who asked Him how he could please God. Jesus told him that he must keep the commandments. The young man listed the commands and said that he kept all of them. But Jesus could see his pride, and He knew the truth, so Jesus said, “You only lack one thing.” He said, “You must sell all that you have and give it to the poor.” Now let’s give this young man some credit, because the church would love him. He is clean-cut, a faithful tither; he appears eager and teachable. But Jesus knows all men, and He knows this man’s weakness. He says, “You love money more than God.” He forces the young man to make a choice. He doesn’t offer him a program, whereby he might shed his reliance on money. He doesn’t suggest counseling or any type of recovery program. What He says, in essence is this, “Choose you this day whom you will serve.” This man walks away, and he is dejected, because he is unable to give up his money.
Now, let me give you an example of the opposite case; how He is gentle with sinners. There was a woman, who was caught in the act of adultery. What an embarrassment! She is thrown down in front of Jesus, and she is naked and crying; and the law says that she should be put to death. What could this woman possibly have to offer the church, except scandal and ridicule? In any case, she was caught red-handed; she was “guilty as sin.” The crowd was calling for her to be stoned. After all, if we are going to have a civil, religious nation, those who participate in gross immorality must be made an example of. Today, we would send her to counseling or force her to confess her sins publicly. But Jesus doesn’t do things that way. He simply says, “I don’t condemn you. Go, and sin no more.” He doesn’t even slap her hands. Jesus is so unlike the church. We would fuss over the wealthy, self-righteous young man, glossing over his delicate pride and cocky behavior. We would reprimand, humiliate and most likely excommunicate the obvious sinner, never stopping to offer mercy, grace and forgiveness.
I believe that Christians are sometimes too eager to proclaim the frightening fires of hell, but they hesitate to hold out hope for the golden streets of heaven. Nevertheless, in our world most people have had a taste of hell, but they have never even dared to imagine the hope of heaven.
Today, I want you to look at that blessed hope, which awaits those who dare to believe. Jesus said, “Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me.” Jesus wants us to trust Him and the Father. This is the key to heaven, and that great gospel hymn expresses that thought when we sing, “Trust and obey for there’s no other way to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey!”
We have all had tough times, and that’s when Satan will tempt us to be angry with God. That’s what happened with Job; he lost his wealth, his family and even his health. Then his friends questioned him about what great sin he must have committed to bring all these problems into his life. In his frustration and anguish, Job cried out, “Where are you God?” And God’s answer seems rather tough-minded. He says, “I am Creator, and you are creation. What advice do you think you have to offer Me?” Nevertheless, the Bible tells us that Job did not sin in his conversation with God. In the end, God doubled all the blessings that He had previously given to him, and then He tells Job’s friends, who had doubted him, to have Job lead them in a worship service.
Next, think about David. In some of the Psalms, he asks God why the wicked prosper and the righteous suffer? But when God appraised David’s life, He called him “A man after His own heart.”
Do you ever wonder why babies have to be born addicted to crack cocaine? Why do people we love have to get cancer? Why do good people have to suffer and die? My answer to these questions of seemingly unfair treatment by God is twofold.