Summary: Third in a series on the Lord's Prayer
1 Heaven is Real
Welcome to the 3rd installment of our summer sermon series about the Lord’s Prayer. Jesus gave this example of effective prayer to us in response to some of his disciples striking up a conversation with him about prayer.
We don’t know exactly why they picked this time and place to talk to Jesus about meaningful prayer. Maybe it was because they saw something lacking in their own prayer times that sparked an interest. Maybe it was because Jesus prayed to the Father on a totally different level than they did.
Whatever the reason, Jesus, on two separate occasions outlines what effective prayer looks like. One example is in Matthew 6, the other in Luke 11. And even though those two prayers are similar, they’re also different, because one point Jesus makes is not to get hung up on the words. He says pay closer attention to the attitude behind them. His prayer is a template not a mandate.
So he starts with showing us that God is someone approachable and full of grace and that we’re all joined together in the family of God with just two words: “Our Father.”
And then Jesus continues to direct our focus on the Father by pointing us to the eternal home of God and the eternal home of everyone who follows him – “heaven.” Our Father in heaven.
So right from the start, Jesus lets us know that heaven is real and it’s going on right now. And if we take a look at what the Bible says about heaven, we’ll discover that It’s also a place that’s under construction. 2 Jesus said, “2 My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you?3 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.” John 14:2-3 NIV
And with the current state of affairs in the world, the prospect of heaven seems to be getting closer and closer! But that aside, Jesus said that heaven is real. It’s a place of righteousness. And it’s a place that’s highly relational. And I want to go there someday.
One time, a Sunday School teacher just finished talking to her class of elementary students all about Heaven, then she asked, “Well, how many of you want to go to Heaven?” Of course, everyone raised their hands…except for one boy.
“William,” she said, “you don’t want to go to Heaven someday?” And he said, “Oh yes ma’am. Someday. I just thought you were taking up a load right now!”
According to a recent Gallup Poll (conducted for U.S. News and World Report,) as many as 81% of Americans believe that Heaven exists (and as many as 78% believe they have a good or excellent chance of going there), but few of us know what to expect when we get there. And I suspect that a few of us might even have some doubts about whether or not we really are going there.
Maybe the success of books about near-death experiences like, “Heaven is for Real,” or “90 Minutes in Heaven,” reveals an innate longing to know what lies beyond our exit from planet earth. But rather than rely on the unreliable experiences of others; maybe we ought to find some answers in Scripture so we’re not as apprehensive or as unsure about eternity. After all, God lives there and he loves us so why should we be uneasy or even worried about going there?
I think that one of the most vivid, expressive descriptions of Heaven is found in Revelation 21—the second to last chapter of the Bible:
3 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the old heaven and the old earth had disappeared. And the sea was also gone. And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven like a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. I heard a loud shout from the throne, saying, “Look, God’s home is now among his people! He will live with them, and they will be his people. God himself will be with them. He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.” And the one sitting on the throne said, “Look, I am making everything new! And then he said to me, “Write this down, for what I tell you is trustworthy and true.” (Revelation 21:1-5 NLT)
As with so much of this apocalyptic book, this passage is full of imagery and symbolism. But I believe the picture it paints gives us glimpse of Heaven’s glory and highlights three important features that will make Heaven more than we can imagine.