Summary: Sermon describes the importance of knowing and proclaiming the truth of heaven. Some wonderous characteristics of heaven are also explained.
HEAVEN IS REAL!
In Christian circles we sometimes operate the opposite of the way Jesus did. For example, Jesus hard on the self-righteous, and gentle with sinners. He encountered a rich young man, who asked him how he might please God. Jesus told him to obey the commands. The young man lists the commands, and says he has obeyed them all. Jesus, seeing his pride, and knowing the truth of his heart, says that he lacks one thing–he must sell all he has and give it to the poor. Here is a man that the church would love. He is clean-cut, a faithful tither, and an apparently eager, teachable member. Chances are that we would place such a one on our deacon board as quickly as possible. Yet, Jesus calls him in his one area of weakness. “You love money more than God.” He forces the young man to make his choice. He does not offer a gradual program, whereby he might shed his reliance on money. He does not suggest counseling, or any type of recovery program. He says, in essence, “Choose you this day, whom you will serve.” The man leaves, dejected, unable to give up his money.
On the other hand, Jesus is presented with a woman who was literally caught in the act of adultery. What an embarrassment! There she is–naked–and deserving of death. This woman has nothing to offer the church, but notoriety and ridicule. Additionally, she was “guilty as sin.” The public was calling for her to be killed. After all, if we are going to have a civil, religious nation, those who participate in gross immorality must be made an example of! Yet, everyone knew of Jesus’ compassion. Fine. Make her go through intensive counseling. Send her to rehabilitation. Force her to publically confess her sins. Jesus does none of this. He simply says, “I do not condemn you. Go, and sin no more.” He does not even “slap her wrists.”
How unlike the church, Jesus is. We would coddle the wealthy, self-righteous young man, glossing over the subtle pride of his demeanor. We would castigate, humiliate, and most likely excommunicate the obvious sinner, never stopping to offer mercy, grace, and forgiveness.
As Christian, we are sometimes too eager to proclaim the fearsome fires of hell, yet hesitant to hold out the hope of the gold-filled highways of heaven. Yet, in our world most people have tasted of hell, but have never dared to imagine the hope of heaven. Let us look to that blessed hope that awaits those who dare to believe.
John 14:1 reads: “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me.”
First, Jesus wants us to trust Him and the Father. This is the key to heaven. Just as that great gospel hymn tells us, “Trust & Obey for There’s No Other Way to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey!”
When times are tough, Satan tempts us to be angry at God. Job lost his riches, his family–even his health. His friends offered him nothing but questions about what kind of sin he must have committed to bring such calamities upon him. In frustration and anguish, Job cries out, “Where are you God?” 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 dialogue with God. In the end, God doubles all the blessings he had previously had. Furthermore, he tells the friends that had doubted Job to have Job lead them in a worship service.
Then there is David. In many of the psalms, he asks God why the wicked prosper and the righteous suffer? Yet, when God assesses the life of David, he says that the psalmist was a man after his own heart.
We too may 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 solution to the problem of seemingly unfair difficulties is twofold. First, I know that God is good. I have settled this question in my heart. This is something everyone must become certain of. Search the Scriptures. Search your life and heart. Hear from other Christians that you respect. Consider the testimonies of believers throughout the ages. Determine once and for all whether you really believe that God is good. Once you know in your heart that the Creator is benevolent, you will more easily journey through difficult times, for you will know that God is aware, and that he is traveling with you through the darkest moments of suffering.
The second principle that will anchor you, spiritually, is knowing that God is just. Consider one of the most difficult questions people ask: What will happen to the Christian who commits suicide? Some suggest that killing oneself is the ultimate lack of faith. Therefore, anyone who does so will land in hell. Likewise, some argue that one cannot seek forgiveness for suicide. On the other hand, it has been suggested that suicide is an act of insanity, so God will not hold the person responsible. Similarly, some have said that since God forgives every sin a Christian commits, past, present, or future, God’s love is greater than the sin of suicide. My answer is that God will do what is right. If the believer who commits suicides lands in hell, when we see this reality, we will know that God has done right. We will not question his decision. 1 Corinthians 13 tells us that now we can only see dimly. However, on the day when all things are complete, we will see clearly. We will understand all things. We will concur with all that God has done. On the other hand, if we see that the believer who kills herself lands in heaven, surely we will rejoice at the mercy and grace of God. It is not so important for me to discover an absolute answer to the question of what happens after suicide. It is enough for me to know that God will do what is right.