Summary: We all have a personal invitation to His Place.
1: Introduction: Everything is going to Change!
How many of you have planned to go on a cruise this summer or take a holiday by the sea this year? Well make the most of it because this scripture tells us that when we finally get to heaven it’s going to be very different – there isn’t going to be any sea!
In fact there looks like a lot of job changes are in store. Doctors, Nurses, Undertakers and Counsellors all look like they will be made redundant! Because we are told that there will be no more pain or suffering. There will be no more death or mourning. No more crying or tears. For the old order of things has passed away.
2: Heaven – What’s it like?
What is your picture of Heaven? Paintings of heaven often depict chubby faced cherubim’s or the standard fluffy white clouds and angels with wings playing harps. I see nothing of that in my own mind’s picture. Whatever it is, it appears to be a whole lot different than what we have been used to.
My favourite story is the parable Jesus tells about the wedding banquet in Matthew Chapter 22:1~14 “The kingdom of heaven is like a king who prepared a wedding banquet for his son.”
This conjures up all kinds of fun. Jesus makes heaven sound a very different place than perhaps we are anticipating. How many of us asked to describe Heaven would make it sound like a party with Jesus as Host?
3: Heaven – Who will be there?
Tickets Only – the Gospel:
Whatever your picture of Heaven, you have to know it’s a Ticket only do”! Revelation tells us that God himself will wipe away every tear from their eyes (His Children). As Christians, we know that it is only through a personal relationship with Jesus that we can get a free ticket to enter in.
Like all major events today - No ticket, means No entrance, but these tickets are free! All you have to do is apply in advance. In Matthew, Jesus emphasises the Party is a “ticket only” do – it would be rude to turn up with your own handmade one or even no ticket at all.
Think of the Queen of England’s Jubilee Party ~ no invitation meant you would not have been allowed in! Perhaps if you have been chosen to attend you would have been thrilled to have received one of those gilt-edged invitations. There is always much interest in celebrating these special occasions but the King of King’s party is the one not to miss! And by the way, by necessity the numbers invited to the Jubilee parties were limited – Our God has plenty of room!
4: Heaven is a place to die for – literally!
Philip Yancey in answer to claims that the world has lost the sense that we die believes behind the noise of daily life:
“Rumours of another world can still be heard. The whispers of death persist and I have heard them in unlikely places”.
He talks about members in a Health Club he joined striving to preserve only one part of the person i.e. the body ~ the least enduring part of all.
You are probably familiar with people desperately trying to enhance and extend their life here – living as if that’s all there is. Memberships to Gym and Leisure clubs to tone-up what you have, followed by liposuction, cosmetic surgery to make you look even younger! But they don’t offer the hope that we have - of a Resurrection body!
Martin Luther said to his followers, “Even in the best of health we should have death always before our eyes (so that) we will not expect to remain on this earth forever, but will have one foot in the air, so to speak”
If life is painful, difficult, and for those tragically living with incurable illnesses what hope can anything in this world possibly give. Maybe a measure of acceptance thru counselling. Perhaps pain relief and help to make life as palatable as possible.
But we have examples of those in tragic and difficult circumstances who have a hope of something better. Heaven ~ a place that God has prepared for those who love him. Think of Joni. Think of those martyred for Jesus. They had a hope that this world could not take away from them. In fact that they were prepared to die for their faith testified to the world that there is something beyond this life worth dying for.
Philip Yancey also talks about attending a “Make Today Count” support group for people with life-threatening illnesses. These people had to confront death because they had no choice. Donna, a group member talked about a Swiss boy who was dying of an inoperable brain tumour. She said that a picture he had drawn of a large, ugly military tank, with a tiny figure with a red stop sign in his hand in front of the tank captured her feelings precisely. Although Donna knew she was supposed to work toward acceptance she felt like the little boy in front of the tank, she saw death as an enemy.