Summary: What is Heaven and how can I be sure that I’m heading there?
"When you speak of Heaven, let your face light up. When you speak of Hell, well then, your everyday face will do."
~ Charles Haddon Spurgeon
This morning, we’re going to speak about Heaven. So I expect all your faces to light up. In the church, when we talk about Heaven we’re usually talking about the place where God lives. Theologically, we talk about God being omnipresent, which means that He is present throughout all of creation. But Heaven is where His presence resides. It’s His home.
It’s also the place where we all hope to end up someday. The Bible teaches that there are two and only two destinations for everyone. Either we end up in Heaven where we spend eternity experiencing great joy and fulfillment in the presence of God, or we spend eternity in Hell, separated from God and subject to unending pain and torment. And where we end up depends on choices we make during this lifetime.
When we talk about Heaven in the Church, that’s usually what we’re talking about. But I was curious to know how others would describe Heaven, so I looked it up this week in the dictionary. Here is some of what I found:
the dwelling place of the Deity and the joyful abode of the blessed dead
a spiritual state of everlasting communion with God
a place or condition of utmost happiness
~ from Merriam-Webster Dictionary
In Jewish writings, including the Bible, Heaven has three different meanings:
First, it can refer to the atmosphere surrounding the earth. It’s the sky.
Second, it can refer to outer space… where you find the sun and the starts, the moon, other planets, comets and so on.
And third, it can refer to what we’ve already talked about… Heaven is the home of God where we hope to go someday to be with Him.
So the term “Heaven” can be used in a variety of ways. This morning, we’re referring to the dwelling place of God where we hope to go. Okay? Let’s get going. Le me start by giving you four facts about Heaven:
Facts about Heaven:
A. Heaven is a real place
Some people would say that Heaven isn’t a place at all… it’s a state of mind. It’s a state of consciousness. In fact, if you remember, the third definition we looked at from the Dictionary referred to Heaven as “a place or condition of utmost happiness.” But it’s not a condition, it’s not a state of mind, it’s a real place.
John 14:2-3 (NLT)
There are many rooms in my Father’s home, and I am going to prepare a place for you. If this were not so, I would tell you plainly. When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am.
Jesus talked about a physical place that He was preparing for you and for me. It’s not a dream-state, it’s not a mirage, it’s not any kind of visualization, it’s not an illusion… it’s a real place. That’s the way the Bible portrays it.
What kind of place is it? That’s hard to say. Not much is given in the Bible by way of a physical description of Heaven. And what we are given is mostly figurative. After all, how could we ever understand the true nature of Heaven before we get there? It is a wonderful place which goes beyond our ability to comprehend or put into words right now.
In the Revelation given to John, in chapter 21, it says…
Revelation 21:21 (NLT)
The twelve gates were made of pearls—each gate from a single pearl! And the main street was pure gold, as clear as glass.
So we’re given a bit of a description there. But I’m not sure that description is meant to be taken literally. I think the point is that Heaven will be a beautiful, wonderful, glorious place.
So we’re not really given much of a physical description of Heaven. But we are told about some things that won’t be there and some things that will be there.
What are some things that you will not find in Heaven?
(It’s a place free from danger, fear, turmoil, sin, confusion, sickness, death, despair, sorrow, regrets, pain…)
What will you find there?
(It’s a place of joy, gladness, compassion, love, peace…)
B. Heaven is the dwelling place of God
In the book of Matthew, Jesus gives us instructions on how to pray and He begins by saying…
Matthew 6:9 (NLT)
“Pray like this: Our Father in heaven, may your name be honoured.”
Heaven is the dwelling place of God. Now, as I’ve already said, that fact does not mean that God is only in Heaven. He is omnipresent. He has the capability to be anyplace and everyplace at the same time. After all, He is God. In several different verses, the Bible talks about His presence being with His people. The Bible talks about God’s presence stretching throughout the whole earth.