Summary: No matter how good this life may be, heaven is going to be better, and while no one can merit or earn it, it is available to all who take advantage of God's free gifts of grace, forgiveness and salvation by faith in Jesus Christ, God's Son, and make him t
SERMON – I want to go to Heaven
I have a lot to be thankful for.
I was born to a single woman in 1944.
If the ‘Abortion Act’ had been passed 20 years earlier
I might not be standing here.
I was adopted by good, caring people
and was brought up as a Roman Catholic,
so always believed in God and had good moral values.
I started work days after my 15th birthday and had employment until I was 65
apart from the 4 years I was at university
and still do the occasional paid Supply Teacher work
and when I went to university there were no fees to pay
and I even received a government grant that I could live on.
I have never known serious illness
or been the victim of a serious crime.
I had one good wife until she went to be with the Lord
and He led me to another good one who is here in church today.
My children are happily married
and have good jobs
and I have two healthy and bright grand children.
What more could anyone ask for?
God has blessed me in many ways.
Ask yourself this question:
If Christianity was only about God looking after us in this life,
would that be enough?
In other words, if the Bible said absolutely nothing about the after life,
would we still be here this morning?
I hope the answer would be ‘Yes’.
There are two main views about what happens when we die,
both based on Jesus' words on the cross to the dying thief in Luke 23:43.
"I tell you today, you will be with me in Paradise", or
"I tell you, today you will be with me in Paradise";
The difficulty is that there are no commas in the Greek text.
According to one view saints go to heaven immediately after they die,
and unrepentant sinners go straight to hell.
This leads some people think the saints are UP THERE
possibly looking down on us right this minute,
while they float along gold-paved streets
strumming the Hallelujah Chorus on their harps
while dressed in golden sandals and white robes.
On the other hand there is the view that “heaven” is only the dwelling of God,
and the angels,
while all who have died, good or bad, saints or sinners,
are asleep until the Day of Judgement,
when all who belong to God
will be given a beautiful and immortal resurrection body,
and will live for eternity on a renewed and perfect planet earth,
living as God originally intended, and in His presence.
This view is supported by Ecclesiastes 9: 5
where it says "The living know that they will die,
but the dead know nothing", implying a form of unconsciousness.
According to this view, the souls or spirits of those who died believing in God,
like Samuel, are asleep in what the Bible calls Sheol or Hades,
or The grave or Abraham's Bosom,
until the Day of Judgement and the resurrection,
while the souls or spirits of those who did not know God, the "unsaved",
sleep away from God until the End of the World
when they will be raised to judgement, and everlasting punishment.
In Daniel 1:22 it says: "Those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake,
some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt”.
Jesus himself said (in John’s Gospel chapter 5: 28-29):
“The hour is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice
and will come out – those who have done good, to the resurrection of life,
and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation”.
This is the same message of the Parable of the sheep and the goats.
On the day of judgement the sheep will be rewarded
and the goats will be punished.
I would not argue about which view is correct,
because it doesn't matter whether we "go to sleep" when we die,
or "go to heaven",
because heaven "up there" is only temporary.
Jesus ascended into heaven 40 days after his resurrection,
but the two angels in Acts 1 verse 11 did not tell the disciples
that one day they would follow Jesus up into the sky.
What the angels said was “Men of Galilee,
why do you stand here looking into the sky?
This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven,
will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven”.
Revelation 21 tells us about the real “End” reward,
which is eternal life in a New Jerusalem
which will come down from heaven upon a regenerated earth’,
after the end of this age, Jesus' second coming, and the day of judgement.
According to Jesus in Matthew’s Gospel chapter 24