Summary: This sermon looks at the reality that we will be spending eternity on the new earth rather than in the new heaven as commonly thought.
Is Heaven What You Think It Is?
Do you know that most of what we think about heaven is not what the bible teaches. Most of what many people think about heaven comes from Hollywood. There is this strange eerie but soft kind of music playing in the background. There is always fog especially around people’s feet.
There is Saint Peter sitting in a chair at the pearly gates deciding if you can come in or not. There are people floating around on clouds playing harps. Nobody seems to be having a really good time. Nobody goes to spend time with God or to worship Jesus. It’s usually just a couple of people passing by each other on the clouds with wings attached.
Then there is what we have heard in church about heaven. First you run to see Jesus, then you find your favorite family members. Everybody gets a robe and is assigned to a special choir section. For 10,000 years straight, they sing praises to God and when they finish, they have only just begun. . Heaven is described as a church service that never ends.
The only fun things they do is dance on the streets of gold and have a great big meal with everybody at the wedding feast with Jesus. After the feast they spend eternity in heaven as spirits floating through the air. The only problem with this, is that its not what we find in the bible. We do find it in the songs we sing, but not in the bible.
The Scriptures teach that all of history is moving toward a definite event that has already been determined by God. This is why we do not panic because of things going on around us. We don’t let hurricanes, wars, terrorist attacks, elections, or catastrophic events cause us to lose our faith or shatter our resolve to follow Christ. Jesus told us all these things will happen, but it is not the end .
The book of Revelations tell us how the world is going to end and what God’s ultimate purpose for humanity really is. God wants us to know we are not here by chance. We are here by purpose. Let’s look at what the Scriptures teach us about what is to come and what heaven is and is not. Most of our teaching is found in chapters 20, 21 and 22 of the book of Revelations.
First of all there are two resurrections. Revelation 20:4-5 (NIV) 4 I saw thrones on which were seated those who had been given authority to judge. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony for Jesus and because of the word of God. They had not worshiped the beast or his image and had not received his mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ a thousand years. 5 (The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended.) This is the first resurrection.
What we do on earth while we are alive is going to affect what happens to us in the next life and in heaven. God is preparing some of us to be rulers in his kingdom when Jesus returns to the earth. After the second coming of Jesus Christ, there is going to be a kingdom set up on this earth that is going to last for a 1,000 years.
Everyone that was killed because of their faith in Christ will be resurrected from the dead, and they are going to rule with Jesus Christ for a 1,000 years. Our brothers and sisters who are being killed by BOKO HARAN in Nigeria as well as the Christians who were thrown to the lions in the first century are all going to take part in the first resurrection.
If you die for the cause of Christ, you receive a part in this 1,000 year reign of peace with Christ. During this 1000 year period, Satan is going to be locked up so that he will not be able interfere with their lives. This kingdom is going to be set up on the present earth. There will still be people outside the kingdom who are in rebellion against God.
After a 1000 years, Satan is released and once again leads the people who are outside of the reign of Christ in a final assault against the kingdom Christ had established. The attack is a disaster for Satan and his followers, and the devil is instantly thrown into the lake of fire for all eternity. That’s the last we hear of him in history and that’s his final resting place.
Once Satan is removed, then comes the second resurrection which is going to include everybody who was not in the first resurrection. Everybody is going to go before God to be judged. Everybody is coming back to life and is going to receive a body that will last forever. Books will be opened which will detail everything that has been done. Nobody is going to blame anybody for their sin. Nobody is going to be judged good enough to be saved.