Summary: Almost everyone goes through life with a partial sense of dissatisfaction. We’re looking for the “it.” And we’re not even sure what the “it” is.
This is the first message in a new series I’ve entitled “Heaven: An Insider’s Guide.” When you plan a trip to visit a new city or a new country, you want to have an insider, a local resident, give you information as you plan your trip. When it comes to Heaven, I’m not the insider—Jesus is. He resides in Heaven and He has given us ample information in His book for us to learn about His Home Country.
During this series we’re going to learn what Jesus taught us about His homeland. Today we’re talking about “Planning the Trip of a Lifetime.” Next week we’ll answer the question: “What happens when a person dies?” In two weeks, our subject will be: “Heaven’s activity guide.”
Then on Palm Sunday, New York Times best-selling author, Joel Rosenberg, will be here to speak. On Sunday morning he’ll tell people how to get to Heaven. That evening, he’ll be back and I’ll interview him about world events in light of Biblical prophecy. Then on Easter, I’ll conclude the series with a message, “Have You Confirmed Your Reservation in Heaven?”
During this series I’ll be answering a lot of questions about Heaven. Some of the questions are “Do babies go to Heaven?” “Do I become an angel in Heaven?” “Are we married in Heaven?” “What kind of body will we have in Heaven?” “What will we be doing in Heaven?” If you have questions about Heaven you’d like for me to answer, feel free to email me your questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Everyone talks about Heaven. The idea of Heaven permeates our popular culture. Led Zeppelin performed a song entitled, “Stairway to Heaven.” Queen sang, “Heaven, heaven, heaven is for everyone.” U2 sang about Heaven in the song, “Where the Streets Have no Name.” And Belinda Carlisle sang, “They say in heaven, love comes first. We’ll make heaven a place on earth.”
In 1991 Eric Clapton wrote and recorded a Grammy winning song called, “Tears in Heaven.” He wrote it with a broken heart after his five-year-old son, Conor, fell from a 53rd floor apartment in New York. In the song he asked the question, “Would you know my name; If I saw you in heaven? Would you feel the same; If I saw you in heaven? I must be strong and carry on; ‘Cause I know I don’t belong here in heaven.”
Clapton retired this song in 2004 and no longer sings it. The official reason is that he has gotten closure and moved on. But those closest to Clapton say thoughts of his son are still too painful to express.
The Bible has a lot to say about Heaven. The word “Heaven” appears over 600 times in the Bible. The Hebrew word for Heaven is shamayim and the Greek word is ouranios.
In this message we’re going to study Hebrews 11, which is often called “The Roll Call of Faith,” because it contains the names and faithful deeds of many of the heroes in the Bible. But when you read this list, you discover they all had one thing in common besides faith. They were all looking forward to a better country—a heavenly country.
Hebrews 11:8-11: “By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going. By faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God. And by faith Abraham, even though he was past age— and Sarah herself was barren—was enabled to become a father because he considered him faithful who had made the promise.”
Hebrews 11:13-16: “All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance. And they admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth. People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. Instead, they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.”
According to a recent Pew Research Poll, 74% of Americans believe in Heaven, and 54% believe if they do enough good deeds they can earn entrance into Heaven after they die. But only 39% of Americans believe in hell.
Among Christians there is a widespread ignorance about the details of Heaven. If you ask a Christian what Heaven will be like they’ll give short answers like, “Beautiful” or “Wonderful” or “Paradise.” Let’s imagine you are planning an expensive two-week vacation to Costa Rica. The easiest thing to do is use a travel agent and let them plan the trip for you. But most of us want to do some of our own research online. So you go online to learn everything you can about Costa Rica. But when you Google Costa Rica there are only three words on the website. These words are, “Beautiful, Wonderful, Paradise.” You wouldn’t be satisfied. You’d want to know more about the place. You want to know the history, the climate, the language, the currency, the places to eat and the places to stay. Those are some of the details of Heaven we’re going to be examining over the next few weeks. So as we’re planning our trip of a lifetime to Heaven, let’s notice four details about this destination of a lifetime.