Summary: A clear glimpse of the heaven God has promised will stir us with anticipation of the future and change the way we live in the present.
Title: Taking the Ho Hum Out of Heaven
Text: Revelation 21:1-5
Thesis: A clear glimpse of the heaven God has promised will stir us with anticipation of the future and change the way we live in the present.
Series: The Bible in 90 Days Whole Church Challenge
In the first chapter of the bible God created everything and it was good. Then sin entered the world and we now live in on a broken planet. There are still marks of beauty and human goodness but there are also marks of a deeply scarred earth and of human depravity. Jesus entered the world to redeem all that was ruined by the fall… and now as we come to the end of the bible we hear God saying, “I am making everything new.” The bible ends where it began… with a good, “all things made new” creation and unbroken communion with God.
I am not all that enthralled by the biblical images of heavens walls being built on twelve foundations, each foundation made of a different precious stone and having twelve gates of pearl with the streets inside the walls paved with gold. And I’m not much into the thought that I might have to spend all eternity singing in a heavenly choir. A more appealing image would be of a cottage in the Scottish highlands next to a noisy little stream running over stones, overlooking a vast moor with a view of the ocean in the distance and the sweet sound of bagpipes playing in the wind.
I also confess, I have neither suffered enough nor lived long enough to be so world-weary that I long to be free of this life and immersed into the next. I suspect that if I lived in another place or a different time, that would not be the case. And, I may in time think otherwise. But for now, I love living the life God has given me in this temporal place. But that is not to say that I do not think about heaven and live in anticipation of spending eternity there. I know that the Apostle John’s dream of heaven or vision of heaven is meant to instill in us a sense of the immensity and grandeur of the place God has prepared for us. And I also am aware that heaven is not just about being in a place of extravagant beauty and opulence. It is about hope and reunions with loved ones and a place where there are not more tears or death or crying or pain.
A few months after the tragic death of a young boy, his mother gave me asked me to read a book someone had given her. The family was not part of our church family but we were friends and she simply wanted to know if she could believe her little boy was in the place described in the book.
The book was written by Rebecca Ruter Springer and first published in 1898 with the title Intra Muros. It was later re-titled: My Dream of Heaven.
The author was careful to explain that she makes no claims that her experience was a revelation or an inspiration. The book simply came to her during a long period of illness. Her simple claim is that her experience was of great comfort and help.
Billy Graham said of My Dream of Heaven, “…it captures biblical truths with emotional impressions.”
Some time ago I attempted to find a copy of the book but it was long out of print. But more recently, when I tried again, I found it had been re-printed and even included two additional chapters that were in the original manuscript but omitted from earlier printings.
When asked how she found life in heaven she said, “Ah, if they could only know! I never fully understood until now the meaning of that sublime passage, ‘Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.’ It is indeed past human conception.” (My Dream of Heaven, P 67)
Perhaps the most insightful and beautiful impression I lifted from the book is expressed in this quote which speaks in reference to her discovery of what life is like in heaven: “These happy surprises do not come by chance. One of the delights of this rare life is that no occasion is ever overlooked for reproducing here the pure enjoyments of mortal life. It is the Father’s privilege to make us realize that this existence is but a continuance of the former life, only without its imperfections and cares.” (My Dream of Heaven, PP119-120)
So how does this hope of heaven affect me now…
I. Heaven gives me the hope of a dream destination.