Summary: First in a four part "investigation" into heaven and hell.
Ok, so now you’re probably wondering…Mike…what’s the deal with the hat? Well…there’s two things going on with the hat. Number one….I am a huge Sherlock Holmes fan and one of my buddies from work got to go to Europe a couple of weeks ago. He was in London and was on Baker Street where Sherlock Holmes was supposed to live…so he brought me this hat. Pretty cool, huh?
But there is something else going on with the hat…we are starting a new series today and we’re going to do an investigation in this series….we are going to investigate heaven and hell…so in order to do any investigation…you have to be properly equipped…and you can’t do a proper investigation without a deerstalker hat on….so I decided to wear it today. However, so I won’t be to distracting I’ll take it off and set it here on the pulpit…but, every once and awhile…I want you to glance down and look at this hat and remind yourself…we are doing an investigation….and an investigation is supposed to be unbiased…a search for the truth….so for the next four Sundays we are going to attempt to uncover the truth about heaven and hell…or as much of it as we can.
Any detective worth his fingerprint powder will tell you….a good, well-pursued investigation will attempt to answer these questions…who..what..when..where..why..and how. In order for any investigation to be complete and to fully arrive at the truth…those questions must be answered fully. One cannot go to court and prosecute a case if any element of those questions is left unanswered. For instance…you couldn’t prosecute someone for murder if you did not know how they committed the crime. It would leave to much reasonable doubt for the defendant to exploit…the same goes for any other of these questions…if they can’t be answered then the investigation is not complete.
So…let me tell you in advance…our investigation into heaven and hell…it is not going to be complete. We are not going to be able to answer all of these questions completely…if we were able to then there would be no atheists in the world because nothing would be accepted by faith. So…we aren’t going to be able to prove our case beyond a reasonable doubt…but we are going to make as complete of an investigation as we possibly can…and today we are going to start by answering the question of “what.” What, exactly, is heaven and hell? After all, we must first define and understand what exactly we are investigating if we are going to do so in an intelligent manner. So, for today, our question is going to be…what exactly are these places we call heaven and hell…what are they like? I think that we often can learn some pretty profound things from children…so listen to what these kids had to say about what heaven is like…
"Everything is free," says Christina, age 12. "Everyone lives in a mansion. No one has to go to work. There are no house payments."
"Heaven is a place that is so beautiful, you would think it was make-believe. It’s perfect," says Molly, 9.
"Heaven is paradise," says Jake, 9. "The weather is nice. It never rains. Nothing can go wrong. My dad will not have a scar in the middle of his head. We will be perfect."
Annslee, 11, "Heaven is beautiful with no hurt or talking about people and no drugs. It is all good.
"You will be beautiful. Clouds are floating. Kids are laughing and praying with Jesus. You get everything you want, and you have beautiful voices to sing for God’s glory. Sunflowers are everywhere. Streets are made of gold! And it smells heavenly."
"Trees in heaven are full with rich fruit. And everywhere you go, you can feel and see the glory of God"
Those comments were found on the website kidstalkaboutgod.org. and I think that they give us a pretty good representation of what the experience of Heaven will be like…there was a good reason why Jesus said that we have to become like kids in order to receive the Kingdom of Heaven. But…for the purposes of our investigation…we have to go just a little bit deeper…and answer this question of what exactly makes heaven…heaven…and what exactly make hell…hell.
We’re going to do that by taking a look at one of the parables of Jesus. If you have your Bibles turn them over to Matthew 13:36. While your turning over let me acknowledge a few things to you. I realize that, traditionally, we don’t turn to the parables of Jesus to find out about Heaven and Hell. We turn them to find out how we should live in order to get there…but Revelation…the epistles of Paul…these are the places that we get our theology about Heaven and Hell. But, today, we are going to start our month long investigation here…with a story from Jesus. We’ll start in verse 36 and read through 43.