Summary: This message takes a look at the passages that describe what heaven will be like.
Glimpsing Eternity: The Hope of Heaven
What Will Heaven Be Like?
Text: John 14:1-6
Introduction: We’ve heard many stories about what heaven is like. Most of them mention pearly gates and an angel who is standing by to interview those who seek to enter. Perhaps you’ve heard this one. It’s the story of a man named Fred who upon his arrival had just this kind of experience. He was quite timid and wasn’t sure what to do, but eventually he made his way to the entrance to heaven where an angel stood by the gate. The angel explained that before he could be admitted, he must share a purely unselfish, kind deed he performed for someone on earth. Fred thought about it for a minute and then said, "Oh, yeah. I think I’ve got one you might be interested in. One day I was walking alone and I came upon a little old lady who was being mercilessly harassed by a huge guy who was standing beside one of those great big motorcycles. He was verbally abusing her and I began to think that he might even do something worse." "What did you do?" asked the Angel. "Well, I just stepped right up and pushed over the motorcycle just to distract him. Then I kicked him real hard in the shins and told the old lady to run for help." "Amazing!" said the Angel. "That’s not all," continued Fred, "While he was grabbing his shin, I hauled off and gave the guy a great shot right to the gut with my fist." The angel looked at the man, took into account that his slight build and timid nature and began to question the authenticity of his story. "Just when did you perform this heroic deed?" Fred took one look at his watch and replied, "Oh, about two or three minutes ago." WELL, I DOUBT IF THIS IS WHAT IS GOING TO HAPPEN WHEN WE DIE, BUT IT SURE IS FUNNY! AS CHRISTIANS, HOWEVER, IT WOULD BE WISE FOR US, IN A SERIES ABOUT HEAVEN, TO ASK THE QUESTION, "WHAT WILL HEAVEN BE LIKE?"
I. The Intermediate Heaven. When a person dies there is a temporary separation of the body and the soul (See 2 Corinthians 5:8). This is true even of unbelievers who will one day be resurrected to face God’s judgment (See John 5:28-29). Theologians have come to call this the intermediate state. It is that time prior to the resurrection of our bodies, but after our deaths when our souls are with the Lord (See Revelation 6:9). So what will this temporary state be like for us, when we are with the Lord, yet still awaiting the resurrection of our bodies? Here are a few thoughts for you to consider from Revelation 6:9-11, a passage which describes those who have been martyred for their faith and are awaiting God’ final judgment and the resurrection from the dead.
A. They are able to express themselves so that they can be heard by others ("They called out in a loud voice"--Verse 10).
B. They are aware of time ("How long"--Verse 10).
C. They have an audience with God (They address Him as "sovereign Lord, holy and true"--Verse 10).
D. They have a deep concern for justice ("Until you judge the inhabitants of the earth"--Verse 10).
E. They have memories of their lives on earth ("and avenge our blood" -- Verse 10).
F. They still have their individuality ("each of them was given a white robe--Verse 11).
G. They probably have some sort of physical form (It assumes they were able to put on the white robe--Verse 11).
H. They are aware of God’s sovereign plan ("they were told to wait a little longer, until the number of their fellow servants and brothers who were to be killed as they had been was completed--Verse 11). There is nothing in this text that leads us to believe that this type of experience is limited to only those who have been martyred for their faith. As a matter of fact, many of the same conclusions can be drawn from the story of the Rich Man, Lazarus and Abraham in Luke 16:19-31. Application: What does this mean for us? Well, first it means that your believing family and friends who have preceded you in death are doing very well, abiding in the very presence of Christ and awaiting the fulfillment of all things. Second, it means that you have this same hope to look forward to. I want to be careful not to take this too far, but it seems to me that if believers who have died are with the Lord, and the Lord is with us, then it might be that we can ask Him to let them know how we’re doing. I have to confess that I have done this with regard to my mom.