Summary: Compared to other world religions, Christianity has very little to say about what heaven will be like. Why would that be and what can we learn from what the Bible DOES say about our eternal home?
A little boy got on the elevator with his father at the Empire State Building. They were going to the observation deck at the top and view the city. As the elevator ascended the boy watched the signs flash as they went by the floors: 10, 20, 30, 40, 50, 60, 70. The farther up they went, the more nervous the boy became. Finally he looked up as his dad and said, “Daddy, does God know we're coming?” (Leighton Ford, "Hope for a Great Forever," Preaching Today, Tape No. 96)
This morning, we’re going to talk about what heaven is like, and the first thing I want to point out is this: God knows we’re coming. Jesus said: “In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?” John 14:2
God knows we’re coming… and He’s prepared a room just for you. You could go to the swankiest resorts or the most expensive hotels on the face of the planet and you’ll never experience such a glorious room as the one God has set aside just for you.
AND many people want to go there. In fact almost every religion has some concept of what heaven is: “It’s been called paradise, utopia, Nirvana, Asgard, Valhalla, Zion, City of David, New Jerusalem, it’s a city and a country, the kingdom, the city of God, the happy hunting grounds, the sweet by and by, a house not built by hands, streets paved with gold, walls made of jasper, pearls and all kinds of precious jewels.” (Joseph Phillips)
And the reason Heaven is so universally believed in is because “(God) has set eternity in the hearts of men…” (Ecclesiastes 3:11) God has placed - inside of us - this idea that there’s got to be more than THIS! There’s got to be a place where God rewards those who love Him, and (of course) a place where God punishes those who don’t!
So what will heaven be like? Well, ODDLY enough… the Bible doesn’t really tell us all that much. In fact, Paul implies that when HE got to go see heaven “he heard things that cannot be told, which man may not utter.” II Corinthians 12:4
Now other religions have very explicit descriptions of heaven. The Koran has a very detailed description of paradise – it’s a place filled with beautiful, large eyed “female companions” (It’s all about the guys. The girls get to tag along, but heaven for Muslims is a very male type of place). And much of Muslim teachings about heaven is based on stories Mohammed told about a miraculous journey he supposedly had there.
Now, the Buddhists have as many paradises as there are Buddhas. Each enlightened being has their own personal heaven. And, in addition, there are various gods and goddesses inhabit a series of heavens all their own. (Time 3/24/97 p. 78)
And I could go on and on and on about the various religions and their descriptions of what heaven would be like… BUT CHRISTIANITY says comparatively little about heaven outside of some cryptic statements about what will and won’t be there. And you got to expect that… because no matter what you and I may think of heaven our imaginations are just a pathetic shadow of the reality of what it’s going to be like.
ILLUS: Now if you were to ask ME what I thought heaven would be like: I’ve always pictured heaven as a Log cabin beside a waterfall with a couple of horses out back. I’m going to get a bowl of manna and watch reruns of the crossing of the Red Sea, the day the Sun stood still in sky, and the day Shadrach, Meschach and Abednego were thrown in the fiery furnace.
But all of my imaginations of what heaven will be like can’t even touch the glory, the majesty and the awe we’ll feel when we get there.
Now here’s the deal: the Bible doesn’t get real “descriptive” about heaven. It doesn’t tell us the color of the curtains and carpets. It doesn’t tell us what pictures will be on the walls. Instead, God gives us images - word pictures - that help us have a “feeling” of what Heaven in like.’
For example, the Bible tells us that heaven is… UP. Now, you’d think that’d be obvious, but skeptics have attacked that for years. They’ve scoffed and asked “where exactly is this heaven of yours? Is it up there in the stratosphere somewhere? Is it on the outskirts of our solar system? Is it in a distant galaxy? Or on the other side of the Universe?”
ILLUS: Back in the 60’s there was a Russian Cosmonaut Major Titov who mocked our faith. He’d just returned from his trip into space (UP) and scoffed that he hadn’t seen God while he was there. Someone heard about that joked: “Well, if he’d stepped out his space suit he’d have seen God!”