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What’s Up With Heaven?

John 14:1-3

http://gbcdecatur.org/sermons/WhatsUp.html

Epitaph in Indiana:

“Here lies the body of old man Peas,

Buried ‘neath the flowers and trees.

But Peas ain’t here, just the pod.

Peas shelled out and went to God.”

A lady tried to quote this to her women’s missionary group, but accidentally got it wrong…

“Here lies the body of old man Peas,

Buried ‘neath the flowers and trees.

But Peas ain’t here, just the shell...” [she couldn’t finish!]

Well, since it’s true that one day true believers will leave the pod behind…just an empty shell...and go somewhere called heaven, it makes sense to check out the place we’re going to live forever!

Ill.—A teacher asked the children in her Sunday School class, "If I sold my house and my car and gave all my money to the church, would I get into heaven?"

"NO!" the children all answered.

"If I cleaned the church every day, mowed the yard, and kept everything neat and tidy, would I get into heaven?"

Again, the answer was "NO!"

"Well," she continued, "then how can I get to heaven?"

From the back of the room, a five-year-old boy shouted out, "You gotta be dead!"

Where will you go when you die? The current death rate is still 100%. 3 humans die each second. Over a quarter million people each day go either to heaven or hell.

Where are we to get our information about heaven? From our imagination or a dream we had? From books written by some who have had ‘near death’ experiences? No, the Bible says no one has seen God at any time, and none can return from the dead. Even Paul, who WAS allowed a glimpse into heaven was sent back with instruction not to tell what he saw. But John was given a revelation…a vision, and was given permission to give us a peek into heaven, but with no great detail.

It was this same John who earlier wrote this gospel we study, and was inspired to reveal a bit about the place Jesus would go to prepare for us!

Some say we shouldn’t give too much effort to thinking about heaven, but rather focus on our life on earth. “So heavenly minded you’re no earthly good.” They say that if we focus on the next world we will lose our vision for relieving suffering in this world.

I believe that it is when we lose sight of eternity that we get so wrapped up in this present life. Thinking about hell doesn’t discourage me in this life, it motivates me to preach the truth! And thinking about heaven doesn’t distract me from the here and now, it motivates me to take others there with me!

It has always bothered me that statistics say that by and large, Christians don’t live any different than the world does. Could it be, in part, because of a lack of teaching on eternity?

You see, when you forget that God has prepared a wonderful place for you in eternity, or when it is simply not on your radar screen, you develop a hunger for paradise in your heart and you begin trying to create it here on earth. You will spend a lot of money and go to great extremes to try to build your utopia, complete with all the comforts of heaven.

You’ll need to somehow remove pain, and have a beautiful place, more toys and luxuries, no stress, no commitments…just find a way to escape from this world.

These things may be ok to have to some extent, but let’s remember we could never really come close to approximating what awaits us in heaven. You could be rich, and it will only lead to emptiness. Fame is a pain, and stressful! Pleasure is fleeting, and doesn’t last, and no matter how you try to medicate away the pain, it is real, and never completely goes away.

The richest man who ever lived was also the wisest, and reasoned that it is all vanity! God has placed within the human heart a hunger for heaven, and if we don’t feed that hunger from the truth of the Word of God, we will subconsciously begin to attempt to replace that with the cheap and tawdry allurements of this world, trying to create a paradise of our own.

Question? What if God allowed us to create our own heaven on earth, but we had to trade the true heaven in order to get it?

What’s up with heaven?

1. The Prominence of Heaven.

It is mentioned over 500 times in the Bible. It means 'lofty,' or 'high up.' It carries the idea of a raised goal, as in, being high on our priority list as something to aspire to.

Yes, heaven is prominent in the Bible, prominent in our language and culture…just not prominent in our thoughts as believers or else we would make some big changes in how we view life on earth. Our perspective would be very different if we really grasped what Jesus said to us in our text today.

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