Episode 80: Heaven- Our Eternal Home as Believers, Part 2

Peace to Live By Episode 80: Heaven- Our Eternal Home as Believers, Part 2 - Daniel Litton
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[Transcript may not match broadcasted sermon word for word, and contains extra material that was cut from the broadcast due to time constraints]

       I can remember a couple years ago I was in Tombstone, Arizona, which is about 30 miles from the Mexican border. I was there site-seeing, of course, as I have always been a fan of the west, and even the frontier and cowboy era in the latter half of the 1800s. Tombstone is a flat area, which is surrounded by mountains, I guess you would say, in Southern Arizona. The town is old; very, very old for sure. The streets themselves are dust, and dusty old buildings definitely show their age, and the bear the feel and resemblance of the old west. The town feels like a cowboy and gun-slinger town, one that certainly was hustling and bustling with people in its day. I remember it was pretty desolate, as there weren’t a lot of people there—barely any in fact. Of course, the O.K. Corral is there, or a remake of it, and many of us know that’s where the famous shootout occurred involving Wyatt Earp and Doc Holiday versus some troublesome outlaw. So, yes, you can stand in front of that and get your picture taken. The old, original site is there to, but there’s just no corral there anymore.

       I recall during that afternoon I was there, I got thirsty and we walked into one of the saloons that was there. I mean, it’s a western town, so you gotta go into a saloon. It’s just the right thing to do. My dad and I sat down and ordered some sarsaparilla (which, if you don’t know what that is, it’s a soda kinda like root beer). We were hungry so we also ordered lunch. Being in this saloon, the waitress where dressed with the period clothing of the day—kinda risqué—at least, by western standards. Anyway, our waitress seemed to particularly interested into me—and I’m sure she showed attention to just about every young guy that came through the door. She definitely was attractive, and probably about my age. However, I did not return her interest, and really wouldn’t even say much to her because I just wasn’t interested in flirting with her. Regardless, this seemed to particularly bother her, and she never stop trying until the moment we left. Some girls want to be the center of attention, and when every guy doesn’t give them that attention, it really bothers them.

       Anyhow, after lunch we went back out into the blazing sun, and man it was hot, probably over 100 degrees. We continued our site seeing walking around the old buildings—hotels, banks, and all that was there. I remember right before we left we stopped by the cemetery that was at the end of town. Yes, the old, original Boot Hill Cemetery—the most famous of all the bears that name. High up on a hill, it had good, scenic views of the surrounding area. The cemetery was encased by an aged, hand-made looking fence. Of course, there were tombstones everywhere among the cactus, and piles of rocks on top of the graves. That’s the way they buried the bodies. The outlaws killed in the O.K. Corral gunfight are buried there, along with many others. It’s definitely a site to see, and it captures the vision that I think a lot of us guys have had when we have envisioned such sights. It’s pretty much like the movies show you. And, it’s quiet and still, and you could hear a pin drop. Definitely has death in the air.

       This vision of Tombstone I have presented today is quite the worn out place. It’s certainly not the most comfortable place in the world. I think the more we become familiar with our current world, I think sometimes the more we cannot wait for the next one to come. We know and have become familiar with the effects of sin around us. What I want to talk about today is quite a bit different then what I have been talking about, and that is Heaven. The place that we are going to go to when we die, that is, if we are in personal relationship with Jesus, is going to be an awesome place. It’s not going to be old, but rather it will be new. It will be streets of gold instead of dust. There are going to be a lot of people there, and everyone is going to love Jesus and his ways. Everyone is going to be in perfect harmony with one another. There won’t be any shootouts, nor cemeteries, nor tombstones, but everybody is going to live forever. All there will be is life in the air.

       The Apostle Paul had something important to tell us regarding this life and how we see things. He told the church at Corinth, “For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known” (1 Corinthians 13:12, ESV). Several things are interesting about this verse, and we should know that he is comparing how we see things now, in this world, with how we are going to see things in the next life. We think we know a lot right now, but the reality is, is that we really don’t know much at all. We really have no idea of how much there is to know. Paul also told the Corinthian church later in time that he knew a man who had been to Heaven, and he was probably talking about himself. He said of this man, “he heard things that cannot be told, which man may not utter” (2 Corinthians 12:4, ESV).

       So, in talking about all this that we are going to experience, let’s talk about the setup for the future in a big picture view. We know that anybody that dies right now who is saved will go to the third realm of existence, to Heaven, where God resides. Now, in the future God is going to be at the same place we are located. First, as we have been studying, God is going to establish a Millennial Kingdom here on the earth, where Christ reigns as King. During that time, we will help Jesus with various tasks as pertains to ruling and whatever else he has in store for us. That is the time of earth history where the Israelites have their promised kingdom, the kingdom that was promised to King David quite a long time ago. Then, after that, God is going to destroy our current world, and then he is going to create a new Heaven (which is a new outer-space), and a new earth. The Bible says that the New Jerusalem will come down out of Heaven and perhaps float above the earth or something like that. It is in this new world where we will live for eternity. The Prophet Isaiah talked about this, when he recorded the Lord as saying, “For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth, and the former things shall not be remembered or come into mind. But be glad and rejoice forever in that which I create; for behold, I create Jerusalem to be a joy, and her people to be a gladness” (Isaiah 65:17, 18, ESV).

       The ultimate goal right now in the Christian’s mind is to be waiting, to be looking forward to this new heaven and new earth. That’s what the Apostle Peter has told us, when he said, “But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells” (2 Peter 3:13, ESV). Again, this goes back to us longing to reside in a sin-free environment, one in which sin has been eliminated from the picture. Recall? The Apostle Paul talked about this in Romans 8. Let’s turn over there and quickly consider that passage. He said:

“For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience” (Romans 8:18-25, ESV).

There will be absolute peace in the new world that we hope for. This is a world in which we will be completely free of any anxiety or sadness. Psalms 9:6 says, “The enemy came to an end in everlasting ruins; their cities you rooted out; the very memory of them has perished” (ESV). The old world then will be far from us.

       In considering this new heaven and new earth, now let’s move into obviously the best place we are going to find information on it, which is in Revelation 21 and 22. There is a lot to consider in this passage of text. We are not going to read through it verse by verse, or section by section, and I want to bring up other verses from Scripture that will help us get the best picture we can. I would definitely encourage you to read Revelation 21 and 22 on your own time, as it is a great and encouraging passage of Scripture. It should be noted there many things about this new world we just won’t know until we actually experience it. Right now, there is no way for us to know everything we would like to know about it. But we should note that this new world will obviously be better than our current one, and that’s for multiple reasons, like the fact that we will be with God, the people who are our fellow family members who are saved will be there, and that he has created everything even more beautiful.

       So, in a physical, natural sense, what is this world going to be like? What is it going to look like? Well, Revelation 21 tells us that God is going to create a new heaven and a new earth. The new heaven, again, is a new outer-space. However, there won’t be any sun for the new earth. The text says that God’s glory will be the light of the city, with Jesus being the actual lamp. There also will be no ocean, but there will be water—like the The River of Life that goes through the center of the New Jerusalem, from the throne of God. Animals are not mentioned in the new world; so we don’t know for sure whether animals will be there or not. There will be trees—like The Tree of Life. There will be fruit to eat, then, and I’m sure it will be incredible—better than any earthly food we’ve ever had. Mountains will be there. So, it will be scenic for sure. A street of gold, like transparent glass John tells us, is there with a great wall around the city, which includes gates which are made of pearls. Nighttime will not exist, at least, in the city.

       Now, in Revelation 21, the Apostle John talks extensively about the New Jerusalem. In essence, this New Jerusalem is a place that God has been preparing and of which he brings down out of Heaven, the third realm of existence (which has not be destroyed), and he brings it down and displays it for everyone to see, in its glory. It is very possible that this is where our homes will be—the places that Jesus talked about preparing for us. He has promised us that he is currently developing a personal abode for each of us, one that is being crafted to our particular liking. He said, in John’s Gospel, “Believe in God; believe also in me. 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? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. And you know the way to where I am going” (John 14:1-4, ESV).

       Yes, there are going to be abundance in residences and abundance in possessions in our eternal state. Each of us will have a place tailor made for ourselves. Everything you like, God knows, and he will have built that into your residence. Whether it is a piano, a style of furniture, a pool, varying plants, certain types of pictures, whatever, all will be hand-picked. And God knows better than anyone. He knows your hearts desires. And we will share these residences with our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, inviting them over to spend time with us as we spend time with them. And not to mention when the Lord himself comes to visit us personally. The Apostle John has told us, “And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God” (Revelation 21:3, ESV).

       The actual measurements of the new Jerusalem are discussed. John says the city is 12,000 stadia in a perfect square—so length, width, and height are the same. Now, a stadia measures to be about 1,400 miles. Therefore, considering it’s a square, this is a pretty big city to say the least, and probably will have skyscrapers or something like that since John talks about the height of it. Regardless, this city will be much more glorious and bigger than any city that we currently have on the earth. If we do the math here, an earthly city is just measured by length and width. For easier understanding then, if we just measured the length and width of the New Jerusalem, the number comes out to be 1,960,000 square miles. For comparison, Columbus, Ohio is 223 square miles. The state of Ohio itself is 44,825 square miles. Now, the continental United States is about 3,120,000 square miles. So, the city itself then, the New Jerusalem, is about two-thirds the size of the continental United States. And remember, the height is the same as the length and width. Understandably then, a lot of people are going to be there.

       Now, I must admit that I personally am not much of a city-guy myself. That is, I personally prefer the suburbs and country-life more. However, I am not concerned about this because the city will be a place you want to be. When we vacation in our current world, Disneyland or Disney World are hot spots. These theme parks are fun, with happy feelings and the feel is quite different from when you’re moving about in a metropolitan, real-life city. Stop and think what I am saying here. Disneyland is a place where everything is trying to be perfect. You are there to have fun, and you have a good attitude about it. Well, I think the New Jerusalem will be the same way. Besides, there will be a tremendous amount of area outside the city—for there is a New Heaven also, a new outer-space. So, it is theoretically possible, and many have discussed this, that there will be a countryside which we can venture into. There may even be other planets which we can visit, of which there are things to do. It could be a little like Star Trek, for instance. Regardless, I think based off of the Revelation 21 passage that it seems that our primary home, the home of everyone, will be in the New Jerusalem. In saying all of this, it is important to realize that we are going to like it and there is going to be plenty of things to keep us occupied.

       The greatest thing about this city is the fact that we will be with God forever, in a one-on-one basis. Now, if that bothers you in your spirit, I would definitely encourage you to consider why that might be. God is on our sides; he is our friend. He’s not overbearing or critical of us. If we have a wrong view of God, that’s something we really need to focus on correcting in our lives. Here in the New Jerusalem, we will be in God’s presence forever. We will know God the best we can. This is just an incredible, awesome thing to think about. And not only this, but also we will be with him face to face. You will never have to be concerned about anything ever again. Any question you have about anything, God will be right there to ask. We will be in perfect fellowship with him, so there won’t be anytime were we are not doing what is right. We won’t have to consider whether what we are doing is what God wants us to be doing, because he will be right there to direct us in his own, personal will for us. And in carrying out God’s will, we will do it with a perfect conscious, not concerned about any sin, temptation, consequence of sin, past rejection, etc. We will be living with God perfectly.

       And, not only will we be with God, but we will be with fellow human beings, many of whom we have cultivated and developed relationships with in this life. We will have relationships abounding. Many of our relationships will be with those people we knew on the earth, who were saved, and even people we helped lead into relationship with Christ. Those people will be truly joyous for us because we will know that we partook in God’s work to bring that person to himself. That’s one reason why our prayer and witnessing is so important now because we can gain friends for eternity. In our relationships, we won’t be able to recall any sins that had taken place while we are on the earth. They will be perfect, as we are perfect. Any tension or problem that hasn’t been able to be resolved in this life will be completely resolved and gone in the next one. There won’t be any strained relations at all, which is a really great thing that God has done for us. The writer of Hebrews has told us that God has said, “For I will be merciful toward their iniquities, and I will remember their sins no more” (Hebrews 8:12, ESV). So, we can be sure that if God forgets our sin, and he even does in our relationships with him on the earth right now, then we will forget it too in Heaven. As an aside, what about sin that occurred in the Bible? If God’s Word lasts forever, how is it that those parts of Scripture that recorded sin in them will be there for eternity? I’m not sure about that, but I know we will forget all sin.

       Speaking of our fellow brothers and sisters, what do you think we will look like? Well, we will have new, perfect bodies for sure. Again, Paul told the Corinthians, “Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality” (1 Corinthians 15:51-53, ESV). Of course, he is talking about the Rapture of the Church here, but it is at the Rapture that we all receive our new, resurrection bodies, whether we are alive on the earth or not at the time the Rapture occurs. Since our bodies will be imperishable, unable to die or be affected by sin, we can imagine they will be awesome. I would imagine that all of us will be perfectly in shape, for one. For anyone having trouble losing weight right now, remember, when you get your new body, you will lose it instantaneously. We will all be beautiful, perfect in every way that God has made us. Perhaps we will all be the same age, like say, 33 years old, the age that Christ supposedly was when he died and was raised again. That’s speculation but could be true.

       We know that on the earth, right now, we are doing whatever it is that God has enabled us to do, that which he has gifted us to do. The Bible even tells us that God has given each of us who have become a Christian varying spiritual gifts, some of us even more than one spiritual gift, and we use this gift or gifts to serve others within the body of Christ. And we may even use them to serve unbelievers. And besides our spiritual gifts, we all do things in life that we have progressively gained talent in, our careers, and many of which God has led us to do. I believe that our current careers will be representative of what we do in Heaven. Now, I don’t think this will be completely across the board, as obviously there are some occupations on the earth that deal particularly with sin which will not be in Heaven. What are some of these careers? Well, if you stop and think about it, positions like doctors, lawyers, judges, and even policemen won’t be needed in Heaven. But fear not, for God will have things for everyone to do—things that they will like and want to do. It will line up with people’s hearts. Perhaps if you’re in an occupation today that won’t be carried over to Heaven, perhaps you will be working in a field of something else that you have always wanted to do—perhaps something pertaining to a hobby, for instance. Nonetheless, everyone in the end will be happy with whatever they are doing.

       Personally, I often wonder if the good things on earth are representative of what will be in Heaven. What I mean is that there are a lot of good things we’ve come up with—things like cars, computers, nice clothes, jewelry, and things like that, and I personally believe these types of things will be in Heaven. We know that the stuff, the possessions, we have here on the earth are going to be destroyed; there is no doubt about that. However, we also know as I have been talking about that Jesus is preparing a place for us, which surely will include possessions—our favorite things. If your a lady and like nice clothes, your possessions will likely include those. If you’re a guy and like computers or smartphones, you’re probably going to have some great stuff in that category. Perhaps you like nice vacations. Well, God knows that and you’re going to have plenty of good times and things to do in the new world. It is things like that that should encourage us to be obedient now, in our current time, to be improving ourselves, to be using our gifts, because all of this racks up more and more rewards for us in the future. And, there will be no comparisons of possessions either in the future. for each of us will be completely satisfied with what we have. There aren’t going to be big domes filled with stuff we could have had but didn’t get—that’s a negative thought. But, we will be satisfied with what we do have, and we can have even more, the more we respond to God from the heart in this life.

       In closing today, there is one more thing I want to consider here in talking about the New Jerusalem. Revelation 21:27 tells us, “But nothing unclean will ever enter it, nor anyone who does what is detestable or false, but only those who are written in the Lamb's book of life” (ESV). For those of you who don't know Jesus as your personal Savior and Guide, I want you to realize that you need to consider what has been said here today. Just walking away and saying, “I don't believe that,” isn’t a wise option, and it doesn’t make the truth go away. You need to take seriously God's warning to you today, and I trust that you will make the right decision and trust Jesus Christ as your personal Savior and Guide in life. God wants everyone to come to know him―no matter who you are, no matter what you've done, no matter how successful or unsuccessful you think you are. God shows his love for everyone in the world, and he wants you to come into right relationship with him today. God is going to bring people from every nation into the New Jerusalem, and God is wanting you to join him today.

       It is true that God sent his Son to the earth, 2,000 years ago, and he died on a cross as a perfect sacrifice for sins, which God in his righteousness requires. Jesus was perfect, and he died the penalty of death for our sins, so that we could have a payment for our sins. We can depend on Jesus’ sacrifice to cover the wrong things we have done in our lives. Now, it didn’t end here, but Christ rose from the dead by God’s power, and he is at God’s right hand today. Anyone who believes in him, turning from his or her sins, can be saved from all sins against God and gain eternal life.

       Again, Revelation also tells us, “But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death” (Revelation 21:8, ESV). Even though The Lake of Fire is a real place, you don't have to go there. No one has to go there. There is no one sin, or series of sins, you could commit that would make God not offer you his salvation. Christians aren't just perfect people who have been perfect their wholes lives. Christians are often times people who were severe sinners, who had done vile things in their lives, but who have received God’s forgiveness. God will accept anyone who comes to him. It doesn't matter even if you're part of another religion today, he will accept anyone and everyone who comes to him, turning from their sins to Jesus Christ.

       If you would like to accept Jesus as your personal Savior and Guide today, and be set free from any possibility of ever entering The Lake of Fire, then just follow my lead in this prayer:

God, I am a sinner. I have spent my life going against you, doing things against you. But today I want to accept your free gift of salvation through Jesus. I believe he died for my sins and rose from the dead, and that I can have a new life in you today. I give my life over to you, so that you will make me new and be my guide. Please, God, change my life, and make me a better person, like Jesus. In Jesus' name we pray, Amen.

       Let's pray:

       Heavenly Father, thank you for your wonderful love today. I thank you that you have provided a way of escape for us so that we do not have to go into The Lake of Fire, and be separated from you and tormented every moment after we die. Father, there is no other reality apart from you that is good and honest. We really can trust in you. You can be counted on. And you give us Heaven for the future, one the is personally prepared for us, in your goodness, and we will be with you forever, completely satisfied and safe at the same time.

       I love you, Father, and I pray those who have heard this message today about Heaven on this Easter Sunday, and who don't know you. I ask that you will help them to accept your truth. I pray that they will believe in Jesus. Father, open their eyes and let them see. Let them see your glory, the glory you have now and the glory you have had since before the foundation of the world. Thank you, Father, for your wonderful love, and expand that love to others today in Jesus. In Jesus name I pray, the only True God who takes away the sin of worldly sinners, and gives us Heaven forever in the future, in his name, Amen.

-Daniel Litton