“A Biblical Description of Heaven”

(Sunday Morning February 21st, 2010)

 

Passage: Revelation 21:1-6

 

O.S.  In John 8:44, We are Told That Satan is a Liar and the Father of Lies, and I Believe That Some of His Favorite Lies are About Heaven. In Fact, in Revelation 13:6, We are Told That Satan… “…opened his mouth to blaspheme God, and to slander his name  and his dwelling place and those who live in heaven” (NIV)

 

So, There It is; the Bible Specifically Says That Our Enemy Attacks Three Things: God’s Person, God’s People and God’s Place – Namely Heaven. Satan Wants Us to Think of Heaven as a Boring Meaningless Place, a Place Where
We Will Sit, as the Country and Western Singer Hoyt Axton Used to Say,
“With a Rusty Old Halo on a Skinny White Cloud”  Strumming a Harp for All of Eternity. (I Can’t Think of Anything More Boring Than That.)  Or Satan Wants to Simply Take Heaven Outside the Realm of Our Imagination. He Wants Us to Accept the Idea That We Cannot Comprehend Anything About What Heaven is Really Like With Our Finite Minds; and Therefore, We Shouldn’t waste Our Time Thinking About It.  For You See, Satan Knows That as Long as Heaven Remains Something That is Ethereal and Incomprehensible; We Won’t Desire It. And, Unfortunately, He’s Been Able to do a Pretty Good Job of This.

 

Let Me Give You an Example. I Want You to Complete This Phrase.

 

Q.n = Are You Ready? Here It Is.

          
“He is so Heavenly Minded That (What?) - He - is - no - Earthly - Good”

 

Q.n = Is That Really True?

Ans = Not at All

 

In Fact, the Bible Says That Exactly the Opposite is True. In Colossians 3:1-2, the Apostle Paul Said, “1…keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth”.  Paul Said That Because He Knew That a Person Who is Genuinely Seeking Those Things That are Above and Has Set His Mind on the Things Above Will Most Certainly Glorify God With His Life and Serve His Fellowman And Jesus Said This in Matthew 6:20-21 for the Same Reason; He Said, “20 … store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust  destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal;  (Listen) 21 for where your  treasure is, there your heart will be also”

 

Q.n = What Does Jesus Want Us to Set Our Mind and Affections On?

Ans = Heaven, Because It Will Cause Us to Invest in the Kingdom

 

This Kind of Mindset, for Example, is What Caused Moses to Become a Great Man of God. Moses Had Everything This World Could Offer; Pleasure, Power, Prestige, You Name It, and He Was in Line to Become the Next Pharaoh of Egypt      Yet, We are Told in Hebrews 11:24-26 That Moses Chose to Endure Ill-Treatment With the People of God, Instead of Enjoying the Passing Pleasures of Sin, and He Considered the Reproach of Christ to be Greater Riches Than All of the Treasures of Egypt, Because, LISTEN TO ME NOW, Because “…he was looking to the reward”.

 

Pt =   A Proper Understanding of Heaven Can Transform Your Life and Mine, and It Can Cause Us to Love God More and to Accomplish a Great Deal of Earthly Good So, I Want to Spend Some Time This Morning Elaborating on What the Bible Tells Us About Heaven, Not on Speculation, Not on What Someone Claims They Saw During an Out of Body exprience or Something Like That. (Elaborate)  No, I Want Us to go to the Bible, Because I Believe That It is Absolutely Reliable.

 

I.  The Bible Says That Heaven is a Prepared Place

 

1) It is Lovely

 

vs 1 (Read)

 

Now, I Want You to Notice That John Mentions a New Heaven and a New Earth. This Tells Us That the Physical Features of Our Eternal Home Will Not be Entirely Unfamiliar to Us In Fact, I Want You to Look at the Next Chapter With Me, Look at Revelation 22:1-2  and Notice What It Says. (Turn and Read)

 

 We are Also Told in Revelation 21:10 That John Was Taken to “a Great and High  Mountain” Not THE Great and High Mountain But A Great and High Mountain” . So, We Know That We Will Have at Least One River There as Well as Many Trees and at Least One Mountain Range, But There Will be no Sea. (Elaborate = Separates)

 

Now, This Word That is Translated as “New” in These Two Verses Does Not Mean That It is “New” in Time; It Does Not Refer to Chronological Time, It Refers to Being “New” in Terms of It’s Quality; “New” in the Sense That It Has Been Renovated and That It is “Fresh”.  We are Told in 2 Peter 3:12-13, That Someday the Earth and the Heavens as We Know Them Today Will be Purified by Being Subjected to Intense Heat, But Listen, That Phrase Literally Means “to be laid bare”  So, It Does Not Mean That the Elements are Going to be Completely Annihilated; But Rather, That God is Going to Purify Them and Reshape Them,Moreover, We are Told in Verse 2 That This City, the New Jerusalem, Has Been“Made Ready” as a Bride Prepared for Husband

 

Q.n = So, What Does That Phrase “Made Ready” Tell Us?

Ans = Well, It Tells Us That It is Already in Existence

 

God is Simply Going to Bring This City That He Has Spent Over 2000 Years Preparing for Us Down From  Heaven and Place It Upon the New Earth. (Think About That – He Created This Planet and Everything on It in Six Days)

St = Jesus Referred to This in John 14:2-3 When He Said This to His Disciples; He Said, “2 In My Father's house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you.  3 If I go and prepare a place for you,I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also”.

 

Q.n = Three Times in Those Two Verses; Jesus Referred to Heaven as What?

Ans = A Place

 

Jesus Also Said I am Going to “PREPARE” a Place for You. He Did Not Describe Heaven as an Ethereal, Non-Physical State of Being; He Described It as a Literal Place And That Was a Reference to This City; the New Jerusalem That We are Told Here Has Been Made Ready as a Bride for Her Husband.

 

Q.n = Now, on What Day of Her Life is a Woman the Most Prepared and Beautiful?

Ans = Her Wedding Day

 

I’ve Done a Lot of Weddings in My Time, and I Like to Joke and Say That I’ve Never Seen an Ugly Bride; I’ve Seen Some That Have Barely Made It, But I’ve Never Seen an Ugly Bride

 

Pt  =  I am Convinced That You and I are Going to be a Lot More FamiliarWith Heaven Than We Ever Thought That We Would Be Because as I Have Searched the Scriptures, I Have Discovered That the Earth We Live Upon Today is Merely a Shadow of the Reality That is to Come.

 

By the Way, the Bible Never Says That the “Eden” of the Old Testament Was Destroyed Only That Adam and Eve Lost Access to It And in the Final Scene of Heaven, We Find Man, Listen to This, in a Garden, by a River With Access to the Tree of Life Which Will Bear 12 Kinds of Fruit, And So, Since God Described His First Creation as “Very Good”, There is no Reason for Us to Assume That He Abandoned the Original Blueprints, And So, I See a New Earth as Simply an Improvement on the First One With…Greener Grass…and Taller Trees…and Higher Mountains…Lakes and Rivers
That are More Beautiful Than We Have Now, and a Brighter Day and a Bluer Sky.

 

2) It is Large

 

Over in Verse 16 of This Same Chapter, We are Told That God Commanded an Angel to Measure This City, and He Gives Us the Measurements of It.

 

vs 16 (Read)

 

Now Listen, 1500 Miles is the Distance From Houston to New York City, and It is the Distance From the Tip of Florida to the Tip of Maine. And Please Notice That This City is Shaped Like a Cube Which Means That It Will Stand Much Higher Than Our Current Atmosphere,For You See, We Call Denver “The Mile High City”, But the New Jerusalem is Described as “The 1500 Mile High City”.

__________________________________________________________________________________________________
 

Ill: Randy Alcorn, in His Book Entitled “Heaven,” Which I Will Encourage You to Read,  Said This About the Size of This City; He Said, “We don’t need to worry that Heaven will be crowded.  The ground level of the city will be nearly two million square miles.  This is forty times bigger than England, and fifteen thousand times bigger than London.  It’s ten times as big as France or Germany and far larger than India.  But remember, that’s just the ground level. Given the dimensions of a 1,400 mile cube (I Want You to Notice That He’s Being Conservative), if the city consisted of different levels, and if each story were a generous 12 feet high, the city would have over 600,000 stories.  If they were on different levels, billions of people could occupy the New Jerusalem, with many square miles per person”


Ill:  An Australian Engineer by the Name of Tamus Estimated That the Population Capacity for a City This Size Would be ONE HUNDRED THOUSAND MILLION Which Was SEVENTY Times the Population of the World at That Time.

_________________________________________________________________________________________________

 

Q.n = So, is John’s Description of the Size of This City Literal or Figurative?

Ans = I Believe It is Literal

 

And I am Saying That Based on What We are Told in Verse 17 (Read)

 

Q.n = Why Did This Angel Bother to Say That the Wall Was 72 Yards High or Wide? Why Didn’t He Round It Off to 70 or 75?  and Why Did He Bother to Tell Us That Angelic Measurements are the Same as Human Measurements?


Ans = He Wants Us to Know That This is the Literal Size of This City

 

3) It is Luxurious

 

One of the Most Outstanding Features of Heaven is That It is a City of Light

 

vs 23 (Read)

 

The Prophet Isaiah Described This Same Scene in Isaiah 24:23, and He Said, “Then the moon will be abashed and the sun ashamed, for the Lord of hosts will reign on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem, and His glory will be before His elders”.

 

vs 18-19a (Read)

 

Gold is Not Normally Transparent; But We Need to Remember That This City Has a Purpose and That is to Reflect the Glory of the Lord. A Jasper Stone, as We Know It is Also Opaque, But This One is Not, In Fact, This is Really Not the Translation of a Word But Rather the Transliteration of a Word That is Best Understood as Being a Modern Day Diamond. Then, We Have All of These Different Colored Gems (Elaborate), and a Street (Singular vs 21) Made of Pure Gold (We Walk on Stuff Like That Up Here). John Also Says That There are Twelve Gates Providing Access to This City,  and That Each of Them Have Been Made of a Single Pearl (Elaborate = Big Oyster).

 

By the Way, I Mentioned Trees, and Rivers, and Lakes, and Mountains, and a Garden Earlier; and Now, I Can Add Flowers to That Description Because in 2 Corinthians 12:2, the Apostle Paul Says That He Was Caught Up Into the Third Heaven. (Elaborate = Atmosphere, Outer Space, God’s Presence) Someone Has Pointed Out That We Can See the First Heaven by Day; We Can See the Second Heaven by Night, and We Can See the Third Heaven by Faith. And Then, Paul Tells Us in 2 Corinthians 12:4 That He…“…was caught up into Paradise…”  and That Word Literally Means “Walled Garden”, And So, We Know That There is at Least One Beautiful Botanical Garden in the City of Heaven.

 

 

II. The Bible Says That Heaven is a Populated Place

 

There are Some People, as Most of Us Know, Who Say That Heaven is Going to be Very Sparsely Populated.They Might Point to Matthew 7:14 in the Sermon on the Mount Which is Where Jesus Said,"For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it” And They Will Say, Based on That Verse, That Only a Few Will Get In. But in Revelation 7:9, the Apostle John Said  That He Saw in Heaven “…a great multitude which no one could count, from every nation and all tribes  and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, …”.  

 

So, I Do Not Believe in a Sparsely Populated Heaven, and I do Not Believe That We Can be Dogmatic About the Number of Inhabitants Who Will be There Because John Tells Us in That Verse of Scripture That This Multitude is Going to be so Great That No One is Going to be Able to Count Them All.

 

Q.n = So, Who is Going to be There?

 

1) Angels Will be There

 

The Writer of Hebrews Says “But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly        Jerusalem, and to myriads of angels”  (Heb 12:22). We are Not Going to Become Angels When We Get to Heaven as Oprah Winfrey Suggests, Because People are People and Angels are Angels But We Will See Myriads of Angels When We Get There.

 

 

 

 

 

2) Children Will be There

 

After King David Lost His Infant Son, He Said This in 2 Samuel 12:23; He Said, "But now he has died; why should I fast? Can I bring him back again?  (Listen) I will go to him, but he will not return to me”.  David Was Confident of the Fact That He Would See His Infant Son Again, Because He Knew That This Child Would be a Recipient of God’s Grace And the Scriptures Reveal to Us Over and Over Again That God Has a Special Place in His Heart for These Little Ones. They are Referred to as “The Innocent Ones”, for Example, in Places Like  Jeremiah 19:4.  We Know They are Not “Innocent” in That They are Sinless, Because the Bible Tells Us in Psalms 51:5 That We are All Conceived in Sin and Psalms 58:3 Says That We Have All Gone Astray From the Womb,But God Knows That They are Unaware of Their Sin, or of Knowing Right From Wrong and so He Does Not Hold Them Accountable. This is Why, After God Passed Judgment on Those Hebrews That Were Not Allowed to Enter the Promised Land Because of Their Unbelief, He Followed That Up With This Statement About Their Children; He Said, “'Moreover, your little ones who you said would become a prey, and your sons, who this day have no knowledge of good or evil, shall enter there, and I will give it to them and they shall possess it”. (Deuteronomy 1:39)  Likewise, When God Tried to Arouse Some Compassion in the Heart of Jonah, Who’d Become Incensed Because God Had Not Destroyed Ninevah, He Mentioned the Little Children; He Said,"Should I not have compassion on Nineveh, the great city in which there are more  than 120,000 persons who do not know the difference between their right and left hand, …".  (Jonah 4:11) God Obviously Did Not Want to Destroy the City of Ninevah, Because He Did       Not Want to Destroy Those Innocent Children.

 

St = Now, Here’s an Old Testament Story That Really Caught My Attention This Week

 

It is About King Jeroboam Who Was a Very Sinful King, In Fact, God Spoke Through the Prophet Abijah and Said That King Jeroboam Had Done More Evil Than All of Those Who Had Preceded Him Consequently, God Told Jeroboam That He and All of His Male Descendants Would Die, and That They Would Not be Buried. Instead, He Said That They Would be Swept Away as Refuse and That Their Bodies Would be Ripped Apart by Wild Animals and Scavenging Birds But God Made an Exception Regarding Jeroboam’s Infant Son. Listen to What God Said to King Jeroboam in 1 Kings 14:12-13; He Said, “12 Now you, arise, go to your house. When your feet enter the city the child will die. 13 All Israel shall mourn for him and bury him, for he alone of Jeroboam's  family will come to the grave, because in him (Listen) something good was found toward the Lord God of Israel in the house of Jeroboam”. This Child Was to Die as Well, Because He Was One of Jeroboam’s Descendants, But He Was to be Given the Burial of a Prince.

 

Q.n = And Why Did God Refer to This Child as Something Good That Had Been Found Towards the Lord God of Israel in the House of Jeroboam?

Ans = Because This Child Was Innocent

 

And Here’s the Clincher in My Opinion. It is Found in Matthew 18:14, and in This Verse We are Told That Jesus Said This,“…Jesus said, ‘Let the children alone, and do not hinder them from coming to Me; (Listen) for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.’”.  (Elaborate) The Bible Teaches Also Us in Psalms 139:16 That God Was Already Intimately Acquainted With Us When We Were Just a “Golem” an Embryo”, Which Causes Me to Believe That Every Stillborn Child, Every Child Who Died Before Birth, and All of Those That Have Been Aborted Will be in Heaven  And This Fact Alone Should Tell Us That Heaven Will Not be Sparsely Populated.

 

3) Believers Will be There

 

      Now, at This Point, I’m Going to Say Something That is Not Politically Correct.

Q.n = Have You Ever Heard Me to Say Something That is Not Politically Correct?

Ans = If You Have Say, “Amen”

 

Well, Here It Is. In John 14:6, Jesus Said, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me”.  That Verse Tells Us That There are Not Many Ways for a Person to Get Into Heaven There is Only One and That is Through Faith in Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

__________________________________________________________________________________________________

 

Joke = If My Dad Were Here He’d Give Everyone 8 to 5 Odds That Jimmy Ain’t Ever Gonna be Able to Spell “Electrician”  (Names = Sally, Tommy, Jimmy, Billy)

__________________________________________________________________________________________________

 

Well, Listen, if I Was a Betting Preacher, Which I am Not, I Would be Willing to Bet That a Lot of People Who Think They’re Going to go to Heaven Aren’t And the Main Reason is Because They Think That They Can Earn Their Way Into Heaven by Good Works, But in Ephesians 2:8-9, the Apostle Paul Said This; He Said,“8 For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; 9 not as a result of works, so that no one may boast”. No, Listen, the Key to Getting Into Heaven, Listen to Me Now, the Key to Getting Into Heaven is Not Good Works It is Faith in Jesus Christ, (John 3:16 Says What?) And This Means That There are Going to be a Lot of Surprises in Heaven.

 

Ex.  The Thief on the Cross  

Ex. John Newton  

Ex. Mel Trotter  

Ex. Karla Faye Tucker    

 

I Know That Sound Scandalous, But That is the Grace of God My Friends (John 6:37 Quote   Romans 10:13 Quote)

III.  The Bible Says That Heaven is a Productive Place

 

I Don’t Believe This Sermon Would be Complete if I Did Not Say Something to Counteract the Foolish Notion That Heaven is Going to be Boring.

 

1) God is Not Boring

 

We are Told Here in Verse 3 That the Tabernacle of God Will be Among Us and That God Himself Will Dwell With Us.  We are Also Told in 1 Corinthians 13:12 That We Will be Able to See Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ Face to Face And I Can Tell You That Jesus Never Has Been or Ever Will be a Boring Person, In Fact, the Writer of Hebrews Tells Us in Hebrews 1:9 That Our Heavenly Father Anointed His Son With, Listen to This, “…THE OIL OF GLADNESS ABOVE YOUR COMPANIONS."

 

If You Can’t Picture the Jesus of the N.T. as One Who Let Out a Belly Laugh Once in a While, or Caused More Than a Few, You Don’t Know the Jesus of the N.T.

 

Q.n = Did You Hear the One, for Example, About the Man Who Was Trying to Pull a Splinter Out of Another Man’s Eye While He Had a Plank in His Own?

 

 “In Your presence is fullness of joy” the Psalmist Said and, “…in Your right hand there are pleasures forever” (Psalms 16:11) And, of Course, There Won’t be Anything in Heaven That Might Cause Us to Lose Our Joy

 

vs 4 (Read)

 

Q.n = By the Way, are We so Arrogant as to Assume That We Invented Joy and Laughter and Pleasure?

 

Listen, the Truth is That God Did; God Made Our Taste Buds, and the Minds That Enable Us be Witty and Humorous, and the Ears With Which We Hear Music and the Hands That Enable Us to Play Musical Instruments All of This Came to Us From God.

 

St = Now, at This Point, I Believe It is Important to Point Out That Heaven is Not Going to be Filled With Hedonistic Pleasure

 

The Islamic Faith Teaches, as Many of Us Know, That When a Man Dies in a Jihad, a Holy War, That He is Greeted in Heaven by 72 Black Eyed Virgins And He Believes That These Women are Going to Fulfill His Sensual Desires.  That is Found in the Book of Surah in the Koran Verse 72 and 75. One Baptist Preacher I Know of Said This; He Said, “One Thing I Can Tell You is That That Sure Ain’t No Baptist View of Heaven”.  I Suppose That’s True, And We Know That It is Not a Biblical View of Heaven Either Because in Luke 20:34, Jesus Said This to the Sadducees; He Said,“…’The sons of this age marry and are given in marriage,  35 but those who are considered worthy to attain to that age and the resurrection from the dead, neither marry nor are given in marriage”. Heaven Will Not be Filled With Sensual Pleasure And We Know That There Will be no Form of Sinful Pleasure Because Everyone Who Makes It Will be Consummated and Perfect. That’s Why Paul Said This in Ephesians 1:4; He Said,“…He (Referring to God) chose us in Him (Which Refers to Being  Positionally in Christ) before the foundation of the world, that we  would be holy and blameless before Him. In love”. Now, I Don’t Know How You Feel About This, But I Believe It Will Only Enhance My Joy Because I am Looking Forward to the Day When I Will be Able to Say Goodbye to Everything That Causes Me to be Less Than I Should be for God.

 

Q.n = Can I Get a Witness?

 

2) Fellowship is Not Boring

 

The Bible Teaches That When a Christian Dies They Immediately go to Heaven That is Found in 2 Corinthians 5:8 Which Says “To be absent from the body is to be at home with the Lord”. Until the Rapture Occurs, Our Loved Ones in Christ Will be There as Disembodied Spirits. Paul Tells Us in 2 Corinthians 5:4 That They Will be “Unclothed” Until That TimeAnd in Hebrews 12:23, the Writer Calls Refers to Them as “…the spirits of the righteous made perfect”.  Now, It is Possible That They Might be Given Some Kind of Temporary Body, Because Moses and Elijah Both Seem to Have Appeared in a physical Form on the Mount of Transfiguration (Matthew 17:3)  So, Our Loved Ones in Heaven May or May Not Have a Temporary Body, But We do Know for Certain That, When the Rapture Occurs, Every Christian’s Body Will be Raised and Transformed. This is Found in 1 Thessalonians 4:16 Which Says, “For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first” .

 

Now, I Want You to Look Up a Verse of Scripture With Me, Because This is One of My Favorites, and It is Found in Philippians 3:21. (Turn and Read) Listen, That Verse Tells Us That We Will Eventually Have a Resurrection Body Very Similar to Our Lord’s Resurrection Body.

 

Q.n = And What do We Know About His Body? (Ex. Able to Travel Great Distances Very Quickly, Walked Through Walls, Cooked Breakfast, Ate and Drank)

 

So, We Know That We Will be Able to do All of Those Things (In Fact, There are a Lot of References to Us Dining Together in Heaven) And We Will Never Have to Worry About Getting Fat (Qualify = Only in Heaven)

3) Work is Not Boring

 

The Bible Says That We Will Receive Heavenly Rewards, and Those Rewards Will Come in the Form of Responsibilities Based on Our Faithfulness on This Earth. In the Parable of the Talents, for Example, the Master Said This to the Man Who Had Invested His Talents and Gained Five More; He Said, “…’Well done, good and faithful slave. You were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master’”. (Matt 25:21)  We are Also Told in Revelation 7:15 That the Twenty Four Elders Will“…SERVE Him day and night in His Temple…”.  That Tells Us That We Will Never Experience Fatigue, And Look Over at Revelation 22:3 (Read)  “No Curse” – This Tells Us That We Will be Able to Enjoy Our Work “And His Bond Servants Will Serve Him”. (Gk = Latreuo = Worship) I Hope That You Will Just Allow Your Imagination to Run Wild at This Point, and It Helps Me to Think of the Vastness of Our Universe

__________________________________________________________________________________________________

Invitation:  Now, Let Me Refer Back to My Introduction for Just a Moment; and Then, I Will Close, and This is What I Want to Say.

 

I Know That the Devil is Indeed a Very Clever Liar, Because, Listen, It is Not Heaven That is Going to be Boring; It is Hell That is Going to be Boring. (There Will be No Fellowship, No Parties, No Light, Only Darkness, and an Absence of Common Grace; You Won’t Ever See a River, or a Lake, or a Tree, or a Bird Flying Thru the Air Etc…)

 

There is Really No Comparison; Heaven is Where You’re Going to Want to be.

 

And So Now, the Question That Begs to be Answered is This.

Q.n =  How do We Get There?

Ans =  It’s Really Pretty Simple  

            A = Acknowledge That You Have Sinned =
Romans 3:23 (Quote)

            B = Believe in Jesus Christ =  Ephesians 2:8-9 (Quote)
            C = Commit to His Lordship = Romans 10:9 (Quote)