Heaven

Shannon Baptist Church
101 N.
Broad St
Shannon, Illinois 61078
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written by Pastor David Wood

HEAVEN

Throughout the 66 books of the Bible, we read very little about heaven. Yet, what we do read gives us great assurance that heaven truly is a fantastic place. The limited references to heaven may stem from the limitations of the human mind. We could probably never comprehend the glories of heaven anyway! If we did, we'd want to go there immediately. We really couldn't wait!Some scoff at the idea of a literal heaven. Others seek to replace the reality of a heaven with ideas like "reincarnation" or "annihilationism"(When he is dead he is done!). But Heaven is a real place. "It is the goal of a believer's hope, the end of his earthly pilgrimage, the consummation of his desires, and the fulfillment of his dreams." (1)

By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise: For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God. (Hebrews 11:9,10)

I. The proof of Heaven

The Bible holds the only definitive, dependable information regarding heaven. Its teaching is plain; Heaven is a literal place, a place of anticipation for the believer.
In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.
(Genesis 1:1)
And Abram said to the king of Sodom, I have lift up mine hand unto the LORD, the most high God, the possessor of heaven and earth, (Genesis 14:22)

Behold, the heaven and the heaven of heavens is the LORD'S thy God, the earth also, with all that therein is. (Deuteronomy 10:14)

The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament showeth his handiwork. (Psalms 19:1)

And he said unto them, When ye pray, say, Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, as in heaven, so in earth. (Luke 11:2)

That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him: (Ephesians 1:10)

Scripture tells of three individuals who actually observed Heaven firsthand and spoke of it for our benefit. The first of course is Jesus Christ himself. He spoke more than any other about heaven.

But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal. (Matthew 6:20)

And as ye go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand.
( Matthew 10:7)

Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones; for I say unto you, That in heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven. (Matthew 18:10)
I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance. (Luke 15:7)

Jesus said...In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.
And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also. (John 14:2,3)

The Apostle Paul was stoned at Lystra (Acts 14:19,20) and left for dead. Scripture says his soul and spirit ascended to be with the Lord...

I knew a man in Christ above fourteen years ago, (whether in the body, I cannot tell; or whether out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) such an one caught up to the third heaven. (2 Corinthians 12:2)
He was prohibited from relating all he saw and heard in Heaven.; however, what he saw made a major impact on his outlook....

For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. {22} But if I live in the flesh, this is the fruit of my labour: yet what I shall choose I wot not. {23} For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better: {24} Nevertheless to abide in the flesh is more needful for you. (Philippians 1:21-24)
Paul understood firsthand that to be absent from the body was to be present with the Lord (II Corinthians 5:8)!

The Apostle John was caught up in spirit into heaven (Revelation 4:1,2) He had the privilege of seeing and hearing what the church will see and hear when she is raptured to heaven.

And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea.
And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.
(Revelation 21:1,2)

II. The description of Heaven

Peter views heaven as a place, an inheritance waiting for us!

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.
(1 Peter 1:3-5)

Heaven is described as a place "far better than the earth" (Phil 1:23). It is a place of beauty (Rev. 21:1-22:7). We will have rest there (Rev. 14:13). Knowledge will be abundant (I Cor. 13:8-10). It will be a place of service, worship, glory, and holiness (Rev. 22:3 Rev. 19:1 II Cor. 4:17 Rev. 21:27). There the believer will receive his rewards (II Cor. 5:10 Rev. 22:12).

But above all Jesus will be there. "The Lamb is the light thereof" (Rev. 21:23). "The light of heaven is the face of Jesus; the joy of heaven is the presence of Jesus; the melody of heaven is the name of Jesus; the harmony of heaven is the praise of Jesus; the theme of heaven is the work of Jesus; the employment of heaven is the service of Jesus; the fullness of heaven is Jesus Himself!" (Woodbridge)

III. The way to Heaven
Heaven is a free gift! "The gift of God is eternal life!" (Rom. 6:23) However, heaven will not be for everybody. The inhabitants of heaven will be a select group. No one who studies the Bible can doubt that.

Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.( Matthew 7:21)

The key that opens the door to heaven is faith; faith in Jesus Christ. Jesus left heaven, came to earth to shed his blood on the cross for our sin. He purchased a place in heaven for us which he offers as a free gift. We must trust Him alone for salvation. Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. (John 14:6)
The most important question you can resolve is where you will spend eternity. You can have a home reserved for you in heaven simply by trusting in Jesus. You can have complete assurance that after this life you will face something much better.

For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.
(2 Corinthians 5:1)

(1)Harold Lindsell and Charles J. Woodbridge, A Handbook of 'Christian Truth (N.J.: Fleming Hl Revell) 333.

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