Everybody loves a good celebration: birthdays, weddings, and victory parades. The two biggest celebrations in the church’s year are, of course Christmas and Easter, celebrating the birth and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The Good Lord is not just about the past or the present; He is also about the future. After Jesus came out of the tomb and ascended to heaven, He is all about restoration and renewal. He is going to regain for us the paradise lost that was Eden where all is good and believers will spend eternity there. As Peter says: “We are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth…” (2 Pet.3:13).
Heaven is mentioned over 500 times in the Bible. Statistics alone tell us that God is definitely trying to tell us something!! Coupled with the fact that there’s something deep inside our hearts that cries out, “There’s got to be something more. Something more than the pain and suffering of this life.” In a sense we were made for something more. We were made for heaven, the place we can’t see – the spiritual realm. The place we go to when we die. At least we like to think so:-
A couple decided to leave Britain one cold winter and holiday in Florida. But because of their lifestyles, it was difficult to coordinate their travel schedules. So, the husband flew out first, with his wife planning to join him a day later. He checked into the hotel. There was a computer in the room, so he decided to send an email to his wife. However, he accidentally left out one letter in her email address, and without realizing his error, sent the email.
Meanwhile, somewhere in England, a minister’s wife, now a widow had just returned home from her late husband’s funeral.
She decided to check her email expecting messages from relatives and friends. After reading the first message, she screamed and fainted. Her son rushed into the room, found his mother on the floor, and saw the computer screen which read:-
To: My Loving Wife
Subject: I’ve Arrived
I know you’re surprised to hear from me. They have computers here now and you’re allowed to send emails to your loved ones. I’ve just arrived and have been checked in. I see that everything has been prepared for your arrival tomorrow. Looking forward to seeing you then! Hope your journey is as uneventful as mine was.
It sure is HOT down here!
Now we all like to think what heaven’s going to be like. So let’s ponder some of the things that will and won’t be there...Heaven inspires our faith. There will be trees, lush meadows, waterfalls flowing into crystal pools, angelic music, gold pavements, pearly gates and many mansions where are loved ones will know us. The pictures I have in my mind are not the same as yours. Yes, they paint 1,000 words – but it’s not enough to describe heaven. In fact, it’s so indescribable – that the best we can do is sing about it, especially as believers know something about what the future holds for them. Heaven is a place, just as much a place as Wolverhampton or London. In the Bible, the curtains of eternity have been pulled back to reveal how God is going to restore everything the way it’s supposed to be. The hope of heaven is the main theme in the book of Revelation:-
Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,” for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” (Rev.21:1-4).
The divine voice echoes throughout all of Scripture. This is the penultimate chapter of Revelation the last book in the Bible, telling us how God is going to renew this world. What most people call heaven is actually an eternal city whose streets are literally paved with gold “as pure as transparent glass” (Rev.21:21). When John writes like this, I don’t doubt his words. He’s telling us what he saw in his vision. He saw the new earth’s capital city, the new Jerusalem coming down from the skies (Rev.21:2). God is the architect, builder, and decorator of this beautiful city – so beautiful she’s called a “bride” – how exciting when God unveils this city to His people.
[The Angel] carried me away in the Spirit to a mountain great and high, and showed me the Holy City, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God. It shone with the glory of God, and its brilliance was like that of a very precious jewel like a jasper, clear as crystal. It had a great, high wall with twelve gates, and with twelve angels at the gates…the angel who talked with me had a measuring rod of gold to measure the city, its gates and its walls. The city was laid out like a square, as long as it was wide. He measured the city with the rod and found it to be 1,400 miles in length, and as wide and high as it is long.
Heaven will be more wonderful than our imagination. The New Jerusalem is a massive perfect cube – 40 times the size of England. It will be over 600,000 stories tall. Basically, God is saying there will be plenty of room for everybody that loves Him. But not the unbelieving though:-
Two men were dying. One was a very wealthy man who had amassed a fortune. His house was lavished with antiques and expensive paintings. He went to church now and again, so called himself a Christian. But he didn’t know the Lord. The second man hadn’t flourished financially, but he had loved the Lord and served faithfully in the church. The first, as he died, moaned: “I’m leaving home…I’m leaving home.” The second died with a glow on his face, saying, “I’m going home. I’m going home.”
As Peter says: “As you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming”. So Quo Vadis -“Where are you going?” – for look what comes first: “You ought to live holy and godly lives…” (2 Pet.3:11-12). There are many people whose faith is not strong enough to get them to church, yet they expect that it will be strong enough to get them to heaven. Moreover, there are thousands upon thousands who don’t desire a relationship with Christ – they won’t make it.
Did you know that you can do a “Will I get to heaven quiz” on the internet? Seriously there is. Here’s some of the questions it asks as multiple choice:-
- When was the last time you opened your Bible?
Does holding up the leg of the table count?
What did Jesus do when He was alive?
Built houses for poor people
Went fishing with Peter and Paul
Lived for other people
Promised people eternity it they did good deeds.
Do you think angels are all around us?
I think they are only in heaven.
I’m not sure.
What does the word ‘sin’ mean to you?
All the fun things you do that nobody knows about.
To offend God.
To want what your neighbour has.
If you say no to Jesus, you have no hope of heaven. Our deeds, like filthy rags in God’s sight, do not save us. The heartfelt prayer of a penitent man though will: “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God forgive me a sinner” – think of the dying thief on the cross next to Jesus: “Lord, remember me when you come into your Kingdom…I tell you the truth: today, you will be with me in paradise” says the Lord. The Bible speaks of the separation of the saved and the lost; the wheat and weeds, the sheep and the goats. You’re either one or the other. There is no fence to sit on. You will either spend eternity in heaven or eternity in hell. Only the righteous, through the grace and providence of God will live with Him.
As a minister of the Gospel I’d be failing you if I didn’t tell you this. Even the devil has the good sense to believe what the Bible says, because he knows God does not lie or make empty promises nor issues idle warnings. We need a new Jerusalem on a new earth as the one we currently live on needs restoring. It’s polluted physically, morally and spiritually. Yet everything around us, the entire creation, even our resurrected bodies are going to be beyond what you and I can imagine. And there will be no more sea (so you won’t need Thomas Cook to reserve you a sunbed!).
Back in the days of Noah the earth was cleansed by the Flood resulting in 70% of the world’s surface covered with salt water. The earth needs all this salt water as it acts as an antiseptic solution necessary so that we can live. Salt cleanses the atmosphere and creates the rain we need. The sea is like a giant septic tank that breaks down all the pollutants and waste that gets washed into the world’s rivers. The sun heats the sea and brings out of it clean vapour clouds which brings rain on the land making it fertile. But on the new earth there won’t be any pollution or waste and no need for cleansing so no need of the sea. The Creator thinks of everything!
And what makes all of this so magnificent is that God will live on the new earth. As with Adam, He will once again live with man. For the first time, all of His people will live in His perfect presence. The eyes of the victorious will see Him, their ears will hear Him. Immanuel – truly “God with us” as it’s going to be the Trinity – Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Don’t you want to move to this new earth right now? As Revelation doesn’t only tell us what’s there, but what’s not there: “There will be no more night. We will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light.” (Rev.22:5).
This place is going to be so different from anything we’ve experienced. No sorrow, no tears, mourning, crying, pain, hospitals, hospice beds…no sadness just gladness. There will be no more death. Imagine a world with no obituaries, funeral directors or crematoriums? Sorrow and death will cease because sin will disappear. “No longer will there be any curse” (Rev.22:3).
If you want all this and much more, and I’m assuming you do, you have to go on a journey with the Lord, via the King’s Cross where Christ was offered and suffered for our sins so He could bring all His faithful through the ages to reign in heaven. John saw an enormous crowd, a great multitude that no one could count. Read the Good Book it’s all there. Don’t be enticed by popular new-age nonsense, don’t follow the foolish on paths that lead nowhere, ignoring the effects of sin, and don’t turn to your star signs to discover what the future holds. Peter’s 2nd epistle urges us before Jesus returns to “make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with Him” (2 Pet.3:11,14). Nothing impure, or anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful will enter heaven…
…only those who names are written in the Lamb’s book of life. Celebrate the fact that Jesus died on the cross to take care of our sin. Celebrate that He rose from the dead to take care of our death. Worship the King of kings! Trust and obey for there’s no other way. One day He’s coming back and the Good News is Jesus wants us to be the redeemed in heaven. A new future awaits – salvation belongs to our God!
Love in the Messiah. Blessed be the Word.