Why Should I Care about Heaven?
INTRODUCTION: Whether or not you are a Christian, you are going to be alive somewhere forever and ever. The body you possess at death will sleep in the ground as it goes back to dust, but your soul does not sleep; it will immediately go to either HEAVEN or HELL.
Both are PLACES and both are ETERNAL.
Both permit ENTRANCE but no DEPARTURE.
When the unbeliever dies and goes to Hell, he does so forever.
When the believer dies and goes to Heaven, he does so forever.
To be sure, there is a HELL to SHUN and a HEAVEN to GAIN.
Did you know there are three Heavens? Yes, there are three heavens in the Bible.
The first "heaven" is the ATMOSPHERE above us. This refers to the air that we breathe; the place where the birds fly, and the place Satan is presently allowed to rule.
The second "heaven" is the UNIVERSE, or the outer space, where the sun, moon, stars, and galaxies are located. Psalm 19:1 tells us, "The Heavens declared the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth His handiwork."
The third "heaven" is the place of GOD'S ABODE. In the Old Testament the third "heaven" is referred to as the "heaven of heavens." In Deuteronomy 10:14 we read, "Behold the heaven and the heaven of heavens belong to the Lord thy God, and earth also, with all that therein is." In II Corinthians 12:1-4 the Apostle Paul called this heaven "the third heaven."
In this series we are going to concentrate on the "Third Heaven" the "Heaven of Heavens" where God dwells.
In Acts 7:49, Stephen quotes the Prophet Isaiah where God says, "Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool." For us who are in Christ by faith:
This world is only an ante room of the next,
This short life is incidental compared to eternity, andy
This world is not our home, we are strangers in a land not ours.
As believers, our CITIZENSHIP is in HEAVEN. The hymn writer wrote
This world is not my home, I'm just a passing through.
My treasures are laid up, Somewhere beyond the blue.
The angels beckoned me from Heaven's open door,
And I can't feel at home in this world anymore.
O Lord, you know I have No friend like you.
If Heaven not my home, then Lord, what will I do?
The angels beckoned me from Heaven's open door,
And I can't feel at home in this world anymore.
In John 14:2-3 Jesus said to His disciples on the eve of His crucifixion,
“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. (3) 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.”
It is to this place we call Heaven that many, many of our loved ones have already gone. Let me impress upon you that we are going to a place. Jesus did not say, I go to
Prepare a DREAM for you, or I go to
Prepare an EXISTENCE for you, or I go to
Prepare a VISION or VACUUM for you.
Jesus said, “I go to prepare a PLACE as REAL as this building is real.” Yes, Heaven indeed is real. Even though my human eyes have not seen it, yet within my heart by faith I believe it is real.
Our subject is "Why should I care about Heaven?" So please turn to Colossians 3: 1-4 where we read,
“If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. (2) Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. (3) For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. (4) When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory.”
Would you notice again in verse 2, "Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth." Why? Because the things of earth are so temporary. No one knows what tomorrow will bring. But heaven gives you confidence that God has already taken care of your tomorrows.
Everything in life, you name it, will wear out. Only that which lasts forever is truly real, and worth living for.
Everything else is insecure and temporary. When life is ended, no matter how real material things seem at the time, you can't take them with you. Someone else is going to have them after you, if they don't deteriorate along the way.
Only heaven lasts forever. The Bible not only declares heaven as a future reality, but also a present reality. Heaven is indeed the final answer to life. It is the final hope and purpose of life.
The blind author of this hymn wrote, "Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine! O what a foretaste of glory divine!"
Hedonism, the Greek philosophy that life's purpose is pleasure and self-gratification, bombards you a thousand times a day. Countless billboards, TV and radio commercials, Hollywood movies, magazine and newspaper ads, scream at you to satisfy your feelings, now! They say,
"If you can't touch it, taste it, hear it, see it, sell it, buy it, then it can't possibly give you any pleasure or satisfaction. It can't possibly exist! Therefore heaven is not real."
Odd, isn't it? We can be motivated enough to spend money, by what we know is essentially a con-job. But we struggle to accept the word of our Creator and His free offer of salvation and heaven.
But heaven is REAL, and we can experience it now and in the future. Again notice verse 3, "Seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God."
God has set in your heart the instinctive knowledge that there is much more beyond the horizon of your belief on this earth. Without God you are unable to figure out the end from the beginning or even the purpose of life – why God put you here.
When it comes right down to it, heaven really is the final answer to life. Everything else is vanity, temporary and illusive. How then can we be sure? Because God has said so in His word!
He even became one of us, in time to make it possible for imperfect, fallen mankind to enter this perfect, holy, eternal place called heaven. This is an awesome privilege, for the believer in Christ. Now, only the power of the Living Christ in you can make you desire the Heavenly more than the earthly.
Life is short and so full of troubles. The good things of this world are so temporary. They are but a taste of better, eternal things to come. Only those things which last forever are real and worthwhile, as we read in Psalm 16:11, "In thy presence is fullness of joy; at thy right hand are pleasures forevermore."
Question for the Believer: Why is the promise of Heaven so important? In light of the future promises of heaven, there are today's benefits of Heaven for the believer.
Remember our Lord said in Matthew 6:33, "Where your treasure is there is where your heart is. So seek first the things of heaven and everything else will take care of itself:"
Hoping for something better in the future gives meaning and purpose to almost everything we do now.
If we are so ready to sacrifice and work hard in the hope of temporary and uncertain future rewards, how much more should we be motivated to work for guaranteed eternal rewards?
Heaven is important, BECAUSE the knowledge of what Heaven offers transforms our priorities, makes sense out of suffering, pain, abuse and neglect, and brings hope and comfort no matter how unfair they seem. HEAVEN gives us a reason to live, and to resist all that is selfish and evil.
Heaven is important, BECAUSE it helps us face death. The fear of death and dying is overcome by the reality of heaven.
Psalm 23:4, "Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil (death): for thou (the Lord our Shepherd) art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me."
I Corinthians 15:54-57, "…then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in VICTORY: O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy VICTORY? …But thanks be unto God which giveth us the VICTORY through our Lord Jesus Christ. "
John 11:25-26, "Jesus said unto her (Martha at the grave of her brother Lazarus), I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?"
Knowing there is a far more wonderful world awaiting the child of God after death helps us to face death with HOPE no matter what the circumstances.
Comfort and lasting solace for the aching heart at bereavement is only possible through the hope of heaven and the assurance of reunion. Without this hope the pain becomes unbearable. Only resurrection and the promise of eternal life makes any sense out of the loss of human life and the finality of death.
Remember I Thessalonians 4: 15-18, "For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. For the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the trumpet of God; and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore COMFORT one another with these words.”
For the believer, death is not the end but a glorious beginning. Therefore our funeral services ought to be one of celebration rather than sadness and despair.
Heaven is important, BECAUSE it keeps us going in the face of life's tragedies and trials, day after day. It keeps us focused as Paul tells us in Philippians 3:20-21,
"For our conversation (the way we live in this present world) is in Heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto His glorious body…"
This attitude will free you to work hard, to give and even sacrifice, even if you are never recognized for it.
This attitude will keep you focused upon God as He becomes the most important person in your life, and as you seek to do that which is pleasing in His sight.
Heaven is important, BECAUSE through prayer we can experience heaven's peace in Jesus Christ, today.
In Philippians 4:6-7 we read, "Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by PRAYER and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus."
Remember the story of Elisha who became physically aware of the reality of Heaven's presence when he confidently told his servant not to fear the Syrian army in II Kings 6:15-17,
“And when the servant of the man of God was risen early, and gone forth, behold, an host compassed the city both with horses and chariots. And his servant said unto him, Alas, my master! how shall we do? (16) And he answered, Fear not: for they that be with us are more than they that be with them. (17) And Elisha prayed, and said, LORD, I pray thee, open his eyes, that he may see. And the LORD opened the eyes of the young man; and he saw: and, behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha. (18) And when they came down to him, Elisha prayed unto the LORD, and said, Smite this people, I pray thee, with blindness. And he smote them with blindness according to the word of Elisha.”
Prayer enabled his servant to physically see the armies of heaven. Heaven became a present reality, not just a future hope. Literally, heaven is all around you.
According to Ephesians 2:6, as believers we already sit together with Christ in heavenly places.
According to Hebrews 10:19-23, as believers our spirits can enter the very throne room of God in Heaven when we worship.
Woe! Let's think about this for a moment. God and the host of heaven (armies of angels) are right there, all around you every day, wherever you are. They just happen to be in another heavenly dimension, that can only be accessed spiritually.
Even today, God sometimes reveals this dimension physically. Many accounts have been given by missionaries, and other believers in life-threatening situations, whom God has allowed to see the angel’s armies of heaven protecting them.
This ought to put a whole new light on your PRAYER LIFE and your WORSHIP time. God himself, together with His angels, is present, in real time, whenever you engage in these activities. When you begin to think like that the reality of heaven’s presence will change your whole attitude.
No longer should you rush into the presence of God in prayer. Rather you ought to approach those times in reverence and awe.
No longer ought you to rush into church and hurry through the worship songs without noticing the words, or intently listing to the message. Rather, there ought to be excitement, reverence and awe.
Heaven is to be a present reality to the believer in the Lord Jesus Christ.
Question for the unbeliever: Are you ready for the forever? We live with those who say, "Why worry about heaven now?" Just like a lot of Americans, the events and the pictures of September 11, better known as 9-11, are forever etched in our minds. Every time they replayed the planes’ impact, and the towers collapsing, I couldn't get out of my mind that I was watching thousands of unsuspecting people pass instantly into eternity.
I am sure when they set out for work that morning few of these individuals ever dreamed they would be facing their Maker before lunch! What a sobering thought.
None of us knows what tomorrow will bring, terrorists or no terrorists. That leads me to several questions perhaps some are asking:
“Why does a loving God allow such evil to exist?”
“Why doesn't He do something about the terrorists of our World?”
God is never the author of evil, man is. Disasters happen because we live in a fallen world. Yes, God is sovereign and controls everything, but not the human will. We still have freedom of moral choice. So then, how is He in control?
By His grace He is able to bring eternal good even out of man's evil acts. The cross and resurrection are the ultimate demonstration of this principle.
By His mercy He prevents things being even worse. Usually we don't understand this.
We are too often selfishly complaining about what has happened to stop and consider how much worse it could have been.
We forget to thank God for the countless times He has protected us from other disasters.
It is amazing how fear goes away when you count your blessings instead of cursing the darkness.
But how can any good come out of any disaster? Evil happens in a sin-sick world to the good and the bad. In Luke 13:1-5 Jesus answered similar kinds of questions about Pilate's unfair massacre of worshipers in the temple, and about the Tower collapse in Siloam, which killed several innocent people. His listeners assumed, those killed somehow deserved it because the events were so tragic and unexpected. Notice in verse 5 what Jesus said, "Except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish."
What was He saying here? Was Jesus being unkind? No, He was saying every disaster should remind us of our own mortality, and the need to be in a right standing with God. I am sure millions of people reconsidered their eternal destiny after the September 11 attacks. Indeed all of America momentarily turned to God for understanding, comfort and protection, led by a President who wisely called us to prayer.
By the way, God will take care of the evil and the evil men even if we don't. Remember God is a holy God, not a politically-correct one!
Sin, by definition, is anything less than perfection, which condemns us all! So ultimately it is not just sinful acts that send people to hell (we all sin). It is the willful decision to reject Christ, God's only remedy for sin.
Men (and women) freely choose to go to hell; God does not arbitrarily send them. They choose not to submit to the Lordship of Christ. Don't blame God. Blame the sinner.
The promise of God's Word tells us that Faith is the only way to heaven!
In John 3:36 we read, He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life." .
In Romans 10:13 we read, “For whosoever believeth shall call upon the name of the Lord and be saved."
Perhaps you are thinking, “Pastor, are you saying that only Christians go to heaven? Isn't that a bit arrogant, narrow minded, and intolerant of you?” No, because I didn't say that, God did! Remember Jesus said in John 14:6, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No man cometh unto the Father but by me." So, are we saying all other world religions are wrong, and God doesn't care about the Muslim, Hindu or Buddhist?
Remember no RELIGION is able to save anyone, no matter how devout they are. Only a relationship to God through His Son Jesus ensures entrance into heaven.
Remember Acts 4:12 teaches us, "For neither is there salvation in any other, for there is none other name under HEAVEN given among men whereby we must be saved."
God loves the Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist and everyone else in this world (even the atheist), enough to send His Son to die so they might all have access to heaven, through faith in Christ.
Just as the story of the Roman soldier says, in Acts 10, He will always, somehow, bring the true message of the gospel of Jesus Christ to those who seek Him. This is the only way to HEAVEN.
Again in I Corinthians 2:9-10 we read,
"Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him, But God hath revealed them unto us by His Spirit."
O for a TASTE OF HEAVEN! Amen and Amen! In closing, let’s sing::
When the trumpet of the Lord shall sound and time shall be no more,’
And the morning breaks, eternal, bright and fair;
When the saved of earth shall gather over on the other shore,
And the roll is called up yonder, I’ll be there.
If God has spoken to your heart after reading the sermon right now talk to God about what He has spoken to you.
Do you have the assurance that one day you will go to heaven? If you have no assurance that you know Jesus Christ, then I trust you will decide to accept Him as your personal Savior. The Bible tells us in
Acts 16:31, “…Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved…”
Romans 10:13, “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
This prayer is here for those who need to ask Jesus to be their personal Savior: “I do want to go to Heaven. I know I am a sinner, and I do believe Jesus Christ died for me. I realize I cannot buy this great salvation, nor can I earn it. Knowing Jesus died on the cross and arose from the grave to pay my sin debt and to purchase my salvation, I do now trust Him as my Savior, and from this moment on I am completely depending on Him for my salvation.”
If you made the decision to accept Jesus Christ as your personal Savior, please let me know. Please send an e-mail to email@example.com and I will send you some literature that will help you in your Christian life.
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