Heaven is a Real Place Part #1
by John Lowe
(Laurens SC, USA)
Heaven is a Real Place
Last week, the scripture lesson was about hell. We saw that hell is a real place, created by God for a specific purpose; we saw what hell was like, and we saw how we can escape going there. I know that none of us want to go there; we want to go to heaven, so let’s see what the Bible has to say about what heaven will be like.
But first, I want to make a point; the point is that as Christians, we sometimes do just the opposite of what Jesus would do. For example, Jesus is hard on the self-righteous and gentle on sinners. Here’s a case in point. He encountered a rich young man, who asked Him how he could please God. Jesus told him that he must keep the commandments. The young man listed the commands and said that he kept all of them. But Jesus could see his pride, and He knew the truth, so Jesus said, “You only lack one thing.” He said, “You must sell all that you have and give it to the poor.” Now let’s give this young man some credit, because the church would love him. He is clean-cut, a faithful tither; he appears eager and teachable. But Jesus knows all men, and He knows this man’s weakness. He says, “You love money more than God.” He forces the young man to make a choice. He doesn’t offer him a program, whereby he might shed his reliance on money. He doesn’t suggest counseling or any type of recovery program. What He says, in essence is this, “Choose you this day whom you will serve.” This man walks away, and he is dejected, because he is unable to give up his money.
Now, let me give you an example of the opposite case; how He is gentle with sinners. There was a woman, who was caught in the act of adultery. What an embarrassment! She is thrown down in front of Jesus, and she is naked and crying; and the law says that she should be put to death. What could this woman possibly have to offer the church, except scandal and ridicule? In any case, she was caught red-handed; she was “guilty as sin.” The crowd was calling for her to be stoned. After all, if we are going to have a civil, religious nation, those who participate in gross immorality must be made an example of. Today, we would send her to counseling or force her to confess her sins publicly. But Jesus doesn’t do things that way. He simply says, “I don’t condemn you. Go, and sin no more.” He doesn’t even slap her hands. Jesus is so unlike the church. We would fuss over the wealthy, self-righteous young man, glossing over his delicate pride and cocky behavior. We would reprimand, humiliate and most likely excommunicate the obvious sinner, never stopping to offer mercy, grace and forgiveness.
I believe that Christians are sometimes too eager to proclaim the frightening fires of hell, but they hesitate to hold out hope for the golden streets of heaven. Nevertheless, in our world, most people have had a taste of hell, but they have never even dared to imagine the hope of heaven.
Today, I want you to look at that blessed hope, which awaits those who dare to believe. Jesus said, “Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me.” Jesus wants us to trust Him and the Father. This is the key to heaven, and that great gospel hymn expresses that thought when we sing, “Trust and obey for there’s no other way to be happy in Jesus but to trust and obey!”
We have all had tough times, and that’s when Satan will tempt us to be angry with God. That’s what happened with Job; he lost his wealth, his family and even his health. Then his friends questioned him about what great sin he must have committed to bring all these problems into his life. In his frustration and anguish, Job cried out, “Where are you God?” And God’s answer seems rather tough-minded. He says, “I am Creator, and you are creation. What advice do you think you have to offer Me?” Nevertheless, the Bible tells us that Job did not sin in his conversation with God. In the end, God doubled all the blessings that He had previously given to him, and then He tells Job’s friends, who had doubted him, to have Job lead them in a worship service.
Next, think about David. In some of the Psalms, he asks God why the wicked prosper and the righteous suffer? But when God appraised David’s life, He called him “A man after His own heart.”
Do you ever wonder why babies have to be born addicted to crack cocaine? Why do people we love have to get cancer? Why do good people have to suffer and die? My answer to these questions of seemingly unfair treatment by God is twofold.
• First, I know that God is
good. I have settled that question in my heart. This is something that everyone must be certain of. You may need to search the Bible, review your own life, listen to other Christians that you respect, or consider the testimonies of other Christians down through the ages. Make up your mind once and for all, whether you really believe that God is good. Once you know for sure that God is good, it will be easier for you to pass through those hard times, because you will know that God is aware of the difficulties, and that He is traveling with you through the darkest moments in your life.
• The first principle is that God is good, and the second is that He is just. Consider one of the most difficult questions people ask: what will happen to the Christian who commits suicide? There are some who will state that killing ones self is the ultimate lack of faith; therefore anyone who does so will land in hell. Then there are those who will argue that you cannot find forgiveness for suicide. On the other hand, I have heard it said that suicide is an act of insanity, so God will not hold a person responsible. And some hold the opinion, that since God forgives every sin a Christian commits; past, present or future, God’s love is greater than the sin of suicide. Here is my answer to the question: God will do what is right. If the believer who commits suicide lands in hell, when we see this reality, we will know that God has done right. I Corinthians 13 tells us, that now we can only see dimly. However, on the day when all things are complete, we will see clearly. We will understand all things. We will see eye to eye with what God has done. On the other hand, if we see that a believer who commits suicide lands in heaven, we can rejoice in the mercy and grace of God. It is not so important for me to discover an absolute answer to the question of what happens after suicide. I am content, just to know that God will do right.
The same answer can be given to the question: “What will happen to those who have never heard the gospel of Jesus Christ?” There are strong arguments to suggest that those who have never heard still have been given enough revelation that they should submit to God. Therefore, all those who reject Christ wind up in hell, no matter what level of knowledge they might have had. Then, I have heard it said that God knows everyone’s heart; He knows how they would have responded, had they known. My conclusion is that I should be motivated to share the Gospel as if everyone who has not heard it will be doomed to hell. However, as to what God will actually do, I simply say that God will do right. We will either get justice or mercy from Him.
Listen. We are not on trial before God. We have been condemned because of our sin. What we need is a pardon. That’s what the Gospel is, a pardon; but we must be willing to accept our pardon.
At this point, I want to get a little personal and say, “God’s perfect justice leads me to believe that in heaven everything will be made right.” There have been many injustices committed in this world, and it’s always been that way. However, in heaven every lie will be exposed, every truth revealed. Every suffering I have endured will be rewarded. I will be totally blameless.
We must learn to trust God, and when we do, we look forward to a better place, which Jesus spoke of, “In my Father’s house are many rooms, if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with Me, that you also will be where I am.” (Jn. 14: 2-3). Jesus says here, that He is preparing a place for us. God took six days to create all things, and He said, “It is good,” at the end of each day. Consider some beautiful scene that you may have seen in nature. Perhaps it was a mountain, an ocean shore or some rolling hills covered with flowers. Maybe you were just in the midst of a flower garden in a park. You stopped and took in a breath and gazed long at the scene and said, “God’s creation is more beautiful than any human architecture.”
Listen. Jesus has been working on our new place in heaven for over two thousand years. How wonderful it will be! There is one thing better than the place that Jesus will prepare for us, and that is the simple fact that He will be there with us. He loves us! It is His pleasure to spend all eternity with us. It will certainly be our pleasure also.