Heaven is for Real and you were Created for It! (2 Cor. 5:6, 8; 2 Tim. 4:8)
Prepared and preached for and at Bethel Friends Church in Poland, OH on Sunday, January 8, 2023
Years ago, I moved to a different city from Cincinnati, though I am originally from Dayton. One day I walked in a barber shop, it was a small barber shop that a local recommended, but when I walked in, I felt like I stood out like a Steelers fan in the Dawg Pound. I saw a few guys shootin’ the breeze there and one of them asked me, “You’re not from around here, are you?” I said where I was from and they made me welcome, but I will never forget walking in there. The realization hit, “No, I am new in town.” It has only been 16 years since I lived in the Dayton area, but everything has changed. Sometimes I like to go to the website of the school I graduated from or check it out on Facebook because it has all changed. Nothing, absolutely nothing, stays the same. In 2015, they tore down my high school and built another one. I attended the same school district from kindergarten through twelfth grade and it is all different. I like to think back; I think I do that more as my daughters get older. I think about what it was like when I was eleven and what my dad was doing, though my dad was younger than I am now when I was that age. Everything changes. So, having moved just less than four hours from home, I am amazed at people who move overseas. I am amazed at people who left Germany, or Ireland in the late 19th century to begin a new life in the states. Where are you from? Do you long to think back to the area you came from? Or, maybe you long to think back to a different age? Are you longing for something, or somewhere, or sometime?
We may long for a place, a time, or something else, but what we are really longing for is Heaven. God created us for Heaven.
I have homework for you. Today, I begin a sermon series on Heaven. I would like to ask you to think about your questions about heaven and submit the questions that you have. If they are not covered, I will try to cover them on the last sermon in the series. You can write them down and give them to me, or you can email the office at firstname.lastname@example.org.
My theme is simple: Heaven is real, and you were created for it.
My application is hopefully encouraging: Long for Heaven, Heaven is paradise.
- Heaven is real and you were created for it:
- Randy Alcorn: Heaven:
- The sense that we will live forever somewhere has shaped every civilization in human history. Australian aborigines pictured Heaven as a distant island beyond the western horizon. The early Finns thought it was an island in the faraway east. Mexicans, Peruvians, and Polynesians believed that they went to the sun or the moon after death. Native Americans believed that in the afterlife their spirits would hunt the spirits of buffalo. The Gilgamesh epic, an ancient Babylonian legend, refers to a resting place of heroes and hints at a tree of life. In the pyramids of Egypt, the embalmed bodies had maps placed beside them as guides to the future world. The Romans believed that the righteous would picnic in the Elysian fields while their horses grazed nearby. Seneca, the Roman philosopher, said, “The day thou fearest as the last is the birthday of eternity.” Although these depictions of the afterlife differ, the unifying testimony of the human heart throughout history is belief in life after death. Anthropological evidence suggests that every culture has a God-given, innate sense of the eternal— that this world is not all there is.
- The Roman catacombs, where the bodies of many martyred Christians were buried, contain tombs with inscriptions such as these:
- In Christ, Alexander is not dead, but lives.
- One who lives with God.
- He was taken up into his eternal home.
- One historian writes, “Pictures on the catacomb walls portray Heaven with beautiful landscapes, children playing, and people feasting at banquets.”
- In AD 125, a Greek named Aristides wrote to a friend about Christianity, explaining why this “new religion” was so successful: “If any righteous man among the Christians passes from this world, they rejoice and offer thanks to God, and they escort his body with songs and thanksgiving as if he were setting out from one place to another nearby.”
- In the third century, the church father Cyprian said, “Let us greet the day which assigns each of us to his own home, which snatches us from this place and sets us free from the snares of the world, and restores us to paradise and the kingdom. Anyone who has been in foreign lands longs to return to his own native land. . . . We regard paradise as our native land.”
- Our native land is not here, nor is it overseas. Our native land is Heaven. We were created for it.
- S. Lewis wrote: If our deepest desires cannot be satisfied in this world, then we must have been made for another world.” He pondered this and other truths, which led him to Christ.
- But, today we do not long for heaven do we?
- There’s cartoonist G. Larson’s “Far Side” which shows a guy strumming a harp on a cloud in heaven saying: “Wish I’d have brought a magazine.”
- In The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Mark Twain portrays a similar view of Heaven. The Christian spinster Miss Watson takes a dim view of Huck’s fun-loving spirit. According to Huck, “She went on and told me all about the good place. She said all a body would have to do there was go around all day long with a harp and sing, forever and ever. So I didn’t think much of it. . . . I asked her if she reckoned Tom Sawyer would go there, and she said, not by a considerable sight. I was glad about that, because I wanted him and me to be together.”
- The pious Miss Watson had nothing to say about Heaven that appealed to Huck. (And nothing, if we’re honest, that appeals to us.) What would have attracted him was a place where he could do meaningful and pleasurable things with enjoyable people. In fact, that’s a far more accurate depiction of what Heaven will actually be like. If Miss Watson had told Huck what the Bible says about living in a resurrected body and being with people we love on a resurrected Earth with gardens and rivers and mountains and untold adventures—now that would have gotten his attention!
- When it came to Heaven and Hell, Mark Twain never quite got it. Under the weight of age, he said in his autobiography, “The burden of pain, care, misery grows heavier year by year. At length ambition is dead, pride is dead, vanity is dead, longing for release is in their place. It comes at last—the only unpoisoned gift earth ever had for them—and they vanish from a world where they were of no consequence; where they achieved nothing; where they were a mistake and a failure and a foolishness.”
- What a contrast to the perspective that Charles Spurgeon, his contemporary, had on death: “To come to Thee is to come home from exile, to come to land out of the raging storm, to come to rest after long labour, to come to the goal of my desires and the summit of my wishes.”
- Part of the problem is that we have an inaccurate view of Heaven. Let’s begin to change that.
- Heaven is a place
- I am beginning a series on Heaven, so I don’t want to spoil the series today, instead I just wish to set up the series.
- I will talk about several passages, and you can look them up at home.
- Sometimes we think things in Heaven are only spiritual. This is not true.
- If things in Heaven are only spiritual then why does God use so many material objects to illustrate what we’ll have in Heaven, like “house, dwelling, clothed, rooms (Jn. 14), white robes (Rev. 6:10-11), rivers, gardens, and the tree of life in Heaven. Both Rev. 2:7 and 22:2 refers to the SAME Tree of Life that was physical in the Garden of Eden in (Gen. 2:9).
- Randy Alcorn writes: Christoplatonism: Plato was “the first Western philosopher to claim that reality is fundamentally something ideal or abstract.” “For Plato . . . the body is a hindrance, as it opposes and even imprisons the soul (Phaedo 65– 68; 91– 94).”
- But according to Scripture, our bodies aren’t just shells for our spirits to inhabit; they’re a good and essential aspect of our being. Likewise, the earth is not a second-rate location from which we must be delivered. Rather, it was handmade by God for us. Earth, not some incorporeal state, is God’s choice as mankind’s original and ultimate dwelling place.
- To distinguish the version of Platonism seen among Christians from secular forms of Platonism, I’ve [Randy Alcorn] coined the term Christoplatonism. This philosophy has blended elements of Platonism with Christianity, and in so doing has poisoned Christianity and blunted its distinct differences from Eastern religions. Because appeals to Christoplatonism appear to take the spiritual high ground, attempts to refute this false philosophy often appear to be materialistic, hedonistic, or worldly.
- But Heaven is a real place. Jesus reminded His disciples to pray, “Our Father who is in heaven” (Matt. 6:9).
- In the Bible it will refer to multiple heavens: 1) the atmosphere, the universe and where God resides.
- There are many scriptures on heaven, but consider just a few. Look at these Scriptures:
The One enthroned in heaven laughs…
2 Cor. 12:4:
I was caught up to paradise and heard inexpressible things, things that no one is permitted to tell.
2 Cor. 5:6, 8:
Therefore we are always confident and know that as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord. We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord.
2 Tim. 4:8:
Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.
- Heaven is a destination,
- It will not be boring,
- It is paradise.
- Significance of Heaven
- Have you lost loved ones, you’ll see them again if they were in Christ.
- Are you having trouble walking or maybe you cannot walk, you will have a perfect body someday.
- Maybe your eyesight is failing, you will have renewed vision.
- Maybe your memory is struggling, you will know more and remember again (1 Cor. 13:9-13).
- Maybe you are watching a loved one suffer through something, know that this is not how God intended it. This is because of our sin-filled world. Your loved one will live again without these sufferings.
- Do you have trouble getting up and facing each day? Do you experience pain constantly? This will end and you will have a perfect body.
- Do you experience depression or mental illness? In Heaven this will be gone.
- Do you have a loved one that you cannot talk with because of Autism or something else? You will have conversations with that loved one in Heaven.
- Jesus reminded His disciples to pray, “Our Father who is in heaven” (Matt. 6:9).
- Have you ever been at a family reunion, and you wanted to see and talk to so many people, but there just wasn’t time? There will be in Heaven. And you will be able to talk to Jesus, and Moses, and Elijah and all these other people.
- Do you want to see your parents again? Your grandparents?
- In Christ Alone: No guilt in life, no fear in death…
A few years ago, a family of five died in a car accident. They were young parents, 29 years old, with three children. They were soon going to Japan as missionaries. The youngest was 2 months old. Their car was hit from behind by a semi and they died at the scene, all of them. That broke my heart. But upon further reflection, this is cause for praise. They all went to Jesus together. They could have experienced 80 years of suffering in this life, but instead they are in Jesus’ presence. They are in Heaven.
What are you longing for?
When Meagan was pregnant, both times, we longed for the day of our daughter’s birth.
But you know what we all, all of us as humans long for? We long for Heaven. We try to duplicate Heaven in our homes, malls, amusement parks, vacation destinations. We desire Heaven because we were created for Heaven.
 Alcorn, Randy (2011-12-08). Heaven (Alcorn, Randy) (Kindle Locations 265-274). Tyndale House Publishers. Kindle Edition.
 Ibid, Kindle Locations 287-288.
 Randy Alcorn, Heaven (Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale Momentum, 2011).
 Alcorn, Randy (2011-12-08). Heaven (Alcorn, Randy) (Kindle Locations 8723-8724). Tyndale House Publishers. Kindle Edition.