God Loved You Before You Were Born (Psalm 139:13-18)

God Loved You Before You Were Born (Job 10:10-12; Psalm 139:13-17)

Prepared and preached by Pastor Steve Rhodes for and at Bethel Friends Church in Poland, OH on Sunday, March 12, 2023

When Mercedes and Abigail were born it was instant love. However, we had love for them even when they were in the womb. We heard the heartbeat and it was absolutely amazing. Then, when they were born we were both amazed. It was instant love, it was instant affection. We would die for the baby and we still would.

Why is that?

God created us that way.

However, when a baby is in the womb, in love God is creating the baby. God created us in the womb. God loved us before we were born.

Do you need encouraged today?

Do you ever feel like certain things about you are a mistake? That is NOT true. God loves you and loved you before you were born.

When a young couple announces that a baby is on the way, everyone tells them, “It’ll change your life!” But the fact is, they are already changed. From the first moment of anticipation, they see themselves in a different light. They find that it’s possible to be deeply in love with a tiny human being they’ve never met. They brim with dreams of the things they’ll do with their child— taking trips to the beach, getting a puppy, learning about God. Until that child is born, father and mother will think of little else; after the child is born, they will devote themselves fully to their precious offspring.

Where did this powerful love come from? The answer: It’s an inherited trait. We are made in the image of a heavenly Father who felt the same deep joy before we were born, but His love is even more powerful, more boundless. You know that God loves you now, but do you realize that He always has—even before you were born? Even before the world was created? He has loved you from the very foundation of time. Let’s explore what the Bible says about God’s relationship with you before you were born.[1]

My theme today is:

God Loved You Before You Were Born (Psalm 139:13-17)

There are many passages that we could look at but I want to park on Psalm 139:13-17.

  1. Context:
    1. This was a Psalm written by David.
    2. Many of the Psalms are actually Messianic. Many are actually pointing towards the Messiah. For example, Psalm 22 is the suffering Messiah; Psalm 23 the return from the dead; Psalm 24 is the reigning of the Messiah on His throne. The Psalms were put together when there was no king after the exile. Many were written before the exile but put together after the exile.[2]
    3. Psalm 139:1-6: God knows us.
    4. Psalm 139:7-12: God is always with us.
    5. Psalm 139:13-24: God’s omnipotence.
    6. In the first six verses we see about God knowing us.
    7. As we look at the beginning of Psalm 139 we see that the Lord knows us. He is the all-knowing God who has an intimate understanding of the psalmist, as of all His creation.[3]
    8. Then we want to jump to Psalm 139:13-17.
  2. He creates and arranges our bodies within the womb.
    1. We see this in Psalm 139:13-15.
    2. Psalm 139:13 (ESV): 13For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.
    3. This verse is building on the previous section. The previous verses were about God’s presence. He is present everywhere and now the Psalmist, David builds on that with some examples, but also God’s power.
    4. When did He do this?
    5. He did this in our mother’s womb.
    6. Verse 14: I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.
    7. The Psalmist praises God.
    8. Why does he praise God?
    9. He is fearfully and wonderfully made.
    10. We could say, “awesomely and wonderfully made.”
    11. He appeals to his soul.
    12. His soul knows how wonderfully he is made.
    13. Though that could be translated that the Lord knows it well.
    14. Verse 15: My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
    15. This is really awesome.
    16. The phrase depths of the earth is normally associated with death (63:9; Ezk 26:20), but here it is figurative for the concealment of the womb.[8]
    17. God saw him being created. “Made in secret” would refer back to the womb.
    18. Modern technology now allows us to see the astonishing complexity of a developing child with our own eyes. In a 2010 TED presentation titled Conception to Birth—Visualized, Alexander Tsiaras, mathematician and chief of Scientific Visualization at Yale University, presented a series of incredible images of a child’s development in the womb. In his production you can see never-before-viewed videos and photos of the very first cell division, the development of the heart at only twenty-five days, the development of arms and hands at only thirty-two days, and the development of the retinas, nose, and eyes at fifty-two days.
  • Clearly astounded by what he witnessed in his own images, Tsiaras concluded his talk with these words: “The complexity of these things, the mathematical model of how these things are indeed done, [is] beyond human comprehension. Even though I am a mathematician I look at this with the marvel of, ‘How did these instruction sets build that which is us?’ It’s a mystery, it’s magic, it’s divinity.”[10]
  • And Bible scholar John Phillips describes the magnificent complexities of our bodies at the cellular level: We know that every living creature is made up of microscopic cells so small that the letter O on this page would contain between thirty to forty thousand of them. Each microscopic cell is a world in itself, containing an estimated two hundred trillion tiny molecules of atoms. Each cell, in other words, is a micro-universe of almost unbelievable complexity. All these cells put together make up a living creature. Each cell has its own specialized function and each works to an intricate timetable which tells it when to grow, when to divide, when to make hormones, when to die. Every minute of every day some three billion cells in the body die and the same number are created to take their place. During any given moment in the life of any one of these cells, thousands of events are taking place, each one being precisely coordinated at the molecular level by countless triggers. The human body has more than a million million of them—a million in each square inch of skin, thirty billion in the brain, billions of red blood cells in the veins. Obviously such a complicated and unerring development of cells cannot possibly be the result of chance.[11]
  • He schedules every day before we are born.
    1. We see this in Psalm 139:16: Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.
    2. David continues showing that God is in control. God’s eyes saw him in the womb.
    3. God planned his days before they happened. The idea is more than God just recording his days, but of God planning/ordaining his days.
  • He thinks wonderful and innumerable thoughts about us.
    1. We see this in Psalm 139:17-18: How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them! If I would count them, they are more than the sand. I awake, and I am still with you.
    2. David is exclaiming.
    3. God’s thoughts are precious.
    4. That is the case for us as well.
    5. God loves us.
    6. God loved us before we were born.
    7. Notice David says, “if I were to number them…” We cannot number how many thoughts God has for us.
    8. When David awakes, he is still with God.
    9. When I wake up could refer to having pondered God’s knowledge all night, or to the resurrection.[13]
    10. The number is so large that one would fall asleep; and even so, God will not abandon his faithful (I awake, and I am still with you).[14]
  • Applications: Be encouraged, God loves us.
    1. God is so amazing that He formed us (verse 13).
    2. We must worship Him as powerful.
    3. We must respond in love. We must be encouraged by His great love.
    4. He knit/wove us together. He designed us with detail when we were in the womb (verse 13).
    5. We can be encouraged that God loves us so much that He did not just leave us to chance, no He designed us. That is how much He cares about us.
    6. We can be like the Psalmist David and exude praise (verse 14). We are awesomely made by the awesome God (verse 14).
    7. God’s works are wonderful. We should stop and marvel. We should be amazed and rejoice. We should praise and worship. When we notice how awesome He is, how can we not but worship?
    8. God even planned our days before we were born (verse 16). There are no coincidences. That can mean He knew our days or He ordained/planned them, or both. Either way, God is in charge. There are no coincidences. We can trust that our days are in His power and control. When troubles come, He has a plan. We can trust Him.
    9. We can be encouraged. God has amazing thoughts for us. We cannot number them. That is how much He loves us.
  • God loves us and loved us before were were born.

Mother Theresa:

I would not have wanted to be president of the United States on February 3, 1994. Or vice president. Or a senator or congressman or any other high-ranking member of our government. Those jobs are challenging on any day, but on that day a tiny woman from India made the leaders of the most powerful government in the world feel much smaller. She didn’t mean to. She didn’t berate or criticize them. In fact, she spoke quite lovingly. She simply talked about how valuable human life is to God.

The late Mother Teresa, founder of the Missionaries of Charity, was invited to speak at the annual National Prayer Breakfast in Washington, D.C. Even standing on a platform, the tiny nun’s head was barely visible over the top of the podium. But the room was so quiet that no one failed to hear her message, loud and clear.

Mother Teresa talked about the dignity and value of all life, the worthiness of all human life to be loved, something that everyone gathered at the prayer breakfast could agree with. But halfway through her talk she said,

I feel that the greatest destroyer of peace today is abortion, because it is a war against the child, a direct killing of the innocent child, murder by the mother herself. And if we accept that a mother can kill even her own child, how can we tell other people not to kill one another?

And then, speaking directly into the room filled with some of the world’s most powerful people, she pleaded, Please don’t kill the child. I want the child. Please give me the child. I am willing to accept any child who would be aborted and to give that child to a married couple who will love the child and be loved by the child. From our children’s home in Calcutta alone, we have saved over 3,000 children from abortion. These children have brought such love and joy to their adopting parents and have grown up so full of love and joy. If we remember that God loves us, and that we can love others as He loves us, then America can become a sign of peace for the world. From here [in Washington, D.C.], a sign of care for the weakest of the weak—the unborn child—must go out to the world. If you become a burning light of justice and peace in the world, then really you will be true to what the founders of this country stood for. God bless you![15]

This is not a political message, no this is about God’s great love for each and everyone of us.


[1] Jeremiah, Dr. David. God Loves You (pp. 27-29). FaithWords. Kindle Edition.

[2] Dr. Rydelnic; Open Line; July 6, 2019

[3] R. C. Sproul, ed., The Reformation Study Bible: English Standard Version (2015 Edition) (Orlando, FL: Reformation Trust, 2015), 994.

[4] Crossway Bibles, The ESV Study Bible (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2008), 1116.

[5] Insight for Living; Swindoll; 11.24.2021

lit Literally/literally

[6] Kevin R. Warstler, “Psalms,” in CSB Study Bible: Notes, ed. Edwin A. Blum and Trevin Wax (Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers, 2017), 936.

[7] Jeremiah, Dr. David. God Loves You (p. 30). FaithWords. Kindle Edition.

[8] Kevin R. Warstler, “Psalms,” in CSB Study Bible: Notes, ed. Edwin A. Blum and Trevin Wax (Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers, 2017), 936.

[9] From Living the Psalms  by Charles R. Swindoll, copyright © 2012. Reprinted by permission of Worthy Inspired, an imprint of Hachette Book Group, Inc. https://insight.org/resources/daily-devotional/individual/a-species-of-wonder1?utm_source=mailchimp&utm_medium=email&utm_content=ifldailydevo&utm_campaign=daily-devotional&goal=0_daec2b65fd-52c5b81323-106822917

[10] Jeremiah, Dr. David. God Loves You (p. 32). FaithWords. Kindle Edition.

[11] Jeremiah, Dr. David. God Loves You (pp. 32-33). FaithWords. Kindle Edition.

[12] https://equip.sbts.edu/article/the-witness-of-scripture-abortion-is-murder/?utm_source=The+Southern+Baptist+Theological+Seminary+List&utm_campaign=9a40066be7-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2017_11_21_COPY_01&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_ee150c7052-9a40066be7-308393353&mc_cid=9a40066be7&mc_eid=ccb40608e2

[13] Kevin R. Warstler, “Psalms,” in CSB Study Bible: Notes, ed. Edwin A. Blum and Trevin Wax (Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers, 2017), 936.

[14] Crossway Bibles, The ESV Study Bible (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2008), 1117.

[15] Jeremiah, Dr. David. God Loves You (pp. 38-39). FaithWords. Kindle Edition.

[16] Jeremiah, Dr. David. God Loves You (pp. 30-31). FaithWords. Kindle Edition.

God IS Love

God Is Love (1 John 4:7-10)

Prepared and preached by Pastor Steve Rhodes for and at Bethel Friends Church in Poland, OH on Sunday, March 5, 2023

David Jeremiah writes:

In the days when the great evangelist Dwight L. Moody was preaching in Chicago, a poor drunkard stumbled up the steps to the front door of Moody’s church. The man pushed the door open, scanned the room, and saw no one inside. His eyes, however, were drawn to a large sign hanging above the pulpit that read “God Is Love.” It struck him—with anger. He slammed the door, and staggered down the steps, muttering, “God is not love. If God was love He would love me, and He doesn’t love a miserable man like me. It isn’t true.”

He went on his way, but those words were burning inside him, God is love. God is love. God is love… He couldn’t resist, Was it true… is it possible? After a while he turned around, retraced his steps, and entered the church again—confused and desperate. By now the people had gathered, and as Moody began to preach the man slipped into a seat in the back corner. He wept during the entire sermon as anger and confusion began to give way to joy and hope.

Afterward, Moody made his way to the door to shake hands with the people as they left. But the man didn’t leave. He remained in his seat, weeping. Moody came over, sat down beside him, and asked, “What are you crying about, my friend? What was it in the sermon that touched your heart?”

“Oh, Mr. Moody, I didn’t hear a word that you spoke tonight,” the man responded. “It’s those words up there over your pulpit, ‘God Is Love,’ that broke my heart.” Moody sat down and explained to him the depths of God’s love. The man listened and gave his heart to God, understanding for the first time that God really did love him.[1]

Today, we begin a series titled, “God Loves You.”

Today, my theme is God is love.

Let’s look at 1 John 4:7-10:

1 John 4:7–10 (ESV)

God Is Love

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. 10 In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.

  1. God is love. That is what this passage says. The theme of the passage is that God is love.
    1. Look at verse 7 from the beginning John writes that we are to love one another. I am going to come back to that in a minute.
    2. Why are we to love one another? John tells us.
    3. We are to love one another because love comes from God. One of the arguments for the existence of God is that we do have the ability to think of right and wrong. Isn’t that amazing? Where do we get this idea of love? Even animals to some degree have this understanding of love and what is love. Humans most always do. We get this from God. God gave us the ability to love. God not only gave us the ability to love He crafted us with a need for love. A few years ago, I read: “Growing up, I felt like the only way I could be happy with myself was if someone else loved me. I’ve always attached myself to people because that’s where I found my love. I’ve got a lot of insecurities about the way I look. That’s why I work out so much. And I’m always comparing myself to other people, wondering if I’m good enough” (Pussycat Dolls’ Nicole Scherzinger, Vibe, May 2007, pg. 36). We desire and need love. A child needs the love of his mother. A wife needs the love of her husband.
    4. So, we see in this passage that God is love. Now, I need to park here for a short moment. God is love, but this cannot be reversed. God is love, not love is God. That sounds nice but it is not true. Love is not God. But God is love in that love is one of many of the attributes which define who God is. In fact, the same article I referenced earlier also gives some attributes of God. Dr. Tim Tennent, President of Asbury Theological Seminary writes:
    5. WHO IS GOD?
      God is a personal being, infinite in love, knowledge, and power. He is perfect in wisdom, goodness, righteousness, justice, holiness, and truth. God is both the creator and sustainer of the universe. He is the final goal and judge of the universe, infinite and perfect in all his attributes.[3]
    6. Bobby Murphy, “‘God is Love’ doesn’t equate Him with love; it identifies love as an attribute of His.”[4]
    7. God’s love is not separated from His other characteristics. God is just, etc.
    8. So, God is love and the passage says that everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Okay, does that mean that everyone who does an act of love is of God? Does everyone who does something nice get a free pass to Heaven? Really? I bet that everyone does something nice at some point in their life, right? The key point in this passage is that it says that everyone who loves has been born of God… This passage is talking about a rebirth in Jesus Christ. God is love and love proceeds from the Father, so God gives us the ability to love and because of that when we are reborn from God we love and we know God. In fact, our love shows that we know God. Jesus said, they will know you are Christians by your love (John 13:35).
    9. Later in verse 16 John reiterates this message: 1 John 4:16 (ESV) 16 So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.
    10. Again, David Jeremiah: In the Bible the love of God is like a multifaceted diamond: Each glistening facet reveals some blindingly beautiful truth about God. For this is where the quest for love leads—to an encounter with God Himself. To begin to understand love, we must begin to understand God. And to begin to understand God, we must begin in no other place than the revelation of His love in the Bible.[6]

So we are called to copy this love of Christ.

  • We are to emulate God’s love.

I heard that Alexander the Great had a soldier who bore his name who was unfaithful in duty and demonstrated cowardice? And Alexander called him in and said, “Either change your behavior or change your name.” And I think that, in a sense, is what John is saying here. If you’re going to call yourself a Christian, if you’re going to say you are God’s and you belong to God and you truly are His, then conduct yourself as He would, with love.[7]

  1. In verse 8 John repeats that God is love right after saying that the one who does not love does not know God. This sounds like it is pretty critical that if we claim to know God we love.
  2. Look at verse 9, it reminds me of John 3:16 as it should: In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him.
  3. God desires a relationship with us and that is why He took action. Jesus is God’s one and only Son or better translated unique Son. God sent Him into the world in order to show His great love for us. Praise God!
  4. Verse 10 shows us that God initiated this relationship with us: In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 
  5. God’s love for us is unending:
  6. Again from David Jeremiah quoting Brennan Manning: When the Bible tells us that God’s love is unlimited, I think it means God’s love is something like the love of the mother in this story told by Michael Brown: A friend told me about a boy who was the apple of his parents’ eyes. Tragically, in his mid-teens, the boy’s life went awry. He dropped out of school and began associating with the worst kind of crowds. One night he staggered into his house at 3:00 a.m., completely drunk. His mother slipped out of bed and left her room. The father followed, assuming that his wife was in the kitchen, perhaps crying. Instead he found her at her son’s bedside, softly stroking his matted hair as he lay passed out drunk on the covers. “What are you doing?” the father asked, and the mother simply answered, “He won’t let me love him when he’s awake.”[9]
  • What does this mean for us?

Contemplative author and speaker Brennan Manning calls this concept “love without motive.”

He writes: As a man, I love the Jersey shore, Handel’s Messiah, hot fudge, and my wife Roslyn. I love what I find congenial or appealing. I love someone for what I find in him or her. But God is not like that. The God and Father of Jesus loves men and women not for what He finds in them, but for what He finds in them of Himself. It is not because men and women are good that He loves them, nor only good men and women that He loves. It is because He is so unspeakably, unimaginably good that He loves men and women in their sin. It is not that He detects what is congenial and appealing and He responds to us with His favor. He is the source of love. He acts: He does not react. He is love without motive.[10]

  1. We must love people as well.
  2. In loving people this will show that the love of God is in us.
  3. If we are born of God, as in re-born that means that we must love others.
  4. This must shape our emotions in loving people in our thoughts.
  5. This must shape our intelligence in that we understand that we love because God created us in His image and God is love, but also knowing that God has rebirthed us in His Spirit and we are to imitate God (Ephesians 5:1-2).
  6. This must shape our actions in that our actions are loving others as God has loved.
  7. We must think thoughts that love others.
  8. We must take every thought into captivity (2 Cor. 13:5).
  • We must think Biblical thoughts (Phil 4:4-13).
  • We must seek God’s Kingdom (Matthew 6-7).
  • We must love others which compels us to evangelism (Matthew 28:19-20).
  • David Jeremiah writes: This is the most important fact in your life. God loves you. The eternal, self-existent Being who created and sustains everything that exists dearly loves you. The profound thought of God’s love should begin and end your every day. It should define your every goal, your every action. And He doesn’t merely like you when you do well; He is personally and passionately committed to your good, even when you fail. God loves you. What would happen if that three-word sentence became the theme of your life—if you let it change everything about you and your world?[11]

The implications of God’s love are astounding: we are fully and completely loved by God, despite our unworthiness of that love. This perfect love casts out the real fear of being rejected by God on the basis of our failures, whether past, present, or future. If God has loved us so generously and sacrificially, the only legitimate response is to love our neighbors. We can’t simply choose to love “good” people or people with whom we agree. We can’t reserve love for those willing to repay it. If we are to love like God, we have to be willing to be wounded.

God’s great love for us…

In her autobiography, Over Mountain or Plain or Sea, Trula Cronk, who served as a missionary in India for twenty-four years, tells of a little girl who visited her house one evening and stayed just a little longer than she intended. Darkness fell, and she was afraid to walk home. Trula explained that she should not be afraid, saying, “Dolan, God loves you and He will take care of you as you walk to your house.” The little girl replied very solemnly, “No, memsahib, God does not love little girls.”

 Trula Cronk was never able to forget that misguided statement, and it made her want to tell all little girls everywhere that God is love, and He does indeed love them.[13]

[1] Jeremiah, Dr. David. God Loves You (pp. 1-2). FaithWords. Kindle Edition.

[2] http://timothytennent.com/2013/06/21/who-is-god/

[3] http://timothytennent.com/2013/06/21/who-is-god/

[4] Page 91 of Bobby’s Book “20/20 vision”

[5] Jeremiah, Dr. David. God Loves You (p. 4). FaithWords. Kindle Edition.

[6] Ibid, page 6.

[7] http://www.gty.org/resources/sermons/62-34/manifesting-perfect-love-part-1

[8] Packer, J. I.. Knowing God (p. 45). InterVarsity Press. Kindle Edition.

[9] Jeremiah, Dr. David. God Loves You (pp. 19-20). FaithWords. Kindle Edition.

[10] Jeremiah, Dr. David. God Loves You (pp. 8-9). FaithWords. Kindle Edition.; Brennan Manning, “Living as God’s Beloved: An Interview with Brennan Manning About How We Can Experience God’s Love,” Discipleship Journal, July/August 1997, accessed December 28, 2012, http://www.navpress.com/magazines/archives/article.aspx?id=11697.

[11] Jeremiah, Dr. David. God Loves You (p. 3). FaithWords. Kindle Edition.

[12] Ibid, page 8

[13] Ibid, (p. 2)

Heaven, Let the Picture Develop

At a Wednesday evening church meeting a very wealthy man rose to give his testimony. 

“I’m a millionaire,” he said, “and I attribute it all to the rich blessings of God in my life. I can still remember the turning point in my faith, like it was yesterday:

I had just earned my first dollar and I went to a church meeting that night. The speaker was a missionary who told about his work. I knew that I only had a dollar bill and had to either give it all to God’s work or nothing at all. So at that moment I decided to give my whole dollar to God. I believe that God blessed that decision, and that is why I am a rich man today.”

As he finished it was clear that everyone had been moved by this man’s story. But, as he took his seat, a little old lady sitting in the same pew leaned over and said: “Wonderful story! I dare you to do it again!”

The Bible does teach about storing up treasurers in Heaven (Matthew 6:20), so if we are storing our treasurers there, what is it like?

I remember in high school taking a photography class and learning to develop film. It was fun. Remember the old “one step” cameras? We would take the picture and then watch as it developed. Today, I wish to develop the picture of Heaven.

My theme today is: Heaven is for real. As you look forward to Heaven, use your imagination, grounded with the Bible.

Revelation 21:1–4 (ESV)

The New Heaven and the New Earth

21 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”

Let’s review:

We have talked about:

  • Heaven is for real.
    1. The Bible talks about Heaven in many places.
    2. Isaiah 65; John 14:1-6 as well as Revelation chapters 21-22 are all about Heaven.
  • Present Heaven versus future Heaven
    1. We talked about the Heaven we enter right away and the Heaven for all eternity.
    2. It is encouraging that there is no soul sleep. We go straight to Heaven when we die (2 Cor. 5:8; Phil. 1:21).
    3. We can read about this in the parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus (Luke 16:19-31) as well as Rev. 6:9-11.
  • Will we have homes in Heaven?
    1. In John 14:1-6 as well as Isaiah 65:17-23 we read about homes in Heaven.
    2. But we read about more than homes in Heaven, we read about whole estates.
    3. We read about farms and orchards and land and much more.
    4. In Revelation chapters 21-22 we read about a city and a garden.
  • Will Time exist in Heaven?
    1. We know that we will not be God, only God is God.
    2. There are many references to time in Heaven.
  • Will Heaven be boring?
    1. Remember that we will have resurrected bodies (see 1 Cor. 15).
    2. We will have purpose.
    3. We will have jobs and hobbies; Heaven will not be boring.
  • Will we know everything in Heaven?
    1. It seems that we will not know everything.
    2. Only God is omniscient.
    3. We talked about 1 Cor. 13:8-13 and knowledge. It seems that the gift of knowledge will no longer be needed. This is more about a spiritual gift having to do with knowledge. The spiritual gifts will no longer be needed.
    4. If we knew everything, maybe Heaven would be boring, but we won’t.
    5. Is seems evident that we will continue to learn.
  • Do dogs and animals go to Heaven?
    1. We do see descriptions of animals in Heaven and Psalm 104:30 references animals being restored.
    2. Though, we cannot be completely sure that your pet is restored.

Questions you submitted:

  1. I received a question about cremation. Is cremation okay?
    1. First, cremation is not a problem for God. The One Who created us can and will restore us. Think about all of those who died in war, or at sea, their bones are gone. God will restore them.
    2. We never see cremation in the Bible. Historically, Christians and Jews buried their dead and pagans burned them. However, pagans also had a pagan ceremony with the burial.
    3. There are occurrences in the Old Testament of people being burned to death (1 Kings 16:18; 2 Kings 21:6) and of human bones being burned (2 Kings 23:16-20), but these are not examples of cremation. It is interesting to note that in 2 Kings 23:16-20, burning human bones on an altar desecrated the altar. At the same time, the Old Testament law nowhere commands that a deceased human body not be burned, nor does it attach any curse or judgment on someone who is cremated.[1]
    4. In cremations today we have a Christian memorial service.
    5. One source shares the following:
    6. Cremation was practiced in biblical times, but it was not commonly practiced by the Israelites or by New Testament believers. In the cultures of Bible times, burial in a tomb, cave, or in the ground was the common way to dispose of a human body (Genesis 23:19; 35:19; 2 Chronicles 16:14; Matthew 27:60-66). While burial was the common practice, the Bible nowhere commands burial as the only allowed method of disposing of a body.
    7. Is cremation something a Christian can consider? Again, there is no explicit scriptural command against cremation. Some believers object to the practice of cremation on the basis it does not recognize that one day God will resurrect our bodies and re-unite them with our soul/spirit (1 Corinthians 15:35-58; 1 Thessalonians 4:16). However, the fact that a body has been cremated does not make it any more difficult for God to resurrect that body. The bodies of Christians who died a thousand years ago have, by now, completely turned into dust. This will in no way prevent God from being able to resurrect their bodies. He created them in the first place; He will have no difficulty re-creating them. Cremation does nothing but “expedite” the process of turning a body into dust. God is equally able to raise a person’s remains that have been cremated as He is the remains of a person who was not cremated. The question of burial or cremation is within the realm of Christian freedom. A person or a family considering this issue should pray for wisdom (James 1:5) and follow the conviction that results.[2]
  2. Will we have wings in heaven?
    1. No, we will have new, resurrected bodies (1 Cor. 15).
    2. Jesus is not described with wings.
    3. We will have resurrected bodies and they will be similar to our current bodies.
    4. Jesus said that in heaven we will be like the angels in not marrying or being given in marriage (Mark 12:25).
  3. There will be a new heaven and a new earth right? Why both? If the new earth will be so amazing why does there need to be a heaven and visa versa?
    1. My simple answer is that the New heaven and New Earth are actually combined.
    2. We see this in Rev. 21:1-2. The New Jerusalem comes down out of heaven. I actually think that “heaven” is the dimension that the New Earth is in. Though some of this is dealing with terminology of time. This is a future time. The New Heaven and New Earth is the culmination of all things. This is also a resurrected time. When things are fulfilled we will have resurrected bodies and a resurrected earth.
  4. Will we move about in the temporary heaven and how? Will there be certain locations based on your life on earth?
    1. This is a more difficult question. I cannot answer for sure, but based on Rev. 6:9-11 and Luke 16:19-31 I believe we will have bodies in the temporary heaven as well. This means that we will move about. Rev. 6:9-11 and chapter 7 of Revelation describes people in the temporary heaven and they have robes on and they are singing. This seems to imply movement and so does Jesus’ parable of the rich man and Lazarus in Luke 16:19-31.
    2. I cannot answer about locations based on our life on earth, but I do not think so. Heaven is a totally different dimension.
  5. Will we have freewill in heaven? Can we sin?
    1. The fact that Adam and Eve had a choice to make in the Garden of Eden shows beyond all doubt that mankind was created with a free will. The first couple chose to sin, and that choice has plunged the entire world into spiritual darkness leading to our need of salvation.[3]
    2. Can we sin and get kicked out of heaven, no.
    3. Definition of freewill:
    4. We have freewill but not in the way most people think. We are free to choose based off of our desires. As long as we have a minimum of two available choices, we make a choice.
    5. But, in the case of a fallen sinner, he or she is not at liberty to choose according to righteousness. This is what Jesus means when He says that the one who sins “is a slave to sin” (John 8:34). This is not the language of “free will” as people typically think of it. The unregenerate person has a sinful nature; he is not just inclined to sin but driven by sinful impulses. It is perhaps helpful to say, “We are free to choose what we want but not free to want what we ought.” This greatly limits our “freedom” because the list of things we want (as sinners) coincides with whatever pleases our sinful impulses. Our choices are for things that will ultimately destroy us (Proverbs 14:12). As Paul says, “Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death?” (Romans 7:24, NLT). [4]
    6. When we are saved, we are liberated from our natural bondage to sin. The Holy Spirit sovereignly regenerates us and in grace gives us the ability to want what we ought to want, namely, forgiveness, salvation, and the lordship of Christ. When we trust in Jesus for salvation, we begin a moral progression, a journey toward holiness in which we put to death daily the sinful impulses that reside within us and strive toward godliness. In heaven we will be completely devoid of sin; our only desires will be for the things of God—things that bless us, fulfill us, and give us life. This is true liberty (see Romans 8:21). We will retain our free will in heaven, but our will is sanctified there. The sin nature will be gone.[5]
    7. In heaven we are COMPLETELY conformed to the image of Christ (Romans 8:28-30). We will not even want to sin.
    8. Also, there will be no temptation to lure us.
    9. Unlike Adam and Eve we will face no test, our moral state will be secure.[6]
    10. We will be like Him (1 John 3:2).
  6. If we have a home prepared for us in Heaven…is it for me only or for my spouse as well? It would seem adult children would have their own, but young children, how would that be handled?  Maybe there will be no age differences. It will be interesting to see how God does this with our new spiritual bodies. It also begs the question… Do we retain the same bond of marriage and family relationships in Heaven? Thanks for considering.
    1. It seems that we do have homes in heaven, though it seems based on John 14:1-6 they are more like apartments.
    2. It seems that they will be homes for us because it seems that we will not be married in heaven (Matt 22:30).
    3. This leaves a lot more to think about, but I wonder if in heaven our community will be so strong that we will all be like family.
    4. In reality, in heaven we will all be married to Jesus. He is the groom and we are the bride.
    5. In the book, “The Case for Heaven” by Lee Strobel he interviews Dr. Scot McKnight who does make the case that we will remain married in heaven, but I, personally, do not think the case is that strong.
    6. With children this is a difficult question. Recently, I listened to an interview, I think it was Randy Alcorn, who suggested maybe God allows their parents to raise them in Heaven. In other words, parents who have lost children will have the chance to raise them in heaven. How awesome that will be.
    7. I do think we will recognize people as our family in heaven. In Luke 16:19-31 the rich man and Lazarus knew each other. We will know our family and know that they are our family. However, we won’t be married, nor marry again.
    8. Maybe… just maybe… people can choose to share their home.
    9. Ages are hard to say. Some have suggested that in heaven we will have our prime age. One article says,  Some believe it to be around 30. Some guess 33 since that is approximately the age Jesus was when He died. First John 3:2 declares, “Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when He appears, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.”[7]
  7. Suicide- Biblically? Heaven possible?
    1. It depends. If the person was a true believer in Jesus they are still saved.
    2. Suicide is a sin. It is the sin of murder and maybe a number of other sins. However, we are saved by grace, not by works. Therefore, we cannot lose our salvation by works.
    3. Generally speaking with suicide, we are talking about a person who has faced such depression that they are brought to a point in which they are not making their own rational decisions. God knows that.

Now, take a moment and imagine Heaven. There is nothing wrong with that. In chapter 2 of Randy Alcorn’s book titled, “Heaven” he writes about imagination. We must be careful of thinking that Heaven will be whatever you imagine it to be, but we can use our imagination. God loves us and does want to lavish blessings upon us in all of eternity.

Randy Alcorn writes:

We cannot anticipate or desire what we cannot imagine. That’s why, I believe, God has given us glimpses of Heaven in the Bible— to fire up our imagination and kindle a desire for Heaven in our hearts. And that’s why Satan will always discourage our imagination— or misdirect it to ethereal notions that violate Scripture. As long as the resurrected universe remains either undesirable or unimaginable, Satan succeeds in sabotaging our love for Heaven.[8]

As C. S. Lewis said,

“While reason is the natural organ of truth, imagination is the organ of meaning.” In the words of Francis Schaeffer, “The Christian is the really free man— he is free to have imagination. This too is our heritage. The Christian is the one whose imagination should fly beyond the stars.”

Schaeffer always started with God’s revealed truth. But he exhorted us to let that truth fuel our imagination. Imagination should not fly away from the truth but fly upon the truth.[9]

Alcorn continues:

Imagination should not fly away from the truth but fly upon the truth. If you’re a Christian suffering with great pains and losses, Jesus says, “Be   of good cheer” (John 16: 33, NKJV). The new house is nearly ready for you. Moving day is coming. The dark winter is about to be magically transformed into spring. One day soon you will be home— for the first time. Until then, I encourage   you to meditate on the Bible’s truths about Heaven. May your imagination soar and your heart rejoice.[10]

I hope you can now picture Heaven, at least a little better.

Do you know Christ?

Luke 9:23

God created us to be with him. (Genesis 1-2)

Our sin separated us from God. (Genesis 3)

Sins cannot be removed by good deeds (Gen 4-Mal 4)

Paying the price for sin, Jesus died and rose again. (Matthew – Luke)

Everyone who trusts in him alone has eternal life. (John – Jude)

Life that’s eternal means we will be with Jesus forever. (Revelation 22:5)

[1] https://www.gotquestions.org/cremation-Bible.html

[2] Ibid.

[3] https://www.gotquestions.org/free-will-in-heaven.html

[4] Ibid.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Ibid.

[7] https://www.gotquestions.org/age-Heaven.html

[8] Alcorn, Randy (2011-12-08). Heaven (Alcorn, Randy) (Kindle Locations 559-563). Tyndale House Publishers. Kindle Edition.

[9] Alcorn, Randy (2011-12-08). Heaven (Alcorn, Randy) (Kindle Locations 679-684). Tyndale House Publishers. Kindle Edition.

[10] Alcorn, Randy (2011-12-08). Heaven (Alcorn, Randy) (Kindle Locations 683-688). Tyndale House Publishers. Kindle Edition.

Will We Know Everything In Heaven?

Today we talk about learning so let’s start with fun:

What is a math teacher’s favorite sum?

Teachers who take class attendance are absent-minded.

*Teacher: ‘Craig, you know you can’t sleep in my class.’
Craig: ‘I know. But maybe if you were just a little quieter, I could.’

*Stressing the importance of a good vocabulary, the teacher told her young charges, “Use a word ten times, and it shall be yours for life.” From somewhere in the back of the room, came a small male voice chanting, “Amanda, Amanda, Amanda, Amanda, Amanda, Amanda, Amanda, Amanda, Amanda, Amanda.”

*Pupil: I don’t think I deserved zero on this test!
Teacher: I agree, but that’s the lowest mark I could give you!

*What do you call a teacher without students?
Broke…oh wait, that’s a regular teacher

*Teacher: You copied from Fred’s exam paper didn’t you ?
Pupil: How did you know ?
Teacher: Fred’s paper says “I don’t know” and you have put “Me, neither”!

*The little boy wasn’t getting good marks in school. One day he made the teacher quite surprised. He tapped her on the shoulder and said …”I don’t want to scare you, but my daddy says if I don’t get better grades, somebody is going to get a spanking.”

Physics Teacher: “Isaac Newton was sitting under a tree when an apple fell on his head, and he discovered gravity. Isn’t that wonderful?”

Student: “Yes sir, if he had been sitting in class looking at books like us, he wouldn’t have discovered anything.”

How long are we supposed to learn?

 We learn all of our lives, but do we learn in Heaven, or do we know everything?

Let’s read:

1 Corinthians 13:8–13 (ESV)

8Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away.

9For we know in part and we prophesy in part,

10but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away.

11When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways.

12For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.

13So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

My Theme: Be encouraged we will continue learning in Heaven because we will continue having new things to learn. Also, our learning will not impair our ability to love.

  1. We will not be omniscient.
    1. As we talk about this idea, we must understand that in Heaven we do not become God.
    2. Only God is omniscient. Omniscient means to know everything.
    3. So, let’s take an excursus into the idea of love and 1 Cor. 13. In 1 Cor. 13:8 we read about knowledge being done away with. What this means is that the spiritual gift of knowledge or “Word of knowledge” will be done away with. Why do we need the spiritual gift when we are with Jesus in reality? Also, we must understand that the Corinthians elevated certain spiritual gifts above others. They liked the showy gifts. They liked tongues as it was a showy gift, they must have liked knowledge as it was a showy gift. I believe we still struggle with this today. But Paul is saying they go away in Heaven, at least in the sense as being spiritual gifts.
    4. We can’t take this passage to mean that in Heaven we know everything. What we can say is that still in Heaven love remains.
    5. Love is most important. Love carries on for all eternity. The spiritual gifts do not need to continue in Heaven, but love will always continue.
    6. Paul is NOT talking about natural human love. He is talking about a love that only God can give. This is love that a human being can only express when he or she has been touched by God’s grace and enabled by God’s Spirit.
    7. Love in this special way will continue in Heaven.
    8. I like what the Life Application Study Bible says:
    9. When Paul wrote of knowing “everything completely, just as God now knows me completely,” he was referring to when we must see Christ face to face. God gives believers spiritual gifts for their lives on earth in order to build up, serve, and strengthen fellow Christians. The spiritual gifts are for the church. In eternity, we will be made perfect and complete and will be in the very presence of God. We will no longer need the spiritual gifts, so they will come to an end. Then, we will have a full understanding and appreciation for one another as unique expressions of God’s infinite creativity. We will use our differences as a reason to praise God! Based on that perspective, let us treat each other with the same love and unity that we will one day share.[1]
    10. Of course, this may make us think about what the spiritual gift of knowledge is. I like what one wrote: The spiritual gift of knowledge is also known as the “word of knowledge” or “utterance of knowledge.”  The Greek word for this gift is “gnosis” and it simply means knowledge and understanding.  The Scriptural emphasis in 1 Corinthians 12:8is on the ability to speak this knowledge to others in a given situation.  In the opening passages of 1 Corinthians, Paul spoke of knowledge and recognized that the highest form of knowledge among men is the Gospel of Jesus Christ (i.e. the testimony about Christ, cf. 1 Corinthians 1:4-7).  What we can conclude then is the gift of knowledge is an understanding of the things in this world and in our lives that is founded in the Gospel and rooted in the Scriptures.  This gift is closely related to the gift of wisdom which is alluded to by Paul in 1 Corinthians 1:18-31.
    11. The Holy Spirit gives this spiritual gift to some believers to bring about understanding and to inform the church or individual believers.  The person with this gift is usually well-versed in the Scriptures and often has much committed to memory.  They can retain the truth and communicate it effectively at the appropriate times.  The gift of knowledge allows a believer to relate the Scriptures, and particularly the Gospel of Jesus Christ, to all aspects of life in this world.  They can see how it connects to every situation and circumstance and how the reality and truth of the Gospel is to inform every decision a Christian makes.[2]
    12. There is more we could say about this, but let’s talk about Heaven.
    13. So, in Heaven we will still learn. We simply will NOT need a spiritual gift. Additionally, as we look at 1 Cor. 13:12 Paul writes about Heaven like a mirror. Corinth was known for their Corinthian bronze mirrors but even the best mirrors were not a good reflection. Then Paul says we will know fully.
  2. We will still learn
    1. Learning is not from sin. Sin and our fallen world may make it difficult to learn. Maybe our minds will work faster in Heaven, but there will likely still be a learning process.
    2. 1 Peter 1:12 shows Angels don’t know everything and they long to know more.
    3. Ephesians 2:6-7 indicates that God will show us more knowledge in Heaven: and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.
    4. Think of how much we will have to learn being in the New Jerusalem with the new Garden of Eden and dwelling with God.
    5. Think of how much we can have to learn being with the prophets of the Old Testament.
    6. Think of how much we will have to learn being with your great great-great-grandfather and grandmother.
    7. Think of how much we can learn about each other when we do not have sin in the way impairing our thinking.
    8. Without learning it could be quite boring for us as we were created to have purpose and learning, and purpose go together.
    9. Imagine studying history next to a historian or the people themselves. I love Revolutionary War history, imagine studying while talking to George Washington, or Patrick Henry. Imagine studying physics with Isaac Newton. Imagine studying music with Bach.
    10. Or maybe you love to hunt or fish or play sports, I know there will be new techniques to learn.
    11. Maybe you love old cars or machines, I know there would be more to study.
    12. The Scriptures talk about books in Heaven as well as scrolls and so it seems that they will remain.
    13. Most of all love always remains. We can learn without needing a spiritual gift. We can learn and love at the same time.


Be encouraged we will continue learning in Heaven because we will continue having new things to learn. Also, our learning will not impair our ability to love.

Martin Luther said, “If God had all the answers in his right hand, and the struggle to reach those answers in his left, I would choose God’s left hand.” Why? Because it’s not only truth we want, it’s also the pleasure of learning the truth.

We continue painting a picture of Heaven. Next week we complete the picture.

Do you know Christ?

Luke 9:23

God created us to be with him. (Genesis 1-2)

Our sin separated us from God. (Genesis 3)

Sins cannot be removed by good deeds (Gen 4-Mal 4)

Paying the price for sin, Jesus died and rose again. (Matthew – Luke)

Everyone who trusts in him alone has eternal life. (John – Jude)

Life that’s eternal means we will be with Jesus forever. (Revelation 22:5)

[1] Tyndale House Publishers (2011-08-01). Life Application Study Bible NLT (LASB: Full Size) (Kindle Locations 154921-154926). Tyndale House Publishers. Kindle Edition.

[2] http://www.spiritualgiftstest.com/spiritual-gift-of-knowledge

God’s Love In the Ten Commandments

God’s Love in the Ten Commandments (Ex 20; Deut 33:2-3)

Prepared and preached by Pastor Steve Rhodes for and at Bethel Friends Church in Poland, OH on Sunday, March 19, 2023

I have keys up here, why?

Why do I need keys?

Do you all lock your doors? Why?

The Ten Commandments have been important to us for most of human history.

Author and pastor John Killinger explains God’s purpose in giving the Ten Commandments with a wonderful illustration from literature:

In her novel about Maine, The Country of the Pointed Firs, Sara Orne Jewett describes the ascent of a woman writer on the pathway leading to the home of a retired sea captain named Elijah Tilley. On the way, the woman notices a number of wooden stakes randomly scattered about the property, with no discernible order. Each is painted white and trimmed in yellow, like the captain’s house.

Curious, she asks Captain Tilley what they mean. When he first plowed the ground, he says, his plow snagged on many large rocks just beneath the surface. So he set out stakes where the rocks lay in order to avoid them in the future.

In a sense, this is what God has done with the Ten Commandments. He has said, “These are the trouble spots in life. Avoid these, and you won’t snag your plow.”19[1]

Let’s read:

Matthew 22:36–40 (ESV)

36“Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?”

37And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.

38This is the great and first commandment.

39And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.

40On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”

Now, let’s read:

Exodus 20:3–17 (ESV)

3“You shall have no other gods before me.

4“You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.

5You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me,

6but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments.

7“You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain.

8“Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.

9Six days you shall labor, and do all your work,

10but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates.

11For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.

12“Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you.

13“You shall not murder.

14“You shall not commit adultery.

15“You shall not steal.

16“You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.

17“You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male servant, or his female servant, or his ox, or his donkey, or anything that is your neighbor’s.”

My theme today is: God Showed His Love for Us in Giving Us the Ten Commandments

  1. These are NOT just rules:
    1. David Jeremiah writes: My wife, Donna, and I began our ministry together in a Baptist church in New Jersey. We had just come from four years of seminary training in Dallas, and we were both avid Dallas Cowboy football fans. To our dismay, when we arrived at our first assignment, we were told that watching TV on Sunday was forbidden, and reading the Sunday newspaper was frowned upon. I am not sure I should be confessing this, but I remember closing the blinds of our apartment so that no one would see us watching the Cowboys.
    2. A bit legalistic? Perhaps, but you should have known the Pharisees of Jesus’ day. They actually crunched the numbers of legalism, and came up with 1,521 things you couldn’t do on the Sabbath day. That sounds like the title of a book no one would want to read.
    3. Among the 1,521: no rescuing of drowning people; no wearing of false teeth (reinserting them, should they slip, would be work); no looking in the mirror (plucking a white hair, also work). If your friend grew ill, you could do certain things to forestall the illness, but actually trying to cure him—too much like work. At the beginning of a famous revolt, many Jews stood and let themselves be killed rather than risking work by defending themselves (1 Maccabees 2:29–38).
    4. Men made a bureaucratic nightmare out of Sabbath-keeping, but it wasn’t what God wanted.[2]
    5. These commandments are about God’s love.
  2. The First four commandments relate to our relationship with God.
    1. In the passage we just read we see a person come to Jesus and ask what the greatest of the commandments is.
    2. The first commandment is like the hub of a wheel from which all the others are spokes. This isn’t simply another commandment—it’s the one that brings all of them together.[3]
    3. This person was a lawyer and seems to be testing him.
    4. That is when Jesus gives the answer.
    5. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’
    6. That sentence spoken by our Lord sums up the first four commandments:

(1) “Do not worship any other gods besides me” (Ex. 20:3).

(2) “Do not make idols of any kind” (Ex. 20:4).

(3) “Do not misuse the name of the Lord your God” (Ex. 20:7).

(4) “Remember to observe the Sabbath day by keeping it holy” (Ex. 20:8).[4]

  1. We love the Lord our God, so we do not have any other gods. Now, that is a sermon on itself which we will save for another day.
  2. If we love the Lord, God we are not going to set up idols. That is another sermon we will save for another day.
  3. We love God so we are not going to misuse His name. That is another sermon for another day; however, I will say that misusing the Lord’s name happens way more than we realize. We actually do not even know how to properly say the Lord’s name in Hebrew because the Hebrew people thought of His name as so sacred, they would not say it out loud.
  4. The fourth commandment is regarding the Sabbath Day. This is referenced in the New Testament but never as a commandment as such. It still fits in relation to God because we see at the end of creation the Lord rested. We are called to cease activity.
  5. It is never listed as such a command in the New Testament, but we can easily make the case that we need a day of rest. This does not mean laying on the couch. This means a cease from our normal work. I think working on the house can be okay if it is not your normal work. If your normal job is cleaning houses, you need a break from that. If your normal job is building houses, you need a break from that. If your normal job is teaching, you need a day off. We need rest.
  6. The story goes that when Africa was first being explored, native guides were taking their visitors through the region. After six days of pushing through the jungle, the natives refused to walk. They explained, “We need a day to let our souls catch up with our bodies.”12[5]
  • The last six commandments relate to our relationship with others.
    1. This is summed up in Jesus’ words: And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
    2. Jesus Himself said that all the law and the prophets hang on these two commandments.
    3. Jesus is saying that the Old Testament law and all of the prophetic writings fall under the commandments to Love God and to Love people.

(5) “Honor your father and mother” (Ex. 20:12).

This “family rule” is well illustrated in the story “The Old Man and His Grandson,” from the collection Household Tales by the Grimm brothers:

There was once a very old man, whose eyes had become dim, his ears dull of hearing, his knees trembled, and when he sat at the table he could hardly hold the spoon, and spit the broth upon the table-cloth or let it run out of his mouth. His son and his son’s wife were disgusted at this, so the old grandfather at last had to sit in the corner behind the stove, and they gave him his food in an earthenware bowl, and not even enough of it. And he used to look towards the table with his eyes full of tears. Once, too, his trembling hands could not hold the bowl, and it fell to the ground and broke. The young wife scolded him, but he said nothing and only sighed. Then they bought him a wooden bowl for a few half-pence, out of which he had to eat.

They were once sitting thus when the little grandson of four years old began to gather together some bits of wood upon the ground. “What are you doing there?” asked the father. “I am making a little trough,” answered the child, “for father and mother to eat out of when I am big.”

The man and his wife looked at each other for a while, and presently began to cry. Then they took the old grandfather to the table, and henceforth always let him eat with them, and likewise said nothing if he did spill a little of anything.13[6]

(6) “Do not murder” (Ex. 20:13).

(7) “Do not commit adultery” (Ex. 20:14).

David Jeremiah shares:

Recreational, impulsive sex is considered the norm in our troubled culture. Defending the seventh commandment against the modern world singles one out as a pious puritan stuck in a lost century. However, when we strip sexuality of the restraints God gave it, we create chaos that tears at the very fabric of society. And we place an obstacle that blocks the fellowship God wants to have with us.

God gives us this commandment from love. He is saying, “My child, sexuality is My gift to you. I want you to know that when it’s rightly used, it can bring you joy and intimacy with the spouse I give you, and it can create a legacy of children to replenish the earth.[7]

(8) “Do not steal” (Ex. 20:15).

I recently read a story about a Soviet factory worker who attempted to steal items from his workplace. Every day he filled a wheelbarrow with cylinders, iron ore, and tools—and every day as he left, he got caught and the stuff was taken away from him.

Finally he was fired, and on his last day the commissar waited for him to come out with the contraband. When he arrived at the door the commissar pulled back the cover from the wheelbarrow, and there was the usual stuff. He confiscated everything and said to the thief, “You are a fool! We caught you every single day. You got away with nothing!”

“Sir, Mr. Commissar,” he answered, “you are the fool. I have been stealing wheelbarrows.”[8]

(9) “Do not testify falsely” (Ex. 20:16).

(10) “Do not covet” (Ex. 20:17).[9]

David Jeremiah shares:

Just as the fifth commandment is transitional between love of God and love of others, this tenth commandment is transitional between outer and inner obedience—in essence, between Moses and Jesus. For the other commandments in this group have been about behavior, while this commandment is about the heart. We’ve already seen how Jesus made this connection in the Sermon on the Mount. God looks inside us, so that even if we don’t steal, we can displease Him by our own displeasure with what He has given us.[10]

God showed His love for us in the ten commandments.

Mystery writer Dorothy Sayers was a follower of Christ. She observed that there are two kinds of laws: the law of the stop sign and the law of the fire.

The law of the stop sign is upheld by the community and enforced with fines. The fine can be increased if too many people continue not to stop. The stop sign could also be taken down. It’s simply up to the city council. You might run that stop sign with no worries, as long as no one is watching.

The law of the fire is a different matter. It says, “Touch me and you’ll be burned.” All the city councils, all the state legislatures and national congresses and the United Nations itself could respond to the dangers of fire by gathering to pass a new law that fire will no longer burn. Every person in the world could vote on this law.

And the first man or woman to put a hand in the fire afterward will still get burned.

God’s moral laws are like the law of fire. It doesn’t matter whether you voted for it or not. It doesn’t matter who’s watching. You won’t break God’s laws; you’ll break yourself upon them. Nor is the penalty negotiable, because it’s bound up in the law itself.18[11]

Do you know Christ?

Luke 9:23

God created us to be with him. (Genesis 1-2)

Our sin separated us from God. (Genesis 3)

Sins cannot be removed by good deeds (Gen 4-Mal 4)

Paying the price for sin, Jesus died and rose again. (Matthew – Luke)

Everyone who trusts in him alone has eternal life. (John – Jude)

Life that’s eternal means we will be with Jesus forever. (Revelation 22:5)

19 John Killinger, To My People with Love (United Kingdom: Abingdon, 1998), 13–14.

[1] David Jeremiah, God Loves You: He Always Has–He Always Will (New York City, NY: FaithWords, 2012).

[2] David Jeremiah, God Loves You: He Always Has–He Always Will (New York City, NY: FaithWords, 2012).

[3] David Jeremiah, God Loves You: He Always Has–He Always Will (New York City, NY: FaithWords, 2012).

[4] H. L. Willmington, The Outline Bible (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 1999), Ex 20:1–8.

12 Leslie B. Flynn, Come Alive with Illustrations (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1987), 193–94.

[5] David Jeremiah, God Loves You: He Always Has–He Always Will (New York City, NY: FaithWords, 2012).

13 Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm, The Complete Grimm’s Fairy Tales (Digireads.com, 2009), 185.

[6] David Jeremiah, God Loves You: He Always Has–He Always Will (New York City, NY: FaithWords, 2012).

[7] Ibid.

[8] Ibid.

[9] H. L. Willmington, The Outline Bible (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 1999), Ex 20:8–17.

[10] David Jeremiah, God Loves You: He Always Has–He Always Will (New York City, NY: FaithWords, 2012).

18 Dorothy Sayers, The Mind of the Maker (San Francisco: Harper & Rowe, 1941), 4.

[11] David Jeremiah, God Loves You: He Always Has–He Always Will (New York City, NY: FaithWords, 2012).

Will Time Exist In Heaven

Will Time exist in Heaven? There will be time in Heaven but we will not be limited by it. (Revelation 8:1; 2 Peter 3:8).  

Prepared and preached by Pastor Steve Rhodes for and at Bethel Friends Church in Poland, OH on Sunday, February 12, 2023

Sometimes I get up to preach and I bet you look at your clock. Before he was called as their pastor John MacArthur filled the pulpit at the church he currently serves. He preached something like an hour and a half that Sunday, or close to it. He thought he wouldn’t be invited back. The next Sunday he was invited back, and he noticed they had added a big clock on the back wall. He has been there some 54 years, since 1969 and still preaches about an hour. You can hear his sermons on the radio, or the computer called “Grace to You.” I know I have preached long, but never that long.

We are very mindful of the time; I know I am. I remember as a child being at the orthodontist looking at my watch and they asked if I had somewhere to be. I was in seventh or eighth grade. I had nowhere to be. I began regularly wearing a watch when I was in 1st grade. My parents and teachers thought it was great that I was very good at telling the time and watching the time. Whether it was good or not, I don’t know, what I do know is I probably became obsessive about time. I am very detail oriented. I still always watch the time. I still plan according to time, a lot. I have this mental plan, based off of the time, in my head.

So, when we think about Heaven, do you think there will be time? Can you imagine existence without time? From birth we are limited by time. Is time evil? Is time part of our existence because of sin?

Let’s talk more about Heaven and time.

My theme:

There will be time in Heaven, but we will not be limited by it.

  1. Whether encouraging or discouraging, there will be time in Heaven.
    1. I don’t know whether you hate time or not. If you hate time, don’t be discouraged yet. If you like time, then maybe this is encouraging.
    2. Think about this, without time:
      1. We can’t cook, right?
      2. We can’t play sports because there is time.
  • We can’t play music because we must keep notes, right?
  • There are other things that we need time for such as planting and harvesting and even assignments that have a due date. How many of us are procrastinators?
  1. It appears from certain passages that there will be time in Heaven. Let’s look at a few:
    1. Heaven’s inhabitants track with events happening in time, right down to rejoicing the moment a sinner on Earth repents (Luke 15:7).
    2. Martyrs in Heaven are told to “wait a little longer” when they ask “how long” before Christ will judge the inhabitants of the earth and avenge the martyrs’ blood (Revelation 6:10-11). Those in Heaven couldn’t ask “how long” or be told “wait a little longer” unless time passes in Heaven.
    3. Paul spoke of Heaven in terms of “the coming ages” (Ephesians 2:7). He speaks not just of a future age but of ages (plural).
    4. God’s people in Heaven “serve him day and night in his temple” (Revelation 7:15).
    5. The tree of life on the New Earth will be “yielding its fruit every month” (Revelation 22:2). There are days and months both in the present and eternal Heaven.
    6. God says, “The new heavens and the new earth that I make will endure   before me.  .  .  . From one New Moon to another and from one Sabbath to another, all mankind will come and bow down before me” (Isaiah 66:22-23). New Moons and Sabbaths require moon, sun, and time.
    7. God said, “Summer and winter, day and night will never cease” (Genesis 8: 22). This wasn’t the result of the Curse; it was God’s original design.
    8. We’re told that “there was silence in heaven for about half an hour” (Revelation 8:1).
    9. The book of Revelation shows the present Heaven’s inhabitants operating within time. The descriptions of worship include successive actions, such as falling down at God’s throne and casting crowns before him (Revelation 4: 10). There’s a sequence of events; things occur one after another, not all at once.
  • The inhabitants of Heaven sing (Revelation 5:9-12). Music in Heaven requires time. Meter, tempo, and rests are all essential components of music, and each is time-related. Certain notes are held longer than others. Songs have a beginning, middle, and end. That means they take place in time.[1]
  • Some think we won’t have time and they think we won’t have time because God does not have time, but remember we will not become God in Heaven.
  • God created time in Genesis 1:1, long before sin entered the world.
  1. Be encouraged we will not be limited by time in Heaven.
    1. The discouraging thing now is that we are limited by time.
    2. Right now, we have a certain amount of time for rest and a certain amount of time for play and a certain amount of time for work.
    3. We are watching the clock because we want to get our work done in time to play or spend with family before we must sleep.
    4. We are also limited by death. Eventually, we all die. That is another limitation of time.
    5. In Heaven, we won’t have the limitation of death. Death shall be no more (Rev. 21:4).
    6. In Heaven, we will work and not grow weary. Working grew tiresome after sin (Genesis 3:19).
    7. Imagine, not having to think about being tired when we work. If you like cutting down trees you can do that as long as you want without being tired. We will have new bodies.
    8. Imagine having the benefits of time without the weaknesses. Imagine having the ability to MEASURE time, but not feel the negative effects of time?

So, in Heaven, we will have time without the limitations of time.

Rejoice, hallelujah, heaven will be beyond your greatest imaginations.

I have been watching time closely since first grace. But I have had the effects of time on my life for my whole life.

I have been painting a picture of Heaven. I hope your picture of Heaven is getting more focused.

Will you be there?

Grand narrative of the Bible:

Do you know Christ?

Luke 9:23

God created us to be with him (Genesis 1-2).

Our sin separated us from God (Genesis 3).

Sins cannot be removed by good deeds (Gen 4-Mal 4).

Paying the price for sin, Jesus died and rose again (Matthew – Luke).

Everyone who trusts in him alone has eternal life (John – Jude).

Life that’s eternal means we will be with Jesus forever (Revelation 22:5).

[1] Alcorn, Randy (2011-12-08). Heaven (Alcorn, Randy) (Kindle Locations 5042-5043). Tyndale House Publishers. Kindle Edition.

Will We Have Homes In Heaven?

Mr. Johnson, a businessman from Wisconsin, went on a business trip to Louisiana. He immediately sent an e-mail back to his wife, Jean. Unfortunately, he mistyped a letter and the e-mail ended up going to a Mrs. Joan Johnson, the wife of a preacher who just passed away.

 The preacher’s wife took one look at the e-mail and promptly fainted. When she was finally revived, she nervously pointed to the message, which read: “Arrived safely, but it sure is hot down here!”

Let’s continue talking about Heaven. Let’s talk about home.

Let’s think some random thoughts about home…

What is your dream home? Think about it for a minute. I have seen these shows on television where they show celebrity estates, and they are absolutely huge. I have seen shows where they fix up homes. You might know the show Fixer-Upper which is about a couple who fixed old and dilapidated homes for people.

Most of us can probably think of the way homes have changed over the years. I grew up in a two-story house with four bedrooms. I recently saw pictures of that house online and it has totally changed. The new owners have made the kitchen, dining room, and living room almost like one big room. The fireplace has changed, everything has changed. It doesn’t seem like home to me anymore. What makes something home? Until I was five years old we lived in an old house outside of downtown Dayton. The house had beautiful woodwork and the rooms were so big, I was also so little, so they even appeared bigger! We had an incinerator in the basement. I remember watching my dad burn stuff in it and as a young child it was so cool! We had a front porch and could watch thunderstorms. It was a nice home, but if I went back to that house, it would no longer be home to me. In fact, it has changed, the whole area has changed. We can all think of home. Think of your childhood home. Think of your favorite home.

Are there places that you can go, and you know you are home? When I drive around Dayton, I still feel home because that is where I lived until I was twenty-five years old. But then I was in Cincinnati, and it took a while but then it felt like home. I have now been here for five and a half years, and it also feels like home. I have an intimate connection with this area as it has become part of my life. We moved six times in our first fourteen years of marriage. But this is home.

So, think about Heaven, will we have homes? Will we have our own homes?

I want to say, yes, and yes to an extent.

Theme: Heaven will have all the comforts of this world without the sin, pain, and suffering. In heaven we will have home-sweet-home.

Let’s read Isaiah 65:17 and 21-22:

Isaiah 65:17 (ESV)

New Heavens and a New Earth

17   “For behold, I create new heavens

and a new earth,

     and the former things shall not be remembered

or come into mind.

Isaiah 65:21–22 (ESV)

21   They shall build houses and inhabit them;

they shall plant vineyards and eat their fruit.

22   They shall not build and another inhabit;

they shall not plant and another eat;

     for like the days of a tree shall the days of my people be,

and my chosen shall long enjoy the work of their hands.

  1. Yes, we will have homes in Heaven.
    1. Our homes will reflect this life without sin, trouble, hardship, pain, and sickness.
    2. Remember that it seems there is some continuity between this life and Heaven.
    3. If you read the context of that passage some of it could have to do with the Millennial Reign, though it seems evident that it for sure includes the eternal New Jerusalem as well.
    4. As I look at this it seems for sure that we will have homes.
    5. Verse 21: build house, inhabit them, vineyards, and eating.
    6. It seems that we may have land.
    7. Remember that if you read Revelation chapters 21-22, we see a huge city which is the New Jerusalem, but we also see a garden. If you like the city, you got it. If you like the opened country, you have that as well.
    8. In the passage in Revelation, it seems that we will be able to work the soil on our land.
    9. Work is not a consequence of sin. In Genesis 2:15 we see that Adam was placed in the Garden to take care of it and this is before sin entered the world. But because of sin we work and grow weary. In Heaven we won’t. This doesn’t mean we won’t rest in Heaven.
    10. What will our homes be like?
    11. So, in Heaven we have homes, and we have land and we can take care of the land.
    12. Will our homes be big or small?
    13. In Chip Ingram’s book The Real Heaven, What the Bible Actually Says, he has a chapter on our homes. He says that our homes will be a lot like the new bodies we have. Our new bodies are to be like our current bodies and our new homes will be as well, except they will not have all the limitations and illness, etc.
    14. There is only so much we can know, but I do think we can go a little deeper.
    15. Let’s read John 14:1-2: “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you?
    16. Randy Alcorn helps us understand this: The Vulgate, the Latin Bible, used the word mansions in that verse, and the King James Version followed by using mansions. Unfortunately, that rendering is misleading if it makes us envision having massive lodgings on separate estates. The intended meaning seems to be that we’ll have separate dwelling places on a single estate or even separate rooms within the same house.
    17. New Testament scholar D. A. Carson says, “Since heaven is here pictured as the Father’s house, it is more natural to think of ‘dwelling-places’ within a house as rooms or suites.  .  .  . The simplest explanation is best: my Father’s house refers to heaven, and in heaven are many rooms, many dwelling-places. The point is not the lavishness of each apartment, but the fact that such ample provision has been made that there is more than enough space for every one of Jesus’ disciples to join him in his Father’s home.”
    18. The New International Version rendering of John 14:2 is this: “In my Father’s house are many rooms.  .  .  . I am going there to prepare a place for you.” Place is singular, but rooms is plural. This suggests Jesus has in mind for each of us an individual dwelling that’s a smaller part of the larger place. This place will be home to us in the most unique sense.
    19. The term room is cozy and intimate. The terms house or estate suggest spaciousness. That’s Heaven: a place both spacious and intimate. Some of us enjoy coziness, being in a private space. Others enjoy a large, wide-open space. Most of us enjoy both— and the New Earth will offer both. Heaven isn’t likely to have lots of identical residences. God loves diversity, and he tailor-makes his children and his provisions for them. When we see the particular place he’s prepared for us— not just for mankind in general but for us in particular— we’ll rejoice to see our ideal home.
    20. Will we entertain in Heaven? Since we have homes, I think it is likely that we will entertain in our homes just like we do today. This gets into a broader topic of feasts in Heaven, eating in Heaven, relationships in Heaven, etc, but it seems that we will have all of that.
      1. It seems that we will feast with people.
      2. Look at the many times Jesus ate with people.
  • Hebrews 13:2 talks about entertaining angels, so entertainment is important.
  • We also know about the Marriage supper of the Lamb in Revelation 19:6-9.

Let’s take a moment to apply

    1. Why wouldn’t we have nice homes in Heaven?
    2. Why wouldn’t we have dream homes in Heaven?
    3. We will have real, resurrected bodies.
    4. We will have a real city and a real garden that will be paradise.
    5. We will have relationships.
    6. We will eat.
    7. Heaven will be what this life was and is meant to be. There will be no suffering, crying, pain, sickness, or death, but there will be purpose and living.
    8. We can be encouraged that we will have some form of dwelling in Heaven.
    9. We can be encouraged that some things from this life will continue to eternity.
    10. We can recognize that we must live in community now, as we will later.
    11. We can serve and entertain now, as we will in eternity. “Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it” (Hebrews 13: 2).
    12. We can recognize that we must live for eternity now and be blessed later (Matthew 6:19-20).


What makes something or someplace home?

Could it be that home is where your family is? Could it be that home is where your community is? Could it be that home is where you belong? Could it be that home is where you have purpose? Could it be that home is where you have memories? I believe you will have all that in Heaven and so much more. You will have memories and make new memories. You will have community and new community. You will have family and more family. You will have purpose. You will belong like you have never belonged before. You will have an estate, land, and house. Oh, you will also have joy. You will have joy like you have never known before.

Heaven will be home! Home sweet home!

Heaven will be home because we will be with Jesus (Rev. 21:3). God is restoring creation. Going all the way back to the Garden of Eden when everything was created good, God is making things good. He will dwell with us. This all happens because Jesus took care of our sin problem when He died on the cross for our sins and rose again.

Do you know Him?

Do Dogs and Animals Go to Heaven?

Do Dogs and Animals go to Heaven? (Isaiah 11, 60 and 65)

Prepared and preached by Pastor Steve Rhodes for and at Bethel Friends Church in Poland, OH on Sunday, January 29, 2023

We have always had a love for animals, haven’t we?

I remember a Twilight Zone episode about a man and his dog.

Hyder Simpson is an elderly mountain man who lives with his wife Rachel and his hound dog Rip in the backwoods. Rachel does not like having the dog indoors, but Rip saved Hyder’s life once and Hyder refuses to part with him. Rachel has seen some bad omens recently and warns Hyder not to go raccoon hunting that night. When Rip dives into a pond after a raccoon, Hyder jumps in after him, but only the raccoon comes up out of the water. The next morning, Hyder and Rip wake up next to the pond. When they return home, Hyder finds that neither Rachel, the preacher, nor the neighbors can hear him or see him; they are under the impression that he has died.

Walking along the road, Hyder and Rip encounter an unfamiliar fence and begin to follow it. They come to a gate tended by a man, who Hyder initially believes to be Saint Peter. Explaining that he is only a gatekeeper, the man explains that Hyder can enter the Elysian Fields of the afterlife. Simpson is appreciative, but disheartened to hear that neither raccoon hunting nor any of his other usual pleasures can be found inside. Told that Rip cannot enter and will be taken elsewhere, Hyder angrily declines the offer of entry and decides to keep walking along the “Eternity Road,” saying, “Any place that’s too high-falutin’ for Rip is too fancy for me.”

Later, Hyder and Rip stop to rest and are met by a young man, who introduces himself as an angel dispatched to find them and bring them to Heaven. When Hyder explains his previous encounter, the angel tells him that the gate was actually the entrance to Hell. The gatekeeper had stopped Rip from entering because Rip would have smelled the brimstone inside and warned Hyder that something was wrong. The angel says, “You see, Mr. Simpson, a man, well, he’ll walk right into Hell with both eyes open. But even the Devil can’t fool a dog!”

As the angel leads Hyder along the Eternity Road toward Heaven, the angel tells Hyder that a square dance and raccoon hunt are scheduled for that night. He also assures Hyder that Rachel, who will soon be coming along the road, will not be misled into entering Hell.

The closing narration is:

“Travelers to unknown regions would be well advised to take along the family dog. He could just save you from entering the wrong gate. At least, it happened that way once—in a mountainous area of the Twilight Zone.”

I wonder if our love for animals is because God created animals and He created animals as part of Eden.

Genesis 1:30 (ESV)

And to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the heavens and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.” And it was so.

This passage references animals in the Garden of Eden and also references the “breath of life in them.” Animals were in paradise when God first created it prior to the fall of man. In the eternal Heaven, in Revelation 22 it seems that that Heaven reflects the first Garden of Eden. We will see a Tree of Life again in verse 2 as there was a tree of life in the first Garden of Eden (Genesis 2:9). We see a river in the eternal Heaven in Revelation 22:1. We see two rivers in the Garden of Eden in Genesis 2:10 and 13. It does seem that the eternal New Jerusalem Heaven is going to be like the Garden of Eden was meant to be, only much better. It would seem that since animals were in the first garden they will be with us in eternity. Let’s talk about this for a moment.

My Theme today:

Animals were created by God as part of paradise and that will continue into the new creation.

I hope this is encouraging for you.

  1. Let’s start by talking about souls. Do animals have souls?
    1. Let me lay my cards on the table. I like animals, I really do. I really like pigs because they give us bacon. I like chicken because they give us eggs. I like a good steak as well. In seriousness, I love to hear the birds in the morning. I love to watch deer. I grew up with tropical fish and I have had aquariums as large as 135 gallons. While serving my last church I had a 55-gallon aquarium in my office with African Cichlids. Even with all of that, as I began this research I was reluctant to think that our pets are in heaven. On that note, let’s continue with this message.
    2. When God breathed a spirit into Adam’s body, made from the earth, Adam became nephesh, a “living being” or “soul” (Genesis 2:7).
    3. Randy Alcorn shares: Remarkably, the same Hebrew word, nephesh, is used for animals and for people. We are specifically told that not only people, but animals have “the breath of life” in them (Genesis 1:30; 2:7; 6:17; 7:15, 22). God hand-made animals, linking them both to the earth and humanity.
    4. Am I suggesting animals have souls? Certainly they do not have human souls. Animals aren’t created in God’s image, and they aren’t equal to humans in any sense. Nonetheless, there’s a strong biblical case for animals having non-human souls. I didn’t take this seriously until I studied the usage of the Hebrew and Greek words nephesh and psyche, often translated “soul” when referring to humans. (Nephesh is translated psyche in the Septuagint.) The fact that these words are often used of animals is compelling evidence that they have non-human souls. That’s what most Christians in the past believed. In their book Beyond Death, Gary Habermas and J. P. Moreland point out, “It wasn’t until the advent of seventeenth-century Enlightenment . . . that the existence of animal souls was even questioned in Western civilization. Throughout the history of the church, the classic understanding of living things has included the doctrine that animals, as well as humans, have souls.”[1]
    5. So, it seems that they do have some sort of a soul.
  2. How will people and animals relate?
    1. It seems that we will relate similarly to the way we were to relate in the Garden of Eden.
    2. Randy Alcorn shares: God created us to be stewards of animals. He holds us accountable for how we treat them. “The godly are concerned for the welfare of their animals” (Proverbs 12: 10, NLT). We are caretakers for the animals, but they belong to God, not us: “For all the animals of the forest are mine, and I own the cattle on a thousand hills. Every bird of the mountains and all the animals of the field belong to me” (Psalm 50: 10-11, NLT). Some people regard emotional attachment to animals as a modern development. But many cultures’ historical records demonstrate otherwise. The prophet Nathan spoke to King David of the poor man who had a little lamb “who shared his food, drank from his cup and even slept in his arms. It was like a daughter to him” (2   Samuel 12: 3). There’s no suggestion this man’s affection for his pet was inappropriate. David, unaware the story was told to expose his own sin, angrily responded that the man who stole the precious pet deserved to die. We needn’t speculate how God might populate a perfect Earth. He populated Eden with animals, under the rule of people. God doesn’t make mistakes.
  • Will animals praise God:
    1. This is new to me. I never thought of animals praising God.
    2. Consider the psalms. Psalm 148 commands all of creation to praise the Lord, including the animals: Psalm 148:10–12 (ESV)

10Beasts and all livestock, creeping things and flying birds!

11Kings of the earth and all peoples, princes and all rulers of the earth!

12Young men and maidens together, old men and children!

  1. If in some sense fallen animals, shadows of what they once were, can praise God on this fallen Earth, how much more should we expect them to do so on the New Earth? “Let everything that has breath praise the Lord” (Psalm 150:6)
  2. We’re told eight times in Revelation of “living creatures” in the present Heaven: “Day and night they never stop saying: ‘Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come.’.  .  . The living creatures give glory, honor and thanks to him who sits on the throne” (Revelation 4: 8-9).
  3. Randy Alcorn writes about this: The word translated “living creatures” is zoon. Throughout most of the New Testament the word is translated “animal” and is used to indicate animals sacrificed in the Temple and wild, irrational animals (Hebrews 13:11; 2 Peter 2:12; Jude 1:10). In the Old Testament, the Septuagint used zoon to translate the Hebrew words for animals, including the “living creatures” of the sea (Genesis 1:21; Ezekiel 47:9). In extrabiblical writings, zoon commonly referred to ordinary animals and was used of the Egyptians’ divine animals and the mythological bird called the Phoenix (1 Clement 25:2-3). In virtually every case inside and outside of Scripture, this word means not a person, not an angel, but an animal.[2]
  4. In the book “Heaven” Alcorn gets into greater detail. It is amazing to think that animals will praise God alongside us.
  5. It could even be possible that in a restored creation animals can talk.
  • Will animals be resurrected?
    1. I can get into greater detail about animals and pets, but we will stop with this part.
    2. Psalm 104 is all about animals and then we get to verse 30 and it references renewing them. This seems to mean that they are resurrected in Heaven.
    3. It seems that it glorified God more by restoring than recreating. When God makes things right in eternity it is as if God is saying, “I can show you things can be redeemed.” God will redeem all things.
    4. If animals are resurrected this means your pet may be in Heaven as well.
    5. However, this is the part of today’s message I am least confident in.
    6. I am confident that animals will be in heaven, that is clear from Scripture, but I am not as confident that they are resurrected animals.
  • A few thoughts:
    1. Heaven will be awesome with or without your pet.
    2. Heaven will be with God in paradise.
    3. Secondly: DON’T discourage people from grieving the loss of an animal. That is appropriate. God created animals for us, and we are sad when they leave us.
    4. I believe the Bible teaches us not to abuse animals. We are to take care of them.
    5. Romans 8 teaches us that all creation is waiting redemption, and this includes animals.
    6. In many of his writings, C. S. Lewis commented on the future of animals. He said, “It seems to me possible that certain animals may have an immortality, not in   themselves, but in the immortality of their masters.  .  .  . Very few animals indeed, in their wild state, attain to a ‘self’ or ego. But if any do, and if it is agreeable to the goodness of God that they should live again, their immortality would also be related to man— not, this time, to individual masters, but to humanity.” In The Great Divorce, Lewis portrayed Sarah Smith, a woman ordinary on Earth, as great in Heaven. On Earth she loved both people and animals. In Heaven she’s surrounded by the very animals she cared for on Earth.
    7. In her excellent book about Heaven, Joni Eareckson Tada says, “If God brings our pets back to life, it wouldn’t surprise me. It would be just like Him. It would be totally in keeping with His generous character.  .  .  . Exorbitant. Excessive. Extravagant in grace after grace. Of all the dazzling discoveries and ecstatic pleasures heaven will hold for us, the potential of seeing Scrappy would be pure whimsy— utterly, joyfully, surprisingly superfluous.  .  .  . Heaven is going to be a place that will refract and reflect in as many ways as possible the goodness and joy of our great God, who delights in lavishing love on His children.”[3]
    8. Heaven will be more amazing than anything we can imagine. Look forward to Heaven.
    9. Now, the greatest of applications, this series is about heaven and heaven is possible for us because of Jesus’ shed blood on the cross.
    10. Whenever we talk about heaven, we must put this in the context of creation-fall-redemption-restoration. Currently, we live in a fallen world. We suffer because of the fall, because of depravity. Animals also suffer because of the fall. However, Jesus redeemed us and so we are looking forward for restoration. Someday God will make everything right. This does include animal life. It may or may not be your pets, but it will include animals without suffering. This is all because of God’s grace.
    11. God freely gifts us salvation through Jesus’ death and resurrection. That separates Christianity from the other religions. Other religions are about our good works earning us heaven, or a better reincarnation, but Christianity is about what Jesus has done to gift us life in paradise.
    12. The question is will you be in heaven.
    13. 2 Corinthians 13:5 (ESV)
    14. 5Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you fail to meet the test!

Do you know Christ?

Luke 9:23

God created us to be with him. (Genesis 1-2)

Our sin separated us from God. (Genesis 3)

Sins cannot be removed by good deeds (Gen 4-Mal 4)

Paying the price for sin, Jesus died and rose again. (Matthew – Luke)

Everyone who trusts in him alone has eternal life. (John – Jude)

Life that’s eternal means we will be with Jesus forever. (Revelation 22:5)

[1] Randy Alcorn, Heaven (Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale Momentum, 2011).

[2] Randy Alcorn, Heaven (Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale Momentum, 2011).

[3] Alcorn, Randy (2011-12-08). Heaven (Alcorn, Randy) (Kindle Locations 7430-7439). Tyndale House Publishers. Kindle Edition.

Will Heaven Be Boring? (Isaiah 65:17-23)

A cleric found himself wondering whether there were any golf courses in Heaven. He even began to ask the question in his prayers. One day, in answer to his prayers, he received a direct answer from on high. 

“Yes,” said the Heavenly messenger, “There are many excellent golf courses in Heaven. The greens are always in first class condition, the weather is always perfect and you always get to play with the very nicest people.”

“Oh, thank you,” said the cleric, “That really is marvellous news.”

“Yes, isn’t it?” replied the messenger, “And we’ve got you down for a foursome next Saturday.”[1]

 A few years I was running with Mercedes, and we had an interesting conversation. Actually, we have had many philosophical conversations as we run. So, a few years ago she asked me if we will have to go to the bathroom in Heaven. I don’t have a good answer to that, though I understand the question. She was five at the time, she is now eleven, and one of the major stressors of a five-year-old is to make sure she makes it to the bathroom in time. I remember being a child and thinking about how in Heaven I hope that we can have peanut-butter pie. I remember thinking that we could eat as much as we want without getting sick. Some of those thoughts have worn off as I’ve aged. Why don’t we think like children about Heaven anymore? Why can’t we use our imagination?

A common misconception about eternity surfaced in an episode of Star Trek: Voyager. A member of the undying “Q continuum” longs for an end to his existence. Why? Because, he complains, everything that could be said and done has already been said and done, and now there’s only repetition and utter boredom. He says, “For us, the disease is immortality.” Finally he’s allowed to end his existence.[2]

Can Christians have fun? Why not?

Is Heaven to be boring?

Theme: Heaven will not be boring, Heaven will be fun. Heaven will have all the blessings of this life without the hardships, pain, and suffering. Heaven will be with Jesus.


We will worship the triune God.

We will rule and administrate.

We will have different positions of authority.

We may rebuild cities.

We may build homes.

Some will compose and write music.

Some will play musical instruments.

We will serve.

Some will farm.

Some will cultivate orchards.[3]

  1. It seems that the New Heavens and New Earth will be a reflection of how earth was to be before the fall.
    1. Things God created that have been distorted by sin will be made right and perfect.
    2. We live in a fallen world, but I believe the Bible shows that Heaven will be as God intended the Garden of Eden to be before sin entered the world.
    3. We can read Revelation 21 and 22 and see the comparisons with the Garden of Eden. In the eternal Heaven, in Revelation 22 it seems that that Heaven reflects the first Garden of Eden. We will see a Tree of Life again in verse 2 as there was a tree of life in the first Garden of Eden (Genesis 2:9). We see a river in the eternal Heaven in Revelation 22:1. We see two rivers in the Garden of Eden in Genesis 2:10 and 13. It does seem that the eternal New Jerusalem Heaven is going to be like the Garden of Eden was meant to be, only much better.
    4. We have purpose now and we will have purpose for all eternity.
    5. Just think for a moment about your best moments on earth. Think about your most exciting times.
    6. Think about how you felt when you first found out you were going to be a dad or a mom. Think about how you felt when you were first engaged or newly married. Think about the joy, comfort, and excitement on a vacation. Just think about how excited you were to get a new job or do a certain job. Just think for a moment about how much you love a certain hobby. Now imagine that joy, those feelings, that excitement going for all eternity. Imagine for all eternity doing what you love to do, but without being tired, without sickness or pain. I wouldn’t limit eternity though. You may get bored fishing for all eternity, but why would you do the same thing? What if you fished for a while and then played golf and then accomplished a task? It does seem that we will have purpose.
    7. Look with me at Isaiah 65:17–25 (ESV)

New Heavens and a New Earth

17   “For behold, I create new heavens

and a new earth,

     and the former things shall not be remembered

or come into mind.

18   But be glad and rejoice forever

in that which I create;

     for behold, I create Jerusalem to be a joy,

and her people to be a gladness.

19   I will rejoice in Jerusalem

and be glad in my people;

     no more shall be heard in it the sound of weeping

and the cry of distress.

20   No more shall there be in it

an infant who lives but a few days,

or an old man who does not fill out his days,

     for the young man shall die a hundred years old,

and the sinner a hundred years old shall be accursed.

21   They shall build houses and inhabit them;

they shall plant vineyards and eat their fruit.

22   They shall not build and another inhabit;

they shall not plant and another eat;

     for like the days of a tree shall the days of my people be,

and my chosen shall long enjoy the work of their hands.

23   They shall not labor in vain

or bear children for calamity,

     for they shall be the offspring of the blessed of the Lord,

and their descendants with them.

24   Before they call I will answer;

while they are yet speaking I will hear.

25   The wolf and the lamb shall graze together;

the lion shall eat straw like the ox,

and dust shall be the serpent’s food.

     They shall not hurt or destroy

in all my holy mountain,”

says the Lord.

  1. Isa 65:17: God is going to create a new heavens and a new earth.
  2. Former things shall not be remembered or come to mind… This is likely just an expression. This does not mean we will not have any memory. We will talk about that on another Sunday.
  3. Verse 18 references Jerusalem.
  4. Verse 19 talks about God rejoicing in Jerusalem and God being glad with His people. There will not be any more weeping. Verse 20 is interesting. On one hand it is saying there will be infants, but people will live very long. An infant will not only live a few days. Even the person who dies at 100 will be thought accursed… Why is there death? This is because this passage seems to be blending the Millennial Reign with the eternal New Heavens and new earth. This is called a merism which is blending the New Heavens and Millennial Reign together. This is a figure of speech taking two extremes like I searched night and day.
  5. So, we can conclude that Isaiah is writing about both. The Millennial reign and the New Heavens and New Earth. They are both a renovated state.
  6. Isa 65:21-22 references houses and inhabiting, as well as vineyards and eating of the fruit.
  7. Isa 65:23 references labor and bearing of children.
  8. Mixing Isaiah 65 with Revelation 22 shows the details of a city and a garden alongside the details of a vineyard.
  9. Isaiah is called the fifth gospel. Isaiah prophesied about the future of Israel and he prophesied destruction, but then in Isaiah 42; Isaiah 49; Isaiah 50; Isaiah 52:13-53:12 we have the four servant songs. These are all about the Messiah. We see the suffering Jesus would go through. Then Isaiah chapters 56-66 are prophesies about the future times until the end. Isaiah 65 even anticipates the spread of the Gospel in Acts. Then, this passage. This passage looks to Heaven.
  10. Why? Because of the Suffering Servant. This is still all about Jesus.
  11. When we talk about Heaven, this is all about Jesus.
  12. Randy Alcorn writes: Isaiah 65:21 suggests that we’ll build houses and live in them on the New Earth. If so, we’ll no doubt decorate them beautifully. Buildings on the scale of the New Jerusalem reflect extensive cultural advancement. Human builders will learn from God’s design, just as Leonardo da Vinci learned by studying the form and flight of birds while working on his flying machine. What will clear-thinking human beings— unhindered by sin and the barriers that separate us— be able to design and build? What would Galileo, da Vinci, Edison, or Einstein achieve if they could live even a thousand years unhindered by the Curse? What will we achieve when we have resurrected bodies with resurrected minds, working together forever?[4]
  13. It is quite likely people will continue to compose music, write stories, discover things.
  14. Suppose people continue to explore, but now they can explore all these new oceans. Suppose people can explore outer space and go even further than ever before.
  15. A major point to be made is that we will have resurrected-perfect bodies. In 1 Corinthians 15, the great chapter on the resurrection, Paul writes about our resurrected bodies. I don’t know if we will be able to, but Jesus was able to walk through walls (John 20:19), Jesus was not limited by gravity (Acts 1:9). That could be because Jesus is God, but who is to say that our resurrected bodies will not have more capabilities than we have now.
  16. The Bible does NOT give any indication of a disembodied boring state. No, on the contrary, the Bible shows an embodied existence in a real place of activity.
  17. We will also be with all of the believers who have gone on before us, and they will NOT be boring.
  18. Hebrews 12:22–24 (ESV) 22 But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering, 23 and to the assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, 24 and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.
  19. David Jeremiah writes quoting Jonathon Edwards: As the famous American theologian Jonathan Edwards wrote, “No inhabitants of that blessed world will ever be grieved with the thought that they are slighted by those that they love. Or that their love is not fully and fondly returned …. There shall be no such things as flattery or insincerity in Heaven, but there, perfect sincerity will reign through all in all. Everyone will be just what he seems to be and will really have all the love he seems to have. It will not be as it is in this earth where comparatively few things are what they seem to be and where professions are often made lightly and without meaning. But there, every expression expression of love shall come from the bottom of the heart, and all that is professed shall be really and truly felt.”[5]
  20. The greatest reason heaven will NOT be boring is because we will be with Jesus. Revelation 21:3. Jesus is NOT boring.
  • Psalm 16:11 (ESV)
  • 11  You make known to me the path of life;
  • in your presence there is fullness of joy;
  • at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.
  1. Let’s apply this.
    1. Look with me at Revelation 14:13: And I heard a voice from heaven saying, “Write this: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.” “Blessed indeed,” says the Spirit, “that they may rest from their labors, for their deeds follow them!”
    2. Did you notice that? Their deeds will follow them. What we do on earth will follow us, so it is best that we store up treasures in Heaven (Matthew 6:19-20).
    3. Hebrews 6:10 tells us that God will not forget the good things we do.
    4. We can look forward to Heaven. Heaven will be greater than anything we can imagine.
    5. We can share the Gospel knowing that we are inviting others to paradise.
    6. We can also know that if we have extra suffering here and now, we won’t have that for eternity.
    7. Some of us would love to do certain things, but can’t because of health. You can do all that and more in Heaven. If you can’t go fishing anymore, you can in Heaven. If you can’t run anymore, you will be able to in Heaven. If you can’t play golf anymore, you can in Heaven. If you can’t read anymore, or travel, or hear, in Heaven these things will be restored. In Heaven you will be able to be active without pain. In Heaven you will be able to have energy which you cannot imagine now.
    8. I am amazed by the energy of children. They can move so fast! I am amazed at my young age how sore I can feel in the morning. I cannot imagine life without having to think about energy levels, but in Heaven this will be fixed.
    9. However, our experience in Heaven is determined by our faithfulness to Christ now.
    10. Remember we are saved by grace, but we will have rewards for faithfully serving Jesus.
    11. So, just like how in this life the mistakes we make now catch up to us later, it is true for all eternity. Serve Jesus faithfully now and you will have more opportunities to serve Him forever.
    12. This whole message, this whole series is contingent on us knowing Christ.
    13. We must know Him. God came to earth and took on flesh. He lived the life we could not live and died the death we could not die. He did this for His glory, and He did this to welcome us into Heaven. These passages are all about Jesus.
    14. We talk about what we do in heaven, but what is most important is that we are with Jesus.
    15. Are we living with Jesus now?


I love C. S. Lewis’s profound perspective in his book Mere Christianity, when he writes,

The Christian says, “Creatures are not born with desires unless satisfaction for those desires exists. A baby feels hunger: well, there is such a thing as food. A duckling wants to swim: well, there is such a thing as water. Men feel sexual desire: well, there is such a thing as sex. If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world. If none of my earthly pleasures satisfy it, that does not prove that the universe is a fraud. Probably earthly pleasures were never meant to satisfy it, but only to arouse it, to suggest the real thing. If that is so, I must take care, on the one hand, never to despise, or to be unthankful for, these earthly blessings, and on the other, never to mistake them for the something else of which they are only a kind of copy, or echo, or mirage. I must keep alive in myself the desire for my true country, which I shall not find till after death; I must never let it get snowed under or turned aside; I must make it the main object of life to press on to that country and to help others to do the same.”[6]

We are created for eternity. We are created for Heaven and it will not be boring.

Heaven will not be boring; Heaven will be fun. Heaven will have all the blessings of this life without the hardships, pain and suffering. Heaven will be with Jesus.

Do you know Christ?

Luke 9:23

God created us to be with him. (Genesis 1-2)

Our sin separated us from God. (Genesis 3)

Sins cannot be removed by good deeds (Gen 4-Mal 4)

Paying the price for sin, Jesus died and rose again. (Matthew – Luke)

Everyone who trusts in him alone has eternal life. (John – Jude)

Life that’s eternal means we will be with Jesus forever. (Revelation 22:5)

[1] http://jokes.christiansunite.com/Heaven/Golf_in_Heaven.shtml

[2] Alcorn, Randy (2011-12-08). Heaven (Alcorn, Randy) (Kindle Locations 7599-7602). Tyndale House Publishers. Kindle Edition.

[3] Enns, Paul P. (2011-03-01). Heaven Revealed: What Is It Like? What Will We Do?… And 11 Other Things You’ve Wondered About (p. 153). Moody Publishers. Kindle Edition.

[4] Alcorn, Randy (2011-12-08). Heaven (Alcorn, Randy) (Kindle Locations 7599-7602). Tyndale House Publishers. Kindle Edition.

[5] Jeremiah, David. Revealing the Mysteries of Heaven (pp. 70-71). Turning Point. Kindle Edition.

[6] Ingram, Chip; Witt, Lance (2016-02-23). The Real Heaven: What the Bible Actually Says (Kindle Locations 1380-1388). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

Where are They Now (present Heaven versus future Heaven)? (Deut. 26:15: Heaven is where God resides; Revelation 21; Phil. 1:23; Luke 16:19-31; Rev. 6:9-11)

Where are They Now (present Heaven versus future Heaven)? (Deut. 26:15: Heaven is where God resides; Revelation 21; Phil. 1:23; Luke 16:19-31; Rev. 6:9-11)

Prepared and preached by Pastor Steve Rhodes for and at Bethel Friends Church in Poland, OH on Sunday, January 15, 2023

Today, I want to talk about the present Heaven versus the eternal Heaven.

Jonathan Edwards, the great Puritan preacher, often spoke of Heaven. He said, “It becomes us to spend this life only as a journey toward heaven . .  . to which we should subordinate all other concerns of life. Why should we labor for or set our hearts on anything else, but that which is our proper end and true happiness?”[1]

So, let’s look at Heaven.

It is really difficult to talk about Heaven without looking up a lot of passages, but for flow I only want you to have to turn to one passage. In Revelation 6:9-11 we see a scene of martyrs interceding in Heaven. This is a scene in Heaven, and we can draw some conclusions from it.

Today, my theme is to teach on the present heaven versus future heaven with a goal to help us meditate on our eternal home.

Revelation 6:9–11 (ESV)

When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the witness they had borne. 10 They cried out with a loud voice, “O Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long before you will judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?” 11 Then they were each given a white robe and told to rest a little longer, until the number of their fellow servants and their brothers should be complete, who were to be killed as they themselves had been.

  1. Context of Revelation 6:9-11
    1. In a minute, we will draw applications from Rev. 6:9-11.
    2. This passage is the last book of the Bible and there is a lot going on here. There are differing views of Revelation. But let’s put this in the narrative of the Bible.
    3. In Genesis 1-2 everything was created good.
    4. In Genesis 3 sin entered the world. Ever since sin entered the world things have been fallen, depraved, messed up.
    5. So, that is the state we were left with all through the Old Testament.
    6. Then Jesus came and He died on the cross for our sins and rose again. That is the New Testament.
    7. Now, we are in the end of the Bible and also the future consummation of all things.
    8. Rev. 6 takes place during the tribulation period and that is the period when God is pouring out judgment on all the world.
    9. The tribulation period will be followed by the Millennial Reign and then the New Jerusalem which will be the new heavens and the new earth.
  2. Now let’s differentiate between the two Heavens.
    1. We find in Scripture that the future Heaven is not until the end of the Bible. In Revelation 21 we find the reference to the future Heaven and that is the new Jerusalem. We find other references throughout the Bible to the New Jerusalem and that is the eternal Heaven.
    2. We also find through the Bible references to the millennial reign. We find this in Rev. 20:2-6 as well as Old Testament passages. This is not the New Jerusalem, nor is it the current Heaven.
    3. When we think of passages concerning the resurrection of the body, that will be for the new Jerusalem and maybe the millennial reign. When we think of passages about Jesus wiping every tear from our eyes and no more crying, etc (Rev. 21) that is the New Jerusalem. A lot of what we will talk about in the coming weeks will concern the New Jerusalem and eternal Heaven, so today I want to talk more specifically about the current Heaven.
  3. For the rest of the message, I want to draw on 5 encouraging applications about the current Heaven. I will substantiate these applications from the Rev. 6:9-11 passage and a few others.
  1. We can be encouraged that we go straight to Heaven when we die (Luke 23:43; 2 Cor. 5:8; Phil. 1:23).
    1. Heaven is where God resides, and we will go straight to Heaven. We can know that we go to be with God because those saints are with God, and they are interceding for others.
    2. We also know in Luke 23:43 Jesus told the thief that that very day he would join Jesus in paradise.
    3. In 2 Cor. 5:8 Paul wrote about being absent from the body is to be present with the Lord.
    4. In Phil. 1:23 Paul also wrote about departing and joining Jesus.
    5. We go to be with God in Heaven when we die.
    6. Now, where is Heaven? Scientists at Yale, Princeton, and Stanford, among others, postulate that there are ten unobservable dimensions and likely an infinite number of imperceptible universes.[2]
    7. I find that fascinating. Heaven is in a realm that we are imperceptible to, but God is there.
    8. We see it happen in Scripture, such as 2 Kings 6:17 when Elisha’s servant’s eyes are opened in order to see God’s angels all around him.
  2. We can be encouraged that we will have consciousness in the immediate Heaven (1 Samuel 28:16-19; Luke 9:31; 16:19-31; Rev. 6:9-11).
    1. We see in Scripture that we will be conscious. If we simply think about this passage in Revelation, they are conscious and they are actually interceding for the persecuted church.
    2. We also see consciousness in the parable of the rich man and Lazarus in Luke 16:19-31.
  3. We can be encouraged that we will have contact with those who have gone before us (Luke 16:19-31; Rev. 6:9-11: they worship, not one merged identity.
  4. In the Rev. 6:9-11 passage they are worshipping together. We see the people together again in Rev. 7:9-10.
    1. We see a group of people together.
    2. There is no reason to think that when people die they are not reunited with their loved ones as well.
    3. By the way, these Scriptural examples are specific cases, it seems that Heaven is far greater than anything we can think or imagine.
    4. Worshipping Jesus is exciting, standing before His throne, but Heaven will be more than worship.
    5. Heaven will be fellowship; we see that indicated in the parable of the rich man and Lazarus in Luke 16:19-31.
    6. Paul desired Heaven more than earth so it must be greater than we can think of.
    7. In 2 Cor. 12 Paul wrote of some type of near-death experience and said that he saw things that he was not permitted to speak of. He also did not know whether he was in the body or out of the body.
    8. Now, is a good time for me to also say that it seems that the immediate Heaven is physical, not purely spiritual.
    9. Listen, the physical body is not bad, it is good. It is Christoplatonism to think that it is bad. Remember I shared that last Sunday. Greek philosophy, Platonism, impacted Christianity to think the physical is bad, but it isn’t.
    10. These descriptions in Rev. 6:9-11 and in the parable of the rich man and Lazarus give physical descriptions. They had voices to cry out. They were wearing white robes.
    11. “The rich man and Lazarus are depicted as having physical forms. The rich man had a tongue and a thirst that he wished to satisfy with water. Lazarus had a finger, and there was water available to him in Paradise, into which he might dip his finger. Of course, these references may be entirely figurative. But they might also suggest the possession of transitional physical forms, existing in a physical Paradise, to sustain and manifest human identity between death and resurrection.”[3]
    12. These bodies and this physical realm are still different than the New Jerusalem and the bodies are not our resurrected bodies, they may be temporary bodies, but it does seem physical.
    13. The physical can go in and out of the spiritual. We see that all throughout the Bible when God interacts with humanity. Of course, God is spiritual (John 4:24), but the angels are physical and they interact with our realm (Hebrews 13:2; Genesis 18; the Lord’s appearance to Abraham; Genesis 19 the angels visiting Lot).
    14. We also know that God is unchanging, that does not mean that Heaven is unchanging. God can change Heaven as He sees fit. This means Heaven can be a certain way now, but then transition when the New Jerusalem comes down from earth.
  5. We can be encouraged that in Heaven we will have a memory of life on earth, otherwise we would be a different person. (Luke 16:19-31).
    1. In the passage in Luke 16:19-31 the rich man and Lazarus had memories of their life on earth.
    2. I like how Randy Alcorn points out that without our memories we would be different people.
    3. Also, in 1 Samuel 28:16-19, Saul wrongfully tries to bring up the spirit of the dead prophet Samuel and Samuel remembered Saul and really was alert to what was going on.
  6. We can be encouraged that it is likely our past family members and friends are interceding for us now (Rev. 6:9-11).
    1. We see this in Rev. 6:9-11. They are interceding for the Christians on earth.
    2. Actually, their intercession is more valuable than our prayers because they are with Jesus and so they are righteous. James tells us that the prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective, and they are righteous or they wouldn’t be in Heaven (James 5:16).
    3. This means they are interceding for us, but that does not mean we should pray to them. We can pray straight to Jesus, why pray to anyone other than Jesus Who is Lord and God (Hebrews 4:14-16).
    4. Just imagine that your friends and family are in Heaven interceding for you, isn’t that amazing?


So, we go straight to Heaven and then eventually to the New Jerusalem.

To illustrate, imagine you lived in a homeless shelter in Miami. One day you inherit a beautiful house overlooking Santa Barbara, California, and are given a wonderful job doing something you’ve always wanted to do. Many friends and family will live nearby.

As you fly toward Santa Barbara, you stop at the Dallas airport for a layover. Other family members you haven’t seen in years meet you. They will board the plane with you to Santa Barbara. Naturally you look forward to seeing them in Dallas, your first stop.

But if someone asks where you’re going, would you say “Dallas”? No. You would say Santa Barbara, because that’s your final destination. Dallas is just a temporary stop. At most you might say “I’m going to Santa Barbara, with a brief stop in Dallas.”[4] Similarly, the Heaven we will go to when we die, the present Heaven, is a temporary dwelling place, a stop along the way to our final destination: the New Earth. Another analogy is more precise but difficult to imagine, because for most of us it’s outside our experience. Imagine leaving the homeless shelter in Miami and flying to the intermediate location, Dallas, and then turning around and going back home to your place of origin, which has been completely renovated— a New Miami. In this New Miami, you would no longer live in a homeless shelter, but in a beautiful house in a glorious pollution-free, crime-free, sin-free city. So you would end up living not in a different home, but in a radically improved version of your old home. This is what the Bible promises us— we will live with Christ and each other forever, not in the intermediate, or present, Heaven, but on the New Earth, where God will be at home with his people.[5]

This heaven is all possible because of Jesus.

Do you know Jesus?

God created us to be with him. (Genesis 1-2)

Our sin separated us from God. (Genesis 3)

Sins cannot be removed by good deeds (Gen 4-Mal 4)

Paying the price for sin, Jesus died and rose again. (Matthew – Luke)

Everyone who trusts in him alone has eternal life. (John – Jude)

Life that’s eternal means we will be with Jesus forever. (Revelation 22:5)

[1] Alcorn, Randy (2011-12-08). Heaven (Alcorn, Randy) (Kindle Locations 352-354). Tyndale House Publishers. Kindle Edition.

[2] Alcorn, Randy (2011-12-08). Heaven (Alcorn, Randy) (Kindle Locations 997-1005). Tyndale House Publishers. Kindle Edition.

[3] Alcorn, Randy (2011-12-08). Heaven (Alcorn, Randy) (Kindle Locations 1443-1447). Tyndale House Publishers. Kindle Edition.

[4] http://www.epm.org/blog/2015/Apr/22/present-heaven-future-heaven

[5] Alcorn, Randy (2011-12-08). Heaven (Alcorn, Randy) (Kindle Locations 978-981). Tyndale House Publishers. Kindle Edition.