Monday, October 06, 2014

What Will Heaven and Hell be Like? (Part 2)

What Will Heaven and Hell be Like? (Part 2)
Revelation 21:1-7 (NLT)

I. Last Week (Part 1)
         Last week I told you that the question I was planning on answering for the sermon was “What will Heaven and Hell be like?”  But as I progressed, I found that it was simply too much for one sermon.  So last we shared about Hell.  Let me give a quick recap.
·      3 words for Hell (Sheol, Hades, Gehenna)
·      The view of Hell has progressed from everyone going to the pit to later a resurrection to finally with Jesus speaking of a temporary place called Hades to which he holds the keys to and will one day come back and judge the living and the dead.  From that point on people will be separated, some going to the eternal Hell and others to the eternal Heaven.

II. Heaven
         That brings us to Heaven.  I remember early on in my ministry I used to have a very different understanding of Heaven than I do now.  I used to believe, as many do, that the Bible doesn’t give us a whole lot of information about Heaven other than the streets are supposed to be made of gold and that there will be no more tears of sadness there. 
         In actuality though, the Bible does teach us much more.  There’s a book by Randy Alcorn simply titled Heaven in which he wrote 500 pages on the subject, all of which he gathered from reading the Bible. 
         Even if I had time, I don’t know 500 pages worth.  But allow me share just a few things this morning about what we can expect.  First let’s look at some common misconceptions of what Heaven is like. 
         Growing up how might Heaven has been portrayed?
·      Becoming angels, sitting on clouds and playing harps all day?
·      A perpetual worship service?  Worshipping God all the time like we do here on earth at the 11 o’clock hour?
·      Sitting at the feet of God forever?

Many have grown up with these pictures of Heaven and don’t really see it as a place they wanna be.  It seems kind of boring playing a harp all day.  I mean, at least let me have a guitar or something.  And many people feel like an hour’s worth of worship at 11am is enough boredom for one week.  So why would they want to do this for eternity?  Is this what Heaven is really like?  NO.  And I’m going to use the Bible to prove this.

         The first thing I’m going to say to you will blow some people’s minds.  There is not one Heaven.  There are actually two…two Heavens and two Earths.  Ok, I just lost some of you.  But let’s go to the book of Revelation and take a look to see if what I say is actually true.

Revelation 21:1-7

III. New Heaven & New Earth
·      (Vs 1) A new Heaven and new Earth means that there was an old Heaven and Earth.  Isaiah himself prophesied this when he wrote, “Look! I am creating new heavens and a new earth, and no one will even think about the old ones anymore.” (Isa 65:17)  Peter acknowledges that this was the belief of the Early Church when he writes “But we are looking forward to the new heavens and new earth he has promised, a world filled with God’s righteousness.” (2 Peter 3:13)
·      The sea represented the waters of chaos, or the abyss.  In Biblical times it was thought that there was a dome over the earth keeping out these waters.  What this means is that the barrier between Earth and Heaven has been removed.
·      The new Jerusalem came down out of the new Heaven to reside on the new Earth.  If we read the rest of the chapter we learn that God will come down into the new city but that there will be no temple because God, Himself will be the temple.
·      We also see from this passage that things will be perfect for there will be no more tears of sadness, no more pain.  And all will drink from the springs of the water of life and live forever. (Amen)

·      So what are the differences between the new and old Heavens and Earths? 
o   Sin in the old earth – not in new
o   God is with us here but through the Spirit.  We cannot see and touch Him in a physical sense. – We will be with Him in New.
o   Heaven – this Heaven is temporary.  People have a sense of what’s going on down on the earth.  They remember the things they went through.  In Rev. 6 John writes that he sees the souls who were martyred and they are asking when Jesus will avenge them.  This show us a couple things.  First, we can communicate with God/Jesus audibly.  Second, in the present Heaven we will have memories of what happened.  In the new Heaven we will not.  How do I know this?  Because there is no pain in Heaven, physical or emotional. 
·      One last thing I need to mention about the New and Old Heavens and Earths.  If you read the rest of this chapter and the next one it will become clear that our eternal home is not actually what we consider Heaven.  When we die we go to this present Heaven, which is awesome, but will not be perfect because we will still have the memories of the old sinful life.  There will come a day when Jesus comes back to judge the world and all the living and the dead.  When that time comes there will be a new Heaven and a new Earth.  Those who’ve accepted Jesus will live eternally on the new Earth, a physical place where we will have physical bodies doing physical things.
It will be much like the Garden of Eden before Adam and Eve sinned.  There were animals, trees, food, beautiful scenery.  It was an uncorrupted world. 
God’s gifts that we enjoy here will be so much better then.  Eating with friends and enjoying their company will be so much more fun.  Relationships will be so much more meaningful. Admiring Gods wonders like mountain ranges or the blue seas or the vast sky will make us more awestruck.  
And worshiping on this new eternal Earth will bring out more joy in us that we can even imagine.

IV. Worshiping in Heaven
         We are created to worship God.  When we’re truly experiencing worship, there is a quality of ecstasy about it.  So what will this be like when we get to Heaven and later the new Earth?
         Let me say again that there are those who believe that we will worship God 24hours nonstop when we get to Heaven and this bores them because sitting in a worship service for an hour is hard enough to get through.  Well, they are right in one sense.  We will worship nonstop in Heaven.  But we won’t be in a non-stop worship service. 
The Bible clearly shows us throughout scriptures that we will be doing things in Heaven.  Jesus has teachings about how different people will rule in Heaven.  Not the same as they rule here but rule over others nonetheless.  There are teachings about wedding banquets and feasting in Heaven.  These things will really happen.  Just as Adam and Eve were told to tend to the Garden of Eden, we will have things to do in Heaven/New Earth. 
The difference in now and then is that these things…all of them…will bring us joy, and all will be done for our Father, which will make it part of our worship. 
There will also be times that we come together, as found in Revelation, and praise God with exuberance.  No boring sermons or off key singing or other distractions, just pure joyful singing praises to God.  Randy Alcorn in his book “Heaven” says that people who love God can never be bored in His presence.

V. Aliens in a Foreign Land (Conclusion)
         I could go on all day talking about Heaven.  And to be honest, when I teach about Heaven it gets me a little depressed.  I get so excited that my desire for it to be here right now is so great that I can feel down about being in this sinful world right here and now.  I mean when we talk about true perfection it’s hard to go back to the reality of the here and now. 
         So what do I do?  First I realize that this life is not the end.  I am an alien in a foreign land.  So are you.  We don’t belong here.  But while we’re here can do all in our power to live out God’s will here on earth as it is in heaven.  We can remember what Paul wrote in Philippians, “To live is Christ, to die is gain.” 
         Living in this world is living for Christ and storing up treasures in Heaven, whatever that might mean. 
         Let us live our lives here on earth in light of eternity knowing that the best is yet to come. 


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