Let’s Define Heaven

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John writes (1 John 3:2) 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. I haven’t lived at home since I was 18. That is a long time ago. There is something very special about going back home to visit my mom. My children think it is so funny where and how dad grew up. Old photos.
The drug store that still sells them candy at a discount. The old court house that they can climb on, etc.

An old missionary couple returning to America after years of ministry in Africa, were arriving in New York to retire with no pension, their health broken, discouraged and afraid. The couple discovered they were on the same ship with President Teddy Roosevelt, who was returning from one of his big-game hunting expeditions. All through the journey they observed passengers trying to catch a glimpse of the President, while no one even knew they existed. When the ship docked in New York, the mayor and other dignitaries were there to greet the President as a brass band played in his honor. No one noticed the missionary couple as they slipped quietly off the ship, found a cheap apartment on the east side, and hoped to find some way to make a living. That night the man’s spirit broke. “This is all wrong!” he cried out. “We have given our lives in service in Africa and no one even cares, but this man comes back from a hunting trip and everybody makes over him. It isn’t right! God isn’t treating us fairly!” Patiently, his wife responded, “Why don’t you go into the bedroom and tell that to the Lord?” A few minutes later he emerged from his prayer room, now with a completely different expression. “What happened?” his wife asked. “The Lord settled it with me,” he said. “I told Him how bitter I was that the President should receive this tremendous homecoming, when no one even met us as we returned home. And when I finished, it seemed as though the Lord put his hand on my shoulder and simply said, `But you’re not home yet!”

If Heaven is to be home for the believer, what is home going to be like? It is probably John in the great Revelation that gives us the most vivid description of Heaven. After this I looked, and there before me was a door standing open in heaven. And the voice I had first heard speaking to me like a trumpet said, “Come up here. Before me was a throne in heaven with someone sitting on it. And the one who sat there had the appearance of jasper and carnelian. A rainbow, resembling an emerald, encircled the throne. Surrounding the throne were twenty-four other thrones, and seated on them were twenty-four elders. They were dressed in white and had crowns of gold on their heads. From the throne came flashes of lightning, rumblings and peals of thunder. Before the throne, seven lamps were blazing. Before the throne there was what looked like a sea of glass, clear as crystal. What Heaven is like is beyond our words!

What do we know about Heaven? We know that in Heaven we will see God, face to face. To be cleaned of all of our sin. To be able to ask all of those questions that we have longed to understand. To confirm that there is only one God! Paul wrote, I declare to you, brothers, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed- in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. We know that Heaven is free of all evil. The Rabbi’s tell a story of the difference between Heaven and Hell. Both are described as a room with a big banquet table filled with food. They both have to eat the meal with long handled spoons. The difference is that in Heaven they feed each other and are happy.

Jesus told us that (Matt 22:30) At the resurrection people will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven. While there are not relationships as what we have on earth, it is important for our peace of mind to understand some things (Matt 17:1). After six days Jesus took with him Peter, James and John the brother of James, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. There he was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light. Just then there appeared before them Moses and Elijah, talking with Jesus. Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here. If you wish, I will put up three shelters-one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.” We will know each other in Heaven!

The best love stories do not have happy endings, because the best love stories never end. In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you.
I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.

There is a little story of a shepherd and his sheep and of his efforts to get them to cross a stream of water. The frustrated shepherd tried repeatedly to lead them across, but always to no avail. The sheep were fearful of the swift water so they wouldn’t follow. He then tried to drive them across, but this failed as well. Finally, the shepherd picked up a small lamb in his arms and with the little lamb held tight, he waded across the water. The mother, hearing the bleating of her little lamb on the other side of the stream, walked into the water and on over to the other side. The other sheep quickly followed.

For the Christian, heaven is no longer some strange hazy place — Jesus is there.
Heaven is no longer far off and removed — our Christian loved ones are there.
Heaven has substance — a face, someone we know and love!

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