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Scripture Reading: Revelation 21:1-8
Heaven is Real
1. What is your concept of heaven? What does it hold for you?
a. Stephen Hawking , PhD. (theoretical physicist) says heaven is a “fairy story for people afraid of the dark” (also believes in “spontaneous creation”).[i]
b. Cultures, ancient and recent, have a host of concepts of heaven.
c. Many today: Your most happy moment on earth lived repeatedly.
2. Heaven is the home of God’s faithful ones, Heb 11:9-16 (Phil 3:20).
a. Christian’s greatest hope is an eternal home with God, Col 1:5.
b. What joy to enter our heavenly home, Matt 25:21, 34, 46.
I. WHAT IS HEAVEN? (OURANOS - 284x’s in NT - From root, OROS, “to rise, lift, heave”).
A. Three Distinct Uses in the Bible.
1. The atmospheric heavens: the sky (where birds fly, Gen 1:20; give rain, Jas 5:18).
2. The celestial heavens: outer space (Sun, moon, stars, Gen 1:14-18).
3. The perfect and eternal abode of God: Heaven, Deut 26:15; Matt 7:21.
a. Present dwelling place of God and His hosts, Acts 7:55-56.
b. 2 Cor 12:2, 4: 3rd heaven (as distinct from other the two).
4. Heaven is a real place – NOT a MOOD or STATE OF MIND, Jno 14:3.
B. Descriptions of Heaven Include: Kingdom (indicating a realm of rule, Matt 25:34); Country/City (habitation, Heb 11:16); A Garden (rest and peace, Rev 22:1-2).
II. WHAT IS HEAVEN LIKE?
[Rev 21-22: The saved at home with God in final glory beyond the judgment] (Song: “How beautiful heaven must be…”)
A. A “New” Order of Existence for the People of God, Rev 21:1-5.
1. New: Quality (kainos: “of a new kind, unprecedented, novel, uncommon, unheard of), 21:2. Surpasses Jerusalem of old and the Jerusalem “that now is” (Gal 4:26; Heb 12:22).
2. God makes all things new, Rev 21:5.
B. A Place of Perfection and Completeness, Rev 21:9-21.
1. The glory of God (heaven is made glorious by the glory of God that fills it!), 21:11.
2. Place of holiness (righteousness dwells there, 21:27; 2 Pet 3:13), Rev 21:2, 10.
3. Complete / Perfect / Precious.
a. These numbers symbolize perfection and the people of God -- Nothing incomplete / nobody left out there (12; 12 x 1,000; 12 x 12). Perfect symmetry reflects its perfection.
b. Splendor, preciousness, exquisite beauty, 21:11, 18, 19-21.
C. A Place of Perpetual Fellowship with God, Rev 21:3, 22-27; 22:4.
1. Heaven is the zenith in the development of God’s presence among His people, Rev 21:3 (Lev 26:11-12; 2 Cor 6:16).
2. Permanent worship of God / Divine presence; the saved are with Him forever, 21:22-27.
3. To see God face to face – Reward of the faithful, 22:4 (cf. Jno 1:18; 14:8-9).
4. God’s safety and security surround it (wall), Rev 21:12.
5. cf. Jno 14:3; 1 Jno 3:2.
D. A Place of Peace and Rest, Rev 21:4-6.
1. From the trials and conflicts of life, 21:4.
2. Eternal life, constant refreshing of the soul, 21:6.
3. Rest from labors, Rev 14:13 (1 Cor 15:58; Heb 4:9-11).
E. A Place of Worship and Service, Rev 21:22; 22:3.
1. Heaven is one grand sanctuary - The divine presence necessitates perpetual worship of Him, Rev 21:22.
2. Perfect service rendered - Glorious and uninterrupted, Rev 22:3.
3. Cf. our worship and service now; these help prepare us for heaven (1 Jno 5:3)
III. WHO WILL BE THERE?
A. Those who Obey Jesus and Overcome the World, Rev 14:12-13; 21:7. (Matt 7:21; Heb 5:9)
1. Heaven isn’t inherited by accident; Children of God go there.
2. Heaven is the living hope of those who are living by faith, 1 Pet 1:3-5 (not living in fear and doubt).
3. “A prepared place for a prepared people.” (Jno 14:3)
1. “If you seek heaven you will get earth thrown in; if you seek this earth you will miss both heaven and earth.” (C. S. Lewis)
2. Jesus put it this way: Lay up treasure in heaven, Matt 6:19-21.
3. Seek after the city which is to come, Heb 13:14.
[i] Guardian writer Ian Sample asked Hawking if he feared death in a story published 14May2011. This was his response:
I have lived with the prospect of an early death for the last 49 years. I'm not afraid of death, but I'm in no hurry to die. I have so much I want to do first. I regard the brain as a computer which will stop working when its components fail. There is no heaven or afterlife for broken down computers; that is a fairy story for people afraid of the dark. (“Stephen Hawking: ‘There is no heaven; it’s a fairy story’”, Ian Sample, The Guardian, 15May2011)