Harris Malcom, state missionary
Middle Georgia Region
A slave traveled with his master to Baghdad. One morning, while walking through the marketplace, the slave sees Death in human form. Death looks his way. The slave is convinced that Death intends to take him that day.
The slave runs to his master and says, “Help me. I have seen Death, and his look tells me he intends to take my life this very day. I must escape him. Please, master, let me leave now so that by tonight I can reach Samara, where Death cannot find me.”
His master agrees, and the terrified servant rides like the wind for the 15-hour journey to Samara.
A few hours later, the master sees Death on the streets of Baghdad. He asks Death, “Why did you give my servant a threatening look?”
“That was not a threatening look,” Death replies. “That was a look of surprise. You see, I was amazed to see your servant today in Baghdad, for I have an appointment with him tonight in Samara.”
The moral of the story is that death is inescapable.
The old saying: “Nothing is certain but death and taxes” is only half true: There are tax evaders … No one evades death.
Yet a startling thing has happened among western Christians. We habitually think and act as if there is no eternity. We tend to focus on our current state of well-being.
Having never been to heaven, I can’t tell you from experience what it is like. But I can tell you that the Bible is very clear on heaven. The Word of God is witness to its existence, experience, and exaltation.
Heaven should be the desired destination of every person. God has made it possible. As a matter of fact, it is easier to go to heaven than it is to hell. I heard someone say once that to go to hell you have to do absolutely nothing. That may be one way to look at it. But because of God’s provision through His Son many walk over the shed blood of Jesus, the Word of God, and the witness of the Spirit to avoid heaven.
In heaven we will live in God’s presence (Rev. 21:1-3)
In our text John begins by describing “a new heaven and a new earth.” What does that mean? Well, simply put it will be new in both time and kind. This new heaven and earth will have no sea. It will be one “made ready as a bride adorned for her husband.”
Peter talks of the fact that the first earth (2 Peter 3:6) was destroyed by water, the present heaven and earth “are being reserve for fire, kept for the day of judgment…” (v. 7).
Paul testifies that he was caught up into the third heaven. I believe that Paul saw what John is now describing.
Then John writes, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them” (v. 3).
Jesus promised that He was going to prepare a place for us. So this much we know. It is a prepared place. It is a permanent place. It is a perfect place.
Francis Chan said, “Using ordinary words John does his best to describe a heavenly place and a holy God.”
Bottom line: heaven will be heaven because God will be there.
In heaven we will live in a perfect place (Rev. 21:4-5)
We will be forever together. I have a brother I have never met in heaven. My mom is in heaven as well as my grandparents. I’m going to have the delight of them in heaven … our family will be complete. My wife’s parents are in heaven, as well as her grandparents. I have many friends in heaven … when we all get to heaven, what a day of rejoicing that will be.
In heaven God “will wipe away every tear.” There are no funerals, graves, hospitals, cancer, murder, hate, prejudice, or heartache, just to mention a few.
In heaven our eternity is based on our relationship with God (Rev. 21:6-8). Everyone in heaven has a relationship with God through His Son Jesus Christ. Whether one comes as a child or adult, from a life of Christian influence or out of a life of worldly pleasures, there is only one way to arrive. There is no other way or door. Jesus is the Way and He is the Door. He is the ONLY WAY to the Father.
You won’t be in heaven because you are good or nice. You won’t be there because you went to church or served as a deacon or church servant. Heaven’s residents are not there because of cultural position or material wealth. God’s residents are those saved through the substitutionary, vicarious, and atoning death of Jesus.
The lost are without God and without hope. Though everyone is “dead in [their] trespasses and sin” at some time. There is a time for man in which it is too late. For “it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment” (Heb. 9:27).
Eternity is a long time to be wrong
There are some things you won’t find in heaven – among them sin, sickness, separation, and sadness. You won’t find “the cowardly and unbelieving and abominable and murderers and idolaters and liars.” For the Bible says that “their part will be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone.” (Rev. 21:8)
Yet, the saved are with God for eternity. Hell is prepared for the devil and his angels. That means that God does not intend for anyone to perish but to live eternally with Him. Therefore, people chose to be separated from God and some work hard at it.