What’s Heaven Like?

Do you believe in Heaven?  I had the opportunity on Dec 30 to preach – something I rarely do (thankfully)!  I got to end our Advent series: Ancient-Future Christmas: Celebrating the Whole Story of God,  by preaching about Heaven, from Revelation 21 & 22.  I thought I would post a synopsis of the sermon here, as well as the audio and the sermon manuscript for anyone interested.

audio file

Where is Heaven?

Heaven is the dwelling place of God, and in the end, that place is on Earth (Rev. 21:1-4).  Heaven isn’t Heaven because of where it is, but because of who is there: God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  And we will be there, too – not wearing bathrobes, with wings and harps, floating on clouds, but on Earth, as physical beings, living with God.  It will literally be Heaven-on-Earth.

Who will be in Heaven?

Obviously God will be there (that’s what makes it Heaven).  But so will everyone whose names are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life (Rev. 21:27).

Who won’t be in Heaven?

The cowardly, the unbelievers, the detestable, murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers (this could mean drug abusers), idolaters, liars, the unclean, evildoers, the filthy, the dogs (meaning people who aren’t part of the family of God), and everyone who loves and practices falsehood (Rev. 21:8, 27; 22:11, 15).  Obviously, this list isn’t exhaustive.  And, it can be summed up in a single sentence: If you don’t belong to Jesus, you won’t be in Heaven.

What will we do in Heaven?

Here’s what we won’t do: become angels, wear bathrobes, be permanently retired, float around on clouds, or be in a church service that lasts for eternity.  A biblical understanding of Heaven interprets the New Creation in light of the Old Creation; the Bible ends where it begins.  In Genesis, God created the heavens and the earth, and told us to go cultivate the world.  Build cities, plant gardens, work according to your giftedness, make babies, write books, make music, paint, draw, act, eat, and do it all for the glory of God.

In Revelation, God creates a new heaven and a new earth (Rev. 21:1), and I believe we will be doing the same kinds of things in the New Creation as God intended for us to do in the old.  God’s plan for Creation is restored.  We’ll still have jobs, build houses, plant gardens, make music and art, enjoy good food and friends – and we’ll do it with no sin to muck it up.  I believe there will be cities and even nations in Heaven, with Jesus ruling as King of Kings from the New Jerusalem (Rev. 21:10) and with us reigning over cities and nations as His under-kings (Rev. 22:5).

How can I get to Heaven?

Come to Jesus (Rev. 22:17).  He has the water of life and you can drink from it freely.  Be washed in the blood of the Lamb who was slain to redeem men and women from sin and darkness and to purchase their place in glory.  If you’re not sure whether or not you’ll be in the New Creation, or if you’re a citizen of the Holy City, then simply come to Jesus and ask Him for help.  He’ll do the rest.  If He’s your God, then you’re His child (Rev. 21:7).

Questions About the Last Things?

On the last worship service of the year, I’m preaching about the “last things,” the end times, or what my seminary profs call eschatology.  Eschatology is a big fancy 8-cylinder word for “the study of last things.”  I’ve been reading through the Book of Revelation and trying to get my head around all the really weird things John says in that apocalyptic work!  My sermon will *probably* come from Revelation 21-22.

I want it to be interesting and applicable to your life, so I need some help from you.  What questions do you have about the last things?  What questions do you have about Heaven and/or Hell?  What questions do you have about judgment or the Battle of Armageddon, or the 1,000-year reign of Christ?  In other words, what questions do you have about eschatology?

I could do a bunch of research and present a great sermon positing answers to all sorts of questions, but if they’re not the questions you are asking, then it’s not going to help you see more clearly or make an impact in your life.  So, please, post your questions below as comments to this blog post.  I can’t promise that all of them will get answered, but it will certainly help me preach a more interesting, relevant, and applicable sermon!

No More Sea?

So I was reading through Revelation, specifically the last couple chapters, and had this question for you.

Revelation 21:1 says, “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.”

That last little phrase caught my attention.  Why does John point out that the sea is no more?  What does he mean by that?  Will there be no sea anywhere or just no sea in the Holy City, New Jerusalem, that comes down from heaven (read a little further in the chapter to find out about New Jerusalem)?

Most scholars point out that ancient societies often associated the sea with chaos and evil, thus the removal of the sea is a removal of a great symbol and source of evil.  Others point out that the sea is one of the three realms of creation referred to throughout Revelation (heaven, earth, and sea; read Rev. 5:13; 10:6; 12:12; 14:7).  They claim that the sea is simply not a major part of the new creation.  Some scholars believe that John is referring specifically to the ocean that separated him from his readers (John was banished on an island when he wrote Revelation).  Here oceans are representative of separation.  They separated John from his readers and they separate nations from other nations.  In the new creation, God will remove these boundaries by eliminating the seas. (Trinity Journal Volume 24. Winona Lake, IL: Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, 2003.)

What do you think?  Will there be oceans in the New Earth?  Why do you think John mentions no more sea?

Post your responses in the comments below.