Points covered: Beauty of heaven. Reality of Heaven. God of heaven. People of heaven.
If you asked a number of people if they believe there is a place called heaven, most would probably say yes. But if you asked them what it’s like or how to get there, I suspect you’d get a variety of answers. Though many people cling to a belief in heaven and hope to go there when they die, very few have an accurate understanding of it.
Since human beings are earth-bound until death, misconceptions about heaven are common. Some people imagine it as a foggy place where formless spirits float about or dead saints sit on clouds playing harps. Movies about the afterlife present their own version of what awaits. And a few people who have reportedly returned from near-death experiences have described what they believe they saw.
Amid all the confusing and contradictory views, we need to remember that the only sure source of accurate information about heaven is the Bible. In its pages, God gives us glimpses of celestial scenes. Although we may long for more details and descriptions, the Lord has revealed what He wants us to know and, more than likely, what we can handle.
In John 14, the disciples were troubled and to them Jesus said: John 14:1-4 1“Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. (Then Jesus said.) 2My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? 3And 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. 4You know the way to the place where I am going.”
So when Jesus spoke of a place he was going to prepare for them, a place that we call heaven, Jesus did so for the purpose of comforting their hearts. Heaven is a hope for God’s people. Jesus is there in that place, heaven today as we are sitting here. Today as I speak to you on heaven, it is my intention that God’s people’s hearts would be comforted and filled with hope.
The reality of heaven.
1. Heaven is a real place.
John 1:2 My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? Heaven is not a figment of the imagination. It is not something that somebody has just dreamed up somewhere. Heaven of course has been presented in wrong way in different philosophies of the world but there is a place after this life. Heaven is an actual geographical location outside of this world. It is not a geographic location on this planet which circles the sun, but heaven is a real location somewhere. It is a real place.
2. Heaven is above the earth.
The Bible says it being up. When Jesus ascended back to heaven the Bible said: Acts 1:9 While they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight.
Jesus was taken up. The angel said to the disciples: Acts 1:11 …this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.
So heaven is up. It is out there somewhere. The Bible speaks of heaven as being in the sides of the north. So heaven is a real place somewhere beyond this world.
So when we are talking about heaven today, we are talking about something with reality about it and it is present now as we see the building present here.
Imagine with me that you and I are approaching heaven today from planet earth. We will be doing that someday. Someday the Lord Jesus Christ is coming for us and he is going to catch us up and away and with him we are going to go to that place. I suppose it is going to happen very rapidly. That is when we are changed in our bodies. We will be transformed in a twinkling of an eye. But let’s slow it down to slow motion. Think we are approaching heaven that place beyond our space and as we begin to approach it, it begins to come into view and the first thing we notice is the glorious light which radiates from it. Perhaps at first it looks like another star, far beyond the stars. But then as we get closer there is more than just light and then the colours begin to be seen and then we get closer and we discover that there is a real beautiful city.
The Beauty of heaven.
What heaven is like? Heaven is a beautiful place.
1. It is beautiful in its construction.
Revelation 21:11 It shone with the glory of God, and its brilliance was like that of a very precious jewel, like a jasper, clear as crystal. It is believed that Jasper in the scripture is a reference to the diamond. So heaven is a beautiful place.
2. It has a magnificent wall around it.
Revelation 21:17 The angel measured the wall using human measurement, and it was 144 cubits thick. If we calculate the height of heaven in feet it is some 216 feet high. That is quite a wall isn’t it? We also discover that wall has 12 foundations and those foundations are garnished with jewels, precious stones.
Revelation 21:18-19 18The wall was made of jasper, and the city of pure gold, as pure as glass. 19The foundations of the city walls were decorated with every kind of precious stone.
So as the city of heaven comes into view to us as we approach it from the outside there is the glory of the light, there is the glory of all the colour, and then there is the fire and the colour of the precious stones which garnish the foundations of that 216 foot high diamond wall.
3. Heaven is a golden city.
Revelation 21:21 The great streets of the city was gold, as pure as transparent glass. It is a golden city. The Bible tells us that the city of heaven is made of gold. The Bible tells us that the gold is so pure, it is so purified that it is transparent. The very light shines right through that gold. We do not have the technology to do that. Gold of course is a very precious metal here. Nations count their wealth sometimes in the amount of gold that they have. They hoard that gold and guard it but nobody can work with gold which is purified beyond a certain point. Yet the city of heaven is so beautiful. It is actually built out of pure transparent gold.
4. Heaven is a four-square city.
Revelation 21:16 The city was laid out like a square, as long as it was wide. He measured the city with the rod and found it to be 12,000 stadia in length, and as wide and high as it is long.
Translating in our terms, the city of heaven is some 2220 km long, 2220 km wide, and 2220 km high. You say how can a city be a cube like that build high? We build out cities high. Our cities have altitude to them and then we make megastructure. The world’s highest building is Burj Khalifa in Dubai which is 2722 feet. The city of and heaven 2220 km high. Somehow God who can use the technology, create the technology, speak the technology to purify the gold so that it is transparent can also build cities which are 2200 km high. A magnificent city.
5. There are streets and highways in the city.
Revelation 21:21 The great streets of the city was gold, as pure as transparent glass.
Isaiah 35:8 And a highway will be there, it will be called the Way of Holiness. The unclean will not journey on it. The Bible speaks of a street which serves that city. It is a wonderful street apparently. It is apparently a divided street. There will be highways running in heaven like on earth connecting one place to another.
1. There is a river in that city.
Revelation 22:1-2 1Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb 2down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations.
There is a great river in heaven. It is called as the river of the water of life. It begins in the throne of God and flows throughout that wonderful place called heaven. Is that river filled with life? Well it is filled with the water of life. I am not sure the significance of the meaning of that term. I would guess that river and the water of life is similar in its concept to the rivers that Jesus spoke into existence on this earth. It must be teeming with life. There are fruit trees in heaven. There is a tree of life, not just one single plant. The tree of life grows down alongside the banks of that river. There must be forests of them. So heaven have forests of the tree of life.
What about things to eat? The tree of life bears 12 manner of fruit, all at the same time and what a great place that will be.
2. There is no darkness or night in heaven.
Revelation 21:23 The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp.
Revelation 22:5 There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign for ever and ever.
So heaven is beautiful in architecture, nature, and place of the light and the glory of God. The light of God shines through all of those precious stones and gold and the glory of God is radiated. What a beautiful place. Dear friend you have never seen anything like it. No place in the world compares to it. Jesus, the creator of this world has gone to prepare a place called heaven for us and there is nothing that compares with what is heaven.
The angels of heaven.
Revelation 21:9 “One of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues came and said to me, “Come, I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb.”
Revelation 21:12 It had a great, high wall with twelve gates, and with twelve angels at the gates.
There are angels in heaven. In Isaiah 6 the prophet had a vision of heaven and he saw angels. Isaiah 6:1-3 1I saw the Lord, high and exalted, seated on a throne; and the train of his robe filled the temple. 2Above him were seraphim, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. 3And they were calling to one another: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory.”
In Revelation 4 and 5 you find 4 special angels. They are very beautiful. They are the cherubim who are there at the throne of God in this city of heaven and they praise God.
Revelation 4:8 Day and night they never stop saying: “‘Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty,’ who was, and is, and is to come.”
So there are beautiful angels in heaven. The Bible tells us that angels were created to be special ministering spirits to minister to those who are the followers of the Lord Jesus Christ.
But the Bible does tell us something about angels and you find them serving God’s people even in the OT. So the angels are ministering spirits. I have no doubt that at some point of life if you know the Lord Jesus Christ as savior he has probably sent one or more of his angels to step into your life to do something which you were not aware of but they were ministering to you in a special way. So when you get to heaven you are going to see angles and we are going to talk with them.
The people of heaven.
Heaven is not only a place with angels and beauty but it is a place with people.
Revelation 21:9 One of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues came and said to me, “Come, I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb.”
If you know your Bible you know that is the reference to the saints. We live in the NT era. If you know Jesus Christ as savior you are the part of the bride of the Lord Jesus Christ. So when the angel says to John here, Come with me, I will show you the bride, The lamb’s wife, he is talking about you and me and many others. So this place called heaven is filled with people.
Revelation 21:14 The wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them were the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb. The 12 apostles, the NT believers. Those who went first in the first century, first before us who took the gospel before us for the first time. They are associated with the very foundations of that city. That city of heaven is made for God’s people, especially as a gift for his NT people of the church. So heaven has the association of the NT people through the apostles right in the very foundation of it. Again people, of heaven. It is a city teeming with people.
Revelation 21:12 It had a great, high wall with twelve gates, and with twelve angels at the gates. On the gates were written the names of the twelve tribes of Israel. What are gates for? Each gate is constructed out of one pearl. Can you imagine? Here are the 12 gates but notice that the 12 gates are associated with the 12 tribes of Israel.
Gates are for travelling in and out. The 12 tribes of Israel will have total access to this city which seems to be a special gift for God’s NT people. But what is God’s special gift for the 12 tribes of Israel? The gates are for travelling in and out. Well, the Bible speaks of a new heaven and a new earth. It is mentioned in previous chapter and God creates a new earth. God promised the land of Israel to his people for ever. It will be their gift for ever thought eternity and the Bible also speaks of the nations of the world, those who come out of that tribulation and have trusted as savior and those who trust Jesus as savior during that great millennial reign of Christ, they are going to have that new earth to live in.
Revelation 21:24-26 24And the nations of them which are saved (Notice the word nations, different identities) shall walk in the light of it: and the kings of the earth (That new earth) do bring their glory and honour into it. 25And the gates of it (the city) shall not be shut at all by day: for there shall be no night there. 26And they shall bring the glory and honour of the nations into it.
The people of heaven, they are the redeemed of all the ages. God’s NT people. To the disciples Jesus said, “Let not your heart be troubled. I am going to prepare a place for you.” You and I will live in that city. That will be our home. Israel which trusts Jesus Christ as savoir will have perfect and complete access to that city as well as having their own land there on the new earth, theirs forever. The nations of the earth which followed God during the millennium when that new is created, they will have their homes there with perfect complete constant total access to the city of heaven. What a glorious place it is going to be?
What is my point? Heaven is a place of people. I am pause now and reflect because it is not just masses of people. There are people there who are special to you and to me even today. Someday in heaven I am going to see my grandmother whom I love dearly. I don’t know exactly what she will look like there because I remember her as very old, quite elderly, wrinkled sin and wearing always a white saree and always in the kitchen making delicious food or in her prayer room with her Bible. She was the world’s best cook. She is in heaven today. Someday I am going to see my grandmother in heaven. Someday she will run to meet me in heaven and I will receive that hug from her which she always would give me.
Who is it special to you who is in heaven, some day you are going to see them again if you know Jesus as savor. I must hurry on because this is the most important and wonderful point of heaven.
The God of heaven.
Revelation 4:2 At once I was in the Spirit and there before me was a throne in heaven with someone sitting on it.
Revelation 5:11-12 11They encircled the throne and the living creatures and the elders, 12In a loud voice they sang: “Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!”
Revelation 21:5 He who was seated on the throne. (Jesus is still seated on the throne.)
Jesus is in heaven today. He has gone there to prepare a place for you and me. Someday we will be there with him. That is his point. He wanted us to be able to be there with him where he is.
You have never seen Jesus. We have live 2000 years after Jesus carried out his ministry on earth today. Jesus is alive today. I have not seen him but I have talked to him. He has spoken to me many times through his Word.
Now, because we have not seen Jesus with our physical eyes before, sometimes that point escapes us a little bit. But I am reminded in this book of Revelation that the Apostle John saw Jesus. The apostle John and Jesus was very close during Jesus’ ministry on this earth. They were just very close. When the apostle John saw Jesus John just fell at his feet almost as if John was dead. Jesus said, “Stand up John it is alright. It is I, stand up, it is Jesus.” I think John laid his head on the breast of Jesus like had had done before. I think there were hugs between John and Jesus when John first saw Jesus.
Dear friend I am convinced that when you get to heaven; perhaps the first person you are going to see is Jesus.
Then I think it is going to dawn on you and dawn on me as it never has before that here is one who loves me beyond my comprehension. Here is one who as the eternal God looked down the long centuries ahead of him and saw me, and instead of being repulsed by me, he loved me and he loved you. Oh how much he loves you, oh how much he loves us. We are going to see Jesus and we will realize that here is the one who took the beatings, who took all the abuse, who went to the cross, holy one of God somehow becoming sin for us so that we could be made the righteousness of God in him. You and I cannot fathom that but this is Jesus but and you get to heaven the first time you are going to see Jesus your heart is going to melt.
I will look on Jesus and think how wonderful it is, how absolutely beyond the measure Jesus loves me. So when get to heaven we are going to see the God of heaven, Jesus himself.
Let me ask you: Don’t you want to go to heaven? I am so glad that most of you who are listening to me here, you know Jesus as savior and you are going to heaven and you are going to enjoy all these wonderful things sometime in the future. But there are some who are listening, perhaps this is new information for you. But there is something in your heart that is speaking “I wish I had the confidence of knowing I was going to a place like that.” Dear friend you surely can.
If you have your Bibles open turn to Revelation 21:27 Nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life.
Revelation 21:8 But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars—they will be consigned to the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.”
Revelation 21:6 He (Jesus) said to me: “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To the thirsty I will give water without cost from the spring of the water of life.
Heaven is a possibility for you dear friend. You cannot get there on your own. That is the first lesson to learn. You cannot deserve heaven on your own at all ever in any way possible, but Jesus invites you to come.
Now what is the answer? In John 14 where we started Jesus’ disciples were so concerned Jesus said to them about heaven. John 14:6 Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life.” You cannot get yourself to heaven no matter how you try. Good works, church membership, religion whatever it may be, you cannot get there on your own, but Jesus can take you there. He is the way. The way is not a map. The way is a person. You are not big enough to get yourself there but Jesus is and if you will come to Jesus he will take you to heaven.
It works like this: The Bible says: Romans 3:23 All have sinned, and come short of the glory of God. That includes you and me. The Bible says: Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death; (That speaks of hell for eternity, an awful place. But the scripture also say) but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. The Bible tells: Romans 10:9 If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.
Romans 10:13 Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.
Dear friend, if you will pray to God to God right now where you are, “God I know I am a sinner and I admit and I do believe that Jesus the Son of God died for me in my place so that my sins could be forgiven. I could be saved from the terrible destruction of the penalty of my sins and I could go to heaven. I know Jesus gave us the way. I know he is the Son of God and that he rose from the grave, he lives today. So I am calling upon you. Your word says whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. So God I am calling on you. Forgive my sins, wash me clean, save me through Jesus.
If you mean it in your heart and you will prayer, God will forgive your sins, you will be born into the family of God, you will be washed clean of your sins this instant and your destination is heaven because Jesus will take you there.
Those who are already saved, let us work out our salvation with fear and trembling. Store up treasures for us in heaven, that eternal city and live for Jesus in this world. That is the wisest thing you can do here. Let’s pray.