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The Beauty And Truth Of Heaven

Sermon Series:

The Church Never Preaches On...

Ryan Kimmel
Ryan Kimmel

Lead Pastor

Peace Church

Main Passage:
Revelation 21:1-5


Today is the day that the Lord has made. So let us rejoice and be glad in it. And everyone said, amen. Amen. So today is part two of our sermon series called The Church Never Preaches On. Topics chosen not by me, but by the church. And today we are talking about this wonderful topic. Honestly, I was a little surprised that this came as, I think this was their second highest voted topic. And it's this one, the beauty and truth of heaven. Now I actually look back on our records and I have preached more explicit sermons on hell than I have on heaven. So I think there's a lot of truth to this. Church doesn't really preach on heaven a whole lot. And so I'm excited to do that here today. But let me just say this.

This is not that you walk away feeling challenged or convicted. I got no problem preaching in those sort of like scathing type ways. Today, I just simply want you to walk away excited. I want you to walk away hopeful. When church is done, you get into your vehicle and you sit in there, you put the keys in. Before you turn the ignition, I want you to think, I want today's, just your time at church today, it leads to that moment where you get in your car and you just sit and you think, I can't wait to go to heaven. That you just feel just so much hope that, that's what I hope here today. So I want to just take a different type of message and just encouragement.

So I heard pages turning, which is one of the most beautiful sounds a pastor can hear from a pulpit. I heard them Bibles turning. You're already heading there. Revelation chapter 21. If you haven't turned there yet, would you please turn there? We're going to look at verses one to five today. Real quick. Revelation is a vision of the future that the apostle John, at least the section we're looking at is a vision of the future that the apostle John, the disciple John gets. He's the last living disciple at this moment. God reveals to him a picture of what is to come and we're going to be talking about heaven. That's kind of the picture that John sees here. And so hopefully you are to now to Revelation chapter 21. We're going to read verses one to five together. And so with that, would you hear the word of God?

Revelation 21:1-5

1 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. 2 And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place[a] of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. 4 He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” 5 And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”

Amen. This is God's word. Let's pray and we'll continue. Let's pray. Father God, we come before you here today. We ask, Lord, by the power and presence of Jesus, by the truth of your word, by the power of the Holy Spirit, you'd help us to shed worldly pictures of heaven, to see the true and wonderful place revealed in your word. And we thank you for the gospel that our Savior died and rose again so that by faith in him we can have everlasting life be reconciled to you and so that we could anticipate our future heavenly home and it's in Jesus powerful name that we pray these things and everyone said amen amen.

So let me start by maybe just speaking right to your heart here for a second. How many people here, whether here or in one of our venues or online, how many people here have someone in heaven right now and you long to see them again? Yeah, I do too. I do too. I have people in heaven that I long to see again. And I don't want to take anything away from what that reunion could be like. I too long for a reunion with some loved ones, my own father. I want to see my grandparents again. I have friends in heaven. My brother-in-law John, who just passed away. I long for those reunions, and I don't want to take anything away from that, but here's what I want to tell you. In addition to all of that, what heaven holds by itself is infinitely greater than any reunion we could have with departed loved ones. So as we look at what the scriptures teach us today about heaven, here's what I want you to know.

Heaven is another reminder that the best is yet to come.

Heaven is another reminder that the best is yet to come. And as we look into this passage, as we dive into what scripture reveals, we're gonna look at two main things here today and then we're going to spend some time at the end of the sermon looking at some FAQs that came in with this question for our sermon, for the sermon series. And so let's look at these two things firstly. Heaven is a reminder that the best is yet to come.

1. The Heaven that there currently is (v.1)

We're first going to look at the heaven that there currently is, and then as we look at scriptures we're going to look at the heaven that there will be. And so first thing, let's look at the heaven that there currently is. So, with your Bibles open, let's look at Revelation chapter 21, verse 1. It says this, Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, listen here, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. I mean, I'm going to bet some of us didn't even realize that God was going to make a new heavens and a new earth in the end. But before we get to that, let's talk about the heaven that there is. And so simply put, let me put it this way, heaven is the spiritual realm where God dwells. Or we could say this, it's the spiritual realm, or we could say it's the spiritual dimension. I got no problem using that language. In the Lord's Prayer in Matthew chapter 6, Jesus taught us to pray by starting with these words, our Father who is in heaven, or, if you learned it like I did growing up, our Father who art in heaven. Beautiful. Heaven is the place that our souls immediately go once we die if we believe in the name of Jesus.

Let's see what Scripture says here. Now, as they were hanging on the cross, one of the criminals who was crucified with Jesus turns to him and says this in Luke chapter 23, starting at verse 42. And he said to Jesus, Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom. And Jesus said to him, truly, I say to you, today, you will be with me in paradise. That's beautiful. Now there are many names and many ways and many terms that the Bible uses to describe heaven, but twice in Scripture we see this word paradise. But you know what else it's also called? Probably my favorite term? Home. Paul writes to the Corinthians and he says in 2 Corinthians chapter 5 verse 8, he says, Yes, we are of good courage and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord. The clear message of scripture is that heaven is the immediate destinations for those who have placed their faith in Jesus and it's Christ himself who makes this perfectly clear in John chapter 14 verse 6. Jesus said, I am the way, I am the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me and the New Testament, of course continues to preach this message of salvation alone through Jesus Christ Speaking about Jesus Peter says this in Acts chapter 4 verse 12. He says and there is salvation in no one else For there is no no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved Now listen, this is because we do not earn heaven. You cannot earn salvation. This is something simply received. What we deserve is hell. We cannot earn our way to heaven. There's no way that our good works will ever outweigh the sin we've committed. Our destination, our rightful destination is hell. Because of the sins we've committed, we can't earn our way into heaven. It must be a gift received from God. And that's what we get through the life, death, and resurrection, aka the gospel of Jesus Christ. For those who place their faith in Jesus, not only do we get to go to heaven, but the description in the picture is even greater than that. It's more than that. Listen to what Jesus says in John 14. He refers to heaven as his father's house. Doesn't that sound like home to you? John chapter 14, Jesus says this. He says, in my Father's house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? Now that's Jesus' way of saying, if it weren't true, I wouldn't have said it. Verse three, Jesus goes on to say, and if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself that where I am, you may also be."

Now listen, church, I know I'm feeling probably a little preachy this morning. I've just rattled off a bunch of verses to you. My hope and prayer is that it didn't go in one ear and out the other, because if you were listening to the verses I just read, there's a very strong, common theme woven throughout that if you're listening, you would have picked up on. Let me just read these again and see if you can pick up on it. Luke 23, Jesus says, "'Truly I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise.'" Second Corinthians five, "'We'd rather be away from the body "'and at home with the Lord.'" John chapter 14, "'I will come again and will take you to myself.'" Did you see what the crowning, did you see what the most important thing is here? You see the common thread? And it's this, that the defining feature of heaven is not seeing loved ones again. It's being with Jesus. That is the hope. That is the long for. That's what we long for. I'll put it this way. If you get to heaven and you're the only one who made it, it would take nothing away from the joy you experience of being with Jesus. My fear is that some of us don't know Christ on that level. That He is the crowning jewel of our life. The thing we seek after most. And this is why, this is why, and I say this in love, this is why our loved ones who are in heaven, they don't miss us like we miss them. They're doing just fine. If you could talk to them right now, they'd be like, have fun, see you when you get here, I'm going back to my Lord. When I was a little guy, when I say little, I mean about, I was probably like 11 or 12, I had a question posed to me. And honestly, this question haunted me and perplexed me for a very, very long time. When I was a younger person, there was this person, still in my life, who is very, very, very special to me. And as a preteen, they posed this question to me. They said, is heaven perfect? And being the little guy that I was, I just quickly responded, thinking this was an easy question. I said, yes, yes, heaven is perfect. And then they said, and then they said this, and they were very much playing off the love that we shared between each other. Then they said this, well, when you go there, if I'm not there, is it still perfect? Now, as a younger person, that really struck me. I didn't know how to answer that. That question just cut me to my core. I couldn't imagine being in heaven forever without this person. And even as an 11 or 12 year old, for whatever faith I had back then, it led me to a crisis of faith that honestly, honestly, it brought me down a preteen version of what is now called deconstruction. That's a popular thing going on these days where people are deconstructing their faith. They're quote unquote dismantling their faith as they try to distance themselves from what they see as dogmatic teachings and traditionalism that mark their faith growing up. Now I basically went through a version of that before I confessed faith in Jesus for myself And I'll tell you now that was painful and it was confusing for a very long time for me But I had looked back and I thank God now for that question I thank God for that thought experiment because you know what it did you want to differ me? What it did for me is that at a younger age? It allowed me to then build my faith and my theology based on what scripture says versus what my heart longs for. Build my faith based on what scripture says rather than what the dogmatic traditions tried to instill in me. Base my faith based on what the Bible says rather than what's acceptable or popular in our world. What it did was it allowed me to then go on to build a faith based on Christ and the truth of his word. And so here's the reality. Heaven is perfect. And it's perfect for one simple reason. Because God is there. And that's what makes it perfect. Our presence there or lack thereof does not take away from heaven being the perfect place.

2. The heaven that there will be (vv. 2-5)

And that's the heaven there is. So let's take a moment, let's talk about the heaven that there will be. So the Apostle John, he reveals to us a picture of what it's going to be like at the culmination of all things, at the end, that what is heaven right now and what is earth right now will merge into a perfect union of the physical and the spiritual. Here it's called the New Jerusalem. And listen to these descriptors, and I'll just say that, we're gonna read verses 2 to 5 again, and I just want to say, like, for those who love Jesus and who love God and want to be with him I'll tell you if you really dwell on these verses These are enough to move you to tears Verse two and I saw the holy city the New Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God Prepared as a bride adorned for her husband and I heard a loud voice from the throne saying behold The dwelling place of God is with man. Yes, my reformed friends, God is omnipresent. He is everywhere all the time. Yes, we have the Holy Spirit living within us, inside of us, filling us with the presence of God and the knowledge of the scripture as we live this life. But in the end, when it comes to where God lives And where we will live, that will be one. Again with the perfect blend of the spiritual and the physical. Now listen to these next verses. It's like the fullness and the fullness of our hope and our faith are finally realized in the truth of God being with us both fully spiritually and fully physically. And listen to how much, not just God is present with us, but listen to how much God cares for us. He will dwell with them and they will be his people and God himself will be with them as their God. Listen to verse 4. Let me just say I hope that some of you were raised with a dad who didn't just instill in you a great work ethic but who loved you with a tender strength. That when you did cry, he did teach you how to be tough through those tears, but he also would bend down and take his thumb and wipe those tears away from your cheeks. Because that's what we have in our Father, our Heavenly Father.

Verse 4, He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more. Neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away. The former things, which is summarized in this next verse, and I'll tell you right now, of all the things I see in scripture, this is one of my favorite lines. And he who was seated on the throne said, behold, I am making all things new. Friends, it's simply this, it is simply this. Either all of this, history, reality, either all of this is leading somewhere or it's not. And if it's not, then who cares? Because in 10,000 years, nothing will matter. In 1,000 years, nothing we do here and now will matter. But if this is leading somewhere, then we better prepare. I'm here to tell you, this is not a dead and meaningless universe. We are not a cosmic accident. This is intentionality being played out right before us. History truly is leading somewhere. And I know, I know in the heart of your hearts, even if you hate God, if you're resistant to Him, even to yourself, that you know there's more to all of this than what you can see. I know in the heart of your hearts you know this actually does matter. This is leading somewhere. The history does have a bookend. It's not just leading to an infinite nothingness. I know in your heart of hearts you know that. This is not a dead universe. History is leading somewhere and that somewhere is not the eventual death of all things, but the renewal of all things. This is the culmination of the end times, which spoiler alert, we will get to the end times in this series. But what we see here in this picture is this is where everything is heading. This is the hope we can have for, so it's time to prepare.

So what we're going to do is, with the few moments that we have, I want to spend some time looking at some FAQs, because I think that might help highlight some of the things that we see in Scripture. I want to look at some FAQs that came with this question that were submitted for this sermon series. And so, here's the first one, and it's a real basic question. I love it, actually.

Question 1: What is heaven actually like?

Well, I'll tell you this. Do you know that the word for heaven and the word for sky in the New Testament is the same word? But heaven is not made of clouds It's a spiritual realm. It's described as a city with with streets of gold, which is a Awesome physical way to describe the spiritual reality of how beautiful and wonderful it is Heaven is not just bursting with light But it's bursting with all the colors of the rainbow and even more colors that the human eye cannot see. But of all the scriptures of heaven, I think I love this line the best. It comes a little bit later down in Revelation chapter 21.

John writes about the vision and he says this in Revelation 21 verse 22. He says, I saw no temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord, God the Almighty and the Lamb. Why do we need a church building if God Himself is with us? I love that picture at the end. Heaven, the heaven that there will be. There's no temple, there's no church building. Why? Because we are with God. He's dwelling with us and we are His people. I love the scriptures, but I tell you that, that line holds a special place in my heart and it reminds us that heaven is about God. It's about Jesus, not about us. And it's filled with glory, pure and simple glory. So what is heaven actually like? Well I myself haven't been there yet. One day we will be there. Here's what I'd say. While I can't tell you what heaven is like, let me just say one thing, and if I'm off on this, elders can check me later, but I just, I think there's a part of you that actually knows. In some veiled way, I think you actually know what it's like, and here's what I mean. Because when you look out in the world, or you watch the news, and you just get saddened, and you think, this is not how it should be. Like, you know what I'm talking about? Like, you just think, this is not how it should be. That's because part of you knows how it actually should be. You may not be able to fully describe it, but here's what I'll tell you. Heaven is the place where all things are as they should be. So in some sort of like veiled way, I think you actually know what it's like. It's where God rules and reigns and there's no sin. There's no corruption. There's no death. It's glory and it's beautiful. And those few passing moments where you catch a glimpse of it, it's that forever. Not in ways that grow old or get bored, but in ways that are ever increasingly finding more joy. My prayer is that if you have placed your faith in Jesus, at one point in heaven, it means you will sit down over a cup of coffee because you best believe that's a God-made thing. And hey, maybe we'll talk about what we got right and what we got wrong, but either way, we get to be there with Jesus. And that is the defining most important feature Heaven is home That's where our true citizenship lies. Paul says that our citizenship is in heaven

Question 2: Will we recognize our loved ones?

Second question is this one. We kind of already addressed it, but it says will we recognize our loved ones? It's a very heartfelt Very touching question that strikes at the core of our deepest desires. And so let me just say this, I will confess to you, there is no specific verse reference I can give you that answers this. So let me just answer this with two reasons. One may be more personal and practical, that's the lesser reason, and then we'll talk about a biblical reason. The lesser reason, the more personal practical reason is simply this, I know who my wife is beyond her physical appearance. I don't need to see my wife to know that it's her. Do you know what I'm talking about? There's just something about her presence where I know that it's her. You could blindfold me and I just have to simply interact with her, even without speaking, that I know it's my wife. And that's because we are also spiritual beings. And there's part of that that will transcend into the next life I fully believe in. But more than that, here's what I'd say to you. You want a biblical example? Here's one. There's a parable that Jesus told between this poor man and this rich man. This parable of Lazarus, the poor man, and the rich man. Now, Jesus tells the story that they both of them they know each other in life and they die but in the next life they recognize each other and I get this a parable and Jesus is trying to make another point here but I think that's a biblical warrant for us to say yes we will recognize our loved ones in heaven those reunions will be awesome they will be glorious I can't wait for that but they're nothing compared to seeing your Savior face to face.

Question 3: Purgatory, yes or no?

So, next one, purgatory, yes or no? No, next question. Just kidding, just kidding. Our Catholic friends deserve more than that. Here's what I say, let's just talk about it real quick. This is a teaching of the Catholic Church. Purgatory comes, finds its root in the Latin, purgatory, finds its root in the Latin for to purify. And so it's a place that we go after we die, but before heaven, it's kind of like a holding place where we continue to be purified in order to prepare for heaven that we might enjoy it all the more. Now that's the doctrine, in a sense, of purgatory. Now, simply put, I believe that the Bible teaches that that all happens here and now, but we wouldn't call it purification. I think we use the term sanctification. That means being made holy. And when we go to heaven, we are released from this body of sin and death. And that's the final releasing of which we can then can experience the fullness of heaven in the spiritual sense while we await the final culmination of all things, where heaven and earth become one. And as we already mentioned, there's a number of an abundance of passages we've already talked about that kind of show that when we die for those who have faith in Jesus, we go immediately to heaven, immediately to heaven. Jesus said, today you will be with me in paradise. So for this next one. Okay, for those listening on podcast, we're on question four.

Question 4: Are our pets in heaven?

I'm going to get in trouble no matter how I answer this. So let me just say this. Let me just say this real quick. If there is one thing, if there is one thing from my childhood that even now as a 40-something year old, if there's one thing from my childhood that if I talk about too long, I will actually cry real tears, it's my dog, Sam. I could talk about my father's death, but if I talk too long about that dumb dog, I start crying. So let me just say this, Jesus did not die for the sins of animals and animals have no soul So I cannot make the biblical argument that there will be pets in heaven. There are theologians who would make that argument But here's what I will tell you We do know that there and there are animals and creatures in heaven revelation talks about Jesus right now to heaven on a white horse There's the four living creatures. I mean heaven is gonna be so amazing so much more than what we can imagine here and now so I have to say I I personally don't think our pets will be there. We don't need them to be there. But I will say this, if I get there and Sam comes running up to me, I'm not asking questions. Just being thankful and moving on. See I'm gonna get so many emails after this. Alright, not that that wasn't a serious question, but let's talk about this important question.

Question 5: What is the eternal state?

Now, if you don't know what that term means, simply put, it's basically asking what age will we be in heaven? Meaning like, if we die at 88, are we 88 forever? Or if we die as a baby, will we stay a baby forever? So here's what I'll tell you. The Bible doesn't teach us, what the Bible does teach us, I should say, what the Bible does teach us is that in the end, we will be given resurrection bodies, resurrected bodies in which we will get to enjoy the new heaven and the new earth, bodies that will not succumb to sickness or death. Now, how those bodies translate into a human age here and now, as we understand it, the Bible does not say. So let me just say this. For whatever you think, and for whatever you hope about this, let me give you some encouragement and just say this. It's better. It's better than what you can imagine, and it's better than what you hope for. So don't worry about it, just be excited about it. Whatever it is, it's a body in which we'll be able to enjoy the presence of our God and Savior for all eternity with a lasting joy that we can't even comprehend right now. This is the hope I have, this is the hope I invite you to share.

So last one for today, and let me just say this, I know there are many more questions that you have and many more questions that a sermon like this will probably produce for you. So here's what I'm going to say to you. I'm going to ask Pastor John and the guys over at That's a Good Question podcast to take the remaining amount of questions and any questions you want to submit. So submit some more questions on heaven and our guys over at our podcast will answer that very, very soon. But let me just leave us with this final question.

Question 6: Why is there a need for a new heaven and new earth?

Now that's a great question, but here's what I'll tell you. It's what God promised. This isn't just a New Testament promise, this is an Old Testament promise. God's been promising this throughout the covenants. Look at the vision that John has in Revelation 21 is very close and very similar to the prophecy of Isaiah 65. So why is God making a new heaven and a new earth? Why is he doing this? Because that's how powerful the life, death, and resurrection of King Jesus is. That's how powerful and far-reaching the gospel is. When Jesus Christ rose from the dead, that sent shockwaves throughout all eternity, through every corner and every square inch of the universe. The power of the gospel reaches everything. As King Jesus said, and as we see throughout scriptures, Revelation 1.5, 21.5 says this, says, Behold, I am making all things new. Even something as beautiful as heaven itself will be made new in light of the gospel of Jesus Christ. That is how wonderful and powerful and beautiful the gospel is. Oh friend, if you have not yet placed your faith in Jesus Christ, if you have not yet repented of your sin and confessed that Jesus is the only way, do it today. There is nothing else on earth that even can come close to the beauty and the power of the gospel. That Jesus does for us what we could not do for ourselves. He pays for your very sin, and with his resurrection, he offers you life, both now and forever. Eternal life. And even more than that, provides you reconciliation. That means a restored relationship with God. And when we place our faith in Jesus, he prepares a place for you in heaven. Do not delay. I want to see you there. I want you to know how wonderful and beautiful our God is. So place your faith in Him and then receive the gift of salvation. Receive grace and with that your entry into heaven. Church, the best is yet to come. And it's Jesus himself who says that he's preparing a place for us. J

esus, our Savior, who we will get to be with one day fully and finally. I desire it so, do you? I long for it, do you? So may you live your life. May you live your life in light of your eternal home, filled with hope. May you live excited for what is to come, yet on mission now. God will call you home in His good time. So leave that up to Him, and you just focus on Him from now until then. Church, let me remind you, Scripture tells us in Romans 8 that the present sufferings at this time are not worth comparing with the future glory that's to be revealed in us. So whatever you're dealing with, live in light of your eternal home because the best is truly yet to come. So if you have not yet called upon the name of Jesus, my friend, do it here and now. I will be here and I want to say a prayer with you and want to talk to you about next steps But for those of you who have placed your faith in Jesus whether here or in another venue Right now is a time for you to stand and practice as it were For what heaven will be like as we worship together.

So please stand now And let's pray father we come before you here now in the company of friends and saints Father we ask God that you'd fill this place with the power and presence of your spirit, Lord, that we will truly worship you now, for you are worthy. And by it, Lord, give us a glimpse for what eternity will be like. Father, we do stand amazed, amazed of what you've done for us, amazed at what you're calling us into. And so I ask God here and now, by the power and presence of your spirit, you would unite our hearts in the gospel as we lift up praises to our King, our Savior, and his name is Jesus. And it's in his name we pray and everyone said Amen Church, let's worship together.

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