How many of you have ever been to heaven? Not one hand. I was going to ask you what it was like. I've never been there either, but how many of you are planning to be there some day? All of you. I want to be there, too. That will be great.
I wish that I could own a time machine! If I could own a time machine I think the first direction I would go would be back to Creation. I would like to see how God did that. I would like to see how God could separate the light from the darkness. Did He light a candle? You know, how did He do that? I would like to see how God took this world and wrung the water out of it and put the dry land over here and the water where it goes. I would like to see how God created the sun and then didn't burn His hands in the process and got away before He got a bad sunburn. We were in Florida this week for a day. It was awful. Florida is good, but the sun. One of the eight laws of health is to avoid to much sun.
I would like to see how God created Adam and Eve. Adam was God's idea of just what a perfect man would look like. And Eve was God's idea of Miss Universe. I'd like to see what they looked like. Wouldn't you? I'd like to be there. I'd like to see what happened during the flood. I'd like to see how Grindstone Mountain across the street actually came up out of Tennessee, and how White Oak Mountain... How did that ridge... How did Sequachey valley... How did all this happen? I'd like to see it. I think it would be so exciting.
And then after my curiosity was temporarily satisfied, I would like take my time machine and go up through Orion and see how far it is up through there. [It is about 1500 light years to the Great Nebula in Orion] until I would reach heaven. I'd like to see if God's workshop is still creating new worlds and placing them out there where I think they ought to be. I'd like to see what heaven is really like. How tall are the angels, anyway? Are they really fifteen feet tall? Do they really depend on wings for flight? I'd like to do some experimentation and see what heaven is really like. What does Jesus look like? Wouldn't you love to see Jesus? And what is he really like? Then I would like to send my time machine back empty so that somebody else, my wife, my family could come and be in heaven. Aw, that's going to be a wonderful place. I just know it's going to be fantastic. I know you're all going to be there. You all can be there. You already have an invitation to be there. You know, we really don't belong here in this planet. We are from the future. We belong to eternity. And I would like to go back to the future, how about you? That's where we belong. We're just temporary citizens here.
In a film about time travel the chief character was asked which direction he would travel in his new time machine, past or future. He said without hesitation: "Future, because I belong to the future". Friends, we belong to the future. Wouldn't you answer the same. Most Christians would climb in and buckle up and zoom off to eternity. That's where we would like to be.
A man died and supposedly went to heaven. When he got there he just couldn't believe how great it really was. It was super special. And he said to his angel, "You know, this place is tremendous. It's ten times better than I ever dreamed that it would be. In fact, if I had known it was this good, I would have tried to get here a long time ago." The angel said, "You would have been here a long time ago if you hadn't eaten all that oat bran that you eat for breakfast every day." Of course, we don't really go to heaven when we die, we die, we perish. Then when we experience the resurrection we all go to heaven together.
Look at 1 Corinthians 2:9, However, as it is written: "No eye has seen, no ear heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love Him. You can't imagine what heaven is like. Your wildest imagination will not do it.
I realize that I must wait until the second return of Jesus when we will all go home together. But it would be nice to go to heaven for just one day, just one hour and see what it is like. I would love to do that. It is hard to imagine what heaven is like when all we've ever lived in is a foxhole. This old world is nothing but a big foxhole in the great controversy. That's all it amounts to. It's nothing special. We live here in the battlefield of the great controversy between Christ and Satan. We're living in our foxholes.
If I could just see Heaven once, what a difference it would make. You know, I've prayed a lot, I'm a visual person. I have prayed dozens of times that God would give me a glimpse of what Heaven is really like. And He hasn't done it. I would love to see a vision of heaven. If only we could see heaven for just one day we would never forget. We would realize that this land is temporary, that we are just passing through.
Isaiah saw a vision of heaven. So did John the Revelator. A lot of people in the Bible saw what heaven was like. Ellen White saw what heaven was like. In her mid-teens she was shown through dreams and visions what heaven was really like. She saw heaven. She saw Jesus' face. She listened to His words. She never forgot His voice. She saw that everything was bright and wonderful. But the vision always ended and she was brought back to this old dark place. It must have been painful to time travel like she did and then have to return to this old dark sin-infested place.
Well, today I would like to take you on a brief trip to heaven. I would like for us to think what it would be like to see heaven. I want to read some things from the Bible that will give us a small glimpse of heaven. What will it be like? Will you like it there? I think we need to keep our sights on heaven because that's where we're going to be. What's it going to be like? Are you going to like it there?
Come with me and try to imagine heaven. Imagine that you arrive there, and your hobby is baseball or something like that. And you get there and there are just acres of pristine baseball fields with the white lines and just beautiful and immaculate and perfect. The grass is a living green. There are containers of brand new bats, tubes of brand new balls, and you are just there. You go to your home and there is a closet of freshly laundered baseball uniforms with your name on them. Could heaven be that real? Can you imagine your mansion in heaven, with your name right in the front of the mansion? It's for you. It's a real place. Heaven is exciting, whatever your hobby is!! If it's quilting, you'll have... You name it. That's what heaven is going to be like.
Now, if all we do is float on a cloud, and play a harp, is that going to be exciting? That's the traditional image. You see all these pictures of people with halos, wings, a long white robe, floating on a white cloud, and playing a harp. That's all you do all day. That would be the most boring place. I want to have a tiger around. I want to do something exciting, you know. What is it going to be like?
Somebody described a saint who had just freshly arrived in heaven. He looked around at the traditional heaven, with the harp and all that. He said, "Boy, I wish I had brought a magazine. This is awful. No internet connection. What am I going to do all day?"
You know, the daily schedule for the traditional heaven would be:
Come over here to Isaiah 65:17, 18 Behold, I will create new heavens and a new earth. The former things will not be remembered, nor will they come to mind. But be glad and rejoice forever in what I will create, for I will create Jerusalem to be a delight and its people a joy. You're going to rejoice in heaven. You're going to be glad when you get to heaven. And then the verse19: I will rejoice over Jerusalem and take delight in my people; the sound of weeping and of crying will be heard in it no more. You're going to be happy when you get to heaven; joyful, exceeding glad and joyful. Four times in this verse you're going to be excited about heaven. It's going to be a place you just can't imagine taking anything from this world to it any more than you can imagine bringing a magazine to Disney World, or a book to read. It's not going to happen. Heaven will be an exciting place.
The sound of weeping and of crying will be heard in it no more. All of the pain and heartache and death will be forever gone. God will remove the bad from life. If all God did was take Tennessee and remove the bad, and give us eternal life so that we would not die, I'd be happy forever. Wouldn't you? I mean, Tennessee is a great place. Life is good. If you don't have any of the bad things, and you get to live forever, I'd just be thrilled with that. But heaven is going to be more exciting than that. He has some special amenities prepared for us.
Do you like camping? When you get to heaven, just imagine the perfect camping sites with breath-taking views. Imagine you can drink right out of any creek. The water is perfectly safe. The grass is a living green, nothing ever dies. The paths are already prepared for you. You're not in danger of tigers. You know, my wife and I have been looking for a place to build our retirement home. And I described it the other day to a realtor: "We want a place with two acres of level land for a garden with rich soil." Now, is that too much to ask for? "We want a panoramic view with a waterfall on a corner of the property and a creek going into a lake on the edge of our property. We want it away from the hubbub of the city and yet just a block from the store." The realtor just stood there. That is what you are going to get when you go to heaven.
In Hebrews 11:16, God calls the place that we're going to be spending in eternity a country. A country. That's what our inheritance is. I read that "The tree of life yields its fruit every month. In every beautiful valley are ever-flowing streams, clear as crystal, and beside them waving trees cast their shadows upon the paths prepared for the ransomed. There are wide spreading plains swelling into hills of beauty. And the Mountains of God rear their Lofty Summits. On those peaceful plains, beside those living streams, God's people, so long pilgrims and wanderers, shall find a home."1 (Great Controversy p.675) That's beautiful to me. That is where I want to live. That's our retirement home.
Look at Isaiah 65:21, 22. They will build houses and dwell in them; You see, one house is already built. That's the house in the New Jerusalem. An then we get to build a house in the country. You can build however you want to. You cna be building it a million years. You can do whatever you want to do. they will plant vineyards and eat their fruit. No longer will they build houses and others live in them, or plant and others eat. For as the days of a tree (the tree of life. You're going to live as long as the tree of life lives, and it will never die. The Japanese beetles can't destroy it. Nothing can destroy it. The tree will live forever and so will you.), so will be the days of my people; my chosen ones will long enjoy the works of their hands. There are going to be numerous fruit trees all around. Fruit beyond your imagination. Tasty, delectable. There will be health and no sickness.
Building activity will be going on all over heaven. "Heaven is a place of interested activity."2 The things we do each day will be very interesting to us. You are going to do something that you enjoy. You will be excited about what you are doing and learning each day. You are going to take your passion to the heights that only a brain with ten times the horsepower that you have now could imagine happening. We are excited about what we are doing.
If we can build a whole house, what else can we do with our hands? We're going to enjoy the work of our hands. Now, if you get to heaven and you have nothing to do, you will be of most people, most miserable. I think there are two keys to joy in life: One is having something to do, and the other is having someone to love. If you don't have either one of those, your life is miserable.
Heaven will be a place of interested activity. God is a constant worker. You can read this in John 5:17. Jesus said to them, "My Father is always at His work to this very day, and I, too, am working." When you get to heaven you're going to have to work. You're not just going to sit around and twiddle your thumbs. You're going to have work to do that will be interesting to you. I've often said, "I've hardly worked a day in my life since I became a pastor because I love what I'm doing and I don't consider it work. I love being a pastor. And you are going top love what you do in heaven.
God enjoys creating things. We were made in God's image; therefore I think you will enjoy creating things when you get to heaven. We aren't going to be a creator, but we are going to make things with our hands. Isaiah 65:22 assures us that (We) will long enjoy the works of our hands.
Harold Zacharias is building that new church down at Georgia/Cumberland Academy. He says, most of the steel is up. He enjoys building things. When he get to heaven he will still get to do things with his hands. You can't go on mission trips to Nicaragua,; everyone will be converted. But there will be something you can do. You can witness to the world. You can witness to the universe. "Every power will be developed, every capability increased. The grandest enterprises will be carried forward, the loftiest aspirations will be reached, the highest ambitions realized. And still there will arise new heights to surmount, new wonders to admire, new truths to comprehend, fresh objects to call forth the powers of the body and mind and soul."3
All through eternity, new things happening all the time. Never boring.
You know, the veil that interposes between visible and the invisible world will be drawn aside and wonderful things will be revealed to the human eye. How many of you see angels right here in our sanctuary? Do you see them? Are they here?
You're going to have better than 20/20 vision. If you have 20/20 when you get to heaven you'll be almost blind. You are going to have fantastic vision. Look at 1 Corinthians 13:12. Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. Fantastic. You eyes are going to see things that only a microscope can see today. Your eyes will be able to see what the most powerful telescope can see today. You're going to have true vision, true hearing. You're going to hear all the frequencies.
All the vast treasures of the universe will be open to our study. We will be free to fly to worlds that are far or near to explore and to vacation with no schedule or limit on money because there wont be any charge cards. Our minds will develop photographic memories. We will all have an IQ of a thousand. And we will never get tired! One Sabbath I saw a young child running and skipping down the hallway. I saw him jump into his mother's arms, and I asked his mother, "What kind of vitamins do you feed your child." She said, "Yes, I wish they'd do the same thing for me, too." We'll all have new life. It'll be wonderful. We'll all have constant perpetual energy.
Once we arrive to the future, we'll be happy there. You might live on a street made of gold. Or, you might live on Silver Lane, or some other place. You're going to enjoy it there. You'll never get tired. You'll be living happily ever after. You'll never be concerned about returning to the past. The evil past is forever gone, destroyed by the power of the last day's fire.
Revelation 21:1-4 says, Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the jew Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Now the dwelling of God is with men, and He will live with them. They will be His people, and God Himself will be with them, and He will live with them. They will be His people and He will be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away." Praise the Lord for that. It's all gone. Everything is brand new.
So where is our time machine? Where do we get one? The answer is, There is a real time machine. It is a real time machine, and you can afford it. The only escape is a person. Jesus is the time machine. Would you buy that? Jesus is the time machine. He is the way. And now you understand why I am fascinated with time machines. Because I'm fascinated with Jesus. I will tell you that Jesus is both your title and your fitness to heaven. And you can afford it because it is found in the free righteousness of Jesus Christ. You can't earn it. You can work a thousand lifetimes and never make the first down payment on eternal life. But it's free.
I have found that all too often in life it is not what you know but who you know. If you want to be hired by some large company, if your daddy is the president, you are going to be hired.
I walked in the Collegedale Exxon the other day and I saw J.B. Underwood's son. Have you ever seen him? He's about that tall. I said, "You're going to be the owner here some day aren't you." He said, "Probably." He knows it. They wouldn't hire me to b the owner. You've got to be a relative. It isn't what you know or not. He knows a lot, I'm sure. It's who you know. You can have the whole Bible memorized. You can be a lifelong pastor, but when it all boils down to it, it's not what you know, it's Who you know. Your eternal future depends on Who you know. In fact, if you're a relative, you've got to be a son or a daughter, a brother or a sister. And you become a relative by accepting Jesus Christ as your Savior. (See John 3:16) That's how you are saved.
You see, heaven is not for sale. No amount of good works can attain it. Heaven will never be for sale. Like the rich estate of a fabulously wealthy person, heaven is going to be kept in the family. So the only way to get to heaven is to inherit heaven from our father.
Matthew 25:34 "Then shall the King say unto those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.'" That is how you are going to get there. You inherit eternal life. By becoming a child of the King. And you can be. All of us can be. You raised your hands a few minutes ago. You said, "Yes, I'm going to be in heaven." I have news for you. That's true if you are a relative. A direct relative of the King. And you can be. Repent. Ask for forgiveness. Trust Him. Accept Him as your Savior. You can be saved. You can be in His kingdom. It depends on your relationship with the King.
So, is this beyond our imagination? It probably is. We can imagine good things about heaven, but I want you to right now focus on being a relative of Jesus Christ. Accept His free gift and respond in love to what Jesus does for you.
1. The Great Controversy Between Crist and Satan, by E.G. White, p. 675.
2.Maranatha, by E.G. White, p. 350.
3.Education, by E. G. White, p. 307.
Hymn of Praise: #34, song Scripture: scripture Hymn of Response: #534,
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last updated March 7, 2005 by Bob Beckett and Eric Koester.