Picture of Pastor Gettys

Sermon delivered March 4, 2006 by Pastor Donald J. Gettys

McDonald Road Seventh-day Adventist Church

McDonald, Tennessee

Biblical quotations are from the New International Version NIV unless otherwise noted. Divine pronouns and titles are capitalized.

Heading for Heaven

(RealAudio Version available)

The ancient Egyptians invested major quantities of time and energy planning for the future life. Millions of people and even animals, and even insects were mummified as a preparation for the next life. Wrapped up in Hieroglyphics and in-coffined in enormous vaults, each was buried in hopes of eternal life. Where are these mummies now? Nineteenth century European travelers exploring Egypt sent home reports of household roofs thatched with mummies. Many mummies were ground up and used as Fertilizer. Millions of mummies were used in place of scarce timber for Egypt's wood-burning steam locomotives. What a far cry from the original destiny planned by the embalmers.1

Almost every religion rightly teaches that death is not the ultimate end. But almost all go wrong with their belief that we can prepare for eternity through our own efforts. We can't. New Age philosophies offer elaborate schemes on how to achieve eternal life or how to manage your reincarnation. Muslims teach that everlasting life is guaranteed to all suicide bombers. Does it depend on how many people you kill? Does it depend on how well you were mummified? Are you heading for heaven. All those people in Egypt thought they were heading toward the afterlife. How do you know you're headed for heaven? I thin ktat depends on our proper choices that we make today.

Someone asked a Christian man how old he was. He answered, "I am on the right side of 70." They found out that he was 75. They asked how that could be the right side. He said " Because it is the side nearest heaven which is my blessed home." How do you know if you're headed for heaven? I'd like to list several steps today.

1. DON'T LOVE THIS WORLD TOO MUCH. This world is not our home. You are not on your way to Heaven if you consider your present address your permanent address. I Peter 1:1. To God's elect, strangers in the world. God's elect are strangers in the earth. We re just strangers here. Even if we have lived here all our life, we are only temporary residents here in Tennessee. Don't pound down your stakes too securely. Look at 1 Chronicles 29:15. This attitude has been in existence throughout most of the Bible. In 1 Chronicles, 29:15 David said, We are aliens and strangers in Your sight, as were all our forefathers.

And you can read this in Hebrews 13:14 (God's Word Translation) We don't have a permanent city here on earth, but we are looking for a city that we will have in the future. In fact, the only REAL estate is in heaven. Hebrews 11:9. By faith (Abraham) made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise.

You see, your long range sights must be constantly set in the far distance because heaven is your home. The New Jerusalem is your home town. We are mere nomads upon this dusty sin- infested place.

In heaven there is a crown which nobody's head but yours can ever wear. In heaven there is a harp that has your name on it. It will be silent until your fingers strike its strings. In heaven there is a mansion with your name on the mailbox. There is a robe tail-made exclusively for you. Without you, heaven would be incomplete. Look at Hebrews 11:40. ... only together with us would (those listed in this chapter, the saved of Hebrews 11) be made perfect. They won't be made perfect without us. Jesus Christ does not have all the jewels in his crown; not until they are all made up. And you are one of those jewels. Heaven is waiting and watching for us. So, make sure you are there.

2. KEEP FOCUSED ON HEAVEN. I wish that we, like Moses, we could get a good view of the promised land, of Heaven. Have you ever actually seen heaven? I have prayed that I might see heaven. I have prayed that I might just get a glimpse of heaven and what heaven is like. It would be so exciting. I have never been given that glimpse. Oh, I can see glimpses through the bible and the writings of Ellen White and things like that, but Moses actually got to see the promised land. It had been the goal of his life. In fact, he had his eyes firmly fixed on a city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God.2 That's what he focused on. It must have been a thrill for Moses to climb up to the top of Mount Nebo. [Actually, the mount of Abarim has two peraks, one is Mount Nebo and the other is Mount Pisgah. The two peaks are separated by a shoulder.] From there he could look out all over the promised land. He was 120 years old when he climbed up there.3 Deut 32:48-50 says that he was a a hundred and twenty years old. Do you suppose you will be climbing a mountain when you are a hundred and twenty? Will you still be able to do it?

Mount Pisgah is not a small mountain. It's three thousand feet above sea level. How did Moses climb that mountain? He died up there. He must have died of a heart attack in climbing the mountain, I suppose. How could he do that? I don't know. It must have been a thrill. He viewed the promised land from up there. And I don't think he died from a heart attack. How could an old 120 year-old man climb a mountain, Mount Pisgah, three thousand feet abouve sea level? Well, the Dead Sea is at the foot of this massive. In fact it is almost a mile from the surface of the Dead sea to the top of where Moses was. How did he do that on the day of his death? You have to realize that he was on the east side of the River Jordan, of that valley. And if you look at any map of Palestine, you will see a bright red running north through the desert where Moses was. It's called, 'The King's Highway.' It's about three thousand years old. All Moses had to do was walk up the gentle slope up to the drop-off. He could look down three thousand feet. He didn't have to climb up the face. So, you se, that's how that happened. When you're in the east looking west, about all you see is a gentle slope. When you're in the west, looking east you can see a big mountain. I wish that we, like Moses, could get a glimpse of the promised land. I think it would change our lives. We would never be the same. Fortunately, if you study the Bible, it gives you a glimpse of the promised land. Probably it is best that we don't get too much a glimpse. We're sort of like a boy sitting there with his bowl if spinach while on the other end of the table there is a big chocolate cake. I guarantee you that that boy is going to have a rough time eating his greens while his eyes are fixed on that cake. And I think that if we saw too much of heaven, if God explained everything to us, I think that we'd have a rough time with our spinach down here.

come to II Corinthians 4:18 in your Bible. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. Now, how do you focus on something that is unseen? How many of you can see something that is unseen? Isn't that sort of strange? Philip Yancey defines this type of faith as: "Believing in advance in something that will only seem logical when seen in reverse." It's very hard. You have to focus in spiritual things with your mind.

To know that you're headed for heaven or not, you need to 3. BECOME A CHILD OF GOD. If you are a child of God, you're headed for heaven. Look at Colossians 1:12. Giving thanks to the Father, Who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light! How do we get the kingdom of light? We inherit it. Children of Jesus inherit heaven. You have to be a child to inherit something from your daddy or from your mother. Children inherit things. Good parents give something to their children. They also give something to God, to the church, but they keep their children in mind. Children of Jesus inherit heaven. Years ago God promised Abraham that his seed would inherit the earth. He was not talking about direct lineage. He was not talking about genetic things. He was not talking about nationality or race. Galatians 3:29 makes it clear who Abram's seed will be: If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise. If you are a child of God, you are an heir. You're going to inherit heaven.

I can't Imagine Heaven without Christ. It would be like a big banquet feast without food. Heaven without Jesus would be like seeing without light, a sea without water, or the night sky without its stars. Jesus is the joy of Heaven. If you belong to Christ then you are heading for heaven! You will inherit eternal life. If Jesus is the love of your life you will inherit eternal life.

It can never be earned even by large quantities of good works. Ephesians 2:8,9. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith--and this is not from yourselves: it is the gift of God not by works, so that no one can boast. Heaven will be Inherited by God's children. If you are a child of Jesus you will soon live in heaven.

What type of people will be there? Come over to Galatians 5. They are going to be loving. You are not going to have to lock your doors. You are not going to have a burglar alarm. They are going to be trustworthy. They are going to be good people. They are going to exhibit the fruits of the Holy Spirit. Galatians 5:22-26, But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desire. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other. The New Living Translation says, "Let us not irritate one another. You're not going to be irritable when you get to heaven. You're going to be easy to get along with. You're going to be kind.

Those who are heading to heaven will crucify the natural tenancies that all of us have of lashing out at others. We will be kind and tender hearted and forgiving.

You are not heading to Heaven if your eyes are feasting on the sins of this world. You are not heading to Heaven if your feet are carrying you or others away from Jesus. You must walk your talk. No one can stand at this pulpit and speak words of love and kindness and yet walk out the church door and hurt people that Jesus died for. You are not heading to Heaven if your voice sings hymns of praise today but deliberately cuts down a child of God tomorrow. The New Jerusalem will not be your home.

Matthew 25:40. We apply this text to many things. "The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did it for me.'" Think about that verse. If we hurt one of Jesus' children we hurt Jesus. Whagtever you do to one of the least of those you do to Jesus.

4. BE CHANGED BY GOD'S POWER. If you are allowing the power of God to change you. You know, the wicked do not inherit Heaven. They only receive the wages they have earned. The wages of sin is death. Look at 1 Corinthians 6:9-11, Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. Are they like that now? No! But they were like that but now they're changed.

Your past may have left a trail of embarrassment to God but that cannot continue if you are truly headed for heaven. What if you Have hurt someone? If so go to them and ask forgiveness. Apologize. Make things right. I have a feeling that God will not take two enemies to heaven where they might be neighbors.

5. EXAMINE YOUR LIFE. To know which direction we are headed, we must examine our life. When I fly I check my bags all the way through to my final destination. Whoever sees that tag knows the destiny of that bag. What do others see in you? Are you becoming steadily more like Jesus or are you more selfish? Can others see Jesus in you? Treat others like Jesus would you.

One day the Pharisees drug a woman caught in sin to Jesus. (John 8:1-11.) They threw her at His feet asking permission to stone her. Was stoning the right thing to do? Yes! She was guilty. But what did Jesus do? Jesus treated her with kindness. Jesus forgave her. Jesus said, "Go and sin no more." Sometimes it is more important to be kind than to be right. I don't want to be known as Mr. Right more than I want to be known as Mr. Kind.

Jesus treated her with kindness. Jesus treats us like that. Jesus treats us better than we deserve. Jesus seeks not to condemn but to save. Let us be ever so slow to condemn. "Those who are forward in accusing others and zealous in bringing them to justice are often in their own lives more guilty than they."4 Those who are headed for heaven will be more and more like Jesus. We will be slow to censure and quick to forgive. We are never going to experience perfection, but we should experience growth.

John Newton said, "I am not what I ought to be. And I am not what I wish to be. And I am not what I hope to be. But by the grace of God I am not what I was." There ought to be some growth. They ought to be able to see some spiritual growth in your life if you're heading to heaven.

Are you heading for Heaven? It is so easy to get turned around. Several years ago we went to Atlanta to see the Olympics. The traffic was so thick. We didn't know where to get off the freeway. Finally we came to our exit and got out of all that mess. Then we began to realize that we had taken the wrong exit. We were headed away from the Olympics. Have you ever been lost in the big city? It's tough. Don't ever drive in Washington DC. It was laid out by a drunk snake, I think. So, what do you suppose we did? We just simply made a U-turn and headed back. If your life is going the wrong direction, what should you do? Do an about-face. If you have drifted from the path of Jesus don't be embarrassed to do a U-turn. Repent before it is too late.

Never give up. You can tell if you are on the road that leads to Heaven, its uphill. Stay on it. It will lead you to Jesus. 1 Peter 1:4,5 (NLT). For God has reserved a priceless inheritance for his children. It is kept in heaven for you, pure and undefiled, beyond the reach of change and decay. And God, in his mighty power, will protect you until you receive this salvation, because you are trusting him. May God help us to always stay on the path to eternal life. Are you headed to heaven? I think, 'Yes.' Stay on that path. Stay close to Jesus.


Endnotes:

1. 2001 Youth Specialties, Inc.

2. Hebrews 11:10.

3. Deuteronomy 32:48-50.

4. Desire of Ages, by E.G. White, p.462.


Steps toward heaven:

1. Don't love this world too much.

2. Keep focused on heaven.

3. Become a child of God.

4. Be changed by God's power.

5. Examine your life.


 Hymn of Praise: #227,  Jesus Shall Reign
Scripture:  Romans 8:12-17
Hymn of Response: #316,  Live Out Thy Life Within Me
DJG193



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