Sermon delivered October 10, 1998

by Pastor Donald J. Gettys

McDonald Road Seventh-day Adventist Church

McDonald, Tennessee

Quotations from the Bible are from the New International Version unless otherwise noted.

Win an Unlimited Vacation

In our Scripture reading, John 14:1-3, you have the first three verses memorized. Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And 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.

The fourth verse we don't think too much about. In the fourth verse, Jesus makes a statement, and He says, You know the way to the place where I am going.

He just assumes they know the way. Do we assume that we know the way? What is the way? The way is Jesus! He is the way. In fact He said, "I am the way." Now, without Jesus we'll never get to heaven. Anything else, you won't even leave this earth, and heaven is a long way from here.

I believe that Jesus is coming very soon. You can see the signs all around. You can flip on the news, they're the signs of the times. And I believe that we don't have much longer.

So, Jesus is coming soon to assemble His saints for the ultimate vacation. You can win a vacation to heaven. It is a Quality trip that is prepaid and unending. I don't ever want to say that that vacation is free, because it was paid with a very expensive price. It's prepaid, it's unending, and the attractions include a tour of the Solar System, milky way and Orion and who knows what else out there on the way to heaven. It's going to be great, and eventually we will get there, and have a thousand year layover, and then we come back down to this earth. What a great vacation that will be. We'll get to see the New Jerusalem. So I want you to come with me and experience what it might be like to spend the first 8 days of this fabulous trip.

Before we go zooming off through the skies there will be bad troubles. This only enhances our anticipation and enjoyment of the soon-to-come inter- planetary expedition. They will help to wake up some who have been sleeping, and they will realize that we don't have much longer. Those troubles are just beginning now. How many of you want to go to heaven? I want to go. I believe we need to be packing our spiritual bags. The anticipation of a vacation is often more enjoyable than the vacation itself. Have you noticed that? But that's not going to be true of heaven. It's going to be beyond your wildest imagination. You're going to do some interplanetary exploration.

Unknown to us and at a time understood only to God, some day, one day the heavenly entourage is going to leave heaven. We won't even know when that will be. They're going to leave and make their way down to this planet. And the second coming machinery gets in full motion. Revelation 1:7 Look, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him;

And so this living cloud consisting of millions of heavenly angels begins to make it's way to this earth. Their destination is our little sinful, self- destructing planet. And we are destroying ourselves. We're black-topping our crop land, we're just killing ourselves. We don't even know it. This brilliant cloud takes several days to arrive here. (Maranatha p. 287) Finally some astute Christian observes a small black cloud in the eastern sky about half the size of a man's hand. (EG White, Early Writings p.15.)

    This tells us at least two things, if you think about it:
  1. The weather will be absolutely clear. - Revelation 6:14 tells it will be clear. The sky will be rolled up like a scroll, perfectly clear weather. And you look out there and you see a small black cloud; that's the only thing on the horizon
  2. It also tells me, because it's in the eastern sky, Jesus coming is not instantaneous. I believe it comes over a period of several days. As the cloud gets closer it gets brighter.

    One reason the small cloud is seen in the Eastern sky is because of the rotation of the earth. Jesus coming is seen in the eastern sky the same as the rising of the Sun or any star.

As the cloud gets closer it gets brighter and brighter. Why it starts out like that, I don't know. It finally gets brighter than the arc of a welder. You can't look at it unless you've been changed in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, and then it's pleasant to you. Finally its base seems to be on fire. A rainbow is eventually seen over the cloud. The cloud is extremely bright. Jesus sits on a throne wearing a golden crown and having a sharp sickle in his hand. (Rev 14:14) Now, I believe this cloud consists of living angels. They are following the person who is flying the cloud down to this world.

I believe the cloud appears either in the spring or the fall. Matthew 24:20 says to pray that your flight will not be on the Sabbath Day or in the winter. I believe that prayer will be answered. So I believe that this small black cloud will be seen in the eastern sky in the springtime or in the fall: one of these two. If Jesus came in the summer, what would be happening in the southern hemisphere? It's winter down there. I believe everybody's prayers will be answered, so I think it's either in the spring or the fall that we see our Lord coming.

From an examination of Job 34:20 it seems that Jesus arrives at Midnight. And since we see this small black cloud, if you think about that, midnight must represent the darkest, midnight portion of the world, where it's dark from the oval office clear on through to everybody's house. Sin everywhere abounding. The darkest hour in history. (See Great Controversy p. 636)

Revelation 16:17-18 says that a great voice is heard saying: "It is Done!" The sound comes from the area of the sky known as "the open space in Orion." [Note: The open space in Orion got it's name from Sir William Herschel, and EG White knew it by that name.] (EG White, Early Writings p. 41. That voice shakes the earth. Islands disappear. HAIL begins to fall weighing a talent.

A talent is just a bit smaller than one cubic foot of water and weighs about fifty-two pounds, avoirdupois. Such a hail stone would be about fifteen inches in diameter. that's a fairly large hailstone. It would take a vertical wind of 520 miles per hour just to hold it up there. You understand how that works. These ice bombs would hit the earth at 500 MPH and they would strike where the wicked are, because, the righteous will be protected.

The surface of the earth is breaking up. Coastal cities that have become wicked like Sodom and Gomorrah are swallowed up by the angry waves that are coming in. [One earthquake of 7.5 off the coast of Papua, New Guinea caused a tsunami that left debris, from inundated villages along the coast, thirty feet up in the trees by the shore. Whole villages were completely destroyed and the only survivors were the people who were already up on higher ground.] The coastal cities that are as wicked as Sodom and Gomorrah are going to be swallowed up by these angry waves. Prison walls are rent asunder and many of God's people therein are set free. (EG White Great Controversy pp. 636-637.)

As the fiery cloud nears we begin to hear singing. For we know that these are our friends coming. It'll be similar to that at the first advent of Jesus birth because people were singing. There was a choir of angels there at Jesus' birth. Habakkuk 3:3,4 His glory covered the heavens and his praise filled the earth. His splendor was like the sunrise; rays flashed from his hand, where his power was hidden. That's an awesome description of the second coming, isn't it?

This splendor, this brightness of the second coming will be wonderful to those who are saved. But to the wicked, they will be fearful. In fact it's painful to them. It's downright killing to them. Revelation 6:15-17 Then the kings of the earth, the princes, the generals, the rich, the mighty, and every slave and every free man hid in caves and among the rocks of the mountains. They called to the mountains and the rocks, "Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb! For the great day of their wrath has come, and who can stand?" Isn't that interesting that they visualize Jesus as being wrathful? And we visualize Him as being a wonderful, kind person. Whenever my mother would approach me, if I did something wrong, I viewed that as a bad thing. But if I did what was right, and my mother was coming, I didn't have any fear at all.

And so we're going to have a CAVE Exchange: The saints who have been hiding for their lives in these caves are going to exchange them with the wicked who want to inhabit that cave at that particular moment. Now they are free to come out and the wicked seek such shelters. Isaiah 2:19 Men will flee to caves in the rocks and to holes in the ground from dread of the LORD and the splendor of his majesty, when he rises to shake the earth.

Now, sin cannot exist in the presence of God. He is too holy. If you bring a holy person like God into contact with sin, and what happens? The sin evaporates. It is consumed. And so, that is basically what happens. His brightness, His holiness will blanket the earth from skyline to skyline. This combined brightness destroys the wicked. At the resurrection of Jesus the resplendent glory of just one angel almost destroyed the guards that were guarding the tomb. Imagine beholding Billions of angels and God Himself as they come near to this earth. All heaven will be emptied of angels. There won't be anybody left up in heaven. (Early Writings, p.110)

Then comes the RESURRECTION. I long for that day. I'm going to see some of my relatives that have been planted in the earth.

It says here in I Thessalonians 4:16, For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. So, that's the first thing that happens: the dead are raised. And if you think about that, that's going to be an exciting moment. We're going to get to see that! The resurrection, the voice of the Life-giver is heard calling forth those who have died in Jesus Christ. You don't want to die unless you're in Jesus Christ. You need to make things right before you die. You never know when that's going to happen. And some of these who have been sleeping in the dust for almost six thousand years, and they are awakened. Back to life, and up they come. Healthy, happy, strong, shining. They're dressed with a robe of light. They are in the same stature that they were in when they died. And so, Adam will be very, very tall. And Don Gettys will be getting ready to get tall. Their last thought was of that pain of that cancer, or that wreck, or that miserable bed in the nursing home. And their very first thought will be of Jesus Christ coming in all His glory. This world has too many pains, and I want to go home.

And when these people come up out of the graves they don't come up as ghosts. They come up with real bodies. Job 19:25-26 I know that my Redeemer lives, (do you know that?) and that in the end he will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet IN MY FLESH I will see God; (It doesn't matter how many years you've been in that tomb. Your skin has been destroyed, your body has melted down, but eventually when Jesus come, you're gong to see Him in the flesh. Verse 27 I myself will see him with my own eyes--I, and not another. How my heart yearns within me!

I Corinthians 15:42-44 says that we will have a spiritual BODY! It will be a body! An Eternal body. I'm glad it's real because I want to partake of the Tree of Life and enjoy the taste of the food. I want a body. I don't want to be a ghost to float on some cloud forever. I want hands that can do something. It won't be like this body that gets sick and pains us so much. No sickness, no pain. A perfect youthful Body. A body that resembles our old one at least for a time because we will recognize each other in heaven, somehow. You'll recognize me. Will you recognize me because the these wrinkles on my forehead? How will we recognize each other? I don't know. I Corinthians 13:12 says we will.

Now at this RESURRECTION, a fun place to be standing would be near a grave of a Christian. There you will see the Earth open up its mouth of dirt and grass and release from that prison-house one of the saints that have been deposited there in faith. Each comes forth a youngster! Eighty year-old people coming up as youngsters! Every sleeping saint will come up. Our guardian angels that have guarded our life will be the very first ones to extend the right-hand of fellowship and greet you and say, "I'm your guardian angel. Won't that be a thrill to meet your guardian angel?

And LITTLE CHILDREN RESURRECTED! Isaiah 11:6 makes this statement: In Heaven, The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat, the calf and the lion and the yearling together; and a little child will lead them. Many of these little ones will wing their way to their mother's arms on this resurrection morning - (EG White, Vol. 2, Selected Messages p.260.) What a wonderful experience that will be!

The angels stand in two long escalating columns. Between these two great choirs, we who are caught up to meet the Lord in the air, we who are translated will ascend on this musical Escalator. (SD 359.) That's going to be quite a sight, isn't it?

I Thessalonians 4:17 After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever.

In a moment in the twinkling of an eye our deformities fade away. Wrinkles will be gone. Stooped backs will straighten up. Hair quickly covers bald heads. Glasses disappear. Disease evaporates, A surge of energy replaces fatigued and weakened bodies. A robe of pure light will jackets each individual. We receive eternal life. Like a brilliant fiery magnet, Jesus comes down and we are caught up to be with them. The entire human race assembled together who were faithful to God. The first time in the universe that this will happen.

Once assembled on this floating cloudy chariot we begin our journey toward the stars. We only have seven days to cover several Trillion miles. Revelation 8:1 When he opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven for about half an hour. In prophetic time where a day represents a year how long would a half an hour be? one forty-eighth of a year: about seven and a half days.

The acceleration: we have a long trip to make, so we're going to accelerate for probably a half a day. I don't know how this would work. There may be time warps, and worm holes, and things. I don't know how it will work. But if we're going from here to heaven, at least where we think heaven is through the open space in Orion, we're going to have to go at a velocity much greater than the speed of light! Probably we're going to be flying at five to ten light years per hour. On either side of the chariot, we are told, there are wings and beneath their wheels. And as it starts to roll upward towards heaven, the wheels sing Holy, Holy, Holy. (See EG White, Early Writings p 35)

The world grows strangely dim like a dead black hole as we leave it in the distance. All human life on planet earth is now gone. Only Satan and his angels are left here. The wicked are unburied among the rubble of this dark devastated planet.

Our heavenly leaders chart a course back to the future. And away we go! They utilize a GPS (Global Positioning Satellite). This is called, Gods Positioning System. Up toward heaven we proceed, which is through the open space in Orion (Known as the Great Nebula in Orion). With our new eyes we can focus in on objects even the humble Hubble telescope strains to see.

Finally we begin to see Heaven itself. We see the golden gates. There is such golden splendor that human intellect has never imagined. It will stimulate our lively stares. A lot of rubbernecking will characterize that moment. We land on the sea of Glass. Jesus (Not Peter) stands at the twelve entrance gates to the celestial city. He calls each of us by our name, both a new name and our present name.

Jesus will place a scintillating sparkling crown on our head with His own right hand. And immediately we will cast it at His feet and it won't break, because nothing will break in heaven. You can't destroy anything. There will be no destruction there. And so the crowns will land at His feet. I think it would be quite a sight to go up to heaven today and see that great crown storage hall with all those crowns lit up, one angel escorting us down through there, and his brilliance sparkling off of those things. They're there. Do you believe they're there? Your crown is there. Don't let somebody else wear your crown.

Jesus lays hold of that gate which is made of one single pearl, and swings it wide open on its glittering hinges. We all march in to our new heavenly home, our grand heavenly mansion. EG White, Early Writings pp. 16-17. "The door of heaven is open to everyone whose heart is open to God."

Revelation 22:14 Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city.

Are your robes of sin washed in the precious blood of the Lamb? Jesus died on that ancient splintery cross, the old rugged cross. Indeed His blood was shed that awful day. It was shed to wash away our sins.

Isaiah 1:18 "Come now, let us reason together," says the LORD. "Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.

Jesus wants to wash away the sin of my life, the sin of your life. Everyone who enters the gates of Heaven does so courtesy of Jesus. You can't earn that vacation. You can't pay for that vacation. You can't sweat blood and earn a drop of that vacation. Admission to paradise is complimentary. In fact this entire vacation I have been trying to describe is free of any and all charges. It is to be given away only to Jesus' immediate family. All the rest are barred from receiving it. You have to be His immediate family, in fact, you must be one of His children or His brother or His sister And I believe that in the last days we're either children of God or we're the children of the devil. I John 3:10 tells us that. You can win a free lifetime vacation that lasts an eternity by coming to Jesus and receiving Him as your Savior, and acting like you're in love with Him, being in love with Him.

You know, if I'm in love with Jesus I'm going to hang around Him. Don't you tell me that if you skip church you're in love with Jesus. Don't you tell me that you don't have time to read your Bible. "I'm in love with Jesus, but I just don't have anything to do with Him." Would that make sense? If we're in love with Jesus, we're going to do something about it. We're going to get excited about Him. We're going to pray to Him. We're going to read His Scriptures. We're going to assemble with His saints because these are the people that you're going to heaven with.

John 14:6 Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me."

So, I want to urge you today to prepare to go to heaven by accepting Jesus. A lot of people go down here to the cemetery and they make pre-arrangements. They purchase their cemetery lots before they die. They go to the funeral home and make all the arrangements. They pick out the casket, and yet they don't prepare for eternal life. What are we thinking about? Let's put first things first!

Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. The way to heaven--turn right at Calvary and keep going straight.

Are you interested in going to heaven? You get your flight instructions right here in the Bible. "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16

When you begin to eat the fruit of the tree of life you will be a symbol there at the river. Shall we gather at the river? Yes, very soon we'll gather at the river where the saints have desired to be for all their lives. Where the bright angel feet have trod. With its crystal tide forever flowing from the throne of God. And that river belongs to Jesus' children.

Poem (Hymn 433 in SDA hymnal)

Ten thousand times ten thousand, in sparkling raiment bright,
Armies of ransomed saints throng up the steeps of light.
'Tis finished, all is finished, Their fight with death and sin,
Fling open wide the golden gates, and let the victors in.

What a rush of hallelujahs fills the heavens and sky,
The ringing of a thousand harps proclaims the triumph high.
O day for which creation and all its tribes were made!
O joy, for all its former woes, a thousand-fold repaid!

O then what raptured greetings on Canaan's happy shore!
what knitting of severed friends where partings are no more
Eyes with joy shall sparkle, that brimmed with tears of late
Orphans no longer, nor fatherless, nor widows desolate.

Opening Hymn: 341 To God be the Glory
Scripture:   John 14:1-3
Closing Hymn: 432  Shall we gather at the river?


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