Sunday 6th June 2021

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Since Easter we have been focussing on the foundations of our faith - that Jesus lived, died and was raise to life on the third day, and by doing this God not only shows his power over sin and death, he also shows that Jesus is the anointed One (Messiah / Christ), the Saviour who had died for our sins.

Forty days after Easter Sunday, Jesus ascended to the honoured position at the right-hand side of Father God and from there God’s Holy Spirit was poured out on anyone who puts their trust in Jesus as Lord. That’s not the end of what God promises, scripture also tells us that Jesus will one day return and take everyone who has declared him to be their Lord to a place he has prepared for them where they will live a life which never ends!

Read: John 14: 1-6

Let’s consider this place Jesus has prepared for us, the place he will take us to when he returns – Heaven. I’m going to start out by upsetting some of you as I point out that many commonly held views about heaven have no foundation in scripture, but then I hope you will be excited as we consider what scripture does tell us about heaven.

In our bible reading, Jesus promised that he had prepared a place for each of us. Now there are some places we get invited to and we don’t feel at home, we don’t feel we belong. We feel that we need to be on our best behaviour, but the word Jesus uses to describe the place he has prepared for us conveys both sumptuous comfort and homeliness. Jesus has promised that the place he has prepared for us will be both luxurious and a place where we feel at home,

When we read descriptions of heaven in the bible, they never sound very comfortable or homely, but centre around the image of God sat on a throne, receiving praise and worship – for most of us not a very enticing image of how we would enjoy spending eternity. These visions serve the purpose of reminding us who God is - majestic, mighty all-powerful, pure holiness, always worthy of our praise. These visions are also full of symbols which the original readers would have found really helpful, but which we often find perplexing and off-putting.

Please note that none of those biblical images show people on clouds playing harps – the visions often have angels in them - but when we die, we don’t sprout wings and become angels, they are God’s messengers and will serve us in heaven; neither as we arrive in heaven will we be greeted by Simon-Peter checking to see if our names are on a list.

Jesus did say to Simon-Peter that he gives him the keys to the kingdom (Matt. 16: 18) but that was not in the context of appointing him as Heaver’s bouncer. Simon-Peter had just declared that Jesus is the Christ – the Saviour and Jesus is saying that with this declaration Simon-Peter is able to help other people unlock the way for them to enter the kingdom of God.

So, no clouds, harps or wings - no St. Peter guarding the gates to heaven and nothing is said in the bible to make us think that those who have died are looking down on us! In fact, a parable Jesus told makes it clear that there is no contact between the dead and the living (Luke 16: 19-31).

So, perhaps you are left wondering ‘Do I want to go to heaven?’

Let me give you some reasons for looking forward to being in heaven. We will be in the presence of God who is Father, Son and Spirit! And if that isn’t exciting enough God also promises that (Rev.21: 3-4) there will be no crying, no death, no pain, no sadness. Also, in Revelation we are given a picture of a river – the water of life flowing from the throne of God (Rev.22: 1). On either side of this river are trees bearing fruit every month. Now to the original readers of this description, water was very scarce and very precious. Green pastures were highly desirable real-estate, so to these people this is a description of paradise. This scene is depicting a place where all our needs are being met, it is showing us a place where life can be lived as God originally intended us to live it.

From our relationship with God – Father, Son and Spirit, we have already experienced some amazing times of feeling fulfilled and refreshed, so can we trust that the place Jesus has gone to prepare for us will be even better than the best time we have experienced so far in our lives? I hope so! Are you also beginning to see that what lies ahead is far more exciting and delightful than popular images suggest – but these promises only make sense in the context of us having an on-going relationship with Father God and Jesus our Saviour through the ever-present help of God’s Holy Spirit.

Two sets of lyrics to inspire you to thank God for his promises:

When we all get to heaven what a day of rejoicing that will be: When we all see Jesus, we will sing and shout the victory!

(Eliza E. Hewitt 1898)

When we’ve been there ten thousand years, bright shining as the sun, 

We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise than when we’ve first begun.

(John Newton 1725-1807)

Page last updated: 12th June 2021 8:36 AM