Today Pastor Choi explains what is Heaven, who is going to be there and who’s not, what is going to be there and what’s not, what we are going to do in Heaven, and so forth. Heaven, the eternal home of God and the saints in Christ is worth being in for eternity and Jesus is the only way to Heaven.
Following is a summary of the sermon:
Heaven Revelation 21:1-4
Revelation 21:1-4 New American Standard Bible (NASB)
The New Heaven and Earth
21 Then I saw a new Heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and there is no longer any sea. 2 And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them, 4 and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.”
Let me begin with three short stories on Heaven. In fact, these are the actual conversations that I had with my daughter when she was four years old. I remember the first day when she ever asked me about Heaven. She asked me if Heaven was big. “Yes,” said I. Then, she asked, “This big?” as she stretched out her arms.
The next night, at her bed, we had our second conversation on Heaven as follows:
S: Dad, are there papers and crayons in Heaven? K: Yes.
S: Then, I will draw a rainbow picture and show it to Jesus.
S: Dad, how many angels are in Heaven? K: Many.
S: Can I wear my jammies in Heaven? K: I think so. Maybe, you can even ask Jesus to put a rainbow sticker on your jammies.
S: I will ask him to put a moon sticker on your jammies, a star sticker on mom’s, and a bunny sticker on mine.
S: Dad, are there trees, too? K: Yes. In fact, there is a tree in Heaven that bears twelve different fruits such as pear, apple, watermelon, pineapple,… (I listed the fruits she knew of).
S: What about crackers, dad? K: Honey, trees don’t make crackers. Crackers are made in factories. In Heaven, there are no tears,…..You once in a while get sad and cry, don’t you? But, there will be no crying in Heaven. There will be no sickness. You get sick sometimes, right? You get aches in your knees, you get stomach-aches, itchy eyes, and so on…but there will be no such things in Heaven. I even think that Jesus will play with you along with angels. Maybe there will be a swing set, too.
S: How do you hang the swings in the air? (no ground to support the set)
K: Maybe the angels will hold them in their hands.
S: Are there animals in Heaven? Or is there a heaven for animals?
K: Of course.
S: I don’t like lions, though.
K: No mean or scary lions will be there. Rather, only nice and gentle ones like those in Daniel’s story. There will be nice tigers and nice alligators, too. I even believe that in Heaven there will be drawing chalks of all colors and even bubbles to blow.
S: Dad, how do I get to Heaven?
K: You will go when you die. To die means to leave this world to be with Jesus. For example, when mom and dad get old, God will call us to Heaven to be with Jesus.
S: What about me?
K: You will grow up to 20, 30 years old, then get married, become a mother, and live with your baby. And when Jesus calls you to be with Him, then you can come to Heaven.
S: Dad, I want to die soon!
K: (deeply touched) Good night, darling. (The following morning, she drew a Heaven picture).
Six days later, she asked me one more time about Heaven.
S: Dad, how many balls are there in Heaven? One, two, ….., a thousand balls? Does Jesus have a ball, too? Where do they keep all those balls? I know, they keep them in the closet, right?
Through these conversations, I believe, I had covered most of Heaven. Now, that’s what we are going to think about this morning. It is sad that we don’t preach or teach on this subject in the church often (E.g. Betty, a life-long member of church in her 80s, once told me that she never heard a sermon on Heaven until she heard me preaching on Heaven). Maybe, some preachers don’t take it seriously or treat it like a myth (in other words, nothing after physical death). More likely, many of us are unsure what is Heaven like, therefore, treat it like Steve Jobs did “50-50” hoping to be in there somehow if there is one.
Now, before I proceed, I must admit that in the conversations with my daughter I added my own version and wishes on Heaven such as animals, balloons, blowing bubbles, swing set, chalks, balls, and even wearing jammies with stickers on. So, let’s set aside all our pre-conceptions and wishes, and closely incline our ears to what the Bible actually says about Heaven. Here is a brief summary of the biblical accounts of Heaven.
First of all, what is Heaven? The Oxford dictionary defines, “home of God and the saints.” I think it’s a pretty accurate definition. However, I would like to add “eternal” to its definition. Heaven is the eternal home of God and the saints in Christ. It is our final destination that God has prepared for us (Hebrews 11:16). He is the architect and builder of Heaven (Hebrews 11:10). It is the kingdom where our Heavenly Father is the King (Matthew 5:16), and we His children will be citizens therein (Philippians 3:20). We will reign with Christ for eternity (Revelation 22:5). Of course, angels will be with us.
Who enters Heaven? Nothing unclean will enter it, nor anyone who practices abomination or falsehood (Revelation 21:27). Divine selection is made: only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life (Revelation 21:27, 22:14). Only those who are born again (John 3, esp. v. 15). I will elaborate on this later.
Now, here’s the list of the things we will see in Heaven. First, the tree of life that will bear twelve kinds of fruit, producing its fruit each month, and its leaves will heal the nations (Revelation 22:2). Next, we will have the New Jerusalem, the holy city that is made of precious stones (its foundations and walls) and whose streets are made of pure gold (Revelation 21:18-21). It will have twelve gates. Also, there will be the river of the water of life that flows from the throne of God through the middle of the street of the city (Revelation 22:1-2).
Here, let me briefly mention the dimension of the New Jerusalem where our future dwellings will be. The Bible says it is a cube, having six equal square sides. Its length, width, and height are equally 1, 500 miles. Forgetting about the height, the flat side alone, the area is 2.25 (two and a quarter) million square miles. One square miles is 640 acres. So, 2.25 (two and a quarter) million square miles is 1.44 billion acres. How wide is that? To most of us, it is mind-boggling and beyond our comprehension. So, let me compare that size with something tangible. Now, think of the entire US territory. It is 3.54 (three and a half) million square miles. So, 2.25 (two and a quarter) million square miles is about 63.6 % (about 2/3) of the US territory. In other words, it is about the combined size of 38 states east of Colorado River (east of Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, and Arizona).
Now, what about the things we won’t see in Heaven? First of all, there will be no sea, no light of lamp (no electricity), no sun or moon (God is the light), and there will be no night (Revelation 22:5). There will be no Temple, because God will be the Temple (Revelation 21:22). There will be no closed gates in Heaven. No curse (Revelation 22:3), no tears, no death, no sorrow, no crying or pain will be there, either (Revelation 21:1-4). No more Satan. No more devils or evil spirits. And, there will be no people of low character (the Bible calls them “dogs”–cf. Philippians 3:2), no cowards, no sorcerers, no fornicators, no murderers, no idolaters, and no liars (Revelation 21:8, 22:15).
What about the kind of body we will have in Heaven? It is called the resurrection body or spiritual body (1 Corinthians 15) something very similar to Jesus’ resurrection body that would transcend time and space. In other words, our body won’t be restricted by any physical obstacles (John 20:19, 26).
Are we going to eat or drink in Heaven? Other than Jesus’ statement on drinking wine in Heaven again with his disciples (Matthew 26:29), the Bible is silent on this.
What are we going to do in Heaven? The Bible says that we will serve, worship, and praise God for eternity (Revelation 22:3, 4:1-11). The Heavenly worship is going to be awesome and awe-inspiring unlike earthly worship. In Heaven all nations and tribes will worship God according to their unique cultural styles (Revelation 5:11, 21: 24-26).
Now, a word of caution. Some of us have heard or read about Heaven through different sources (books, tapes, personal experiences, and so on). You must test all those stories and testimonies against the Bible. If they are in agreement with the Bible, then keep them. If not, don’t take it as truth, because you don’t want to establish your faith on something that is not absolutely true or attested over time. Even Paul the Apostle who himself went to the third Heaven and tasted what it’s like to be in Paradise wouldn’t elaborate much on that. Rather, he simply said that the glory in Heaven is so great that no human sufferings are worth comparing with that (Romans 8:18). In other words, Heaven is the place worth being in for eternity.
The real question for us, then, is whether we will be there or not, right? There is only one condition we must satisfy. To be washed of our sins with Jesus’ blood (Revelation 22:14). For our names to be written in the Book of Life. To be born again. That means, we sincerely believe Jesus as our Savior and obey Him as our Lord. Be careful here. Believing in Jesus never means a mere intellectual understanding of what Jesus has done on the cross. Even the evil spirits believe in God (James 2:19). Rather, faith in Christ must include sincere repentance of your sins and living a life worthy of God’s name and keeping God’s commandments (Matthew 7:21). It would be very foolish of us to assume that God will get us into Heaven with our words of confession in Jesus alone when we never do what He commands us to do in our daily lives. Those who do not keep God’s commandments will be disillusioned on the Last Day.
This is my prayer for all: I pray that every one of us would be in the presence of God forever. I cannot wait to be in Heaven!