Why I am Looking Forward (Dying to go) to Heaven

Speaker: Pastor Darin Browne

This life we live, everything we see and do, is chapter one in a book that stretches on to eternity. So why study heaven? Because it should change everything about how we live here on earth. It fills us with expectancy and enables us to endure anything, including suffering and loss, without losing heart or losing faith. Paul wrote…

2 Corinthians 4:16-18 (ESV)
So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.

Some of you here are losing heart right now. Life is hard, you’re down, depressed, overwhelmed. But when we take our eyes off our circumstances and place them on Heaven, looking to Jesus, everything changes. Today I want to tell you why I am looking to heaven.

WHY I AM LOOKING FORWARD TO HEAVEN

Jesus told us that we will face persecution. If we stand with Jesus as an ambassador for the King, we will cop it sooner or later…

Mark 10:29-30 (ESV)
Jesus said, “Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house (possessions) or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children (relationships) or lands (income, business or means of employment), for my sake and for the gospel, who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and in the age to come eternal life.

In Australia we are about to face persecution on a scale we have never experienced before, but I’m okay with that because my eyes are on Jesus and Heaven. You never really give up anything for Jesus because He promises to return it all a hundredfold, divided between now and eternity. Don’t expect to receive all your blessings now. Most of your reward is kept for you in Heaven – and it’s a hundred times more than anything you leave behind.
Problem is that everyone wants everything instantly these days. I heard about a microwave TV, so you can watch 60 Minutes in just two minutes.

But God creates your eternal character in a crock pot, not a microwave.

I AM DESTINED FOR ANOTHER PLACE

Most of what people believe about heaven and hell is false, it’s a mishmash of what Hollywood feeds us, and what we glean from YouTube clips. I’ve outlined what the Bible says, but today I want to share with you why I personally am looking forward to dying. This world is not my home, I’m just passing through. I’m destined for another place, no matter what I suffer in this life.

John 16:33 (ESV)
In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

As believers, I imagine our first glimpse of heaven will cause us to gasp in a similar way to what I experienced diving – with amazement and delight. In heaven that first gasp will likely be followed by many more as we continually encounter new sights in that endlessly wonderful place. Heaven will not be boring, it will not be endless church services or harp playing on clouds, it will be stunning, and fascinating, and it’s only the beginning. The new earth will be even better…wow! Though most of us are in no hurry to get to our final destination, many have questions about it. We wonder, we ponder, we are a little scared. To finish up this series, let me answer ten common questions so you will be absolutely certain about heaven.

1: WHAT CAN I GET AWAY WITH ON EARTH AND STILL GO TO HEAVEN?

If you ask this question, you’re asking the wrong question! We are saved by faith, not by what we do, but if we are truly saved, we should want to please God by living a Holy life, not try and get away with sin. If you don’t want to please God, chances are you’re not truly born again. Love isn’t a feeling, it’s an act of the will. Works don’t save you, but they are the evidence of your salvation.

Learning about heaven and the new earth should fill us with expectancy and make us want to make every post a winner in this life. Remember, we are saved by faith in Christ, not by what we do. But what we do reflects our heart, so if we truly love Him, we will want to live a life that pleases Him…

1 John 5:3 (ESV)
For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome.

Remember, what we do will be judged at the Judgement Seat of Christ, not for salvation but for rewards, rewards that will last for eternity. Believers whom God has blessed in the present life but who have been less than faithful with those blessings will find that God flips the script in the age to come. It’s not what you can get away with and still get to Heaven, it’s do you want to live a life that pleases Jesus? If you don’t, chances are you’re not really saved at all.

2: WILL WE MISS OUR OLD LIVES IN HEAVEN?

Have you ever bought an economy ticket for a flight, but because of overbooking, been upgraded to business class? Did you regret the upgrade? Did you spend your time wondering, “What am I missing by not being in the back of the plane?” The upgrade from Earth to Heaven will be vastly superior to that from economy to business class. Everything good from our old lives, will be available to us in heaven in spades. Why? Because we will experience all God intends for us.

2 Corinthians 5:4-5 (ESV)
For while we are still in this tent, we groan, being burdened – not that we would be unclothed, but that we would be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee.

And here is further proof of heaven. God gives us His Holy Spirit as a guarantee, a down payment on our future, heaven in our heart right now. In Greek the word means the first instalment of what is to come…

Ephesians 1:13-14 (ESV)
sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it,

We will miss nothing of our former life; the heavenly life will be spectacular, and much better!

1 Corinthians 2:9-10 (ESV)
“What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him” – these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God.

3: WILL WE BECOME ANGELS IN HEAVEN?

People often say that deceased loved ones, particularly children, become angels when they die.

This is absolutely wrong. Death is a relocation of the same person from one place to another. It’s a change of address, not a change of form. Absent from the body, present with the Lord. We don’t morph into angels, but we will get to hang out with them!

2 Corinthians 5:8-9 (ESV)
Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord. So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him.

4: WILL WE BE TEMPTED IN HEAVEN?

The answer is no. What could tempt us? Innocence is the absence of sin. If God allows sin into heaven, heaven would be hell! John describes our eternal destination…

Revelation 21:27 (ESV)
But nothing unclean will ever enter it, nor anyone who does what is detestable or false, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s book of life.

1 Corinthians 6:9-11 (ESV)
do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.

We’ll never forget the ugliness of sin, however. Having known death and life, we will never want to go back to death. We’ll never be deceived into thinking God is withholding something good from us or that sin is in our best interests. We’ll always know sin’s cost.

The only man-made thing in heaven is the scars in the hands, feet, and side of the Lord Jesus. Every time we see those scarred hands and feet, we’ll remember the cost Jesus paid for us. We’ll see sin as God does. It will be stripped of its illusions and will be utterly unappealing, even totally disgusting!

5: WILL WE HAVE WORK TO DO IN HEAVEN?

Some people believe that work is burdensome, but work should be wonderful and fulfilling. We equate work with effort and strain. Yet Scripture clearly teaches that, like in the original Garden of Eden, we will work…

Genesis 2:15 (ESV)
The LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it.

Work was part of the original plan in Eden. It was part of a perfect human life. God Himself is a worker. He didn’t create the world and then retire to the Bahamas.

John 5:17 (ESV)
But Jesus answered them, “My Father is working until now, and I am working.”

Jesus found great satisfaction in His work, and so will we in heaven. Work will not be hard, draining, or boring, but it will be fulfilling, exciting, and satisfying. It will be enriching, never drudgery, and we will create, accomplish, set goals, and fulfil them – to God’s glory. Have you ever worked and looked at the result and thought, I feel great and fulfilled by what I’ve done. Imagine this feeling of satisfaction on steroids.

6: WILL WE EXPERIENCE EMOTIONS IN HEAVEN?

In heaven we should expect to experience wonderful emotions, because in Scripture, God is emotional. To be like God, to be in His image, is to have and express emotions. People in heaven have lots of feelings – all good ones, all amplified. We’re told of banquets, feasts, laughing, singing and joy!

Luke 6:21 (ESV)
“Blessed are you who are hungry now, for you shall be satisfied.”

“Blessed are you who weep now, for you shall laugh.

Will we cry in heaven? Only for joy, because we get all the pleasant emotions, without the sad ones…

Revelation 21:4 (ESV)
He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”

The tears here are the tears of suffering over sin and death, the tears of oppressed people, the cries of the poor, the widow, the orphaned, the unborn and the persecuted. Such crying will be no more. We might, however, shed tears of joy. Can you imagine joy flooding your eyes as you meet Christ, for example, and as you’re reunited with loved ones?

When I get to heaven, the first person I want to see is Jesus, the One who saved me. But then I want to see those who have gone before me. Those I love, those waiting for me to arrive. I will want to see mine, and you will want to see yours. No more sorrow and no more pain, but universal joy.

7: WILL I HAVE PERFECT KNOWLEDGE IN HEAVEN?

God alone is omniscient. When we die, we’ll see things far more clearly, and we’ll know much more than we know now. But we’ll never everything about everything like God does…

1 Corinthians 13:12 (ESV)
For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.

In heaven we will know fully our relationship with God, we will see things that are at present dark and misty. But that doesn’t mean we’ll be flawless. Not knowing everything isn’t a flaw. It’s part of being finite…

1 Peter 1:12 (ESV)
things that have now been announced to you through those who preached the good news to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven, things into which angels long to look.

Angels are flawless but finite, and we will be the same in heaven. We should expect and long for greater knowledge, as angels do. And we’ll spend eternity gaining the greater knowledge we seek. In every way heaven, and ultimately the new earth, will fascinating and endlessly interesting!

8: WILL WE RECOGNISE EACH OTHER IN HEAVEN?

Scripture gives no indication of a memory wipe causing us not to recognise family and friends. Paul anticipated being with the Thessalonians in heaven. The Bible teaches that in heaven we will not only recognise others, but we will also have a view of what happens here on earth. In heaven we probably won’t fail to recognise an acquaintance in a crowd or forget people’s names. We will know people, and they will know us, and those who have gone before us cheer us on!

Hebrews 12:1 (ESV)
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses (those who have died, who are listed as heroes of the faith), let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,

9: WILL WE BE BORED IN HEAVEN?

People sometimes say, “I’d rather be having a good time in hell than be bored in heaven.” Note the underlying assumption: sin is exciting, and righteousness is boring. Believing in this assumption means you’ve fallen for the devil’s lie.

In reality, sin doesn’t fulfil us, it robs us of fulfilment. Sin doesn’t make life more interesting; it makes life emptier and more miserable. I promise you there’s fulfilment when we see God as He truly is – an endless reservoir of fascination – boredom becomes impossible. If you think sin is fun, try righteousness. No regrets, no looking over your shoulder, no fear or loss or hurt or addiction. In heaven we’ll be filled with joy and eternal pleasures, totally free of sin!

Psalms 16:11 (ESV)
In your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

Heaven will be new, exciting and endlessly fascinating. Imagine the best of this world, mountains, oceans, natural beauty, all amplified beyond comprehension. That’s heaven, and it’s not even our final destination. It gets even better from there! And until then we can experience heaven in our hearts here on earth by the deposit, the Holy Spirit. Serving God is awesome, not boring!

10: IF OUR LOVED ONES ARE IN HELL, WON’T THAT SPOIL HEAVEN?

In heaven we’ll see clearly that God revealed Himself to each person, and that He gave opportunity for every heart to seek and respond to Him. You won’t mourn for decisions other have made, neither should you carry the burden of them.

Revelation 21:4 (ESV)
He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”

Let’s get this right. We all deserve hell; no one deserves heaven. Jesus went to the cross to offer salvation to all, but not every person chooses to accept His free gift. So, share the gospel with those you love now, but always remember that you are not responsible for what they decide…

1 Timothy 2:3-4 (ESV)
God our Saviour, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.

Don’t shoulder responsibility for things you have no control over. In the end, your loved one chooses, not you. Pray for them, tell them the good news, but don’t take responsibility for their decision. If your child becomes a drug addict, love them, support them, but don’t blame yourself, because when old enough it is their decision to pursue drugs, not yours. God is absolutely sovereign and doesn’t desire any to perish, yet many will choose to perish in their unbelief…

Matthew 7:13-14 (ESV)
“Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.”

WHAT SHOULD I TAKE AWAY FROM THIS MESSAGE?

In this series we have explored what the Bible teaches about heaven, hell, and eternity. You can sit here and say, what a nice, interesting message. If you do, then I have failed. This life you now live is chapter one in an infinitely long book. But it is an important chapter because decisions you make now echo through eternity!

I want you to be empowered, to be inspired. You need to know where you are headed to, and I want this to positively affect everything about your life right now. I want you to be inspired to serve the Lord and make the most of the time you have been given. Don’t waste your life, don’t just pursue your own agenda! Fix your eyes…

Hebrews 12:1-2 (ESV)
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses (in Heaven), let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

Last week we made a pledge to be ambassadors for the Kingdom of Heaven. This week I want to talk to those who are finding it tough. If circumstances are clouding your view of heaven, this is for you.

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