There seems to be a significant amount of indifference toward the glory of our future. There is minimal interest in what God has prepared for them that love Him and a whole lot of preoccupation with how Jesus is supposed to fix life here and make it idyllic. That is really not what the Bible promises us at all. Our great hope is ahead of us in the glory of heaven. And we’ve been talking about the doctrine of glorification and we’ve talked about the doctrines of salvation, we’ve gone through a whole lot of things. In fact, we started backwards, didn’t we? We started with the perseverance of the saints and we backed our way into the great doctrines of our salvation.
And then we came out the other end talking about the doctrine of justification, that declaration by God in which He states that we are no longer guilty. We are no longer to bear the punishment of our sin, that sin having been borne by Christ on the cross and His very righteousness imputed to us by faith. That is the great doctrine of justification which delivers us from the penalty of sin.
We’ve talked about the doctrine of sanctification which is the second phase of salvation by which through the power of the Spirit and the granting of regeneration and a new nature we are no longer under the dominion of sin but we are slaves of righteousness. We heard that testified to tonight, new appetites, new longings, new desires, new hungers, new love for the truth, love for the Word. Those are the elements of our ongoing salvation which is sanctification.
But the end of it all and the purpose for which it all is designed by God is our eternal glorification. It’s about what God has prepared for them that love Him in the glory of heaven. And as I said, we live in a time today when even among Christians there is not a great amount of interest in the future. There is a kind of fascination with the future in a – an even obvious preoccupation with fantasies that talk about the earthly future and the interesting and amazing events that might happen on this earth. But it seems to end at that point and very little interest seems to be there in regard to heaven. That’s if you’re in this society. If you’re in the Third World, if you’re somewhere in a remote part of this world where life is very difficult, there’s an intense interest and eagerness for heaven.
So we’ve been talking about glorification. We’ve been talking about the future for believers. Science comes out of the dissecting room, scalpel in hand, to report its failure to find anything in the human organism that bears the mark of immortality. No surgeon has sliced anybody open and found the immortal soul, eternal spirit. That immortal spirit, that true person no scalpel has ever laid bare, nor will it, no microscope has ever seen. It has no material components, yet it exists and it is sovereign and it conducts itself sovereignly over all matter. That spirit thinks, that spirit reasons, that spirit plans, it wills, it loves, it hates, it hears, it sees, it enjoys, it feels, it suffers and it has the ability to reach into the realm of matter and subdue it to all of those purposes.
It is the spirit that uses the mechanism of the body to think and to feel and to speak and to act. It is the spirit of the man that uses the brain and uses the senses and uses the muscles and uses the limbs and uses the faculty. It is that spirit in which the brain has no real part, for it will die; in which the senses have no real part for they will disappear; in which the muscles and the limbs and the faculties of the body have no part. It is that living spirit that is forever, immaterial, un-discernable, invisible and real, part of what it means to be created in the image of God who is that eternal spirit.
It would be as ridiculous to say that God does not exist because He cannot be seen as it is to say that you do not exist because that which is your true self is invisible. Every living person is an eternal soul. Every living person is an eternal spirit. The operative word there is eternal. Everyone who has ever lived will always live; no one goes out of existence. Everyone whom God has created is eternal. We are all designed to live forever and will indeed. It is God, Zechariah said, chapter 12 verse 1, who “forms the spirit of man within him.” And that spirit of man is an everlasting spirit, everlastingly self-conscious, everlastingly able to reason and think and feel and understand, everlastingly alive.
It is “the spirit of a man,” Job 32:8 says. “it is in the spirit of the man that the breath of the Almighty has given understanding.” This is self-consciousness, this is understanding. To be a human being is to have self-consciousness. It is to exist and know you exist, it is to think and know you think, it is to reason and know you reason and why you reason and to what you reason. It is to feel and know you feel, it is to love and know you love, it is to hate and know you hate. That’s what self-consciousness means. And that will never change.
None of us will ever go into an unconscious state. None of us will ever go into some kind of condition of soul sleep in which we feel nothing, think nothing, reason nothing, have no idea about what is reality around us. In 1 Corinthians chapter 2 in verse 11 Paul says, “Who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him.” We are self-conscious. It is the spirit of a man that knows what’s in the man. It is that immaterial part of you, that part of you that is not matter, that is not visible, that cannot be seen that is conscious of its very existence and conscious, as well, of its opportunity to use the physical faculty to express itself. We are eternal spirits. Every one of us will live consciously forever.
When Job asked the question in Job 14:14, “If a man dies, shall he live again?” The answer is, of course, yes, a resounding yes. You will live forever, everyone will live forever. There have been through the years philosophers who spoke and wrote on this. I remember reading one of the earlier presidents of Yale University who had the idea that there had to be an afterlife because there was the tug of the afterlife in the human spirit. And he described it as if it were a blind boy flying a kite and though the blind boy couldn’t see the kite, he could feel the tug of the string in his hand as the wind pulled against the kite.
And he said, “Every mortal being feels the tug of immortality, else how can you explain why the Egyptians made solar boats so people could float across the mystic river into the next life, or why Indians buried their braves with their ponies so they could ride through the happy hunting ground, or why the Greeks put a silver coin in the mouth of someone who died so they could pay their fare across the river of death into the land of life? There is the sense of immortality that tugs at the soul.
But there’s more than that, there’s the testimony of the Word of the living God. And this is absolute, this is not something that is some kind of indefinable tug, this is fact as articulated by God Himself. In John chapter 5 is a good place to look at this, very familiar verse. “Do not marvel at this. An hour is coming in which all who were in the tomb shall hear His voice and shall come forth.” Everybody who has ever died and whose body has now disintegrated into whatever location, be it earth or sea, everybody will hear the voice of the Son of God – the Son of Man in this text – “and come forth, some to a resurrection of life, others to a resurrection of judgment.” But in both cases, it is a resurrection. So that – we’ve already spoken of this – not only is the soul eternal but that soul will be accommodated in its eternal existence by a resurrection body.
There will be in the future at the return of Christ at the time of resurrection a body joining the soul of all the redeemed, the spirits of just men “made perfect,” as Hebrews 12 says, now in heaven will receive at that time a body to go with that already perfected spirit in which they will then serve the Lord forever in the eternal state. Same with the unredeemed. They will receive a body fitted for the eternal Lake of Fire which is the final form of hell into which they will be cast at that time in the future. We will live forever. We will all live forever.
We will all live forever consciously, self-consciously aware of our surroundings and aware of our response to those surroundings and we will all live forever with a body suited for our surroundings. In the case of those who are raised to life, there will be a body like the resurrection body of Jesus Christ that can absorb all the glories of eternity and manifest our eternal spirit through that glorified bodies in – body in praise and in service and in communion with God and all the redeemed. To those who are given a body fit for hell, it will be a body suited to feel the agonies of that eternal judgment.
Here we are in earth and Randy Alcorn said this, “Earth is an in-between world touched by both heaven and hell. Earth leads directly into heaven or directly into hell, affording a choice between the two. The best of life on earth is a glimpse of heaven. The worst of life is a glimpse of hell. For Christians this present life is the closest they will come to hell. For unbelievers it is the closest they will come to heaven.” And so we will live forever.
We will also talk about reprobation. We will talk about what awaits those who do not know God. What awaits those who will be punished for their own sins forever. But we’re talking in this study about glorification. We’re talking about the future for those who are saved, who have been justified, are being sanctified and will be glorified. We’ve talked about all the elements of that salvation which secures our future glory. The doctrine of perseverance, the doctrine of security, and all of that. And in the last couple of discussions about our future salvation, we have been kind of launched from 1 Peter chapter 1. This little phrase, “Fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” Live your life fixed on the future.
Another way of saying that is Colossians 3, “Set your affections on things above and not on things on the earth.” Another way of saying that, the words of the apostle Paul, very wonderful words which really summed up his whole approach to life, “This one thing I do,” – I love it when people can reduce it to one – “forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” I live with a view to being called up face to face with the Lord Jesus. I live with a heavenly perspective.
That’s what we’re to do. We’re to live with a fixed hope. We’re to live in the light of hope. Let the things that happen in this world fall where they will. They are not worthy to be compared with that glory which awaits us. The sufferings of this life are trivial, they are meager, they are insignificant compared to the weight of glory. And we’ve talked about all that which God has for us in His presence.
Now that brings us to the remaining issue of when we get there. We’ve gone through two studies already to get us there. Now that we’re there, what’s it going to be like? What will heaven be like? And I don’t have any inside scoop on this, folks. All I know is what the Bible says. But there’s a lot more there than maybe you thought on the surface. Let’s ask a few questions.
Number one, what will be our relation to other occupants of heaven? What will be our relation to other occupants of heaven? What about angels? What’s going to be our relationship to angels when we get there? Look at Hebrews chapter 12, and we’re going to do a little bit of a Bible study here. I’m not going to linger long on any text because I have about a hundred of them here and that would be too long. But if you will remember Hebrews chapter 12 which we read in our Scripture reading this morning, you will remember that when we come to “the city of the living God,” – verse 22 – “when we come to the heavenly Jerusalem, we come to myriads of angels as well as the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, the spirits of just men made perfect.”
When we come to heaven we come to the dwelling place of the holy angels, the elect angels, as Scripture calls them. We will then, first of all, fellowship with angels. They are eternal spirits. They do not have bodies in heaven. They are given bodies on occasion on earth for certain functions of interfacing with people. When God needed to give angels bodies, He gave them bodies so that they could be seen or could carry out their responsibilities in some fashion in a body so that there are times when angels have appeared and men have not known it. Hebrews 13 says they appear unawares. But in heaven they will be what they originally were created to be, they will be spirits. And yet, there will be fellowship that we enjoy with them. We will come to murias of angels. That’s simply saying multiple thousands of angels, the whole of the heavenly host will be there joining with us in the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, the new Jerusalem, the capital city of the eternal state.
We will also – go back to Luke 15 for just a moment—we will also find there that we will participate with them in shared joy. This fellowship is defined at this point, it is defined as joy. You remember verse 7 after Jesus told the story about the shepherd who went and found the lost sheep, He says in verse 7, “I tell you in the same way there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over 99 righteous persons who need no repentance.” The joy of heaven is related to the salvation of sinners. The one in heaven who launches that joy is none other than God Himself. But notice in verse 10, “I tell you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” And so we’re going to be in heaven joining with the angels in a celebration of joy over our own salvation. The angels are already celebrating it. The angels are already rejoicing in the presence of God along with God. God is the source of this joy.
It is the joy, as we learn in the story of the tale of two sons, it is the joy of the father in the recovery of the sinner. It is the father’s joy that sets the party in motion. It is a celebration to join with the father in his joy. And in heaven the angels will join in the joy of the Father as they do now and we will also join in the joy of the Father and our own joy over the grace that has brought us there. And remember what we said in 1 Peter 1:13, “Fix your hope on the grace to be revealed.” Heaven is an eternal grace. We will never be worthy of it, not then, not now, not ever. It will be then a grace and we will celebrate with joy this eternal grace. And the angels will celebrate with us, sharing the very joy of a loving Father in rescuing sinners.
Turn to Revelation chapter 4 and you’ll see something more of the communion which we will enjoy with angels. It will be a fellowship. It will be a fellowship of joy. And it will be a fellowship of praise. Very magnificent language here that is familiar to us. Chapter 4 is a scene of the throne of God in heaven, a magnificent scene. Twenty-four elders are there representatives of the redeemed, sitting in their white garments having been crowned. I – I see this as, you know, the redeemed church. And then you see the throne of God and the glory coming from it. But there are four living creatures who appear, these are obviously angelic creatures. They are magnificent creatures.
They, in verse 9, give glory and honor and thanks to Him who sits on the throne, to Him who lives forever and ever. They surround the throne with mighty praise. The twenty-four elders also fall down before Him who sits on the throne and will worship Him who lives forever and ever and cast their crowns before the throne and say, “Worthy art Thou, our Lord and our God, to receive glory and honor and power.” They’re doing the same thing the angels are doing. “For Thou didst create all things and because of Thy will they existed and were created.” So here we will join with the angels in this great paean of praise.
Drop down into chapter 5. and again you see a picture of praise. Verse 8, the four living creatures who represent the angels, the 24 elders representing the redeemed, they all fall down before the Lamb. The new song is sung by the redeemed, “Worthy art Thou,” speaking of Christ, “to take the book and break its seals for Thou was slain and purchased from God – for God with Thy blood, men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation. And Thou hast made them to be a kingdom and priest to our God and to reign upon the earth.” This is the saints celebrating the glory of God for their salvation.
And then in verse 11, John in his vision says, “I looked and I heard the voice of many angels around the throne and the living creatures and the elders and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand and thousands of thousands.” Innumerable angels, all of them along with the redeemed saying with a loud voice, “Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing. And every created thing which is in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea and all things in them, I heard saying to Him who sits on the throne and the Lamb, be blessing and honor and glory and dominion forever and ever. And the four living creatures kept saying amen. And the elders fell down and worshiped.”
This is composite, glorious, eternal praise, shared fellowship, shared joy, shared praise. Everything seems to be a shared joy in heaven between the redeemed and the angels. However, it is interesting for us to take a look at one passage of Scripture, 1 Corinthians chapter 6, 1 Corinthians chapter 6 which says in verse 3, “That we shall judge angels.” We shall judge angels. Paul is wondering why it is that believers would take their disputes to unregenerate law courts when the saints someday will judge the world. That’s talking about the millennial kingdom. And if the world is one day to be judged by you, are you not confident to constitute the smallest law court? Can’t you take care of your own deal, if you’re going to be the ones who judge the world and you’re going to judge angels?
He doesn’t describe what exactly that means. There certainly is not going to be any rendering of negative judgment on holy angels, but in some way, perhaps in the millennial glory to come, we’re going to render divine verdicts on behalf of the judge of all the earth and the one to whom judgment has been committed, Jesus Christ, on those angels who have fallen and corrupted the heavens and the earth. But that’s the fallen angels. What about the holy angels? Well in Hebrews chapter 1, the last verse, it says that the angels are ministering spirits sent out to render service for the sake of those who will inherit salvation. We are – we are even now being served by angels.
You say, “But will we be served by angels when we get to heaven?” Well, when we get to heaven we’re going to be made like Jesus Christ, is that not true? We’re going to sit on the throne with Christ. It doesn’t say the angels sit on a throne. It never says the angels are crowned with anything. And it’s fair to conclude that as the angels have been servants of God on behalf of those who have salvation in this life, they will throughout eternal glory serve us in some glorious way when we have been, as it were, lifted to take our place on the throne of God with Christ. He was, during His incarnation for a little time, made lower than the angels. But now He is exalted far above them and we have been exalted to sit in His throne with Him.
You say, “Well what does that exactly mean? What are we going to be telling them to do?” Well what we will be telling them to do is that which they are created to do, which they long to do, which they love to do, which they rejoice to do and which will perfectly serve the divine purposes of God through us. Enough about angels, that’s all I can say.
What about family? What about family? People always ask this question. Will we – will we still be married in heaven? Will there be marriage in heaven? Will there be family in heaven? Well, let me take you to that just in a couple of passages, I think I can help you to understand it. First Corinthians chapter 7 is a good place. Paul in this chapter, verse 29, he says – the question comes up, “Should you marry or should you not marry?” This is the debate. He says, “If you’re married, stay that way.” But look back at verse 26, “I think then that it is good in view of the present distress, it’s good for a man to remain as he is.”
If you’re not married, it’s good, stay that way. Life is less complicated. “But if you’re bound to a wife” – verse 27 – “don’t seek to be released. If you’re released from a wife, don’t seek a wife.” If you have literally been divorced, don’t necessarily seek to be remarried. “But if you should marry” – verse 28 – “you haven’t sinned. And if a virgin should marry, she’s not sinned.” That is to say if a divorced person remarries and has – remarries and has biblical grounds, it’s not a sin. And if a virgin marries it’s not a sin. “Yet such will have trouble in this life and I’m trying to spare you.”
That’s the – that’s the heart of the marriage sermon you never preach at the wedding. You just don’t do that in that environment. You’re going to have trouble. He doesn’t mean by that that it’s wrong to marry, he doesn’t mean by that that it’s something less than the best, it is the grace of life after all, it is the best gift that God gives to humankind in shared joys of life. But it does multiply your problems. I tell young people a lot of times, the only thing worse than wishing you were married is wishing you weren’t.
There is trouble, he says. Verse 29, “This I say, brethren, the time has been shortened so that from now on those who have wives should be as though they had none, those who weep as though they did not weep and those who rejoice as though they did not rejoice and those who buy as though they did not possess.” He’s saying it’s good if you can stay as free from worldly connections on all fronts as possible. But in verse 31, “And those who use the world as though they did not make full use of it, for the form of this world is passing away.” What’s he talking about? He’s talking about marriage. Marriage is part of the schema. It’s the Greek word schēma, part of the scheme here. But it’s for here and it’s passing away.
If you will turn again to Matthew chapter 22, perhaps a more familiar portion of Scripture to most of us. The Sadducees who believe there’s no resurrection – or a better way to say that is who don’t believe there is a resurrection. Now, they came to Jesus and they questioned Him. So they want to ask what they think is going to make Him look stupid, make Him look ridiculous. “Oh, so You believe in a resurrection, do you?” And they immediately assume then – then there’s going to be families in heaven because people are going to be raised and they’re still going to be married and they’re still going to have families.
So, they said, “Teacher, if a man dies having no children, his brother, as next of kin, shall marry his wife and raise up an offspring to his brother.” That’s what the Old Testament says. That was a law of the Old Testament that if a man didn’t have a child, a single brother could marry the wife to give perpetuity to the family and carry on the line. Now, this is their hypothetical scenario. There were seven brothers, the first one married and died having no offspring, left his wife to his brother. Now you’ve got seven brothers, the oldest one marries and then he dies and so the second one marries her and he dies. The third marries her and he dies, down to the seventh. You know what? If I was number three, I don’t think I’d marry her. This is a fatal pattern and I can promise you if I was number four, five and six and seven, I’d be out of town. But finally, mercifully, the woman dies before she can do more damage and so they ask what they think is this great question, “In the resurrection therefore whose wife of the seven shall she be, for they all had her?”
They think they’ve got Him. And “He said to them, “You are mistaken,” – here we go again – “not understanding the Scriptures or the power of God.” So much power that that kind of existence is far beyond anything that you would even know in this life. “For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage but are like angels in heaven.” Like the angels they don’t marry, they don’t reproduce. Does this mean that we’re – I mean, does this mean that when we get to heaven we’re all going to be sexless sort of like eternal mules? Are we going to – are we not going to be men and are we not going to be women? No. You will be you, you will be you.
The angels are spirits. They are neither male nor female, although when they did appear and were given a body it was a male body. But we will be like them in the sense that they do not cohabitate and they do not reproduce. This was part of the schēma here. Genesis 1:27 and 28, “Be fruitful and multiply.” We will be who we are. Jesus Christ will forever be the Son of Man, Son of God, He will be a glorified man. We will be glorified men. We will be glorified women. We will be recognized for who we are. And this is abundantly clear in Scripture that when we get to heaven we maintain who we are. In fact, in 1 Corinthians 15 – I love this little phrase – “This mortal shall put on immortality.” This corruptible shall put on incorruption. And that is a way of saying this mortal and this corruptible becomes immortal and incorruptible. This is a transformation of this person who remains who he is, that eternal spirit given a body fit for eternity.
Listen to what it says, and it’s kind of a – it’s kind of a shaded statement but in Genesis 25:8 it says that “Abraham breathed his last, died in a ripe old age an old man, satisfied and he was gathered to his people.” He was gathered to his people. That doesn’t mean he was buried in the family cemetery. It means that he was collected with his people. David said when his little son died, “He cannot come to me but I will go him.” He wasn’t saying I’m going to visit the grave. His hope and his joy was found in the conscious reality that he would see that little one again in a reunion, a real reunion where there would be recognition and true fellowship. “Isaac” – Genesis 35:29 – “breathed his last, died, was gathered to his people. Again it’s the same idea.
It’s an interesting phrase, “gathered to his people,” and it appears a number of times actually. If I remember I think it’s also in the forty-ninth chapter toward the end of Genesis. Yes, here the “twelve tribes of Israel and this is what their father said to them when he blessed them” – Jacob – “He blessed them every one with the blessing appropriate to him. He charged them and said to them, ‘I’m about to be gathered to my people.’” You see it in Numbers 20:24, you see it in Judges 2:10, to be gathered to his people. And again, I mention David, 1 Samuel 12:23 – 2 Samuel 12:23, “I cannot – he cannot come to me but I shall go to him.”
But look at some New Testament texts. Look at Matthew chapter 8. And at the rate we’re going here, we’re going to have to do one more night on this. But I think it’s so wonderful to see this. Jesus in chapter 8 of Matthew and down in verse 10 says, “Truly I say to you, I have not found such great faith with anyone in Israel.” commenting on the faith of this man in Capernaum, the Centurion. “I say to you that many will come from east and west, and recline at the table with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven” You’re going to know Abraham, you’re going to know Isaac, you’re going to know Jacob.
You say, “Well, are they going to – is everybody going to have name tags? How we going to – how – how we going to recognize?” You will have perfect knowledge. You will have transcendent knowledge and you will know them. You know, in the seventeenth chapter of Matthew when Peter, James and John went with Jesus to the Mount of Transfiguration, Moses and Elijah appeared and they knew them. They knew them. And so there is clear evidence of personhood and identity.
We’re going to see a little of that when we get into the amazing story Jesus tells in Luke 19 about Lazarus and the rich man and their self-consciousness and their awareness. By the way, in Luke 10, just think I’ll add this. You will remember this a few months back, “Rejoice,” He says, “in this that your names are recorded in heaven.” You’re not a floating non-descript, eternal spirit. You’re a person, and personhood is indicated by a what? A name. You will be you there and everybody else will be who they are and we will enjoy fellowshipping together.
You say, “Well if we’re not married and we don’t have family and marriage and family are so wonderful and so enriching?” Sure, and the best of marriage and the best of family is a faint illustration of the blessing of heaven. Whatever is good about family and marriage will be infinitely glorious on all accounts in relationship to everyone in heaven.
Now, by the way, when you get to heaven you may have a name a little bit different because it tells us in Revelation 2:17 that you’re going to have a new name. I love this verse, “To him who overcomes,” which is a way of describing the saved. John uses it back at the end of 1 John that our faith overcomes the world. And he says, “Whoever overcomes I will give a new name written on stone which no one knows but he who receives it.” So this is a wonderful personal identity, a new name be given in glory which no one knows. You’ll be amazed how many people have asked me, “What is that name, John?” Amazing. I don’t know what that name is. There are other indications of this new name toward the end of the third chapter as well in verse 12.
So we are going to be persons. We are going to be self-conscious. We’re going to know each other. We’re going to recognize and have wonderful, wonderful reunions. Let me give you a great text that kind of maybe is the most helpful one. First Thessalonians 4, 1 Thessalonians 4. And here is this rapture text that is so critical.
Verse 13, “We don’t want you to be uninformed, brethren, about those who are asleep,” which is a wonderful way of speaking of death because for the believer it’s nothing more severer than sleep. “Don’t grieve as if you had no hope, for if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus. For this we say to you by the Word of the Lord that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord shall not precede or go before those who have fallen asleep. The Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with a voice of the archangel, with the trumpet of God, the dead in Christ shall rise first then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air and thus we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words.”
Why did they need comfort? And how does this comfort them? Because they were concerned about the believers that died, verse 13. We don’t want you to be ignorant about those who have fallen asleep so that you grieve and don’t have any hope. What’s going to end your grief? Hope is going to end your grief and the hope that ends your grief is the hope of what? Being rejoined with them, being reunited with them, the hope of reunion.
I think the apostle Paul specifically anticipated this. In 1 Thessalonians chapter 2, back up a couple of chapters there. Paul looked toward heaven. Just the terrible suffering in this world made him keep his eyes on heaven. He constantly was aware that he could die any day and for him to live was Christ and to die was always gain. He lived with the hope of heaven. And when he spelled out what really attracted him to heaven, sure, seeing the face of Christ, but look what he says in chapter 2 verse 19, “Who is our hope, joy, crown of exaltation?” What appeals to me about heaven? What’s going to be the crowning joy there? “Is it not even you in the presence of our Lord Jesus at His coming? You are our glory and joy.” What is inviting about heaven to Paul is going to be all those who have come to Christ who are going to be there to welcome him and to rejoice with him.
You are our joy and crown of rejoicing. You’re what makes heaven so attractive. He says in 2 Corinthians 1:14, “We’re your reason to be proud as you also are – are ours in the day of our Lord Jesus.” When I come face to face in the day of our Lord Jesus which is the day when we are taken to see Him, your presence there is going to be my joy. And remember what we just learned in Luke 16. Purchase friends – remember? Purchase friends for eternity with your money, use your money for evangelistic purposes, so you purchase friends for eternity, “so that” – this is so wonderful – “they may receive you into the eternal dwellings.” They’re going to be there to welcome you. What a glorious, glorious picture this is.
This fellowship – it may be a good way to kind of wrap up our thoughts about it – is in the twenty-first chapter of Revelation. You see this magnificent picture of our fellowship in heaven. “I saw a new heaven and a new earth which is the final eternal state.” By the way, coming soon, I’m going to begin a series on eschatology, on the true biblical doctrine of the last things. There seems to be so much confusion and a great deal of indifference about it. But the final state is called the new heavens and the earth in Scripture, the first heaven and the first earth, what we know, is passed away. There’s no longer any sea. “I saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband. I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Behold, the tabernacle of God’” – listen to this – “‘is among men.’”
It doesn’t say it’s among floating spirits. It doesn’t say it’s among transcend – transcendent beings, although there is transcendence and although we will be eternal spirits. But we will be men. We will be people in heaven only we will be different. We will have a body like the resurrection body of Christ, as we saw the differences in our study of 1 Corinthians 15. And it says, “The tabernacle of God, God pitches His tent among us, He will dwell among them. They shall be His people and God Himself shall be among them.”
That’s a picture of the marvelous reunion and fellowship in the glories of heaven. Now I think at this point I probably should stop because that leaves us one really amazing area of truth to talk about and I’ll save it for next time. What is going to be our relationship to God in heaven and what are we going to be doing there? And we’ll look at that next time. Join me in a word of prayer.
Father, it’s just so staggering to contemplate the glory before us, so wonderful to fix our hope on the grace to be revealed at the time when we see You face to face. We are awed by this. Going all the way back to our wretchedness and our sinfulness, why would You ever be so gracious as to give us eternal glory? Maybe glory for a little while and then we go out of existence, maybe a few nice benefits and then it’s over. But to lavish us with unending, limitless goodness and loving kindness forever and ever is so far beyond anything we can imagine that we can’t comprehend Your grace.
We’re reminded of the words of Paul to the Ephesians that we will be raised up with Him, seated with Christ in order that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us. What kind of God are You who is so kind as to take unworthy sinners and to give us everlasting bliss and joy, an unfolding adventure that never is dull, always rich, incomprehensible to us is such generosity?
In the light of that, we’re compelled to love You, to obey You, to proclaim You, to honor You, to serve You with all our strength. We thank You for the hope, the blessed hope that captures our hearts, that is not a wish, it’s not a fantasy, it’s not fiction, it’s not a feeling, it’s not some kind of tug. It’s truth and we know it’s real because Jesus conquered death. And because He lives forever, so will we together with Him in Your presence. And for this we offer You our praise and shall forever. In Christ’s name. Amen.
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