The Wonderful Place: Heaven
Have you ever driven up and down the suburban streets of our cities and noticed all the "For Sale" signs in the yards? Some of these homes are beautiful homes, ranging anywhere from thirty to a hundred thousand dollars or more. These homes were once happy. homes, homes where the lights burned bright, and a ring of vibrant laughter filled the air. However, those families have moved on to more exclusive neighborhoods, to richer and finer homes. This shows man's discontentment for earth's temporal and decaying mansions. Heaven is our fatherland; earth is not our home!
The most thrilling thought that has ever filled the heart of man is that of Heaven! Jesus sent out the seventy into the cities and places that he would go and they returned "with joy, saying, Lord, even the devils are subject unto us through the name." To which Jesus replied, "rejoice not that the spirits are subject unto you; but rather rejoice, because your names are written in heaven" (Luke 10:17-20). What a joy it is, to the child of God to know that, if he is faithful, one day heaven will be his home. In the words of the chorus of that old song:
"When the saved get to Heaven
what a day of rejoicing that will be!
When the saved see Jesus,
they will sing and shout the victory."
Reasons For Believing In Heaven
But you say, how do you know that there is really a heaven? Let me suggest four reasons. First, because the human soul has always longed for such a place. Heaven, like an evening zephyr, seems to call and beckon the soul of man homeward. Over 3,000 years before Jesus walked upon the shores of Galilee, the Egyptians inscribed the name "yarn," or heaven upon the walls of the ancient pyramids. A heathen by the name of Cleombrotus upon reading the argument of the Greek philosopher, Plato, on the subject of Heaven, ran and threw himself off a high cliff so that he might die and go to Heaven! The same enthusiasm was manifested by the Mohammedans. Mohammed said, "The sword is the key to Heaven. A drop of blood shed in the cause of God is of more avail than two months of fasting and prayer; whoso falls in battle, all his sins are forgiven." Hundreds and thousands gladly gave their life in battle, with the expectation of Heaven.
Look at the Christian, throughout the centuries. He has laboured and toiled; he has sacrificed his very life in the hopes of that blissful place called Heaven.
`Here I labor and toil as look for a home,
Just an humble abode among men,
While in heaven a mansion is waiting for me
And a gentle voice pleading "come in."
Second, I know there is a heaven because the human soul has always felt there was such a place. Many advance their arguments against the existence of heaven, but when all is said and done, he still feels within his heart, there is a heaven. A little boy stood on a windy hillside, flying his kite. He continued to release the string of the kite, and it went higher and higher until it was completely out of sight. Someone asked the little boy how he knew there was still a kite on the other end. He replied, "I know it's there; I feel it tugging on the line." Heaven may not be seen with human eyes, but by faith we feel it tugging at our souls!
Third, I know there is Heaven and a Hell because justice demands it. Think about such men as Herod, Nero, Diocleation and Hitler, and all the suffering they inflicted upon man. No court in the land could bring true justice on the lives of such ruthless men. But in Hell, justice at last will be rendered. By the same token, think of the suffering endured by godly saints of ages gone by, think of those who laid down their life rather than renounce their faith in Christ. Paul says, "I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us" (Rom. 8:18). In this world one may suffer, but in that world to come, he will be crowned with life eternal (Rev. 2:9-10).
Fourth, I believe in Heaven because God says there is such a place. Let the theologians deny it's existence; but who dare to challenge the veracity of God Almighty? "Let God be true, but every man a liar" (Rom. 3:4). Jesus said, "I go to prepare a place for you, . . . I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also" (John 14:1-3). Jesus challenges you to "lay up for yourselves treasures in Heaven" (Matt. 6:20). Paul, the writer of Hebrews said, "For ye had compassion of me in my bonds, and took joyfully the spoiling of your goods, knowing in yourselves that ye have in Heaven a better and enduring substance" (Heb. 10:34). He continues in the eleventh chapter, "For he (Abraham) looked for a city which hath foundation, whose builder and maker is God . . . ." (Heb. 11:10). And he yet continues, "but now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: God is not ashamed to be called their God: For he hath prepared for them a city" (Heb. 11:16). "For here we have no continuing city, but we seek, one to come" (Heb. 13:14). Peter describes it as "an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you" (1 Peter 1:4). The Christian walks by "faith" and faith comes from hearing what God has said about a matter. (2 Cor. 5:7; Rom. 10:17). God said there was a heaven and by faith I journey toward that eternal city.
What Is Heaven Like?
But, you ask, what is Heaven like? First, Heaven is a place. It is not the atmosphere, nor is it a state of mind. It is a place, a place just as real as these United States! Jesus said, "I go to prepare a place for you" (John 14:3). It is a real place, populated with real people with beautiful, immortal and strong bodies. Those bodies will be just as visible as those of Moses and Elias on the mountain of Transfiguration. When Jesus went into Heaven, his body was a visible body (Acts 1:9-10), yet John tells us, "when he shall appear, we shall be like him" (1 John 3:2). Our body will be a different body, not of flesh and blood. ". . . it is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption: It is sown in dishonour; it is raised in glory: it is sown in weakness; it is raised in power: It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body" (1 Cor. 15:42-44, 50).
Second, it is a described as a City. "He has prepared a city for them" (Heb. 11:16). May I emphasize, a city; not a village or hamlet or a community! It is a city, but not an earthly city. Paul described it as "an heavenly" city (Heb. 11:16). There will be no place on this earth for an eternal city. This earth will be "burned up-," and "destroyed" (2 Peter 3:10). But God's city will be an eternal one, "For here we have no continuing city, but we seek one to come" (Heb. 13:14). In many of our cities, our downtown areas are becoming ghost towns, vacant, rundown, and are being abandoned in many cases at a rapid rate. For example, we are told that in Detroit, Michigan, buildings are being abandoned at a rate of 500 yearly, in Cleveland, Ohio over 800 a year, in Philadelphia at a rate of 25,000 dwellings a year, and in Chicago, 1,800 structures a year. But, Heaven is an eternal city, a city of complete perfection, because God's works are good, and eternal (Psa. 92:5; James 1:17; Eccl. 3:44).
Many of our cities suffer with'over population, but in heaven there will be room for all. "In my fathers house are many mansions." "And the city lieth foursquare, and the length is as large as the breath: and he measured the city with the reed, twelve thousand furlongs. The length and breath and the highth of it are equal" (Rev. 21:16). The city was measured at 12,000 furlongs or about 1,500 miles. This is equal to about eight million square miles, or if you cube it, about 512 quintillion cubic feet. Oh there is no way to describe the spaciousness of that wonderful place, heaven!
Also, most cities have become a cesspool of crime, violence, gambling, drinking, sexual promiscuity, riots, turmoil and confusion, but heaven will be a city of righteousness! "Neverthless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness" (2 Peter 3:13).
Third, it is described as a Royal Palace. John heard a voice as a trumpet saying unto him, "come up hither; and I will show the things which shall be here after . . . . a throne was set in heaven, and one set on ,the throne" (Rev. 4:1-10). And we recall, Jesus said it was a place of "many mansions" (John 14:2).
Fourth, it is described as a Garden. "And he shewed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and the lamb. In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations" (Rev. 22:1-2). Our first parents were driven from the garden of Eden, but in heaven paradise will be perfect, restored! A garden far more beautiful than anything known to man. It will surpass the beauty of Cypress Gardens, or the Hanging Gardens of the beautiful city of Babylon, which was one of the Seven Wonders of the ancient world. "Oh, how beautiful Heaven must be!"
Fifth, it is a place of eternal security. When Jesus, in the End of the world, delivers the kingdom back to God (1 Cor. 15:24), we will be in the hand of the Almighty God. And Jesus said, "no man is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand" (John 10:28-29). The security of this -.city is indicated by the fact that it is surrounded with great high walls, and twelve gates, three on each side, and inside those walls one never need to again fear the Devil and his angels. There will be complete and perfect safety (Rev. 21:12; Psa. 107:2).
Sixth, In heaven there will be no night. There will be no need of lamps nor even the light of the sun; for the Lord God giveth them light (Rev. 22:5; 21:23). On the other hand, Hell will be a place of "outer darkness," because in Hell the source of light, God, will not be there (2 Thess. 1:9).
Seventh, Heaven is a place of overwhelming glory, beauty, and majesty. This is a city of gold, pure gold, like unto clear glass, walls of jasper, gates of pearl, the street, (not streets as we sing), of pure gold! All these terms are figurative and symbolic and after we have exhausted every word common to man, we still will not have touched top, side, or bottom the true beauties of that wonderful place, heaven.
Eighth, a city free of disease, sickness, sorrow, suffering, dying and tears. "And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away" (Rev. 21:4). Just think, no more hospitals, undertaker parlors, cemeteries or jails. There will never be another weeping widow, or hungry orphan, for `.`former things are passed away." Not one sin will enter the gate of the Celestial City. There the sweet bliss of heaven will fill the hearts of every Saint of God and they will sing the praises of the King throughout eternity. Is there a single traveler to eternity who has not fitted his life for services above? Is it possible that there is an elder, deacon, preacher or church member who is wandering in sin? I beg and plead with you-Repent Today! Make your calling and election sure.
"Jerusalem, my happy home,
Oh, how I long for thee;
When will my sorrows have an end
Thy joys, when shall I see.
"Thy walls are all of precious stones,
Most glorious to behold;
Thy gates are richly set with pearl,
The street is paved with gold."
Truth Magazine XIX: 16, pp. 251-252