2004-05-17 - Heaven
2 Corinthians 5:8, "We are of good courage, I say, and prefer rather to be absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord."
We have hit on this topic before, but I think it has been a few years, and so I would like to touch on it again. Really, I came upon an illustration that made me think of this topic in a sermon I was reading this week, and it made me laugh...not out loud, but I probably smiled. I will end with the story. The topic we have covered before was a theological controversy of the mid-19th century, but don't worry, it is not of the deeper sort of theological controversies. The question being debated related to the question that asks if we would know each other in heaven. Will parents know kids, friends know friends, and so on. The general consensus was that we will know each other in Heaven. So when we meet Peter in Heaven, we will know that it is Peter.
There was a woman who, while on her deathbed, turned to her husband and asked him if he thought he would know her when he got to Heaven. "Shall I know you? Why, I have always known you while I have been here, and do you think I shall be a greater fool when I get to Heaven?" This is a good answer. One day, we will be reunited with many of those whom we have known on Earth. We will also meet those who have gone before us and we read about in history. "Men of whom the world was not worthy," Hebrews 11:38. We will meet those who gave their lives rather than deny their allegiance to Christ. We will meet those who had great impacts in the work of God on Earth while they lived. Heaven will be a great reunion for all those who are saved by the atonement and propitiation of Jesus Christ.
Of course, without Christ, we will see no one in Heaven. Our friends, without the atonement for sin applied to their offenses, will not see us. Without being saved from our sins through Christ, we will wind up in a not so nice place. Really, that is not true. To say hell is not so nice of a place is being polite. Scripture is not so polite. Scripture says that hell is a place of: "outer darkness," Matthew 8:12, "eternal fire," Matthew 25:41, "eternal destruction," 2 Thessalonians 1:9 and "eternal punishment," Matthew 25:46. It is called the lake of fire in Revelation 19:20. It is not that hell is not so nice of a place, but rather it is the worst place, and the only hope for sinners is to flee to the grace and mercy offered in Christ for sins we have committed.
Those things are hard to write. They are things that many pastors don't wish to talk about, but if we are going to believe in salvation through Christ, we must also believe that those who are without salvation in Christ are without hope of Heaven. I got a note this week from the mom of a high school student whom I worked with about 13 years ago, when I was in college. One of the things she told me was that her son, four years ago, had come to salvation in Christ. I'm sure her joy is great, but on that day, my joy was great also. So thank you for bearing with me as I say things that some don't want to say for fear of offense, but I firmly believe that if we are going to believe the Bible, we do not believe part of it, but rather we believe all of it or none of it.
I have overbuilt this little story, but just try to consider this in the middle of a dry sermon. It was refreshing.
A lady on her deathbed calls the minister and said to him, "I want to ask you one question, now I am about to die." "Well," said the minister, "what is it?" With emotion she said, "I want to know if there are two places in Heaven, because I could not bear that Betsy in the kitchen should be in Heaven along with me; she is so unrefined." The minister replied to her, "O, don't trouble yourself about that madam. There is no fear of that; for until you get rid of your accursed pride, you will never enter Heaven at all."
Now we all know the error of the minister here, that getting rid of pride or any other sin will not save us (That would be salvation by works.). Only Christ can save us, but it is still an interesting story.