Heaven

Heaven

Scripture: Hebrews 11:16, 2 Peter 3:13, Revelation 21:16
Recent reports on the buildup of great centers of population contain some startling figures. According to U.S. News and World Report, there is no sign of any slowdown in the population explosion nor in the concentration of families in certain urban area of the United States.

Three Steps to Heaven (PB) by Joe Crews

Three Steps to Heaven (PB) by Joe Crews
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Recent reports on the buildup of great centers of population contain some startling figures. According to U.S. News and World Report, there is no sign of any slowdown in the population explosion nor in the concentration of families in certain urban area of the United States. If present trends continue, within four years fifty percent of all the American people will be living in three gigantic cities located in three rapidly growing sections of the country. This sounds fantastic enough, friends, right out of the headlines of a conservative news report. How could these giant super-cities ever be administered? New York City has problems enough and to spare, but what about the cities of the future?

Listen, there is a city in the future of the world much more fantastic than the ones anticipated by the news magazine. In fact, it will be larger than all three of these cities put together, and will cover an area greater than Virginia, the District of Columbia, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Rhode Island combined. If you find that unbelievable, don’t take my word for it. Here it is in the Bible itself in Hebrews 11:16. “But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for He hath prepared for them a city.” Here we are told that God is getting a city ready for His people. He is preparing one now.

This raises a question or two. What kind of city is God building for His faithful ones? And where is it being made ready? Revelation 21:2 answers, “And I John saw the holy city New Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven.” In Paradise at this moment, far above the stars and planets, God is preparing mansions for you and me. Someday that gleaming white city will descend right down to the earth and settle here as the eternal home of the righteous. How big will it be on completion? Revelation 21:16 tells us, “And the city lieth foursquare-and he measured the city with the reed, twelve thousand furlongs.”

The city is perfectly square and the circumference is 12,000 furlongs, or 1500 miles. You see, a furlong is one-eighth of a mile. So, it is 375 miles on each side. Believe it or not, 450 New York Cities could be placed inside its gigantic walls. The streets, by the way, are pure gold and the gates of it are solid pearl, not merely composed of pearls, but actually made of one solid pearl. Imagine, if you can, a city of these dimensions and of this distinction being right here on this earth! Notice what Jesus said about it in Matthew5:5. In giving His beatitudes He said, “Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.

Mark it down, friends, God’s people will finally dwell in this beautiful world as an eternal home. Not as it is today but as it shall be prepared by God. Really, it this not the most natural thing you could think of? God planned for His children to live here when He created the world, didn’t He? He placed our first parents in a beautiful garden, a paradise without spot or blemish. Now it’s true that the devil came into the picture and interrupted God’s plan, but he did not change God’s plan at all.

He interfered with it for a little while, but finally God is going to put His plan back into operation as it was in the Garden of Eden. He will restore this earth to its first dominion. He will make it beautiful and sinless, and His people will live here in the perfection of Eden restored. Today, of course, the wicked have more of the earth than the righteous do and I suppose the finance companies have more than both groups together. But someday, God says, the saints will inherit the earth.

We wouldn’t want the earth in its present condition, I’m sure. It’s quite a mess. But let’s thank the Lord that when He gives it back to us it will be altogether different from what we see today. In Isaiah 65:17 we read these beautiful words, “For, behold, I create new heavens and a new earth.” That’s the Old Testament account. But look now at the New Testament in Revelations 21:1, “And I saw a new heaven and a new earth.”

Oh yes, friends, this old sin-cursed world of ours will be transformed completely, and every trace of sin will be removed forever. Peter describes it in these words, “Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth wherein dwelleth righteousness.” 2 Peter 3:13. That’s the kind of world I want, a world in which righteousness dwells. God will have it pure and clean. If a man misses out on that offer, he will commit the most colossal blunder that anybody could ever commit. He will make the most tragic mistake that anybody could possible make.

It’s surprising how many weak and twisted concepts people have about heaven. Most folk think of it as some faraway, mystical, ethereal place, some beautiful isle of somewhere. That’s about all the average person knows about heaven. They believe it’s up there somewhere. Yes, we can agree with them that far. It is up, because when Jesus went away, He ascended up into a cloud, and He said, “I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.” John 14:2, 3.

Notice that Jesus called it a place. That’s real, friends. New York is a place. London is a place. Heaven is going to be a place, just as real as those cities. It’s not some ghostly, unreal idea. The righteous are not going to sit out there is space on clouds playing harps and singing hallelujah choruses all during eternity. This is a very false, unbiblical picture of heaven. In fact, many people think only of jokes and stories they have heard about heaven. They think of a long-bearded, white-robed old man called Saint Peter, who keeps the gate and has keys jangling by his side. He lets people in and out of the gate. Listen friends, that is not a true picture at all. It’s entirely false. The Bible says nothing about it.

A minister was riding on a bus one day and he overheard two teachers talking in the seat behind him. He couldn’t help listening because they were talking about experiences in their classrooms during the day. One of the teachers said, “You know, I had a very interesting class today. I had all the children write essays on heaven.” She continued, “One of my 9-year old boys, Willard, wrote a very interesting one that I’d like to read to you.” The minister listened as she read, “Heaven has three stories and a basement. The floor is the clouds. God sleeps on the first two floors and Father Christmas with his reindeer and toys live on the third floor. The angels sleep in the basement. The houses are all made of gingerbread and the rivers are all different colors: red, blue, pink, green, orange. That is all.”

The minister was appalled to hear this kind of description, and he waited eagerly to hear what the teacher was going to say about how she corrected the child. But he was even more appalled as the teacher said to her seatmate, “You know, reading fairy stories really help children form pictures of the life beyond, doesn’t it?” Imagine that! Yes, it’s a fact that millions of people have mingled fairy tale myths with the truth about heaven, and they don’t understand anything about its reality. What a tragedy, dear friends!

The only information we have about heaven is found right here in the Bible. We ought to go to this Book to find what heaven is like and how we can prepare for that wonderful place! The only reason a few people, perhaps, do not want to go to heaven is that they don’t know what it’s like. You may find someone now and then who will tell you plainly that he’s just not interested in heaven, but it’s only because he has a misconception of it. Popular myths have made heaven seem dull and uninteresting.

Now we want to present, if possible in human language, some of the beauty, glory, and reality of heaven. Yes, mark it down. Heaven is a very real place, which is the most wonderful thing about it, I believe. We are going to have real bodies there, and we are going to do real things. In fact, over in Isaiah 65 we read that we are going to plant vineyards and eat the fruit of them, and we are going to build houses and inhabit them. “And they shall build houses, an inhabit them; and they shall plant vineyards, and eat the fruit of them. For they shall not build, and another inhabit; they shall not plant, and another eat: for as the days of a tree are the days of my people, and mine elect shall long enjoy the word of their hands.” Verses 21 and 22.

It many surprise some of you to hear this, but it’s true nevertheless-we are going to have bodies of flesh and bone in heaven! Notice I said flesh and bone, for that’s what the Bible teaches. Putting two texts together will make this clear. First, Philippians 3:21, “Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body.” So we are going to be changed and made “like unto his glorious body.” The only question here is, what kind of body did Jesus have after He was resurrected? That will be the same kind of body we have after our resurrection.

The other text answers that. Luke 24:39: Jesus said, “Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have.” Christ made this statement when He appeared to His disciples after the resurrection. What did he say? I’m not a spirit. When he walked into their midst in that upper room, they were terrified, but Jesus wanted to prove that He was not a ghost of some sort. So He told them to bring food, which He ate right before them. He said, “handle me, and see” that I have flesh and bone.

Now friends, that was absolute proof for the disciples. They knew, as anyone knows, that a spirit or ghost could not eat food. When the disciples say Jesus eating, they knew He was real. Going on now to verse 50 and 51 we read: “he led then out as far as to Bethany, and he lifted up his hands, and blessed them. And it came to pass, while he blessed them, he was parted from them, and carried into heaven.” He was taken bodily out of their sight. First He appeared to them and said that He has flesh and bone. Then He ate with them. And finally He ascended bodily right up out of their midst. The Bible is very clear, friends. It answers many questions concerning our own nature in the hereafter. We will have a body made like unto the very same body Jesus possessed after His resurrection.

We must close and leave the next chapter of this thrilling subject until tomorrow. There is much detail about this amazing city in the sky. Tomorrow we will answer the question, Will we know each other in this beautiful world of tomorrow? This perplexes a lot of people. Some folk think they don’t want to go there unless they can recognize their family and loved ones. Our next broadcast will give the answer from God’s Word.

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