Heaven

Heaven

Scripture: John 14:2-3, Genesis 3:4, Revelation 21:1-27
Date: 05/30/2009  Lesson: 9
Modern Christianity has much confusion about heaven, but the Bible offers a beautiful picture of what the Christian has in store for eternity.

Three Steps to Heaven (PB) by Joe Crews

Three Steps to Heaven (PB) by Joe Crews
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Good morning and Happy Sabbath. Welcome to Sacramento central Seventh-day Adventist Church in Sacramento, California this morning and joining us for our study with Pastor Doug. A very special welcome to those of you that are joining us right here in our sanctuary, our regular members who come every week, our visitors that are joining us. And a very special welcome to you that are joining us from across the country and around the world on this very special Sabbath day, either live on the internet streaming this morning, through radio, television, however you're joining us, welcome. To begin our song service this morning, we're gonna sing hymn number 1, the very first one in our hymnal, "praise to the Lord.

" And this comes as a request from oona in antigua barbuda, sonia and leah in the bahamas, Frances in Colorado, helen in england, Christina in germany, gary, collin, clifton, Simone and justin in jamaica, and brett in Texas. Hymn number 1, "praise to the Lord," and we will sing all 3 verses. [Music] I love the words to that song at the very end. If we allow Jesus to befriend us, be our friend, imagine what he can do for us. Praise the Lord.

If you have a special song in our hymnal that you would like to sing with us on a coming Sabbath, I invite you to go to our website at www.saccentral.org, and you can click on the "contact us" link there. And you can request any hymn in our hymnal. And we would love to sing that with you on a coming Sabbath. The next hymn we're gonna sing is "give me the Bible," hymn number 272. This comes as a request from David, kara, eranita and vanessa in australia, mutale in botswana, raviro in england, jim, dianne, jamie and buffy in florida, melissa in honduras, rosalyn in Illinois, dr.

Rupa in india, debbie and shavanie in jamaica, chan in malaysia, gieljam and selina in the netherlands, jalata in new zealand, John in nigeria, joyann in New York, Orlando in Oregon, jose in Texas, and wayne and melissa in trinidad, tobago. Hymn number 272, "give me the Bible." And we'll sing all three verses. [Music] Let's pray. Our Father in Heaven, we thank you so much as we become humbly before you this Sabbath day. We thank you for Your Word, for the Bible to show us how we can be like you, to show us how much you loved us and died to save us, to show us that you are coming back again.

This morning we are grateful that you loved us so much that you gave up all of heaven to show us that and to restore us to you, to restore us to this perfect friendship that you have for us. Please help us to be shining lights for you in this dark world and to let people know that you are coming again, that you love them and that you long for them. Please be with Pastor Doug today as he brings us Your Word. Open our hearts and our minds, Lord, that we can be completely changed to reflect you. We pray these things in the name of Jesus.

Amen. This morning our study will be brought to us by Pastor Doug Batchelor, senior pastor here at Sacramento central. Jolyne thank you, jolyne, our musicians. Good to have doc newman back, providing a little bass for us. And good to see each of you.

Want to welcome our visitors here at Sacramento central. Want to welcome our viewers and the regular class members that are watching from, oh, over countries around the world. Isn't that exciting? And it's so glad to have you part of the central class. We know some of those who are watching are actually internet members of central church from many different countries where they're isolated, but they get satellite reception. Or they're watching on the internet.

And we're just so thankful that you can be part of our study today as well. We're continuing our lesson dealing with the themes of the Christian life. And today we're on lesson number 9. Now before we get into the lesson, we always like to remind people we have an offer that helps go along with each lesson. Today's lesson is on the subject of heaven.

And we've got a book that's perfect for that we'd like to send to anybody that would like to ask for it. And it will help expand your study. It's called, "heaven: is it for real?" That fits right in. "Heaven: is it for real?" We'll send it to you. Call the number on your screen.

It's 866-788-3966. And ask for offer number 189. So if you can remember to write that down when you call and say, "I'd like offer number 189. And we'll send you, "heaven: is it for real?" We have also been talking about the year of evangelism for a few moments at the beginning of each Sabbath school study session. And a lot of churches right now are involved in evangelistic meetings as I speak.

We're having one--i was at an evangelistic meeting in Granite Bay last night. They're having a great meeting there. I know that they've got one going on in lincoln and all around the Sacramento area, all around North America. The lion's share of meetings are still coming in the fall. And so we want to do everything we can to encourage and maybe give you a few tips on how can we have successful evangelism? Well, we've talked about a number of things so far.

One thing I want to make sure I don't leave out, there's a verse in Psalms--i believe it's --"except the Lord build the house, they labor in vain that build it." And so when you do evangelism, you're trying to build up the house of God. It's the Lord ultimately that brings success when you're sharing your faith and telling others about him. When you enter into an evangelistic project, pray. You want to really be praying and turning to God and asking for his miracles, because never are you more on the front lines of your Christianity than when you're seeking to share your faith. When you are sharing your faith, you are invading the devil's territory.

Do you think that he's gonna take that just standing back and watching it happen? Or is he going to try to counteract your efforts? And that's why it's so important to pray and to really ask for the outpouring of his spirit. Now one time, when the disciples were unsuccessful in casting out a devil, they said, "Lord, what did we do wrong?" And Jesus said, "this kind comes not forth except by prayer and fasting." By the way, that's in Mark 9. You might consider setting aside some time with your church to pray and to fast that God'll pour out his spirit on some meetings. I remember I was doing a series of meetings in northern California once years ago, and I invited the church to pray and to fast for the success of the meetings. And I did this about a week before the meetings began.

Opening night I saw a tall deacon kind of stagger in. And I asked him how he was doing. He said, "I'm doing okay considering I haven't eaten for a week." And he had been fasting and praying all week long for that series. And I really--and the Lord blessed the meetings, but I was afraid that he was gonna fall over 'cause he was so hungry. Now, you know, you don't have to fast 40 days and 40 nights.

You can fast a day. There's a lot of different ways to fast and pray. You might just, you know, fast for a meal. You might fast by eating simple things. Daniel did this kind of fast when he was praying for wisdom.

But he was too old to just not eat anything, so he did a fast where he just ate very simple food. Some people go on a juice fast. Some of you might have the fortitude to fast for a week. I know a pastor-friend of mine still does that. And so you--consult your physician.

I always have to say that in case someone wants to litigate. I'm not a doctor, but you pray about it and think about how you might fast and pray for this series. Also, of course, training is very important. And I don't think it's too late during this broadcast to mention that we are having a very special convocation up at weimar. It's an Amazing Facts weimar health and evangelism convocation.

Gonna be talking about training and evangelism and health and just those themes of sharing faith, body, soul and spirit. And by the way, that is June th through 14th at weimar. So those who are on the western half of the u.s., Or if you're on the eastern half and you want to fly out, you're welcome. And that's gonna be up there at the campus. Go to the weimar website, you'll find out more about that evangelism training happening up there.

Alright, our lesson is on heaven. That's a good subject. How many want to go to heaven? Do you know ultimately when you go to heaven, you'll be coming to earth, 'cause, "blessed are the meek; they will inherit the earth." So it's not heaven yet, but if I step from here to here, this is where heaven's gonna be some day. But it's also true, this is where hell's gonna be. Have you thought about that? It's all gonna be here.

The lake of fire will someday be on the earth. And God then will create a new heaven and a new earth. And heaven will be on earth. But when we first think about going to heaven, what direction do people look? You know, "our father who art in heaven." Are we thinking about him being down here when we pray that prayer or elsewhere? He's not here, depending on where the earth is in its circle around the sun and in its rotation on its axis, when you think about looking up to heaven. Believing that heaven is an actual location in the universe.

Many Christian astronomers believe that it's in the orion nebula, or orion constellation, the nebula of orion I believe is in the belt of orion. And through the corridors of light that they can see with a hubble telescope, there's just incredible mystery things back there. And they think that maybe the capitol of the universe is on through there. Orion is mentioned two or three times in the Bible, so it may be. So sometimes technically when you think you're looking up to heaven, depending on where the earth is, it could be down there.

But that kind of bothers you to think about that, doesn't it? People always think about the devil as down there, but he's not down there. He's roaming to and fro here is what it says in job 1. So just trying to get you to think about geographically. Heaven is a place. Jesus said, "I go--" and by the way, that's our memory verse, so why don't I have you say that with me? John 14:2-3, you know that, some of you know that by heart.

You ready? "In my Father's house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. 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 to myself; that where I am, you might be also." So in order for us to go to heaven, we're going to a place where Jesus is now. He's not here now; he's somewhere else. Heaven now is somewhere else.

Does that make sense? It's out there. And he's gonna come and take us back to those mansions he's prepared where we will live and reign with Christ for 1,000 years. It is a common misunderstanding that the millennium is here on earth. The Bible does not teach that. Bible teaches when Jesus comes and millennium begins, we go away from this planet.

Right now, 6,000 years this Great Controversy has been raging on the planet between good and evil. When Christ comes we spend ,000 years living and reigning with him. At the end of that time, he creates a new heaven and a new earth. A lot of parallels in the Bible that bear out that time frame. Now, when Jesus began his ministry, and it's also true with John the baptist, they began preaching.

Someone look up for me Matthew 4:17. I delegated some Scriptures. You got a microphone, jim? Right here. Looks like richard got that one. Someone else, Luke 17:21.

Who got Luke 17:21? Oh okay, jolyne, after we have richard read, we need to pass the microphone, please. There we go. And let me read this for you, John 18:36. Jesus an Jesus answered, "my kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would fight, so that I should not be delivered to the jews; but now my kingdom is not from here.

" Now get that? He's talking to pilate. Pilate says, "are you a king?" Jesus said, "my kingdom is not of this world," now. Will his kingdom someday be on this world? Alright, now please read for us, richard, Matthew 4:17. "From that time Jesus began to preach and to say, 'repent, for the Kingdom of heaven is at hand.'" At hand? "Kingdom of heaven at hand" ,000 years ago? What does "at hand" mean? Something within reach. You know, if I say, "yeah, the peanut butter is at hand," you don't mean it's at the Market.

You mean it's there where you can get to it. So the Kingdom of God was at hand. And by the way, John the baptist started preaching, "repent for," what? "the Kingdom of heaven is at hand." If the Kingdom of heaven was at hand 2,000 years ago when Christ began preaching, is it still at hand today? It's within reach. Alright, jolyne, are you ready? You're gonna read for us Luke 17:21 I believe. Yep.

"Nor will they say, 'see here!' Or 'see there!' For indeed, the Kingdom of God is within you." Okay, so when we talk about heaven, have you met people before that say, "well, yeah, heaven and hell are true, but it's what you make of your life on earth." Have you heard people say that before? "You know, if people would stop thinking about heaven being out yonder somewhere and 'pie in the sky by and by,' and realize that heaven and hell is what you make your life, and it happens right here on earth, then we wouldn't, you know, waste our energies. And we'd do a better job taking care of the planet. And we'd focus our attention on taking care of suffering here instead of thinking: well, someday it'll get better in heaven." A lot of people out there think that heaven is just an idea of what you make your life here. And they even take some of these verses that we just quoted and twist them to say it's here. Well, Jesus teaches two distinct forms of his kingdom.

His kingdom begins now when you accept him. He begins reigning in your heart right away. You can have the Kingdom of God right now inside. That's what Jesus-- we just read that. "They will not say, 'see here!' Or 'see there!' For the Kingdom of God is within you.

" And so while everyone's saying, you know, "where is the Kingdom of God," keep in mind, you've gotta contextualize this. In Christ's time when the jews talked about the Kingdom of God, what were they thinking of? They were thinking about their Messiah was gonna come. He's gonna have a sword and a bow. And he was going to conquer the Romans. And they would be established as a world empire as it was back in the days of Solomon, the Kingdom of heaven.

And would it be over here? Is it gonna be in the northern part of the Kingdom? Is it gonna be down by judah? Is it gonna be in the south? And who's gonna sit on the throne? And they were all looking outside for the Kingdom. And Jesus said, "for my first coming, the Kingdom is on the inside." the Kingdom of heaven begins now. Matter of fact, right now you could be enjoying a piece of heaven, because if you've got Jesus in your heart--can we have Jesus in our hearts now? And he's the King. If you've got the King of the Kingdom of heaven in you, then you've got part of the Kingdom now. You get part of heaven now.

Can you have peace now? Can you have joy now? Can you have everlasting life now? Yeah. Christians don't die when they've got everlasting life. They just go to sleep and wake up with a new body. So heaven can begin now in that sense. And a lot of people, they're so preoccupied with their external circumstances bringing them happiness, they're never happy here.

And Christians, regardless of their external circumstances, can have joy and contentment now. Doesn't Paul say, "I've learned in whatever state I'm in to be content." Right? Even in California, that state. Whatever state you're in, you can be content. We're always thinking that it's something more that we need to gain. So when Jesus began preaching, "the Kingdom of heaven is at hand," it was at hand.

That's the internal kingdom. But is there also a very real place called heaven? Yes. So one does not cancel out the other. the Kingdom of heaven begins now on the inside. And matter of fact, I'll submit to you.

Unless you have God's kingdom of heaven in you before he comes, you won't be in heaven after he comes. Is that a fair statement? Heaven's gotta begin in you now. You need to start enjoying heaven before Jesus comes if you want to enjoy after he comes. So you got the internal kingdom. Alright, next section here.

When do we get to heaven? When do we finally experience it? And how many of you have heard at some point along the way, "if you're good and you die, the next thing you know you'll open your eyes and you'll be in heaven." Now there's some truth to that. But people get confused. Have you ever been to a funeral? And the preacher's preaching and coffin's there. And pastor is trying to comfort the people, he says, "don't you worry about brother or sister so-and-so; they're in heaven right now. They're with the Lord.

And they're singing with the angels." And they've got them in heaven while you're here on earth. And that confuses a lot of people. I want to read you a verse. Corinthians 5:6-8. "So we are always confident, knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord.

For we walk by faith, not by sight. We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord." Now, how many of you have heard this verse used before, "absent from the body, present with the Lord?" And they say, "soon as you're out of this body, you're in the presence of the Lord." Have you heard that before? Well, first of all, Paul is talking about a couple of things here. Paul speaks in conundrums. Matter of fact, Peter says Paul is sometimes hard to understand. First of all, Paul talks a lot about living in the flesh and living in the Spirit.

If you're living in the flesh, are you living in the Spirit, according to Paul? If you're carnally-minded, can you be spiritually-minded? No. If you're absent from the body, you're present with the Lord. You can be living a spiritual life if you're not living a carnal life. So that's one aspect of this. But he also means it in a literal sense.

When you are no longer in this body, your next conscious thought is the presence of the Lord. Is that true? If you're saved, and you should suddenly die, what is your next conscious thought? It says in 1 Thessalonians 4, "we will be brought forth from our graves--voice of the archangel--trump of God. Dead in Christ will rise." We're in the presence of the Lord. "So shall we ever be with the Lord." And so as soon as you die, your next conscious thought is to be present with the Lord. But here's the question.

David died 3,000 years ago approximately, is he in the presence of God yet? No. Does the Bible tell us that? Yes. I'll get to that in a minute. What happens when you're-- what happens when you die? What does the Bible call death? Sleep. It's a dreamless sleep.

Okay, irene, read psalm 13:3. Do you got that for us? "Consider and hear me, o Lord my God; lighten my eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death." Alright, who wrote that, Psalms? Who wrote that? King David. Now how did David refer to death? As sleep. Colossians 1:10-14, " that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, for all patience and longsuffering with joy; giving thanks to The Father who has qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light. He's delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the Kingdom of The Son of his love, in whom we have redemption through blood, the forgiveness of sins.

" Now that's a big passage. That again is talking about how through faith in Christ we are conveyed into his kingdom. Even now we're conveyed into his kingdom. But we're not there physically yet. Alright now I asked someone to read acts 2:29, we're going back to David here.

I took a detour. Go ahead and read that for us. "Men and brethren, let me speak freely to you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his tomb is with us to this day." Alright, keep your microphone. Also go to verse 34. See if you can find verse 34 there and read that for us as well.

I don't have it right here. Oh you just--you had the verse here. Let me read this. "For David did not ascend into the heavens, but he said himself: 'the Lord said to my Lord, 'sit at my right hand.'" Alright, let me give you the background for these verses. Peter's preaching at pentecost.

He quotes, Peter quotes from Psalms where he said, "you'll not suffer your holy one to see corruption." Peter says David's not talking about himself, 'cause we know David is dead and buried. His tomb is with us to this day. By the way, I heard on the news--I've been to the tomb of David that's in Jerusalem. It's still there. A lot of the graves, they've lost them or they've been destroyed by wars over history.

But David's grave, they still know where it is. It's still quite a shrine in Jerusalem. And I understand that there's some negotiations. I read in the news online, some negotiations between Israel and the catholic church for the property where David's grave is. You realize the different churches own some of the different shrines around Jerusalem.

And I guess at one time the catholic church had owned that spot. And then Israel annexed it. And they're trying to negotiate. And the catholic church is saying they want it back or something. I'm not sure, but it's kind of strange to think that you would give the site of David, this patriarch of the jews to the catholic church.

I don't know what's behind that, but that's what I read. Anyway, so he's still buried there. So when Peter's preaching 40 days after the death of Jesus, he says--that verse David referred to is not talking about himself. David's dead and buried and not ascended to heaven. Now think about this.

At that point, David had been dead 1,000 years. If you die and go right to heaven, and even after Jesus died and rose and he's been there 40 days, David is still not in heaven. So how can you die and go right to heaven? Now for David, how long does it seem? He's been dead 3,000 years. Is David there in his grave, tapping his fingers, waiting to get out? Is he kind of wringing his hands and watching the alarm clock on the wall? Is he restless in his dreams? Is he in Abraham's bosom tossing and turning? Is he under an altar moaning and crying? No, none of that. Those of course are all symbols.

David said, "I will sleep." It is a dreamless sleep. Now sometimes you have restless sleep. Matter of fact, more people have problems sleeping today than any other time in history. A lot of reasons for that. But do you remember when you had a good night's sleep? When you work real hard and you hit the pillow and all the sudden the alarm rang and you thought, "ah, what, what-- where'd my night go?" And you don't remember that 6 or 8 hours that you spent laying in bed.

Next thing you knew the alarm's going off. That's how it's going to be for David. To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord. His next conscious thought will be the presence of the Lord. He's not there now.

Your loved ones who are saved that died are not in heaven looking down from heaven now. Would they enjoy heaven? Suppose a mother dies young, leaves a whole litter of kids and husband behind. She's up in heaven looking down at all their problems and troubles. And maybe the husband remarries a wicked stepmother. Her kids are down there and they're going through all that blended family baggage.

And the mother up in heaven looking down, is she gonna be enjoying heaven? No, that's why God waits until all this is over with before we get resurrected so we really can. Now there's a couple exceptions. Moses we know was specially resurrected, as was Elijah translated and Enoch. But other than Enoch, Elijah and Moses, people that die are asleep. Well, I take that back.

There's one other exception. Matthew 28, when Jesus died and rose, it tells us that there was many of the graves of those who slept in Jerusalem came out of their graves. And they ascended to heaven with the Lord, sort of a firstfruits trophy. It was a localized resurrection. We don't know who was in it.

Could have been Jeremiah and Isaiah and who knows who he had. But some of the Patriarchs and Prophets and saved saints from the past were raised. But otherwise, everyone else is waiting for the resurrection and the judgment before they enjoy heaven, the rewards of heaven. Is the judgment, the great judgment day, is it past or future? Well, we're living right now in what they call the "day of atonement" judgment. The great executive judgment is still future.

It wouldn't make any sense at all to take people, put them in heaven, and then judge them afterwards. Right? And so God is gonna do things in a sequence that makes sense. Oh, what am I leaving out? Ecclesiastes 9:5-6, if you have any question--got a hand right here--about what happens when you die. "For the living know that they shall die; but the dead know not anything, neither have they any more a reward, for the memory of them is forgotten. Also their love, and their hatred, and their envy is now perished; neither have they anymore a portion forever in anything that is done under the sun.

" When the dead die, they know nothing until the resurrection. They are reserved in the grave. And the Bible is very clear that they're unconscious of what's going on. They have no more a portion--anything done in this life. "Under the sun" means in this life.

And so a lot of--you know what the best example is? John 11:11. You can read all the way through verse 14. "These things said he, after that he said to them, 'our friend Lazarus sleeps, but I go that I might wake him.' Then his disciples said, 'Lord, if he's asleep he'll get well.' However, Jesus spoke of his death, but they thought that he was speaking about taking rest in sleep. Then Jesus said to them plainly," not speaking in symbols anymore, "Lazarus is dead." That means absence of life. He doesn't know anything.

Now, I counted one time; I thought there were about a dozen resurrections in the Bible. I could be off, but it still proves my point. If someone came back from the dead, really came back from the dead in our day and age, what would everybody want to know? Would they just say, "we're glad you're back?" Or would they say, "what was it like? What did you experience? What did you see? Was it hot? Was it pleasant?" I mean you'd have a thousand questions. What's on the other side? Everybody's Marching towards death right now. Where you going? What is it? Everyone would want to know that.

Out of all the resurrections in the Bible, none of them ever comment on their experience while dead. Isn't that telling you something? And here Lazarus has been dead for how long? Four days. Was Lazarus a good guy or a bad guy? Good guy. Friend of Jesus? Do you think he'd be saved? So if you die and go right to heaven, Lazarus has been dead four days, is that long enough for Jesus to get him to heaven? If you die and go right immediately to be with the Lord, four days he's there. And the next thing, he's up in heaven, he's singing with the angels, he's just reaching out for the Tree of Life and poof! He's back in a grave.

And he's supposed to thank Jesus for this, right? Would Jesus do that to a friend? No, I don't think so. Do you have a thought? I wanted to make a comment about 2 Corinthians 4, "to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord." Yeah. I looked up, "to be," it comes from a Greek infinitive. And when you study it, it gives no sense of timing. So to capture the Greek meaning, it would be translated, "to be absent from the body is to be present at some time in the future with the Lord.

" That's what it means in Greek. I appreciate that. That's a good point. Yeah, the Greek, with the timing there in those words, it's not always translated accurately. And then of course, you've got the verse there Corinthians 15:22.

Did I give that to somebody, Corinthians 15:22? "For as in adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, afterward they that are Christ's at his coming." Alright, pause there. I want you to find verse 51 and 52. And while you're finding that, what does it say? When are they raised? "In their order: Christ the firstfruits," it says, "afterward those who are Christ's at his coming." When are they raised? Afterward at his coming. Are they raised yet? No.

Alright, and read verse 51 and 52, please. "Behold, I show you a mystery: we shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump. For the trump, it shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed." So when are we changed? When do we get our glorified bodies? When are we raised? After the Lord comes, after the voice of the archangel, the trumpet of God. Then the dead in Christ rise. What is the purpose of a resurrection if you are going to consciously enjoy bliss before then in getting your new body? What's the purpose of a judgment? This whole--it's sort of a new age idea that came into the church from paganism years ago that you're not unconscious in death.

People just couldn't grapple with the idea that you could sleep a dreamless sleep. I don't know why; we do it all the time. How many of you remember all your dreams? No. Well, that's kind of a dreamless sleep you had at one point. And that's what death is like.

That's why Jesus calls it sleep. I'm not making this up. And you know, people really take issue with that. They say, "well, it's just so hard for me to believe. I've thought all these years my mom's in heaven.

You're telling me she's not there." What difference does it make? As far as she's concerned, her next thought will be heaven. That ought to make you just as happy, right? See we live in this world that we are governed by a certain dimension of time. I don't know how God does it. But God is not restricted to time the way we are. Could God take a prophet into the future if he wanted to? Could God take a prophet into the past? God is able to move back and forth freely through the continuum of time.

And so, you know, because we're still locked into this time and this world, it doesn't mean that you should feel bad about your loved ones that are saved, that aren't in heaven yet. It ought to give you some relief, you might have some people you know that went to the other place, that they're not there yet either, right? Alright, there's two resurrections. And that's our next section. I've already quoted from this verse. Let me read it for you again.

In 1 Thessalonians 4:13, Paul said, "brethren, I do not want you to be ignorant concerning those who have fallen asleep." Now what does Paul mean by falling asleep? They're dead. He says, "I don't want you to not understand this. Don't be ignorant regarding this subject." "Lest you sorrow as others that have no hope." A lot of the pagans, above their graves it said, "good-bye for eternity." And the Christians, they said, "good-bye until the morning." Or "good-night until the morning." "For if we believed that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with him those who sleep in Jesus. For this we say to you--" now he's gonna explain how can Jesus bring them with him? He says, "let me tell you how that works." Now he's gonna explain that. For this we say to you by the word of the Lord," in other words, there's a lot of Scripture for this, "that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede," we don't get raised first.

We get raised second. We don't "precede those who are fallen asleep. For the Lord himself descends from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ rise first." How can they be with Christ when he comes? 'Cause they "rise first. Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds.

" They're with Christ when he comes, 'cause they rise first. Got it? So they're already in line. That's how they're with him when he comes. Some people think that they're with him when he comes, because they've been with him since they died. It's not what it says here, if you want to be honest about the verse.

"We who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus shall we always be with the Lord." Always being with the Lord begins then. Got it? At the coming. "Therefore comfort one another with these words." And I think it is comforting. Now, there are two distinct resurrections.

It said "the dead in Christ," we just read it, "the dead in Christ rise," what? "First." If you've got a first resurrection, what does it imply? Somewhere you've got at least a second. You could argue there's a third, a fourth, a fifth. But you've gotta have at least a second. Now the Bible tells us there are two principle resurrections. Daniel 12:2, "many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life," that's the first resurrection, "some to everlasting shame and contempt.

" And so I actually read that wrong. "Some to shame and everlasting contempt." So you've got the resurrection of life, the resurrection of shame and contempt. And there's more on that we'll read in a moment. Alright, robert, read for us Matthew 25:46. "And these shall go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into life eternal.

" Two great destinies. And there he's talking about the sheep and the goats. And so God is gonna raise them separately as well. The best place you find to prove that is in Revelation 20. Well, I tell you what, before I read that, who has John 5:29? Right behind you there.

Doc, hold your hand up. Okay, now while you're getting the camera set up for that, let me read Revelation 20:5-6. "The rest of the dead live not until the thousand years are finished." Alright. The dead in Christ rise first. Matter of fact, it says here in this verse, "blessed and holy is he that has part in the first resurrection.

" Dead in Christ: first resurrection. Blessed and holy: first resurrection. Is that clear? The good are in the first resurrection. You don't want to be in the second resurrection. You know, sometimes we say, "oh well, you know, I'm a Christian and I'll let someone else have first place.

" This is not where you want to give up first place. You want to be in that first resurrection, okay? "Blessed and holy is he that has part in the first resurrection." But it says, the rest of the dead--if all the righteous are in the first resurrection, who are the rest of the dead? Is this clear logic? If the blessed and holy are in the first resurrection, if all the righteous are in the first resurrection, who are the rest of the dead? The unrighteous. They're in the second resurrection. It says--alright, and then I was gonna have someone read John 5:29. You got that, doc? "And come forth those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of condemnation.

When I first learned this, it really troubled me, 'cause I figured there was a resurrection. But it really clear in the Bible, there are two distinct resurrections that flank the ,000 years of the millennium. The resurrection of the just, we live and reign with Christ. And the end of the 1,000 years, the wicked are raised and judged. Satan comes out of his prison.

Why, at the end of the 1,000 years? 'Cause what's imprisoned satan is he's had no one to tempt, possess and manipulate for 1,000 years, a workaholic with no work to do. And so he them mobilizes gog and magog, that's the wicked of all ages, to attack the city of God. And so then you've got the two great rewards of heaven and hades that are distributed, heaven or hell. That's our next section. Oh, by the way, you know, I want to tell you something.

We're gonna talk about lake of fire and hell in just a minute. For our friends that are watching, everybody listening, we've got a couple of good websites that have a lot of Scripture. I'm racing through these verses. One of them is called www-- do you need to say that anymore or does everyone know? It stands for wild, wild west-- www.truthaboutdeath.com, truthaboutdeath.com. All these verses and many, many more are there.

And now we're gonna talk about the lake of fire. We got another website; it's called "hell truth." Matter of fact, if you search about "the truth about hell" on Google, it's on the first page, so it gets a lot of traffic. Helltruth.com, helltruth.com. And so a lot of the verses that explain this biblically are there. People say, "oh, I couldn't write fast enough, Pastor Doug.

Where'd you get all those verses?" And you'll find them there. Alright, Revelation 21:8, "but the cowardly, and the unbelieving, and the abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, that is the second death." I had already told you they don't burn forever; it's the second death. When you think about the opposite of heaven, what do you think about? Hell. We don't--you know, we don't know how to even say the word "hell" in church because so many people use it in...cursing. It is a biblical word.

It describes death. And you've either got two choices. It's either eternal life or the lake of fire. But people often think hell is a catacomb way down yonder somewhere where satan's wearing his red leotard. And he's got a pitchfork to barbeque everybody evenly.

And it's down in the molten magma of the earth. It's not what the Bible teaches. It's not a torture chamber out there on some hot planet either. Hell burns on the surface of the earth when God rains fire down. It rains down and forms a virtual lake of fire.

You can see a couple of examples of this. There's a few volcanic caldera that are active, that are filled with little lakes of fire. And it's telling us that's what's gonna happen is the fire reigns down. And those who do not have their names in the book of life, they are consumed in that lake of fire. Not all the same time though.

Every man is rewarded according to what he deserves. If your sins are not covered by Jesus, you don't get a partial discount in hell. Your sins are either covered by Christ or they're not covered by Christ. They're not partially covered by Christ so you just burn a minute. You know what I'm saying? I don't even like to think about that.

But that's what the Bible teaches. There are two destinies: life or death. You got two choices: eternal life, heaven or perish. It doesn't say you get eternal life in heaven or eternal life in hell. Nowhere in the Bible does it teach that the wicked get eternal life.

The Bible is very clear; the wicked get death. Jesus said, "eternal life or perish." That's the second death in hellfire. Nobody is in hell now other than the ones we mentioned a minute ago. And is anybody burning in hell now? Has the lake of fire formed yet? No. You can look around and see that, 'cause hell will burn here on earth.

Now, "the Kingdom: now and then," is our last section. Revelation 21:4. Let's really focus on heaven for a moment. Who did I give that to? You got it right here, birdie. Hold your hand up so jim can see you.

And I want to read this from the old testament before she reads from the new. How does the Bible describe heaven? It says that we float around like naked babies on clouds and play harps, chubby cherubs for eternity. How many of you have seen these medieval pictures of, you know, the fat little naked babies with their wings and they're strumming their harps. And they say, "ah, if you're good, some day you'll get to do that too." And hearing that growing up, you know, I went to two different catholic schools, and I thought to myself, hell sounds more entertaining that heaven. You know, I watched a lot of very distorted ideas of what heaven and hell were.

And hell--they had hell kind of looked like this totally out-of-control rock 'n roll party. And heaven they had all these angels, you know, up there strumming harps and fluttering around in clouds and vapor and with these ethereal bodies. And I thought, "let me think, where do I want to go?" But that's not what it is. Heaven is a paradise, sometimes called paradise. Heaven is the perfect restoration of bliss and everything God intended for man in the beginning.

It says, "the wolf will dwell with the lamb," I'm in Isaiah 11:6, "the leopard will lie down with the young goat, the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child will lead them. The cow and the bear shall graze." Bears don't usually graze. Well, actually some bears do graze. "Their young ones shall lie down together; and the lion will eat straw like the ox. And a nursing child will play by the cobra's hole, and the weaned child shall put his hand in the viper's den.

They will not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain, for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea." So what's the first thing we're learning about heaven that's very different from our world now? Is there danger and death in our world now? Do animals kill and destroy each other and people animals and animals bite and poison people? Will there be anything that hurts in heaven? Will there be any danger? If your kids wander out of the front yard of your glorified mansion, are you gonna go, "oh no, watch out for the cars! Those angels go fast!" Are you gonna have any fear? "Don't put your hand down a hole. It could have a viper in it." Will there be anything to be afraid of? No, that's the wonderful thing he's saying about. There's death and disease and decay and pain in this world, and fear. Nothing to be afraid of. The animals are all friends.

They love people. They'll protect the children. There's nothing to worry about in heaven. That's one beautiful picture. I tell you what; I'm gonna jump to the new testament.

Birdie, you still ready to read Revelation 21:4? "He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there will be no more death, or mourning, or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away." And God goes on to say, "behold, I make all things new." By the way, no more pain? Are people burning in hell somewhere? God says, "no more pain." That doesn't mean, "no more pain other than that torture chamber I've got." When the wicked are punished in the lake of fire-- there is hellfire. Some people go to two extremes. Some say there is no hell. And the others say hell burns through all eternity. And between those two errors is the truth in the Bible.

There is a lake of fire. The wicked do burn in hell. They don't burn forever and ever, 'cause the Bible says he "makes all things new." There's no more pain. The wicked perish. They consume away in smoke.

And just a lot of Scripture on that. Once again, go to "hell truth" if this is the first time you're hearing that. And you'll find more verses on that. I'm gonna jump back to Isaiah 65, to the old testament. First one we read was Isaiah 11.

He talks about heaven again, Isaiah 65:17, "for behold, I create a new heavens and a new earth; the former shall not be remembered nor come into mind." Now what does that mean? Does that mean we're not gonna remember that Jesus saved us? No, you'll always remember that. Does that mean that we're not gonna remember, you know, any of our friends from this world? No, you'll still remember. But as the ceaseless ages go by, all of the painful memories, even for the saved--if you're saved and you've got the joy of the Lord, you still have memories that you probably--things you've done that you wish you could forget, even though God's covered 'em up, you still remember. Even though God's forgotten 'em, you remember. Or maybe there's just painful experiences or loved ones you've lost.

And just imagine you get to heaven, if there's not a loved one there, how are you gonna deal with that? Well, God, during the ,000 years, there may be some grieving, but he is gonna wipe away all tears from our eyes. When we enter eternity, after he recreates the earth, all the painful memories are forgotten. That's what it's saying. It doesn't mean that you can't remember, "oh, was I once a simple mortal that's been saved? I don't remember." You're gonna remember that Jesus saved you through eternity. He's gonna have scars in his hands.

You're not gonna say, "how'd that happen?" You'll remember. You see what I'm saying? But the painful memories are not gonna haunt you any more in heaven. "But be glad and rejoice forever in what I create." How long will this last? Forever. For i-- "behold, I create Jerusalem rejoicing," in heaven we're gonna be perpetually rejoicing, "and her people a joy. And I will rejoice in Jerusalem, and joy in my people.

" Notice that. Rejoicing, joy, rejoice, joy. "The voice of weeping no longer heard in her." God will wipe away all tears from their eyes. "No more the voice of crying. No more shall an infant there live but a few days, nor an old man who has not fulfilled his days.

" It's talking about we're not even gonna have the concept of dying prematurely. Everyone's gonna live for eternity there. Then there's a verse here that confuses people. "For the child will die 100 years old." "Wait a second, Pastor Doug. Child gonna die, babies gonna die 100 years old?" No, the word there, "die" means cease.

It means a child will not even cease to be a child until they're 100. That goes along with the way things were back in the Garden of Eden. Have you ever tracked the ages? Some of those early patriarchs didn't even get married until they were over 100. They grew slower. It's just saying that we're gonna live forever.

Children will grow up. It says in Malachi 4 that the child--it says they will go forth and grow up as calves of the stall. But they're gonna grow much more slowly. So they do not even cease being a child until they're 100. Got that? It doesn't mean they die.

The word "die" and "cease" there sometimes interchangeable. And it's--i think an unfortunate translation. So and it goes on to say, "they'll build houses and inhabit them; they'll plant vineyards and eat the fruit of them." Who builds our city home? Jesus in the new Jerusalem, right? But are we done there or do we go forth from the new Jerusalem and--we're gonna--didn't God tell adam and eve, "go forth. Replenish the earth." And he wants us to fill the earth. And we're gonna be able to build our own country homes.

And everything's gonna be made out of living materials. Nothing has to die. Won't be cuttin' down trees and rainforest to build your house. You'll be just using the available gold and silver and precious stones and the vines and things that are there. "They'll not plant in another eat; for as the days of a tree, so shall the days of my people be, and mine elect will long enjoy the work of their hands.

They'll not labor in vain, nor bring forth for trouble; for they'll be the descendants of the blessed of the Lord, and their offspring with them. 'It will come to pass before they call, I will answer; and while they're still speaking, I will hear. The wolf and the lamb will feed together, the lion will eat straw like the ox," all animals are vegetarians there, "and the dust will be the serpent's food. They'll not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain." Wonderful verses, amen? I'm looking forward to heaven. Aren't you? And I want to remind our friends that are watching, if you missed the beginning of the broadcast, we've got a book on heaven; we'll send you for free.

It's called, "heaven: is it for real?" Just call the number: -788-3966. And we'll be happy to send that to you. But I am so thankful for the hope of eternal life. You know, and we're not very far away from the second coming of Jesus, are we? When Jesus comes, the physical kingdom of heaven begins for us at that point, right? As soon as we get our glorified bodies. But the Spiritual kingdom of heaven can begin for everybody right now by inviting that king into our hearts.

Amen? So I hope you'll have that kingdom and you'll pray that prayer right now, friends. God bless you, until we study again next Sabbath. If you've missed any of our Amazing Facts programs, visit our website at amazingfacts.org. There you'll find an archive of all our television and radio programs, including "Amazing Facts presents," one location, so many possibilities, amazingfacts.org. Hello, friends.

I'm supposing that you know that Amazing Facts is 100% viewer-supported. If you've appreciated these programs, if it's been a source of encouragement for you, and if it's blessed your life, we'd love to hear from you. The only way we can stay on this network and these stations is because viewers just like you contact us and let us know. Why don't you drop us a line, or even go to the website, amazingfacts.org, and send us a note of encouragement and support so we can stay on the air.

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