Space Travel to Paradise

Scripture: Isaiah 45:18, John 14:1-3, 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17
In an age of space travel many people have wished to leave this stressful and broken world of ours to be in heaven, in a place of peace and rest. Is there such a place called paradise? This broadcast explores the topic of what the Bible says about heaven.
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In the Soviet Union the most popular book in the English language, I understand, is the Sears Roebuck catalog, of all things. The women of Russia spend much time looking through the many items that are available in our American free market. Often they are quoted asking this question, "Is it possible there is a country where so very much is available as this book indicates?"

Yes, around the world today we find millions of people who are without the common commodities that we have in America, and they are crying out for a better land in which to live. They think it would be heaven itself if they could live in a country of such abundance as America. While living in the Orient I met scores of such people.

The Hayden Planetarium in New York rather jokingly sent out word that they were taking reservations for the first manned rocket to the moon. To their surprise 25,000 people wrote in, all of them desiring to be among the first passengers to leave the earth for the moon. One woman wrote: "It would be heaven to get away from this busy earth, I honestly wish God would let me get away and just go somewhere where it's nice and peaceful, good, safe and secure."

This is the cry of the human heart around the circle of the globe today, "0h, for a better place in which to dwell!"

Is there such a place, a place of absolute contentment; a place where human suffering and woe is not known; a place where all of the problems and perplexities of this life do not exist?

Some time ago Nikita Khrushchev said that when he sent Russia's astronaut out into space he asked him to be sure and look around to see if there was such a place as that which Christians call heaven. Upon his return the astronaut reported to Khrushchev that there was no such place, so Khrushchev has made a public statement to the world that there is no heaven because Major Gagarin did not see it.

The book of Genesis presents a picture of a newly created world, perfect in every aspect, inhabited by a sinless, happy pair. God had a purpose in creating this world. In Isaiah 45:18 we read: "For thus saith the Lord that created the heavens; God himself that formed the earth and made it; he hath established it, he created it not in vain, he formed it to be inhabited."

Yes, the Lord created man and placed him in a perfect world that this world might be eternally inhabited by sinless, happy creatures of God.

But things have changed. Today we find no such perfection or absolute happiness, for the first dominion was lost through sin. God never intended or planned that man should live in the kind of a world in which we exist today. However, the restoration of all things as they were in the beginning of time will soon become a reality. Christ has paid the price for our redemption and for the restoration of the world to its Edenic beauty.

In John 14:1-3 we read: "Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. 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 unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also."

As with all promises of Jesus, we can depend upon this one. Jesus IS coming again, and He will take His people, those who believe in Him, home to heaven. In 1 Thessalonians 4:16,17 we read of the fulfillment of this promise: "For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord."

And so we find that the place to which Christ will take the redeemed is a place the Apostle Paul calls heaven. There are many who wonder why Jesus said in Matthew 5:5: "Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the EARTH." How can we inherit the earth and at the same time be in the dwelling place of God to which Jesus takes us at His second advent?

The answer to the problem is found in Revelation 20:6: Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years."

Now notice what happens at the conclusion of this thousand-year or millennial period when the righteous are in heaven with Christ. In Revelation 21:2 John saw in vision that the people of God would return to this earth with the Holy City at the close of the thousand years. "And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.

Yes, this earth, as Jesus Himself stated, will become the home of the redeemed of all ages. Of course some changes will of necessity have to be made if this is to be heaven for His people. The Apostle John says in Revelation 21:1: "And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away.

Coming now to 2 Peter 3 we read verses 10 and 13: "But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the EARTH also and the works that are therein shall be burned up . . . Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new EARTH, wherein dwelleth righteousness." So this earth of ours will be refined by the fires of God and then recreated by the miracle-working power of our Lord, transformed into the very Edenic beauty of the beginning of time.

What will life be like in heaven, or in heaven on earth? What will be some of the changes from our present existence? To many heaven has been merely a mystical wonderland of non-existence, an invisible, unreal world of spirits. The Bible tells us that heaven is real. Few will deny that God is real, but a few will deny that Jesus is real. Few will deny that this Bible I hold in my hand is real. And so its precious promises of a real heaven will one day soon become a reality. Today let's draw aside the curtain and look beyond into the fulfilled promises of heaven for the people of God.

In Isaiah 65:17 we read: "For, behold, I create new heavens and a new earth: and the former shall not be remembered, nor come into mind." Then in verses 21 and 22 we are told that "they shall build houses, and inhabit them; and they shall plant vineyards, and eat the fruit of them. 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 work of their hands."

Here we find real people building real houses, planting real gardens and eating real food. Of course, the natural sinful nature of man will be changed. In 1 Corinthians 15:51, 52 we read: "For behold, I shew 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 trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed."

Notice in one of those changes will be the gift of a new and immortal body. In verse 53 of this same chapter we read; "For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality." Then the Apostle Paul in Philippians 3:21 states: "Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself."

The multitude of physical ills that plague the human race today will be known no more in heaven, for in Isaiah 33:24 we are told: ‘'And the inhabitant shall not say, I am sick." In Isaiah 35:5,6: "Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped. Then shall the lame man leap as an hart, and the tongue of the dumb sing." Few in our world today have escaped the plague of physical infirmity. All over the world I have viewed multitudes on every hand so afflicted by the diseases of our time that it is even difficult to behold them without crying out, 0h Lord, come quickly! Put an end to such suffering and woe.

I saw lepers in the Orient where thousands of wretched specimens of humanity vegetate in misery and in loneliness. I have viewed the crippling effects of undernourishment upon the masses of children in India and seen the running sores covering their poor bodies. But in heaven the more than three hundred diseases known to man today will be known no more, nor will suffering or sorrow exist in that land of perfection"

The Lord reminds us in Revelation 21:4: "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."

A change will come not only in human nature, but in animal nature and in the nature of earth itself. Notice if you will these texts. First of all in Isaiah 51:3: "For the Lord shall comfort Zion: he will comfort all her waste p1aces; and he will make her wilderness like Eden, and her desert like the garden of the Lord." Yes, the scar of sin that has covered the face of the earth since the beginning of sin will be removed, and the glory of a perfect creation will shine forth once again.

In Isaiah 11:6 we read regarding the change in animal nature; "The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them,"

And in that land of eternal bliss there will be a city, called the New Jerusalem in the Bible, the capital city of the new earth. In Revelation 21:10-18 we find a beautiful description of that city. We find it to be 375 miles on each side and 1500 miles in circumference. Twelve foundations support the walls of the New Jerusalem, which are solid jasper. The gates are of solid pearl, and the streets are of transparent gold. The throne of God is in the city and out of the midst of the throne proceeds the river of life. Overarching the river of life is the original tree of life. Beautiful beyond all human words to describe will be the mansions that Jesus has gone to prepare for those who love Him.

Invariably the question is asked, "Will I know my loved ones in heaven?" There is one Bible text that sheds some light on this. It's 1 Corinthians 13:12. Paul said: "Then shall I know even as also I am known." As will Paul, so will we know and love our loved ones as we have upon earth.

Of all the joys of heaven, the greatest will be to see Jesus face to face, to worship Him and our heavenly Father. "And there shall be no more curse: but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it; and his servants shall serve him: and THEY SHALL SEE HIS FACE; and his name shall be in their foreheads." Revelation 22:3,4. ‘'For as the new heavens and the new earth, which I will make, shall remain before me saith the Lord, so shall your seed and your name remain. And it shall come to pass, that from one new moon to another, and from one Sabbath to another, shall all flesh come to worship before me, saith the Lord." Isaiah 66:22,23.

Fantastic, unreal, impossible, incredible, you say? No, it's true. In Revelation 22:6,7 we are told: ‘'These sayings are faithful and true," And then Jesus says: "Behold, I come quickly." The Lord Jesus Christ has not only promised a beautiful home to the redeemed of all ages, but has promised He will come quickly and take us to that place of eternal joy.

The Apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 2:9 stated: "Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him." We can get as it were, just a little glimpse of the glories of heaven, just enough to whet our appetites that we might desire with all our hearts to be there.

The story is told of a little girl who was walking down the street with her daddy one day looking up at the heavens. She said to him, "Heaven must be beautiful, so very beautiful." "Why do you think that?" he asked. "Because the light shining through the cracks in the floor is so beautiful, what must heaven be like!"

But how can we be assured that we will be in this place of glory? What are the qualifications that the Bible lays down for those who enter in through the gates of pearl?

In John 3:16 we are told: "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever BELIEVETH IN HIM should not perish, but have everlasting life." The first step is to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ as one's personal redeemer from sin.

In Revelation 22:14 we are told: "Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city." One who believes in the Lord Jesus Christ will then give a demonstration of his belief by obeying His commandments.

Then in Revelation 21:27 we are told: "There shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb's book of life."

All that defiles must be rooted out of our lives now that we may be purified and sanctified, that our names may be written in the Lamb's Book of Life. Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven." Matthew 7:21

Are we following the will of our Heavenly Father today? In verses 13 and 14 of this same chapter we read: "Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it." May our feet be planted today in the straight and narrow way that leads unto eternal life!

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