Sunday, February 7, 2016

Heaven: An Eternal Place

Temple Baptist Church - 2-7-2016
Genesis 3:21-24; Revelation 22:1-5; 2 Timothy 1:7-10

A.  This past couple of weeks has once again reminded us of our mortality and corruptibility.  Paul, in 1 Corinthians 15, reminded the believers that life was short, death sure, sin the cause, and Christ the Cure!  Both heaven and eternal life are for real. 
1.  Stephen Hawking, a well-known physicist, said, “Heaven is a fairy story for people afraid of the dark.”  Mr. Hawking called God a myth!  Well, Mr. Hawking, God called you a “fool!”  God was right, Mr. Hawking, and you are wrong!  Psalms 14:1  “The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none that doeth good.”
2.  Our Lord said much about heaven and even more about the burning hell that awaits the unsaved.  I am not here to preach on hell this morning but I do want to remind you that it is too often a reality realized too late by the rejecters and scoffers.
3.  As God’s children, I want you and I to be both expectant and excited about what is to come!
B.  Heaven is something to be believed through the Bible as it is not experiential until we get there.  Though I understand this verse’s interpretation, I want to make a Biblical application.
1 Corinthians 2:9  But as it is written, 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.
1.  Though the Bible gives a vivid description of heaven in the Book of the Revelation, it still lies infinitely beyond what our finite minds can see through the Bible’s eyes.
2.  Heaven can only be fully realized when experienced with a sinless body and a perfect mind that we will only have when we get to our “long home.”
C.  Our “long home” is the phrase that God gives here to contrast our “short home.”  Ecclesiastes 12:5  Also when they shall be afraid of that which is high, and fears shall be in the way, and the almond tree shall flourish, and the grasshopper shall be a burden, and desire shall fail: because man goeth to his long home, and the mourners go about the streets:
1.  When using the phrase “man goeth to his long home,” the Holy Spirit is showing the brevity of our life and contrasting it with the life to come.  If the Lord has not come soon, we will begin to meet—as most families do—more often at the funeral homes.
2.  God has set the limitations of our earthly life (three score and ten or four score by reason of strength) and will live within His limitations.  Occasionally, man can exceed “four score” but, for each one of these, there will be many others who do not reach it.
D.  The word “long” comes from a root word that means “to veil from sight, a secret thing.”  It means to be properly concealed, that is, the vanishing point; generally, time out of mind (past or future), that is, (practically) eternity: always, perpetual, or eternal. 
E.  I have often said that the “hell of hell is eternity” and the “heaven of heaven is the same.”  Hell and heaven are both eternal states and eternal places.  Thank God that our home in heaven is an eternal one that will never change.
F.  In Genesis, chapter three, we find Sin, Sacrifice, Salvation, and Surety.  Thank the Lord that He did not leave Adam and Eve in a sinful condition forever!  With their sin came the sacrifice of the innocent for the guilty, salvation through the “seed of the woman,” and the surety of eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
G.  There is so much to be preached about heaven but, this morning, I want to deal with the words “for ever.”  What is for ever?  It is a really long, long, long, long time!  It is actually a suspension of time as we know it.  I have preached on the eternality of God that was expressed when God told Moses that I AM THAT I AM hath sent thee. 
1.  The Book of Job is said by some to be the oldest book in the Bible.  Listen closely to these verses: Job 14:14-15  If a man die, shall he live again? all the days of my appointed time will I wait, till my change come.  (15)  Thou shalt call, and I will answer thee: thou wilt have a desire to the work of thine hands.  (God does not take us home because He is chastening us, He takes us home because He LOVES us!)
Psalms 116:15  Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints.  (Death brings sorrow to the saint’s loved ones but great preciousness to the Lord.  Precious denotes something of great value and excellence!)
Philippians 1:20-24  According to my earnest expectation and my hope, that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but that with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life, or by death.  (21)  For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.  (22)  But if I live in the flesh, this is the fruit of my labour: yet what I shall choose I wot not.  (23)  For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better:  (24)  Nevertheless to abide in the flesh is more needful for you.  (To suffer death is to experience all that God has created for those whom He loves!  It is the zenith of our glory; it is the pinnacle of our existence; it is the consummation of all that is good and holy; it is the moment for which we were born!)
1 Corinthians 15:51-57  Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed,  (52)  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.  (53)  For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.  (54)  So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.  (55)  O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?  (56)  The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law.  (57)  But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.  (Death is the final victory!  Our corruption MUST take on incorruption!  Our mortality MUST take on immortality!)
H.  I have often said that the “hell of hell is eternity” and the “heaven of heaven is the same.”  Hell and heaven are both eternal states and eternal places.  Thank God that our home in heaven is an eternal one that will never change.  The words “for ever” are found 390x if you have the right Bible: the Authorized King James Bible!  I love the words “authorized” (official, sanctioned, approved, certified) because it is the only Bible that the Lord has authorized for us!
I.  Here in Genesis, we find the first mention of “for ever.”  The last mention is in Revelation, chapter 22.
1.  Genesis 3:21-24  Unto Adam also and to his wife did the LORD God make coats of skins, and clothed them.  (22)  And the LORD God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever:  (23)  Therefore the LORD God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken.  (24)  So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life
a.  The Tree of Life had the power to perpetuate life for an eternity.  If Adam and Eve could have continued to have access to that tree, they could have lived for ever but in a sinful state. 
b.  God removed the Tree of Life and we find it in Revelation, chapter 22, in heaven.  In the first mention of “for ever” it means just that, for all of eternity!  In the last mention of “for ever and ever,” it means for all of eternity!
2.  Revelation 22:1-5  And he shewed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb.  (2)  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.  (3)  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:  (4)  And they shall see his face; and his name shall be in their foreheads.  (5)  And there shall be no night there; and they need no candle, neither light of the sun; for the Lord God giveth them light: and they shall reign for ever and ever
a.  In Revelation, chapter 22, we find “for ever” with an additional “ever” attached to it.  The repetition of the word “ever” gives us the aspect of eternity.  When time is not more, we will live in the same eternal moment that is descriptive of the very life of God Himself.  I AM THAT I AM!
b.  God not only gave us everlasting life, which is life with a beginning at salvation and no end, but also gave us eternal life, which has no beginning or end—literally the life of God Himself.
3.  2 Timothy 1:7-10  For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.  (8)  Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me his prisoner: but be thou partaker of the afflictions of the gospel according to the power of God;  (9)  Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began,  (10)  But is now made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel
a.  Paul gave us the illustration of the gospel to give us a “light” to show our eternality.  As Christ died, so shall all men die unless we are living when the Lord returns.  As Christ was buried, so shall all men be buried when they die. 
b.  Though Christ did not see corruption, our bodies will corrupt.  Some are cremated in our day but their remains will go back to dust.  Christ did not see corruption because death actually had no claim on Him and He resurrected with a perfect body as we one day will.  As Christ resurrected, all men shall resurrect one day: some to salvation and many to damnation.  Immortality means an unending existence or incorruptibility.
4.  Romans 6:8-10  Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him:  (9)  Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him.  (10)  For in that he died, he died unto sin once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God(Thanks be unto God who hath given to us eternal life and that life is in His Son!  The heaven of heaven: it is forever!!)
2 Corinthians 5:1-4  For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.  (2)  For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven:  (3)  If so be that being clothed we shall not be found naked.  (4)  For we that are in this tabernacle do groan, being burdened: not for that we would be unclothed, but clothed upon, that mortality might be swallowed up of life.

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