THE AFTERLIFE | The Truth About Heaven

John 14:1-3 - Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me. 2 There is more than enough room in my Father’s home. If this were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? 3 When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am.

If you’re a follower of God, you should be excited about that!

The Apostle Paul in his letter to the churches in Philippi proclaimed,

Philippians 3:14 - “I strain to reach the end of the race and receive the prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us up to heaven.”

Heaven is the prize for all those who believe!

Heaven is better.

1 Corinthians 2:9 - No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him.

King Solomon, who the Bible calls the wisest man who ever lived declared that,

Ecclesiastes 7:4a - A wise person thinks a lot about death…
Ecclesiastes 3:11 - He has planted eternity in the human heart…

1. Where is heaven?

Heaven is UP

Psalm 123:1 - “I lift my eyes to you, O God, enthroned in heaven.”

3 HEAVENS

  • First Heaven: In the Old Testament, heaven is spoken of figuratively in terms of layers of sky. The heavens are where the birds fly, the trees breathe, and the rain falls.
  • Second Heaven: Refers to where the moon and stars move in their orbits.
  • Third Heaven: The highest heaven. This was said to be where God dwells in a special way.

HEAVEN IS HOME

Heaven is God’s dwelling place and the final dwelling place of believers.

Revelation 21:3 - I heard a loud shout from the throne, saying, “Look, the home of God is now among his people! He will live with them, and they will be his people. God himself will be with them.”

2. Who Will Be in Heaven?

Hebrews 12:22-24a - 22 No, you have come to Mount Zion, to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to countless thousands of angels in a joyful gathering. 23 You have come to the assembly of God’s firstborn children, whose names are written in heaven. You have come to God himself, who is the judge over all things. You have come to the spirits of the righteous ones in heaven who have now been made perfect. 24 You have come to Jesus, the one who mediates the new covenant between God and people, and to the sprinkled blood, which speaks of forgiveness…

This passage tells us that in heaven there will be:

  • Angels
  • God
  • The church
  • Old Testament believers
  • Our Savior, Jesus Christ

Notice that people and angels are different. We don’t become angels when we enter heaven. Angels and people have always been different creations of God.

Also, it's important to understand that both Old Testament and New Testament believers will be in heaven, because of what Jesus did for us on the cross. Those in the Old Testament had faith in a Messiah who they knew would one day come. And all who’ve lived after Jesus have faith in that same Messiah, the Son of God who gave His life on a cross.

Will babies or children who die go to heaven?

  • Yes! They are kept safe by God’s grace.
2 Samuel 12:23b - “I will go to him one day, but he cannot return to me.”
Matthew 19:14 - But Jesus said, “Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to those who are like these children.”

What about those who never hear about Jesus?
This one is a bit tougher, and theologians have debated for centuries.

Romans 10:9 - If you openly declare that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.
Acts 4:12 - There is salvation in no one else! God has given no other name under heaven by which we must be saved.
Romans 1:20 - For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing God.

Man is responsible for what God has revealed to him, those invisible qualities.
Yet, we cannot and should not leave this up to chance. Jesus called us to go into all the world and make disciples.

Romans 10:14 - “But how can they call on him to save them unless they believe in him? And how can they believe in him if they have never heard about him? And how can they hear about him unless someone tells them?”

3. How Will I Be Judged as a Believer?

Two judgments at the end of the world:

1. Great White Throne Judgement

  • At this judgment, those who do not believe in Christ will hear their final judgement and sentencing of separation from God. Those who turn to Christ will not face this judgment.
John 5:24 - I tell you the truth, those who listen to my message and believe in God who sent me have eternal life. They will never be condemned for their sins, but they have already passed from death into life.

2. The “Bema” Judgment

  • This is not a judgment as to whether or not you will be in heaven for eternity. This judgment is all about rewards--or the loss of rewards.
2 Corinthians 5:10 - For we must all stand before Christ to be judged. We will each receive whatever we deserve for the good or evil we have done in this earthly body.

NATURE OF THE BEMA

1 Corinthians 3:10-15 - 10 Because of God’s grace to me, I have laid the foundation like an expert builder. Now others are building on it. But whoever is building on this foundation must be very careful. 11 For no one can lay any foundation other than the one we already have—Jesus Christ. 12 Anyone who builds on that foundation may use a variety of materials—gold, silver, jewels, wood, hay, or straw. 13 But on the judgment day, fire will reveal what kind of work each builder has done. The fire will show if a person’s work has any value. 14 If the work survives, that builder will receive a reward. 15 But if the work is burned up, the builder will suffer great loss. The builder will be saved, but like someone barely escaping through a wall of flames.

Three truths:

  1. What we’ve built into our lives that will last will be rewarded.
    • ACTIONS: For the Son of Man will come with his angels in the glory of his Father and will judge all people according to their deeds. (Matt 16:27)
    • THOUGHTS: But I, the Lord, search all hearts and examine secret motives. I give all people their due rewards, according to what their actions deserve. (Jer 17:10)
    • WORDS: And I tell you this, you must give an account on judgment day for every idle word you speak. (Matt 12:36)
  2. What we’ve built into our lives that will not last will be lost
  3. Whatever our rewards or loss, our salvation is secure.

4. What Will Heaven Be Like?

  • Holiness: Dear friends, we are already God’s children, but he has not yet shown us what we will be like when Christ appears. But we do know that we will be like him, for we will see him as he really is. (1 John 3:2)
  • A Glorified Body: For we know that when this earthly tent we live in is taken down (that is, when we die and leave this earthly body), we will have a house in heaven, an eternal body made for us by God himself and not by human hands. (2 Cor 5:1)
  • Immortality: He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever. (Rev 21:4)
  • Satisfaction of Needs: They will never again be hungry or thirsty; they will never be scorched by the heat of the sun. (Rev 7:16)
  • Sharing of Christ’s Glory: And since we are his children, we are his heirs. In fact, together with Christ we are heirs of God’s glory. But if we are to share his glory, we must also share his suffering. (Rom 8:17)
  • Intimate Fellowship with God and Other Believers: Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely. (1 Cor 13:12)

5. How Can Heaven Affect My Life Now?

  • Endurance in Suffering: That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day. (2 Cor 4:16)
  • Easing of Anxieties: Since you have been raised to new life with Christ, set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits in the place of honor at God’s right hand. 2 Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth. (Colossians 3:1-2)
  • Motivation for Evangelism: And this is what God has testified: He has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have God’s Son does not have life. (1 John 5:11-12)
  • Exercising Stewardship: “Don’t store up treasures here on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal. Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal. Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be. (Matt 6:19-21)
  • Focusing on Others: And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!’ (Matt 25:40)