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A few weeks ago we hosted a monthly event we call “The Gathering” for our senior adults. It’s always a special time eating together, encouraging one another, and sharing in some great food and entertainment. But what happened at this gathering was something none of us expected but reminded us that what the writer of Ecclesiastes said is true...
“God has set eternity in the heart of man.”
Bill Berry and his daughter Suzette were singing some great old songs that were familiar to most in the room. But when he began singing about heaven, that’s when it happened. One of our guests with advanced Alzheimer’s, who rarely says a word, began singing with Bill,
“some glad morning when this life is over, I’ll fly away.... to a home on God’s celestial shore, I’ll fly away.... just a few more weary days and then, I’ll fly away... to a land where joy shall never end, I’ll fly away... I’ll fly away oh glory, I’ll fly away... when I die, hallelujah by and by, I’ll fly away."
She didn’t miss a single word.
There is much awareness and interest in our world today of end times and heaven. There are movies depicting how the end will come. Books, movies and television shows claim factual personal knowledge of what heaven is like based on the near death experience of adults and children. More than ever, this generation wants the answer to questions like: Is there really life after death? If heaven exists, is it here on earth or some distant location? What will heaven look like? Will everyone be there or only a select few?
Because God has set eternity in the heart of every person, there comes a time when we all want to know the answer to the question, “Is heaven real and how can I be sure?”
As part of our “Open House” series we want to not only answer this question, but provide answers to the top 6 questions people have about heaven.
#1 Will we go to heaven immediately?
#2 What will our bodies be like in Heaven?
#3 Will we know what’s happening on earth?
#4 Will we remember our lives on earth?
#5 Will we know people?
#6 What difference does it make if I go to heaven or hell?
This week, along with these top 6 questions, we will address 3 realities about heaven.
First, for the believer “heaven is home.” Jesus said in John Chapter 14 that He has prepared a place for us, a place in His Father’s house. A place He calls home.
Jesus continues by saying that “He will come for us and take us there.” While I believe he is primarily referring to his 2nd coming, I also believe that Jesus returns for us individually when our time on earth is through.
The third, is a very difficult reality that warrants some explanation. “The majority of people aren’t going to heaven.” A survey of the American people showed that 85 percent of the people believe they are going to heaven. Although there is going to be a number greater than we can count, the bible teaches that there will be more people who don’t make it to heaven than those who do. In Matthew 7:13, Jesus said, “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life and only a few find it.” (Matthew 7:13-14 NIV)
Jesus said to his disciples, there is a way through to life after death, follow me. Then he led them to a cross where he died for their sins. Then they followed as His body was taken and put in a tomb and a stone was rolled against it. But 3 days later he came back with nail prints in his hands and said, “I am the way to eternal life. You follow me and you can make it
No other religious founder can make that claim. Not Mohamed, not William Branham, or any other cult or so called religious leader. None came back from the grave. Only Jesus can say “I am the way, I am the truth, I am the life, follow me and you will get to heaven.” Only those who believe in Jesus, who place their trust in Him, can be assured of heaven.
I was so amazed that Thursday morning as Beverly so clearly sang all three verses to that song “I’ll fly away.” The assurance in her eyes, the same assurance that God wants everyone one of us to have.
How can you be assured that the hope of heaven is real? The answer is as simple A, B, C and D.
A - Admit your need for God. Our chance of getting to heaven by being good is equal to my chance of swimming from California to Hawaii on my own strength. So instead of comparing yourself to other people and feeling like you are pretty good, compare yourself to God’s law. Align yourself with the 10 commandments and realize you’ve broken almost every one of them. Romans 3:20 says: Through the law we become conscious of sin. So admit to God “I am a sinner in need of your forgiveness.”
B – Believe in Jesus Christ as your personal Savior. Would you repeat John 3:16 with me. “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son that whoever believes in him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” Now to believe is more than a mental agreement “yes he is the son of God”. It is putting your faith in his death on the cross to save you, humbly trusting him, not yourself. The bible says in Ephesians 2, it is by grace that you are saved through faith. Next week we begin a 7 week journey to discovering faith. I hope you will come back. But today, are you willing to put your trust in Him?
C- Confess Jesus as the Lord of your life. Romans 10:9 says that if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and that God has raised him from the dead, you will be saved. When Jesus died for us, he died publicly, on a hill outside of the big city of Jerusalem on the busiest day of the year. And he asks us when we make a decision to follow him, to confess him publicly, unashamedly. The bible calls it our good confession. We don’t have to lay out our laundry list of sins before everyone, but we have to confess the good truth that we believe in Jesus. In Matthew 10:32 Jesus said, “whoever acknowledges me before men I will acknowledge him before my father who is in heaven.”
Admit, believe, confess, and then D - Demonstrate your allegiance to Christ by repenting of sin and being baptized into Christ. Die to your old life and rise to walk a new. "Repent and be baptized every one of you for the forgiveness of your sins and the gift of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38). Repentance means you change directions. You’ve been living for selfish pleasure, now you live for God’s will. You have changed direction from following the crowd to following Christ. Romans 6:4 says, “We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. If we have been united with him in his death, we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection.”
Heaven is real. For the believer heaven is home. Yes the road is narrow, but He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. When it’s your time, Jesus will come for you. Today, he invites you to come as you are and receive his grace. Alzheimer’s can’t take that away from you. Satan can’t take it away from you. Your past or present circumstances can’t take it away from you. Only you can decide. Come, let him welcome you home.
I hope you will check out Open House this weekend at 5:30pm Saturday and 10:30am Sunday. We look forward to celebrating with you.