It hurts and it’s hard to become attached to anyone who isn’t living faithfully because they’re lost. That means they’re not going to heaven. Sometimes lost people pretend like that’s not their reality by distracting themselves with things that make them feel like they’re not lost (Ecc. 2.24-25).
There’s a good chance that you know people who aren’t going to heaven and many of you love people who aren’t and we’ve got to convince them to hear Jesus out.
What can we do?
We can simplify spiritual concepts so that people can understand a message that they desperately need to hear.
Please don’t let anything get in your way of going home. If you think something might be in your way, God can use us to help you. There are more things to fear than Covid, vaccines, tornados, elections, and riots.
Everybody responds to the invitation that Jesus extends. Many choose to say no— but nobody ever regrets saying yes.
To you, responding might be a personal resolve and commitment to christ.
“For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit.”
Jesus is the great healer and the Bible is full of passages that comfort, encourage, give endurance, and help us cope with a broken world. It’s full of so much more! A higher purpose gives us existential meaning, and the Bible outlines that purpose. It also has a few passages that fire me up, and those are the ones I want to share today.
This is our reason to live the Christian life (Matt 19.28; Rom 8.18-25; I Pet 1.3-7, 13; 4.12-19; II Pet 1.3-4, 10-11; 3.3-13; I Jn 3.1-3). We’re looking forward to something much better, but what kind of stuff are we looking for?
– Zero dysfunction! No pain, grief, disease, crime, taxes, tornados, war, death in general, aimbots (if you know you know), etc.
– God gets rid of tears (Rev 21.4)! The context is a message of hope for early Christians who were dealing with devastating loss. But God will ἐξαλείψει all tears. Exaleipsei is future (will happen), and seems to be a comfort word. I had always pictured a Men in Black kind of thing, where all painful memories are obliterated and new ones made. But the word seems to indicate that an interaction with an infinitely compassionate Father will be more than adequate to get rid of any pain. If you’ve ever comforted a spouse or child who was grieving and physically wiped their tears away, that’s what this word describes.
– Everything is brand new (21.5)! None of the junk that we’ve dealt with here will be compatible with our new home.It will be wildly exciting: the best accomplishments of each nation will be there (21.25-26). God and his son provide all we need (21.22-24). True unity exists because we’ll all be on the same side (21.27). No need for healthcare or accountants or coroners or search and rescue or militaries or law enforcement! Those exist to push back against evil, which won’t exist in our new home. Revelation 21 is a rich chapter, but it’s full of excitement! God doesn’t speak empty words. Take him at his word and read the chapter very carefully. It’s hard to walk away from that study without getting pumped for heaven!!!
If you’ve ever taken any kind of introductory biology or ecology class, you’ve probably heard of a few animals that display what we call migratory patterns. It’s pretty self-explanatory, but what these animals do is they live at one location for one part of the year and somewhere else for the other part of the year. For example, there are certain species of whales that inhabit the waters around Alaska. In the Alaskan summers, there’s an abundance of food for these whales to feed on, but when the harsh winter temperatures set in, these whales’ food source becomes scarce, and these whales will migrate south to waters around Hawaii, Central Mexico, and even Asia. But when the summer returns in Alaska, these whales have this instinct to return home. Another example that might hit closer to home is that we saw tons of migratory birds flying right over Kentucky, heading south for the winter within the last few weeks and months. When spring comes back around, we will see these same birds heading back north for the summer. I find it interesting that these animals have this instinct to return home, but the neat thing is that God gives us this instinct as well. Now obviously, I’m not talking about some sort of strange migratory pattern or anything of that nature. I’m speaking about a homesickness, a passion that we Christians should have for heaven.
Ecclesiastes 3:11 says, “He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end.”
This verse tells us that we are all eternal and that God created us with eternity in mind. We know that when we pass on from this life, we are going to either one of two places, but we as Christians have this desire to live in heaven with our father forever. This world just simply isn’t our home.
Let me give you this illustration… imagine you take a fish out of water and put it on land. That fish will never be happy! It doesn’t matter if you give that fish a wad of 100-dollar bills or build it a giant home and give it a fancy car. It still won’t be happy because it doesn’t belong on land.
As Christians, our life here on Earth is similar. It doesn’t matter how much money we have, or how big our house is, or what kind of car we drive because we will never be as happy here as we will be in heaven.
Heaven is a place that we cannot even imagine…
1st Corinthians 2:9 says, “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard,
nor the heart of man imagined,
what God has prepared for those who love him.”
We don’t have all the answers to what our home in heaven will look like or what it will feel like, but the most important thing is that when we get there, we will be in the presence of God for eternity, and He wants each and every single one of us there.
When I get discouraged, I read a few specific verses. They will hopefully encourage you, too!
Philippians 3.20f: But we are citizens of heaven, where the lord Jesus Christ lives. And we are eagerly waiting for him to return as our savior. He will take our weak mortal bodies and change them into glorious bodies like his own, using the same power with which he will bring everything under his control.
Romans 8.1-4: So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. Because you belong to him, the power of the life-giving spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death…God did what the law could not do. He sent his own Son in a body like the bodies we sinners have. In that body God declared an end to sin’s control over us by giving his Son as a sacrifice for our sins. He did this so that the just requirement of the law would be fully satisfied for us, who no longer follow our sinful nature but instead follow the Spirit.
I Corinthians 15.51-53: But let me reveal to you a wonderful secret. We will not all die, but we will all be transformed! It will happen in a moment, in the blink of an eye, when the last trumpet is blown. For when the trumpet sounds, those who have died will be raised to live forever. And we who are living will also be transformed. For our dying bodies must be transformed into bodies that will never die; our mortal bodies must be transformed into immortal bodies.
II Corinthians 4.16ff: That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day. For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.
II Corinthians 5.1-4: 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. We grow weary in our present bodies, and we long to put on our heavenly bodies like new clothing. For we will put on heavenly bodies; we will not be spirits without bodies. While we live in these earthly bodies, we groan and sigh, but it’s not that we want to die and get rid of these bodies that clothe us. Rather, we want to put on our new bodies so that these dying bodies will be swallowed up by life.
The definition of homesick is “experiencing a longing for one’s home during a period of absence from it.” It’s the feeling a college student experiences in their first few months away from home. It’s a desire to get back to the people you love and to be back in a familiar place. Whether it’s a business trip that takes you away for extended periods of time or even a vacation, that feeling of opening the door and being back home is amazing.
We sometimes sing a song in worship that speaks of this longing. “I’m kind of homesick for a country. To which I’ve never been before..” How can we long for a place we’ve never been? This is a homesickness like no other. It’s unique in that the desire to be there is based on the descriptions of heaven we read in scripture.
We are to long for heaven more than our earthly home. How can we do this? “No sad goodbyes, will there be spoken. For time won’t matter anymore.” Aren’t you homesick for a place without goodbyes? A time when we will never have to stand over the coffin of a loved one again. A place where cancer and sickness can’t take our loved ones away. Heaven is a home where we will never have to experience the pain and grief that comes from death.
Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 15:53-55, “For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.” “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?”” For too long death has won. For too long people have felt the pain that death brings. But one day, death will be swallowed up. No longer will death be able to torment us. Our eternal home will be a place free of death. There won’t be any funeral homes, graveyards, or hospitals because heaven is a place where no one will ever die again. I’m homesick for a place I’ve never been because in that wonderful home we will never say goodbye.
Christianity is important to us. Making sure we live the right way is important to us. Because our loyalty to God is important to us, and because our lifestyle is characterized by avoiding evil, many believe that our mission in life is to defeat evil. Some Christians believe that this involves social activism or influencing public opinion. Nothing about this is intrinsically wrong, but it cannot be our primary focus.
Evil exists, period. Humanity introduced evil when we disobeyed God. As we noted last week, evil is on borrowed time thanks to Jesus, but it will exist until the end of time. So, what’s our job if fighting evil isn’t top of the list?
Christians are people who decide to follow God. That means living based on his moral code, not on humanity’s. That means we avoid practicing morally evil things. We recognize the influence that evil has on the world. We understand the consequences of choosing evil over God.
Christians are recruiters! We’re a tight knit group of people with shared goals, views, and struggles. Part of our job is to keep each other strong (Gal. 6.10; I Pet. 1.22; Heb. 3.12,13). The rest of our job is to recruit people to populate heaven (Matt. 28.19; Acts 20.24; Jn.15). God also expects us to be good citizens and live quiet, peaceful lives (Rom. 13; I Pet. 2.13; I Tim. 2.2; I Thess. 4.11).
Jesus defeated evil (I Jn. 3.8, 4.4; Col. 2.15), and he will personally destroy it forever at the end (Rev. 20; II Pet. 3.7). For now, though, evil is inevitable (I Jn. 5.19). Our job is to share God’s hope with those who don’t have it. By avoiding evil ourselves and helping others escape its influence, we help diminish its influence on the world!
Jesus wants us to have a perfect eternity with him because he sees us as family (Heb. 2.11-14). He took drastic measures to make sure anyone who wants to could easily get a passport to heaven.
He took a 33 year demotion to save us (Heb. 2.9). The engineer and fabricator of reality stepped down to an entry-level position so His own creation could abuse and kill him.
An immortal being allowed Himself to die. He did this to experience what all of us have to experience (2.9).
The best pulmonologists have a respiratory disorder (or a family member with one). They empathize and know from personal experience what works. Jesus was the perfect person to give out freedom because He personally experienced what we go through. If someone’s going to be in charge of handing out grace, who better than someone who can empathize with our struggles (2.10; 17,18)?
He makes us perfect in God’s eyes (2.11).
He brags on His family to the father and to the faithful dead who are hanging out with Him until judgment (2.11-13; 12.21-23).
Death is scary and uncertain, but not for Christians. Satan used our fear of death against us (2.14; cf Rom. 8.15), but Jesus confiscated Satan’s power.
He made God very accessible, which makes it easy to stay faithful (4.16).
He’s better than ancient human priests – and even they were gentle/patient with ignorant and weak believers (5.1,2). If they were patient with ignorant, weak believers, He’s even more patient (5.5-10).
[Note: I titled it escargot because I used to get eschatology and escargot confused. Plus, in his section concerning the end of time Peter prefaces with, “The Lord isn’t slow concerning His promises the way we consider slowness.” Snails are slow. The end of time seems far away, hence escargot]
A lot of movies detailing a world-ending event are designed to elicit a fearful response from viewers (for thrills, of course). Whether it’s the Walking Dead’s zombie apocalypse, Independence Day’s alien invasion, or Knowing’s solar flare (although Nicolas Cage’s acting is probably the most terrifying thing about the movie…), the end of time is usually portrayed as a terrifying event requiring humanity to go to incredible lengths to avoid it.
Christianity is so beautiful because we’re actually dying for the end to come!
I Corinthians 1.7 – “…as you wait for the revealing of our lord Jesus Christ…” Wait is apekdechomia, which means to welcome something with great anticipation. The same word is used to I Peter 3.20 where God eagerly waited for the earth to run away from sin in the days of Noah.
Philippians 3.20 – “But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a savior, the lord Jesus Christ…” Paul encouraged the Philippian church to imitate the examples of selflessness he had listed, especially since enemies of the cross were in existence (maybe even an indirect reference to Euodia and Syntyche). Unlike the enemies of the cross, we’re waiting for God to save us from this world.
Romans 8.19 – “For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God…” And 23, “Not only creation, but we who have the firstfruits of the Spirit groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.” Redemption is apolutrosis, which describes release from a captive state or from interrogation. We eagerly anticipate the last day.
Hebrews 9.28 – “…so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.” Verse 27 makes it very clear that we face judgment immediately after death! Jesus’ second coming is to save us from this world, which was made dysfunctional because of sin.
II Peter 3.12 – “Since all these things will be undone, what sort of people should you be in lives of holiness and godliness, waiting for and hurrying the coming of the day of God, because of which the sky will be set on fire and dismantled, and the earth and the works done within it will be dissolved.” Peter is describing the end, but far from terrifying, we are waiting for and hurrying that last day.
A lot’s going on in our world, much of it scary and anxiety-inducing. Oh well! “Come back, lord Jesus” (Rev. 22.20).
Access to Tree of Life Blocked (Gen. 3) Access to Tree of Life Restored (Rev. 22.2)
Man Unified in Evil (Gen. 6) Man Unified in Evil (II Thess. 2.3-12)
Earth Destroyed by Water (Gen. 7; II Pet. 3.6,7) Earth Destroyed by Fire (II Pet. 3.7)
Jesus Gives Access to Father (Heb. 2.9) We Live With God (II Tim. 2.12; I Jn. 3.1ff; Rom. 8.29)
“The God and Father of our lord Jesus Christ is blessed. Thanks to His incredible mercy, we are born again into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ out of death. Because of this, we have an immortal inheritance that has no flaw and cannot wear out. This is guarded in heaven for you who are also guarded by God through faith. This salvation will be revealed to you at the end” (I Pet. 1.3ff).