Do you believe in Heaven? Does Heaven Even Exist?
We aren’t asking this because we lack faith but rather because we wish to mature in faith. In our exploration of heaven, we endeavor to bridge the gap between our earthly perceptions and the scriptural revelations of the afterlife. The journey began with a lighthearted reference to a cartoon - a man dreaming of playing golf in heaven, only to find that they only had shuffleboard - a simple yet effective metaphor for our often limited earthly imaginings of the heavenly realm.
Now, drawing parallels between our life experiences and our concepts of heaven, I shared a personal anecdote. I recounted a recent date with my wife, Mel, contrasting my current understanding of a perfect date with my earlier, younger, and admittedly wild understanding of a perfect date from 20 years ago. This evolution in perception mirrors how our understanding of heaven can also mature and deepen over time, surpassing our initial, perhaps naive, conceptions.
I shared that I uncovered over a hundred references to heaven. This was not just an academic exercise but a spiritual quest to understand what heaven truly represents.
From the Gospels, I drew attention to Jesus' descriptions of heaven. He spoke of it as a lasting treasure (Matthew 6), an inheritance (Matthew 25), and promised paradise (Luke 23). Notably, in John 3:16, he highlighted the promise of eternal life - a cornerstone of our Christian faith.
Paul's epistles provided further enlightenment. He described heaven as a reward for faithful service, a joyous surprise beyond our wildest dreams, and a place where our earthly identities are transformed into a new, heavenly citizenship.
The Book of Revelation paints a vivid picture of heaven, depicting it as a place of endless worship and unity, free from suffering and sorrow. It portrays a realm where material wealth loses its value, exemplified by streets paved with gold - a symbol of heaven's inverted values.
Throughout the sermon, I sought to inspire the congregation to live purposefully in transit to this divine destination. I encouraged everyone to question and deepen their understanding of heaven, not to foster doubt but to cultivate a more profound faith.
So take John 14:1-4 and consider the following:
Jesus will come back when “everything is ready.” So continue to be patient if He hasn’t returned because not everything is ready. Stop trying to assert control!
Jesus will return personally… no angel, emissary, apostle, or disciple. Jesus Himself will come back and get you.
Jesus reassures us that there is more than enough room in His Father’s house. That heaven is a place of plenty, and Jesus knows that there is room for us. He can trust the Father, just as much as we can trust the Son.
Jesus' desire in heaven isn’t for us to be doing our own thing, but that in heaven, we will enjoy each other’s company. Scripture says, “You will always be with me where I am” – which also applies to now. So, you do not have to wait to die to experience heaven. You can experience heaven here and now when you are in the presence of Jesus.
Jesus says, “Don’t let your heart be troubled.” A command to calm the troubled heart. Not because we can be in control or have knowledge of heaven, but because if we trust the Father, we can also trust the Son.
A pivotal point of my message was the realization that we can experience elements of heaven in our current lives. The Lord's Prayer reminds us to manifest heavenly values on earth. This is not a mere theological concept but a call to action to live out unity, love, and purpose in our daily lives.
So, we shouldn't just believe in heaven; we should trust the Son, who taught us and showed us heaven. We should count on it!
In conclusion, my sermon was an affirmation of my belief in Jesus Christ as the path to the Father, and together, we will reside in a place we can call heaven. I emphasized the importance of following His teachings and example and trusting in His promise of eternal life. This sermon was an invitation to all not just to contemplate heaven as a distant reality but to live in a way that brings heaven closer to our everyday experience.
As I reflect on this sermon, my hope remains that it has opened hearts and minds to a more profound understanding of heaven and inspired a life that reflects its values here on Earth.
See the slides -- click below