One of the most powerful word in the English language is the word “Home.” Why? Because “Home” indicates or communicates the thought that you are warm, secure, free, protected, loved and belong. The true value of that word home is felt most keenly by those who are farthest away from home. As such: a soldier on a battlefield, a patient in a hospital bed, a prisoner in a cell, or a runaway child who is far away from home. As believers in the Lord Jesus Christ, we are sojourners, we are pilgrims going through this land, this world is not our home. Our citizenship is in heaven says the apostle Paul (in Philippians 3:20). Our home is truly in Heaven where Jesus is.
There is a story said about a little girl (3 years of age) who went to live with the neighbours because her own mother was ill. The idea was that, as soon as her mother gets well, the girl will come back home. But sadly, the girl’s mother died, and the neighbours kept the girl until the mother’s funeral was over. When the girl returned home, she went to the living room and called out for her mummy, but her mummy was not there. She went to the kitchen, and upstairs in the bedroom looking for her mummy, but her mummy was nowhere to be found. Then, finally, someone explained to her what had happened, that her mother died. On hearing that, the poor little girl in a child’s innocence wanted to go back to the neighbour’s house. Because you see, home was not home without mummy.
In the same way, what makes heaven to heaven and to be home is that Jesus is going to be there. As C.S Lewis puts it, “If we find ourselves with a desire that nothing in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that we were made for another world.” True contentment can only be experienced when we see Jesus face to face. The joy of physically seeing the face of God; worshipping God in person; adoring God in person, being physically in the presence of Jehovah is what makes heaven to be heaven. My personal conviction is that the Amplified Bible version brings out the most significant sentiment that David had at heart in the very last verse of David’s prayer in Psalm 23. David concludes the beloved Psalm 23 many of us memorised as children by saying assuredly that:
“I shall dwell in the house and in the ‘presence’ of (in the care of) the LORD forever.”
What an exciting thought it is to know that we are going to be with the Lord forever. When D.L. Moody was dying, someone asked him, “what are your expectations of heaven? What are you going to be doing in heaven?” “I expect to spend the very first 1000 years just looking at Jesus,” he replied. The thought of seeing the face of God should comfort us when we grieve; help us rejoice even in the midst of disappointment of life; encourage us to keep on keeping on even when keeping on is hard. The thought of seeing the face of God truthfully exhilarate me, motivates me, ignites my passion for Christ, and empowers me to work harder in all I do for my Lord.
The apostle Paul was persecuted by the Romans, the Jews, and was even hated by Christians who accused him falsely. He was imprisoned, lashed, shipwrecked, stoned almost to death, beating by poisonous snake, endured sleepless nights and hunger in the cold (without enough clothing to keep him warm). But yet, he was able to see all that he had been through has light and momentary trials because he was looking forward to heaven. The average Christian today, when they get a headache, they think it’s the beginning of the tribulation. But for the apostle Paul, as he would focus on heaven and think of heaven and compare it with all of his present sufferings, he could say in 2 Corinthians 4:17:
“Not only is all your affliction momentary, not only is all your affliction light in comparison to eternity and the glory there. But all of it is totally meaningful. Every millisecond of your pain, from the fallen nature or the fallen man, every millisecond of your misery in the part of obedience is producing a peculiar glory you will get because of that. Therefore, do not lose heart. Of course, you can’t see what it’s doing. Don’t look to what is seen. But take these truths and day by day focus on them. Preach them to yourself every morning. Get alone with God and preach his word into your mind until your heart sings with confidence that you are new and cared for.” – John Piper.
The only true focus of our lives should be where we going to be spending eternity. I don’t know anybody who buys a house that does not inspect it, and yet, there are so many Christians who do very little thinking about where they would spend eternity. Everything we do here determines what awaits us there. Many years ago, Charles E. Fuller (one of the pioneers of radio evangelism and founder of Fuller Theological Seminary) once received a letter from a believer who understood that this life is mere preparation for the life to come. In the letter the man writes down:
“I am interested in heaven because I have held clear title to a property there for over 55 years. I did not buy it. It was given to me without money and without price. But the donor purchased it for me at a tremendous sacrifice. I am not holding it for speculation since the title is not transferable. It is not a vacant lot. For more than half a century, I have been sending materials, out of which the greatest Architect of the universe has been building a house for me which will never need remodelling or repairs because it will suit me perfectly, individually, and will never grow old. Termites can never undermine its foundation, for they are resting on the Rock of Ages. Fires cannot destroy. Flood cannot wash it away. No locks nor bolts will ever be placed upon its doors, for no vicious person can enter that land where my dwelling stands, now almost completed and almost ready for me to enter in and abide in peace eternally, without fear of being ejected….”
There are some people who accuse Christian believers that their belief in Heaven is an escape mechanism. I wouldn’t argue with them; they are absolutely right. I for one, I want to escape the death and the destruction that is coming upon the world. I for one, I want to escape the horrors and the tribulation that is coming upon the world. I for one, I am glad that I am going to escape hell and damnation. I am glad and delighted that Jesus has provided a way of escape from hell and destruction for those who love him.
It is so unfashionable now to be so negative as to preach on the reality of hell. It is not Satan’s favourite subject, and therefore, part of Satan’s deception is to keep preachers from preaching on the reality of hell. When people trivialise hell and treat it as a joke, the enemy is delighted and loves it. Jesus spoke about hell more than anyone else in Scripture. In fact, Jesus spoke more frequently about hell than He did about heaven.
Hell is not a state of mind or a figment of one’s imagination. The Bible makes it clear that hell is a real place of suffering where real people will spend the rest of eternity in pain, in torment, in utter darkness, in confinement, and in complete isolation (Luke 16:19-31; Matthew 18-21-35; Matthew 22:13; Matthew 25:30). Hell is a place I want everyone (even my enemies) to escape from. It is not a place that I rejoice in anyone going.
There was once a preacher by the name of Peter Cartwright. One morning before Cartwright was to preach, he was told that General Andrew Jackson was going to be in the service and was asked not to say anything to offend him. When Cartwright got up to preach, he said: “I am told that General Andrew Jackson is in the congregation. Andrew Jackson will go to hell if he does not commit his life to Jesus Christ.” People were aghast. But after the service was over, Jackson approached Cartwright and shook his hand, saying, “If I had 100 men like you in my regiment, I could take on the world.”
The true gospel is offensive to the world. But many Christians walk on eggshells, avoiding any subject that might offend. They never speak of sin, hell, judgement, atonement, the cross, the resurrection, or the blood of Jesus. At some point, we Christians would have to accept that our faith in Yahweh can put us in violation of the law, at which point we need to choose which law to follow – God or men’s? Christians in the first century went to the lions because they wouldn’t offer their pinch of incense in worship of the Roman Emperor. “When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die.” – Dietrich Bonhoeffer
Most preachers in the mainline church have given up preaching on heaven and hell. The few souls who venture to say a thing or two about heaven and hell speak about it in such abstract and confusing terms that those who come to hear them leave more in doubt than when they came in. CS Lewis, the great apologists, was once listening to a young minister preach on the subject of God’s eternal judgement. During the sermon, the young minister said, “Those who do not receive Christ as their Saviour shall suffer grave eschatological ramifications!” After the service, CS Lewis approached the young minister and said, “young man, did you mean to say those who do not believe in Christ will go to hell?” “Yes sir, that’s exactly what I meant,” he replied. “Then say so,” Lewis said to him.
As teaching about hell literally tears me apart, thinking about heaven makes me soar into the highest of heaven. Heaven will be a place of constant worship – a place of serving the Lord. (Rev 22:3). The Bible says (in Matthew 25:23) we will be serving by reigning and ruling with him. Heaven is a place where we shall have rest from the spiritual battle (Rev 14:13). Heaven is a place of uninterrupted fellowship with God, the triune God.
Heaven is a place of full knowledge (1 Cor. 13:12). So many people ask the age-old question – “Why?” If God knew that Satan was going to rebel against him and he could have stopped him. Why didn’t he? If God knew that Adam and Eve were going to rebel against him and he could have stopped them, why didn’t he? Why do bad things happen? Why diseases, war, heartquakes, hurricane, and all the sufferings? No one can answer any of these questions perfectly. But in heaven, we would know why, and won’t even have to ask, because we will immediately be aware and have eternal perspective and full knowledge.
The most important thing about heaven is beholding Him (Jesus) face to face.
Some simply person said, “the way to heaven is short, easy, and simple – out of self, into Christ, and into glory. When a person receives Jesus Christ into their life, they are going to discover that this life is no more than a train ride, and every one of us is going to get off at a station. Heaven is a place I can’t wait to go to. It’s my home and I’m so thankful to the Lord that heaven is my final destination. I’ll conclude with another beautiful quote by C.S Lewis:
“Our Heavenly Father refreshes us on the journey with some pleasant inns, but He will not encourage us to mistake any of them for home.”
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