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Dr. Rick Mandl - July 18, 2021

The Glory of Heaven

For centuries, humans have tried to figure out how to live longer and avoid this inevitable fact: we all die. When faced with that reality, how do you feel? Fearful, hopeful, somewhere in-between? __________________________________________________________________________

It’s good to welcome you as we come together for worship. And as we do, we’re wrapping up a series we’ve been in called: One Minute After You Die.

Looking at what we can expect One Minute After We Die Today looking at HEAVEN. Which is something that a lot of people don’t spend a lot of time thinking about. In fact, for some people, it’s the last thing they think about...

The way that we think about Heaven is very different than the way the Bible talks about it. The Bible repeatedly says things like you’ll see in our MEMORY VERSE for this week, Colossians 3:1: “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.”

It tells us to “FOCUS” on heaven. In fact, the original Greek word translated “SET YOUR SIGHTS ON” is the Greek word Zeteo and it refers to a search or a quest. It’s the same word that’s used in the GOSPELS when it says that Jesus came to SEEK that which was lost. It’s also used to describe how a shepherd looks for his lost sheep, and a woman searches for her lost coin. It’s referring to a diligent, relentless, focused, single-minded search That Greek word there is in the present tense, suggesting that it ought to be, for us an ongoing process.

It’s telling us that as followers of Jesus Christ we shouldn’t just have a conversation, or read a book, or listen to a podcast about Heaven. The Bible instructs us to commit to a focused investigation about heaven because when you do, it’s gonna benefit your life down here. Now, do we do that? No! Why not? I’ll give you three reasons...

1. We Think It’s BORING

Gary Larson, in one of his “FARSIDE” cartoons, shows a guy with Angel Wings, and a halo, sitting on a cloud doing nothing. There’s nobody else in the picture and he has a totally bored blank expression on his face and his thought balloon says, “Whew.. . . .I wish I’d brought a magazine.” That’s the picture we’ve got of Heaven. BORRRRRRING! Because what purpose do we have there? In Heaven, forever and ever, doing what? Singing Hymns? And someone tells you… “Oh, but you’re gonna want to sing hymns forever there.” And you respond…. “Yeah, that’s what I’m afraid of.” To some people that sounds more like Hell!

And then secondly there are those who feel like...

2. It’s Not As Good As What We’ve Got

As we move further and further into 2021, with the Pandemic hopefully in our rearview mirror, we realize that our lives are in fact pretty good. We want to forget the past and think about the future, but not a future as far off as Heaven. Given the choice, we would rather think about our favorite SPORTS TEAM or our UPCOMING VACATION or our next HOME IMPROVEMENT PROJECT because those things somehow just seem more real to us than heaven does.

And then a third reason is that Heaven is for a lot of us...

3. We Think This World Is All There Is

You tell someone you believe in Heaven, and they might respond by asking you: what else do you believe in? The Tooth Fairy? The Easter Bunny? Santa Claus? There are a lot of people who believe that this world is all there is. As followers of Jesus Christ, I believe that The Key To Staying Excited About Heaven Lies in understanding the PILGRIM PRINCIPLE

What’s the Pilgrim Principle?

Simply stated it’s that: Heaven is my Home, Earth is merely my HOTEL ROOM.

This is a principle that you see lived out in the lives of the people of God all throughout the Bible. In Genesis 47, toward the end of the book of Genesis, we find Joseph reunited with his brothers, who were the very ones who had sold him into slavery. At the beginning of this 47th chapter, we see Joseph introducing his brothers to Pharaoh. After the introduction, Pharaoh said to Joseph, "Your father and your brothers have come to you, and the land of Egypt is before you; settle your father and your brothers in the best part of the land. Let them live in Goshen." And they and their descendants would live there for the next 430 years until the Exodus.

As you read on, you see that after the brothers meet Pharaoh Joseph brings his father to meet Pharaoh In verse 7 we see, "Then Joseph brought his father Jacob in and presented him before Pharaoh. After Jacob blessed Pharaoh, Pharaoh asked him, ‘How old are you?’” (Genesis 47:7-8). A straightforward question, not difficult to answer, but notice the way that Jacob answered it Verse 9, “And Jacob said to Pharaoh, ‘The years of my pilgrimage are a hundred and thirty. My years have been few and difficult, and they do not equal the years of the pilgrimage of my fathers.’” (Genesis 47:9-10)

Notice the word that Jacob used to refer to his life here on earth He calls it a “PILGRIMAGE.” And he uses the same word “pilgrimage” when referring to the life of his father ISAAC and his grandfather ABRAHAM. Jacob says the only difference between his pilgrimage and theirs was that their pilgrimage was longer than his. ISAAC lived to the age of 180, and ABRAHAM, his grandfather, lived to the age of 175. I don’t think that Jacob used this word PILGRIMAGE by accident, I think he used it because it gives us some insight into his perspective, when it came to his life here on earth. He saw himself as a pilgrim.

What is a pilgrimage? The essence of a pilgrimage is that we are on our way somewhere, but we haven’t arrived there yet Pilgrims are people who are in transit, and this is what Jacob meant when he referred to the years of his life as a pilgrimage. He meant that he was simply moving through this earthly life. He was simply in transit while on earth and on his way to his final destination which was Heaven.

As followers of Christ today, we need to remember that this is the view of life that all of us are called to have. The Bible calls us to see our lives here on Earth as PILGRIMS. Just like Jacob every one of us is a ‘pilgrimage’ too. This is why David prayed in Psalm 39:4, "Show me, O LORD, my life's end and the number of my days; let me know how fleeting is my life.”

Just like Jacob, all of us who are followers of Christ are on a pilgrimage. Just like Jacob, this world isn’t our home, we’re just passing through, on our way to our final destination which is an eternal one. All of us were created to be eternal beings, and all of us are going to spend eternity somewhere. Where that somewhere is, gets decided during the days of our pilgrimage here.

All of us will spend eternity in one of two places...

Either a REAL PLACE called HEAVEN

Or else as NO-LESS REAL PLACE called HELL

Which one of these real places we wind up in, depends entirely on what we did with Jesus Christ during the days of our pilgrimage on earth. If we received Jesus Christ as our personal savior, if we trusted in his finished work on the cross as our only hope to pay for our sins, the Bible says our final eternal destination is Heaven.

On the flip side, the Bible says if we reject Jesus Christ, if we’re not willing to trust in what he did on the cross as the payment for our sins, then the opposite is true. Our final destination will be Hell for all eternity.

The Bible says this plainly. If you’re here today and you’ve never placed your trust in the work that Jesus Christ did for you on the cross, then I want to challenge you to think about this. All of us are headed for eternity. I don’t know if you’ve researched this, but the latest data tells us that the mortality rate for human beings is 100%. Everybody dies. That’s not a subject that’s open for debate, the only question is where you are going to wind up when you die. And the Bible says our default destination when we enter this life is not heaven. We’d like to believe it is, but it’s not. And if you come into this life and do nothing to change where you are headed. . . when your life is over, your final destination won’t be Heaven.

GOD WANTS YOU in heaven with him. He wants it so much that he sent his own Son, Jesus Christ, into the world to die on a cross to make it be possible to be with him forever in Heaven. He has done everything necessary to get you there, except for one thing...

You need to receive what he has done for you. You need to receive it as a gift and make it your own. This is something that can only be done while you’re here on your earthly pilgrimage. You do that, you receive that gift, and God has prepared some awesome things that he has waiting for you in his Heaven. You wonder, what are those things? What will Heaven be like? Not the Heaven of the movies, but the Heaven that the Bible describes. What will I find when I get there?

Lots of things . . . Amazing things . . . Things that words can’t describe. But I’ll share with you just three. When you get to heaven you’ll find...

Real People With Real Bodies

Not disembodied spirits. The Bible provides us with a clue, a key to unlocking what we’ll be like in Heaven. Look at what it says. In his first letter, John says, "we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.” (1 John 3:2) When it says “we shall be like him”, the HIM that it’s talking about is JESUS.

Think about what Jesus Christ was like after his resurrection in his glorified body. The Bible says he could be “touched.” He walked around, He could talk, He had a real body, He cooked breakfast one time, fish and toast for the disciples, He was physical. He had amazing powers (could pass through locked doors) but He had a glorified human body, He was not a ghost.

1 Corinthians 15 tells us that, “...the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed...” (1 Cor. 15:52) We’ll be changed into real bodies, not just spirits, and we will be with other real people with real bodies.

When the Bible talks about those who have died in Christ before us and gone on to be with Him, it describes a day when Jesus will return and all of those who are with him now will return with Him and their bodies are in the grave right now, will be resurrected, new, alive, and glorious. The Bible says “...we will be caught up together with them in the clouds... and so we will be with the Lord forever.” (1 Thess. 4:13) Don’t miss that phrase, ‘together with them’ Think about that for a minute Who are you looking forward to seeing when you get to Heaven? For you, it might be a mother or a father or a brother or a sister. To be able to see them again and hug them again and weep, not with grief but with joy, that’s what Heaven promises. Friendships rudely interrupted by death are going to continue

We’re gonna have real tangible bodies in a real reunion with real people in a...

Real Place

A real place where we’re gonna walk around and have activity and interesting stuff going on Jesus said, “In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you.” (John 14:2) Look at the words there, ‘A place’ . . . ‘A House’ . . . ‘rooms’. Jesus deliberately chooses physical words to describe heaven because He wanted to give his disciples something tangible to look forward to.

Revelation 21 says it's a real place where there's no more pain, suffering, or tears. It's a real place where there's no more deceit or darkness. It's a real place where there's pure joy and breathtaking beauty. Revelation four describes it like rainbows that shine like emeralds. I said earlier that one of the reasons that heaven is the last thing we think about is that we think this world is all there is. Or maybe more accurately stated, we’d like to convince ourselves that this world is all there is. The fact is that the Bible tells us that we’re hard-wired for Heaven. Ecclesiastes 3:11 tells us that, “God has set eternity in the human heart.”

In other words, God has hard-wired us to long for eternal life. Too long that, we won't die and that we will live forever. That longing has been placed there by God. C.S. Lewis, the famous author and thinker, said it this way, he said, “Creatures are not born with desires, unless satisfaction of those desires exists.” He says, “If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.” That’s the reality a lot of people don’t want to admit it, so they try to chase after experiences in this world.

But, but, but, - What do you do, when you’ve come to the end of that? What do you do, when you’ve checked off every item that was on your bucket list, and you’ve experienced every experience that this world has to offer? Well, if you’ve got the means, what you do is you add to your bucket list, some experiences that are “out of this world.”

This week we’ve seen two billionaires in a race, to become the first non-astronaut to travel to space. Sir Richard Branson and Jeff Bezos have been racing to be the first to get there. Richard Branson did it last week, but not to be outdone, Jeff Bezos is saying that Richard Branson didn’t go high enough – didn’t really get to space – it fact, Jeff Bezos says that Richard Branson only traveled in space based on U.S. definition.

This coming Tuesday, Jeff Bezos is travelling further, so that HE can be the first non-astronaut to travel to space based on the International definition of where space begins. There’s not a lot of love on our planet for Billionaires, which is why tens of thousands of people have signed a petition to stop Jeff Bezos from returning to Earth. I don’t fault these guys for chasing after their dreams. They’ve got the means to pursue their dreams. They’re not hurting anyone as they do that. But as I look at what they’re doing I try to remember those words of C.S. Lewis “If I find myself with a desire, which no experience in this world can satisfy. . .” Like maybe the desire to live forever...

The most probable explanation is that I was made for another world. Heaven is a place where all our desires will be met. Some people wonder, will there be sports in Heaven? I don't know the answer to that question. But I do know when the Bible describes what Heaven is going to be like, what I see is a lot of purple and gold.

The Color Purple, being a kingly color and Streets of Gold. Interesting, no green and gold, just purple and gold. And I encourage you to meditate on that this week. And just think about the meaning of that, I wonder, have you ever heard someone say "I don’t want to go to Heaven if there’s not BLANK there?" And you can fill in the BLANK with whatever you want. If you’re a sports fan it might be DODGERS BASEBALL. For you, it might be KOREAN BBQ, or the ability to BINGE WATCH your favorite series. When someone says that, it helps you to understand how much they value those things now. And I can’t tell you if those things will be in Heaven.

But I can tell you, that if when you get to Heaven, you still feel that same way, that Heaven isn’t Heaven without those things, then I can tell you that they’ll be there because there will be no unmet desires in Heaven. Heaven is a REAL PLACE with REAL PEOPLE, and most important of all . . . .

Real Presence of God

We’ll see him in a way that we’ve never seen Him before. Our faith will be turned to sight The Apostle Paul says it this way... "Now we see through a glass darkly but then we will know perfectly.” The Apostle John describes his vision of Heaven with these words He says, “And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them.’” We think of the MIRACLE of Christmas. The MIRACLE of the INCARNATION. A baby born to a Virgin – Immanuel – God with us No less miraculous is the miracle of heaven. Not only God with us – but we with him forever and ever. If this HOPE is in our heart, it ought to make a difference.

All this stuff about Heaven is nice to think about, but what difference does any of this make to me today? Let me challenge you to think about this...

It’s one thing to KNOW that you’re a PILGRIM, it’s another thing altogether to let that translate into your life. I want us to look at THREE ways that our lives ought to look different than those who aren’t pilgrims. Than those who believe that this world is their home because after all, this world is all there is.

Difference #1 - The Way We Spend Our Time And Money

One of the biggest mistakes we can make is to live our lives under the delusion that we have unlimited time here on Earth. That was the mistake of the Rich Fool in Luke chapter 12. Do you remember his story? Jesus said, “The ground of a certain rich man yielded plentifully. And he thought within himself, saying, ‘What shall I do, since I have no room to store my crops?’ So he said, ‘I will do this: I will pull down my barns and build greater, and there I will store all my crops and my goods.” And I will say to my soul, ‘Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years; take your ease; eat, drink, and be merry.’ But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul will be required of you; then whose will those things be which you have provided?’ So is he who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.”

As you think about that story, don’t miss the fact that at the heart of the folly of this fool was the delusion that he had time lots of time. We don’t know, we’re not told, but it may well be that he had intentions to someday, do something with his treasure other than sitting on it. Maybe someday he was gonna get around to doing some good with it. We don’t know. What we do know is that he thought he had time! What he didn’t know was that his life was going to end that very night, and he’d have to give an answer as to what he had done with what he had.

Pilgrims realize that our time here is not unlimited. Because of that they do the best they can to ‘do good’ when they have opportunity. Whether that good is helping a friend in need, feeding the hungry, or serving the Lord or sharing Jesus Christ with someone they have been meaning to share with, they make the most of every opportunity, because they don’t know how many opportunities they are going to have. They know their time is limited. And they leverage their time and money to make a difference here and now.

The second way in which pilgrims are different is in...

Difference #2 - The Way We Look At People

We see the people around us as ETERNAL BEINGS All of them headed to one of two very different eternal destinations I like the way that C.S. Lewis described what it’s like to look at people in that way, "The dullest and most uninteresting person you can talk to may one day be a creature which, if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship. . .” “or else a horror and corruption such as you now meet only in a nightmare. . .” There are no ordinary people. It is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit - - immortal horrors or everlasting splendors.”

Pilgrims are different when it comes to The Way We Spend Our Time And Money, The Way We Look At People, and...

Difference #3 - The Way We Live Our Lives

In 1 Peter 2, Peter writes, “I urge you as foreigners and pilgrims, to keep away from worldly desires that wage war against your very souls. Be careful to live properly among your unbelieving neighbors. Then even if they accuse you of doing wrong, they will see your honorable behavior, and they will give honor to God when he judges the world.” (1 Peter 2:11-12)

Peter says that Pilgrims live different lives. Why? Because one day we are going to stand before God and give an answer for how we’ve lived our lives. You know two of the most successful TV game shows of all time are JEOPARDY and WHEEL of FORTUNE. And both of these were created by the same man, the late MERV GRIFFIN.

Apparently, he was also a man with a sense of humor. Having made his living in television, he decided to reference that on his tombstone, which if you visit his grave, you will see says I will NOT be right back after this message, and Merv was being interviewed and he said something very telling. He said, “One hundred years from now, who in the world is ever going to know what any of us did so why worry.”

The Bible tells us that Merv was mistaken. The Bible tells us that as followers of Jesus, when we get to Heaven, God is going to meet with us and review our lives. This review will not be for the purpose of determining whether we stay in Heaven or not.

That issue was decided on the day that you placed your trust in Jesus Christ and accepted what he did for you on the cross as the only possible payment for your sins. But we will be reviewed for the purpose of deciding what REWARDS we will or will not receive in heaven. We looked at this two week ago.

2 Corinthians 5:10 - “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.”

Romans 14:12 - “So then, each of us will give an account of himself to God.”

This is something that Pilgrims need to remember. One day we will all stand before Jesus and give an account for what we’ve done here And the reality of that day, ought to affect the decisions we make here and now. Merv Griffin was wrong. What we do here and now will be remembered 100 years from now, and it will be examined. If you are living like a pilgrim you’ll remember that and your life will be different.

Do you know what the biggest obstacle is that stands in the way of us reaching our community for Jesus Christ?

It’s not the liberal media, it’s not the schools, it’s not the government, who is in the White House, or who controls the Congress, or who sits on the Supreme Court...

The biggest obstacle to reaching our community for Jesus Christ is us!

The problem is that people in our community don’t see any difference between the way that followers of Jesus Christ live, and the way that everybody else lives. If you and I would just live like a PILGRIM, if you and I would use our time like a PILGRIM, if you and I would manage our money like a PILGRIM, if you and I would make choices like a PILGRIM realizing that there is always an afterwards, and we will have to give an account for what we do here. Then we would live differently and the people around us would notice. And that’s what I want to challenge you to do today, to adopt a ‘Pilgrim Perspective.’ It’s one thing to KNOW you’re a pilgrim, it’s another to LIVE like one.

I pray we would. . . . Would you join me in prayer. . .

From Series: "One Minute After You Die"

For centuries, humans have tried to figure out how to live longer and avoid this inevitable fact: we all die.
When faced with that reality, how do you feel? Fearful, hopeful, somewhere in-between?

Join us for our new sermon series "One Minute After You Die" beginning July 3rd!

How to join: In-Person during our Outdoor Worship Service on Sundays at 11 am (click here for details)
or…
Watch online at www.erockchurch.com/live

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