Heaven The Christian Heritage

1 Peter 1:3-9

 

Additionally to our text of 1 Peter 1 :3-9, let us read: Phil. 3:20-21

20 For our conversation (citizenship) is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ: 21 Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself.

 

Paul is declaring our citizenship our commonwealth is in heaven.  Christians are citizens of heaven… and the very thought of heaven, refreshes our spirit enriches our souls, stirs our very  thinking! Israel was an earthly commonwealth, our commonwealth is in heaven  (Phil 3:20-21)

The Bible teaches that Heaven is a very real place. It is not an figment  of our imagination. Heaven is the ultimate of the Christian’s  hopes. It is the eternal reward that God “who cannot lie”, has promised His faithful children,  A mansion  prepared by the Son of God.  “Heaven Is What It Is All About”.   The Bible teaches us much about heaven, but does not give us a complete picture in detail. God has given us enough information about heaven to stir our hopes and motivate our desires to go there. If we miss heaven, we have missed it all.         

 

Paul  in writing to the saints at Corinth  stated: 2 Cor. 12:2-4

& 2I know a man in Christ, fourteen years ago (whether in the body, I know not; or whether out of the body, I know not; God knoweth), such a one caught up even to the third heaven. 3And I know such a man (whether in the body, or apart from the body, I know not; God knoweth), 4how that he was caught up into Paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter.

 

The mention here of the “third heaven” called also here “Paradise in verse 4 infers a 1st and 2nd heaven., The Bible indeed describes three places under the name of "heaven”. 

There is the space above the earth where the birds fly in  Matthew 8:20  we read “The foxes have holes, and the birds of the heaven  have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head”. Second is the firmament where the heavenly bodies including the sun moon, stars etc   are. David said:  “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament  showeth his handiwork..  (Psalm 19:1)  The “third Heaven” is the place where The Almighty dwells. It is also the place where Jesus ascended to from atop Mt. Olivet. Psalms 11:4 

The LORD is in his holy temple; LORD’S  throne is in heaven; his eyes behold, his eyelids try, the children of men.”

 

Solomon,  in his great prayer of dedication upon the completion of the temple  prayed:  

27But will God in very deed dwell on the earth? behold, heaven and the heaven of heavens cannot contain thee; how much less this house that I have builded ?  (1 Kings 8:27).   After Jesus commissioned His disciples  as recorded in Mark 16:15,16 ;  the record states  Mark 16;19-20

19So then the Lord Jesus, after he had spoken unto them, was received up into heaven, and sat down at the right hand of God. 20And they went forth, and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word by the signs that followed. Amen.     

 

In God’s infinite wisdom He saw fit to depict heaven to us by fleeting glimpses and partial descriptions rather than by one grand and glorious picture. By giving us varied glimpses of heaven , a little here, a little there, God has revealed us with sufficient concepts to make us long to go there.   And at the same time, He has left enough veiled to create  mystery and anticipation of that eternal home.

 

The aim of our lesson will be then, to look at some of some  these fleeting glimpses that God has graciously revealed. Perhaps we can have a greater knowledge of these things that God has prepared for those who love Him., and  stir in us a greater longing to prepare ourselves to  go there at the close of our  so-journ  here.

 

The first glimpse we get of Heaven is that of an Eternal Kingdom.

The very mention of a “kingdom” stirs up the mind we think of great armies of kings sitting upon thrones swaying the scepters of authority.  Many of our movies, and books help to add mystery glamour to this concept.

 

We have a fascination with the monarchy. Today we see England's Royalty  on TV as we are changing our channels, we pause. There’s a certain fascination, a certain  curiosity connected with these figures. We are even now anticipating the Royal Wedding scheduled soon. Many will get up early to watch it.

                   

Jesus in Matt 25:34  states:    

34Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:

 

 Today we think about  a kingdom and it is usually in terms of the movies or of  what we have seen in movies or TV,  we might think of  ancient  Babylon, or perhaps Egypt with her  Pharaohs, or  King Solomon and all his glory.  But these kingdoms, magnificent as they were, pale into  insignificance  compared to “the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world”.  

Notice the words of Jesus   Matthew 6:28-30

28And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: 29And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith?

 

Both soldiers and  citizens of the most glorious kingdoms of days past, suffered untold hardships. There was poverty, hunger, sickness, disease,  oppression, burdens of heavy taxes. Compare these conditions with those of our joy and happiness, eternal security for those to whom Jesus says at the Judgment: “Come ye blessed of  the Father.” inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.”

Heaven an Eternal Kingdom    Both secure and magnificent

 

Still another picture the Bible reveals of Heaven  “is an Eternal Home  In John 14:  Called “My Father’s House”

John 14:1-3  1Let not your heart be troubled: believe in God, believe also in me. 2In my Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. 3And if I go and prepare a place for you, I come again, and will receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.

         

In 1 Tim. 3:14-15

14These things write I unto thee, hoping to come unto thee shortly: 15But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.

 

While these are very beautiful verses stating that the church of Christ, of which you and I are privileged to be members of is indeed the “house of God”. Jesus in John 14:1-3  is talking about heaven, the eternal home of the redeemed,   the dwelling place of Jehovah. In that eternal abode, and that is exactly what the Greek word means here (pollai monai)  There in the house of the Father there are many mansions (abodes).     Eternal Home!  How beautiful the sound of these wonderful  words.  We think of home as a place of tender love, intimate joyful relationships, comfort, security.  Heaven our eternal home is all this and more.   

Heaven an Eternal Kingdom, and Eternal Home

 

Our Third picture Heaven is “Eternal Inheritance   From the  text of Phil 3:20-21  Paul States Our Citizenship is in Heaven. 

Just as God’s people Israel, inherited the promised lands of Canaan, so God’s people, Christians, will inherit the heavenly land.  Peter sheds some light on this inheritance for us    1 Peter 1:3-5

3Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to his great mercy begat us again unto a living hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4unto an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, 5who by the power of God are guarded through faith unto a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.

 

 Peter reveals 4 interesting things here.

4To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you,  5Who (which) are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.

 

 1.  It is “incorruptible.”

This inheritance is imperishable, not subject to  decay by eroding of  time,  as an earthly inheritance. Material estates with time lose  their  appeal, their beauty , by means of corruption. The Christian        inheritance is not subject to time or  corruption.                

2.  It is “undefiled

 There will be no enemies in heaven, no  contaminants to mar it’s beauty, no storms, nothing that can  cause defilement.

 3.  It “fades not away 

 What ever we inherit on earth will with time fade but the eternal inheritance never looses it beauty nor  fades.  We often think of the beautiful Calloway gardens or other places of tremendous beauty. Their flowers fail, their beauty fades, but not  so of heaven.

4. “Reserved”  in heaven for you.

There is a reservation made there for every faithful child of God. No tickets can be obtained at the gates,  God holds our reservations.. kept  [perfect tense participle  frourevw]  a military term meaning to guard — The present participle indicates.  Our inheritance is continuously being watched

 

Heaven is an Eternal City.  Men have since the days of Cain built great and beautiful cities.  Some of these are interesting to read of their magnificent history.  Archaeologists  unearth evidences of their existence and glamour. In our own time, cities as New York, Mexico City, Tokyo represent the largest ever built by man. The historian’s account of ancient Babylon, with its beautiful hanging gardens and massive walls which four  chariots could drive abreast, this picture intrigues us.

 

Beloved! Babylon is gone, and so are many  of the other great places of antiquity. These cities were vulnerable to corruption, defilement, to attack by enemies, to poverty, and many human miseries.  But not so with our “Eternal City of God.” The Hebrew writer tells us chapter 13:14    & 14For we have not here an abiding city, but we seek after the city which is to come.

 

And again concerning Abraham:  Heb 11:8- 10

8By faith Abraham, when he was called, obeyed to go out unto a place which he was to receive for an inheritance; and he went out, not knowing whither he went. 9By faith he became a sojourner in the land of promise, as in a land not his own, dwelling in tents, with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise: 10for he looked for the city which hath the foundations, whose builder and maker is God.

 

Did Abraham find that city?  I’m inclined to believed that he did.  Jesus declares he did. Notice Matthew 8:11

11And I say unto you, That many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven.

 

Heaven is also revealed to us as a place of Eternal Rest .

A Place Of Eternal Rest For The Children of God. All of us know what it is like to work long hours, return home, so tired, You can not get as comfortable anywhere as at home. There is something very precious about that. We’ve all heard the song:

                                        There’s No Place Like Home!

                                          How sweet it is to sit and  rest .

 

Jesus in the greatest invitation of all time:     Matthew 11:28-30 says: 

28Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. 30For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

 

 I turn to the final book of Inspiration Revelation 14:13 and I hear the words of  John saying 

13And I heard the voice from heaven saying, Write, Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from henceforth: yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labors; for their works follow with them..    Rev. 14:13

 Many times peoples ask me,  Bro. Cope, “What do you think  heaven  will be  like?”  I really don’t know except God has pictured it in a way that I want to go there. I think of  heaven as a place of eternal beauty, happiness, and pleasure, a place I believe of family re-union.

 

But before you and I  can enter into their eternal home there must be some changes made.  Changes that begin in this life that help make us fit company for God and the angels. There’s a line from an old spiritual song that says:  Everybody that’s a-talking  ‘bout heav’n ain’t  goin’ there."

“Heaven is a prepared place for a prepared people.”

 

Heaven is a place for those who have been born again: John 3:1-5 Those who have been born again of water and the Spirit  these are God’s children, God’s heirs.   And Heaven is a place for those whose life is godlike:

Please allow me to read to you a comforting passage of scripture:  Revelation 21:1-5

1 And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea. 2 And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3 And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. 4 And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away. 5 And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful.

 

Brethren, If passages like these don’t make us want to get beyond  this moment,  prepare ourselves and to look for Jesus return, something is wrong with our hope,  and our expectation. Heaven is truly a prepared place for a prepared people. Are you a candidate for heaven.

How Beautiful Heaven Must Be!”

         

In 2 Peter 1:5 and following  we are told: add to your faith virtue knowledge temperance patience godliness  brotherly kindness and love and then we began reading in verse 10

10Wherefore, brethren, give the more diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never stumble: 11for thus shall be richly supplied unto you the entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ..