What Is Heaven?
Psalm 23:6 Surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
"I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever." This is the biggest, ultimate expression of God's goodness. This is the eternal goodness of God to us.
What is heaven?
Ephesians 2:5-7 It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved! For he raised us from the dead along with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ Jesus. So God can point to us in all future ages as examples of the incredible wealth of his grace and kindness toward us, as shown in all he has done for us who are united with Christ Jesus.
This is the ultimate expression of God's goodness to us. He doesn’t just say, "I'm going to help you when you're down, I'm going to give you strength when you're weak, I'm going to give you the provisions when you lack something, I'll help you when you're in need, when you're scared, I'll be with you."
In addition to all those he says, "I want you to live with me after you die... forever and ever and ever, and you're never going to die after that."
This is amazing news. Why does God do this? Why does God give us a place with Christ in heaven? He says,"…To show for all ages to come, God's goodness to us." God just says, "I want you to understand my goodness is not time dated, my goodness is not limited to here on earth, my goodness to you is for the rest of your life, and your life is forever and ever and ever. I have long range plans for you, not just the 90 or 100 years you'll live on earth but forever and ever and ever, and I will be good to you throughout all of eternity."
Everything we've seen in movies about heaven is almost 100% incorrect. In fact, in many depictions, heaven seems boring. There has never been a movie that got heaven right. Even the Christian movies don't get it right, because heaven in many ways, is unexplainable or incomprehensible.
Now, let me ask you, when you go and you look at the surf of the ocean and you look at the sunrises and sunsets over giant mountain peaks with snow capped mountains and beautiful valleys, and you look at the intricacies of art and flowers and plants and the animals, does that look boring to you? No! And this place isn’t even perfect. Heaven is a perfect place. Try and picture the most perfect, beautiful scenery filled with other people who are all in perfect relationship with God and with each other. It will be fulfilling, not boring.
What is heaven? Well, let me just summarize what the Bible says in three sentences. First,
1. It is a PHYSICAL place not a state of being.
Heaven is an actual, literal, real place, it has a location. It's not like nirvana, it's not a dream, it's not a kind of metaphysical existence or a metaphorical attitude. No, this is a real place. Jesus told us about it in
John 14:2-3 There is more than enough room in my Father’s home. If this were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am.
God is planning the place that he wants us to spend eternity with him. Why? Because God is our heavenly Father, and he wants his children to live with him at home, forever. So it's a physical place, not a state of being. Number two, second thing we know about heaven is that
2. It's a PERMANENT place that’ll last forever.
It's not just a physical place, it's a real location, it is also a permanent place. This place will last forever. Second
Corinthians 5:1 (CEV) "we know that God will give each of us a place to live. These homes will not be buildings that someone has made, but they are in heaven and will last forever.
There are already millions of people there and other millions will join him, it's a physical place, it's a permanent place. Here is the third thing, and a lot of people get this wrong, it is a reserved place.
3. It is a RESERVED place for only God's family.
Heaven is not for everyone; everybody is not going to be in heaven. It’s is only for the children of God.
Now, we get to choose if we want to be a part of his family and that is totally up to us. God invites everyone to heaven, but not everybody is going because not everybody is willing to meet the conditions. What's the condition? That we accept God's grace, that we accept his forgiveness, that we realize we can never get to heaven on our own power.
Heaven is a perfect place, and I'm not and neither are you. So, I need a plan to get to heaven and that's God's plan of salvation where Jesus came and paid for all our sins so we could go, but it is a reserved place only for God's family.
Revelation 21:27 Only those whose names are written in the Lamb's Book of Life will be able to enter.
Talking about heaven. Now, what is the Lamb's Book of Life? This Lamb's Book of Life is mentioned several times in the Scripture. In the book of Revelation, the Lamb is always a symbol for Jesus. He's the Lamb of God who was sacrificed for our sins, like the Lamb was sacrificed in the Old Testament. He's talking about, there is a Book of Life, that if our name's is in it, we get in, if our name is not in the Book of Life, we don't get into heaven.
How do I get my name in the Book of Life? Jesus said, "I am the way, no one comes to the Father but by me." I put my trust in God's Son, the Lamb, who was sacrificed for me, so I don't have to pay more for my sins. He paid for my sins and so I trust him, then my name gets written and sealed in the Book of Life. Evidently there is a registration book in heaven. We’ve got to have a reservation. We just don't die and then decide, "Oh, now, I'd like to go to heaven." We have to make an advance reservation.