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Six Things That Will Surprise You About Heaven
Revelation 21:1-8
Skip Heitzig

Revelation 21 (NKJV™)
1 Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea.
2 Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.
3 And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, "Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God.
4 "And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away."
5 Then He who sat on the throne said, "Behold, I make all things new." And He said to me, "Write, for these words are true and faithful."
6 And He said to me, "It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give of the fountain of the water of life freely to him who thirsts.
7 "He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be My son.
8 "But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death."

New King James Version®, Copyright © 1982, Thomas Nelson, Inc. All rights reserved.

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From the Edge of Eternity

I began this series talking about all the things I heard people say at funerals about the afterlife, from turning into angels when you die to having to answer Peter's questions at the gates of heaven. I have discovered that most people's (even Christians) ideas about what heaven will be like are vastly different that what Scripture reveals. We turn now to the Eternal State--after our initial experience of the Throne room of heaven, after our bodily resurrection at the Rapture, after the Millennial Reign of Christ. Here's a few things that might surprise you further:

What happens when a believer dies? What will heaven be like? What about infants and children who die? When do our bodies get resurrected? What will they be like? These questions and more occupy our thoughts from time to time. In this new series, From the Edge of Eternity, we will follow a believer from death into the different stages of eternity: the Intermediate State, the resurrection of the body, the Kingdom Age and the Eternal State. Since forever is a long time, it only makes sense that we both understand and prepare for this "ultimate journey".

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Outline

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I. It Will Require Destruction


II. It Will be a Fresh Design


III. It Won't Have an Ocean (And You Won’t Care)


IV. It Will Have a Capital City


V. It Will Feel Unfamiliar


VI. Not Everyone Will be There



Getting Ready For Heaven:

1.
How often do you think of heaven? Are you bored in the presence of God now or awed? Does this hint at what you picture your experience in heaven will be like?


2. Remember as a kid saying, "When I'm grown up, I won't have to go to bed early; I won't have to take orders, etc."? Think of all the negatives of heaven: you won't have to cry, mourn, or suffer. How could these truths strengthen and help you to "overcome"? (Vs 7)


3. Go home and look around at everything you own. Jesus said, "Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away." (Matthew 24:35). How are you doing in the battle between the temporary and eternal?

Transcript

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Good morning. Before we start this morning, you know I've been studying a lot about heaven lately, fourteen weeks so far, but it's been such a rewarding study and I got to thinking about that little phrase in Thessalonians that we're going to be "together with the Lord." Together. And I thought about how cool heaven's going to be but a though struck me this week I just want to share with you, one of the great things about heaven is that I get to share heaven with you. And we're such a spiritual family here, I think about some of the experiences we've gone through, we've wiped each other's tears a few times, I've had the opportunity to marry some of you, that is to each other; to bury some of your relatives, to dedicate some of your children. And so I just think about the perfection of being in glory and resurrected bodies and what that reunion is going to be like and how grateful I am to God for this spiritual family. And something else, you know we were talking last night, there is 350 events every month that occur at this church, 350 events maybe 360. So what that tells me is that you're really busy, you're really active, you're really involved. That's you serving the body of Christ using your gifts. I'll tell you that's a testimony of a very healthy church. So thank you for serving, thank you for getting involved, thank you for ministering to one another; that's to me a real blessing. 
Let's turn in our Bibles now to Revelation chapter 21, Revelation 21. And let's pray. Lord we humbly come before you, we continue our worship, it's not just about singing and then the worship is over, we continue by giving full attention to what the Spirit of God says through the word of God. This in many ways is the peak of our service as you reveal to us what you want, who you are, what will our future be, all of that Lord every week changes us bit by bit more into your image. Strengthen us Lord as we learn and more than learn I pray that we would be transformed by the renewing of our minds. We ask it in Jesus' name. Amen.
I know you've heard the term urban legend. It's a modern myth, it's modern folklore and parts of urban legends are true but they get told so many times they change, they come in different forms. There's pictures that are urban legends for instance you may have seen this picture on the internet where the shark is jumping out of the water and is about to eat this guy coming down a ladder from a helicopter. Well parts of that are true. There are sharks. There are helicopters. But this is not a true story, that shark didn't kill that British naval soldier. Though it has been circulated on the internet as "Hey, look at this, this is true." That's not true, that's false, that's an urban legend. Now look at this picture, this is a moose up on a telephone pole, fifty feet in the air, he's a pretty good climber, huh? Well that actually happens to be true. Even though it looks outlandish, they've strung the wires first on the ground, the moose got its antlers caught, then these huge machines elevate the wires for miles and in so doing this moose got partially raptured and they had to get him out. And besides photographs, there are stories that are urban legends, false information, false claims, puto ut on the internet, put out chiefly through e-mails. One claim that I read about recently is that an egg can be cooked by placing it in between two active cell phones. That's a myth, it can't happen, urban legend. I know there's little You Tube videos that show this, it's false. And so the idea of this is that, "Well look if these active cell phones can change the proteins in an egg, imagine how they can modify those in your brain. That's sort of the idea it's meant to convey but it's an urban legend, it's false information. Another urban legend is that Bill Gates is giving money away. Trust me, that's false. The claim is that if you're an internet user you can cash by forwarding messages that will test Microsoft's e-mail tracking system. Now Bill Gates said of this rumor, "It's more annoying than spam." He's not giving the money away. Well here's my point: if people have misconceptions about life on earth, you can betcha they have misconceptions about life in heaven and what heaven's going to be like. In fact, forty percent believe heaven is a real place, forty-seven percent in this same poll say that heaven is just a state of being. And of those who actually believe that heaven is a real place, twenty-five percent said, "If you're good you'll go to heaven." That's an urban myth. Ten percent said, "Everyone goes to heaven." That also is a myth. And even among those who believe that heaven is a real place, as I opened up this whole series with, we have discovered that even though heaven is a real place and that faith in Christ will get you there, even among some of those there are legends and myths. Like, "When you die you turn into an angel." Or like, "The loved ones who die before you will become your guardian angels." Or like, "You sit on a cloud forever and ever and get really bored." Or like, "Well you don't go to heaven first, you've got to a place and burn your sins off for a while and then when that's done then you get admitted into heaven." Now all of these legends and myths have one source: imagination, it's all made up. That's why to get the real scoop on heaven, we have to get it from God's revelation. This is what God reveals about the heaven He has prepared. Jesus said, "I go to prepare a place for you." And now we're going to read about the place that God prepared.
Today I want to give you what I'm calling "Six Things that will Surprise you About Heaven." Or maybe I should say at least, "They may surprise you about heaven." I think we've already seen a few surprises. One being that heaven isn't a one-stop shopping deal, that there's different stages of heaven, right? When you die your spirit is taken directly into the presence of God awaiting bodily resurrection, that happens at the rapture of the church. And then after that we come back to the earth with Christ and after that second coming we rule and reign on a restored millennial earth for a thousand years. And after that we enter into what is called the eternal state. The eternal state, the new heaven, the new earth, the new Jerusalem. And that is where we begin today: the eternal dwelling place of all of God's people. 
Okay, how many of you remember how Star Trek used to open, I'm taking you way back, you Trekkies you already have this and you're already there. But it opened up, "Space the final frontier." Unh-uh, heaven is the final frontier. And what I mean by that is after the intermediate heaven, after the bodily resurrection, after the millennium, after all of that, now we enter into the final frontier, the final stage. So we're going to look at the first eight verses of Revelation chapter 21. And the first thing that may surprise you about heaven is that it's going to require destruction, or let's say de-creation. Everything in the physical world now, everything in the created order will first be destroyed. In Revelation 21 verse 1, John says, "And I saw a new heaven and new earth for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away." After a thousand years of enjoying a restored renewed recreated earth, this earth redone, makeover; after a thousand years of that the entire universe will be destroyed. 
Go back to chapter 20 and look at verse 11, let's remind ourselves of what we had once read. "Then I saw a great white throne," this is now after the millennial kingdom. "And him who sat on it from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away and there was found no place for them." Now this is repeated in so many different places in the Bible, like in Hebrews chapter 1, it says, "God will fold up the heavens and the earth like a cloak." Or Jesus who said, "Heaven and earth will pass away but my words will never pass away." So you put it all together and it means that this present earth even though it will be remade for a thousand years will ultimately one day be destroyed, the world will have an end. It's not going to face an ecological crisis but it will face an eschatological crisis; in the end it will all be obliterated.
I find it interesting that until modern times, until really the last century, the prevailing cosmology was called the steady state theory and it was the idea that the universe had no beginning and no end, it's this eternal state. Then we started getting more information, we started studying things like our sun and we discovered that the sun, part of the radiation it gives off is from losing part of its mass. It gives off radiation because part of the sun is lost. Four million two hundred thousand tons of mass per second is lost by the sun. Now you know what that means? One day there won't be any left, one day it will have an end. And it had an end, it had once a beginning. And so that we started noticing is true about the universe. And certainly this earth, this earth was designed by God to be temporary, it will have an end. So the question is, here we are, we're on it, we're in it, we're enjoying it, it seems pretty stable and steady as things go. What holds it all together? Well Paul gives a very interesting answer to that in Colossians chapter 1, he says, "Jesus Christ created all things in heaven, on the earth, visible and invisible." Listen to what he says in Colossians 1:17, "He is before all things." So He is eternal, not the earth. "And in Him all things (that is that He created) consist." The word consist means they're held tightly together. In Him all things are held tightly together, in Him all things cohere. So Jesus created it, he took the chaos, the unformed mass, and made into a cosmos, ordered systems. And he's the one who holds it together. It is fascinating that matter is made up of rapidly moving particle sof opposite charges.
Now listen to what Dr. Lee Chestnut says in a little book called The Atom Speaks. He says, "Consider the dilemma of the nuclear physicist when he finally looks in utter amazement at the pattern he's now drawn in the oxygen nucleus. For in here are eight positively charged protons closely associated together within the confines of this tiny nucleus. With them are eight neutrons, a total of sixteen particles, eight positively charged and eight with no charge. Earlier physicists had discovered that like charges of electricity and like magnetic poles repel each other; and unlike poles attract each other. And the entire history of electrical phenomena and electrical equipment has been built upon these principles known as Coulomb's Law of Electrostatic Force and the law of magnetism. So, what was wrong? What holds the nucleus together? Why doesn't it fly apart? And therefore, why do not all atoms fly apart? Short answer: Jesus Christ holds it all together. Question: What if you let go? Answer: He will one day and it will all collapse as it was designed. It will all be destroyed. I can hear somebody saying, "Yeah, but didn't God promise Noah he would never again destroy the earth?" No he never promised that, read the fine print. God said, "I'll never again destroy the earth by a flood." He destroyed it by a flood and he goes, "I'll never destroy it by a flood." So that's the fine print. And the rest of the print says he will ultimately destroy it by fire.
Go with me to II Peter chapter 3 in your Bibles. Turn back, go left a few blocks to II Peter chapter 3. I wish I had time to really show how this interfaces with what we're studying a little more in detail, I just don't have the time so I just want to have you notice with me a couple of verses. II Peter chapter 3 verse 7, "But the heavens and the earth which now exist are kept in store by the same word reserved for fire until the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men." Verse 10, "But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise and the elements will melt with fervent heat, both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up. Therefore since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness? Now that is a great question. Okay, if everything material is going to burn up, then how should you live? Certainly not focused on material things but on eternal things. "Looking for," verse 12, "and hastening the coming of the day of God because which the heavens will be dissolved, being on fire and the elements will melt with fervent heat. Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells." Now in that chapter that we didn't really go enough into detail, he talks about he flood. And just as the flood, just as water once destroyed this earth, so fire will destroy this earth when it's the remade millennial earth. It will eventually be destroyed utterly and totally, never to appear again. It's over. And that surprises some people, that heaven will first, the ultimate heaven will require destruction of the present heavens and earth. The second thing that might surprise you about heaven is that it's going to be a fresh new design. Heavens and earth are going to be totally new and different. Now let that truth fall upon your ears. Look again at verse 1, "I saw a new heaven and new earth (the second time the word new is used) for the first heaven the first earth passed away. Also there was no sea (don't worry I'll get back to that, believe me). Then I John saw the holy city (get this) new Jerusalem. Coming down out of heaven from God prepared as a bride adorned for her husband." So we got new heaven, new earth, new Jerusalem. And now look at verse 5, it's the summary statement. "And he who sat on the throne said, ‘Behold I make all things new.' And he said to me, ‘Write for these words are true and faithful.'" The word new is kinos in Greek, it's not neos which is a typical word which would mean chronologically new. This is kinos which means a whole new kind, totally different from the other, a fresh design, fresh elements, a whole new and different one, brand new and fresh. This isn't an improved earth, that was the millennium; this isn't a makeover, that was the millennium; it's not a renovation, that was the millennium. This now is different materials, different atmosphere. And God just as he made the first one and he will destroy the first one, will make a new one.
There was a scientist, he was rather arrogant and he looked up to heaven and he goes, "God, I know you made life and all that stuff but you've got to feel terribly outdated by now. Because we, through our knowledge and discovery, mastered DNA, we can really do anything you can do and we can keep this universe running without you." So God said, "I challenge you to a contest." The scientist agreed. So God first reached down his hand, took a handful of dirt, blew on it and out flew a beautiful exotic bird. The scientist took a deep breath, closed his eyes, thought, "Okay I've mastered all the principles of soil manipulation and biological cloning, so here it goes." And he reaches down and takes a handful of dirt and God says, "Not so fast, get your own dirt." These are all elements that God made, in this earth and so too in the new earth and the new heavens. It's all going to be new, different, not this at all. We love new stuff, right? Kids love new toys. We get older, we become adults, we like new stuff, new cars, new homes, new clothes. All things are new. Here we are now, we live in a world marked by entropy. Things lose their luster, they decay, they get old, they lose their shine, they fade. I remember a period of time in my early Christian walk, it happened like within just a few months. It was really at first very disheartening. It seemed that every time I got anything new it either got dinged or dented or broken or scratched. I remember I got a new camera I'd saved up for and I got out of the car the first day and I didn't have a good grip of it and it fell and hit the driveway and got a big ding right across the prism. It still worked but it was damaged. Got a new surfboard. The first time I paddled out, big hole through it, another surfboard hit it, didn't have a leash. New guitar, within a couple weeks got scratched. And it was like God was reminding me, it's all going to burn, it's all temporary, that everything on this earth is ultimately destined for that, designed for that. And so the new heaven and the new earth is a fresh design. And it's eternal. Isaiah 66 verse 22, the Lords says, "'I make new heavens and a new earth which will last forever,' says the Lord." 
Now as part of this, something that might surprise you, it surprises some people, is that this new creation, this new earth and new heaven and new Jerusalem, is going to be real. It's going to be physical, it has dimension, it has substance. It's not wispy, ethereal, totally spiritual, where you run around in disembodied spirits forever, it has form and substance and size and texture and color, as we're going to see next week in our study. 
So a couple things that might surprise you: it requires destruction of the present earth and heavens, it's going to be a fresh design, third thing that might surprise you is that it won't have an ocean. I said I'd get back to that and so my third point is, it won't have an ocean and you won't care. It says, "and there was no more sea." I got a little note this week, it says, "Dear Skip, sorry to say, (remember last week I said in the millennial kingdom I get dibs on Maui?) sorry to say you can wish for Maui but the new earth will have no islands because there will be no sea. Revelation 21:1, enjoy itn ow, don't fret, don't be discouraged." That's real sweet and everything else but she's not really tracking with, the new heaven and the new earth will have no sea. The millennial earth will have a sea and will have Maui and I still get dibs on it. But one doesn't deal with the other, they're two different complete stages in the eternal dimension. After the second coming of Christ is a thousand years of a renewed earth. After that it's all destroyed. And now we're talking about a whole new one and in that new one there will be no more sea. I read that for years and thought, "This is harsh. You know if I were making a new earth I would say something like this: ‘And there will be no more cities.'" Right? I would say, "There will be no more deserts or no more rocks but there will be lots of beach and lots of sand and lots of ocean." But it says there will be no more sea. It's interesting how the Bible is very silent fo rhte most part on the features of this eternal state. What I mean by that is that a lot of what will be there is not described, except in negatives. For example, down in verse 23 it says that in that heavenly city which we'll discuss next week in detail that there's no sun, there's no moon, and by implication there's no stars. And then in verse 1 there's no sea. It's telling us what's not there. Now I'll be honest with you, for years I rationalized this and I thought well the sea must be emblematic of nations who don't know God, they're not under the covenant relationship of God. And I found certain texts that comforted me in this like Isaiah 17 which says "the uproar of many peoples who roar like the roaring of the seas, rumbling of nations rush on like the rumbling of might waters." And I thought, "Yes! I'll say it means that." Or like in Revelation 13 where the beast, the Antichrist rises out of the sea. And in Revelation 17 it says, "The waters which you saw were where the harlot sits are peoples and multitudes and antions and tongues." I guess that is one way to look at it. However, to be quite honest with the interpretation that I've followed in the scriptures, I now believe it to be as it says, he sees a new heaven, a new earth, new Jerusalem; and no sea. In other words, the new world will be totally different from the present world. The present world is a water-based world, the new one won't be. The present world is covered two-thirds by water. The soil has water in it. Your blood is ninety percen twater, your flesh is sixty-five percent water. This is a simple statement to tell you that the environment of the new earth, the new heavens, the new city of Jerusalem will not be a water-based environment, it won't operate on the same principles. You're going to be in glorified bodies that will not demand the consumption of water, it's totally different, there's no sea. No sea. Different elements, different climate, everything that we knew is now eliminated. Before you get too bummed out and you say, "There's no water at all." No I didn't say there's no water at all. In Revelation 22 verse 1, "I saw a pure river of the water of life." But there's no sea, there's no oceans. Do you know what that also means? There's no barriers between people, because oceans provide ways of separating people from one another, and in that new environment that won't be present, no separation at all. Enough said on that.
A fourth thing that might surprise you about heaven is that it's going to have a capitol city. Verse 2, "I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God prepared as a bride adorned for her husband, and I heard a loud voice from 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 will be with them and be their God.'" Now we're going to discuss that new city more in depth next week so we're just going to touch on it right now. But again here's what's interesting: As we're describing this new heaven and new earth we're not really given any landmarks, no characteristics of the new earth or the new heavens, of how big it is, what colors are on it, etcetera. But we are given detail about this city, later on in verses 9 through the rest of the chapter. This is the headquarters of the eternal heaven, this is the capitol city of heaven and it's different from any other city you've ever been. Number one, it descends out of the new heavens toward the new earth. Look at verse 10, "He carried me away in the Spirit to a great and high mountain. (So it might mean that on the new earth there'll be huge mountains.) And he showed me the great city, the holy Jerusalem descending out of heaven from God." So you've heard of New York and New London, Connecticut, and New Bruswick and you've heard of New Mexico of course, New Falls, Texas. This is New Jerusalem. This is New Jerusalem, the capitol city. Now just so you know it's very different from any other city you've ever heard of. The dimensions that we'll read about next week, here's a thumbnail sketch. The city is fifteen hundred miles cubed, that is 1500 by 1500 by 1500, it's a cube. It's slightly smaller than the dimensions of our moon. It comes from the heavens toward the earth, maybe hovering over the earth, in close proximity, maybe landing upon the earth. Now I know there are some people who are listening to this saying, "Are you sure this is all literal?" Well if it's not then I have no idea what this is talking about and neither do you. And most commentators who would say, "Well this can't be taken to be a real city, they give no explanation at all as to what this is. Or they take a guess and it disagrees with every other guess of those who spiritualize it. I take it to mean that there's going to be a literal millennium, just like there's going to be a literal coming of Christ, just like there's going to be a literal thousand years on earth, and a literal new heaven and a new earth. Something about his city: Notice it's called the holy city. It's sort of hard to imagine, a whole entire city holy. We've never seen that. It's not just a few people that are holy or a few churches that are holy, every single occupant is holy. I have people who come to me and say, "Man I can't wait for the next tour to Israel, I've always wanted to see the Holy Land and see Jerusalem, the holy city." You're going to have to wait a long time because it will be holy then, new heaven, new earth and new Jerusalem. It's not holy yet. God has a plan for it, it's set apart in his prophetic calendar. But it becomes holy when he re-creates it.
A fifth thing about heaven that might surprise you is that it's going to feel absolutely unfamiliar to our present experiences. And it's interesting again that John has to describe heaven in terms of what's not there. He gives us a list of negatives. Now he says there's no more sea and before we get all bummed out about that, find out what else isn't there. Verse 4, "And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death nor sorrow nor crying and there will be no more pain, for the former things have passed away. And he who sat on the throne said, ‘Behold I make all things new.' And he said to me, ‘Write for these words are true and faithful.' And he said to me, ‘It is done.'" This is it, this is the consummation, when it's done it's done. "I am the alpha, the omega, the beginning, and the end. I will give of the fountain of the water of life freely to him who thirsts." Heaven will be so unlike anything we have ever experienced on the earth that John writes about it in terms of negatives, simply because we can't know what we can't know. So the only way we can get a handle on what we can't know is to compare what we can't know with what we do know. We know all about sorrow and pain and tears and death so that won't be there. That's how you describe the indescribable. Let's just quickly go through these. It says, "God will wipe away every tear from their eyes and there will be (it says later on) no crying." No Kleenex in heaven, no tears. No tears. 
There are days in my life that stand out to me as being days of tears. The first one that I vividly remember was my first day of kindergarten. I'll confess, I was the school's biggest crybaby. My mom dropped me off at school, "Waah," I cried all morning. At milk time, remember you get the little wagon came in, I cried because the milk came. When it was naptime I cried at naptime. Lunchtime, I cried at lunchtime. I cried all day long, it was traumatic, okay I'm still suffering from it. I just cried. There were other days that stand out to me as days of tears: when my dad died, before that when my brother was killed in a motorcycle accident, the day my mother died and I was there, times friends have died. I think of all those episodes that brought tears. We've all shed tears. They mark human existence. The mark life on earth. There have been tears of loneliness, tears of misfortune, tears of poverty, sympathy, persecution, regret. Regret, how many of us have looked back and say, "Oh, I made a dumb choice, if I only would've..., I know I should've." I heard about two teardrops that were floating down the river together. One teardrop said to the other, "Who are you?" And the teardrop said, "I'm the teardrop from a girl who loved a man and lost him." And the other teardrop said, "Well I'm a teardrop from the girl who got him." So that guy caused a lot of tears on earth. There will be no tears in heaven. 
It says after that, there's no more death. You'll never have to go to a funeral again. You'll never go to a cemetery again. There will be no death. Fifty-two million people every year die on planet Earth. That's a 147,276 ever day. Our whole existence is marked by death. You'll never age. Come on, that's cool. You'll never age. There's five firms right now in the United States that offer what they call cryonic technology freezing. They'll freeze your body in liquid nitrogen at minus 320 degrees Fahrenheit for the measly sum of a hundred thousand dollars. If you can't afford that, you can have your head frozen for $35,000. And the idea is that when we discover whatever disease killed you we'll thaw you out and then you'll live and live and live. Again I just say, save the money and wait, you're going to get a resurrected body and it's going to be free and it's going to be a whole lot better than this one. No death. And if there's no death there's no conditions that bring death. You'll never need a doctor because there's no disease, there's no surgeries, there's no dentists because there's no decay, there's no cavities, there's no corruption, there's no hospitals. 
Our text also says there will be no sorrow. You see, now that's a condition we all relate to. Have you ever, have any of you ever been moody? Okay, we, or let's go a step further, ever had like a whole day that's a bad day? It's like a cloud hangs over the whole day or week or month or several months, periods of depression, most people have even Christians have. That's why we read the book of Psalms so ardently and we get encouraged because we go, "That guy I relate with." Like Psalms 6, David said, "I'm weary with my groaning, my eye wastes away because of grief." You see we read that and we go, "Yeah, I relate to that guy." You know what? There's coming a time when you won't be able to relate to that. There will be no sorrow, at all. That's why the little statement, "Have a great day," will be the stupidest thing you could ever say in heaven. First of all there will be nothing but day, there will be no night. It will always be good because there will be no sorrow.
Then it says there will be no pain. Some of us cannot imagine that. I wonder how many bottle of aspirin you have had in your home this last year. Pain's a part of our existence. So there's going to be no sorrow, no pain, no death. You're going to have a perfect body. You might say, "Well I already have a perfect body." Just wait a few years, all right, it won't last. You might have chiseled out something magnificent, it's very very temporary. 
Here's the final thing that will surprise some about heaven, not everyone will be there. There is a myth in America: All you've got to do to get to heaven is die. Live any way you want, forget about God, do your own thing, but when you die, we'll suddenly talk about heaven, suddenly talk about God and all that stuff. That's a myth. Not everyone will be there. Verse 7, "He who overcomes shall inherit all things but I will be his God and he will be my son. But the cowardly, the unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone which is the second death."
Go down to verse 24, I skip ahead but let's do it, "And the nations of those who are saved shall walk in its light, the kings of the earth shall bring their glory and honor into it, it's gates shall not be shut at all by day," it says, "There shall be no night there. And they shall bring the glory and the honor of the nations into it. But there shall by no means enter it anything that defiles or that causes an abomination or a lie but only those who are written in the Lamb's book of life." So this is a city of believers, saved people only. Do you notice that only two classes of people are described here? You have the occupants of heaven and those who are not occupants of heaven. You either go to heaven and you're an occupant or you don't go to heaven and there's the lake of fire. So what is the requirement to be an occupant of heaven? Verse 7, "He who overcomes." What does that mean? Well we overcome by saving faith in Jesus Christ alone. Well how do you know that? Because the same one who wrote Revelation, a couple books before wrote I John chapter 5 where he writes, "Everyone who is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith." You might say, "Well I believe, I've always had faith of some kind." Well let's read on, I John chapter 5, the very next verse, who is it that overcomes the world? "Only he who believes Jesus Christ is the Son of God." You know there's a lot of people who will be absolutely surprised. That's why, get the surprise over now and do something about it because people don't automatically go to heaven. And you don't automatically go if you're really sincere, "Well if I'm sincere and I believe something really really hard." That's not the condition, you've got to overcome and you overcome by faith in Jesus Christ alone. You can be sincere and sincerely wrong. I think of the jihadist Muslim, the radical Muslim who believes that if they go out and perform a suicide bombing killing people in the process, they die in the process, they'll go directly to heaven, talk about a shock when you die. Talk about an absolute surprise to find it's exactly the opposite. And further they believe that when you get to heaven you'll have seventy-two wives. Now I've got to say that that would be punishment for the wives of that one guy as well s that one guy, right? Somebody once said, "there's going to be three surprises in heaven. Surprise number one those that you expect to be there who aren't there. Surprise number two those who you expect will not be there who are there. Surprise number three, wonder of wonders, you're there. And you get there by being an overcomer.
You know what? If you're not a Christian, think about it, growing old is the worst thing in the world. Imagine a person growing old and older and older who doesn't know Christ. The only way for that person to look is back. "Yeah, that was a great vacation we had a few years ago. That was a great pet that we had. I loved watching the kids grow up and the grandkids." All you have is backwards, and for a lot of people backwards is not a pleasant view. If you're a child of God, the best is truly yet to come. No broken homes, no broken hearts, no rehab centers and no hell. It's so different, the new heaven and the new earth, that Isaiah 65 the Lord says, "Behold I create a new heavens and a new earth and the former shall not be remembered or come to mind." 
So not everyone's going there. Are you going there? Are you going there? Are you sure you're going there? Are you an overcomer? Do you notice how the Bible frequently draws the line, again and again, "Unless a man is born again he will not see the kingdom of heaven." Or when Jesus said, "For broad is the road to destruction and many enter therein but narrow is the way to eternal life and very few enter therein. That's the scoop about heaven. Not all people are going to heaven. Not most people are going to heaven. According to Jesus Christ, if you happen to believe his words, very few people are going to heaven. Because very few people will humble themselves enough to say, "I'm a sinner, I need a savior," and thus become an overcomer. 
Let's pray. Heavenly Father, though we can have some surprises now in learning about heaven, I pray that we would have no surprises at the moment of our death. I pray that everyone here will make a commitment, a solid commitment to the Lord Jesus Christ because you are calling, you are wooing, you are compelling. And Father, we want to see more brothers and sisters, men and women, young and old, of all races, of all different backgrounds, come to faith in Christ. That's why we send out missionaries, that's why we're active in our community. That's why we bring messages like this. I pray we'd be about your business. And Father we pray for anyone here that doesn't know you, we pray that today would be the day they do something about it. In Jesus' name. Amen.

Additional Messages in this Series

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4/27/2008
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The Ultimate Journey
Ecclesiastes 3:1-11
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What happens when a believer dies? What will heaven be like? What about infants and children who die? When do our bodies get resurrected? What will they be like? These questions and more occupy our thoughts from time to time. In this series, From the Edge of Eternity, we will follow a believer from death into the different stages of eternity: the Intermediate State, the resurrection of the body, the Kingdom Age and the Eternal State. Since forever is a long time, it only makes sense that we both understand and prepare for this "ultimate journey."
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5/4/2008
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View From Death's Door - Part 1
1 Thessalonians 4:13-18
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Nathaniel Hawthorne once wrote, "A grave, wherever found, reaches a short and pithy sermon to the soul." He's right! Cemeteries remind us of our future on this earth--the only real estate we'll hold onto for awhile! But what happens to a believer after death? What about those who have died already? What are they doing now? Today and next week we will look at the experience of the death of the believer and what takes place afterwards.
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5/11/2008
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View from Death's Door - Part 2
1 Thessalonians 4:13-18
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How can mortal man penetrate beyond the grave and find assurance and peace for his own heart? Philosophers won't help--they've been for centuries discussing life and death without any resolve. Scientists don't want to tread into the area of wrestling with such questions. Paul solved the problem when he wrote, "For this we say to you by the Word of the Lord." We don’t need to wonder or speculate. Why substitute human speculation when we have divine revelation?
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5/18/2008
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Groaning for Glory
2 Corinthians 5:1-8
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What sort of existence and experiences are departed believers enjoying right now? Is the heaven we go to when we die our final destination? Paul described it as "far better" (Phil. 1:23) but it's going to get even much better! Paul lightly touches on what happens when a Christian dies and awaits the resurrection, but it's enough to give us confidence. Let's consider today the "intermediate" or temporary transitional heaven before the resurrection of our bodies.
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5/25/2008
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Rise and Shine!
1 Corinthians 15:3-4;15:20-28
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My mom used to saunter into my room to wake me up in the morning with a sweet call to "rise and shine!" One day our Savior will give a call for all His children to do the same! This week and next week we will be considering the resurrection of our bodies. Why is resurrection even necessary? What will our resurrected bodies be like? What capabilities will they possess? Will babies always be babies and the elderly always remain elderly when resurrected? As we begin, know this: the idea of resurrection isn't just a New Testament idea; it began long, long ago!
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6/1/2008
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Getting the Body You've Always Wanted
1 Corinthians 15:35-50
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I know I've gotten your attention with the title! This is one of our culture's driving goals--to look trimmer, healthier, younger and stronger than we are. The solution happens to be in the future with the resurrection of our bodies--it will be the body you've always wanted. Scripture gives some wonderful descriptions of the future strength, beauty and permanence of our resurrected body. Let's consider what the Bible says about how you'll look then.
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6/8/2008
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Jesus, Friend of Children
Matthew 19:13-15
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Today's subject is a tender one. The death of infants and children is the greatest fear of any parent. Does the Bible speak clearly about what happens when they die? It certainly does and it also gives great comfort to many who suffer the horrible loss of a little one. In this series on Eternity we must consider this subject since it affects so many and will also help us understand the fate of those who, like children, have diminished capacities.
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6/22/2008
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A Sneak-Peek Into What's Up There
Revelation 4:1-3
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In the early morning of his last day on earth, Dwight L. Moody, awoke suddenly and said, "Earth recedes; heaven opens before me." Those near him thought he was dreaming. "No, this is no dream, it is beautiful. It is like a trance. If this is death, it is sweet. There is no valley here. God is calling me, and I must go." After that sneak-peek of heaven, Mr. Moody entered his heavenly home. Today lets begin to consider our future home by glimpsing God’s heavenly Throne Room.
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6/29/2008
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What on Earth is Going On in Heaven?
Revelation 4-5
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The above title is more than just a play on words. Although there will be many activities going on in heaven, worship is one of the few things that we can do "down here" on earth that we will also do "up there" in heaven. That means that one of the ways you can get closer to heaven is to engage in biblical worship right now. Let's tag along with John for his extended tour of heaven.
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7/13/2008
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Gold, Silver, or Bronze?
2 Corinthians 5:9-11
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Next month, the eyes of the world will be on the Olympic Games in Beijing. Athletes from all over the world will compete, hoping to win the gold, silver or bronze medals that rank them as being some of the best on earth. This image of receiving an award from a judge on the raised platform of the Olympic Games is what Paul had in mind when he wrote about the future judgment of believers for their works on earth. Let’s see what this means.
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7/20/2008
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Heaven on Earth - Part 1
Revelation 20:1-3
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Mankind long ago gave up on the idea of a future Utopia. The idea of perpetual peace and undisturbed harmony became the stuff of fairy tale books. But that is precisely what God promised He will bring to this earth one day. And even though Satan has exercised a temporary authority over God's creation for several millennia, the story isn't over yet. Jesus Christ, who came two millennia ago as Savior, will return to rule as Sovereign for a thousand years. And no, this won't just be a spiritual kingdom in the hearts of His followers. This will be a literal dominion over a renewed earth. Let's explore this 1000 year phase of your eternal future.
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7/27/2008
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Heaven on Earth - Part 2: The Bad Guy is Bound
Revelation 20:1-3
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This world has been so tainted and marred with sin and Satanic deception that it's impossible for us to even imagine what it would be like with Him out of the way. Thankfully we have a clear description of what that will be like during the 1000 year reign of Christ in the Kingdom Age. Today we see the drama of Satan's arrest and incarceration, as the ultimate "bad guy" gets put away to make way for this future era of peace, prosperity and righteousness.
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8/10/2008
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Heaven on Earth - Part 3: When Politics are Perfect
Revelation 20:4-6
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It's the political season in our country and both sides are ramping up their platform to get as many votes as possible. The country is sharply divided on the two candidates but one thing is certain according to a recent poll: Americans consider both candidates to be risky if elected president. In Christ's Kingdom on earth, Christ will reign and all those who help Him administer will be in a glorified state, thereby minimizing any risk for shady politics. Get ready--you’re going to be part of the future political agenda of the King of Kings.
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8/24/2008
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Future-Town - Part 1
Revelation 21:9-21
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Our English word town is related to the German word zaun (tuin in Dutch). The original idea behind the meaning referred to a space that a fence or wall would enclose. The town of the future described in this chapter, also enclosed by a wall, will be so magnificent that even John's depiction leaves us scratching our heads. This is God's revelation of the future Eternal dwelling of all believers. Let's do a walk-through today.
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9/7/2008
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Future-Town - Part 2
Revelation 21:22-22:5
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Today we will conduct a walk-through of your ultimate destination as a believer. We will walk with John as he describes what he saw as he was shown the New Jerusalem. It will be a social environment with such unique features, you'll have to bend and stretch your imagination just a bit. I will sum up this future cityscape by describing five conditions that will exist in God's Town
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9/14/2008
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Living Between Two Worlds
Philippians 1:19-26
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After studying about the believer's death, resurrection and heaven for four months now, maybe you can relate to these words by Puritan author, Thomas Watson, "Spiritual things satisfy; the more of heaven is in us, the less earth will content us." Knowing what we know now about the believer's future world, how can life be different in this present world?
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There are 16 additional messages in this series.