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In past chapters we highlighted many of the horrible things mentioned in the Bible concerning the end-times.  When we studied the nature of the last days we have seen that those days will be characterized by deception, lawlessness, persecution, moral decay, intrusive militant secularism, along with a political tolerance for nearly every kind of vice.                      

We are told in the Bible that men will have a form of godliness but will deny its power.  This means that there will be religion.  Is it enough to hold just any kind of religion?  Maybe we should ask that question to the false prophets of Baal who came under judgment after Elijah won the showdown at Mt. Carmel.                     

After Jesus returns for His church the Earth will be the scene of 14 plagues that will be unleashed one after another.  Those left behind on the Earth will have to endure those plagues.                      

I wrote at length about the coming White Throne judgment.  In the last chapter we addressed the terrible reality of Hell and about what it is and isn't.  We also realize that on that first Good Friday, Jesus faced Hell for us while bleeding, suffering and dying on a wooden Roman cross.  He did it to pay our sin debt with His blood.  His gift of eternal life is now available to whosoever will believe.                      

Enough with all this bad and sad news! Let's hear about some great news.  Let's sum it up in just one word "HEAVEN".                        

Jesus said:                       

"Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God,  believe also in Me. In my Fathers house are many    mansions...I go to prepare a place for you.  And if I  go...I will COME AGAIN and receive you to Myself;   that where I am, you may be also." (John 14:1, 2, and  3)                                      

This for me is the most difficult chapter to write.  How can anyone effectively describe a place where he has never been?  The most exotic place I've visited was Ixtapa, Mexico during a two week mission trip in 1989.  I can describe it because I was there.  The trip was a time of mission work, church construction work, worship and fellowship.  Our group even learned a Christian song in Spanish.                         

Also thanks to modern technology, I can see pictures of places that I've never been.  I've never been to Moscow but thanks to photography and the Internet I have seen breath-taking images of St. Basil's Church, an enduring symbol of Christianity's presense in Russia.  The web has amazing pictures of the church's interior and exterior.  The intricate multi-color exterior  design, the impressive architecture, and the beautiful onion-shaped steeples make St. Basil's Church a "must see" to any foreign visitor.                       

Now what about Heaven?  I have no film footage or web pictures to see what Heaven looks like.  Jesus used the local garbage dump as a visual aid to describe Hell as a dirty, disgusting, and burning place.  But how can we visualize Heaven?                       

Let's consider some popular sources.  First do we accept the Hollywood version of Heaven as being a boring place filled with harps and clouds?  Heaven is more than that.                         

Second what about near-death experiences?  Here we as believers need to be very discerning. If a person was brought back from the dead and said that he saw a bright light and then met the Jesus of the Bible and was told by Him to return because his mission in this life was not yet complete, then we are on safe ground. However if a person went to "Heaven" and claimed to have met Jesus, plus Buddha, Mohammed, Malcolm X, Joseph Smith, Charles Russell or L. Ron Hubbard, then all of us need to be skeptical.  An experience like that would suggest that there are many ways to Heaven; which of course is false.               

In these last days the devil is capable of displaying awesome signs and wonders (Mat.24:24).  Some such experiences can reinforce our belief that there really is an afterlife but we shouldn't put all our faith in just them.                         

Now let's turn to our only reliable source.  Let's hear from the Person who not only created Heaven but has His throne in Heaven.  Let's hear what God says about Heaven in His perfect Word.                     

1.  Heaven is eternal.                     

"Yor kingdom is an everlasting kingdom.  And Your   dominion endures throughout all generations." (Psalm  145:13)                        

Our small finite minds cannot conceive of time without end.  How long is eternity?  If every snowflake that fell on any part of the Earth during all eras of time had a number on it with each number representing a year and if we added up all the years, we still wouldn't get to the end of eternity.                                    

2.  Heaven is a place of perfect righteousness.                

John wrote about the New Jerusalem:                  

"But there shall be by no means enter anything that  defiles or causes an abomination or a lie." (Rev.   21:27)                        

God is holy and He owns a holy kingdom.  This is why  God demands a spiritual rebirth.  We have to be born into God's family so that He can separate us from our sins.  By putting on Christ's perfect righteousness we become fit for Heaven.                       

Does this mean that Heaven will be like a burdensome legalistic cult?  No.  Far from being a cult leader who wants to ban everything, God instead will show us His view of sin.  Being this close to God in Heaven, we will have no appetite for sin.  Yes we wiil have free will.  But we will not be like robots who are programmed only to be holy.  We will have free, clear, and  expanded minds of our own but no one will desire sin, much like no one down here has a desire to drink dirty water.  Isn't it comforting to know that God will not allow sin and all the personal problems sin brings with it into His perfect kingdom?                                      

3.  Heaven will be a perfect paradise.                  

When Jesus described Heaven as a paradise in Luke 23:43 He wasn't  thinking palm trees, white sandy beaches, and the sound of waves washing ashore.  That is paradise according to us.  Pacific islands can be beautiful places to visit especially while watching the glow of a setting sun glistening on the sea.  But an island paradise will also include sharks that bite, jellyfish that sting, insects and rodents that carry diseases, and local riff-raff who love to steal wallets.  Plus the fact that the island could be visited by a typhoon.  What Jesus meant by paradise was a re-newed Earth.  Therefore paradise will be a totally new Earth.               

John wrote in Revelation 21:5:                   

"Behold I make all things new."                   

Everything about our old present Earth will be made new and perfect. There will be no weather systems that cause floods, droughts, hurricanes, or tornadoes.  There will be no faults in the Earth's crust to cause earthquakes.  The new Earth that is mentioned in Isaiah 65 will be a complete restoration of Eden.  Our circumstances  will forever change.  Life will replace death.  Health will replace sickness.  Joy will replace grief.                         

Our minds will be new.  We will be able to comprehend facts from every field of study in a way that is not possible with our present minds.  All of the great mysteries of science and history will be understood.                

Our bodies will be new.  Things like diseases, birth defects, and even the aging process, all of which are results of the Fall, will not be a part of the new Earth.                

Let me state that another way.  There will be no "elephant men" in Heaven.  The "Elephant Man" tale is a sad but true story of Joseph Merrick.  Merrick was born in England in 1862 with a hideous deformity that affected almost his entire body.  He quit school at an early age.  But as he grew older his deformed body became worse which made it impossible for him to keep any of his jobs.                

He contacted a man who ran a sort of traveling carnival "freak show" where he willingly served as an exibit.  He saw this kind of a life as his only means of survival.  It was there and then that Joseph Merrick was dubbed "The Elephant Man."                       

In the 1880s Merrick crossed paths with a Doctor Fredrick Treves.  Dr. Treves took him out of the freak show and showed Merrick a taste of human dignity.                

By 1886 Merrick's physical health grew worse.  Fortunately Dr. Treves made arrangments for Merrick to live out his life at a London hospital.  While there Merrick received many gracious visitors who did more than just gawk at his deformed body.  One of the most noteable visits Merrick had was from the Princess of Wales.                

Despite all the kindness Merrick was shown, his health continued to deteriorate.  His speech became more and more unintelligable.  He died on April 11, 1890 at the age of 27.                        

If Joseph Merrick bacame saved (his mother served God as a Sunday school teacher) he will be blessed at the first resurrection with a new body that most any college or professional athletes would envy.  Gone will be the hideous mis-shaped head, the bad hip that made walking difficult, the mouth that could barely speak, and the fingers that later would not function.   His new eternal body will be perfect in every way.  It will be more perfect than the bodies of male fashion super models.               

How can I possibly illustrate this fact?  Years ago I had a taste for horror fiction.  I read novels from several authors including Stephen King.  In one of King's novels a couple of brave characters made a daring day-time visit to the lair of a sleeping vampire.  As the vampire slept, the snoopers noticed that the vampire's body was flawless.  There were no scars, no blemishes, no wrinkles, nor any other physical imperfections of any kind.  It was as if the vampire had the body that resembled a sculpted marble statue of a Greek or Roman god.                          

This is a rough idea of what our future eternal bodies will be like.  They'll be perfect.  There will be no need for wheelchairs, eye glasses, or insulin shots.  Plus our new bodies will never show the effects of aging.  Since Jesus was 33 years old on the day of His baptism in the fall of 29 AD, I personally believe that all of the elect will have the body of a 33 year old - FOREVER!  Now that's Heaven!                                      

4.  Heaven will be the ultimate family reunion.                             

When someone becomes born again they become born into the family of God and what an awesome size family that will be!  John wrote:                     

 "After these things I looked and behold a great   multitude which no man could number of all nations  ...standing before the throne." (Rev. 7:9)                 

The entire body of Christ will be brought together for the start of an eternity of celebration and fellowship.  Not only will believers from every nation but also from every time period will be present.  The early church, the medieval church, the Reformation church, the colonial church, and the last days church will all be in that multitude that no one could number.  Imagine conversing with a fellow believer from a different time and place.  Think of all the stories that could be swapped.                  

What will be the language of Heaven?  Every language!  With our new expanded minds God will enable us to understand all languages.  We will be  multi-lingual just as God is multi-lingual.  Sound impossible?  Remember the Day of Pentecost in Acts 2?  Those believers were given an instant ability to speak foreign languages without the need of taking language classes.  They spoke like natives.  If G od can do something like that on just one day, imagine what He could do in an eternity.  I will be able to speak with a fellow believer from Sri Lanka in the Sinhalese language as easily as I can speak in English.                                                  

5.  Heaven will be a place of perfect fellowship.                             

When all of the population of Heaven comes together, things like racism, gossip, envy, and bitterness will not be found.  We will experience a scene of harmony and joy not division and strife.  We will have a desire to get to know people at a deeper level than we do now.                 

We will see every person as a unique example of God's creative workmanship.  Each person will be seen as someone who can offer something of value to the kingdom.  No one will be treated as an undesireable, a misfit, or a black sheep.                          

Likewise no one will have the desire to put anyone on a pedestal and make that person into an idol.  Think of the idols that exist in our world.  Many Chinese still rever Mao and his Little Red Book even though China is a "communist" country with a capitalist economy.  Will there be posters of Mao in Heaven?  Remember God hates a proud look.                          

Celebreties that have cult followings also exist in our world.  But the mentality that we need to build our lives around a political, religious, or Hollywood figure will not exist in Heaven.  God will be the only Person worthy to receive that kind of devotion.                  

We will be safe in our new home.  In our present world when approached by a stranger, we feel a need to guess his motives.  Is he carrying a weapon?  Is he part of an elaborate con job?  That won't be the case in Heaven because there will be no sin in Heaven.  Instead of greed being in people's hearts there will be love, joy, peace patience, kindness, gentleness, goodness, faithfulness, and self control.  We know those as the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22 and 23).                    

Isaiah wrote this verse concerning the future new heaven and new earth:                      

"...they shall beat their swords into plowshares and  and their spears into pruninghooks; nation shall not  lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore." (Isaiah 2:4)                    

On page 236 of his book "What if Jesus Had Never Been Born?", Dr. D. James Kennedy wrote that an estimated 170 million people were killed by the twin evils of war and tyranny in the 20th Century alone. ( That's roughly equal to the  entire population of the US during the Kennedy administration.)                      

We have war because our present world is in spiritual conflict.  The only way evil can win is if good people do nothing.  When evil clashes with good the result is either appeasement or conflict.                    

Sin in man's heart makes utopia in this world impossible.  But in the new heaven and new earth, God will make what is impossible for man a future reality.  Alas God's people will experience real peace and safety.                            

6.  Heaven will be a place of lasting comfort.                             

Here is an amazing promise that God has already given to His people who will overcome tribulations and much persecution on the road to Heaven:                   

"And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes,  there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying,  and there will be no more pain for the former things   have passed away." (Revelation 21:4)                  

The real Heaven will be so awesome that the past insults, rejections, and persecutions will not even come to mind.  Does an Olympic athlete remember all the painful hours of intense physical training the moment that he is standing on the pedestal and receives his medal as his country's national anthem is being played?  Of course not!                        

If anyone had a right to complain about too much persecution it was Paul.  Because he turned his life over to Christ he was stoned, imprisioned, beaten with rods, and reviled by his own countrymen.  In 2 Corinthians 11:26 he writes a long list of all the things that put him in perils.  (When we comfortable American Christians complain about something like waiting too long in line because a new cashier is having trouble understanding everything about the new job, we should take a moment and re-read 2 Corinthians 11:23-33).  Isn't it nice to know that we aren't living like Paul?)                    

Yet Paul wrote to his fellow believers:                  

"...the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed  in us." (Romans 8:18)                     

Are you facing rejection, ridicule, and persecution because of the Gospel?  Keep the faith!  Heaven will be worth it all!                        

There is one other type of grief that will exist in Heaven that has nothing to do with persecution.  It is the grief  of being separated from close friends and relatives forever.  Not everyone we love will make it to Heaven.  Jesus of course will understand because He will share in that grief.                      

All I can say is God has given each of us the dignity of free will.  Not everyone will accept the true Gospel.  Despite our prayers and presentations of the message, many people will choose to reject it.  In Heaven God will somehow give us the healing of heart so that we can accept that reality.                                   

7.  Heaven will be a place of eternal worship.                             

Heaven above all things will be a worship experience.  When we see the awe-inspiring beauty and glory of Heaven, and when we see the Lord Himself with our eyes, knowing that it is only because of His grace that we can enter Heaven, We will WANT to worship Him forever.                 

Ethan wrote in Psalm 89:1:                    

"I will sing of the mercies of the Lord forever..."               

Yes we sing to the Lord in this life but the addition of the word "forever" anticipates eternal worship.                

Ever been to a church service where it seemed as though many of the people didn't care to sing to the Lord?  Or if the person next to you is just there because of habit?  Heaven's worship won't be anything like that.  Instead the worship will be robust.  Everyone will want to sing with a vibrant spirit.  This is something we will want to do continually.  Everything in our being will want to give thanks to God for giving us something this  wonderful to a people who do not deserve it.                 

It shouldn't surprise us that worship of God will be a central activity in Heaven.  Imagine a Heaven where all of us focused on ourselves and eachother and totally ignored God.  That's not the real Heaven.                  

Here is one thing I'd like to write to people who think they want Heaven yet don't care to love and serve God - if worshipping God doesn't appeal to you, if you view Heaven as a secular paradise, a sort of celestial Tahiti where you will be able to go your own way and live only for yourself while giving minimal honor to God, then maybe you aren't ready for the real Heaven.                               

8.  Heaven will be a place of joyful work.                              

We have covered lasting comfort, perfect fellowship, and eternal worship.  Now I will address the subject of work.  Yes, Heaven will be a place of work.                  

It should not surprise us that there will be work in Heaven.  If we really love and worship God, then it follows that we will want to serve and please Him.  Joyful service will be a natural outpouring of our being.               

Work did exist before the Fall.  It is not a curse and it is not evil.  When God first created Adam He gave Him a job.  Note that He gave Adam a job before He gave Adam a mate.  God gave Adam responsibility before he gave him sensual pleasure. What was Adam's job?                  

"Then the Lord God took the man and put him in the   Garden of Eden to tend and keep it." (Gen. 2:15)                

At this point in time work was joyful.  Adam had no problems at all fulfilling his responsibilities.  He had the perfect work enviorment.  Nothing was unpleasant about his job.  His work was meaningful and joyful.  Later God blessed Adam with a lovely mate, Eve.  Together they loved and served God joyously...until...                 

Until sin happened.  Sin ruined everything.  They lost there perfect connection with God and they began to die physically.  Adam acted as our "Federal Head".  When he sinned the consequences of sin fell on all his decendants who were born before and after the Fall.  (Is it possible that the two had children years before the Fall?  Yes.  Remember we don't know how  much time passed between Adam's creation and his fall.  This would certainly explain how Cain got his wife.)                                 

One of the consequences of Adam's sin was that work would become a lot less joyful.  Because of his sin Adam was told:                         

"Cursed is the ground for your sake;  in toil you   shall eat of it all the days of your life.  Both    thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you...  In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, until  you return to the ground..." (Gen. 3:17,18, and 19)               

Note two important things here regarding work.  First work became less joyous because nature became cursed.  Once Adam joyfully worked the Garden.  Now the ground was cursed.  Instead of naturally bringing him abundant lucious fruit, it brought forth weeds that could choke the fruit.  Adam would now have to sweat to gain his fruit.                           

Second Adam's body changed.  Instead of immortality his body began to die with each passing day.  We call this the aging process.  He would experience sore muscles and aching joints, and less strength as he aged.  The words "...until you return to the ground" indicate that sin cursed his body so that he would someday die.  Work, while in his fallen cursed body, would now become much more difficult to perform.                     

We bear the consequences of Adam's sin.  In our present world work can still be meaningful but because of sweat and toil, it is a lot less joyful. Afterall how many of us have co-workers who would say, "If I won the lottery there is no way I would keep this miserable job."               

Will this be the situation in the new heaven and the new earth?  No way!  Yes there will be work.  Isaiah wrote:                         

"They shall build houses and inhabit them.  They shall plant vineyards and eat their fruit." (65:21)                

Note what else Isaiah wrote:                    

"My elect shall long enjoy the work of their hands."  (65:22)                        

The curse of hard work will be lifted.  The ground will not bring us weeds.  Our immortal bodies will not feel the effects of aging.  Sweat and toil will be replaced by joy.  All of us will be eager to come to work to please our Lord.  Each person will be given the right job that will be taylor made for him.  Unlike our present fallen world, no one will be stuck at a job he hates.               

Also consider for a moment all of the negatives that plague many workplaces.  Along with the stresses and strains of the job itself many of us have to endure needless stressers that make eight hours on the job something to dread.  Here are a few:  Demeaning comments, office gossip, people who complain constantly, managers who are overbearing, customers who are unreasonable, co-workers who don't do their share of the work, co-workers who would rather argue than cooperate, co-workers who always blame others for their mistakes , co-workers who make something out of nothing, doing something great only to have someone else grab all the credit, not knowing if your job is secure, and, here is another common one, feeling the pressure to compromise your integrity in order to please a manager or client.  Does any of this sound familiar?                       

Will any of these things be a part of our heavenly home?  Absolutely not!  Heaven will be a place of sinless relationships with one another.                    

What does God say about His elect?                   

"They shall not hurt or destroy in all My holy mountain." (Isaiah 65:25)                     

Nobody I know wants to be thought of as a lazy good-for-nothing.  Rather most all of us, even in our fallen state, have an internal desire to want to make our lives count for something important.  What could be more important than working for God's glory?  In Heaven it won't be just, "Service with a smile" (Many of us only offer fake smiles).  It will be service with overflowing joy.  We will take pleasure in working with one another.               

This also means that there will be no slavery in Heaven.  There will be no exploitation of laborers.  Think of the Egyptian Pyramids and the spacious palaces in ancient times that were built with slave labor.  Think of all the cotton that was grown by African slaves.  The slaves did all the hard work under a hot southern sun while the rich plantation owners reaped all the proceeds.  This will not be the case in Heaven.  Even though we are all God's servants, no one will be exploited.                 

Man has tried and failed to create a perfect workers paradise here on Earth with what we know as communism.  Communist thought is nothing new.  The roots of modern communism can be traced all the way back to ancient Greece.  In 380 BC, Plato wrote the "Republic" where he discussed the idea of a perfect and just society.                

After Plato came the utopian thinkers like Sir Thomas More. More wrote Utopia in England in the 1500s  In that work More wrote about a perfect society where there was no crime and no right for anyone to own private property.  Years later More's writing would be praised by Soviet propagandists.                      

After More came the utopian socialists who wanted to make More's vision a reality.                    

In the late 1800s came Karl Marx and Fredrich Engals.  In his book The Communist Manifesto Marx believed that the "exploited" working class would rise up against their capitalistic oppressors, seize the means of production, spread the wealth, abandon the concepts of private property and private enterprise, and create a perfect social just society.                      

What has communism given the world?  Why it has given us such wonderful humanitarians as Lenin, Stalin, Mao, Kim, Castro, Ho, and Pol Pot.  The governments that these men  have led have destroyed millions of lives.                   

While researching this topic, I read the true story of a man who was born in Europe in the early 20th Century to a Jewish family.  The day came when he was arrested because of his religion and had to endure horrible physical and mental abuse from his captors.  Am I describing the life of a Jewish man who was persecuted by the Nazis?  No!  I am describing the life of the late Richard Wurmbrand.                       

Richard Wurmbrand was born in Romania in 1909 to a Jewish family.  Later in his adult life he came to faith in Christ.                        

After World War II and Yalta, Romania came under Communist rule.  In 1948 while at a public meeting, the so-called "Congress of the Cults", religious leaders were given an opportunity to speak.  One by one all of them, including a Muslim, pledged to put communism before his religion.  After a few private words with his wife Sabina, Richard was given a turn to speak.  Instead of singing the praises of Marx and Stalin he spoke in defense of his risen Lord.  Encouraged by Richard's example religious leaders came over to Richard's side.  To the angst of the Communists, the meeting ended in a fiasco.                         

Shortly after that meeting Richard and Sabina  were arrested.  Richard was sent to a prison where he endured incredible abuse.  What was even worse was when the Communist authorities would later LIE to Sabina telling her  that Richard had died ("You might as well do want we want.  Your husband Richard is dead.").                  

Thanks to the efforts of a Norway based Christian ministry, Richard and Sabina were given a chance  to flee their Romanian workers paradise.  They quickly made their exit and came to America in 1964.  Richard authored the book Tortured for Christ, about his life in Romania, and became founder of Voice of the Martyrs, a ministry that calls attention to atrocities that foreign governments commit against today's faithful Christians.                   

Let us all junk the misguided teachings of an atheist drunkard like Karl Marx and instead focus on the real workers paradise.                                    

9.  We will judge angels.                                  

"Do you not know that we will judge angels?"                 

This verse is found in I Corinthians 6:3.  Here Paul is verbally chastening the church at Corinth where believers were bringing fellow believers into courts to appear before unbelieving judges.  Paul asked the church if there was not a  wise man among any of them who could judge?  Hasn't God choosen one of the elders to settle disputes within the church instead of dragging fellow believers before a pagan judge?  Why wasn't the church searching for that godly arbitrator?  Certainly God gives His wisdom to His elect rather than to the world.  Therefore the Corinthians were to search for that "wise man".                         

But what is meant by the words, "We shall judge angels"?  What did the Holy Spirit have in mind when He inspired Paul to write those words?                   

The verse is in future tense. This means that it is an activity that we as believers will do in Heaven.  But what and how specifically will this take place?                 

First what is a judgment?  A judgement is when a person of authority makes a legal ruling for or against someone or something with the law as his guide.  Judges will say, " To uphold the law I am ruling for/against the defendant."  The judge's ruling of course is legally binding and all parties must abide by it.                   

But what is meant in I Corinthians 6:3 where we are told that the elect will judge angels?  There are two possibilities.  First Heaven's angels will be judged by the elect on how well they ministered to us in this life.  Hebrews 1:14 calls the heavenly angels ministering spirits.  Therefore I Corinthians 6:3 could mean that we will see how well the angels looked out for us in our struggles.  We inturn will give each of them our commendation.                        

A second, and more likely possibility, is that we will judge the sins of angels.  But wait.  Judgment here implies a condemnation of sin.  This judgment would exclude all of Heaven's angels because Heaven's angels are not guilty of any kind of sin.  The only angels guilty of sin are the FALLEN angels, also known as demons or unclean spirits.  Keep in mind that the Bible in some places refers to demons as angels (Mat. 25:41) and (Rev. 12:7).                         

The theory here is that each of us will be given an opportunity to sit alongside Jesus.  Together with Him each Christian will sit in judgment against the fallen angels that caused so many temptations, turmoil, and persecutions in this life.  Like a defendant in a courtroom, each fallen angel will be bound and possibly flanked by two of Heaven's angels.  They will be powerless to do us any harm.                     

It will be then and there that Jesus will say words like this to each of us:                     

"That fallen angel instigated trouble in your home."               

"That fallen angel instigated conflict at your place   of employment."                      

"This fallen angel instigated persecution during your  overseas ministry."                      

"That fallen angel tempted you to kill yourself."                

"That fallen angel cheered as you were being beaten by communist prison guards."                     

(Note that demons cannot really cause us to sin.  Sin is still our choice.  They however can instigate conflict and push temptations.  We are still accountable when we follow their words.)                      

There will be nothing that the fallen angels will be able to do except curse at us in their deep gutteral voices.  The eternal supreme power of Christ will be able to keep all of them harmless.                    

The future of the fallen angels will be the lake of fire (Mat. 25:41).  As I've stated in the last chapter, I believe that the Bible teaches that all the unsaved souls will be burned up and eventually made extinct (Malachi 4:1).  I'm not so certain if the fallen angels will experience the same fate.  Bear in mind that the fallen angels have seen the glory and beauty of Heaven yet all of them stupidly volunteered to join Lucifer's ill-fated rebellion.  Personally I have no problem with the belief that says that the fallen angels will be tormented in the lake of fire - forever.                                                

10.  In Heaven we will see the results of our earthly ministries.                        

Has anyone ever felt, "I'm doing all this work out of obedience to Christ but nothing seems to be changing."?               

I've felt that way.  But with God no godly word or deed goes unnoticed.  There is joy in serving God in this present fallen world but there will be even greater joy when we enter Heaven and see all the results of our service which today may seem non-existant.                  

One small deed can have a ripple effect, an effect that maybe only God can see.  When we enter Heaven we will exchange our limited view for God's complete view.  With God's blessing even small deeds can yield big results.  In Heaven we will be able to see those results.               

Imagine being in Heaven and being approached by someone and hearing him say:                     

"I'm here because of that word of testimony that you  gave at our group."                      

"That day that you handed out all those tracts on the  streetcorner downtown, I was one of those people who   received one of those tracts."                   

"Because you took a strong stand against political  correctness, I was encouraged also to take a stand  against political correctness."                   

"Your prayers and financial support helped keep our   ministry afloat during those lean times."                 

"Thank you for exposing the false teachings of that   godless cult.  As a former member I now have real   salvation."                       

"You had the moral courage to preach against false  gospels.  Thank you for reminding our congregation  that Jesus is the only way to Heaven."                  

"That ministry that you supported sent missionaries  to my country.  You helped me find my way here."                

"Thank you for NOT being ashamed of the Gospel."                             

What did Jesus say?                      

"...lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven...For  where your treasure is your heart will be also."   (Mat. 6:20 and 21)                      

One last thing needs to be said, whatever good we do in this world, God is to be given ALL of the glory.  Why?  Because ministries are not effective without His blessing.                         

"For it is God who works in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure." (Phil. 2:13)                  

"That no flesh should glory in His presence." (I Cor.  1:29)                         

We are never to say, "Look at all that I did for the Lord.  That's more than a lot of other people did."  Instead we should say, "Wow look at all of what God was able to do through me!"                                                

11.  Heaven will bring our Lord pleasure.                              

" is your Father's good pleasure to give you   the kingdom." (Luke 12:32)                    

In the above passage we learn that God will experience great joy and pleasure in giving each of us a place in His kingdom.  Far from being a stingy miser who only wants to give as little as possible so that he can have more for himself, God will enjoy seeing His children  entering His beautiful home.                     

We as parents can relate to this.  Imagine during Christmas shopping season, you buy your child a gift that you know he will just love.  You wrap the gift, keep it in hiding, and count the days until Christmas morning.  When that morning comes you can hardly wait to see your child's eyes light up when he first sees his gift.  Some parents will even have a camera ready to record the facial expression of that wonderful family moment.                

This is the joy of giving.  God Himself also shares in this joy.  He will take much pleasure when we enter the gates and see the awesome incredible eternal beauty of Heaven.  Seeing us experience the fulfillment of all the Bible promises, will give Him a joy He will treasure.                                                      

There they are.  I have listed these characteristics of Heaven that are taken only from God's perfect Word.  Now I want to call attention to the last and what I believe will be a very important characteristic of our new future home.                         

This message isn't for non-believers.  If you are unsaved you need to turn to Christ and become saved while there is still time.  This next characteristic is for people who are at least professing Christians and who are on their way to Heaven.  Please please pay close attention because what I am about to write next  may disturb a lot of lukewarm churchmembers.                               

12.  Heaven will cause us to have negative feelings.                            

Wow, that sounds very contradictory to what I've said earlier about Heaven being a place of eternal peace and joy.  But please stay with me on this.                   

I've always admired the artwork of the late Thomas Kinkade.  His portraits of country scenery showing cottages, mansions, churches, mountains, rivers, and forests coupled with his splendid use of color all give his artwork a sureal sense of beauty that is pleasant to behold.  His portraits are always peaceful, clean, and beautiful.  Kinkade once said that his portraits give people a pleasant alternative to all the bad that is on the evening news.                       

To me seeing his portraits are like getting a little glimpse inside Heaven.  Yet the eternal kingdom of Heaven will be so much more beautiful than anyone could paint.  Comparing the most majestic place in this fallen world to Heaven would be like comparing a 1960s singlewide trailor with a leaking metal flat roof to the Aaron Spelling mansion.                         

Here is the downside.  When many of us first enter Heaven and see its incredible beauty and realize that we will be able to enjoy this setting forever, free from sorrow and death, I'm afraid that many of us will look up to our Lord and say to Him with a heavy heart, "Dear Jesus, I now see Your kingdom with all of its amazing splendor and I'll be able to enjoy this splendor forever and I will have joy like never before.  Lord I really don't deserve something as magnificent as Your kingdom.               

"In my life I kept silent when I was around unsaved people.  But when they gossiped or spoke course jesting, I often joined in.  Much of the money I spent on entertainment could have gone to Christian missions.  I grumbled when I was asked to sacrifice some time and money.                           

"I was a faithful Christian on Sunday morning but not always Monday thru Saturday.  I believed that the Bible was God's Word yet I treated it like a useless item that people would store in their attics.                   

"Yes I spent time in prayer yet when I prayed I often said only my "wish list" instead of expressing my desire for Your will.  I encountered people in need but I rarely showed them any patience yet I always wanted people to be patient with me when I struggled.                    

"I'm joyful that You forgave all my sins but when it came to that nasty neighbor who lived across from me, I had no interest in forgiving much less sharing the Gospel for the sake of his soul."                     

"I loved my family, my home, my career, and the vacations we took.  I realized that every blessing came from Your hand yet I rarely gave You a word of thanks.               

"I know Your Word says that we are to shun the things of the world.  But when I was invited by some friends to attend that AC/DC concert I just couldn't say "No"; even though I realized that most of the people in that crowd were on the real 'Highway to Hell'.                   

"When I was offered illegal drugs I said "No" not because I was a Christ-follower but because I wanted to feel morally superior to everyone else.                  

"In short with all of my failures and complaints, I really don't deserve something this amazing."                              

This most likely will be a short version of what many people might say to Jesus once they see the incredible glory of Heaven.                       

Does the Bible ever talk about God's people ever feeling a sense of shame once they see God's incredible blessing?  In Ezekiel 36:27-31 we read:                  

"I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My ways, and you will keep My judgments and do   them.  Then you shall dwell in the land that I gave  to your fathers...I will deliver you from all your  uncleanness.  I will call for the grain and multiply  it and bring no famine upon you.  And I will multiply  the fruit of your trees and increase of your fields,   so that you need never again bear the reproach of   famine among the nations."                    

The kicker is verse 31:                     

"Then you will remember your evil ways and your deeds  that were not good; and you will LOATHE yourselves in  your own sight, for your iniquities and your    abominations."                       

The word "loathe" means to despise or to react with disgust. Here God is telling Ezekiel how the Israelites will react to all their complaining and grumbling when they finally see all of God's richest blessings bestowed upon them.  They will literally loathe themselves because of their current behavior and nasty attitudes toward God.  They will feel unworthy of all of these many blessings.  "After all the grumbling we did, we don't deserve blessings this awesome."                     

Now some might say that the above verses from Ezekiel applies only to ancient Israel between the post-exile era and the beginning of the Roman occupation.  It doesn't refer to Heaven.  In fact Heaven isn't even mentioned in any of those verses.                      

Yes Ezekiel was written at the dawn of the Babylonian Exile. The Open Bible Expanded Edition dates the book between 592-565 BC.  But does this part of Ezekiel 36 refer only to ancient Israel?  Is it possible that it has a future heavenly meaning as well?  Yes it applied to ancient Israel but the restored nation of Israel is a picture of God's eternal celestial kingdom of Heaven.                 

Keep in mind that often we can use Old Testament stories to illustrate New Testament truths.  Just as the Israelites were strangers in the lands of Babylon and Persia, so are God's elect strangers in this fallen world.  Just as Haman was punished at the gallows so will Satan be punished in the lake of fire.  Therefore just as the Israelites loathed themselves because of their past grumbling once they saw God's blessings, so will some of God's elect loathe themselves because of their past grumbling when they finally see the awesome and eternal beauty of Heaven.                       

One obvious question is how in this life can we keep from becoming a loathing Christian once we enter Heaven?  The answer is found in Deuteronomy 6:5:                  

"You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your might."                

Why do we love God?  Because He first loved us.  He gave us life and the opportunity to exchange our sin debt for eternal life.  Therefore we are to love God more than any person, object, or activity in this world.  I am a son, a husband, a father, a grandfather, an employee, and a US citizen.  When I am in a right relationship with God all of those roles are affected in a positive way for God's glory.                        

God calls us to do His will.  God's will is that you glorify Him.  How do we do this?  First we turn to Jesus.  Next we become like Jesus.  Then we live for Jesus.                

Below are just a few reasons why many of us don't always live for Jesus:                      

1.  I don't need to read the Bible over and over.  I know enough about it already.                    

We don't read the Bible just to increase our academic knowledge of it as if we're reading just to pass some kind of a written test.  The words of the Bible are meant to build us up.  They are presented as spiritual food.               

"As newborn babes desire the pure milk of the word  that you may grow." (I Peter 3:2)                   

Just as a healthy baby will desire his milk so will a spiritually healthy Christian desire time in the Word.  The result will be spiritual growth.                   

Just as in mathamatics we can't learn multiplication until we master addition, so we can't grasp the deeper truths of the Word until we've graduated from the basics.               

We will learn to value the Bible.                   

"I rejoice at your word as one who finds great    treasure." (Psalm 119:162)                    

God's Spirit will use the Word to transform us from within.                         

"Your testimonies I have taken as a heritage forever,  for they are the rejoicing of my heart." (Ps. 119:111)              

Clearly the Bible isn't just another book.  It is God's Book.  God has miraculously preserved His Word throughout the centuries and has made it available in English.  Let's really value His Word.                                

2.  I don't care to be a part of any local church, I can worship God at home.                                  

Yes  it is possible to read the Bible, pray, and worship God from one's own livingroom.  But as members of one body we are called to serve and to fellowship with other believers.  You need other people's fellowship and other people need your fellowship.  We are called upon to bear one another's burdens.                      

King Solomon once said that two are better than one for if one falls his friend can help him up but pity the man who walks by himself because when he falls he has nobody to help him.  When tragedy strikes isn't it vital to have people stand with you during those tough times?                            

3.  Oh I don't care to go around trying to convert people; live and let live.                                  

The Bible warns:                      

"And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was  cast into the lake of fire." (Revelation 20:15)                            

I've heard it asked, "Do you have a burden for the lost or have you lost your burden?"  It is the duty of every sincere believer to be concerned for lost souls.  If we really love and value the people around us, shouldn't we want them to receive God's best, a place in His kingdom?  What would some of us say to Jesus should He ever ask, "In your own words, how available were you to Me in reaching a spiritually dying world?"                 

There is one other point that needs to be made.  It is the church's job simply "to hand out the invitations to Heaven" (Mat. 11:28).  There can be no forced conversions.  Conversion of the heart is the work of the Holy Spirit.                        

"No man can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me  draws him..." (John 6:44)                     

This is why it is important for us to present the Gospel message.  Faith comes by hearing the Word of God.  The non-believer is brought to a crossroads where he/she must count the cost of discipleship.  From then on all we can do is pray for that persn's soul.                   

For soul-winning guides visit                 

One last thing I want to say on the subject of "Heaven will cause us to have negative feelings", when we stand before Jesus and see the beauty of His forever kingdom and admit to Him, "With all of my unwholesome words and actions after my salvation I don't deserve something this amazing."; He will respond, "I know.  You are here only because of My grace."                      

In conclusion, what is Heaven really like ?  Is it wishful thinking?  Is it a secular paradise?  Is it a boring place full of harps and clouds?  Not at all.  Heaven will be marvelous place.                    

In Heaven:                           

Righteousness will replace sin       

Life will replace death         

Joy will replace grief         

Fulfillment will replace emptiness      

Shouts of victory will replace despair      

Sight will replace faith                  

In Heaven every righteous desire will be met.  Every question will be answered.  And every tear will be wiped away.  Most importantly in Heaven we will come face-to-face with the Man who made all this possible, Jesus.

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