David Jeremiah - What's Up With Heaven?
I'm going to be talking with you about what the Bible says about heaven. What you always wanted to know about heaven, probably the most misunderstood doctrine in the Scripture. And unfortunately, misunderstood by a lot of God's people. We get caught up in the myths that surround heaven. And so we're gonna talk about this and it seems to me very appropriate because the Bible tells us we're gonna spend eternity there. And it would make sense, would it not, to check out the place where you're gonna live forever and ever, and find out all you can about it, and there's a lot in the Bible about it, and we're gonna talk about all the different aspects of it.
Some of you know that over the years that I've been here, one of my favorite things has been the collection of epitaphs. I don't know how I got started on that, but somebody got me started. And I started collecting them and, of course, epitaphs are very fitting for a series on heaven because it's written on your tombstone. Here's my all-time favorite. I love this one. It goes like this: "Here lies the body of old man Peas, buried 'neath the flowers and trees. But Peas ain't here, just the pod. Peas shelled out and went to God". That's actually on a tombstone someplace up in the Northwest. And it's a very appropriate epitaph because it's very accurate. That's what happens when you die as a Christian. You shell out and you go to God. The pod stays here, right?
Well, I shared that back east at a conference, and a lady came up to me after she had heard this and a bit later she had gone home and she told me that this little epitaph got her into a lot of trouble. And I could not imagine how this could have gotten her into trouble. But she explained to me that she had not written it down correctly. And when she went to share it with the ladies' missionary group, what came out was: "Here lies the body of old man Peas, buried 'neath the flowers and trees. But Peas ain't here, just the shell". She said, immediately, she knew she was in trouble and she couldn't finish it out.
Well, I have a whole lot of these and they're very interesting and it is amazing what people write or have written on their tombstone. It was Sunday and in Sunday school, the fifth grade class was convening. The teacher was drilling her class about the gospel and salvation. And she was quizzing them at this particular moment in the class and she said, "If I sold everything I owned and I gave the money to the church, would that get me into heaven"? And the whole class responded spontaneously with a big, "No". Well, she said, "If I clean my house every day, mowed the yard, planted flowers, made my home beautiful, would that get me into heaven"? And once again, you can just see it if you've been around kids, everybody said, "No". "Well, if I was kind to animals and polite to my friends, and if I loved my family, would that get me into heaven"? As if programmed, the answer was once again a resounding "No". "Well," the teacher said, "then how can I get to heaven"?
And a little boy who was new to Sunday school that week shouted out the answer from the back: "You have to be dead". Well, the fact is that's true, isn't it? If Jesus doesn't return to take us to be with him, the only way you can get to heaven is to die. And that means every one of us in this room has a chance to go to heaven because the current death rate is 100%. And unless Christ returns soon, we're all going to die. Worldwide, 3 people die every second, 180 every minute, nearly 11,000 every hour, and if the Bible is right about what happens to us after death, that means that more than 250,000 people every day go either to heaven or to hell.
Here in our country, we seem to have lost interest in all of this. A 2003 Harris poll indicated that 82% of the American people believe in heaven, 63% said they expected to go there after they die. But you can't help but thinking of the old spiritual that says, "Lots of folks talking about heaven ain't going there". If recent trends are any gauge, you may be sitting in a service that's very unusual because you will not hear many sermons preached today about heaven, nor about hell. You will not hear about the nature of paradise that is awaiting all of those who put their trust in Christ.
Heaven remains a very popular subject in the imaginations of novelists and filmmakers but it has become a seldom discussed topic among Christian teachers and preachers of all stripes: Catholic, mainline Protestant, evangelical. Nobody talks about heaven anymore. Among the mainline Protestants, it's thought that speculation about the nature of a personal afterlife is anti-intellectual, belongs to the realm of the sawdust floor evangelist. Some say that too much talk of the next world might distract us from the efforts to relieve suffering in this world. And because the church does not have heaven on its mind, sometimes the church becomes indulgent and self-centered and weak.
Sometimes, its present comfort consumes its thoughts and heaven is just an afterthought. And one of the reasons why the statistics from the Barna Research Company and even from the Gallup polls tell us there's just hardly any difference in the stands of morals and living styles between Christians and non-Christians, I believe can be laid at the feet of this great omission in much of the preaching and teaching today. You see, what happens when you forget that God has prepared a place for you in heaven where you will spend eternity and that it is a glorious, wonderful place and it's real and it's not imaginary.
When you begin to doubt that or when you begin to push it off your radar screen, the next thing that happens, because you have a hunger for that in your heart, you start to try to create it here on this earth. And you will spend every dime and go to every extreme to try to figure out how you can make your situation on this earth as much like the things you've heard about heaven as you can. Get rid of the pain, get all the toys, live in a beautiful place, come to Southern California, whatever. And all of it sometimes is the result of not understanding that while those things are okay, you could never approximate that which God has in mind for you in the place we call heaven. You can try for the rest of your life. You can get consultants to help you. You can do anything you can imagine to try to create heaven on earth and it's impossible.
You know, the richest man who ever lived tried it. The wisest man who ever lived tried it. He discovered that it was all just vanity. God has placed within your heart and within mine, a hunger for eternity, a hunger for heaven. And if we do not understand that and if we do not feed that hunger with the spiritual truth of the Word of God, we will end up suppressing that need and replacing it with cheap and tawdry things that will leave us empty and without satisfaction. So what's up with heaven? Today, I wanna just examine some certain things that I think might be sort of foundational for us as we move forward. I'd like to talk with you for a moment about the prominence of heaven.
Did you know that heaven's mentioned over 500 times in the Bible? In the Old Testament, the word is "shamayim". It's a plural word. It means, "The heights". In the New Testament, the Greek word is Ouranos and it inspires the name of the planet, Uranus, which is the same name. The word refers to that which is raised up or lofty, so the two words from the Old Testament Hebrew, from the New Testament Greek, speak of heaven as a place that is high and lofty and lifted up. And that word is found over and over and over in the Bible. You could not have a Bible if you took the word "heaven" out. It would just be a mish-mash. Heaven is prominent in the teaching of the Scripture. It's prominent in a strange way in our post-modern culture. Just not prominent in our hearts and prominent in our thoughts.
And I wanna talk with you secondly about the plurality of heaven. Did you know there are three heavens? You say, "Man, I'm trying to figure out one. You tell me there's three"? When Paul was writing his letter to the Corinthians, his second letter, he mentions an occasion in the 12th chapter when he was caught up, he says, into the third heaven. And then later on, he refers to that as being caught up into paradise. So Paul apparently had a premature opportunity to see the third heaven. Now, if there's such a place as the third heaven, there must be more than one. There has to be at least three.
So let me tell you what the three heavens are. First of all, the first heaven is what we might call the atmospheric heaven. The first heaven is mentioned in Scripture a number of times. For instance, in Isaiah 55, verse 9: "For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts. For as the rain comes down from heaven". The atmospheric heaven refers to that blanket of air immediately surrounding our earth in which birds and clouds move. Genesis 1:20 says it this way: "Then God said, 'Let the waters abound with an abundance of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the face of the firmament of the heavens.'"
The first heaven is the heaven you see when you walk out into your yard at night and you look up into the sky and you see the envelope, sort of, that surrounds our earth. But then the second heaven is mentioned in the Bible as well, and that is referred to in Genesis chapter 1, verses 14 through 17. Listen to what it says: "Then God said, 'Let there be lights in the firmament of the heavens to divide the day from the night; let them be for signs and seasons, and for days and years; and let them be for lights in the firmament of the heavens to give light on the earth; and it was so. Then God made two great lights: the greater lights to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night. And he made the stars also. And God set them in the firmament of the heavens to give light on the earth".
The stellar heavens, the second heaven, refers to the outer space that contains the sun, the moon, the stars, and all of the galaxies other than our own. That's the second heaven. But remember, Paul said he was caught up to the third heaven, and this is where we read that in 2 Corinthians 12:2 through 4. This is what Paul writes. He says, "I know a man in Christ who 14 years ago," he's referring to himself here, "who 14 years ago, whether in the body I do not know, or whether out of the body I do not know, God knows, such a one was caught up to a third heaven. And I know such a man, whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows, but he was caught up into Paradise and heard inexpressible words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter".
Paul is saying there is something beyond the atmospheric heaven. There's something beyond the stellar heavens. There is a third heaven, and it is in that heaven that God resides. In fact, in the Bible, we are told over and over again that God is in heaven. We are taught to pray, "Our Father who art in heaven". In the book of Matthew, chapter 5, verse 16, we are told that we're to "let our light so shine that men might see our good works and glorify our Father who is in heaven". Psalm 11:4 says: "The Lord is in his holy temple, the Lord's throne is in heaven". Whenever you see that referred to as the place where God is, he's not in the atmospheric heaven, he's not in the stellar heavens, in essence of his residence. He is in the third heaven, the heaven which is the heaven of heavens, where God resides. And it is that heaven to which we aspire. It is that third heaven where we are going someday to be with God and to be with Jesus Christ.
Well, you say, "That's good, we have three heavens and now I know that the third heaven is where I'm going some day if I'm a Christian". So let's talk thirdly, not only about the prominence of heaven and the plurality of it. Let's talk about the place of heaven. Turn to John 14, would you please? John chapter 14, and I wanna read right at the beginning here, the first three verses of John 14. I hope you have a Bible. One of the things you find out when you come to Shadow Mountain, let me ask you to do this. Put your finger there and hold your Bible up. Would you do that? We got enough Bibles to go to war, don't we, amen?
See, this is a good thing. When you come to a church, do they bring their Bibles? Now, that's not some sort of a spiritual fetish or something. But this is what we study, amen? If you wanna know about heaven, you've gotta have a Bible. John chapter 14. "Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father's house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also".
Now, let me put this Scripture in its context. Jesus had announced to his disciples that he was going to the cross and he was going to die. He was going to be buried and he was going to be resurrected, and then ultimately he was going back to heaven. His disciples were filled with sorrow and their hearts were troubled. They didn't understand this. Put yourself in their place. We have a challenge to understand it sometimes looking back on it as history. They were experiencing it as it happened. And Jesus said, "I'm gonna go away". And his disciples were filled with anxiety and they wanted to know where and why and how. And Jesus gave them this truth in John 14. He says, "I don't want your hearts to be troubled. Don't be filled with anxiety about this. I wanna tell you something. In my Father's house there are many mansions and I'm going up there and prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare this place, I'm gonna come again and get you and take you where I am, that where I am you may be also".
They didn't understand it. But we understand it now, don't we? We know that Jesus was promising something not just to his disciples but to all of us. And I want you to notice what he says. He went to heaven to prepare a place, a place for us. He did not go to change our state of mind. He did not go to place us in a sort of a spiritual funk so that we would think about good things and that would be our heaven. No, heaven is referred to in the Bible over and over as a place and there are many metaphors for heaven in the Bible. For instance, on some occasions, heaven is referred to as a country. And when we hear that, we're reminded of the vastness of its territory.
Sometimes, it's referred to as the celestial city. When we think of heaven as a city, we see in our mind's eye the inhabitants and the marketplace and the commerce. Sometimes, heaven is referred to as a kingdom and, when we refer to it as a kingdom, we think of the organization and the government and the process. But the best definition of heaven in my estimation is right here in John chapter 14 where Jesus said, "It's my Father's house. It's my Father's house". Most of us here who grew up in warm and loving families have great memories of the father's house. Something about it, it's like a magnet that draws you back. Whether you move across the country or even around the world, there's something about the father's house that you wanna come back to.
My wife and I used to drive on a weekend over 1000 miles, one way, to come back to the father's house just to spend 2 or 3 hours there and then turn around and go back. You see, there's something very intimate and sweet and personal about heaven when you talk about it being the Father's house. It's no longer an empty space. In your mind's eye you see furniture, don't you? You see decorations on, you see the warmth that's a part of a home. And Jesus has promised us that if we put our trust in him, he has prepared a place for us in heaven that is in his Father's house and we are privileged to be a part of living there in that place forever and ever.
Please hear me. Heaven is not, as some people say, an imaginary place. Some people say heaven is a benevolent state of mind, a reward for being good. Some say heaven or hell is whatever you make of it in this life, a projection of the best in yourself. But listen to me, men and women. Heaven is not a figment of imagination. It is not a feeling or emotion. Heaven is not the beautiful Isle of Somewhere. Heaven is not merely a thought form. It is not a projection of the best in you. It is not a vision of a longed-for Utopia. It is not a pleasing hope or the invention of man. Our thoughts do not make heaven. Heaven is a prepared place for a prepared people. It is a place and the word in the New Testament language is the word T-O-P-O-S, topos, which is a very strict word concerning a place that you can locate.
Jesus said, "I go to prepare a place for you". And I believe that there is a literal place called heaven. If you ask me exactly where it is, I don't know that. I can answer that totally with authority, but let me tell you what I believe the Bible teaches. Most of the time when we talk above heaven, we say it's up, don't we? Heaven is up. Ephesians 4:10 says that, "He who descended is also the One who ascended far above the heavens, that He might fill all things". And when Jesus was ready to go back to heaven in his Ascension, in Acts chapter 1, verses 10 and 11, we read, "While they looked steadfastly toward heaven, He went up. Behold, two men stood by them in white apparel, who also said, 'Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven.'"
So we would have to assume that heaven is up. But which way is up? If we say, "It is in the direction at right angles with the earth's surface, wherever we may happen to be," then it would be in a different direction from every point on the earth. According to this, up would be everywhere in general and nowhere in particular. It would be different if you were in China than it is if you're in America. It would be different if you were in Brazil than it would be in, did you ever think about that? Have I really messed you up this morning? Well, let me just try to help you with this, if I can. Where is heaven? Heaven is up. But I want you to read with me a passage that gives us a little information on that.
And Isaiah chapter 14 has to do with the issue of Satan and his being kicked out of heaven. But notice chapter 14: "For you have said in your heart: 'I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; I will also sit on the mount of the congregation on the farthest sides of the north.'" Just underline that last phrase, referring to the place where he was as heaven. He refers to it in this chapter as the "farthest sides of the north". Now, no matter what part of the earth you are on, no matter where you are standing, north will always be up. It would seem reasonable to conclude that heaven is somewhere in the northern heavens beyond the reach of the astronomer's powerful telescope, and scientists tell us there is such a place that seems to be somewhat vacant of stars and galaxies and it is in the northern heavens and most scholars who want to particularly place heaven in the third heaven section, say it's in the northern part of the third heaven.
Now, when I tried to explain that to my wife this week, she said, "Honey, all the people who come to our church from the south are gonna be real mad at you". Heaven is not in the south; it's in the north. Just gonna have to take it by faith. That's what the Bible says. And we'll deal with that whole issue later, all right? So heaven is a place. Do you know there's an issue that I need to deal with sometimes? People say, "Well, heaven is so magnificent. You know, the mind can't conceive of it. The mind can't", No, no, that's not true. In the passage that says that heaven is such a place that we cannot conceive of it, the next verse says but it has been revealed to us what it is. Because it's in the Word of God and it's amazing. It is amazing. And it's so much fun because most people don't know about it. They just don't know.
If we understood everything the Bible tells us about heaven, we'd have such a longing to be there, it would occupy our attention and our thought process. Heaven's a place. But I want you to notice lastly, that heaven's important because of the preciousness of it. Heaven is a precious place. You say, "Well, Pastor Jeremiah, why is it precious"? Because everything that is near and dear to you and to me, everything that's important to a person who is a Christ follower, everything that's meaningful to anyone who says that they love God and they're followers of Christ, everything important to them, is in heaven. Everything.
First of all, let me tell you, your Redeemer is in heaven. Did you know that? This is what it says in Hebrews 9: "For Christ has not entered the holy place made with hands, which are copies of the true, but he has entered into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us". Our Redeemer is in heaven. I have a feeling when we get to heaven and when you see the golden streets and the gates of pearl and all of those other things which are really true, they're going to fade into insignificance when we see the Savior.
When we're able to get our eyes upon the One who paid the penalty for our sin and hung on the cross, when we're able to see the nail prints in his hands and perhaps even the place where the crown of thorns crushed his brow, and put our hand in the side where the spear was, Jesus will appear, I believe, in heaven throughout eternity as the Lamb of God and our Redeemer. And he will carry with him throughout eternity the scars of our redemption. And when we see Jesus, heaven will really be heaven. Everything else will pale into insignificance.
One author that I read said if he could be in heaven and just peek through a keyhole for 1 second every 1000 years and see Jesus, it'd be worth going. I wanna tell you something. It's gonna be far better than that. I don't know how it all works, but we're gonna be able to fellowship with him personally. And know him in a way that's even beyond our knowledge of him now. Our Redeemer is in heaven. And then secondly, our relationships are in heaven, aren't they? If you have loved ones who have died and they're Christians, they're in heaven. You ought to think about heaven just because of that.
My father told me toward the end of his life, he said, "You know, one of the things about getting old that's kind of tough is you have more friends in heaven than you have on earth". And he was right about that, isn't that true? It, kind of, it's a gradual thing as you get older, you hear about somebody who was a contemporary of yours who's gone to be in heaven. And now, here we are, Donna and I, and we're the patriarchs in our family because our parents, all four of them, are gone. They're in heaven. And I care about that. And we're gonna see our family in heaven. I want you to read with me this verse from Hebrews 12 where the writer of Hebrews says, "To the general assembly and the church of the firstborn who are registered in heaven, to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect".
This is a reference to the population of heaven and the fact that our loved ones are there. Our Redeemer will be there but our loved ones are there too and we're gonna have a chance to interact with them and surely he will. Interestingly enough, the "Ladies' Home Journal" ran a poll. I can't believe they did this for me. It's so wonderful. And the question was, "Who would you most like to see first in heaven"? And here are the results: 31% said "mother," 16% said, "father," and 10% said, "spouse". That's a pretty sad story right there, isn't it? There's something going on there we don't know. I don't know, maybe it was the way they asked the question, you know? I'm not sure.
Well, our Redeemer's in heaven, our relatives are in heaven. Notice, thirdly, our resources are in heaven. 1 Peter 1:3-4 says: "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead," watch this, "to an inheritance incorruptible, undefiled, that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you". Amen, somebody got happy back there. Whoo! You know what? When you became a Christian, God became your Father. And do you know what? When God became your Father, he made you an heir. You're an heir of God and you now have an inheritance and Peter says that inheritance has gone ahead of you. It's preserved in heaven for ever. It cannot ever go away. It's not gonna be touched by inflation. It's not gonna be hurt by the ups and downs that we experience economically here. You have an inheritance in heaven that is preserved for you. It's got your name on it. It's your inheritance. Your resources are in heaven.
Number four, your residence is in heaven. Now, I'm not just talking here about where you live. I'm talking here about your citizenship. Philippians 3:20 says it this way: "For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ". Friends, we are not citizens primarily of this land. Or when you get your passport and you have to put down, you know, where you were born and your place of residence, you usually put, you know, I was born in Toledo, Ohio, and I live in San Diego county. But my real residence is in heaven. I am an ambassador. I'm on a visa down here and I'm just trying to represent my country best and represent my Savior best. This world is not my home. I'm just passing through. My treasures are laid up somewhere beyond the blue. And my citizenship is in heaven.
That's why Paul tells us, "Set your affection on things above and not on things below". Because, once again, if you forget about heaven and you never look up, all you've got to do is look around and I'll tell you what. Looking around can get real depressing, amen? That's why we need to look up. We need to be reminded that we are citizens of another place and one of these days we're going home to the homeland and we'll be at home with Jesus forever. Our Redeemer is in heaven. Our relationships are in heaven. Our resources are in heaven. Our residence is in heaven. Our reward is in heaven. Matthew 5:12 says: "Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven".
Did you know there are five crowns that are available to those of us who are Christians that we can earn while we're on this earth? Are you in the running for a crown? Did you know that such a thing existed? Some people say, "Well, it doesn't seem spiritual to be looking for a reward". I'll tell you something, God is into rewards and all through the Bible God is into motivation and rewards, and if you don't believe that, you haven't read the Scripture. God wants us to be faithful and he holds out for us a crown that we can aspire to. And one day in heaven, we're gonna get our rewards and our crowns will be given to us. And then, we're told that we're gonna cast those crowns at the feet of Jesus in an act of worship that will be unlike anything we have ever experienced before. Our rewards are in heaven. And then our riches are in heaven.
Matthew 6 says that we're not to "lay up for ourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for ourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also". Let me just touch on this briefly. The way you send your treasures to heaven, listen to me. The only thing that's going to go from here to there and the only way you can get your treasure from here to there is to invest it in the things that are going there. The only things that are going there from his earth are the souls of men and women and the Word of God.
So if I were you and you're trying to build a little equity in heaven, I'd be investing myself, both my personal resources by way of talent and time and treasure in the eternal souls of men and the eternal Word of God. Because when you get to heaven, that's the only thing you're going to see that went on before you that's invested there at this present time. Are you headed towards your treasure? I hope you are. Finally, and we're finished, our reservation is in heaven. This is the most important thing. Revelation 21:27 says this: "But there shall by no means enter into heaven anything that defiles, or causes an abomination or a lie, but only those who are written in the Lamb's Book of Life".
The Bible says that in heaven there is a book, a registry. It's called the Lamb's Book of Life. And the names of all who will be in heaven are recorded in that book. Somebody says, "I wonder if it's computerized". I don't know. But it's a book, however you wanna say a book. And there's a place in that book for your name and for mine. Jesus said to his disciples on one occasion: "Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rather rejoice because your names are written in heaven". Let me ask you this question. Is your name written in heaven? Do you have a reservation in heaven? Because one day you're gonna stand before God and he's going to say to you, "Why should I let you into my heaven"? And if you can't say with authority, "My name is in the book. I have a reservation. I put my trust in Jesus Christ as my Savior and therefore I qualify to come in". If you don't have that power, that strength, that confidence, you will never ever be in heaven.
Ruthanna Metzgar is a professional singer and she tells a story that illustrates the importance of having your name written in the book. Several years ago, Ruthanna was asked to sing at a wedding in Seattle where she lives. And in her story, she says it was a very, very plush, posh wedding. One of the wealthiest families in the city, their daughter was getting married. And she was asked to be the soloist. And she was excited about the invitation for two reasons. First of all, it was quite an event, but secondly, the reception for this wedding was going to be held on the top two floors of the Colombia Tower, the tallest building in the Northwest, and very, very exclusive, and she couldn't help but think about how much fun it would be for her and her husband Roy to go to the reception.
So the wedding came and, when it was over, they drove down to the Towers and they went to the reception desk and there was a tuxedo-dressed maître d' there who was introducing everyone and offering luscious hors d'oeuvres and exotic beverages. As they came to this place, the bride and the groom approached a beautiful glass and brass staircase that led up to the top floor. Someone ceremoniously cut a satin ribbon draped across the bottom of the stairs. They announced the wedding feast was about to begin, and the bride and groom ascended the stairs, followed by all of their guests. At the top of the stairs, the maître d' with a bound book greeted the guests outside the doors.
"May I have your name please"? he said. "I am Ruthanna Metzgar and this is my husband, Roy". He searched the M's. "I'm not finding it," he said. "Would you spell it again"? Ruthanna spelled her name out very slowly. After searching the book, the maître d' looked up and said, "I'm sorry, but your name isn't here". "Well, there must be some mistake," Ruthanna said, "I'm the singer. I sang for the wedding". And the gentleman answered, "It doesn't matter who you are or what you did, or what you did. Without your name in the book, you cannot attend the banquet". He motioned to a waiter and called him over and he said, "Show these people to the service elevator please".
And they were ushered out of that area of the Towers, past beautifully decorated tables that were laden with shrimp and whole smoked salmon, magnificent carved ice sculptures, and adjacent to the banquet area there was an orchestra preparing to perform, all of them dressed in white tuxedos. The waiter led Ruthanna and Roy to the service elevator, ushered them in, and pushed "G" for the parking garage. After locating their car and driving out of the area, several miles in silence, Roy reached over his hand and put it on Ruthanna's knee and said, "Sweetheart, what happened"? "Well," she said, "when the invitations arrived, I was just jammed up busy. I never bothered to RSVP. And beside, I was the singer. Surely, I could go to the reception without returning the RSVP"?
Ruthanna started to cry, not only because she had missed the most lavish banquet she'd ever been invited to but also because she suddenly had a small taste of what it will be like someday for people as they stand before Christ and they find their names are not written in the Lamb's Book of Life. And when she told the story, she said, "And then they will be put on an elevator that doesn't stop at the garage". In that same chapter, where Jesus said, "In my house are many mansions," he tells us how to make the reservation. And I wanna tell you something that's the greatest good news I could ever say. Almighty God is still accepting reservations for heaven, amen? If you're here today and you've never put your trust in Christ, it's not too late, not too late yet, amen.
Do you remember I read to you from John chapter 14 and I said that when Jesus got done telling everybody where he was going, that Thomas the doubter, remember Thomas? Always questioned everything. Thomas said, "Lord, we don't even know where you're going. How can we get there"? In other words, we don't have one of those things in our car. We don't have a map. We don't know anything. We don't know how to get there. And I don't know if you've ever connected these verses because they're very famous verses. But Jesus spoke to all of the disciples in verse 6 and he said, "Thomas, I know you don't know where I'm going and I know you don't know how to get there, but let me just put your heart at ease. I am the way, the truth, and the life. No man comes to the Father but through Me".
My friends, you can listen to the political correctness all you want to. There is only one way to heaven and that's through Jesus Christ. It's not about a religion. It's not about a church. It's not about a dogma. It's about a person. Jesus is the way. If you have never put your trust in him, your name is not written in the Lamb's Book of Life. And if you should die today and seek entrance to heaven, you would be denied. Not because you are good, bad, or indifferent, but for one simple reason: Jesus is the only way to heaven. Those are not my words. That's not Baptist doctrine. That's the Word of God. God says, "Jesus is the only way". If you wanna go to the Father's house, the only way you can get there is through Jesus.
And I wanna ask you this morning this question. Have you put your trust in him alone for eternal life? I'm not asking you if you're a good person. Not asking you if you're the soloist at the wedding. I'm not asking you if you go to church. I'm asking you one question. Has there ever been a time in your life when knowing what you were doing, you asked Jesus Christ to come into your life and be your Savior, to forgive your sin and give you eternal life? Has there ever been a time like that? And if there has, you know it in your heart. And if there hasn't, you're very uncomfortable right now. But I wanna tell you the good news. Reservations are still being accepted, amen? Reservations are still being accepted, and you can reserve a place today, amen? Amen?