David Jeremiah - God Loves You and Wants You With Him Forever
As I look back over my life, I have a mental picture of every house or apartment that I have ever lived in. Beginning with the house my parents lived in when I was born in Toledo, Ohio, to my present location in El Cajon, California, I can picture every single one of those places. Altogether, I have lived in 15 different homes and I can recall something special about each one. They were more than just dwelling places. These were centers of activity and personal interaction. Not just between the members of our family, but all the people that came and went and all the friends that we have that have been in those homes. The people that we have loved and wanted to be with have been in those houses and for that reason they're sacred to us. When my siblings and I became adults and we began our own journeys in life, obviously we moved out of our parents' house but we never stopped going back.
In fact, at Christmas and during vacation days we would find our way back home. When Donna and I were in Dallas, Texas, and I was a graduate student at Dallas seminary, on at least three occasions that we can remember, we would come home from work on Friday night and look at each other and say, "Let's go home". And we'd get in our car, at that time I had a white Chevrolet convertible with a red top. And we'd get in that car and we'd drive from Dallas, Texas, to Cedarville, Ohio. I remember it was 1051 miles, one way. And we'd drive there, straight through, so we could spend about 8 hours at home and then get in the same car and drive back so we didn't miss class or work on Monday. You say, "That's crazy". Yeah, it is. It's crazy but it illustrates the fact that home is like a magnet. If you have a home you wanna go home as much as you can. We were homesick. We want to go home.
Well, the Bible tells us that we all have at least one more move. Did you know that? One more house to live in that we haven't lived in yet. And we don't know when that's gonna happen but the Bible says one day we're gonna go to heaven and, in John 14, my favorite name for heaven is listed. Do you know what it is? Here it is. It's called The Father's house. That's the name for heaven in John 14. Say that with me, the Father's house. That's where we're gonna go. One of these days we're gonna move in to the Father's house. This picture of heaven as the Father's house is given to us to remind us that one day soon we're gonna be with the one we love and the ones that we love in the Father's house. How many of you know that when you love somebody, you wanna be with them? Have you noticed when a couple falls in love, they're inseparable. That's how it works. When you love somebody, you wanna be with them, amen?
And here's the incredible news. God says he wants to be with us. He wants us to be with him. In fact, if you go through the New Testament you will see this little phrase salted into the language of the New Testament over and over again. For instance, in that passage in John 14 I mentioned, the end of the verse says that Jesus is preparing this house so that where he is, there we may be also. Have you ever noticed that? He wants us to be where he's gonna be. John 17:24, Jesus in his high priestly prayer prays this, "Father, I desire that they also whom you gave me may be with me where I am". Jesus wants us to be with Him. When he gave his assurance to the thief on the cross, do you remember what he said to him? He said, "Today you will be with me in paradise".
How many of you know, God wants us to be with him? Jesus wants us to be with him. Paul explained it in his own death and he said this, "We are confident, yes, we're pleased rather to be absent from the body and present with the Lord". When he wrote to the Philippians, he said, "I am hard-pressed between the two, having a desire to depart and to be with Christ, which is far better". You see how this keeps reoccurring over and over? God wants us to be with him. And after he teaches us about the Rapture at the end of the verse in 1 Thessalonians 4, he gives us this little caveat: "And thus we shall always be with the Lord". Heaven is real and our heavenly Father and his Son Jesus Christ are there, and they're making things ready for our eternal home. I often tell people, "Can you imagine how beautiful heaven is gonna be? The Lord Jesus spent 6 days creating the earth as we see it now. He's been working on heaven for how many years? It's gonna be quite a fantastic place".
So since he wants us to be with him where he is, let me tell you a little bit about that place. First of all, heaven is the ultimate residence. It's the place of ultimate residence. In the Bible, we're told in John chapter 14, that in this place are many mansions. I read about a law firm that sent flowers to an associate in another city. They were celebrating the opening of a new office. And through some mix-up, the card that accompanied the floral piece read, "Deepest sympathy". When the florist was informed of his mistake, he let out a cry of alarm. "Good heavens," he said. "The card that went with the flowers to the funeral home said, "Congratulations on your new location"! That's the point I wanna make. We have a new location, don't we? Almighty God has provided a new location for us. It's the ultimate residence. This ultimate residence is also a place of ultimate rejoicing. "You will show me the path of life; in your presence is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore".
The Bible says that in heaven there's fullness of joy, there's the path of life and there's pleasures forevermore. Heaven is going to be a pleasurable place. Let me put it down where you can grab it. Heaven's gonna be fun. Huckleberry Finn didn't think so. In the opening chapter of Mark Twain's classic, "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn," Huck is living with a starchy, crabby, old woman, who has determined in her life that her one objective is to transform Huckleberry Finn. And she's going to beat the wildness out of him and fill him full of manners. And the chief way she plans to do this is with religion. So she bludgeons him with Bible verses and she threatens him with hell, and she coaxes him with heaven, and in his streetwise, cocky way, Huck tells us what he thinks of all that. He says, "She went on and told me all about the good place. She said all a body would have to do to go there and just go around all day with a harp and sing, forever. And I didn't think much of it. And I asked her if she reckoned Tom Sawyer would go there, and she said not by a considerable sight. And I was glad about that, 'cause I wanted him and me to be together".
When you mention heaven to someone who's not a Christian let me tell you what their reaction is. And I'll even tell you how it comes out. It comes out like this. "Boooooring. Heaven's gonna be boring". But heaven will not be boring and I wanna tell you why. The greatest book on heaven that's been written in my lifetime was written by a guy named Randy Alcorn. It just has the title, "Heaven". And this is what he says about this whole boring thing. He says, "Our belief that heaven will be boring betrays a heresy that God is boring. And there is no greater nonsense". Now think about this. "Your desire, my desire, for pleasure and the experience of joy come directly from God's hand. He made our taste buds, he created adrenaline, he gave us our sex drives and the nerve endings that convey pleasure to our brains. Our imaginations and our capacity for joy and exhilaration were made by the very God we accuse of being boring.
Are we so arrogant that we imagine that as human beings we came up with fun"? Added to the fact that God will not be boring, is this amazing truth. Sit up and listen. It's true whether you believe it or not. In heaven you won't be boring. I know that's gonna take more faith than what I said about God but let me tell you something, the Bible teaches that. When you get to heaven, you're not gonna be boring either. You know why? The Bible says before you get there, you're gonna have a complete extreme makeover, amen? The Bible says we're gonna be made like unto him. All the things in you that are boring are gonna be gone. Joy is to be found in the presence of the one who made you, who created you for joy, who created you to be filled with rejoicing and pleasure. That's the God we serve and he's created a place where you can know that to its fullest.
And if you miss it there's no other place where that can be found. Heaven's a place of ultimate residence and ultimate rejoicing. It's also a place of ultimate recognition. Says in 1 Corinthians 13: "For now we see in a mirror, but then face to face. We know in part now, but then we will know as we are known". Here's the question people ask me, "Pastor Jeremiah, are we gonna know each other in heaven"? Absolutely. When you go to heaven, you don't lose your identity, your personality, your DNA, who you are. In fact, if you study the Lord Jesus Christ who went through the process we're going to go through before he went back to heaven, you discover that after his Resurrection his disciples all knew who he was. They knew he was the same Jesus they had known before the cross and the burial and the Resurrection. And they were so certain about this, they went to their graves defending it. When Moses and Elijah appeared out of heaven to stand with Christ on the Mount of Transfiguration, the disciples with Christ recognize Moses and Elijah. Oh, when you get to heaven, you're gonna know each other all right.
Matthew 8:11 says, "I say to you that many will come from the east and the west, and sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven". They're gonna know each other. When you get to heaven, you're gonna know your parents and your children, you're gonna know your brothers and your sisters. You're gonna know the people that you grew up knowing, the people that were in the church you attended. And you're gonna know so many more as we'll learn in a moment. But you don't lose your memory when you go to heaven anymore than Jesus lost his memory after his Resurrection. When you get to heaven it's the ultimate place of recognition. Heaven is the ultimate place of residence. And the ultimate place of rejoicing. And the ultimate place of recognition. But it's also the place of ultimate relationships. In heaven we're gonna have relationships with one another. Hebrews 12 tells us about some of the people who are gonna be in Heaven. Notice Hebrews 12, verse 22: "But you have come to Mount Zion," or to heaven, "the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, to an innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly, to the church of the firstborn who are registered in heaven, to God the Judge of all, to the spirits of just men made perfect".
That's quite a list. The Bible says, basically, all the people that have been saved, the angels, God himself, everybody's gonna be there. And you have come to that place. And you're gonna have relationships with people in heaven. I often think about this because, you know, there's lots of folks that I've met in this life that I've become friends with and I enjoy being with them. But I'm a reader and I live in my library a lot and I read and I actually get to know people who aren't here anymore who lived before I lived. They lived in a different time. And I get to know a lot about them, almost as if I could have fellowship with them but I can't because they're dead, they're gone. But in heaven, we're all gonna be together and it will be possible for us to fellowship with people who lived at times other than when we lived. And I have some great, great thoughts about that.
I mean, I'd like to meet Daniel, and Joseph, and David, the three people from the Old Testament that are my favorite Old Testament characters. I've preached on them and now they can tell me how much I got wrong when I see them. I'd like to meet Jabez and ask him if he ever dreamed Bruce Wilkinson would make him so famous. I'd love to cultivate a relationship with Paul the apostle and John the beloved. And I owe a lot to men like C.S. Lewis, Charles Haddon Spurgeon, Andrew Murray, A.W. Tozer, whose books I've read, whose words I've quoted, whose testimony has so shaped my life. And when I get to heaven, I'll get to meet them and fellowship with them. And there will never be any time constrictions. I can have lunch with them and it could last for 2 or 3 months and they're still, see, there won't be any time. You never run out of time in heaven. You'll be able to cultivate all the relationships.
But I wanna tell you something. As great as all of that will be, it all pales into insignificance when you realize that the privilege of heaven is not just the people you get to meet there. But living in the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ himself. And living in fellowship with him. Heaven's gonna be a place of ultimate residence and rejoicing and recognition and relationships but it's also gonna be a place of ultimate responsibility. Matthew 25 says when we get to heaven we're gonna hear these words: "Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a few things". Now, it doesn't end there. Notice the rest of it: "I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your Lord". When we get to heaven, we're going to serve the Lord.
If you read the Book of Revelation, I want you to notice over and over again in that book, all the times you read about the servants of the Lord. In heaven, we're gonna be his servants. We're gonna serve him. Revelation 22:3 says: "There will be no more curse, but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it, and His servants shall serve Him". There will never be a boring day. Do you know what? I'm kind of encouraged by that. I'm sure you've noticed this. I love the work that God has given me to do. I can't imagine a life with no goals, a life with no work to do, a life with no projects. I mean, that's how I've lived my whole life and when I get to heaven, it's just gonna be exploded into perfection and I'll be able to live every day and I won't have to ever argue with anybody about what I wanna do and hear them say, "No, you won't".
I'm gonna be able to do the things that God puts in my heart to do forever and ever. And I'm gonna serve the Lord out of purity of heart and motive. That's what heaven will be like. And then heaven will be a place of ultimate reality. And let me just dwell on that for a moment. The Bible tells us in 2 Corinthians 5, and in Romans 8, that all of us today, as we live our lives, we have a groaning within us. That's what it says. We groan within ourselves. What does that mean? It means that in our hearts we all know there's something more than what we experiencing. You know, you have your best day and then you revel in it for a moment and then you realize, "Oh, it's over". The Bible says that we are created as humans with an hunger in our heart that can be satisfied with nothing other than God himself and God's place called the Father's house. And when we get to heaven one day, we're gonna realize that God did put eternity in our hearts, Ecclesiastes 3, and that eternity is that sense within us that nothing is fully complete 'til we get to heaven.
And here's the interesting thing about it. God made us that way on purpose. He made us so that we could never be fully actualized on the earth. Some of you, as I have, have traveled abroad and you have been in other cultures and it's fun to go there but have you ever noticed how uneasy you feel while you're there? You don't know the language, you don't know the culture, you don't know how to order anything. You don't know how to tell people where you wanna go. And you just sort of feel, you know, you're there, you're enjoying the scenery, you're glad you went but you know this is not home. That's the way it is for us. How many of you know this world is not our home? We're just passing through. Our home is in heaven. Our home is the Father's house.
And the reason we feel so uncomfortable sometimes down here and so out of sorts and especially if you're Christians, you sort of feel like, you know, why do I, listen, you're not home yet. But when you get home, when you get to heaven, eternity's gonna click in and you're gonna realize this is what I was created for. This is what God made me for. To know this ultimate joy, this ultimate reality of heaven. And it won't be something that fades out in the day that follows but it will be something that grows and appreciates and becomes better and better as you live out through eternity. There'll never be any disappointment. There'll never be any, "Oh, I wish it were like it used to be". It will always be better than it was. And ever and ever the fulfillment of God in our hearts. And God loves you and he wants you to be with him forever.
I wanna take as many people to heaven with me as I can. That's what's radio and television is all about. That's what the magazines are all about. That's what church is all about. That's what witnessing and events and arenas and all the stuff, it's all about this thing. I wanna take as many people to heaven as I can. And I wanna tell 'em about Jesus and let 'em know how great that place is, amen? And that ought to be our heart. We ought not to just be happy that we're going there. We ought to be so amped up about it that we wanna tell everybody how great it is and how they can get there and not miss that place we've been talking about today. That place of ultimate residence and ultimate rejoicing and ultimate recognition and ultimate relationships and ultimate responsibility and ultimate reality. That's heaven. That's the Father's house. And the only way you can get there is through Jesus Christ.
Jesus, one day, said this, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No man comes to the Father except through me". You can't get to the Father's house unless you go through Jesus. He's the only one who can get you there. You can't get there by your own good works. You can't get there by going to church. You can't get there by being a Baptist, or a Pentecostal, or a Catholic, or a Mormon, or any other kind of religious thing. You can only get there through Jesus. And he's come to this earth to be like you and like me, walked among us for those years and then ultimately went to the cross and paid the penalty for all of our sin. And now he says, "If you will accept my sacrifice on the cross and allow it to be the full payment for all the sin you've committed in your life or ever will commit, then you can be born again and you can become a citizen of heaven".
All of us in this room who are on our way to heaven aren't going there 'cause we're good. We're going there because we realize that one day Jesus invited us to come. It's gonna be a party like you won't believe. And we're all invited but only if you accept the invitation do you get to go. I've been telling you how much God loves you. I've been telling you that he loves you, that he always has, that he always will, and that's true. But maybe I haven't told you enough that you don't get that love unless you receive it. "Dr. Jeremiah just told me how much God loved me. It was so great". No, no, no, no. If that's all you hear, if that's all you understand from these messages, you're gonna miss it. God loves you, that's true, but he wants you to receive that love by receiving his Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, into your heart.