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Jack Graham - The Activity of Heaven


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    Jack Graham - The Activity of Heaven
TOPICS: HEAVEN series, Heaven

You ought to be excited about what God is planning, what Jesus is preparing for you. Now of course, the questions come. You know, what is heaven going to be like? And, particularly, what will we do in heaven? After all, eternity is a long, long time. So how are we going to spend our future with Him? Turn in your Bibles to Revelation chapter 14, this is one you'll want to know and remember. Verse 13 of Revelation chapter 14: "And I heard a voice from heaven saying, 'Write this: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.' 'Blessed indeed,' says the Spirit, 'That they may rest from their labors, for their deeds follow them!'"

Number one, we are risen, and that sets us up for everything else, the fact that we are risen. "Blessed are they who die in the Lord". The Lord is key to everything, and His cross and resurrection is the key to eternity, that unlocks the door to eternity. Without the resurrection the Apostle Paul said, "We of all people most miserable". Certainly heaven would just be a dream or a desire way beyond us were it not for the resurrection of Jesus Christ. It's what we celebrate every day. It's Easter every day! It's the Lord's Day when we come together to celebrate the risen Christ! We are here because Christ is alive! And He said, "I am the resurrection and the life. And he who believes in Me though he be dead, yet shall he live". So we are risen because He is risen. And because Christ is alive, we are made alive.

Now when Christ came out of the grave, He had a real body. It was a resurrected body, but the disciples recognized him. He ate with them, He spoke with them, they touched Him, He touched them, they embraced, because they knew it was Jesus. He had a real though resurrected body! The Bible says, "When we see Him, we will be like Him for we will see him as He is". And therefore, we will not be disembodied spirits. This is very important because I believe a lot of people miss this regarding heaven. We will not be disembodied spirits, phantoms or ghosts floating around from cloud to cloud. No, we will have real and resurrected bodies! Our bodies will be like the body of our Lord Jesus Christ. We will live. We will not have angel bodies. Nobody's going to be passing out wings that I'm aware of, or haloes. It will be a brand new body.

You say, "What kind of body is it going to be"? I'm glad you asked because they were asking that same question in the New Testament and Paul spoke about that in 1 Corinthians 15, a passage, a chapter you should know and really, really know. Because it's about you, it's about your future, and it's about your resurrected immortal body. And so we're going to take the time to look at that this morning. Verse 35 says: "Someone will ask", say it out loud... (How are the dead raised?) Thank you for asking. "With what kind of body do they come"? So skip down to verse 50. The entire chapter's about this, but this zeroes in on it. He says: "I tell you this, brothers: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Behold! I tell you a mystery".

So some of this is a mystery. File that under: To Be Determined. "Some of this is a mystery". But he goes on to say: "We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall all be changed. For this perishable body (that is, this physical material body we have now that's dying) must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. And when the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the statement that is written: 'Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?'" That would be a good place for an Amen! That's a victory shout! Because we will be given brand new bodies. But you will still be you! You're not going to be another you, but the you of you! The part of you made by God for God forever! And while it is a mystery, there's one thing we do know: We will be like Jesus!

The psalmist said, "I will be satisfied when I awaken in your likeness". We will be like Him. That's the goal, to become more and more like Christ. And you will be in the risen state of your being and you will be better for it. I keep saying it over and over in these messages on heaven, that every thing about heaven is better! Far better! Much better! And so will your body be better, because as we learned in the study of the Revelation, He's making all things new. Turn to Romans chapter 8, the eighth chapter of Romans, verses 21 to 23: "that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage (All of creation is under the curse, the bondage to corruption) and obtain the freedom (or the glorious liberty) of the children of God. (I love that 'the glorious liberty,') the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now".

Since the fall, since sin entered the planet in peoples' lives, even creation is cursed and is groaning. Mother earth is in the pain of childbirth. One day even the heavens and the earth will be recreated and redeemed. But verse 23 says: "And not only the creation, but we ourselves (that is, the Christian) who have the first fruits of the Spirit, we groan inwardly as we await eagerly for the adoption of sons". It's like that thing when you get out of a chair you make that sound your father used to make when you get up. We groan, not only physically but inwardly as we wait eagerly, on tiptoes, expecting, eagerly expecting "the adoption as sons, the redemption", underline it, "the redemption of our bodies".

So our bodies will be healed and whole! Redeemed and renewed! Risen in the presence of Christ. No wonder it's called this glorious liberty. We will live in liberty from sin and death! It will be a brand new world without decay, without disasters to destroy things. It will be Paradise restored. And this groaning globe and Christians who are crushed under the curse of sin, it will be a brand new beautiful day! C. S. Lewis spoke of this life as the Shadowlands, because even in the best of our days there seems to be at times a shadow. It's the shadow of sin and death. But then perfection and power; we will be like Christ. We are risen! And we will live in these risen bodies. But having said that, we are not only risen in the Lord, but we are now rejoicing. Back to chapter 14, verse 13. We are rejoicing now.

The Bible says "Rejoice in the Lord always, and again, I say rejoice"! But then, oh, how we are going to celebrate, because I view heaven as a graduation, much better things ahead. It's also a celebration, as well as a coronation. But the Scripture says, "Blessed are they who die in the Lord". The key is "die in the Lord". Blessed are they who are in the Lord when they die, who are believers and followers of Jesus. Blessed are they. The psalmist said, "Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints". Nothing humanly precious about death, but in the sight of the Lord, in the Lord, precious and beautiful and blessed are they who die in the Lord. Now the word blessed, makarios, in the Greek New Testament was used by Jesus in the Beatitudes. "Blessed are you when men revile you and persecute you. Blessed are the poor", and so on, "Blessed are the meek".

That word blessed is a word which means wholeness and completeness, completely fulfilled, but most simply put, it's a word and accurately translated happy. Blessed! Happy are they who die in the Lord. Psalm 16:11 "At your right hand are pleasures forevermore". Precious! "Known in the path of life your presence is the fullness of joy". "In your presence is fullness of joy. At your right hand are pleasure forevermore". Why? Because death is now defeated absolutely! You'll be on your feet dancing because death is defeated! It is a victory dance! There will be lots of high fives in heaven! And, of course, therefore we look forward to being there, because the pleasures there are beyond any human pleasures we could possibly experience. Pleasures forevermore!

Have you ever had one of those days, one of those great, beautiful, wonderful, glorious, fantastic days; you're just so happy and you never wanted it to end? But it did and then another day comes and it's all together different. But think of heaven as a place where the pleasures never end. Your best day ever! And it is forever! And you're going to hear the words of Jesus if you are faithful follower and believer, "Well done, good and faithful servant". Matthew 25:23: "Enter into the joy of your Master". Can you imagine the worship of heaven? Because that will be a great part of our joy, to worship Jesus. Now I need to say that, especially some of you men are thinking, really? We're just going to sing in heaven all day long forever? No, heaven is not going to be a long boring church service. I've been in a few of those. The kind you think will never end. But can you imagine in the presence of Jesus heaven being boring?

So in my mind here's the way I think about this: There's a throne in heaven. And around the throne of God are the saints and the angels. We talked about that the last time. And we will join in the song of angels, the song of the saints in worshiping God. Truly it will be an endless hallelujah to our King! But we'll have other things to do. We're going to get to that in just a moment. There will service for the Lord and there will be banquets and there will be adventures and all the rest. And so I don't believe that we're all going to be around the throne in the new heavens and the new earth, in the countries and the cities of the new heaven and the new earth. But what's going to happen is that reverberating through the kingdom of God, atmospherically there will be praise to God! These everlasting praises to God. And you'll just be drawn in. You'll be in your neighborhood hanging out with your friends.

And you'll hear the songs coming from the throne, and you'll say, "Let's go"! Nobody will have to push you, church. Nobody will have to wake you up to get there. You'll say, "Let's go to church! Let's go to the throne. Let's worship God". And we'll be around the throne of God, on our feet, on our faces. We'll be worshiping God forever and ever! Worship will be the very air we breathe! You got that? It will be in the very atmosphere to worship God. You won't be looking at your watch or looking at your cell phone to see how long is this going to last! You won't be standing there with your hands in your pocket. You'll be hands lifted high, praising God and worshiping Him. You'll be on your knees giving thanks to God forever! So we will be rejoicing. And we will be resting. Verse 13 of Revelation 14 says this: "and they will rest from their labors".

Now this doesn't mean that heaven is going to be a long eternal nap, though that may sound good to some of you right now. Some of you have already started your Sunday afternoon nap. I see you. No, not just a big sleep, a deep sleep, but resting here, think of the word, substitute the word there peace. Jesus said, "Come unto me all you that labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest". Rest for your soul! It is soul rest. It is rest from the pressures and the pain and stress and the distress of life. Rest for your soul. This is the rest. Resting from our labors. In other words, we will be in our resurrected bodies and, therefore, we will be at perfect rest in Him.

Now it doesn't mean in our resting that we won't be serving because the Scripture says His servants there serve Him day and night. I can assure you that heaven will not be boring. I think people in America in particular dread being bored more than anything. Our kids say it, right? "I'm bored". And even God's kids say it sometimes. "I'm just bored". You know, we don't know what to do with a rainy afternoon; what do we think we're going to do in heaven? You think you're going to be bored in heaven? No, it's not monotony in heaven. We talk about being bored to what? Death. We will not be bored in the life that we have in Christ! So don't think of heaven as this big retirement home. And, you know, thank God for the retirement homes and the old folks homes we used to call them. And they're good and they take care of people. But you'll not be in the old folks home in heaven. Remember you're brand new. You're alive in Christ. And, yes, there's going to be fun in heaven, and laughter in heaven.

Martin Luther said, "If you are not allowed to laugh in heaven, I don't want to go there". There's plenty of laughter in heaven. Contrast that to the shrieks and howls and the cries of hell, separated from God. We will be in the presence of God. Sure, there's going to be laughter. There's going to be eating; there's going to be dining; there's going to be banqueting! The Bible talks about the kingdom of God being a banquet, being a feast. It's not a funeral; it's a feast! I don't know what we'll be eating in heaven. I know there's going to be a Krispy Kreme with a red light on on every corner. The red light at Krispy Kreme will always be on in heaven! Can I get a witness on that? Yeah!

I had a friend one time, he came up to a Krispy Kreme and he said, "Lord, if that red light is on, I'll know it's your will that I get a dozen Krispy Kremes". And the seventh time he rounded the parking lot, that red light came on! No, you'll not be bored in heaven because Jesus will be there. There's plenty to do in heaven, I assure you. We'll be serving, we'll be reigning with Him, ruling with Him. And that's part of the mystery. We don't know exactly all that that means, but there seems to be governorships and kingdoms to reign and rule, and all the rest. You'll not be bored in heaven because you won't be boring.

I remember when I first started try to jog back, I was in my twenties and I was jogging. I had a coach running with me, and I said, "I don't like this jogging". He said, "Why not"? I said, "Well, it's boring"! He said, "No, it's not. You're boring"! I felt, well, that's right. I mean, if you can't be alone with your thoughts even for a short little jog, and you know, heaven won't be boring; you're boring! But you won't be boring there! You will have friends to meet and places to go. You'll finish your bucket list. Maybe you don't get it all done in the lifespan you have here, but in heaven you are not finished; you're just beginning. And every experience, a moment, a day, have you ever had one of those days, again, you just never wanted to end? And it won't end in heaven. It will be a beautiful day every day. Our Savior is there. And imagine doing something you love with renewed energy and never growing tired, always being productive and perfectly fulfilled, serving God like that. In life we get tired in the work.

You know, as a pastor I've been doing this a while. I can honestly say I don't get tired of the work but sometimes we all get tired in the work. We won't get tired, we won't get weary. We'll rest from our labors, and we'll serve God. When John saw the angel in heaven in the book of Revelation, and he was tempted, he did, he fell on his face to worship at the feet of that angel and the angel looked around and said, "Stop that, John! You're going to get us both in trouble! Don't worship me; don't worship angels! Worship God and Him only"! And he went on to say "I am your fellow servant". So like angels we will be the servants of God. We will have jobs and occupation. It's the ultimate upwardly mobile career path! Billy Graham used to say, "Who knows but that we will travel to distant planets". That was the best I could do of Billy but... "We'll travel everywhere"!

And one final thing: We are rewarded. For that thirteenth verse of Revelation 14 says at the close: "and their works follow them". Clearly, according to the Scriptures, our works do not lead us to heaven. "For by grace are you saved through faith, that not of yourself; it's the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast". There'll be no strutting, no swagging in heaven. "I'm here because I deserved it". No, it's not of works, lest anyone should boast. So we're not saved by works but verse 10 of that same Ephesians 2 goes to say, "But we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus, unto good works". So our works don't get us to heaven or gain heaven, but our works follow us to heaven.

When you die and leave this planet, you don't really die. Your influence stays here. Generations to come will live in the good works that you have done today. You are standing on the shoulders of others who have come before us, and their good deeds and their good works. Your parents or your grandparents, or people that you've never even met! Jesus said, "lay up treasures in heaven". The Bible talks about crowns, the righteous, the crown of righteousness and the crown of life, the crown of glory, and others. I know some people say, "you know, I'm not motivated by rewards". Yes, you are unless you're working free, you probably are.

I like what Bruce Wilkinson said. He said, "Our eternal destination is the consequence of what we believe on earth. Our eternal compensation is the result of how we behave on earth". There will be an eternal compensation: the rewards, the crowns. That should motivate us to know that we're accountable. John said, "Little children, abide in Him (Jesus) that when He appears you may have confidence and not be ashamed at His coming". Some are going to be ashamed and going out into eternity with wasted lives. The Apostle Paul at the judgment seat of Christ says that some, their works will be just "wood, hay and stubble," and when the fires of the discernment and judgment come they'll be wiped away. And some will have only the charred embers of a wasted life to put in the nail-scarred hands of Jesus. That won't be enough; that won't work. Again, not saved because of your works, but saved unto good works, and we're all called and commanded to serve God. Jesus spoke in Matthew 5: "Great is your reward in heaven". You think God's going to overlook your work? You're working hard. He knows.

Headline news in heaven when you do something in Jesus' name. Our aim according to the Scripture is to please Him. Paul said, "I make it my aim to please God". That's the holy ambition! "I press on to the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Jesus Christ". We're passionately pursuing and pressing on. And that is to please Him. To hear the words, "Well done, good and faith servant". Stephen heard those words. When he was dying at the hands of evil men stoning him, he looked up into heaven and he said, "I see Jesus standing at the right hand of God". And in my own mind when I read that passage in Acts chapter 7, Jesus standing when Stephen is entering heaven, I see Jesus "God bless you, Stephen. I bless you, Stephen. Come on in! I applaud you". We live for the applause of heaven, don't we? For the applause, for the approval, for the appraisal of Jesus in our lives! And therefore, we live for Him, knowing that in heaven it will be worth it all when we see Christ.
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