John Bradshaw - Beyond the Future
We wanna thank you so much for joining us. I am your host, Joseph Ikner, and I wanna welcome you to Answers in Prophecy, brought to you by It Is Written. Well, we have come to day 10 of this amazing series. And if you have been blessed, we wanna encourage you in the future to share this broadcast, tell someone else, your friends, and family about what Answers in Prophecy has done for you and how it has transformed your life. Now, talking about the future, our last presentation, John is gonna talk about "Beyond the Future". That's kind of an interesting topic, 'cause we can barely think beyond the present, but beyond what lies in the future, what does all of that mean? Well, you have joined on the best day to hear this presentation by John, and I know that it is gonna be a blessing for you, your family, and your friends. So thank you for joining Answers in Prophecy.
We wanna welcome you back to Answers in Prophecy, brought to you by It Is Written. I am your host, Joseph Ikner, and I'm so glad to have our speaker that has been with us for the last 10 days, John Bradshaw. John?
— Good to be here again. Thank you very much. I appreciate you, man. Really, I'm having a good time with this.
— This is it!
— Yeah, yeah, last one.
— This...how do you feel about that?
— You know, it's never really the last, is it? 'Cause the Bible is a book that you just keep on reading, keep on learning from, keep on studying. But it's been great; we've had a great journey. I feel good about where we've been, the things we've learned, the way we've been blessed.
— Yeah. I mean, but I've been with you for the last 10 days or so, and so what am I supposed to do now?
— Yeah, well...you repeat, yeah.
— Oh, just go back and watch it?
— Okay, okay. Hey, so listen, I got a question for you.
— All right.
— I want you to tell me what's the best vacation that you've been on, place you really enjoy going.
— Oof, that's tough. Well, you know, best is hard, but I'll tell you a couple of places that we've enjoyed. Well, I mean, my home country is New Zealand.
— So that, you know...
— Nothing compares?
— Yeah, nothing compares, yeah. That's unfair to say New Zealand.
— Well, why do you like New Zealand?
— Oh, it's beautiful, man; it's beautiful. The air is clean; the people are great. The countryside is, it's the scenery, and 'cause it's home, so there's that. I love the United States, my adopted home; I love it. I'm grateful to Uncle Sam for letting me be here. There's plenty of places in the U.S. you can go. But a couple of other places: Ireland... that's a magnificent place... anywhere in Europe for the history, Great Britain or Italy. Special country: India.
— Beautiful, gracious people, incredible history, and the best food in the world.
— Mmm. So, you know, if I was to say...I mean, my family and I, we've had some great vacations.
— Yeah. Well, what would you put at the top of the list?
— Ah, well, you know, if I was to start in United States, you know, we've been in a good couple of good places. Orlando was amazing. Orlando, Florida, that was great. But probably the best vacation we ever had was probably 2012. My wife, my son, and I, we went to Jamaica, which is my wife's home country.
— Oh, right.
— And we stayed at a resort. It was awesome. The food was wonderful. The environment was great. My son Joey and I, we went swimming. We ate plenty of food; we just hung out; it was a wonderful time.
— We went to Kingston; we saw my wife's family there. Dunn's River Falls, it was just an awesome experience.
— I have never been.
— You need to go.
— I gotta go. Yeah, fantastic.
— Yeah, yeah. So, John, if I was to ask you, where is one place that you haven't been, but you would love to visit?
— Oh, yeah. There's a good question. I got to go clicking through the hard drive here pretty quickly. My wife's family history is Norwegian, and Norway's a beautiful country. So that'd be a place that we'd be interested in looking at.
— Norway would be fascinating. Other European countries, maybe Hungary, never been there.
— Looked like we were gonna go there, COVID-19 shut that down. So maybe places like that, it'd be great. There's a lot of history there in Europe. I'd love to go there. And you know, there are Caribbean countries I'd like to visit, South Pacific countries. How about you?
— So I think I've got two.
— Venice, Italy...
— Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah.
— ...I hear it's beautiful.
— And then Bora Bora, which is in the French Polynesia.
— Oh, yeah, man.
— Man, I was looking at some pictures of it; it just looks amazing.
— Yeah, yeah, yeah, beautiful.
— But you know what?
— What's that?
— I've got another place...
— All right.
— ...that I would love to visit.
— It's that place called the New Jerusalem...
— Ooh, now you're talking.
— ...heaven. You're gonna talk about that, won't you?
— Oh yeah, oh yeah. Can you imagine? Bible talks about it, describes it.
— Can you imagine streets of gold, walls of jasper?
— Man! That's what you're gonna talk about this evening, right?
— Yeah, we're looking beyond the future tonight.
— Looking beyond the future. So today we've talked about some wonderful places, some great vacation spots. I know you've had your share. But today we're gonna talk about a place where we all want to go and all want to be, and that's heaven, the New Jerusalem. John is gonna speak to us about that in this message, entitled "Beyond the Future". John?
— Thanks very much, great to be here for our final Answers in Prophecy presentation. We'll begin again with questions, questions relating to the prophecies of the Bible, and here is Doug Na'a. Doug, thanks so much for having our questions. What's the first one?
— Here's our first question for tonight, John: "Who is God's Israel today"?
— Ooh, now, there's a question. I wanna tell you something. We could do 10 presentations on that subject alone, but I'm going to go to Galatians chapter 3. Galatians. Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, Galatians, chapter tree...tree? Galatians chapter 3, and we'll look at verse 27 and on. It says, "For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither [bond] nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ's, then you are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise". Of course, the nation of Israel will always be forever important to God, but God's true Israel today are those who follow Jesus by faith. You are a child of Abraham, we just read there, a descendant of Abraham, if you are Christ's. In fact, I'll read another verse. We'll go to the book of Romans, Romans chapter 2. And this may take me just a little bit longer than I wish to find the page. Romans chapter 2...not too bad...and verse 28: "For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh; but he is a Jew [which] is one inwardly; circumcision is that of the heart, in the Spirit, not in the letter, whose praise is not from men but [of] God". So, simply put, the Israel of God in earth's last days is anybody, whether you're a Jew or a Greek or from Africa or from the bottom of South America or from the South Pacific. If you have chosen Jesus as your Lord and Savior, then you are considered by God to be part of His spiritual Israel, His "Jews," if you like, in earth's last days. This is not to denigrate or dismiss the actual nation of Israel. A Jew may be a Jew, too, if he or she chooses Jesus by faith.
— John, we are several weeks away from the Christmas season. The question here asks, "Was Jesus born on December the 25th, and should we celebrate Christmas"?
— Good question. Jesus was almost certainly, well, 100% certainly not born on December the 25th. He was born at another time. The shepherds would not have been out in the fields, watching their flocks by night in the dead of winter; it would have been way, way, way too cold. Should one celebrate Christmas? Do what you wish. Christmas is a good time to remember the birth of Jesus, to speak of peace on earth and goodwill towards all others. You can witness to your family, your neighbors, your friends, non-Christian friends; they can enter into a happy spirit; you can show your Christian faith a thousand different ways; that's a positive. Some people are gonna say they don't like Christmas trees. Then don't do them. Some people will say, "Don't like Santa Claus". Neither do I; that's why we don't do that. Some people will say, "Well, I don't think I ought to give expensive gifts". Well, don't do that. You don't have to do everything everybody does. Some things are probably not really very suitable anyway, but it's still a good time to remember the birth of Jesus. Now, I know that somebody right now is gonna think that I committed the mortal sin, cardinal sin, the unpardonable sin, but I'm comfortable because I know that I did not. If you wanna observe Christmas in some way, get together with family and exchange gifts and have a happy time and decorate and eat good food and remember your blessings, I don't see there being a great deal of harm in that or any harm at all. But if you don't want to, I wouldn't criticize you at all. It's okay not to do that.
— "John, we looked at the 70-week prophecy in the book of Daniel. Now, the 70th week applied to right about the time of the death of Jesus, yet some say that the 70th week belongs to some sort of future event. Now, John, which one is it"?
— You're right, some people do say that. Let me read to you: "Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the command to restore and build Jerusalem until Messiah the Prince, there shall be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks; the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in [troublous] times. And after the sixty-two weeks Messiah shall be cut off...; and the people of the prince who is to come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary", and so forth. "Then He shall confirm the covenant with many for one week, but in the [midst] of the week, He shall bring an end to sacrifice and offering", and so forth. Okay, 69 weeks and a week. Let's back up. Verse 24: "Seventy weeks are determined for your people and for your holy city, to finish the transgression, to make an end of sins, to make reconciliation for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the Most Holy". Seventy weeks are given. A day represents a year in Bible prophecy. A week, it'd be seven years; 70 weeks would be 490 years. Now, here is the question: Is this a 70-weeks prophecy, or a 69-weeks-and-then-a-week way on down the end of time prophecy? It's a 70-weeks prophecy. How do we know that? Well, for the simple fact that that's what the Bible says. There's nothing in the Bible saying that you should put a gap between the 69th week and the 70th week. It's just not there. And as we apply it, historically, we can see that the 69 weeks expired at the anointing of the Messiah. Remember, from the decree, which we know is in 457 B.C., 483 years brings you down to the anointing of the Messiah. Then Messiah, Jesus, "will confirm the covenant with many" for seven years, "one week". And in the middle of that one week, He causes the sacrificial system to come to an end. How did He do that? He died on the cross for sins. This is a real problem in interpretation of Bible prophecy that futurists take the 70th week and put it in the future, when it is firmly locked in the past. So that entire system is beyond suspect and will lead you into great confusion. Seventy weeks is the 70 weeks; it's not the 69 weeks and then a week way on down there somewhere. They all run consecutively. One more question.
— Now, here's our last question: "John, the Bible is very clear that one day equals one year in Bible prophecy. The Bible also speaks of Jonah being in the belly of this fish for three days. Now, John, does that mean that Jonah was in the belly of this fish for three years"?
— It really doesn't. That's a prophetic principle, a day represents a year. That was three days; there was nothing prophetic about that. It's like the days of Creation: six days, not six years. The Creation week, not seven years; that was Creation. But when you get to this descriptive, figurative, symbolic Bible prophecy, that's where a day represents a year. Thanks, Doug, really appreciate that very much. And now we shall pray and expect God to bless us as we open up the Bible again. Let's pray.
Our Father in heaven, guide us by Your Spirit, speak to us through Your Word, grow our faith in You and our understanding of Your Word, and prepare us all the more for everlasting life. We thank You in Jesus' name, amen.
Years ago, I found myself spending the night at a truck stop near Angola, Indiana. I was with a friend; we'd left our home country to travel to Europe. We traveled to Canada, landed in Vancouver, spent some time there... what a great place! Flew to Toronto, spent time in Toronto, another great place. And then we drove from Toronto to Chicago to visit friends and to see the Windy City. Along the way we stopped to eat at a little place called Angola, New York, right by Lake Erie. Turns out that back in the 1850s, local residents were supporting missionaries in the country of Angola; that's how the town got its name. I remember the waitress coming to our table, taking our order, and saying, "Super salad"? And I said, "Oh yeah, sure. I could go for one of those, thank you". And she looked at me sorta funny and said, "Soup or salad"? And I said to my friend, "Well, what do you think, man? Do you reckon we could get one of those super salads"?
Welcome to the United States. Well, after that we drove about another 350 miles and pulled over at a truck stop just outside Angola, Indiana. Two Angola's in one night. Evidently, some of the early settlers in Indiana... Angola, Indiana...came from Angola, New York. Now, I don't know if an awful lot happens in Angola, Indiana, but I did read this interesting story about something that happened there. Jessie Osborne was a 20-year-old waitress working at Pizza Hut. Every Friday a lady named Becky brought her family to eat at that Pizza Hut. They always ordered exactly the same thing. Becky always waited on them, always with a smile on her face. Becky described Jessie the waitress as "sweet and bright and never complaining". Becky found out that Jessie had financial troubles; she had enrolled in a local college in Angola, Indiana.
My guess is it was Trine College; I could be wrong. But she was forced to withdraw because of a lack of financial aid. She still had textbooks she had bought; she kept them in the trunk of her car. She never let go of her dream of becoming a photographer. Becky and her family got to know Jessie through their weekly meetings there at the Pizza Hut. What Jessie didn't know is that Becky had lost her husband and eldest daughter in a car accident. She'd received a large settlement. And when Becky heard about Jessie's broken dreams, she decided she'd help to make them come true. And one July Friday, Jessie discovered Becky had left her a tip for $10,000. A gift, undeserved, given out of a large heart. The Bible is the story of a loving God who gave to the human family a gift it didn't deserve. Not a gift that would last for just a time, not a gift we'd ever get tired of, a gift that would last forever.
John 14, we start in verse 1: "Let not your heart be troubled. You believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father's house [there] are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you". Then Jesus said, "I go [and] prepare a place for you. And if I go [to] prepare a place for you, I will come again [to] receive you unto myself; [so] that where I am, there you may be also". One day people are going to heaven. I've never seen it, never been there, not yet, never seen photos of it, but according to the Bible, it's as real a place as any you've ever been to. Jesus spoke of heaven numerous times, wanting us to know there is more than what we see in this world alone. There is hope beyond this world. John 6:51, Jesus said, "I am the living bread which came down from heaven". Jesus was convinced heaven was a real place, and if Jesus was convinced, we can be convinced, too.
John the Baptist said, "The kingdom of heaven is at hand"! It's real. Revelation uses the word "heaven" almost 60 times. And if earth is all we have, then life is honestly a pretty bleak proposition. If all we had was our time here and then nothing, life would be brutally short. Life expectancy for the world on average is just 70 for men and 75 for women. In Canada, men can expect to live a little over 81 while women average just under 85. Life expectancy in the United States, a little lower: 76 1/2 for a man, 81 1/2 for a female. In the Central African Republic, average life expectancy is 54; Papua New Guinea, 65; Guatemala, 75. Residents of Hong Kong live longest, just over 85 on average. But God is promising you that you can live forever. In pointing us toward the reality of eternity, Jesus started out by saying, "Let not your heart be troubled".
The disciples were facing an uncertain future; they were living a wandering, uncertain life. They were following a teacher who was vilified by the authorities. If they continued on that same road, they had exactly the same thing to look forward to. So Jesus said, "Let not your heart be troubled". And Jesus speaks to us and says, "Let not your heart be troubled". This is a troubling age. No one wants to contract COVID-19, but Jesus says, "Let not your heart be troubled". When you're dealing with a job loss, if your business is going through a hard time and you don't see a way ahead, Jesus says, "Let not your heart be troubled". There's no denying difficult times, but the Savior of the world makes you a serious promise when He says, "I'm always with you". "I will give you rest". "I will never leave you nor forsake you".
There's someone going through a marriage separation who can't see the way forward. There might be custody issues, there might be housing issues, but God says He's with you, and that's what you need to know. Today you might not be able to see a way through, but Jesus says, "Let not your heart be troubled". And why is that? Because "I will come again and receive you to myself; that where I am, there you may be also". What we want in this world is assurance, not that every problem will be removed or that our path will always be smooth; we just wanna know that God is with us. And if God is with us, it's going to be okay. Jesus was in a boat with His disciples on the sea of Galilee. A storm came up, but Jesus was asleep back there. The disciples feared for their lives, finally waking Jesus and asking, "Don't you care that we perish"? He's sleeping while they're panicking, Jesus then spoke to the wind and the waves and said, "Peace, be still"! It was a wild ride in that boat, but Jesus was with them, and they were gonna be okay.
We've seen this in Answers in Prophecy before. A young Daniel, taken from his home, finds himself in a situation where he either dishonors God or risks losing his life. He refuses to eat the king's food. He could have died for that. But God was with him. In Daniel 2, Daniel stares death in the face again, but this time it's worse. The executioner knocks at his door. Daniel asks for time to interpret the king's dream, and God reveals the dream to him. Daniel outlines the rise and fall of kingdoms, one of the most remarkable prophecies in the entire Bible. Not only is Daniel's life saved, but he is promoted to a position of great prominence in Babylon. In Daniel 3, Daniel's three friends are instructed to worship an image, but they refuse to do so even after being threatened with death. They say to the king, "Our God whom we serve is able to [save] us from [out of] the...fiery furnace, and He will deliver us.... But if not," we want you to know that we will not "serve your gods," or "worship the... image [that] you have set up".
Their concern was that God was with them, and when cast into the furnace of fire, Jesus Himself was literally there with them. You see, Jesus is with you in the fire; you can trust Him to be with you. Over in Revelation the world is confronted by false worship. But God assures those who choose to be faithful to Him that our bread and water "shall be sure". When the seven last plagues fall, they afflict those in opposition to God. God's people are protected at that time, just as they were when the plagues fell in Egypt in the book of Exodus. It's those who rebel against God who call for the mountains and rocks to fall on them when Jesus returns. It's simple: You can trust God. God is with you. You can commit your life to Him; you can expect Him to be there for you. Isaiah wrote these words, Isaiah 41, verse 10: "Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand".
Sin has separated the human family from the heart of God. Ever since Adam and Eve fell in the Garden of Eden, God has been doing everything to convince human beings to let Him prepare them for eternity, and it isn't too hard, not when you understand God's way to heaven. People make the mistake of trying to be good enough for heaven, but you can't be good enough for God, and God doesn't want you to be. Let me explain. If you understand this, it will change your life. Jesus didn't come into the world to save the good. He came to save sinners. Heaven isn't for good people; heaven is for sinners who have been saved by the grace of God. When Paul prayed God would relieve a burden, God spoke and said, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my strength is made perfect in weakness". Do you like that? Jesus came to save the weak. If you want to go to heaven, all you have to be is weak. Too many people are trying to be good enough, strong enough, deserving enough, without realizing they're attempting an impossibility.
You look at the experience of Paul, who said in Philippians chapter 3, "For we...have no confidence in the flesh". Then he said, "Though I also might have confidence in the flesh. If anyone else thinks he may have confidence in the flesh, I more so". He explains: "circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of the Hebrews; concerning the law, a Pharisee; concerning zeal, persecuting the church; concerning the righteousness which is in the law, blameless". Now, not many people get to say they are blameless concerning the requirements of the law. The many laws that Paul had to follow back then were rigid and demanding, but he's able to say, "I am blameless when it comes to the law".
But instead of doubling down and puffing out his chest and saying that this obedience to the law sets him up to be holy in the sight of God, Paul really says the exact opposite: "But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ". He explains: "Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ". His accomplishments are "rubbish," he says, "dung" in the King James Version. Without Christ, all of his goodness was not worth mentioning. And here is where Paul states his great desire: "And be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith".
Now, this is transformational. This is where our life changes. Paul says, "I don't want my own righteousness, which is all I can get by myself and by my obedience". He says, "I want the righteousness I get through faith in Christ, the righteousness of God, which I get by faith". Now, let's think about that. Paul says that you may have the righteousness of God. That is astonishing. Imagine being filled with that righteousness; imagine being covered by that righteousness. The fact is it is the only righteousness you're gonna have if you wanna go to heaven, if you wanna have everlasting life. The only righteousness that qualifies us for heaven is the righteousness of God, and you may have it by faith. God will give you His own righteousness; that's how the plan of salvation works. You'll wanna go to heaven; you'll wanna live a decent life; you'll wanna get up out of the mess that you find yourself in; you'll want to live with dignity; you'll want Jesus in your heart; so, you come to God through faith in Jesus.
When God takes your sin, He gives you His righteousness, and you receive that by faith, by believing that it is so. And what then? This is verse 10 of Philippians 3: "That I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead". If I wanna attain to the resurrection, Paul said, if I want to wake up when Jesus returns, then I need this righteousness, the righteousness of God, and not my own. So as we look into days that are ahead and we say, "Jesus said He's preparing mansions in heaven, and I'm planning on being there, because God is ging to prepare me for eternity," the question is, how? And here's the answer. He will give me righteousness. Whose righteousness? What righteousness? Jesus' own righteousness. What does it cost me? Costs me nothing, it's free. Can I really have it? Yes, I can really have it. How? By accepting Jesus into my life.
Listen, friend, someone is gonna occupy the throne of your heart, and it will be either you or Jesus. But you might see flaws in your Christian experience, and as a result, think that you're not a genuine Christian believer. Okay, here's what a lot of people forget. A lot of people forget growth. Growth. You come to Jesus, you receive the gift of salvation, and what do you do? You grow. Did you know that nobody is born running? After you're born, you don't move. And then you roll, and then you maybe crawl, and then you get up, and you walk around on the furniture and so forth; that's what happens. And then you walk, and then you run. No one is born again running. That's not how it works. You are born again as a baby Christian, and you probably begin crawling, don't you? And then you begin to take little baby steps, and then you might fall.
Listen, salvation is not dependent on whether or not we ever stumble. Hear me carefully. Our salvation is dependent on whether or not we have surrendered our life to Jesus, and learning to do that is a process, because you are battling a fallen nature; you might be battling years of bad habits. You want to be the finished product, but you may not be the finished product overnight, because you have to grow. You can be finished in Jesus, but I know what you're saying: "I'm looking at all these things going on in my life; I want them gone". Right. You'll have real battles to fight as you learn to surrender your bad temper to God, as you learn to surrender your lust to God, as you learn to surrender your impatience to God, your gossip to God, your alcohol to God. So look at what Paul said, same author, when he wrote to the church in Rome. He said to the Romans in Romans chapter 6 and verse 11, "Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord". Dead to sin, alive to God through Jesus. And then he wrote, "Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness"?
And this is what people miss. You wanna go to heaven, but you look at yourself and all your sinful behavior and your flaws and your faults, and some people say, "I can carry on sinning with impunity until Jesus comes back because I got saved, and so that's okay". Well, of course it's not okay. But what's just as damaging is when people say, "I've got to get myself ready for heaven". Yeah, I see where you can say that. You wanna be ready for heaven, but that happens through prayer and surrendering your life to Jesus. Preparation for heaven happens when Jesus comes and lives His life in you. Someone cuts you off in traffic; you want to yell; you need to yield. Someone backs into your car in the parking lot; you wanna yell; you need to yield. God will take your vocal cords and make them a channel of blessing. You see something on a web page, you are tempted to click, but instead of following that impulse, yield. Send up a prayer to God; let Jesus work.
Peter prayed, "Lord, save me"! I feel myself sinking. "Save me"! And God did save him. That's what God does. Remember this, 1 Corinthians 10:13, "No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it". For example...let me give you a for-example. You feel the compulsion to drink alcohol, and you know it's not God's will. It's not God's will for you to damage your mind, cloud your thinking, drink something that is cancer-causing; it's not God's will for you to act a fool when you're under the influence. So you pray to God; you yield; you surrender: "Okay, this is what I want, but what I really want is for Jesus to do His will and take over my will". And God takes your heart and changes your impulses, and God gives you grace, and God puts heaven's power into your heart. Jesus doesn't just place His righteousness over you; He brings His righteousness into you, and you grow. You failed? Don't give up; you're growing. You blew it again? God is merciful. Have you ever read that?
You don't think you could go a day without smoking? Okay, go a minute, and then lean on God, and go another minute. You can't go five minutes without your thoughts going into some bad place? Of course you can't. But let me ask you this: Can Jesus do that in you? The answer is...yes! You've got something to thank God for. Heaven isn't for good people; it's for holy people, and Jesus will enter your life, give you His holiness, and grow you more and more and more as you approach the gates of pearl. Jesus talked about the work of grace, His grace in your life as being like a seed that grows: "First the blade, then the ear," then "the full corn in the ear". Breathe the atmosphere of heaven when you pray, receive the Holy Spirit in your life, yield, surrender, and grow. And believe God gives you His righteousness, because that's what God does. Now, as we talk about heaven, I should point out that in the Bible there are three different ways the word "heaven" is used. Bible talks about "the birds that fly" in the heavens. So the air, the atmosphere, you could say that's the heavens. God told Abraham that He would multiply Abraham's "descendants as the stars of the heavens". So, out there in space where the stars are, that's the heavens as well.
Matthew 5:16, and Jesus said, "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven". In heaven. So you've got heaven where the birds fly, heaven where the stars are, and heaven where God lives. The heaven we want to go to is a physical place, a real place. We go there when Jesus returns to take us to heaven. 1 Thessalonians 4, starting in verse 16, says, "For the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord".
Look at what Paul says in 1 Corinthians 15; we start in verse 51: "Behold, I tell you a mystery: 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 incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: 'Death is swallowed up in victory. O Death, where is your sting? O Hades,'" or "O grave, where is your victory?'"
Can you imagine the reunions that are gonna take place? Imagine being reunited with your parents in heaven. Can you imagine seeing friends, children, babies? Can you imagine the reunions that will take place? On this earth we farewell our loved ones. It was never meant to be this way. Death is an intruder. You visit cemeteries and you see grave markers saying that a child died. But parents will see that child again. The grandparents who died that you hardly ever knew, you get to see them again. Life doesn't end here in this world, there is an eternity stretching before us, and there is a heaven to enjoy. What a reunion! The Bible says, "The dead in Christ shall rise". Thank God for that! 1 Corinthians 2, verse 9 says, "But as it is written: 'Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.'"
Paul borrowed that from the prophet Isaiah, who said that same thing in Isaiah 64. So imagine what it'll be like. Well, it's better than that. Your wildest dreams? Better than that. Imagine the most incredible place. It's better than that. You'll never get bored; you'll never wish you were somewhere else; you'll never be dissatisfied. It will be for your benefit, your blessing, your joy. Try as we might, we can't imagine it. It's better than your best vacation; it's better than your dream home; it's better than the most beautiful place you've ever seen. Heaven isn't just an improved earth; heaven isn't a modified Planet Earth. It's not like this, but better. It's beyond our ability to truly appreciate. But when we get there, how blessed are we gonna be! Let's look at Revelation chapter 4 and verse 1: "After this I looked, and, behold, a door was opened in heaven". Verse 2: "And immediately I was in the Spirit: and, behold, a throne was set in heaven, and One sat on the throne".
John saw God's throne and God Himself; so did Daniel. In Daniel chapter 7, Daniel wrote and he said he saw God the Father, "the Ancient of Days". He saw God's clothing, "white as snow," he saw God's hair, "pure as wool, he saw God's throne, a fiery flame," he saw the wheels of the throne, "a burning fire," and he saw great multitudes of angels in this place that was undoubtedly heaven. And that's the best thing about heaven. It's not going to be the streets of gold; it won't be the pearly gates; it won't be the foundations made from those magnificent stones; it won't be the water of life, the tree of life. The best thing is that Jesus will be there. We get to spend eternity with God. It's gonna be so good. Revelation 11:19 says, "And the temple of God was opened in heaven, and there was seen in His temple the ark of His testament".
Now, that's important. Inside the Ark of the Covenant are the Ten Commandments. So when we're thinking about this, if we were ever wondering about the validity or the perpetuity or the relevance of the Ten Commandments, we know now that the Ten Commandments exist in heaven inside the Ark of the Covenant. They are as important now as they have ever been. Now, what's Jesus doing in heaven? Hebrews 8 starts by saying, "We have such a High Priest, who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens, a Minster of the sanctuary and of the true tabernacle which the Lord erected". Jesus ministers in heaven as our High Priest. In heaven right now we have a lawyer, His name is Jesus, and He invites us to come to Him, because we have been accused of crimes that we did commit. But Jesus is in heaven appearing before God for you. You're guilty, I'm guilty, but God will pardon us both and let us go free. Amen!
Heaven's focus right now is on this earth. Think of how vast the universe is. Our earth is an infinitesimally small speck in this massive universe, and yet heaven is concerned with what is happening right here. Jesus' focus is not only here, but it's on you, because while "the wages of sin is death," God is offering you life. I've visited people on death row. I've seen tears roll down their cheeks as they said they don't want to die for what they've done. Thank God we don't need to die the death penalty. While "the wages of sin is death; the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord". The Lawyer is at work for you in heaven. And we can look beyond heaven. 2 Peter 3:13, "Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteous dwells". Revelation 21, verse 2: "I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband".
Now, you read in the book of Zechariah Jesus will come down, His feet will touch the earth, and the Mount of Olives will become a plain. And the New Jerusalem is gonna sit there, right there where the Mount of Olives was. The earth will be made new, and God will relocate His capital city to the scene of heaven's greatest triumph. You realize the Mount of Olives is only about that far from Calvary, where Jesus died. God sees you as being as valuable as the life of Jesus. And that Jesus is coming back one day to take you to be with Him and His Father forever. You wanna go to heaven? I know the answer. The answer is yes, but you don't wanna go to heaven nearly as much as God wants you to go. He's pulling for you. The Bible says, "He showed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding from the throne of God and of the Lamb. In the middle of its street, and on either side of the river, was the tree of life. And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, 'Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself shall be with them, and be their God.'"
This earth struggles with tragedy and loss. We deal with diseases for which we cannot find a cure. But the Bible says that in heaven the inhabitants "shall not say, 'I am sick.'" One day, you'll be able to throw your medication away, because Jesus is coming back to take you to a place where everybody is healthy. "And God [will] wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any...pain: for the former things are passed away," That's Revelation 21 and verse 4. This earth represents Satan's best effort and Satan's final shot. In eternity, there'll be no more devil and no more sin. Revelation 22:5 says, "There [will] be no night there". No night. "They need no lamp nor light of the sun, for the Lord God gives them light. And they shall reign forever and ever". The glory of the Father and the Son illuminates the New Jerusalem. We'll "build houses and inhabit them" in the earth made new. We'll "plant vineyards and eat" the fruit thereof.
The Bible says these very things. The Bible says that the new earth is gonna be so wonderful that, "The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid' and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them". Isn't that a beautiful picture? God says in Isaiah 11, verse 9, "They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain, for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea". Friend, you can have it; you can be there; you can dwell in this place where the streets are made of gold, where the flowers never fade, where the smile of Jesus will be upon you forever. And how? Let me tell you. Ephesians 2, verse 8 says, "For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God".
Friend, God holds out eternity to you, and you can have it. By faith, you can know right now that you have it. Grace forgives you and cleanses you, and you accept it by faith. If you have accepted Jesus as your Lord and Savior, don't wonder, "Will I ever be in heaven"? No, instead, thank God. "Thank you, Lord, that I will be in heaven". Don't hope, but believe, through faith in Jesus. Revelation 22:14 says, "Blessed are they that do His commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city". We're going into that city. One day we're going up through the heavens, and we're gonna see Jesus, and we're gonna say, "I am in my Father's house". There is a place for you in the Father's heart right now. And there is a place in heaven for you right now. "In my Father's house are many mansions". Claim yours now. Heaven is for real. And then we're gonna travel back here to an earth made new.
Oh, my friend, it's as good as it gets. I'm talking with you about reality, not a myth, a real place that you want to be. I want to see you there. God wants you to be there. Do you want to go? You may say, "I'm not worthy". Well, let's just accept that we're not worthy, but Jesus is worthy, and we get there on His worthiness. It's a matter of simple faith. God has bought your ticket. Jesus died on the cross that you might be there with Him. Now faith lays hold on Christ Jesus, accepts the precious gift, and makes it yours forever. You can look towards the heavens with faith, not with trembling and wondering, but with absolute confidence and certainty. You can know that Jesus is coming back to take you to be with Him forever, and He's coming back soon. If you're willing to go, one day we'll all go together. What a day of rejoicing that will be! You can have everything this world offers.
World's wealthiest person right now is said to be Jeff Bezos of Amazon. Said to be worth $175 billion. But Andrew Carnegie, who made his fortune in the steel industry some time back, was worth $375 billion in today's money. That's a truly phenomenal amount of money. And money is okay. God isn't against it. If you have it, thank God for it and use it for His glory. But remember what Jesus said: "What [does] it profit a man if he gains the whole world, [but] loses his soul"? That's Mark 8, verse 36. What matters most is what God has given us in Jesus. Jesus is the Savior of the world. There is life in Jesus, hope in Jesus. Nothing else offers you what God offers you in the gift of His Son, who died for you on the cross at Calvary.
You know, there's something I like, and that's art. I lived for a time in London, England, and I worked while I was there, for a little while, very close to the British art gallery which is on Trafalgar Square. I worked in Leicester Square; it's just a short walk. I'd visit there, the art gallery, the National Gallery, and I'd wonder what it'd be like to own a priceless work of art. I would enjoy...when I was living there, there was an exhibition of impressionist art, and I'd go and see the Cezanne's and the Van Gogh's. Oh, beautiful! My wife and son went to the Louvre, and they saw the Mona Lisa, perhaps the most famous painting in the world. No, I am no artist myself, and that's not humility; that's just reality. I'm no artist. But I do own two priceless works of art. They're watercolors painted by two different artists that I have a very deep appreciation for. One is an ocean scene; the other a simple scene of a mailbox and a bird.
Now, you might've heard of the artists, although they're not famous. One of these priceless works of art was painted by my son, and the other was painted by my daughter. They painted them for me while they were staying with their grandmother, and they framed them and brought them home and gave them to me. I have seen some of the world's greatest artworks, but I've never appreciated any works of art more than I appreciate these two watercolors. They don't have the same look as a Cezanne, or a Van Gogh, or a Renoir, or a Rembrandt. But I have never seen such beautiful art in all my life. You could offer me all the money you had, and I would not part with those paintings. Sotheby's probably could not sell them for millions of dollars, but they mean everything to me because they were given with love. They were a gift. And God has given you a gift. God has given you the gift of everlasting life. And you can have that now in His Son, Jesus. Would you like to claim that gift of everlasting life right now? I'd love it if you would.
I want to give you an opportunity to do that. Would you do something? Would you send me a text message? My number is 423-264-2575. I want you to take a moment to get that number. Area code 423-264-2575. And when you got that number in there, send me a message. One word, it's the word "live". So if you send me a text message, and you make the message "live," and you send it to that number, 423-264-2575, as soon as I get it, I'll send you a text right back, and you'll see that the text is a link. Click on that link; it's 100% safe, don't worry. And then when you click on that link, you're going to see a form appear before you. The first line of that form will say, "I don't want to miss out on the gift of heaven for anything". What does that mean? To miss out on the gift of heaven is to miss out on the gift of salvation, because heaven comes to those who have salvation. You don't wanna miss out on the gift of Jesus for anything.
Can you think of a single reason that you should not have everlasting life? You might say, "Yeah, I've done some bad things". No, no, that's not why you shouldn't have everlasting life, 'cause Jesus forgives all that. Can you think of a single reason why, if you were drowning, you wouldn't take hold of the rope somebody shows you, if you wouldn't take hold of the life preserver somebody tosses to you? There's no reason you wouldn't do that. You take the lifeline. Jesus is the eternal lifeline.
Number 1: "I don't want to miss out on the gift of heaven for anything".
Number 2: "I want to learn more about Jesus and His will for my life". I know I do. Growing in the grace of God, that's a daily, really, it's a minute-by-minute thing. But you don't wanna say, "Yeah, Answers in Prophecy has been good, and I'm done". You wanna say, "Hey, I wanna dig deeper into the Word of God. I want to get to know more about this Jesus. I want to walk more closely with Him. I want my life to be turned over to Him".
In fact, number three says, "I commit my life to Jesus above anything else". Above anything else. Is there anything that should come between you and Jesus? He died for you; He redeemed you; He claims you as His own. All you need to do is say, "If You want me that badly, take me. If I'm that important to You, yeah, You can have me". Come to Jesus with your bad habits; He'll clean you up, if you let Him. "Oh, it's not that easy". Let God be the decider of that. What's difficult is staying away from Christ and choosing condemnation. I'll give you the number, because if you've not done so, I want you to send me a text message. And even if everything is right between you and Christ, make a decision tonight. If you've never picked up the phone, make a decision tonight.
There's something important and powerful that happens in your mind when you say, "I made a decision. I'm not the same as I was because I've made a decision". You send me a text to 423-264-2575. Text the word "live," L-I-V-E, "live," to me. When I get that, immediately I'll send you a text back, and you'll find that it is a link; click on that link. A form will appear. Number 1: "I don't want to miss out on the gift of heaven for anything". Number 2: "I want to learn more about Jesus and His will for my life". Number 3: "I commit my life to Jesus above anything else". Please, don't wait. Let us know if we can pray for you, and then fill out the rest of that form so we can pray for you, and if we need to, get in touch with you. Would you do that? Text me; fill the form out; submit that. Let me pray for you. It's too important not to pray.
Our Father in heaven, please, call us, guide us, urge us to a decision for You. If anybody is hesitating, call to her, call to him, assure that one: "No, yield your life".
Friend, would you do that? Choose Jesus.
Father, we choose Jesus now, and we do so praying in Jesus' name, amen. And amen.