Robert Jeffress - What Will We Do In Heaven?
Hi, I'm Robert Jeffress and welcome again to Pathway to Victory. The Bible teaches that heaven will be a place of eternal happiness. A paradise where all believers will live forever in the presence of God, and yet many Christians are fearful that their future in heaven will be boring. Well, today I want to put that fear aside by showing you what the Bible says our eternal home will really be like and what we will be doing. Today we're answering the question, what will we do in heaven? On today's edition of Pathway to Victory.
At a dinner party guests were discussing the subject of heaven and hell, but Sam remained unusually quiet. The dinner hostess, not wanting him to feel left out said, "Sam, do you have any thoughts about heaven and hell"? Sam said, "I try to offer no opinion when it comes to heaven or hell because I have friends in both places". Samuel, Sam, was Samuel Clemens whom we know as Mark Twain. Mark Twain had many things and observations about the subject of heaven and hell. In fact, in one speech Twain joked, and in a comment that seems very appropriate today Twain said, "This election makes me think of a story of a man who was dying. He had only two minutes to live so he sent for a clergyman and asked him, 'where is the best place to go, heaven or hell'? So the ministers told him that each place had its advantages. Heaven, for the climate, hell for the company".
Now, you know such a tongue in cheek comment is built upon a lie that many people have embraced about heaven. Many people, even Christians have fallen for the myth that heaven is going to be a place of perpetual boredom populated by boring people and nothing could be further from the truth. Today as we continue our series a place called heaven we're going to attempt to answer the question, what will we do in heaven? Have you ever wondered about that? That's what we're going to talk about today. Science fiction writer and atheist Isaac Asimov said, "I don't believe in the afterlife so I don't have to spend my whole life fearing hell or fearing heaven even more for whatever the tortures of hell I think the boredom of heaven would be even worse".
Is heaven going to be a boring place? People who believe that do so because they have embraced three popular myths about God, heaven, and eternity. Let's look at those myths for just a moment and see what the scripture says. First of all, some people believe that God is a Cosmic Killjoy. When they think about God they think about him as being a perennial party pooper, and they think of Satan as being the life of the party. Those who have come to that conclusion are absolutely convinced that heaven must be as dull as watching paint dry and hell must be as exhilarating as a Nascar Race, but neither is true, and both of those conclusions are based on a flawed understanding of both Satan and God.
Have you ever had this experience of being stuck at a dinner party seated next to a really boring person? I mean, what is only a few minutes seems like hours of trying to make conversation with them. You know, going to hell and spending eternity with Satan is like having that kind of companion. Did you know there's nothing interesting about Satan? Nothing at all, nothing creative about him. He never created anything, instead he ruined everything. He is a perpetually boring person, completely unoriginal. Contrast that to God, I mean, if you wanna know how exciting God is, just look around you at everything that God has created. Everything we live in and watch is good, beautiful, enjoyable, refreshing, fascinating, and exciting because it's created by someone who is all of those things.
A second myth people have about heaven is that heaven will be monotonous. You know, the fact is no matter how good something is we get bored with it after a while, don't we? So we think, even as good as heaven is, if we do the same thing over and over and over again it has to be boring, but the truth is monotony doesn't have to be tedious and boring. G.K. Chesterton explained why. I want you to listen to this. This was a great insight.
He said, "A child kicks his legs rhythmically through excess, not absence of life because children have a bounding vitality because they are in spirit fierce and free therefore they want things repeated and unchanged. They always say, "Do it again"! And the grown up person does it again until he's nearly dead. For grown up people are not strong enough to exult in monotony, but perhaps God is strong enough to exult in monotony. It is possible that God says every morning, 'do it again' to the sun and every evening, 'do it again' to the moon. It may be that God has the eternal appetite of infancy for we have sinned and grown old, and our father is younger than we are". Isn't that an interesting thought? The only reasons things seem monotonous to us is because we live in bodies that grow tired, but in heaven we'll have none of those limitations. We'll be like children saying to the Father, "Do it again, dad, do it again".
A third myth people have about heaven, and the reason they think it is boring is they believe heaven is going to be one long and unending church service. Now, I remember not long ago we had a guest preacher here and he stood up and said, "You know, these Christians who can't sit through a two hour church service, how are they gonna stand eternity when all we do is worship God forever and ever and ever? That's what heaven's gonna be, one long worship service". And you all were as quiet as you could be. One guy in the back said, "Amen", and that was about it. I mean, let's be honest, the idea of heaven being one long church service is a yawn fest for most of us. But the reason we feel that way is we really have a misunderstanding of what worship is going to be like in heaven.
Yes, the fact is in heaven we are going to be worshiping God like we've never worshiped him before. Worship will be a central activity in heaven, but it won't be our only activity in heaven. You know, the Garden of Eden is a template for what the new heaven and the new earth is going to be like. God placed Adam and Eve in the garden before they sinned and God said, "You're gonna have perfect fellowship with me, but you're not gonna sit around and worship me all the time I've also given you work to do". In fact, he said in Genesis 2:8 in verse 15, "You are to cultivate the garden and keep it". There were two primary activities in heaven, worshiping, but also working, and the same is going to be true for us.
Let's look at each of those two activities in depth. First of all, heaven will be a place of indescribable worship. Indescribable worship, you know, just think about one of those worship experiences you've had where you were moved to the very innermost parts of your being and you felt so connected to God. Think about those great moments of worship in the past you've experienced and multiply it by a million, that's what heaven is going to be like, the worship we engage in because in heaven we'll actually see Jesus face to face. No experience will match that.
If you want to get an idea of what that experience is going to be like, look at Revelation 5:11-12 where John describes the worship we will experience in heaven. He said, "Then I looked and heard the voice of many angels around the throne and the living creatures and the elders", these are the representatives, this is the church, this is you and I, the elders, the church, "And the number of them was myriads of myriads, thousands of thousands", literally ten thousands upon ten thousands, and notice verse 12, "Saying with a loud voice", underline that word loud. And what will they say? Much what the choir said today, "Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive the power and the riches and the wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing". They praised with a loud voice.
Just a few years ago the fans of the Seattle Seahawks Football Team set a world record as the loudest fans in NFL history. On December the 2nd, 2013 during a Third Down Defensive stand against the New Orleans Saints the Seahawk fans produced an ear splitting 137.6 decibels. Now, to let you know how loud that is, that would be exactly the same as standing 100 feet away from a roaring jet engine. In fact, the sound of those fans was so loud that it triggered a minor earthquake beneath the stadium. Now, that's the kind of worship we're gonna have in heaven. In Isaiah 6:4, Isaiah said, "And the foundations of the temple trembled. The foundations of the temple trembled at the voice of angels of him who called out in worship to God". We're going to have loud, exuberant worship.
Now occasionally I have people say to me, "Pastor, why does everything have to be so loud in our worship services? Why can't we have quiet moments of reflection? I'd like us to build some quiet moments of reflection in our worship services". You know why we don't do that? Look, quiet moments of reflection are great for your personal worship with God, but in the Bible when God's people get together they are never quiet. Show me one time in the Book of Revelation where they have quiet, reflective worship. No, it is a time of celebration and praise, and that's what it's going to be like in heaven. It's going to be a time of large worship, people, myriads, tens of millions of people are gonna be worshiping. A loud crowd and a loud voice is going to be what heaven is like.
Yes, we are going to participate in indescribable worship, but is that all we're going to do? Is heaven going to be a time of unending worship? Well, the answer to that question is "YES" and "NO". It all depends on how you define worship. If you define worship as a formal time of God's people getting together to praise God then "No", that's not all we're going to do in heaven. But you know, in the Bible worship is more than just formal times when we assemble together. In 1 Corinthians 10:31 Paul said, "Whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all for the glory of God". There is a way of going through the day conducting our work, getting stuck in traffic on central expressway, sitting down for a meal, relaxing. There's a way of living where God is always a part of your existence, and that's really what worship in the broadest sense is.
I didn't put it on your outline, but I want you to jot down this definition of worship. "Worship is the continual awareness of, gratitude toward, and submission to God in everything we do". Let me say it again, "Worship is a continual awareness of, gratitude toward, and submission to God in everything we do". And in that sense, yes, we will worship God continually in heaven just as we should be doing here on earth.
Heaven will be a time of indescribable worship, but there's a second thing we're going to experience in heaven. Heaven will also be a place of enjoyable work. "No pastor, please tell me it's not so. We're gonna be working in heaven? I'm looking forward to floating around on that cloud, plucking the harp, you're telling me we're really gonna work in heaven"? Now, before you rebel with that idea follow with me on a couple of things and I think you're gonna feel a lot better about this when we're finished. First of all, remember God is a worker. God didn't just create the universe in six days and then go into retirement. He took a day off, but that's all he took off. In John 5:17 Jesus said this about God. "My father is working until now, and I myself am working".
God's a worker, and not only that, secondly, God created man to be a worker. You and I were created in the image of God and therefore we, too were created to be workers. In Genesis 2:15 God give this assignment to Adam. "Then the Lord God took the man and put him into the garden to cultivate it and to keep it". You know, many people believe that work is a curse from God. That it was a punishment for man's sin against God. That's not true, Genesis 2:15 takes place before the fall in Genesis 3. In his original form man was created to work. Now it's true after the sin of Genesis 3 work became harder for us, it became more tedious, but work itself has never been a curse. It is a privilege God has given us because we are created in his image.
Now, God put Adam and Eve in the garden. Even though eden was perfect, it was not self sustaining. God basically said, "I'm gonna give you this slice of paradise called eden, but you have a responsibility to cultivate it. That is, you are to till the soil, you are to plant the seeds, you are to harvest the crops". And it's the same thing with us. God is a worker, he created us to be workers.
I have a friend who says that when he was growing up occasionally on Saturdays he might sit down on the sofa and watch television for a few minutes and if his father came through he'd look at his son and say, "Get off that couch, what do you think you are, an international playboy"? And my friend said, "You know, I grew up always afraid to sit down on the couch on Saturdays or watch TV because my father was a worker and he wanted me to be a worker as well".
Well, that's true for all of us. Our Father is a worker, and he didn't create us to sit around doing nothing, he created us to work as well. Now, that also underscores what is wrong with this idea that we have in America of retirement. You know, we get this idea that we're just to beat our brains out for 30 or 40 years working as hard as can, neglecting our family, accumulating a big pile of money so we can spend the last 20 or 30 years of our life doing nothing but entertaining ourselves. That has never been God's plan. There's never a period of time of decades where you're not supposed to be doing anything except entertaining yourself. God created us all to be workers.
Now, that doesn't mean that you have to stay at the same job forever and ever. Doesn't mean you might not retire from a profession you've been in, but you need to replace that time with doing something productive, working in the church, furthering the Kingdom of God, doing something that makes sense. And by the way, you know, a lot of reasons people don't give like they ought to to God's work is they think, "Well, I've got to save all this money up so I can spend my time doing nothing later on". That is not God's plan. We're to all be involved in doing something productive, and it's gonna be that way in heaven. If God wants us to be workers on earth, he wants us to be workers in heaven as well.
And it's true, you know, some of us are going to be out of work and find another job. Policemen are, lawyers are, doctors are. Preachers are going to be out of work. All the earth is going to be filled with the knowledge of God, so there's nothing left for us to do so we'll try to find something else to do. But don't be surprised, the majority of you, if your work in heaven isn't an extension and expansion, somehow, of your work right here on earth.
You're saying, "Wait a minute, pastor, working for an eternity, that sounds more like hell than heaven to me". I want you to think about your job right now. What is it that makes it unpleasant? I would imagine it would be, "Well, I just get so tired". We all get tired, don't we? Or maybe it's a strained relationship you have with a coworker or with your boss. Or maybe it is the government regulations that just seem to keep piling up that make your work harder.
The reason our work is hard is because we live in a sin infected world, but in Revelation 22:3 it says in the new heaven and new earth the curse of sin will be removed. In heaven we'll be able to perform our work in bodies that never grow tired. We'll never have strained relationships. We'll have perfect relationships. We won't be overburdened with regulations. We won't be fighting against an uncooperative environment. All of those things will be removed and we'll experience the work that God intended for us to enjoy.
What is it that we'll be doing, what will our work entail? Two words I want you to write down. First of all, our work of cultivating. That is, taking what God has created and making it even better. For example, cherries are good, cherry pie is very good. We all like avocados, but we really like guacamole salad, don't we? That's part of cultivating, taking what God is giving and improving upon it, but there will also be a work of creating, that is as human beings God has given us the ability to create something out of nothing.
For example, God said to Adam in the garden, "I've made these animals, I want you to come up with the names for them. I want you to think up imaginative names for these animals", and so Adam used his creativity to name the animals. Today we see man's God given creativity at work. The invention of the automobile, the jet airplane, the iPhone are all testimonies to a God given creativity.
Why do we think in heaven that won't be present as well in our lives? We'll use the gifts God has given us. Some people will write books. Other peoples may produce music. Other people may produce movies. There are no telling how God will use our creativity in heaven. Now, I said that our work in heaven will be an extension possibly of our work here on earth. How do you know what your life work should be both on earth and in heaven?
My friend Bob Biehl has a great question you oughta ask and answer for yourself sometime. Bob says, "If money and education were not a factor and you could do anything in the world you wanted to do knowing you wouldn't fail, what would you do"? Isn't that a thought provoking question? If there were no limitations of money or education you could do anything in the world and know you wouldn't fail at it, what would you do? That goes a long way in determining what God's life work is for you. God's will for our vocation is the intersection of our passions and our skills. That's what Paul is saying. God's working in you, giving you both the will, that is the desire and the ability to achieve his purpose.
What is it God has created you to do? Whatever your passion is here on earth, whatever your gifts are here on earth, will probably be your same passions and your same gifts in heaven. If you don't hear another word I'm saying, remember this. When you die, you don't become a different person in heaven than you are here on earth. Your life is a continuum. It begins now and it transcends the grave. Who you are now is who you will be in heaven, minus all the flaws. You'll know what you're gonna do in heaven probably by what you're doing right now.
Yes, we'll be worshiping God. We'll be working, but there's one other aspect that some people will be doing in heaven, and that is ruling and reigning with God. Some people are created to rule over the new heaven and the new earth. That was God's plan for Adam and Eve. Remember, in Genesis 1:26, he said, "Let us make man in Our own likeness and let them rule over the fish of the sea, the birds of the sky, and over the cattle and all of the earth, and every creeping thing that creeps on the earth". Adam and Eve were created to be co-regents with God on planet earth. Now because of sin, they had to abdicate their rule. But in the new heaven and new earth, you and I will be co-rulers with God. Revelation 22, verse five, says we will reign with him forever and ever.
Now that brings up two questions. First of all, who exactly will be reigning with God? Obviously, everybody's not gonna be reigning, or there'd be nobody to reign over. So who will be reigning with God? To be one of those who rule and reign with Christ involves three criteria. First of all, you will need to have the desire to rule. Only those who have a desire to rule will rule. For some of you right now the idea of being in charge of anything makes you break out in a cold sweat. Well, don't worry about it. If you don't enjoy ruling, you're not gonna be ruling in heaven. Not everybody enjoys that.
There has to be a desire. Secondly, there has to be an ability. Romans 12 says one of the spiritual gifts is the gift of leadership, to be able to organize. Some people couldn't organize themselves out of a paper bag. I mean, they're just not leaders. But thirdly, and this is all-important, faithfulness is a criterion for leadership in God's Kingdom. You can have the desire, and even the ability, to rule, but you also have to have a track record of faithfulness to God.
We don't have time to look at the parable today. We'll look at it in Luke 19 when we get there. But remember the parable Jesus told about the minas. And the point of the parable is how we handle the time, the treasure, the opportunities, God has given us here on earth will determine what responsibility we have in all eternity.
The second question, besides who will reign, is what does ruling and reigning involve? What does it mean, we're gonna rule with Christ? There're two aspects of that. First of all, judging, part of ruling and reigning with Christ involves judging. In first Corinthians six, remember the Corinthians were fussing and fighting with one another. They couldn't come to an agreement, and Paul says it shouldn't be this way. He says, in verse two, "Do you not know that the saints will judge the world"? One day Christians will judge the world. That word, judge, krino, means to render a verdict.
And while there's no evidence that you and I will be judging other people in the new heaven and new earth, the Bible is clear we're gonna be judging angels. Verse three says "Do you not know that we shall judge the angels"? Right now Psalm 8 says God has created man lower than the angels. But in the new heaven and earth, that will be reversed, and we'll be judging angels.
A second aspect of ruling and reigning is governing. Governing, that is, there will be parts of God's creation that some of us will govern. In second Timothy 2:12, Paul says, "If we endure with him, we shall also reign with him". You know, in the Old Testament, we had examples of God's people reigning over certain territory. Joseph was prime minister over Egypt, Daniel over Babylon, Mordecai over Persia. We're going to be ruling. Some people will be ruling over parts of God's creation. And while the new heaven and new earth will be the central part of God's creation, ruling and reigning probably won't be limited to there. There'll still be galaxies far flung throughout the universe over which God's people will rule.
Yes, in heaven we'll have work to do, but it's not gonna be work all the time. There's also gonna be some fun in heaven. And let me just suggest to you, what I call, "Three Perks of Heaven", three permanent perks of heaven. We'll be worshiping. We'll be working. But we're gonna be having the time of our lives as well. You know, the Bible suggest at least three benefits of being in heaven. First of all, it'll be a time of enjoying other believers, enjoying other believers.
Do you realize God made us where we need other people to be truly fulfilled? Remember, God said to Adam, "It's not good for you to be alone". I've always thought that was interesting. Adam wasn't alone. He had a perfect relationship with God that hadn't been tainted by sin. But God said as good as our relationship is, it's not enough. You need somebody else, that's why he made Eve. God made us in such a way that we need fellowship with other human beings. And in heaven, we're going to enjoy that in a way we've never experienced on earth.
Secondly, heaven will be a time of learning more about God. Yes, it's true, the prophet Habakkuk promised that the earth will be filled with the knowledge of God. But have you ever wondered how that knowledge will come? I mean, when we die, is there a sudden information dump into our brains where we know everything about God when we're in heaven? Maybe that happens, but I doubt it, and here's why. Think about your most important relationships here on earth. Hasn't part of the enjoyment of that relationship been learning more about that person over a period of time, rather than learning everything at once? There's a joy of discovery.
You know, I think about the first time I met Amy. We were 12 years old. She was sitting in front of me at Miss Denny's math class, and I only knew one thing about Amy. She was the prettiest girl I had ever seen. That's all I knew about her. But believe me, I wanted to know more. And so we started passing notes back and forth in class, got in lots of trouble for passing these notes. But through those notes, we learned more about each other. I've spent 50 years getting to know Amy, and guess what? I don't know everything about her, but there's a lot more to discover. And the whole process has been an exhilarating one. It's gonna be the same way in our relationship with God. I think we're gonna have all eternity to get to know God, and that's how we'll increase in our knowledge of God. We'll get to know him better and better and better.
Thirdly, in heaven, it will be a time of experiencing real rest. We've already seen in heaven we're not floating on a cloud somewhere. God will have us engaged in meaningful work. But that doesn't mean that's all we're going to do. You know, with the Israelites, God set aside a day of rest, and then he set aside certain weeks and certain months, and sometimes there was a year of rest as well. I think we'll experience the same thing in heaven.
In revelation 14, verse 13, John was commanded to write these words, look at them. "And I, John, heard a voice from heaven saying, 'Write this down. "blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on, that they may rest from their labors, for their deeds follow with them"'". What does he mean, "Blessed are those who die that they may rest"? I mean, to me that sounds so boring, resting. I hated it as a kid when my parents would make me take a nap. I just hated that. Is that what heaven is? Is that what he's talking about? Resting from our labors, do we just go to sleep some eternal nap? No, the key is understanding that word, labors.
The word, labors, kopos, refers to the persecution of living in this world. The people John is talking about are those who were martyred during the tribulation for their faith. He said blessed are those who die for their faith. Happy are those, because in heaven they will be free. They will rest from the persecution they've experienced in this world. But I think the kind of rest you and I are going to experience goes beyond the cessation of persecution. The rest we're going to experience in heaven is that occasional respite we even experience here on earth when we've finished a big job.
Have you ever had a big project to finish, and once you're finished, you say, "Whew, it's over"? It's over, I finished, but what I've done is not just good, it's very good. To be satisfied with what God has allowed you to accomplish, I think that's what it's gonna be like in heaven. There'll be those times that we rest from our labors, those times that we're able to have true satisfaction in a job well done. And it's that rest that reminds us that as important as our work is here, and will be in heaven, there's more to life than working. Heaven will be a time of enjoying perfect fellowship with one another and that perfect relationship with God we've always longed for.
That's what we will be doing in that place called heaven. Aren't you ready to go? I am, let's just load up right now, what do you say? Not quite yet, but soon. God has a great indescribable future planned for those who love him. Let's bow together, may we? Do you know for sure you're going to be welcomed into that place called heaven? There's only one way to know for sure. It's not by trying to be good. None of us is good enough. It's not by joining the church or getting baptized. Jesus said, "I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No man comes to the Father but by Me".
The only people who are allowed into heaven are forgiven people, those who've confessed their sins and trusted in Jesus, and Jesus alone, to pay their sin debt for them. We've all failed God. We all deserve to be punished by God. The most important decision we ever make in life is who's gonna pay for our sin against God? We can try to pay off the sin debt ourselves and spend eternity in hell trying to pay a debt we can never pay. Or we can allow Jesus to pay that debt for us. And that's what he did when he died on the cross. When Jesus died on the cross, he paid the penalty for our sin, and that's why he said on the cross it is finished, paid in full.
Maybe today you've come to the point in your life when you recognized that you've sinned against God and that you can't forgive yourself. You need God to forgive you of your sins. Maybe today you're ready to trust in Christ as your Savior. If so, I wanna invite you wherever you are right now to pray this simple prayer in your heart knowing that God is listening to you.
Dear God, thank you for loving me. I know that I have failed you in so many ways, and I'm truly sorry for the sin in my life. But I believe what I've heard today, that you loved me so much you sent your son Jesus to die for me, to take the punishment that I deserve for my sin. And right now at this very moment I'm trusting in Jesus, and Jesus alone, not my good works, but in Jesus alone, to save me and forgive me of my sins. Thank you for forgiving me. And now help me spend the rest of my life serving and obeying you. And I pray this in Jesus' name.