Robert Jeffress - What Will Heaven Be Like?
Hi, I'm Robert Jeffress and welcome again to Pathway to Victory. Earth may be our current residence but it's far from our eternal home. When Jesus ascended into heaven, he promised that he was going to prepare a place for those who put their faith in him. And today we're going to look at a wonderful passage in Revelation 21 that describes the glories of our eternal home. My message is really a question. What Will Heaven Ne Like? On today's edition of Pathway to Victory.
What is heaven going to be like? What is it that really awaits us on the other side of the grave? One writer has said, "Every joy we experience here on earth, including the joy of reunion with family or friends, is only an inkling, only a whisper of the true and unending joy that awaits us. Every spectacular sight we view in this world, whether it be the Grand Canyon, Niagara Falls, or Lake Victoria, those sites are only pencil sketches of the full, full color rendition that will be a part of the new heaven, and the new earth". And yet as spectacular as heaven is going to be, it's amazing how little information is in the Bible about what heaven is going to be like. I sometimes wonder why is that? Why doesn't God tell us more about our eternal future? Perhaps one reason is God knows we can't comprehend what it's really going to be like.
Remember, when Paul was caught up into the third heaven, he saw sights, so spectacular, he didn't write them down, he couldn't speak about them. Maybe that's one reason, we don't know more, we just couldn't understand it. Or perhaps it's because God knows, if we knew what really awaited us, we wouldn't be able to concentrate on our responsibilities in this life. We would be thinking about the next life. We would be kind of like parents, who put in front of their children a meal of meat, potatoes and broccoli. And over on the side, they put dessert, a big ice cream sundae. Most kids, most adults would have trouble focusing on the meat, the potatoes and the broccoli, they'd want to go straight for dessert. Perhaps God knows that would be our tendency. We would want to get out of this world as quickly as we could if we knew the future God has planned for us.
Now the Bible doesn't tell us everything about heaven. But it tells us just enough to whet our appetites and motivate us to live obediently for Jesus Christ, the short time we're here. And today we're going to look at some of that Revelation about the new heaven and the new earth that God has prepared for us as we answered the question, what is heaven like. If you have your Bibles, turn to Revelation 21. We're now in the next to the last message in this year long series on the Book of Revelation. And I want you to notice that John talks about the new heaven and new earth in chapter 21 by giving us three Revelations about the new heaven and new earth. And each one begins with the phrase "And I saw".
The first Revelation is about the new heaven and new earth itself. Look at verse 1, "And I saw a new heaven and a new earth for the first heaven and the first earth passed away and there is no longer any sea". That's fascinating because today, three quarters of the world is water. 60% of your bodies are water. And yet in the new heaven and new earth, the only water that will be there is the river of life that we'll look at next time. The first thing John saw was the new heaven and the new earth. The second feature of John's Revelation was the center of that new heaven and new earth. And that was a literal city, the new Jerusalem. Looking at verses two to four, at the characteristics of this new city.
John says, "And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband". John said, "Do not love the world or the things of the world". He wasn't talking about the ground, he wasn't talking about planet earth. He was talking about the world system. Don't love the world system that is opposed to God. But we can love this world because one day God is going to restore this world, to the way it was in Eden, to its Edenic state, and we are made to dwell here forever and ever.
Notice in verse 3, John says, "And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and God will dwell among them, and they shall be his people, and God himself will be among them". John says, "I saw this new heaven and new earth coming, and I saw the new Jerusalem coming down out of heaven to earth". Listen, our ultimate destiny is not for us to go up there somewhere where God is, John says, instead, "I saw the tabernacle of God coming down so God could dwell here with men". You and I weren't created for up there, we're created for down here.
I think, Dr. Cryspal's words about that. He said, "If I thought I was going to be sentenced to some planet 100 million miles away, that I know nothing about". "I couldn't get excited about that". "I love this world". "I'm created for this world". "I love everything about this world except the sin and the sadness and the tears and the death, and that will be gone forever". And that's exactly what John says in verse 4. "And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and there shall no longer be any death, there shall no longer be any mourning or crying or pain, for the first things will have passed away". That's what John saw, he saw a new heaven and a new earth. And he saw the new Jerusalem coming down out of heaven to earth. This city, the new Jerusalem will be the centerpiece of the new heaven and the new earth.
Notice the architect of this city. The fact that there's going to be a literal city that will be the capital of the new heaven and new earth is no mystery. We found that in scripture from the very beginning. Remember, in Hebrews 11:10, it says, "For Abraham was looking for a what"? "He was working for the city, which has foundations, whose architect and builder is God". Now I want you to notice the member of the Godhead who is responsible for designing and building this new Jerusalem. He identifies himself in verse 5 of Revelation 21. "And he who sits on the throne said, behold, I am making all things new". And he said, "Write, for these words are faithful and true".
Apparently, John was so overwhelmed by what he was seeing, he forgot to keep writing. The Lord says, keep on writing, because everything you're seeing is faithful and true. Then he said to me, "It is done, I am the alpha and omega, the beginning and the end, I will give to the one who thirst from the spring of the water of life without cost". Who is it that is the builder of this new city? He said, "I'm the alpha and omega". That's the same description Jesus used up himself in Revelation, 1:8, Alpha, the first letter of the Greek alphabet, Omega, the last. I'm the beginning and the end, I am all in all.
What I want you to see is Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is the one who designs and builds this new city. Who are going to be the inhabitants of the city, the new Jerusalem? Let's look and see how God answers that question in verse 7. "He who overcome this will inherit these things, and I will be his God, and he will be my son". The only people who are going to have a place in this new Jerusalem are those who are overcomers. And what does he mean, overcomers? He used that same term and Revelation 3:5, he said, "He who overcomes will thus be clothed in white garments, and I will not erase his name from the Book of Life, and I will confess his name before my father, and before his angels".
What I want you to see is this phrase overcomers is not referring to some special class of super Christians. The term overcomers is used by John to refer to all believers, all true believers in Christ. Those who truly believe in Christ are going to obey Christ, they're going to overcome the trials and temptations of this world. John said that in his little epistle called first John and chapter 5:4-5, "For whatever is born of God," does what? "Overcomes the world". And this is the victory that has overcome the world, our faith. Who is the one who overcomes the world? But he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God. If you overcome, if you're victorious in living for Christ, in this world, you have a place in the new Jerusalem.
But notice, who will not be in the new Jerusalem, who will not be a part of the Kingdom of God. Don't let anybody tell you that everybody's going to heaven. Everybody is not going to be in heaven. And in verse 8, John explains who's not going to be there. "But for the cowardly, and unbelieving, and abominable, and murderers, and immoral persons and sorcerers and idolaters, and all liars, their part will be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death" have you heard people say, "Oh, I don't like that fire and brimstone kind of preaching". People who say they don't like that better get used to it because that's where they're going to be.
You can't believe the Bible and not believe in fire and brimstone. The Bible says there's not one destination for people, there are two possible destination. You can't believe in heaven and say, but I reject the idea of hell. God talked about both of them. In fact, Jesus spoke more about the reality of hell than he did about heaven itself. There's a group of people who won't be in heaven, it's those who don't overcome the world. This list is similar to what Paul said in 1 Corinthians 6:9-11, listen to Paul's words, "Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the Kingdom of God"? "Don't be deceived, neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals". He goes on, "Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor violators, nor swindlers, none of these will inherit the Kingdom of God".
Wait a minute pastor you saying, if anyone has done any of these things, he can't go to heaven. But if that's true, then nobody's going to be in heaven. Because all of us are guilty of one of these sins, at least, if not, indeed in mind and heart. And Jesus says, that's the same thing as committing these sins, to want to commit this sins. No, this passage is not saying that if you've ever done one of these things, you can't be saved. Paul says in verse 11, "And such were some of you Corinthian Christians, but you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, and in the spirit of our God".
Listen to me, I don't care what sin you've committed, how long you've committed it, how deep the stain of your sin, if you'd have trusted in the blood of Jesus Christ of cleanse you, to forgive you, you are saved and secure forever. You have a place in heaven. That is the Gospel of Jesus Christ. There is no sin you can commit, for which you cannot be forgiven. But if you've truly repented of that sin, if you've truly asked for God's forgiveness from that sin, you're not going to go back and regularly practice that sin. No one who practices these sins has a place in the Kingdom of God. That is what John is saying here. We've looked at the inhabitants of the city.
Let's look at the description of the city. Verse 9. "Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues came and spoke with me saying, come up here and I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb". And John says, "The angel carried me away in the spirit to a great and high mountain and showed me the holy city, Jerusalem coming down out of the heaven from God". Now, there's some Bible scholars who believe that this magnificent city, the new Jerusalem, actually will come down from heaven, during the millennium, the thousand year reign of Christ. And it will be suspended between earth and heaven. And those of us who were in our new resurrection bodies at that time, we'll spend our time up in that suspended city, the new Jerusalem, the saints in their natural bodies will be on earth.
And then they think this new Jerusalem will go back up into heaven at the end of the millennium, while the present heaven and earth are destroyed by fire. That's a nice idea. I don't know if it's true or not. There's nothing in the Bible that supports that. But John says, at the end of the millennium, after the present, heaven and earth have been destroyed, "I saw the new Jerusalem coming down out of heaven". Look at verse 11. Having the glory of God, her brilliance was like a very costly stone, as a stone of crystal clear jasper. The word translated jasper could be any number of stones. Most people think it's a diamond. And what John is communicating here, and we'll see it over and over again in this chapter is this city is going to be flooded with light. It's going to be absolutely filled with light, that is the chief characteristic of this new city, the new Jerusalem. I love this about the new Jerusalem, it's going to be a place of light.
Now look at verse 12. "And it had a great and high wall". Oh, oh. No, I'm not going there. "With 12 gates, and at the gates, 12, angels and names were written on them, which are the names of the 12 tribes of the sons of Israel". And not only that, look at verse 14, "And the wall of the city had 12, foundation stones, and on them were the 12 names of the apostles of the Lamb". Here, I think you have a coming together of believing Israel and the church. Right now they're distinct. God has a plan for believing Israel, he has a plan for the church. But I think that distinction will be gone in the new heaven and the new earth. The two come together.
Now look at verse 15. To me, this is the most fascinating part of all of this. "The one who spoke with me had a gold measuring rod to measure the city and its gates and its wall". Verse 16, "And the city is laid out as a square, and its length is as great as its width". "And the angel measured the city with the rod, and it's 1500 miles, its length, and its width and height are equal". 1500 miles by 1500 miles by 1500 miles. Now let's forget the height for a moment and just look at the square mileage here, length and width. 1500 miles times 1500 miles would mean that the city has a surface area of over 2 million square miles.
Now to put that in perspective for you, New York city, that little island of Manhattan, that has about 9 million people in it is a puny 305 square miles. Here you have a city that is 2 million square miles. That is one big city. But remember, it's not just a square, it's a cube. Not only is it 1500 miles by 1500 miles, in height, it is also 1500 miles. You know how big that is? The average story on a skyscraper is 12 feet high. Each story of a skyscraper is 12 feet high. That means this city, if it is 1500 miles high, it means it would be over 660.000 stories. Each story having more than 2 million square feet, that blows the mind.
Now I know what some of you are thinking, "Well surely he has to be speaking symbolically, we're not to take that literally, are we"? Look at verse 17, "And the angel measured its walls 72 yards," which probably refers to the thickness, "According to human measurements, which are also angelic measurements". That drives a stake in the idea this is symbolic. John is saying the angels use the same measurements that human beings do. This is one big city. Now look at verse 18. "The material of the wall was jasper, and the city was pure gold, like clear glass, and the foundation stones of the city were adorned with every kind of precious stone".
Then you find a listing of all of those stones, names that we cannot pronounce. But what they communicate to us is, heaven is going to be a spectrum of beautiful colors. It's going to be more gorgeous, more beautiful than anything you can possibly imagine. John says, I saw a new heaven and new earth. I saw a new city, the new Jerusalem, there's one final thing he talks about, a new relationship with God. Look at verse 22. "And I saw there was no temple in the city, for the Lord God, the Almighty and the Lamb are its temple".
There'll be no church buildings, there'll be no temples. In the Old Testament, the temple, earlier the tabernacle was a place to offer sacrifices, to reconcile man to God. That will no longer be needed. Man will be in perfect relationship with God. And look at verse 23. "And the city has no need of the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God is illumined, and its lamp is the Lamb". "The nations will walk by its light and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it, it in the daytime, for there will be no night there". "Its gates will never be closed, and they will bring the glory and the honor of the nations into it". "And nothing unclean, no one who practices abomination and lying show ever come into the city, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb's Book of Life".
You know, one of the mistakes we make when we think about eternity is we separate eternity from our existence here on earth. We think that when we die, and when we go to either heaven or hell somehow we magically become other people. No, when we die, it's not somebody else who goes to heaven or hell, it is we who go to heaven or hell. Heaven or hell is just a continuum of the life we begin living here on earth. Randy Alcorn says it well when he says, "Earth leads directly into heaven, just as it leads directly into hell". "Life here on earth is a running start into one place or the other". "Heaven and hell are both retroactive to earth". "The best of earth is a glimpse of heaven". "The worst part of earth is a glimpse of hell". "Earth is that in between world, touched both by heaven and hell, affording a choice for us between the two".`