Tony Evans — The Glory of Heaven
One day, for all of those who belong to Jesus Christ, the Son of the King, Jesus Christ is going to locate you. And he is going to rapture you or receive you through death, where you will enter the end of the story and live happily ever after. The home that the Son of the King is going to take all of his believers to is called heaven. There are many theories about heaven, many thoughts about heaven. The only man who ever went to heaven who was allowed to come back and speak about it was the Apostle Paul in 2 Corinthians chapter 12, where he talks about a journey that he couldn't even define the state that he was in. He says, "I know not my state. All I know is that what I saw was unlawful for a man to utter". He says, "My Greek vocabulary could not describe what God let me see," which explains why in Paul's life he would often say, "It is better to go home to be with him than to stay down here". Because God let him see something that no other man was able to see and come back to speak about except the Apostle Paul.
The first thing I want you to know that Jesus makes it clear is heaven is a promised place. It's a promised place. He says, "Believe in God, believe also in me". If heaven is not real, Jesus is a liar and so is his daddy. "Believe in God, believe also in me". To deny heaven is to call Jesus a liar and challenge his integrity. And if he is a liar and he has no integrity, why should I believe him for anything? He says, "No, you believe in God, you believe also in me. I'm not just talking, I'm telling you about a reality".
So, what you read in the Bible about heaven, the little that's given to us there, is tied to Christ's integrity. So, he says, "If you believe that there's a God up there, then you better buy what I'm saying about your future. Don't call me a liar". God is going to equip you for this new environment. The Bible says, "Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God". So, you can't go to heaven like you are. Who you and I are right now in our bodies is inconsistent with that environment. Unless God changes you, you won't fit. You won't fit that environment. This is why 2 Corinthians chapter 5, verse 1 puts it this way with regard to the body you're going to need for the promise Jesus gives for the place you're going to go. He says, "For we know that if the earthly tent, which is our house, is torn down, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens".
So, God is going to recraft the body, not your soul, your soul stays as it is. Your soul is the real you. You are not your body, your body's just a house for your soul. He's going to give you a new house that is a new body that will fit the environment. You don't have a body now that can live forever. You don't have a body now that goes without pain. You don't have a body now that can think at the scope of the data that you will be receiving in heaven. You do now not have a frame. In fact, what God's going to do, he's going to create for many of us, maybe even most of us who know Christ, a desire to leave this body.
One of the reasons that he allows pain and suffering and cancer and things that deteriorate the body at the point he's ready to carry us home is to make us want to leave it. He says, "Let not your heart be troubled". This is Jesus on his way to the cross to die, to rise, to ascend to heaven. And they were depressed 'cause he's leaving. He says, "I am leaving you now, but I give you my word I'm coming back". So, heaven is real because Jesus is real. And since Jesus can't lie because lie would be a sin, making him a sinner, if he did lie, then what he says about heaven must be taken seriously. "You believe in God, believe also in me. I keep my promises". Says your citizenship is in heaven. Your treasures are in heaven. Your reward is in heaven. Your focus is in heaven. Everything is in heaven.
So, if we ever got to see heaven right, earth wouldn't be that big a deal. It is not only a promised place, it is a paternal place. Notice what he calls it, "In my Father's house". Jesus says, "In my Father's house". That God says I have a specific location. 2 Corinthians 12:2 says that when we go home to be with the Lord, we go to the third heaven 'cause there are three heavens. Not one heaven, there are three heavens. So, he specifically calls where we're going the third heaven. Heaven number one is the atmospheric heaven surrounding the earth. Heaven number two is the stellar heaven, involving stars, planets, and galaxies. Heaven number three is the abode of God, the third heaven.
Something very interesting is told to us in 1 Kings chapter 8, verse 27 because we're told that God exists beyond the heavens and the heavens cannot contain him. Heaven is a place where Daddy is. And Daddy is critical because there would be no kids without Dad. Heaven will be also a populated place. Hebrews 12:22 and 23 talks about all the folk who going to be there. Let's talk about a few other... says the Old Testament saints are going to be in heaven. The New Testament saints, it says the church will be there. Paul and Silas and Barnabas and Peter and the disciples and the saints of the church age will be there.
Folks yet to come will be there who are in the tribulation period that we've already discussed who will pass on during that time, they will be there. And those who have believing relatives... John says in Revelation 5, in Revelation 7, he says, "I looked up in heaven and I saw people from every nation, every tribe, every kindred, and every tongue". We, in our glorified bodies, will be like him. You'll just be you, and you will be you as you've never been you before because it's you apart from sin. So, you will be there interfacing with your new neighbors. Old Testament saints, New Testament saints, family, and friends. Notice, he says it is also a prepared place. "I go to prepare a place for you". So, there is preparation involved in your new location. I go to prepare a place for you.
Oh, wait a minute, I thought heaven was already there. It is. I thought saints have already gone there. They have. Then it already exists. It does. So, then what is there to prepare? So, God already has a house, but he's constructing for you a room that is your location in the house. The house exists, saints are already in glory. But you have your personal premises, which I will describe for you shortly. You have personal premises in your Father's house. But now you need to know something, and what you need to know is you have a lot to say about how it's prepared.
1 Corinthians 3, verses 10 to 15 talks about those we saw who do gold, silver, and precious stones. Others who give wood, hay, and stubble. Both are saved, but one served Christ from their heart, the other had little time to serve Christ from their heart. Your room and your room aren't the same rooms. They aren't decorated the same way because you don't operate with the same reward. Now, you're in your Father's house, but your rooms are prepared differently. I just want to give you some highlights of your future home. The highlight that the Bible gives us is the capital of heaven, only the capital building or the capital city. It's called a city, but it's the city of heaven.
John says in Revelation 21, he describes it all the way through Revelation 22, verse 5, this city coming down from heaven called the New Jerusalem. So, the city is coming down from heaven, the city is not the total definition of heaven. It's just the capital of heaven. Like in the millennium, when Jesus rules from Jerusalem and Jerusalem will be the capital of earth, the now existing Jerusalem, in eternity God is going to have the new Jerusalem coming out of the new heavens and earth.
Revelations chapter 21, verse 1 says, "The old heaven and earth are going to pass away". I call that the uncreation. Genesis 1:1, you have the creation. In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. But in Genesis 21, it says this heaven and this earth disintegrate. Every proton, neutron, atom will disintegrate. All the energy that makes up the current heaven and current earth will be destroyed so that all remnants of sin are removed. Now, if God is going to destroy all the heavens and the earth, that can only mean that he lives outside of it because there is another realm for which we are not acquainted that is outside of the created realm by the creator because the creator is not limited to his creation.
So, he says, "I will show you your capital city. It is a perfect place". First of all, let me talk about the size of your new home. It's told us in verse 16 of Revelation chapter 21, it says, "The city is laid out as a square, and its length is as great as its width. And he measured the city with the rod, 1500 miles in length, width, height are equal". So, the capital of heaven that's now coming down from heaven to earth, that capital is 1500 in a square. So, to give you a picture of the capital of heaven as your new home, it is the size of half of the United States of America. United States of America is approximately 3,000 miles. Half of that is 1500 miles. It is 1500 miles going this way, this way, this way, and this way, but he throws in something that you wouldn't expect, he says it's 1500 miles going up.
And we're just talking about the capital now, it's not all of heaven. It's not all of earth, it's just one city that's half the size, so you've never seen a city this size 'cause this is half of a country of America, one city. This thing is huge, but it's only one city. You'll find out in Scripture there will be many cities. In fact, it talks about in chapter 22 nations are existing. So, I'm not giving you the whole ball of wax, I'm just giving you what the capital looks like. The capital, this one city is staggering in its size. "Its beauty will be perfect," verse 11, "having the glory of God. Her brilliance was like a very costly stone as a stone of crystal and clear jasper". Verse 18, "The material of the wall was jasper and the city was pure gold like clear glass". You've never seen this before. Verse 4 of Revelation 21, "And he will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and there will be no longer any death, there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain. The first things have passed away".
Now, I don't know what's making you cry today or be in pain, whether physical or emotional, circumstantial. All that disappears. And it disappears forever. The psalmist says in Psalm 16:11, he says, "In thy presence is joy forevermore". One hundred quadzillion years from now, there will have not been one decrease in the joy that you had upon your arrival. And throughout eternity, everything is new, why? Because the book of James chapter 1 says, "In him there is no shifting shadow". What's a shifting shadow? Nighttime. See, the earth rotates around the sun, the earth spins and it rotates around the sun, and it spins, and it rotates around the sun. And as it spins and rotates around, it casts a shadow called nighttime on half the earth. So, half the earth is dark while half the earth is lit because this thing keeps spinning.
James says, "Every good and perfect gift comes from above". So, everything in your life that's good comes from God, everything that's bad does not come from God. The reason why only good comes from God is 'cause in God, there is no shifting shadow. In other words, there's no turning, there's no night. And because there is no turning, and the reason why there's no turning is we're told in chapter 21 there will be no sun. Because there will be no 24-hour period as you know it now. Because it says there will be no nighttime. So, God is going to give you a body that can receive everything new, never get bored, never get tired, so every time you do something, you're going to go, "Whoa, whoo! Wow, good guggamugga, Lord have mercy". It will dominate the environment all the time. No boredom, no loss of energy, no need to sleep because you will never get tired. You will have a glorified body. You will never stop learning because God is inexhaustible. So, since God is inexhaustible, you'll never stop learning, you'll just have the capacity to understand.
How many times in life do you say, "I don't understand. I don't understand this. I don't understand that. I don't understand that". Okay, all that disappears because you will be given the brainpower, the mind power to make Google look stupid in your glorified body. There will be perfect service there. I don't have time to get into it, but chapter 22, verse 3 says, "His bondservants will serve him". So, this is not some boring flying in the sky with Cupid playing on a cloud. This is God using you to the max and you loving every minute of it. 'Cause the Bible says there's going to be nations, nations operating as nations. See, so heaven is--'cause you got heaven and earth. The difference between you and I is that the people in earthly glorified bodies can't go to heaven, but the people in spiritually glorified bodies, which will be our bodies, can go to heaven and earth and go back again because we shall be like him. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go to prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you unto myself, that where I am, you will be also.
Guess what God calls us? The bride of Christ. So, the husband is coming for his girl, the church, in order to take us to his paradise 'cause it won't be the same if he wasn't there. It will be the Savior's presence that will turn heaven from just being a beautiful place to hang out to a great experience to have as the bride of the bridegroom, when the bride comes for his bride to take us home. However, whenever you travel to a foreign country, you need a passport. The only way to legitimately get in to a foreign country, you must have a passport that grants you access. God will only let you into heaven if you have the right credentials. If you do not have the right credentials, you don't get to enter there. And many people are wanting to go to heaven without a passport or with a passport that no longer works.
If you go to God and show him your passport of good works, he's going to say, "Unacceptable, you can't come here". If you show him a passport of your church membership, he's going to say, "Unacceptable, you can't come here". If you show him a passport of your keeping the Ten Commandments, he'll say, "Unacceptable, you can't come in here". If you show him a passport that you're just a nice person, he will say, "Unacceptable, you can't come in here". Because the only passport he accepts is the blood of Jesus Christ, who was wounded for our transgressions, bruised for our iniquities. Only through receiving Jesus Christ as your personal Savior will your passport be stamped and entrance be granted. There will be many people think that they're going to heaven, hope that they're going to heaven, wanting to go to heaven, desiring to go to heaven who will be denied entrance because their names will not be written in the Lamb's book of life because they did not come by means of the blood. You must come by the cross of Jesus Christ in order to have access to the pristine beauty of eternity. And if you have not accepted Jesus Christ, you cannot enter into God's holy heaven. But God says at the end of chapter 22 of Revelation, "Come all who are thirsty. Come all who are hungry. And I will quench your thirst and give you eternal life".