The Prospect Of Heaven - Part II
Dr. Joe Temple

Review

We are continuing a subject which I enjoy immensely; that subject is The Prospect of Heaven . I do not know of anything more enjoyable than the thought that God has prepared for us a place (John 14:2). We have considered the fact that some people dispute the idea, even suggesting that it is sheer idiocy to think that there is such a place, but we said all these disputations are made nothing when we recognize the many different terms which are used in the Word of God to designate the place called Heaven .

Review of Terms for Heaven

Several times already I have used one of them because the word Heaven is the term most commonly used to describe the place about which I speak. We will not examine in detail all we have said about that place called Heaven , but the word Heaven does among other things designate the location of our eternal home .

We said another word which is used to describe this glorious place is the simple word above . It is the translation of an entirely different Greek word from the word translated Heaven . It is the word that was used when the Apostle Paul exhorted the Colossians and us to set our affection on things above (Colossians 3:2). The more our minds are centered on that which is above, the less we will be interested in what there is here below because we will discover what a wonderful place Heaven is.

We touched on that when we considered the third word which is used in the Scriptures to describe Heaven. We told you it is a transliterated word, a Greek word spelled with English letters, the word Paradise . It is a word that is used to describe a garden with a cool stream flowing through the center of it. It is used to describe an orchard with lots of fruit. It is used to describe a place where folk love to go and sit down and relax and enjoy the scenery. It is the place to which the Lord Jesus Christ promised the thief on the Cross He would take him that very day. It is the place where the Lord Jesus Christ has promised you and me we may eat of the three of life all through eternity.

Abraham's Bosom

We want to continue our thinking about the terms which are used in the Scripture to describe Heaven, so I will ask you now to turn to the gospel of Luke, chapter 16, verse 22. This passage of Scripture will not be new to you because we looked at it when we were discussing Hell. We look at it now to notice a phrase describing Heaven which is used only two times in the entire Bible.

Luke 16:

22And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham's bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried;
23And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.

Notice the phrase, “Abraham's bosom”, in verse 22 and the phrase, “in his bosom” in verse 23. Focus your eyes, please, on the word bosom as I suggest to you that it provides another interesting aspect of Heaven. This word bosom is the translation of the Greek word kilpos , which describes a little quiet bay which is protected from the storm and the wind—a little quiet bay which the ships seek out to avoid the storm.

You can see why the word bosom would be used to describe such a place. How many little babies have been crying, for whatever reason, and have immediately stopped when they have been lifted up and placed upon their mother's bosom. There is something about this place of safety that quiets the fears. I am glad that our God was pleased to use this word to describe to us the glories of Heaven. I am glad that Heaven is a safe harbor in which all who place their trust in Christ will eventually find rest from the storms and the tribulations that are all about. When you speak of your loved ones' being at rest, don't visualize them asleep; visualize them in Abraham's bosom. Visualize them in a safe, snug harbor where they are conscious, knowing everything that is going on, but safe from the vicissitudes of life upon the earth.

My Father's House

Another term for Heaven is one which the Lord Jesus Christ used. You are familiar with it because it is found in chapter 14 of the gospel of John. These words are read so often at funerals that their meaning has been obliterated by familiarity, but they are precious:

John 14:

1Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me.
2In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.
3And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.

We will talk in another message about what He meant when He said, “I go on to prepare a place for you,” and we will talk about that place. For our present discussion, I want you to notice the term which the Lord Jesus used in verse 2 when He said, “In my Father's house are many mansions.” The first phrase to which I call your attention is, “my Father's house.” The word house is interesting. It is the translation of the Greek word oikos , which means “a place where the family lives.”

It is always good to get home, isn't it? I never go away even for a day but that I am glad to get home. But I am never glad to get home to an empty house. A few times in my experience I have mistimed my arrival, and my family has been busy somewhere else, and the house has absolutely no meaning for me when there is no one at home. I find another place to go on the rare occasions when I am left there by myself. Heaven would not mean as much to me if my family could not be there. Oh, I know that basically we are talking about the family of God, including every saint who will reside in Heaven, but I love to think of Heaven as the place where the family is.

Our Dwelling Place

We are answering questions about Heaven, and I know one question you have because I am always asked, “Will we be able to have our families up there?” We will talk about that before we are through, but right now I want you to rejoice with me in the fact that Heaven is the place for the family.

Look at the word mansions. Our English translation here is misleading. Songs have been written and poems have been composed and sermons have been preached, and you have been told that if you live as you ought to live, you will have a mansion on the front street in Heaven, and if you don't live as you ought to live, you might have to manage with a little old shack on the back alley. That is poor theology. There are no mansions or shacks in Heaven, but there are many dwelling places. The word mansion implies exactly that because it is the translation of the Greek word mona , which means “a place where you can stay,” or “a dwelling place.” There are many dwelling places in the Father's house, and there will be one for everyone. No one need be left out. It is good to get home where the family is. It is good to have a roof over your head. It is good to have a place to stay.

A Country Looked For

Turn, please, to the book of Hebrews, chapter 11, and recognize with me a term which may not mean a great deal to us because we have been fortunate to be born in the country in which we have been born. We are fortunate to have the privileges which we have, but there are many disenfranchised citizens all over the world. There are individuals who have had to give up their home and their country, and who have no certain dwelling place. When that is true, the term which we find here to describe Heaven takes on a special meaning. Notice the paragraph which begins with verse 13:

Hebrews 11:

13These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.
14For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country.
15And truly, if they had been mindful of that country from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned.
16But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city.

Did you notice the word country in verse 14? It is found once in the original text and is implied twice in the translation. That is the reason you see it in italics. It is Abraham's description of Heaven. He had a country one time, but God said, “I want you to leave this country, and I want you to be a citizen without a country until I give you the country that I want you to have.” Abraham got awfully tired and he got awfully weary traveling from place to place, taking down his tent and putting it up again. One day he got to thinking about Heaven, and he said, “You know, there is a country from which we will never be turned out. We will have a country of which we will always be citizens, and it is a better country. It will be good to settle down.” When you think about Heaven, remember it is a place where you can fold up your tent and settle down and not have to do any more moving.

A Prepared City

Did you notice that Abraham had another thought about that country? It was that that country had a city. That is what he said in verse 15:

Hebrews 11:

15And truly, if they had been mindful of that country from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned.
16But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city.

Here we have another term that is used in the Scripture to describe Heaven. This word city is the translation of the Greek word polos , which describes a city with paved streets and sidewalks and walls to keep out everything that might harm or injure in any fashion at all. Immediately we are intrigued. We would like to know something more about that city than the mere fact that it is a city. We find its name in this same book. If you will glance at chapter 12 of the book of Hebrews, you will find that that city is named in verse 22:

Hebrews 12:

22But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels,

The city is Jerusalem; no, not the little city about which you read up-to-date news in your newspaper, but the heavenly Jerusalem which is described in the book of the Revelation under a term which provides yet another designation for this place called Heaven .

Our Place in New Jerusalem

Turn, please, to the book of Revelation, chapter 3, verse 12, and notice that God in His mercy and in His grace gave a promise of this city through the Apostle John:

Revelation 3:

12Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God: and I will write upon him my new name.

The promise is that every believer will be personally identified with the city because the name of the city will be written upon him so that no one could possibly deny his right of fellowship there.

Description of New Jerusalem

Turn, please, to Revelation, chapter 21, and notice how John describes this city which he saw with his own eyes. I have never seen this city. All I know about it is what I have read of it in the Scriptures. The Apostle Paul saw it, but he was not allowed to talk about it. He had to come back and say, “I saw some wonderful things, but I cannot tell you what they were.” It was such a high privilege, and Paul was subject to spiritual pride as are most of us, if we have some unusual experience with the Lord, so God gave him a thorn in the flesh just so he would remember not to be too proud about what he had seen (II Corinthians 12:7).

It is interesting to read what some of the saints of God have conveyed to others about this city which they have seen. I know there are a lot of folk who doubt the possibility of that, but there is too much evidence to doubt honestly. Some of God's dear saints, as they have lain upon what we call their death bed, were fortunate enough to have the veil removed that separates human sight from divine, and they were able to see that city. My own Dad lay upon his bed and was absolutely amazed that I could not see what he saw, but he saw it. The sceptics may say, “Oh, he didn't; he was under the influence of drugs, and it was hallucinations.” You could not have convinced him of that. He saw the city. He saw my mother, who had preceded him in death, and he told me he saw his brother, an uncle of mine who from the time I was five years of age we thought he was lost. The family did not know where he was, but my father saw him. Dismiss that anyway you want to and I won't get angry with you, but I know it is true because Heaven is a literal place. This is the way John described it:

Revelation 21:

1And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea.
2And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.

If John did not say anything more than just that, you would know that Heaven is a beautiful place. A woman is never more beautiful than on the day she is adorned for her husband. That is how beautiful Heaven is. I want you to read the next verse because there is another term used to describe Heaven:

Revelation 21:

3And 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.

The Tabernacle of God

Notice the word tabernacle because is introduces us to another name for Heaven. This word tabernacle indicates a place where people dwell. It indicates the dwelling place of God with His own. It brings to mind a companion term which is described in the gospel of Luke, chapter 16, where the Lord Jesus Christ gave some advice to people with regard to the material goods which they possess.

I am sure you remember the story. There was an unjust steward, and his master said to him, “You had better get your books in shape because I don't think things are all they ought to be, and I am going to have the books audited.” This fellow knew they weren't what they ought to be and he said, “You know, I have got to get some money in here because I have used up what there was.” He called in some of the debtors of his master—he had all the records; no one else did—and to one he said, “How much do you owe the boss?” He answered, “I owe him \$500.” “I am going to be really good to you today; I am going to mark that down to \$200.” “Well, thank you, I appreciate it,” and he put down \$200 and off he went. The steward called in someone else and said, “What do you owe the boss?” He said, “I owe him \$1000.” He said, “I am going to mark that down to \$100.” He juggled the books and he made everything look all right. The Lord Jesus Christ interrupted this story and said, “Do you know that that man is wiser than a lot of Christians?”

The modernists, the liberalists, the critics, run across this story and say, “What kind of Christ is it that would endorse that kind of dishonesty?” He was not endorsing it. He just said that that fellow was wise; he was making provisions for the future with money.

No, I am not going to tell you that you can buy your way into Heaven. I would not do that because the Bible does not teach it, but I am going to ask you to look back at Luke, chapter 16, verse 9, and listen to what the Lord Jesus Christ said about the story I have just told you:

Luke 16:

9And I say unto you, Make to yourselves friends of the mammon of unrighteousness; that, when ye fail, they may receive you into everlasting habitations.

Everlasting Habitations

Notice the phrase, “everlasting habitations.” It is the translation of the same word that is translated tabernacle in Revelation, chapter 3. Heaven is described as the place of everlasting habitations, everlasting dwelling places. Lest you are wondering about the interpretation of the verse, all it means is that if you who know the Lord Jesus Christ as your Savior will invest your money in getting out the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ and bringing men into a saving knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ, you will have a great big welcoming committee when you get home. Those folk will all be there, and they will greet you when you get home. Those folk will all be there, and they will greet you when you come in. They will be saying to you, “If it had not been for you, I might not be here, and I just want to thank you for that investment you made in the Lord's work.” That is all that Jesus said.

We read the verse to give you another word for Heaven, “everlasting habitations.” Heaven is not only a dwelling place, but it is a place that is going to last forever.

The Heavenly Kingdom

There is one last term that we will think about. Turn with me, please, to Paul's second letter to Timothy, chapter 4, verse 18, which is a precious promise. The apostle is talking about a time when he had to stand alone. Have you ever had to stand alone? You thought you had some friends upon whom you could count, but when it came right down to the line, they weren't anywhere around, and you were all alone. Paul had that experience:

II Timothy 4:

16At my first answer no man stood with me, but all men forsook me: I pray God that it may not be laid to their charge.
17Notwithstanding the Lord stood with me, and strengthened me; that by me the preaching might be fully known, and that all the Gentiles might hear: and I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion.
18And the Lord shall deliver me from every evil work, and will preserve me unto his heavenly kingdom: to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

That is another term for Heaven—the heavenly kingdom . It is a term that the Lord Jesus Christ liked to use. In Matthew, chapter 26, He made an interesting statement about how He was looking forward to that heavenly kingdom.

As you may know, we have the Lord's Supper together every Sunday. To some folk, it means something; to others, it does not mean very much. I have had folk tell me when they left this fellowship and moved on to other places that this is one of the things they miss the most—that they cannot sit around the Lord's Table together each Lord's Day. Not everyone does it that way. There is nothing in the Bible that tells you that you have to, but it is precious and the Lord Jesus Christ thought it was precious. It was the last thing He did with His disciples all together before He left this earth, and it will be the first thing He will do when we all get together again. That ought to indicate the preciousness of it, don't you think? Notice verse 29:

Matthew 26:

29But I say unto you, I will not drink henceforth of this fruit of the vine, until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father's kingdom.

I love to think of the day when we will all get to Heaven and sit down around the Lord's Table, and the Lord will break the bread and serve the wine, and together we will look back on that day long ago, when He died for us. I think we will be able to appreciate it a lot better than we do now. I don't think we can fully comprehend the tremendous thing that is wrapped up in Christ's dying for us according to the Scriptures (I Corinthians 15:3). We will appreciate it then.

Should I be speaking to someone who has never availed himself of the finished work of the Lord Jesus Christ upon the Cross, let me encourage you to remember that He died for you, and encourage you to receive Him as your Savior.


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