Heaven Help Us
Proposition: By sharpening our understanding of heaven we gain strength for today and a more focused understanding of Who God is.
Introduction: Imagine going to a job interview and your future employer tells you that there is a pension plan that is part of the pay package. You ask how much it s a month and what are the benefits. He smiles and tells you that it varies month to month, sometimes your whole pay cheque goes towards it, sometimes there’s no investment on your part at all. The benefits are that when you retire you go this office party that never ends, all the food you want is there and the celebration never stops. If that were you would the pension plan motivate you to want to work? Not likely, the problem is that many people have a similar issue when it comes to the subject of heaven. We know that heaven is the place where Jesus said He would be preparing a place for us, we know that heaven is eternal and that what we do here and now has everything to do with how we gain heaven. But what do we look like in heaven, will we recognize others from before, what do we do there? If our understanding of heaven is weak what effect do you think that has on how we live these moments? It’s like a runner who doesn’t know where the finish line is nor what purpose there is in running the race at all. We’ve talked about Hell, we talked about the Trinity and the purpose of the Church, now let’s talk about Heaven. Consider this Scripture, Colossians 3:1-4: “If then you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth, for you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, Who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory.”
I. What It Means to Have Eternity in Your Heart.
When it says, “If then you have been raised up with Christ…” it is referring to the act of salvation, when a person has moved by faith to believe in Jesus as Savior. It implies that they were dead in some way, ie raised up, and now are alive as never before. They now understand things from a new perspective, there is a new ability to deal with life and in fact there is even the presence of the Holy Spirit in them creating new life itself. The questions of origin, of our ultimate purpose, of our final destination after death, these questions now begin to have much clearer answers. Before we became Christians we wrestled with these things and not just this but also a great and unyielding tug of war in our hearts. Whether you believed in God or not, this inner tension is there. Mark Buchanan in his book, ‘Things Unseen’, puts it like this, “We are born with two impulses…the first is to go beyond. We crave discovery, conquest and adventure. This impulse often atrophies into escapism. The second impulse is to go home. We cherish the familiar. We long for the way things were. This impulse often calcifies into nostalgia.” This is how God has designed us, a restless tension that makes us hunger in two directions at once. That would seem to a cruel act of design on God’s part until we see that both of these are designed to be met in one place. The desire to go beyond and the yearning to go home are both only, ever, completely satisfied in heaven. Buchanan says it’s the one place where we’re constantly discovering and yet where we are fully and finally home, where everything is exactly as it ought to be. That’s what eternity in our hearts is all about, this great longing that is only finally fulfilled in heaven. Eccl. 3:11 says, “He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end.” It’s why the apostle Paul says to keep seeking the things above, to set your mind on the things above, not on the things of the earth. Now that you are a Christian you can for the first time in your life begin to put the pieces together that address this tension of going beyond and yet at the same time longing for home. Will heaven be a boring place, an unending church service, not on your life! Heaven help us, it’s what we are designed for to the glory of God.
II. The Hidden Life and The Great Reveal. Are you familiar with the French phrase, “fait accompli” ? Literally it translates as “fact realized”, in more modern terms we might say it’s a done deal. When Paul says that your life is hidden with Christ in God he means that who you are is now intricately and inseparably connected to Who Jesus Christ is because of your faith in Him. It is a fait accompli that Jesus has completely paid the price for your sin, that He has secured your permanent right standing with God. In His credentials you now stand before an omnipotent and Almighty God. Learning how to rest in the righteousness of Christ releases us from the captivity of shame, of feeling like we’re never going to be good enough. It’s where I go beyond in all my sinful failures and at the same time finally begin to be who I really am in Christ. That’s what a hidden life is, hidden in Christ, kept by Him, brought by Him before the Father, even now being transformed, a fait accompli. Then Paul says, “When Christ, Who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory.” Does the first use of the word ‘revealed’ refer to the Second coming of Jesus? Could it also refer to the time when we see Him face to face? Does it refer to the time when the whole world will see Jesus, not just the Christians but everyone and every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus is Lord? This is the first part of the great reveal and it has everything to do with heaven. But what about the second use of the word ‘revealed’, the “then you also will be revealed with Him in glory.” Could this refer to the perfect sinless transparency that heaven will be like? The place where there are no more secrets, the place that we will know others and be fully known by them. If you thought that heaven would just be a better version of the earth you need to think again, it’s like nothing we have ever seen before, it’s glory.