“Purpose in Heaven”
Hello, and welcome to “Key to the Kingdom.” My name is Bret McCasland. Last time on this program, I mentioned that we were beginning a four week series of lessons on heaven. If you missed the first one, it is available on our website, at keytothekingdom.com. Today, we take a look at some other things about heaven, as it is revealed in Scripture, for lesson number two. There are obviously many things we cannot know and will not know about heaven, this side of eternity; and yet, the Bible gives us a glimpse into what heaven is and what heaven will be like. Some of our ideas may be far off while other things may be most accurate. For example, have you seen the images on television of people riding on clouds in the sky, relaxing and enjoying the scenery? For some, that is what they expect, no commitment, no work and nothing but joy and pleasure. Another idea about heaven is that we will know each other and carry on life in some of the same ways we do today. Well, perhaps we will know one another, but is it all that important? When it comes to being in the presence of God and His son, Jesus Christ, nothing else will matter. Today, on “Key to the Kingdom,” we will explore some of these things as we seek to understand a little bit more about our identity and what we will do for all eternity. And keep in mind, this lesson, along with the others, will be uploaded onto our website and you can refer to them at your convenience. I trust you will now open your heart and your Bible as we continue to study about heaven.
Today, we continue in our four part series of lessons on heaven. In the first lesson, we focused on heaven being an actual place, and preparing for it. Heaven is the Holy City of God and it is more beautiful than we could ever imagine. But for the next few minutes today, I want us to think about our identity in heaven and what our purpose will be in the presence of God. First of all, in heaven we will have a new appearance. The same John who wrote the book called Revelation also wrote this, in 1st John chapter 3 and verse 2: <Dear friends, now we are children of God and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when He appears, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as all He is.> As God's children, we may not know what our appearance will be like in heaven, but we do know that we will be like Christ. We will see Him as He is in all of His glory, according to verse 3. In other words, it seems that as God's children, we will become like God's Son; and that will be greater than what we could ever imagine this side of eternity. Here is another passage that makes basically that same point. It is found in Philippians chapter 3, verses 20 and 21; and, these are the words of the apostle Paul: <Our citizenship is in heaven. We eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who by the power that enables Him to bring everything under His control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like His glorious body.> In heaven, there will be a transformation process that takes place. Our bodies will be transformed to be like the glorious body of Jesus Christ. In other words, we may not have our physical bodies, as we see and know them today, but they will be transformed to be like Christ. Oh, with great expectation, we anticipate what we will be like in heaven. And not only will we be as glorious as Jesus Christ himself, we will also be pure and blameless. We will be holy in the presence of our Holy Lord. And again, that will be far beyond what we perhaps can understand today. But our identity will basically revolve around the identity of Jesus Christ, himself. Oh, as we live up on this earth, we all have certain characteristics that set us apart from everybody else. We are unique. We are one of a kind. Nobody else has our facial features and our stature and our size and all of the other things that make us who we are. That is what we call our identity. But again, this may not be the way we look in heaven. For according to what we have just read, our identity will be patterned after our Glorious Savior. Well, in addition to our new appearance and new identity, we will also have a new name. Jesus gave a special message to several churches scattered throughout Asia. In the one written to the church at Pergamum, He said these words, in chapter 2 of Revelation, and verse 17: <"To him who overcomes, I will also give him a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to him who receives it."> You may be very proud of the name you wear, and I hope that you are proud of it. You want other people to know your name and to pronounce it correctly and to spell it correctly. Whatever it takes, you will go to great extremes to protect your name, your identity. You don't want anyone to abuse your name or to mistreat your identity in any form or fashion. Well, evidently there's coming a time when Jesus will give us a new name; and our name won't be Stan or Bret, anymore. Our new name will be known only to us, and what that name is we don't know, today. But that name will be far more special than the name we currently wear. It will be part of our new identity. It will be written on a new stone, which will serve as somewhat of our entrance into that heavenly kingdom. And that name, as we just read will also be part of the reward we receive for overcoming the problems, the difficulties, the evil and the corrupt things of this world. Our reward will be that we have a new name; and whatever that name is, it will be special. We will be set apart from the bad and negative things of this world. And we will be set apart for fellowship with all that as pure and holy, in that throne room of God. Well, as John envisions all of this, the angel told him to write down these words, to write down what he saw and heard from the angel. And John did just that with these words in Revelation 21, verses 7 and 8, <"He who overcomes will inherit all this, and I will be his God and he will be my son. But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars –their place will be in the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death."> When it comes to our identity in heaven, there will be an obvious distinction between those who overcame the sin and the corruptness of this world and those who did not. There will be a separation between those groups. I'm reminded of that judgment scene, of which we read in Matthew chapter 25, where Jesus comes back to judge the nations. And He will separate the good from the bad, as a shepherd would separate the sheep from the goats, the right hand from the left hand. And we, perhaps, remember that passage of Scripture; and that seems to be what takes place in heaven. There won't be any room for the bad and the negative and the ugly and the evil in heaven, but everything will be absolutely perfect and pure and holy in that heavenly throne room. One of the most common questions people ask in regards to heaven is, “Well, what will we do in heaven? What will occupy our time?” According to the book of Revelation, four things will dominate what we do. Number one, we will sing praises to God. In Revelation chapter 5, John's vision into heaven is all about singing to the Lord. In verses 8 and 9, the 4 living creatures and the 24 elders fall down before the Lamb and sing a new song. In verses 11 and 12, John saw and heard the voice of angels, too many to count, singing in a loud voice. And there is this, in verse 13: <I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them, singing: "To Him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honor and glory and power, forever and ever! Amen.”> One thing that is clear about heaven is that worship is going on right now. All of heaven is bowing down before the throne of God and singing praises to Him and to the Lamb of God, Jesus Christ himself. There is a continual worship. There is a continual praise and singing to the Lord. And that will take place forever. There is coming a time when we will join in doing that very thing. People from all around the world will come and participate in that worship assembly. We follow up Revelation chapter 5, with these words from Revelation chapter 7, verses 9 and 10. John wrote: <After this I looked and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. And they cried out in a loud voice: "Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.”> As there are too many angels to count in heaven, as we noticed in chapter 5 verse 12, so too there will be too many people to count, according to chapter 7 and verse 9. And those people will be from every tribe and language and nation and people on the face of this earth. No one knows how many that represents, but God's children from everywhere are now and will be worshiping God, singing praises to Him and offering their adoration, not only to God but also to the Lamb, Jesus Christ himself. You know, that number does not include just the 195 nations identified by the United Nations. But rather, it includes various people, groups, tribes and villages from all over this world. It includes the many ethnic groups and specific identities that we may not even know about today. We are to keep in mind that John's vision into heaven took place a long time before the United Nations was even created. Some experts estimate that the number of tribes and languages and specific groups of people throughout this world number over 13,000. That's impressive to think about, isn't it; that heaven will be filled with people from all over this world, from all different kinds of nations and tribes, speaking different languages, coming from different cultures. But one of our purposes will be to join with all of those people in celebrating our home in heaven. A second thing that we will do, according to Revelation, is that we will eat. We will eat at the banquet feast of the Lord. We read about that banquet feast in Revelation 19 and verse 9: <Then the angel said to me, "Write: Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!" And he added, "These are the true words of God."> Notice how that relates to what Jesus himself stated, in Revelation chapter 3 verse 20. His message was for the church in Laodicea, but it applies to us too. “Here I am. I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with Me.” Yes, we will be eating a great banquet feast in heaven. There is coming a time when those who belong to the Lord will enjoy that banquet feast, with Jesus as our host. And that invitation is open to all people, as we just noticed there in Revelation 3; everyone is invited. But that banquet feast is reserved for those whose names are written in the Lamb's Book of Life (Revelation 20 and verse 15). When I think about eating at that great banquet feast, I think about people I know halfway around the world; people who are of a different skin color, who have a different culture; people who speak a different language than I speak. And I think about eating that banquet feast with them, sitting across that table and sharing our stories about how we came to be a part of God's family. And Jesus is there, as our host, and we have an unending supply of food and drink that is far better than we could ever enjoy or experience here upon the earth, today. Oh, I look forward to eating at that banquet table, to experience the wedding feast of the Lord. Here is a third thing that we will do in heaven. We will be busy and active in heaven. Revelation chapter 21, verses 22 through 25, is another passage that helps us to understand our purpose. John wrote: <I did not see a temple in the city, because the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp. The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their splendor into it. On no day will its gates ever be shut, for there will be no night there.> God's glory will shine as abundant and sufficient light. There will not be a need for a temple because God and Jesus are the temple. There will not be a need for the sun or the moon or electricity or candles or any kind of man-made light. God's glory will be sufficient light. And then we notice that heaven's gates will be opened. There will be no night there. There will be no need to close the gates and to keep out everything that is bad and evil, because that won't exist in heaven, either. But the people will go in and out of that great city and carry on their activities. Some believe there will be no work there, there will only be a continual state of worship. Well indeed, there will be worship and the singing and the praising of God, as we noticed just a moment ago, but there will also be daily activity. Whatever that looks like we don't know for sure, but we will be busy in that heavenly city called heaven. We will be active and there will be things for us to do. And that leads us to the fourth thing I want to mention, in regards to our purpose in heaven; serving God will be a priority. Revelation 22 verse 3 reads like this: <“No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city and His servants will serve Him.”> And here is a similar statement from Revelation chapter 5 and verse 10: <“You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God, and they will reign on the earth.”> In heaven, we will be servants of God. We will serve at His direction. We will serve Him. We will serve others who are also in heaven, and it will be our privilege to do so. The greatest blessing any of us could ever receive today is the free gift of eternal salvation. And God gave that gift to us through the giving of His one and only son, Jesus Christ. And when we receive that free gift of salvation, it puts our name into the Lamb's Book of Life, and it gives us the assurance and the promise that we will be in heaven. And that is the greatest gift, the greatest demonstration of love God could ever have given to us. And our most natural response will be to serve Him who has so faithfully and generously loved us. Yes, our purpose will be to serve God, and that service will be in honor and in recognition of who He is, and who Jesus is, and what They have done on our behalf. Some might ask the question, “Well, doesn't that mean we don't have to do anything in heaven?” Obviously that's not right at all. Listen to these words from Revelation 14, verse 13: <Then I heard a voice from heaven say, "Write: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on." "Yes," says the Lord, "they will rest from their labor, for their deeds will follow them."> Oh, some look forward perhaps to being in heaven where they can take rest and sleep late and relax in the beauties and the glories of that heavenly city. You know, resting from our labors refers to the work we are currently doing here up on the earth. And no doubt, our days are filled with various activities and duties and responsibilities. And hopefully we are also busy in the work of the Lord, as we minister to and serve the people God puts into our life, today. But there is coming a time when those efforts will end. No more will we need to set an alarm clock and to get up and go to work. We won't be focused on making a living or taking care of our duties and responsibilities, whatever they might be, that we have today. Obviously, as we read in Revelation 14, those deeds will be recognized in a great celebration, but that does not mean we will quit and do nothing. As I mentioned in the first lesson on heaven, in that new heaven and new earth, God will make all things new (Revelation 21 verse 5). That new city will be the restoration of all things. And no doubt, we will be busy taking care of God's new creation, and it will be a joy to do so. We will be serving and acting on God's behalf. We will be busy in our daily activities of making sure that everything brings glory and honor and praise to God. Yes, the creation will be restored. Life will continue on. There will be opportunities to bless others and to care for God's new heaven and earth, as we live in that new city, the New Jerusalem that comes down; and, all of those things will be part of our service to our God. Oh, no doubt, in heaven we will have a purpose. We will have a specific identity. We will take on a new appearance. We will have a new name that ushers us into that heavenly kingdom, where we will worship God. We will eat with Jesus Christ, the Lamb, at that great wedding feast, and we will serve the Lord for all eternity. Oh, indeed, that is something to look forward to and to anticipate; and I hope you are looking forward to your time, your eternity, in heaven, as well. Well, today I want to end the very same way I ended lesson number one and that is with a question: Are you prepared to spend an eternity with the Lord in heaven? Oh, I hope, and I pray that you are. I hope you have made proper preparation, or are in the process of doing that, so that when the Lord returns you can be counted among those who belong to Him, and you can share in that eternal inheritance with the Father in that eternal city called heaven.
Thank you for tuning in to today's episode on “Key to the Kingdom.” Oh, there are many things to know and understand about heaven. My primary thought is, in every way it will be far beyond our expectation and it will be far greater than what we could ever imagine. This second lesson on heaven can be found on our website. If there are some things you want to hear again, or that will help you in doing further study, I hope you will visit us at keytothekingdom.com. In addition to this series on heaven, there are many other lessons available. Feel free to look at any which might be of interest. Keep in mind; all of them are ready to be downloaded, absolutely free. One minute daily devotional thoughts, along with two minute messages, offer an encouraging thought for the day. You might even consider our free phone app, which gives you direct access to the website. We also upload some of these messages every Sunday night onto Facebook®. I invite you to be watching for the next two lessons on heaven, which will be aired in the coming weeks. Oh, it is our pleasure to share these Bible lessons with you on a regular basis. I trust they are beneficial, as you seek to draw closer to the Lord and to learn more about His will for your life. Thank you again for being our guest today. Please consider being our guest again next week, as we continue to study about heaven, on “Key to the Kingdom."