Dear Savior, today, as we contemplate heaven, give us confidence and comfort! Give us appreciation of all who now reside there. Give us joy over knowing that we will see loved ones again. And give us thankfulness that Your grace and love will not only make heaven our possession, but that You have insured that future with Your blood. Amen
GRACE MERCY AND PEACE ARE YOUR FROM CHRIST, THE LORD OF HEAVEN!
TEXT: I Thessalonians 4: 13-18
Dearly Beloved In Christ, the Lord of All Saints!
I was probably 6 years old. I sat in the pew at St. John’s and listen to Pastor Schulz preach on heaven. I was alarmed. I thought: “Heaven sounds like church. You sit around Jesus and sing hymns all the time. You don’t get to play. You don’t get to eat. No sleeping allowed.” To me, heaven sounded boring. But then I grew up and learned more about heaven. With age, it sounds more and more appealing. So, let’s talk about heaven on this Saints Triumphant Sunday.
When you die, what happens to you? Earthly speaking, your body is buried in a grave and your eternal soul goes to heaven to await judgement day when both will be reunited. It is a lot like a really long nap, or a sleep, as Paul points out. That’s earthly speech describing an eternal reality. And we all “get” it.
Now, let’s talk in eternal terms. Heaven is a totally different reality than anything on this earth. Here we’re bound by time and space, whereas in heaven there is no time or space as we understand it. It is non-time. So, since God is not governed by time, when you die you are transported into eternality. Everything is instantaneous. Judgement day occurs for you and everyone else who has ever lived or will ever live—instantaneously! We won’t even realize any time differential between our souls waiting for our bodies to be resurrected. It will just be.
In heaven you will have whatever it takes to be truly happy. We think we know what form that would take now, but remember, this is a new reality, and God alone knows the key to your contentment. So, we leave it up to Him. Scripture uses word pictures to paint heaven in ways we can grasp a little of it and be content, but in reality it is far beyond all that. So, think of the “green pastures” of Ps. 23, the huge banquet where all will sit with Christ and enjoy it—without any prep, clean-up, or eating too much! Think of the 12 foundation stones of heaven, layers of beauty that shine and glow. Think of its roads paved with gold. Think of angel choirs, the music of the trumpets and orchestras, all calming yet stirring our souls. Think of angels serving you and keeping your personal mansion spotlessly clean. Think of total freedom, forever, from tears, crying, mourning, and pain. Think of never getting tired by being bathed by God’s shining light and being delighted by the amazing colors that such light reveals. A feast for the body, the eye, the ear, the touch, the taste buds, the soul!
In heaven we will not age and suffer all that comes with it. Remember, we’re now in eternality. We will be strong, vibrant, and healthy. We will possess perfect, glorified bodies like Adam and Eve when God created them. Dr. Luther once opined that in heaven we will not be infants, if that’s how you died, or old people bent by the ravages of sin—if that’s when you departed earth. From Genesis, Luther determined God created humans at their zenith age wise. So, you’ll be around 30 with all the vitality that goes with it. But you’ll also possess the wisdom and patience that age brings.
In heaven, leaving it up to God to decide because He knows your heart better than you do, you’ll possess whatever it takes to make you truly happy. When Luther’s daughter, Magdalen, lay dying, the Rev. Doctor asked her what she wanted in heaven. She had a pony that she loved, so Luther reminded her that that pony would be waiting for her! Personally, I find great joy in knowing that I’ll have (at least) 6 dogs awaiting my arrival! I can visualize them right now with my father’s dog, Heather, in a circle around my dad, waiting for him to dole out treats! Yes, heaven is where the heart is, and God alone warms and uplifts the heart.
My father-in-law, the Rev. Gerhard Weseloh, lay dying in the hospital. He gathered the 7 children around him and asked them: “What musical instrument do you want me to have waiting for you in heaven?” They all gave him their favorite. The only boy wanted “drums” to his life-long chagrin! (That’s one where perhaps God will have to step in and fix it!) The point being: God will provide, without ceasing, the best of the best when it comes to happiness and joy! Heaven is the ultimate happy place because in it there is no sin or consequences of sin. For Christ, being perfect God, has swallowed up sin and death in His victory over the grave—all for us. In death we leave behind our reality and enter His.
So it is for all the Saints Triumphant—right this instant! Christ’s gift of grace, of undeserved love, has made it so. And that is why “boredom” doesn’t exist in heaven and the word is never and can never be uttered by any saint.
With all this in mind, listen to Paul anew and be comforted. “Brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep, or to grieve like the rest of me, who have no hope. We believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. According to the Lord’s own word, we tell you that we who are alive, who are left till the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord Himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage each other with these words.”
Isn’t it fun to speculate on what awaits us? It’s hard to imagine a life without any taint of evil affecting us ever again. But it certainly lifts our spirit, doesn’t it? And best of all, it’s not idle talk, it’s God’s eternal truth. The Lamb of God has sealed it with blood and confirmed it with Life after the grave. Is heaven boring? Hardly…..Amen THE PEACE OF GOD WHICH……
Pastor Thomas H. Fox