Let us pray: Dear Savior, on this glorious day we thank You for giving us Your blessed gift of grace and thereby conferring upon us future sainthood. Thank You for creating a place we know as heaven. Thank You for giving us the comfort of knowing that heaven awaits us when we leave this world. Thank You for securing for us a glorious future where evil cannot touch us any longer. Today, keep us strong in the faith until we arrive and are welcomed through those pearly gates! Amen
GRACE MERCY AND PEACE ARE YOURS FROM CHRIST, THE LORD OF HEAVEN!
TEXT: Revelation 21: 3-4: “And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Now the dwelling of God is with men and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.’”
Dearly Beloved Future Saints:
Hardly a week goes by when I don’t either verbalize or silently murmer: “Lord, heaven sounds really good right now!” You see the wildfires decimating people’s lives; you see rampant corruption among the “power elite”; you see the ravages of disease such as covid variants; you see beautiful human bodies blown apart by bombs and shredded by bullets; you see the nastiness of pride and greed grinding simple folks into the dirt; O to be freed from such oppression! O to escape this sin-darkened world for heaven!
Over my years in the ministry I’ve learned a lot about heaven which is true. I’ve also been exposed to a lot of misconceptions by well-intentioned, but misinformed people. So, today as our thoughts go heavenward, it’s time to separate the wheat from the chaff.
On the most basic level, heaven is a place believers go when they die. It is a definitive place, created by God, and in it there is no evil but only never-ending bliss. We see that in our lesson from Revelation. Heaven is the absence of: crying, mourning, death, pain, and destruction. These negative emotions and circumstances will never impact the saints in heaven. They have risen above it all. It is theirs by God’s grace, His undeserved love, shown and won for us on the cross by Jesus Christ.
Heaven is described in many word pictures throughout the Bible. All are majestic and serene. You have the 23rd Psalm in which it is described in park-like terms, green, verdant, temperate, and relaxing. You have it described in Revelation 21 as a great city that glows and shimmers with God’s eternally creative light. Night is unknown in heaven, weariness is outlawed, night-time fears cease to exist. It is a great walled city with 12 gates and built on 12 layers of precious foundation stones. God’s throne is the centerpiece of it all and our blessed Savior, the Lamb, sits on that throne. His Light extends everywhere and fills each moment with joy that cannot be diminished.
In short, heaven is the best of the best. How could it be otherwise? It is God’s dwelling place. In it the “old order of things” has passed away.
Saints are believers in Christ who have fought the good fight of faith, clung to Christ in the midst of adversity, and now have received this reward of God’s blessings. They will be reunited with their bodies in the final resurrection and those bodies will be glorified. But just what does that mean? What is a glorified body? Obviously, it is one in which sin no longer dwells or affects us in any way. So, pick your affliction and imagine being without it, forever! This gives rise to much speculation on our part. What will I really look like? What age will I be? Will grandma be that old, bent-over women with deep wrinkles? Will babies still be babies with adult characteristics? When baby Isaac died a few years ago, I preached at his funeral that in heaven he will be strong, grown, and like Adam and Eve in the prime of life. He will hug his mother in his strong arms just as she hugged him as he breathed his last breath. That was Luther’s opinion, but I believe it is correct. Luther felt heavenly people would all be in the prime of life since that’s how God originally created us. Aging is not a natural product of creation, but a result of the fall into sin. So, perhaps I’ll have my hair back?!
We don’t turn into angels in heaven. They are created by God to serve Him and us. So, we’re actually more important to God than angels since He didn’t shed His blood to save them, but to redeem us. Likewise, some ask: “Can saints see their loved ones here on earth right now, or will they be able to gaze into hell from afar and see people suffering there?” Again, we’re not told. But I ask you: If mom saw your struggles right now, wouldn’t that subtract from her heavenly joy? No, saints don’t watch over us, Christ and His angels do! In any event, heaven is a totally different reality than we’re experiencing right now, so human language and concepts don’t always work to describe it. We know that from 2nd Corinthians where St. Paul was caught up into heaven via a vision and heard language spoken which is unlawful for humans to repeat on this earth. It all comes down to this: heaven is contained in God’s limitless presence and is beyond the confines of our brains in terms of truth, knowledge, love, and even life. But because we know about God in Christ and we know that He’s kind, loving, gentle, and compassionate beyond all telling, well, it sounds pretty good to me!
One of the best definitions of heaven was given to me by my sainted Greek Professor, Juul Madsen. His father was Dean Madsen of our Seminary back in the 1950’s. Once in class we got Juul on a discussion of heaven. As a little Norwegian boy, Juul loved a Norwegian game which was much like American baseball. He couldn’t imagine being in heaven and not having this game going on. His father told him: “In heaven you will have whatever it takes to make you truly happy.” I agree wholeheartedly! Of course, the caveat being: Only God knows what it will take to make you truly happy. But since our God is loving, I don’t worry about such things. And neither should you.
Therefore, on this Saint’s Triumphant Sunday, the holy ones here on earth, the saints, us, join with those in glory praising our God from whom all blessings really do flow! Amen
THE PEACE OF GOD WHICH SURPASSES ALL UNDERSTANDING WILL GUARD YOUR HEARTS AND MINDS IN CHRIST JESUS OUR LORD!