April 25, 2014 Broadcast

Thinking of Home

A Message by R.C. Sproul

Most Christians have spent time daydreaming about heaven. We wonder how it will look when we get there, what the heroes of the faith are like, and most importantly, what it will be like when we finally meet Jesus face-to-face. Despite this daydreaming, sin and the enticements of the world often distract us from our future with God. And we need reminders to help us keep our focus on life’s ultimate destination.

From the series: Heaven

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Further Study On This Topic

  1. devotional

    Thinking of Home

  2. devotional

    Anticipating Heaven

  3. article

    Paradise Restored

Thinking of Home

Having briefly considered hell, the destiny for those who die in their sins, we will today begin a short study of heaven. Using the teaching series Heaven by Dr. R.C. Sproul, we will now look at what happens to all those who, like Sarah, die in faith (Heb. 11:13).

It would be impossible to understand the content of Christianity with any accuracy without mentioning the blessed reward awaiting all those who follow the Savior. Heaven is so important to the faith that opponents of Christian teaching have derisively said we have a “pie in the sky” religion so “heavenly minded that it is no earthly good.” Unfortunately, some believers are so focused on the afterlife that they do little to alleviate the suffering of others here and now. Of course, these misunderstand how we should prepare for heaven. All those who truly look forward to eternal life will do many good works here on earth because they know our service for God’s kingdom in the name of Jesus increases our reward (Matt. 25:14–30).

The comforts of modern society help us to ignore the glories awaiting us first in heaven, and then in the new heavens and the new earth (Rev. 21). However, Jesus considered this reward important enough to include it in His Farewell Discourse in John 14, which reminds His disciples of their place in His Father’s heavenly home. 

Before speaking of heaven, Jesus calls His disciples not to be disturbed. Instead, He tells them to believe in God and in His Son (v. 1). It is necessary for the Savior to begin here, because belief in the promises of God and the Christ is the determining factor for whether or not a person can expect to see heaven. If God is unfaithful, there could be no hope of any life after our last breath. The disciples could not be anything but troubled at the death of Jesus if no sovereign Lord exists. But since God is real, death cannot be the end of the story, and we need not fear. This is the point Jesus is making.

The Father’s existence and Christ’s trustworthiness is the basis for our belief in heaven. Our hope for future blessing is not groundless; it is established by the Almighty Himself. Because we can trust Jesus, we know He is preparing a place for us in heaven (v. 2).

Anticipating Heaven

Do I as a living, breathing, conscious person have a concrete hope for my future? What do I have to look forward to? At times, when I discover that my own spirit is sagging and a sense of heaviness intrudes on me, I sometimes wonder why the gloomy cloud is perched above my head.

Biblical eschatology gives us solid reasons for expecting a personal continuity of life. Eternal life for the individual is not an empty human aspiration built on myth, but an assurance promised us by Christ Himself. His own triumph over the grave is the church’s hope for our participation in His life.

We have heard so much ridicule and mocking about pie-in-the-sky theology that I’m afraid we’ve lost our appetite for it. What the Scriptures promise for our future involves a lot more than a perpetual visit to Mother Butler’s. Jesus Christ and Simple Simon have very little in common.

The promise of heaven is indeed gloriousa promise that not only anchors the soul but fires the soul with hope. Life is not an outrageous horror, though we witness outrages daily. The outrage is not the bottom line. The sting of death has been overcome.

The victory of Christ is not established by platitudes or conjured-up positive mental attitudes. Jesus is not the Good Humor Man. His call to joy is rooted in reality: “Be of good cheer for I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). Therein resides our future hopethat Christ has overcome the world. He stared directly into the face of death and death blinked.

Paradise Restored

Keith Mathison

Where do believers go when they die? If you ask any Christian this question, the response will likely be: “Why, they go to heaven of course.” But if you then ask them, “Where do believers go after they go to heaven?” there is a strong probability that your question will be answered with a quizzical expression of surprise. “What do you mean, where do believers go after they go to heaven? They just go to heaven, right?” Well, actually no, not according to Scripture.

According to Scripture, the soul of a believer does go to be present with the Lord in heaven when he or she dies. But this is only an intermediate state, and the intermediate state is just that — intermediate, or “in-between.” It is not the final state or the ultimate future of believers. The ultimate future of the believer is the resurrection of the body at the Second Coming of Jesus Christ (1 Cor. 15). On that glorious Day, the soul and the raised and transformed body of the believer will be one again as God originally created them to be. Not only will our bodies and souls be freed from the remnants of sin, the heavens and earth will be renewed and freed from the curse of sin as well (Rom. 8:18–25). This new earth, in which righteousness dwells, will be our home.

Modern Christian pop-eschatology has largely obscured this blessed hope by positing a rather Platonic view of the afterlife in which the souls of believers exist in an eternal state of disembodied bliss, floating among the clouds and playing harps. This has occurred because the doctrine of the resurrection of the body, which is central to Paul’s proclamation of the Gospel, and the corresponding doctrine of the new heavens and earth have not received the same attention in our preaching as they did in the preaching of the apostles.

As Paul explains so eloquently in Romans 8, our eager desire for the redemption of our bodies is intimately connected with our hope for the redemption of the entire creation from the ravages of sin. The doctrine of the new heavens and earth, then, is not a peripheral doctrine or a side-issue. It is a key element in the redemptive work of God. It defines the eternal state in which we shall live with Christ forever.

End-times doctrines are often surrounded by controversy and confusion. This should not cause believers to throw their hands up in despair. It is the hope of the editors of Tabletalk that this issue will help to rekindle the biblical hope in the hearts and minds of God’s people who live coram Deo, before the face of God.

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