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Faithlife

Promises From God

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On the
Chapter 18
On the
Other Side
Do you remember this prayer?
John 14:1–6 NIV
“Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.” Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?” Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
(General)
Do you remember this prayer?
Do you remember this prayer?
Now I lay me down to sleep,
I pray the Lord my soul to keep;
If I should die before I wake;
I pray the Lord my soul to take.
Children have been praying that prayer for centuries. It may be the first prayer you remember praying other than the meal-time
prayer:
God is great,
God is good,
Let us thank him for this food.
Even as a child, the former prayer moved your thoughts from this world to another world: a mysterious world, a world framed by time known as eternity—a world that, for people of faith in Jesus Christ, is called heaven. When those we know and love pass from this world to the next, it moves us to seriously contemplate where we are going. Our eyes and ears are more focused when the hand of death claims those who have been such a significant part of our world.

First, Remember God Has a Place for You.

John 14:2 NIV
My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you?
I. Existence
A poll taken by CNN in recent years found that 81 percent of the American public believes there is a place called heaven. This is unusual in that there are so many things to interrupt our thinking and planning for the next world. One Christian theologian called it “the dimming of heaven.” Our belief in heaven has been dimmed by life, life gets in the way. But the Bible mentions heaven 550 times. Twice Jesus called it a “place” in . It is a location. It translates the Greek word topos from which we get our word topography. It is not a state of mind. It is not an abstraction. It is not a foggy, wishful sentiment. When Jesus taught us to pray what we commonly call “The Lord’s Prayer,” he did not say, “Our Father, who art in a state of mind or condition.”
What is heaven like? After defecting to the United States, Orestes Lorenze Perez knew he had to rescue his family from Cuba. So one Saturday afternoon, flying low in a borrowed Cessna to avoid radar, he swooped down into Cuba, past his former neighborhood, and landed in traffic on a coastal road. His family ran to the plane, and they were soon leaving the Cuban shore, en route to freedom.
His wife, Victoria, had waited patiently. But it was hard. Going to America seemed to her like going to “heaven:” “When I saw the plane, I screamed to my children. ‘That’s your father!’ I grabbed both of them and we ran,” she said. As they ran, one of the kids lost a shoe. “Forget the shoe!” Victoria screamed. “Father is in the plane!”
After two years of separation, the family had been reunited. To Victoria and Orestes, their new home in America is like heaven: a place of freedom, a place where they can realize their dreams.
For Victoria, America had been a vague reality. She knew her husband was there and it would be better there, but she had few details to make it real in her heart. For us, heaven is often vague. As America was for Victoria, heaven remains a distant dream. But God in his wisdom and grace gives us some perspective for life on the other side.

Remember God Has a Plan for You

II. Experiences
When we become convinced by the authority of Scripture and the promises of God that there is a heaven, what are some of the experiences of the other side? In the Family Circus cartoon, the older sister is pictured reading a book that looks like a Bible to two of her younger brothers. She states, “Heaven is a great big hug that lasts forever.”
Heaven is difficult for us to comprehend because no human has ever been there and back to tell us about it. Some have made it so unrealistic by speculation about sensual pleasure, nature themes, or even endless perfect rounds of golf on a championship course. Questions do arise in our mind. They
are normal.
Possibly the question that is most frequently asked is, Will we know our loved ones and one another in heaven? In a number of places, Scripture indicates the answer is yes. One of these is at the Mount of Transfiguration. Peter, James, and John immediately recognized Moses and Elijah, even though both had lived nearly one thousand years before them (). In the story of the rich man and Lazarus (), the rich man could remember, reason, talk, communicate, and even feel concern.
The apostle Paul, writing to the believers in Thessalonica, describes heaven in these terms: “For what is our hope, our joy, or the crown in which we will glory in the presence of our Lord Jesus when he comes? Is it not you? Indeed, you are our glory and joy” (). Paul expected to see and recognize those he had led to faith and discipled. He expected them to recognize him. Since we know one another here, can we not expect to know more completely when we are made perfect?
The apostle Paul, writing to the believers in Thessalonica, describes heaven in these terms: “For what is our hope, our joy, or the crown in which we will glory in the presence of our Lord Jesus when he comes? Is it not you? Indeed, you are our glory and joy” (). Paul expected to see and recognize those he had led to faith and discipled. He expected them to recognize him. Since we know one another here, can we not expect to know more completely when we are made perfect?
And, oh, yes, the Bible records that we will have a name in heaven: “The general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven” ( KJV).
We go to heaven as the children of God. In heaven, we will have a perfect family. Our relationships will never be strained; there will be no disruption, no bitterness, no disagreements. We will live in perfect harmony in the family of God.
We go to heaven as the children of God. We’ll be career singles but we are in a family. In heaven, we will have a perfect family. Our relationships will never be strained; there will be no disruption, no bitterness, no disagreements. We will live in perfect harmony in the family of God.
People have often wondered what age we will be in heaven. Will we be the same age as we were at the time of our death on earth? Does a baby grow up? Does a teenager get an adult body? Does a senior body, crippled by age and disease, get retrofitted with a youthful body? It has been suggested that we will be the same age as Jesus when he finished his assignment on earth and ascended into heaven. That seems to be reflected in these words: “But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is” (). We cannot verify that, but we can be sure that there will be no age in heaven as age implies aging. There will be no growing older in heaven. “For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality” ().
Some people wonder if we will be able to see what’s going on in planet earth from heaven. There is no evidence that this is true, but neither can it be ruled out. Erwin Lutzer tells of a seven-year-old girl in the Moody church who asked her father, “Can we ask Jesus to get a message to Grandpa?” He was caught somewhat by surprise but realized there was nothing in his theology that would cause him to say no. So he responded, “Yes, that might be possible; let’s tell Jesus what we want Grandpa to know.”
We might not be sure whether Jesus gave the message to Grandpa, but we must agree that this little girl’s theology was better than that of millions of other people in the world. She knew that although we might pray to Jesus to get a message to Jesus, those in heaven cannot communicate with us.

Remember, God Has a Purpose for You.

There will be nothing to mar the joy of heaven. There will be no remodeling, recalls, repentance, reprimands, resentments, revenge, or regrets in heaven. C. S. Lewis once suggested that if hell could inject regret into heaven, it would mean that hell had won after all. Heaven is perfection. Everything God does is complete and exquisite.
We do know there are some things God will not allow on the other side. We might call them the exceptions. tells us what is absent in heaven. Death is gone. Tears are gone. Crying is gone. Pain is gone. Sin is gone. It is totally absent. Gone are murderers, unbelievers, those who are sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and liars. There will be no sun or moon. Jesus Christ and the Father are the luminaries (). There is no night there—nothing to eclipse the light of the universe or shadow his splendor. There will be no curse on the other side. That which has troubled mankind from early in creation will be lifted, never to trouble us again.
IV. Essence
But the very essence of the other side is to see Jesus face-to-face. says, “They will see his face.” Have you ever wondered what Jesus looked like? Ever wondered what it would be like to be near the King of glory? Moses asked to see God, but God did not reveal his face to Moses. God said, “You cannot see my face, for no one may see me and live” (). But on the other side, we will have that face-to-face privilege to see our eternal Father. In the circle of time encased in the circuit of eternity, we will behold him.
The important question for every living person is, How do I get to the other side, to heaven? The world offers many roads, but Scripture points out only one way: “I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved” ().
James Dobson tells about talking to his seventeen-year-old son, Ryan, about the sudden death of their friend, Pete Maravich, one of basketball’s greatest players. Pete came late to Christ, but he came strong.
We must all face death sooner or later in one way or another … Sooner or later you will get the kind of phone call Mrs. Maravich received today … I don’t know if I’ll have an opportunity to give you my “last words” so let me express them to you right now. Freeze frame this moment in your mind and hold on to it for the rest of your life. My message to you is be there! Be there to meet your mother and me in heaven. We will be looking for you on that resurrection morning. Don’t let anything deter you from keeping that appointment … his is the only thing of real significance in your life. I care what you accomplish in the years to come, and I hope you make good use of the great potential the Lord has given you. But above every other purpose and goal, the only thing that really matters is that you determine now to be there!
The “other side,” where Jesus Christ is awaiting us, is glorious. Don’t miss it. Take comfort that because of him and his sacrificial death on the cross, there’s more—much more—to come.
Henry, Jim. A Minister’s Treasury of Funeral & Memorial Messages. Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2003. Print.
Exported from Logos Bible Software, 11:44 AM June 15, 2017.
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