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Heavenly Mindset (Colossians Sermon 10 of 21)

Heavenly Mindset (Colossians Sermon 10 of 21)

November 11, 2007 | Andy Davis
Colossians 3:1-4
Joy, Spiritual Warfare, Heaven

I don't know if you can tell, but I'm just excited to preach on this text today. I said that to someone this morning and they said, "Well, you were excited last week." I was. That is true. But I'm excited this week too. Because I think there are few texts in the Bible that have the power to make us happy like this one does today. And I think there is great value in being happy in Jesus. That we would rejoice in what God is giving us, and that we would look forward to with great anticipation. That there would be delight in our hearts today as a result of the promises of One who cannot lie and who cannot break his promise and there is no power in heaven or on earth or under the earth great enough to cause God to forget us or to break His promises. And so this has tremendous power to give us strength and energy and, yes, happiness and joy in Christ. 

It was at the end of the first century, on the Lord's Day, the apostle John, exiled on the Isle of Patmos, was worshiping the Lord in the Spirit and he heard behind him a voice, and he turned around and saw a vision of the resurrected Christ in heavenly glory, unlike he had ever seen Him in His days on earth. There was radiance, a heavenly glory, shining all around the Son of Man. And His eyes were like flaming fire and His feet like burnished bronze. And He just moved through these seven golden lampstands, ministering to the local churches, the seven churches of Asia. And later on, after the messages to those seven churches, the apostle John heard Jesus, the same One that he saw, give him a heavenly invitation. John saw a door standing open in heaven, and Jesus commanded him, "Come up here, and I will show you what must soon take place."

I think that the Lord is giving us the same invitation today, in a different way, but the same invitation today as we look at Colossians 3:1-4. I believe that in the Spirit, the Lord Jesus Christ is inviting His people, in their hearts by faith, by trusting in the promises of God to, "Come up here." And to have a vision in our minds of a heavenly throne and the One who sits on it, One who rules over heaven and earth, One whose purposes cannot be thwarted. “All the peoples of the earth are regarded as nothing. He does as He pleases with the powers of heaven and the peoples of the earth. No one can hold back His hand or say to Him, ‘What have you done?’” And this is the One who is inviting us to come up into the heavenly realms and spend eternity with Him. What could be better than that?

 So my desire today is to just help you obey the text, to help you set your hearts on things above, to make you heavenly minded. If you have a tendency toward a dour face today, I am just urging that your faith would identify with your face and I would be able to see it. I could see some happiness and some joy, because God is going to be promising you some things today, He has already promised them. He is most certainly going to fulfill them. We have before us, joy in the text. I want to take you on a, basically a journey in heaven through the preaching and through faith and through the Word of God. My desire is that you would be happy in Jesus so that you can be holy in Jesus and so that you can be fruitful in Jesus. 

Blaise Pascal said, "All men seek happiness, this is without exception." You here today, you have in common with every other person sitting in this room today, and in fact with people all over the world, if Blaise Pascal is right, and I think he is, you want to be happy. You want to be joyful. It unites the human race. The problem is, we do not really know how to get there. We do not know how to be happy. We do not know what is going to make us happy. I think the Scripture testifies in Colossians 3 some very clear pathways, a clear pathway, to true, lasting happiness and health and fruitfulness in Christ, and it begins with heavenly mindedness.

Let me ask you a question. If this afternoon, the Lord gave you the blessing of one hour walking in the heavenly Jerusalem, looking around and seeing the beauty and perfection of that place, and seeing a vision of God sitting on His throne and seeing those that are already there, and you spent one hour in heaven, when you came back, do you think you would be any different? Do you think you will really care who won the national championship? Do you think it will really matter to you who gets the promotion or who gets the credit for a ministry in church? Do you think any of those things would matter? Would not those things just slip away from your consciousness as though they were the nothings they really are? Heavenly mindedness is the key to happiness and fruitfulness in the Christian life. Now I want to set this thing in context. Colossians 3 just gives a pathway I have mentioned to health, happiness, and fruitfulness in the Christian life.

We just finished in Colossians 2, looking at the heresy and false teaching that was occurring. The false teachers were giving them the idea that Jesus' death on the cross was insufficient for them; Jesus' ministry then was not enough. They had to add human philosophy, they had to add Jewish legalism, and they had to add worship of angels, mysticism, that kind of thing. And they had to add asceticism, the harsh treatment of the body. He ends up Colossians 2 by basically saying this: All of that, not just the asceticism but all of it, lacks any value in restraining sensual indulgence; it is not going to lead to holiness. But then we go into chapter three, and in effect, he is saying, "But I'll show you something that does not lack value in restraining sensual indulgence. I will show you the power for true holiness and fruitfulness." And so we get these 17 verses, Colossians 3:1-17. And I'm just going to give you an overview of the section. We are only looking today at four verses, but I want to give you a sense of where we are going over the next number of weeks.

I. Elements of a Happy, Fruitful Christian Life

The first element of a happy, fruitful, Christian life, verses one through four, is a heavenly mindset. That's today. We are going to talk about a heavenly mindset, seeking things above, thinking about things to come, understanding our past- dead with Christ, raised with Christ. Understanding our present, that Christ is our life and He is at the right hand of God. Understanding our future that someday Jesus is coming back and He will appear as He is, a radiant and glorious King, and He will reign for ever and ever, and at that point we will appear with Him in glory. Think about those things, seek them. Have a heavenly mindset. Secondly, in verses five through nine, he gives us vigorous warfare against sin. We are to put to death all earthly sins, sexual immorality, and idolatries, and relational sins like anger and pride and selfishness and lying. We are to put all those things to death. If you want to be happy and fruitful in the Christian life, you have to go to war. There is no other way, you have to put on your spiritual armor every day and you have to go to war. And so, you have to have a vigorous warfare against sin, you have to break hold of the old habits that you have built up over years, habits of sin.

Thirdly, that we are going to walk together in a new kind of community. You are going to walk in the new self that we have in Christ, and you are not the only person who has a new self, there are other people with a new self. And we are going be in a whole new different kind of way of relating with other people in a Christian community called the church. We are going to understand what that means concerning the old self versus the new self in Christ. We are going to talk about the new community that there is here, a place where distinctions like Jew and Gentile, circumcised, “uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave” and free, none of those things mean anything, ultimately. Those distinctions don't mean anything. We're in a community of people who love Jesus, and we are going learn to walk together in newness of life, in compassion and kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. We are going to learn how to forgive each other completely, from the heart, walking together in community with other Christians.

And fourth, for our own personal hearts, we are going to have our hearts saturated with Christ, verses 15 through 17. The peace of Christ ruling in our hearts, the Word of Christ, richly dwelling in our hearts, the name of Christ, motivating everything we do in our hearts and with our bodies. And then we will give thanks to Christ, constantly, from the heart. You want to know how to be healthy and holy and happy in the Christian life? Do this. I would suggest you memorize Colossians 3:1-17, because herein lay the keys to the rest of your life. This is a happy and fruitful Christian life and, brothers and sisters, it begins with a heavenly mindset, verses one through four. I hope you don't mind if I go ahead and read these verses again. These are some of my favorite verses in all of Scripture. Colossians 3:1-4, "Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For, you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory."

 II.  Heavenly Mindset

So we have, friends, a present duty. It is a sweet duty, it is a delicious duty, it is delightful, but it is a duty, a responsibility. And that is, we are to seek heaven, we are to think heaven every single day. These are two key verbs, NIV has, "Set your hearts on things above," but the Greek is really just "seek", "Seek the things that are above." And it also gives us, "set our minds on things above or things to come."

So the question here before you is, "What are you seeking in life? What do you want? What are you yearning for?" The heart is a desire factory, so we're told. What do you desire? This tells you that you should be seeking the things above. And what do you think about? What do you set your mind on? What do you meditate on every day? What's dominating your thoughts? The happy, healthy, holy Christian life begins with mind control. That sounds a little scary, doesn't it, a little ominous- mind control. But it's something you're doing, by the power of the Spirit. You're learning to control how you think. No, this is not a cult. If we have any visitors here, don't worry, this is not a strange, bizarre cult. We are not into electrodes coming from the brain and all that, we are not trying to dominate or control people's minds. You are supposed to do that by the power of the Spirit.

Set your hearts on it, set you minds on it. It says in Romans 8: "Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace. The sinful mind is hostile to God; it does not submit to God's law, nor can it do so." Just as in Romans 8, so also here in Colossians 3, the key is controlling your thought life. And so Paul gives us two positive things and one thing negatively. Positively, we are to focus on things above and things to come. The present heavenly realities of a spiritual world that surrounds us and a future world that is yet to come in the promises of God and the plans of God. So that's our positive duty. That is the now and the not yet of our meditation. There are certain things that are going on right now, think about them. There are certain things that are yet to come in the promises of God, think about them, seek them positively. So we are to set our minds on those things.

Negatively, we are not to be thinking about earthly things. So there is the command, positively think about things above and things to come, negatively, not earthly things. Now, let's talk about the first, things above. Look at verse one, "Set your hearts on things above where Christ is seated at the right hand of God." This is Christ's present kingly rule. Christ has ascended to heaven and He sits at the right hand of Almighty God. He sits enthroned there. He is the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords. He rules over all things for His own glory. He is a King. And God the Father, having seated Jesus at his right hand, it says in Psalm 110:1, is determined to crush all of Christ's enemies. It says in Psalm 110:1, "The Lord says to my lord, sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet."

And so that's going on- the throne of God, the seat of power, the very thing that John saw when he came through that heavenly door. He goes through the heavenly door and there is a throne with someone seated on it, and there is God Almighty and Jesus at the right hand of God. And so we see the kingly rule, His sovereignty. Set your minds on it, seek it. Think about it, about the reign of Christ as king. But also we have His priestly ministry as well. He is not just a king up there on the throne, but He also carries on constantly a priestly ministry for His people. He is our great high priest and that ministry is going on constantly. And you need it constantly and so do I. We need His constant priestly ministry and it is going on. It says in Hebrews 1:3, "After Christ had provided purification for sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven." And it says in Hebrews 8:1 and 2, "We do have such a high priest, who sat down at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven, and who serves, [present tense] serves in the sanctuary, the true tabernacle set up by the Lord, not by man." The earthly temple, the earthly tabernacle, was a shadow and an image of a heavenly reality. The heavenly reality is the place where Jesus, the true high priest, carries on His priestly ministry. And it's going on right now, and it is a perfect ministry. He is ministering His own blood, shed once for all, for His people. One time He offered His body as a sacrifice, but forever He ministers the effects of His blood, and so He is a priest offering up His own blood as a sacrifice. He also is interceding for us. He's constantly praying for you and me. Now I think it's important for pastors to pray for the church. I think it's vital for us to pray for each other. We're commanded to do that, to lift up prayers in intercessory ministry for each other.

Samuel said, "Far be it from me that I should sin against the Lord by failing to pray for you." And so it's a vital ministry that pastors have and that we have for each other, to pray for each other. Let me tell you something, you have 100% prayer coverage all the time, whether somebody's praying for you or not. Because Jesus, it says, is at the right hand of God and is interceding for us. It says in Hebrews 7:24 and 25, "Because Jesus lives forever, He has a permanent priesthood. And therefore He is able to save completely those who come to God through Him, because He always lives to intercede for them." He is able to save you to the uttermost and not one of you listening to me this morning is done being saved. You may be justified, but you are not done being saved. And so Jesus is praying for you, like He does for Simon Peter, that your faith may not fail. And He continues to pray for you and He upholds you constantly at the right hand of God. Set your mind on that. Say, "I am well loved. My sins are completely covered by the blood of Jesus. My life is completely covered by the intercessory ministry of Christ." Set your heart on it. Jesus is King, sovereignly ruling over the world for your benefit and for mine.

He is also a great high priest at the right hand of God and is interceding for us constantly. Set your thoughts on that, Christ ruling over all things. Ephesians 1 says that God raised Christ “from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age but also in the age to come. And God placed all things under His feet and appointed Him to be head over everything for the Church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills everything in every way”. Set your heart on things above. They are going on right now. Jesus rules sovereignly right now. He is a priest for you right now.

But there is another aspect of things you are to seek, and that is the things to come. It's not just the present heavenly reality that you cannot see with your eyes or sense, but there is also the future world yet to come, and oh, is it glorious. If I could just have a gift, if it weren't me you were listening to today but maybe Charles Spurgeon, or maybe Martin Lloyd Jones or one of those great preachers of the past, but you have me instead, so you'll have to do with me. And it's my job this morning to depict just how glorious is the world yet to come, and how attractive, and how much you should want to be there, and how excited you should be that every single day brings you closer and closer to it.

Oh, that's my precious responsibility today, things to come, Christ's future rule. Christ's second coming in the clouds. He will come again, and He will reign forever and ever. And He will destroy the anti-Christ. And He will destroy Satan and all of his power. And He will destroy all of His enemies. And He will rule. And Christ will sit on the throne, and on Judgment Day, He will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.

All of that's yet to come, but best of all after that comes the new heaven and the new earth, a home of righteousness, the eternal state is yet to come. And so you should set your minds on these things, the present spiritual world that surrounds us, the future world to come depicted in the promises of God, not on earthly things. And how much do they crowd in every day? How much do they press in and seek to dominate your thoughts and clamor for your attention, the things of this earth tied to this present earthly system?

Certainly, this would include wickedness and lust and sin. We should not be setting our minds on those things, certainly not. It says in 1 John 2, "Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For everything in the world, the lust of the eyes and the lust of the flesh and the boastful pride of life, comes not from the Father, but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but he who does the will of God lasts forever."

So we are not to be putting our minds on the lust of the eyes and the lust of the flesh and pride of life, but I think it actually goes beyond that. We shouldn't have an over preoccupation even with the good gifts of God in this life. The good things that He's given us, food and clothing and shelter, and even a godly spouse and children of our heart that we love, that we should not be overly preoccupied on our earthly relationships with them. Earthly hobbies, like sports and entertainment and travel, political events, elections, the rise and fall of the world. Current events, CNN, New York Times, whatever has pushed its way to be the number one lead story on tonight's news. Don't be overly preoccupied with these things.

I'm not saying we have our head in the sand that we don't know what's going on, I'm just saying, don't set your heart on it. Don't let it dominate your mind. Even the good things of a godly family, the apostle Paul says in a very interesting way, 1 Corinthians 7:29-32, he says, "What I mean, brothers, is that the time is short. From now on... " By the way, if the time was short then, it's shorter now. [chuckle] I mean, that was 2000 years ago, so it's really short now what was short then. So the time is short, friends. "From now on, those who had wives should live as if they had none."

Now, husbands, don't misunderstand. [laughter] Please, still buy something for your wife on your anniversary. Please still be kind to her and love her, don't ignore her. If she starts showing the wedding ring, “remember we're married here,” you've gone too far. But there's an aspect here of what he is saying, "Those who have wives should live as if they had none, and those who mourn, as if they did not, and those who are happy, as if they were not, and those who buy something, as if it were not theirs to keep, and those who use the things of this world, as if not engrossed by them. For this world in its present form is passing away." The very thing John said about the lust of the world, Paul says here about the good gifts of the world. They're passing away in their present form.

So don't build your life on them. They are temporary, all of them. Set your hearts on things above, set your hearts on things to come, not on earthly things. We have a rich inheritance, the new heaven and the new earth. Fill your mind with biblical data, biblical text, one after the other of what that world is going to be like, what kind of existence we will have, feed your faith and your hope and the promises of God, and this greatly glorifies God when you live for it, when you yearn for it every day.

Hebrews 11 talks about Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, who had strong faith in the promises of God, and it celebrates that in Hebrews 11:13-16.  It says, "All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance, admitting that they were aliens and strangers in the world." That's what you are. This is not your home. You don't have any permanent dwelling here. We're just passing through. You may be walking through a corridor that is well decorated with a plush carpet under your feet, or you may be walking through a corridor that looks like a bomb hit it, but either way you're walking through a corridor and the next world is the one that will last forever. It's not your home, and these folks, they were aliens and strangers on earth.

People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. If they have been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return, instead they were longing for a better country, a heavenly one, and therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God for he has prepared a place for them.” Are you longing for a better country? Are you longing for a heavenly one? Well, then God's not ashamed to be called your God. He's prepared a place for you. 

And Jesus openly commanded this heavenly mindedness. He said in Matthew 6 in The Sermon on the Mount, "Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and thieves break in and steal. But store for yourselves treasures in heaven where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal, for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." What is Jesus getting at? He wants your heart on things to come. He wants your heart on heaven, not on anything you can store up or accumulate in this life.

How do we do it? Well, think about your past, our past. We died. We died, and we rose with Christ spiritually. We are united with Him by faith. Look at verse three. It says, "For you died." Look back at verse one, "Since, then, you have been raised with Christ.” “So you died,” verse three. "You have been raised with Christ," verse one. This is speaking of our spiritual union with Christ through faith. Once for all eternity through faith, we heard and believe the gospel of our salvation through faith in Jesus Christ. We were one with Him. His death became our death, His resurrection, our resurrection. This is our position in Christ and nothing can change it, friends. Forever, we are united with Christ. We died, we rose. That is our past position and our present position by faith in Christ. Through Christ's death, we have been united with Him.

What about present? Well, Christ, therefore, is our life. Look at verse three. "Your life," it says, "is now hidden with Christ in God." Look at verse four, "When Christ who is your life appears." Your life is hidden with Christ. He is your life. My friends, preaching is not my life. Engineering in the past wasn't my life. My family, as much as I love them, they're not my life. Money is not my life. My hobbies and interests are not my life. Christ is my life, and yours too if you have been raised with Christ. He is your life and that is a present reality. And where Christ is seated, therefore, is our true home. And to some degree, we are away from home right now.

We yearn to be with Him because He is our true Home. He is in heaven at the right hand of God and so, in some sense, are we. And notice the word "hidden". Our life is “hidden with Christ in God.” It doesn't appear the way it really is. We do not appear like what we really are. We really are children of God, but we don't appear that way. We appear rather homely, no offense. We appear like age is taking its toll on some of us, some more than others. Again, no offense. We appear mixed because that's what we are, but we really are the children of God and our appearance is deceiving.

And it says in 1 John 3, "Behold what manner of love the father has given us that we should be called children of God. And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Beloved, 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 will be like him for we shall see him as he is.” Our life is hidden with Christ and so therefore we do not appear as what we really are.

But what is our future? Well, in verse four it says "Christ will appear and we will appear with him in glory." Our future is glory. And so therefore, our present life hidden with Christ and by the way, please don't misunderstand about that hidden life. I'm not talking to you, friends, about a double life. I'm not talking about a shameful, hidden, secret life of sin that you would be ashamed to have projected up on these screens here before the Family of God. I'm not talking about skeletons in the closet and dark habits that you don't want anyone to know about. I'm not talking about that kind of hidden life. I'm talking about a hidden life with Christ of absolute purity, which will not be fully revealed until Christ comes back. That's the hidden life I'm talking about, the hidden life of a Christian.

So look at verse four, "When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory." You are coming back with Jesus. We are coming back with Jesus. We are going to be there, friends. Revelation 19, there's a clear depiction of the Second Coming of Christ. And Jesus is on a white horse and He has a name written on Him known only to He Himself. And He has written on His thigh and on the hem of His garment, King of Kings and Lord of Lords. And He is riding back, I think, at the pinnacle of the anti-Christ's attack on the earth. And He is coming back to destroy the anti-Christ with the breath of His mouth, and to slay him with the splendor of His coming. And it says that He rides in front of the armies of heaven dressed in pure white. That is us and the angels.

Now, if that isn't overkill, I don't know what is. The Son of God is coming with all the angels of heaven against the anti-Christ and his little army. We are going to be there though. And it says in 1 Thessalonians 4, don't be dismayed about those who die in the faith and grieve like those 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 with Him. They're coming back, “according to the Lord's own word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left to the coming of the Lord will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with the voice of the archangel, 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 together with them.”

We will all be there and we are coming back to set up an eternal kingdom on earth. We will be there and so therefore “when Christ, who is your life [finally] appears” as He really is, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, not riding on a little donkey this time coming into Jerusalem. He's riding back on a charger for war. He's coming back to establish a Kingdom and to finish the cleansing of the earth. We will be there. And so therefore, “when Christ who is our life appears, then we will appear with him in glory.” We will finally look like what we really are spiritually. We will be glorious. We are not just going to see glory, friends, we are going to be glory. Our bodies are going to be transformed. Philippians 3:21, "They will be made like his glorious body." Not corrupt anymore, not diseased, not fatigued. “They will be made like his glorious body.” And Jesus said then the righteous will shine like the sun in the Kingdom of their Father. That's our future. That's our future.

III. Heaven Revealed

Now, heaven, I believe, is greatly misunderstood. Since heaven does not appear to us, heaven must be revealed to us. And the only place it is going to be revealed to us in this present world order is in the Scriptures. So we have to go to the Scriptures and find out what heaven is going to be like. Randy Alcorn wrote a whole book called "Heaven", specifically for the purpose of teaching the church what heaven is going to be like. And he relates a conversation that he had with a pastor who confessed to him, "Whenever I think about heaven, it makes me depressed. I'd rather just cease to exist when I die." Alcorn said, "Why?" The pastor answered, "I can't stand the thought of that endless tedium to float around in the clouds with nothing to do, but strum a harp. It's all so terribly boring. Heaven doesn't sound much better than hell. I'd rather be annihilated than spend eternity in a place like that."

Now, at least he vocalizes it, but some Christians actually feel that. They think, "You know, I'm kind of iffy about what that's going to be like. I mean I like the song, ‘Amazing Grace’ and all, but I don't want to be there 10,000 years, bright shiny as the sun and sing nothing but ‘Amazing Grace’. Can we at least have some different songs?" Oh, but things will be different then. We will love “Amazing Grace” so much that when we have been there 10,000 years, bright shining as the sun, it won't matter to us that we have no less days. “That sounds like a lobotomy to me. It sounds like something different. I don't know that I want to do that forever and ever and ever and ever and ever and ever and ever and ever and ever.” And so some people get discouraged about heaven of all things. Do you not see the hand of Satan in all that? Whoever talked about floating around ethereally in some cloud, as you're some out-of-body person, strumming on a harp and singing a song that you never really liked that much here, but you're going to be singing it, and you are going to like it in heaven? That is not what the Bible says.

First of all, let's get rid of that out-of-body thing. We will have bodies, friends. Made like him, like him we will rise and we will be in a glorious resurrection body and a body must be in a place. So there's going to be a place called the New Heaven and the New Earth. We are going to live there. That's the future so we need some true teaching about heaven. Alcorn relates in his book Mark Twain's poor view of heaven, no surprise there. In his book, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, he said the Christian spinster Miss Watson was taking a dim view of Huck's fun loving spirit. "That's not how you get to heaven.’ And according to Huck, she went on and told me all about the good place. She said, ‘All the body would have to do there was to go around all day long with a harp and sing forever and ever.’ So I didn't think much of it.” [chuckle] “I asked her if she reckoned Tom Sawyer would go there and she said, ‘Not by a considerable sight.’ I was glad about that because I wanted him and me to be together.” [chuckle] Well, that's a way a lot of non-Christians think about the afterlife. This is not a sermon about hell, but it is a sermon about heaven. And clearly, Mark Twain doesn't have the first idea what God has prepared for those who love Him. Too many people have a gross misunderstanding of our heavenly future, and I think it's because they haven't had good teaching on it.

John Calvin, for some reason in all of his careful Bible study, never did a commentary on the Book of Revelation, which has the clearest depictions of heaven. Theologian Reinhold Niebuhr, he wrote an in-depth two volume study entitled, The Nature and Destiny of Man, and never mentioned heaven. How do you do that? William Shedd's three volume Dogmatic Theology has 87 pages on eternal punishment and two pages on heaven. In his 900 page theological work, Great Doctrines of the Bible, even Martin Lloyd Jones devoted less than two pages to the eternal state and a new earth. Louis Berkhof's classic Systematic Theology, listen to this, devotes 38 pages to creation, 40 pages to baptism and communion, 15 pages to the intermediate state, which is what happens after you die but before the resurrection, 15 pages on it, two pages on hell and one on heaven.

Now you might think all these godly men, these great teachers of the Bible, they must be onto something. They must not be very much in the Bible about heaven. Nothing can be further from the truth. There is a river of information from the prophets and from the apostles. Some people quote a verse taken out of context and they quote it too short, you know how it happens. They take the verse out of context and they quote it too short, they stop short. And the verse I have in mind is 1 Corinthians 2:9, it says, "No eye has seen, no ear has heard. Neither has it entered into the heart of man what God has prepared for those who love Him." Well, that shuts it right there. There is nothing more to talk about, is there? We can't know anything about heaven, is that what the verse says? Let's put it in context. 1 Corinthians 1 and 2 are talking about the limitations of human philosophy to discern what God is doing in the world. There is a limit to what the human brain can come up with, and for the most part, we're wrong, we're off. So that's the context, and they stop too short. Let me read the full verse, "No eye has seen, no ear has heard, neither has it entered the heart of man what God has prepared for those who love Him, but God has revealed it to us by His Spirit." Oh, that flips the verse, doesn't it? [chuckle]

Maybe we ought to study then what God has revealed. Has He told us everything about heaven that there is to know? Absolutely not. The secret things belong to the Lord, but Deuteronomy 29:29, "The things revealed belong to us and to our children." And so let's study them. And I can't in the next three minutes [chuckle], plumb the depths of all the things that we are going to enjoy and celebrate in heaven. But you ought to study it. You ought to try to find out what God has told us about the new heaven and new earth.

So what will it be like? Well, the new heaven and new earth will be a place. It will be a dwelling place. You will live there. It will be more beautiful than the star-studded sky at night, imagine the Milky Way and all that. "We will shine like the stars," Jesus said. The new earth is going to be radiant. It's going to be luscious. It's going to be remade, free forever from bondage to decay. It's going to be a world more pristine and certainly with more promise and future than Eden ever had. It's going to be more exciting to explore the new earth than in the days of Lewis and Clark and the explorations of the Great Northwest. More exciting than any of those explorers like Columbus got on the boat and went over there to find the New World. It's going to be far better, we're going to venture out and find what God has made in the new earth and we're going to be together exploring it.

We're going to see God face to face. We're going to see His face and we're not going to be incinerated. We're going to survive the experience. As a matter of fact, we're going to thrive in the experience. This is the very same thing that Moses could not have when God hid him in the cleft of the rock. The same thing that is told, no man has ever seen the face of God, we will see His face and we will do it constantly. And like the two disciples on the road to Emmaus, we're going to walk with Jesus and we'll be able to see His wounds. And we'll be able to sit at a table with Him and listen to Him and see His face. He has a resurrection body. And as He said in Luke 24, "A spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see I have." He still has His resurrection body, and we will get to see it. But we will have glorious bodies like His. There's going to be an incredible city, and even if you're not much on cities today, just realize you haven't seen a city like the new Jerusalem.

Human cities have been defaced and destroyed by sin. This city is going to be pure and perfect. It is the New Jerusalem. And it's going to come down, it says, out of heaven like a bride, beautifully dressed for her husband. It's going to shimmer with the glory of Christ. It is going to be incredible. It defies description really, but there are descriptions, 12 gates, three in the north, three in the west, three in the south, and three in the east. And the names of the 12 tribes of Israel will be there. And the foundations of the city will be like precious stones giving off different hues and colors. And the names of the apostles will be on the foundations of the city.

It's going to be beautiful. And right down the center of the street of the city is the river of life flowing clear as crystal and the tree of life is on both sides of the river. I can't picture that, it must be a big tree with big roots or something, Banyan trees or whatever, the big roots going across each side, I don't know. But it's on both sides and flows down, and 12 months a year it gives out its crop for the healing of the nations. And its gates are going to stand open. They will never be closed day or night. There will be no night there, frankly. And the wealth of the nations is going to be brought into it and there's going to be a river of commerce and of beauty and glory.

And, yes, you will have things to do there. Boredom? How can you be bored in the presence of God? Is that even possible? Satan is the god of boredom. Follow his ways, you'll be bored. But he's not even going to be there, he'll be in the lake of fire. God is a God of stimulation and of beauty, and of variety, and creativeness. And we're going to see all of these beautiful things in heaven. And we will dine with Him. We will sit down at the feast with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven. And multitudes will come, greater than anyone could count, as I already mentioned, from every tribe and language and people and nation. The work of the missionaries will be done.

There will be representatives from all of those places and we will get to know them, the brothers and sisters in Christ. And I don't just mean the ones from your generation but the ones from back in the Middle Ages and back in the Patristic Era. You didn't study Patristics now, back at third, fourth century. You will get to know them, just ask them, talk to them, they'll be there. He is not the God of the dead but of the living. They're still alive, they are in the presence of God and you will know them. And they will be your brothers and sisters. And “there will be no more death or mourning, or crying, or pain.” So you will have a resurrection body, and you will never stub your toe.

I was thinking about that. I was making my son's bed, about a year ago and the thing pulled off and I jammed my thumb on the wall and I was like, "Ahh." And I said, "Alright, there's not going to be any pain in heaven. That will never happen in heaven." And I thought, "How is the Lord going to prevent that kind of stuff from happening?" I guess He's just going to be so sovereign and over all of our actions, that we won't do any dumb things like bumping into things or standing up into things, or if we do, we won't feel any pain. I don't know. I just know there's not going to be any pain, no physical pain. And that includes asthma, emphysema, cancer, diabetes, food poisoning, none of it. No pain, but that's just physical.

There's not going to be any psychological pain, friends. Some of the worst pain is not physical but psychological, emotional, mental pain. As a matter of fact, some have said, "The pain of that is so great I would have taken a good, clean amputation over this." That's all gone. There's not going to be any jealousy. You're not going to be slighted by anybody, left out, snubbed, all that's gone. There'll be no pain in that place. Meditate on it fully. You are going to be infinitely wealthy and you're going to be given positions of responsibility. You will be given property of your own, quoting the Book of Luke. And you'll manage it, and you'll look after it.

And, no, it's not all going to be equal. Some will have greater glory than others but all of us will be filled to the brim with the glory of God. By the way, if you want a bigger stake of heaven, then serve Him more faithfully here on earth. The way up is the way down. You want to be great? Then be a servant. If you want to be even greater, be a slave. He's already told us that. If you want a bigger position and bigger situation for the glory of God in heaven, then serve now. Because the things we do here on earth now are translated over into eternity. And so it matters how we serve. Now I was going to read all these verses but you'll have to read them when you get home. Revelation 21 and 22, the concepts flow from there. I want to finish with some benefits of heavenly mindedness, and we will be done.

VI. The Benefits of Heavenly-Mindedness

What are the benefits of heavenly mindedness? Well, first of all, it gives power to resist temptation. Temptations lose their power when you meditate on heaven. Illicit sex, power, money, it doesn't matter. Secondly, heavenly mindedness gives energy to advance the kingdom. When you're meditating on heaven and the future, you can do great things for God. Living moment by moment in the power and the presence of God, you'll have energy to advance to His Kingdom. Thirdly, Heavenly mindedness keeps perspective in trials and suffering. All of your suffering, friends, is temporary, and all of it has a purpose. All of it does. It's temporary and someday it's going to end, and praise God for that. Fourthly, Heavenly mindedness enables us to love each other better, see your brother and sister as your partner in glory. You're going to spend eternity with them. And yes I know, you want to tell me, "Well, they'll be a lot different then." Well that's true, they will, but so will you, and your relationship is going to be perfect, so why not live accordingly now? It enables you to love others better, enables you to love the poor and needy better now too. See them with eternal eyes.

The things you give now to them will be rewarded in eternity. You can spread out, Jesus said, a banquet for the poor and needy and not worry about being repaid in this life. It will be repaid, Jesus said, at the resurrection of the righteous, and so you can be generous with your material possessions. Heavenly mindedness frees us from fear of man. What can man do to you? No one can take your reward from you. This frees you from the tyrant, concern about the tyrant, the non-Christian boss, so you can lose your fear of man in evangelism and be very bold in witnessing. Heavenly mindedness frees us from discouragement. Why be discouraged? Every second is bringing you closer and closer to the things I've talked about today. Don't buy Satan's discouragement.

Our labor in the Lord is not in vain. We're going to get there, and so we're free from discouragement through heavenly mindedness. Heavenly mindedness enables us to be excellent counselors to those who are discouraged. Point them to heaven. Point them to Christ. Point them to the power of the Cross over sin and to the fact that all of these things bring us closer and closer to Christ. Heavenly mindedness sweetens public and private worship. Many of the songs that we sing, not just this morning, but in the Hymnal, many of them are meditations on the future heavenly life. It sweetens public worship and it sweetens private worship to think of heaven. And Heavenly mindedness frees us from fear of aging and death. I'm not saying, ladies, don't go buy Oil of Olay, okay. Go ahead and do that. That's fine. But don't set your heart on Oil of Olay. Or set your heart on cosmetic surgery or any Botox or any of those things. Don't worry about it. You are going to age. [chuckle] And so am I.

We're aging, but you know what? It doesn't matter because we're going to get resurrection bodies that are freed from corruption, and we need not fear these things. Now I've been speaking to the brothers and sisters in Christ about heaven. But I don't necessarily know that everybody who is listening to me today is fit for heaven. I don't know for sure that you're going to heaven right now. I don't know for sure that if we all died right now that all of us would go to heaven. I actually think not, not because of anything I can see, but just... I believe with all my heart that God brought somebody here today who needs to hear the gospel.

 V. Application

And so can I ask, if you have never trusted in Christ, that you disregard all the things I've just said, in terms of your own destiny, until you do this one thing. Come to faith in Christ and trust in Him. Put all of your sins on Him as your substitute, let Him take you to heaven, and then all of these things become your inheritance. Don't think that you have any right to sit at that table without trusting in Christ. But if you trust in Christ, if you roll all of your sins onto Him, He will save you and bring you to this glorious place. Close with me in prayer please.

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