Heaven and Hell – Part 1
Where is Heaven?
John 17:24

A. The world today.
1. This week I listened to a podcast “Stuff to Blow Your Mind” called “The Problem of Hell”.
a) This podcast disturbed me deeply as it shows how desperately blind people are to the ultimate consequences of sin in the life of a nonbeliever.
b) One survey shows that while 26% of Americans believe there is no heaven, 41% believe there is no hell!
2. From the Baylor Religion Survey in 2007:
a) Do you believe in heaven?
(1) 133 = 8.3% = Absolutely not
(2) 159 = 9.9% = Probably not
(3) 315 = 19.6% = Probably
(4) 1002 = 62.3% = Absolutely
b) Do you believe in hell?
(1) 177 = 11.1% = Absolutely not
(2) 257 = 16.1% = Probably not
(3) 318 = 19.9% = Probably
(4) 848 = 53.0% = Absolutely
3. Both heaven and hell are either ignored, ridiculed, or denied by the world today.
a) In his book The Biblical Doctrine of Heaven, Dr. Wilbur Smith lists two significant quotes from a world-famous theologian and a scientist about heaven:
(1) “It is unwise for Christians to claim any knowledge of either the furniture of heaven or the temperature of hell” (Dr. Reinhold Niebuhr).
(2) “As for the Christian theology, can you imagine anything more appallingly idiotic than the Christian idea of heaven?” (Dr. Alfred Whitehead).
4. A common approach of the liberal clergyman is that he does indeed believe in a literal heaven and hell, but limits them both to this earth!
a) In other words, life’s good experiences are “heaven,” and its bad moments “hell.”
b) Without him probably being at all aware of it, his Bible-denying philosophy does contain a very potent truth.
c) The facts are that this world is indeed the only hell the believer will ever experience, and the only heaven the unbeliever will ever know!
5. In reality, we are told a surprising number of things in the Word of God about our future home.
6. Contrary to popular opinion, heaven is discussed far more than hell in the Scriptures!

B. Do you think about heaven?
1. Have you ever had to answer a child’s questions concerning heaven.
2. Maybe you have had your own anxious inquiries about a loved one who has died.
3. Have you ever wondered if heaven is really all it is cracked up to be?
4. Maybe you ask yourself if you will like it there especially if it will just be like an endless Sunday, but without the football games on tv.
5. Most people wonder a little about these things once in a while.
6. A few years ago, a newspaper took a telephone poll of people’s beliefs.
a) They asked how many believed in God Ninety six percent answered in the affirmative.
b) They asked how many believed in heaven and hell. Ninety percent replied that the did.
c) If, however, the pollster had continued to ask his questions and had asked what these people believed about heaven and hell, he probably would have received a huge variety of answers.

I. Man’s Speculation
A. How Do We Get to Heaven ?
All religions have a path that leads to “somewhere,” usually to their concept of heaven.
All religions claim to provide release.
But there is no agreement about what it is a man must be released from or what he is released to.
The major religions have their own ideas, of course.

1. Islam believes in a place called heaven where “rivers of milk unchanging in flavor and rivers of wine delight the drinkers” (Koran, SURA 47, lines 15 20).
2. Buddhism’s big hope is to “cross over” with others, rather than “crossing over” alone, but they believe that the ultimate bliss is that of “nothingness”.
3. Hinduism has been described as a big store house where all religions and religious experiments can live together.
a) Hindus have a kind of infinite tolerance about any belief about anything; so as far as they are concerned, who knows what heaven is, or who goes there!
4. African religions believe the grave is the seal of everything.
a) That humans become spirits when they die, and that the best that can happen to them then is to become intermediators between God and man.
b) There is no concept of “rest,” or being with God forever for these folks.
5. Judaism believes moral behavior and attitudes now determine one’s eternal existence in the hereafter.
a) The notion of an afterlife is not very well developed in the Old Testament.
b) In fact, many modern Jews criticize Christians for being selfish, and too concerned with personal eternal rewards.
6. Humanism says that heaven is here and now, and we must strive for utopia on earth.
7. Atheism believes the Christian concept of heaven is “pie in the sky,” choosing rather to reverence the “state” as the object of their hopes and dreams.
8. Jehovah’s Witnesses believe only 144,000 will make it to heaven.
9. Mormons teach that “every man who reigns in celestial glory is a god to his dominions”.
10. Spiritualism believes life evolves past death toward perfection, as man becomes spirit after death.
11. New Age thinkers lean toward reincarnation and seem to have as many varied opinions as the Hindus.
12. But what do Christians believe?
a) Surely we have something specific to say about heaven.
b) The Christian doesn’t use his own ingenuity or mere “speculation” to formulate his belief about God, rather he relies on revelation.
c) This is the firm belief that God has revealed Himself to man and that He has spoken in His Word through His prophets in the past, and in these “last days,” in His Son Jesus Christ (Hebrews 1: 10).
d) In John 14:1 6, Jesus, speaking about heaven, assures His disciples that He is telling them the truth about heaven, and if it were not so, He would have told them! (John 14:2)

B. Heaven is “Concealed” (1 Corinthians 2:10)
1. The word “heaven” itself implies that we can not understand all about it because it carries the idea of “concealment.”
a) Only He who conceals is able to reveal.
b) “‘No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love Him,’ but God has revealed it to us by His Spirit” (I Corinthians 2:10).
c) The Christian possesses the Holy Spirit whose work it is to interpret these revelations to us and help us comprehend what little we are able to comprehend on our own.
d) The Spirit, moreover, works to reveal these things by illuminating the Scriptures for us.
2. The Bible speaks of heaven in different senses, using the same word, and so you must define the word by its context.
a) It speaks of heaven as the clouds about our heads (Genesis 1:6 8); God is active there.
b) The word is also used for the firmament above the clouds, where the lights of sun, moon, and stars move (Genesis 1:14, 17; 2: 1). God is also active there.
c) Then the Bible uses the word heaven to describe the experience of life with Christ now.
(1) A sphere of spiritual living that Christ died to make possible and lives to make real (Ephesians 2:6).
(2) The “kingdom of heaven” is another expression used in the New Testament to define any sphere where God is King.
(3) But then the word is also used to describe the place where God lives.
(4) It is this aspect of the word “heaven” we will be looking into over the next few weeks.

II. God’s Revelation
A. Heaven is a real, literal place (John 14:1-6)
1. In the Upper Room, Jesus sent Judas away with the words, “That thou doest, do quickly.”
a) Then Satan entered into Judas and he went to the chief priests to betray Jesus for thirty pieces of silver.
b) Jesus remained there with the eleven disciples and he began to tell them again that He was to be crucified the next day.
c) It was to be the darkest hour any of them would ever see!
d) They did not want to hear what they were hearing.
e) Jesus knew they would be filled with misery, so to comfort them, Jesus told them about Heaven.
f) “In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a PLACE for you. And if I go and prepare a PLACE for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there you may be also.” John 14:2, 3.
2. So Heaven is a PLACE.
a) Twice Jesus called it that.
b) He has gone to prepare this place.
c) It is in the Father’s house of many mansions.

B. Heaven is a place of comfort (John 13:1-3)
1. I think that Jesus in Gethsemane as He faced His betrayal, His desertion by the disciples, His trial before the Sanhedrin and Pilate, and the agonies of the cross, was Himself greatly comforted by remembering the place where He was going and where He would prepare many mansions for His own redeemed people.
a) 2And supper being ended, the devil having already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray Him, 3Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He had come from God and was going to God, (John 13:2-3)
2. Countless millions of Christian have learned not to let their hearts be troubled as the realization of Heaven as an actual and blessed place has come home to their hearts.
3. Do not think of Heaven, then, as a ghostly, unreal, indefinite state.
a) It is a real place, a place as literal and concrete as the house you live in today, as physically real as the city where you live.
4. The Savior said He was going to prepare us a place.
a) How wonderful it will be is beyond human understanding.
b) Remember that in six days Jesus Christ made the heavens and the earth.
c) “Without him was not anything made that was made” (John 1:3).
d) If He made so many wonders in six days, then what beauties and what marvels the Lord Jesus has surely prepared during these nineteen hundred years in which He has been preparing us mansions in the Father’s House!

C. Heaven is up!
1. Heaven is UP.
a) A little boy got on the elevator in the Empire State Building in New York City.
(1) He and his daddy started to the top.
(2) The boy watched the signs flashing as they went by the floors: 10, 20, 30, 40, 50, 60, 70.
(3) They kept going, and he got nervous.
(4) He took his daddy’s hand and said, “Daddy, does God know we’re coming?”
b) We know that it is up, somewhere away from this planet.
c) Jesus went up to Heaven. “While they beheld, he was taken up” (Acts 1:9).”
d) Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven” (II Kings 2:11).
e) Even Paul, when he received special revelations, was “caught up to the third heaven” (2 Corinthians 12:2) and “caught up into paradise” (2 Corinthians 12:4).
(1) At least Paul knew such an one, and I believe that it was Paul himself.
(2) Somewhere out in space God has His beautiful holy city, the house of many mansions, with its shining walls and Streets Of pure gold, with its river of water of life and its trees with twelve kinds of fruit, and where there is no night.
2. The First Heaven—home of the birds and clouds. (Genesis 1:6 8)
a) The Bible speaks of heaven as the clouds about our heads (Genesis 1:6 8); God is active there.
6 Then God said, “Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters.”
7 Thus God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament; and it was so.
8 And God called the firmament Heaven. So the evening and the morning were the second day.
b) As beautiful as this heaven may be on occasion, it is not the eternal home of the redeemed.
3. The Second Heaven—home of the sun, moon, and stars. (Genesis 1:14, 17; 2:1)
a) The word is also used for the firmament above the clouds, where the lights of sun, moon, and stars move (Genesis 1:14, 17; 2:1). God is also active there.
14Then God said, “Let there be lights in the firmament of the heavens to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs and seasons, and for days and years;
15and let them be for lights in the firmament of the heavens to give light on the earth”; and it was so.
16Then God made two great lights: the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night. He made the stars also.
17God set them in the firmament of the heavens to give light on the earth,
18and to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good.
19So the evening and the morning were the fourth day.
b) “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handiwork” (Ps. 19:1).
c) In the sixties (beginning with the Russian orbit in 1961 and climaxing with the U.S. moon landing in 1969) man for the first time in history succeeded in developing a space craft that would transport him out of the first heaven into the second heaven!
(1) But as wonderful as it is, the second heaven, just like the first, cannot be confused with the heaven of salvation.
4. The Third Heaven—home of God.
a) A little girl was taking an evening walk with her father.
(1) Wonderingly, she looked up at the stars and exclaimed: “Oh, Daddy, if the wrong side of heaven is so beautiful, what must the right side be!”
b) My family and I have lived in the same house for 18 years.
(1) We have lived there longer than we have lived at any other address in our entire lives.
(a) Sometimes I call it “our house,” but more often I call it “home.”
(b) What makes it home isn’t the address or the lot or the garage or the architecture.
(c) What makes it home is the people.
(d) You may live in a bigger or newer or better house than we live in, but as nice as your house may be, I would never refer to your house as home because the people who are most important to me don’t live there.
(e) So what makes home home is the people in the relationships.
(2) And what makes heaven heaven is not streets made out of gold, great fountains, lots of fun, and no mosquitoes!
(a) That all may be, but I think that heaven is far greater than our wildest imagination.
(b) The same God who designed the best of everything in this world, also designed heaven, only he took it to a far greater extent than anything we’ve ever seen.
(c) Yet, that’s still not what makes heaven heaven.
(3) What makes heaven heaven is God.
(a) It is being there with him.
(b) With his presence comes peace and contentment, a fulfillment, a sense that all is well.
(c) That is also a contentment that bubbles over into the rest of life.
(d) We can anticipate this future in the presence of God, we can be with him in a place where everything he wants happens the way he wants it to happen.
(e) And that affects this life as well.
(f) Lord’s Prayer – Matthew 6:9ff
c) This and this alone is the true third heaven!
(1) Man’s intelligence might be able to transport him from the first to the second heaven.
(2) But no space vehicle can ever be devised which will take him from the second to the third heaven!
(3) This journey can only be effected by blood, and not by brain!
(4) In fact, Jesus once told Nicodemus a man could not even see this heaven, let alone enter it, apart from the new birth. (John. 3:3.)
5. For the Christian, Heaven is where Christ is.
a) 24“Father, I desire that they also whom You gave Me may be with Me where I am, that they may behold My glory which You have given Me; for You loved Me before the foundation of the world.
b) Jesus is now there with the Father, in heaven.
c) But one day He will come and receive us and take us away to those heavenly mansions.
d) Matthew 25:31, “When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory.”
e) 1 Thessalonians 4:13 18, concerning the coming of Christ and the raising of the Christian dead, the promise closes with these words: “And so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words.”
f) Where Jesus goes, we will go, and that is truly comforting!

D. Conclusion
1. Once there was an old man who everyday would take long walks with the Lord.
2. On these walks, he and the Lord God would talk about all kinds of things–about the important times in the old man’s life: when he met his wife, the birth of his children, special Christmases, etc.
3. One day while they were out walking for an especially long time, the Lord looked at the old man and said, “We are closer to my house than we are to yours. Why don’t you just come home with me.”
4. And that is what he did!