The Reality of Heaven

Adam Burton | April 16, 2023


In his sermon titled “The Reality of Heaven,” Pastor Adam Burton challenges traditional perceptions of heaven as a place of leisure and instead emphasizes that it is a place of meaningful work and purpose. He reminds the audience that heaven is not just a distant promise, but a present reality that we can focus our minds and hearts on. Through the sermon series titled “Heaven, Our Ultimate Home,” Pastor Burton explores various aspects of heaven, including its surroundings, the presence of God, and what we’ll do there. He emphasizes that heaven is a physical place, and the New Jerusalem described in the Bible is a real city that will be the final home for the redeemed for eternity.

The sermon concludes with an invitation to set our sights on things above and to let the hope and purpose of heaven fill our minds and hearts. Pastor Burton explains that by keeping our eyes fixed on heaven, we are more likely to live each day with intentionality and make choices that have eternal significance. The understanding of heaven can shape our lives on earth and motivate us to live better, love more deeply, and serve others more selflessly. This sermon inspires us to live with an eternal perspective and embrace the hope and purpose that heaven brings.

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Welcome this morning to a journey of discovery that is going to take us to the heart of what lies beyond this life. Have you ever wondered what awaits us as we leave this world? I mean, is there really a place called heaven? And if so, what is it like?

You know, the Bible tells us that heaven is our ultimate home, a place where we will spend eternity in the presence of God. But what does that mean for us? And what can we expect when we arrive? Perhaps you, like many others, have grown up with the idea that heaven is a place with clouds and harps and floating around doing nothing. It’s an image that’s been perpetuated for years from movies and TV shows, even though it’s far from accurate.

Maybe you’ve seen the film Bruce Almighty, and the movie Heaven is portrayed as some sort of celestial office space, complete with desks and cubicles and an endless supply of donuts. But when Bruce arrives, he’s greeted by a receptionist who hands him a clipboard and tells him to take a seat. And so Bruce, he looks around in all of this kind of confusion, wondering why heaven looks like a corporate office.

But as he sits down, he begins to fill out the paperwork. He realizes that this heaven is very different than what he expected. For one thing, in this office, everybody’s happy. They’re laughing, joking, and they’re enjoying their work. And for another thing, there’s a sense of purpose and meaning in everything that they do.

Now, of course, we know this portrayal of heaven is far from accurate, but it does raise some interesting questions that maybe you’ve thought about. If heaven isn’t just a place for leisure, but a place of meaningful work and purpose, what if we will be called to serve and to work in heaven, using our talents and abilities to glorify God and to bless others around?

As we embark on this sermon series, Heaven, Our Ultimate Home, we will explore the biblical view of heaven and what it means for us as Christians. We’ll look at the different aspects of heaven, the beauty of its surroundings, and the joy of being in the very presence of God. We’ll also consider what the Bible tells us about what we’ll do in heaven. Will we really just sit around on clouds all day? Or will we have important work to do? And if we do have work to do, what would that work look like?

Perhaps most importantly, we’ll explore how our understanding of heaven shapes how we live our lives here on earth. And how can the knowledge that we have a home in heaven motivate us to live better lives, to love more deeply, and to serve others more selflessly? So as we come together on this journey of discovery, we will explore the mystery and the wonder of our ultimate home. We’ll do so turning to scripture to be open to what the Bible tells us about heaven and allow that truth to transform our lives in meaningful ways.

The title of today’s sermon is The Reality of Heaven. The reality of heaven. You can find an outline on the back of your bulletin to help you to follow along.

You know, as Christians, we hold fast to the truth that heaven is a real place. It’s not just an abstract concept or a wishful thinking. It is a tangible, physical realm where God reigns and His people dwell with Him forever. But what does heaven look like? What will we be doing there? These questions have fascinated believers for centuries, and yet we often kind of shy away from exploring them in depth. That’s why I want to challenge us today to imagine what will heaven be like?

I want you to imagine a place of perfect peace where there is no more pain, no more suffering, a place where the streets are paved with gold and the walls are made of precious stones. Imagine a place where we will be reunited with our loved ones who have gone before us. But most importantly, imagine a place where we will be in the presence of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. See, that is the ultimate reality of heaven. It’s not just a place for us to escape the troubles of this world, but a place to worship and to glorify God for all eternity.

First thing we’re going to see this morning is that heaven is a physical place. Heaven is a physical place. You’re standing upon a mountaintop, gazing out over a vast landscape of rolling hills and sparkling lakes. As far as your eye can see, there is a beauty and grandeur beyond compare. It’s like nothing that you’ve ever seen before. You feel a sense of awe and wonder. It’s hard to put into words.

Now I want you to imagine that this mountaintop is just a glimpse of what heaven will be like. John writes in Revelation 21, verses 1 and 2, he said in his vision, Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, O new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. In Revelation chapter 21, we see this description of the new Jerusalem.

Now this is a real city that will be the final home for the redeemed for eternity. This isn’t some type of a mental state that we will be in. No, it is a concrete reality that we can look forward to. So what can we expect from this celestial heavenly city? Well, we know that it will be a place of peace and joy for eternity, where there will be no more pain and no more suffering. Imagine waking up, well actually we won’t have to wake up because we’ll never sleep, but being able to walk without any knees creaking or any pain in our back. That’s heaven.

But it’s also like a bride on her wedding day, a real event that will occur in the future. But how do we reconcile this grand vision of heaven with our modern lives and how we live today? Look, it’s easy for us to get caught up in the stresses and the worries of life to the point where we forget that there’s more than just what this life has, that there’s more waiting for us. That’s why it’s important for us to keep our eyes fixed on this new Jerusalem like a mountaintop that we’re striving to reach. It’s a constant reminder that there is more to life than what we are right now, than what we can see right in front of us.

I mean, think about it, if we’re constantly focused on the present, then we’re likely to get bogged down by the minutiae of everyday life. But if we keep our eyes on the prize, this heavenly city, then suddenly the struggles that we encounter become just a little less daunting. That’s kind of the difference between looking at just one single brush stroke of a painting and looking at the entire painting. When we focus on the big picture, we gain a new perspective on our lives and our struggles. We realize that there is something that is bigger and more important to waiting for us and that gives us the strength to keep going.

Let me remind you that the Bible is not just an ordinary book with no relevance for our lives. Oh, it is a sacred text, but it speaks to our deepest longings of our hearts. It reveals to us this physical beauty. And when we see it, oh, it changes how we live on earth.

So may we never forget that heaven is not just an abstract concept, but it is a physical place and the Bible has much to tell about it. As we reflect on the physical reality of heaven, let us not forget that it is also a spiritual reality. The Bible speaks of both the tangible but also the intangible aspects of heaven, reminding us that it is not just a physical place, but it is a spiritual reality that we experience through our relationship with Jesus Christ.

And that brings us to our second point, that heaven is a spiritual reality. The Apostle Paul in his letter to the Corinthians tells us that heaven is this spiritual reality and in 2 Corinthians 5, verses 1-5, we read these words.

“For we know that if the tent, that is our earthly home, is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this tent we groan, longing to put on our heavenly dwelling, if indeed by putting it on we may not be found naked. For while we were still in this tent, we groan, being burdened, not that we would be unclothed, but that we would be further clothed. So that is what mortal may be swallowed up by life. He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee.”

Paul here paints a vivid picture of our current state on earth, using this metaphor of an earthly tent. We know that our bodies are temporary, fragile, imperfect, just like a tent. But beyond this temporary state, we have the promise of a new eternal house in heaven, a spiritual reality that is not built by human hands or modern architecture. No, no, it is built by God Himself.

See the yearning for this heavenly dwelling is also evident in Paul’s words. He talks about this groaning and being burdened while in the earthly tent. And eagerly longing to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling. It’s here this deep longing that only the promise of heaven can satisfy.

This passage also offers hope to those who believe in God and trust in His promises. Heaven’s not this far-fetched idea, but it is a real and a spiritual reality that awaits us so we can take comfort in knowing that the One who has fashioned us for this purpose is God Himself. And He has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing us what is to come.

You know, in our modern society, we are bombarded so much with messages that tell us to focus on here and now, to live for the moment, to accumulate as much as we can in this fleeting life. But as Christians, we know, oh, we know that there is so much more than what we see. This bigger picture, a reality that is greater than anything that we can imagine.

In this passage, it just reminds us that our earthly lives are temporary, a vapor that appears for a little while and then it just kind of vanishes away. But the promise of heaven is not wishful thinking. Oh, no, it is a real and tangible reality that awaits us.

So when we think of heaven, we often think of something above the clouds, very far and distant from us, something that you only think about when you dream at night. But heaven is just as real as the air that we breathe, as the real ground that we walk on. It’s a place where our loved ones who have gone before us are waiting to welcome us, where we will be reunited with those who have gone ahead.

And in heaven, there will be no more pain, no more suffering, no more tears, no more sorrows, for we will be in the presence of our loving Father and the Lamb who was slain for us. And there we will experience perfect, absolutely perfect joy and fulfillment.

So my dear brothers and sisters, may we not be swayed by the temporary pleasures of this world, but may we fix our eyes on the things above and remember that the promise of heaven isn’t a far off dream, but it is real and it is tangible. May we find comfort in this truth and let it give us the strength and the courage to persevere through trials and difficulties of this life. For we know that our labor in the Lord is not in vain and the promise of heaven is worth every sacrifice that we make in this life.

So as we bask in the hope and in the joy that the reality of heaven brings, we are reminded that it isn’t a distant promise, but a present reality that guides us in our daily lives. And so by fixing our eyes on heaven and living with the assurance of our eternal destiny, we can find purpose and direction when we need to live each and every day.

That brings us to our last point, that heaven gives us hope and purpose. Heaven gives us hope and purpose.

Anybody ever felt lost? Unsure maybe of your purpose, the direction that you’ve chosen to go in life? Maybe you’re going through a tough time right now and you just can’t figure a way out of it. You know, it’s in moments like these that it’s easy to feel like you’re just wandering aimlessly with no real destination in sight.

So what if I told you that there is a place where you, your hope and purpose can be found? A place where you can find direction, you can find clarity, you can find meaning. Oh, that place is heaven. It’s closer than we might think.

Look here, Colossians 3, verses 1-4, if you have been raised with Christ, seek things that are above where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above and not on things that are on earth. For if you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God, when Christ, who is your life, appears, oh, then you also will appear with him in glory.

In these verses, the Apostle Paul reminds us to set our hearts and minds on the things that are above, not on these earthly things. And he urges us to remember because our true home is in heaven where Christ is seated at the very right hand of God. And then he encourages us to live with an eternal perspective, keeping our eyes fixed on the prize that awaits us.

Now you might be thinking, but what does heaven really have to do with my life right now? I mean, yes, I know it’s some place where we go when we die, but what does it have to do with me right now?

Well, let me tell you to think about it this way. You know, when you have a destination in mind, you know what, you’re more likely to make the intentional choices and decisions that will get you there. You’re less likely to get sidetracked or get derailed by the distractions that are along the way.

And in the same way, if we keep our eyes and our minds focused on heaven, then we are more likely to live each and every day with more purpose and intentionality. See, heaven, it gives us a hope because it reminds us that this life is not all that there is. No matter what we may be facing right now, we can hold on to the promise of a future that has been free from pain and suffering and sorrow. And it gives us a reason to live for something that is far greater than ourselves.

See, when we know where we’re headed, we can live each day with intention and purpose, knowing that our actions and choices have eternal significance.

Dear brothers and sisters, if you’re feeling lost or uncertain about your life’s direction, I want you to take heart right now because the reality of heaven is waiting for you. It’s not a figment of our imagination or some distant fantasy that we can only dream about. Oh, it’s a real place, more real than anything that we have ever experienced in this fallen world, because heaven is a place where every tear will be wiped away, where there will be no more pain or suffering, where we will be in the presence of our loving Father and the Lamb who was slain for us. It’s a place where righteousness dwells and where we will experience perfect joy and fulfillment.

So, oh friends, as we live here struggling, do not lose heart, but set your eyes, your gaze on things above. See, when the cares of this world threaten to overwhelm you, just fix your eyes on Jesus, the author and the finisher of our faith. Oh, may we hope and the hope and purpose of heaven guide us on our journey, for this is not the end of the story. Oh no, we are called to be overcomers, to persevere to the very end and to keep our eyes fixed on the prize that awaits us in heaven.

So may we never be distracted by the fleeting pleasures of the world, but may we press on towards the mark of the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. Remember also that you’re not alone on this journey. Oh, you have the Holy Spirit to guide you. You have the Word of God to sustain you, and you have a church family of believers to support you.

And when you finally reach, oh, those pearly shores of heaven, oh, there you will be welcomed into the eternal embrace of our Lord and Savior, where you will experience the fullness of joy and the pleasures that are at his right hand forever. So may we set our sights on the things that are above and let the hope and the purpose of heaven fill our minds and our hearts, for we are citizens of a better country, a heavenly one.

I ask that our musicians would come forward at this time. As we come to the end of this message on the reality of heaven, what do you do with something like this? Something that can be somewhat confusing, somewhat just kind of out there, but how do we apply this to our lives?

See, the truth is heaven isn’t a theoretical concept. It’s not something that makes for good discussion on a long night with friends or for the philosophers. It’s not a distant dream, but it is a real and a tangible place that’s waiting for us.

The only way that we can experience the beauty of heaven is through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. So if you’ve not yet made the decision to accept Jesus as your Lord and Savior, oh, I implore you to do so today. Don’t wait another moment to experience the hope, the purpose that comes with knowing Jesus and to live for him.

See, the truth is heaven isn’t a theoretical concept. It’s not something that makes for good discussion on a long night with friends or for the philosophers. It’s not a distant dream, but it is a real and a tangible place that’s waiting for us.

The only way that we can experience the beauty of heaven is through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. So if you’ve not yet made the decision to accept Jesus as your Lord and Savior, oh, I implore you to do so today. Don’t wait another moment to experience the hope, the purpose that comes with knowing Jesus and to live for him.

I know in this room that many of us have already made that decision. My encouragement to you today is may we live every single day with heaven in mind. From the moment that we wake up in the morning to the moment that we pick up our feet and lay down in that bed at night. May we remember that this world is temporary and that our ultimate destination is the glorious reality of heaven.

Oh, may we keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, never wandering to and fro. May we let the hope and the purpose of heaven guide us in everything that we do. How will you respond? Maybe you need to accept Jesus as your Savior. Maybe you need to have a good conversation with God. Recommit yourself to live in every way for him. Maybe it’s just as simple as, you know what, today I’m going to live with heaven in mind.

Wherever you’re at in your faith journey, oh, may you take another step closer to the reality of heaven. May the truth that we’ve experienced through God’s word in this message fill our hearts with hope and joy and may it give you the strength to live each and every day for the glory of God.

In a moment, I’m going to pray. We’re going to sing a hymn of invitation. But I’ll remind you about our connection card in the bulletin.

In the middle, there is a section that says, “My Decision Today,” where you can just check any decision that may apply to you, whether it’s a decision to get saved or to become a member of our church, or maybe you need to be baptized. There’s something else that you just need to share. God is working in your heart.

I’m here to tell you, if you feel the Holy Spirit nudging you, prodding you, I would encourage you to fill out that card. After I pray, we’re going to sing “Jesus Paid It All.” I’m going to be standing down here up front. You can bring it to me. Share with me your decision and I will pray with you.

But maybe you’re not quite ready to step out to make that commitment. You know what? That’s okay. Just tear that card off, drop it in the offering plate as you leave. I’ll get it and I can follow up with you. We can sit down and have a great conversation about what God is doing in your life.

But remember, making a decision for Christ is the most important decision that you will ever make. Don’t let fear or uncertainty hold you back. We leave out of this room here today changed. So we take that step of faith.

We are here as a church, as your pastor, as Sunday school teachers, Bible study leaders, deacons, and every one of us. We are here together to guide each one of us on this journey.