Pastor Barry Bruce/ The Gathering Church A Passion For Home (Soul On Fire Series #6) To hear this message and others go to THEGATHERINGHG.COM
Not Of This World John 18:36, Philippians 3:18-21, 1 John 3:1-3
In our last lesson we spent some time in Hell and I prayerfully hope that we were all motivated to have a passion for the souls headed there. Today we will be spending some time in Heaven. How often do you think about that place? Most people’s thoughts don’t turn to Heaven until going through some kind of personal Hell on this earth, but that shouldn’t be the case. As Christians, Heaven is our home and the hope we hold on to. Someone might say “your thoughts are in the clouds if you’re always thinking about Heaven”, but then the scripture says that this is exactly where our thoughts are to be rather than on earthly things.
The phrase “not of this world” is perhaps most well-known for being a Christian apparel company (http://www.notw.com), but what the phrase actually means is that Christians are “not of this world.” The phrase comes from the verse John 18:36 where Jesus says that His kingdom is “not of this world.” As His followers, Christians are members of His kingdom which is “not of this world,” that is, Heaven (Philippians 3:20). As the Apostle Paul lamented, many live on this earth as enemies of the cross of Christ. “Their destiny is destruction”, “their mind is set on earthly things”, but the citizenship of the Christian is in Heaven. Yes, we are on earth for now, but our earthly lives are like a vapor (James 4:14). Eternity is where a Christian’s focus should be. We are children of God and the world will not know us or accept us because it did not know or accept Jesus (1 John 3:1-3). We should have the hope of Heaven in our hearts because that is where our Lord will come from to get us.
In This World John 17:14-21, 1 Peter 2:9-12
The things of this world, wars, famine, suffering, poverty, etc., impact Christians and non-Christians alike. By remembering that we are “not of this world,” remembering that these things are just for a little while, we can see them in a different light. We are still in this world but we are no longer of it (John 17:14). We must remember that we are here for the purpose of sharing the truth with others that they might be saved and that we all might be one. We are only visiting this planet. For this reason Jesus prayed for us in John 17 and for this same reason Peter reminds us that we are a chosen people, foreigners and exiles on this earth. We are here to show the deeds of God while longing for his arrival.
Do you have a passion for Home (Heaven) or are you full of worldly desire? “Don’t let the world around you squeeze you into its own mold”. (Romans 12:2a Phillips NT Translation)
Heaven Revelation 21:3-5, 23-27, 22:5
Heaven is a real place described in the Bible. The word “heaven” is found 276 times in the New Testament alone. The Apostle Paul refers to being caught up into the “third Heaven” in 2 Corinthians 12:1-4 causing some to teach that Heaven has three levels but this is incorrect. We are not in some hierarchical order in glory “we are one” as Jesus said in John 17:21. In many ancient cultures, people used the term heaven to describe three different “realms”—the sky, outer space, and then a spiritual heaven (i.e. “third Heaven”). Paul was saying that he was caught up into the spiritual heaven and was not allowed to describe it.
The Apostle John did describe his vision of the “new heaven and a new earth” with the “new Jerusalem” coming down out of Heaven (Revelation 21:1-2). He described the “Holy City” made of precious jewels and clear crystal (Revelation 21:11). The City and streets are made of pure transparent Gold (Revelation 21:18-21) and the gates are made of pearls. A great river flows from the throne of God and runs through the city and on each side of that river are two great trees which bear a new crop of fruit each month (Revelation 22:1-5), but the greatest description of Heaven is what is happening in it. “God’s dwelling place is now among his people”…he wipes away every tear and makes everything new (Revelation 21:3-5). The city needs no sun or moon for the glory of God is there. Many nations are in that place but nothing impure will ever enter it and only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life are within its walls…and they will reign forever and ever! (Revelation 21:23-27, 22:5).
Passing Through 1 Corinthians 2:9, John 14:1-6, Psalm 30:2-5
Do you have a passion for going home? Some want to travel the world, I long to see Heaven! Israel was great to see but the New Jerusalem will out shine it forever! Nothing comes close to Heaven! (I Corinthians 2:9) Remember Christians: God wants us to enjoy our lives on this earth but not to forfeit our purpose of bringing his truth to it. God surely wants us to take care of this earth but to never forget that we are just passing through.
Jesus’ disciples were troubled when he told them that he was going away. We too may be troubled when we see our loved ones in Christ close their eyes on this earth. We cannot see on the other side, but we have the promise of the one that can and he has conquered death. To his troubled disciples Jesus said “believe in me”. “I will come back and take you to be with me”. “You know the place where I’m going” he said to Thomas, but Thomas doubted. We too doubt sometimes, but Jesus responds the same way to us as he did to Thomas: “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life”, he says, only Jesus can lead us to the Father who is in Heaven. Keeping our eyes on Jesus is keeping our eyes on home. Heaven is our hope and Jesus is the way. He who has promised is faithful (Hebrews 10:23).
God is mighty to save (Zephaniah 3:17) and he has delivered us from the realm of the dead through Jesus Christ who raises up those who trust in him. Weeping may stay for the night, but joy comes in the morning! (Psalm 30:2-5).
My heart can’t wait till that day comes
I’m gonna’ hear Him say my child well done
Till it comes my time to go
Heaven is the Hope
Matthew West/ Heaven Is The Hope