By Michael Youssef
Heaven is mentioned more than five hundred times in the Bible, yet many churches these days seem to avoid the subject almost entirely. They are caught up in society's mad pursuit of instant gratification and self-indulgence—focused on the problems of this life, the blessings of this life, how to get the most out of this life. However, the more we focus our attention on this life, the more meaningless this life becomes. But the more we focus on the wonders of heaven, the more wonderful this life becomes.
The promise of heaven should motivate us to live each day for the Lord.
HEAVEN MOTIVATES US TO LIVE GODLY LIVES
The promise of heaven should motivate us to live each day for the Lord. The apostle Peter reminds us that we ought to live lives of holiness and godliness because "we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness dwells" (2 Peter 3:13). In the words of the late author and theologian C.S. Lewis, "A continual looking forward to the eternal world is not (as some modern people think) a form of escapism or wishful thinking, but one of the things a Christian is meant to do. . . . If you read history you will find that the Christians who did most for the present world were just those who thought most of the next."
A focus on heaven produces godly characteristics in our lives right here, right now that will bless the world for Christ in ways that will echo into eternity.
HEAVEN EMPOWERS US TO PERSEVERE
A focus on heaven also brings us joy and comfort in the midst of trials. It puts our earthly pain, suffering, and persecution into perspective and helps us persevere in the midst of temptation. Today, you may be carrying the weight of a Steinway piano on your back. It might be a load of guilt, or of suffering and pain. It might be a load of worry about the future or heartbreak over a painful loss. Whatever the weight that drags you down today, a vision of heaven will lift your burden.
If you have been avoiding all that the Bible teaches about heaven, then you have been missing out on one of the great blessings of the Christian faith. The hope of heaven is one of the great expectations of our faith, enabling us to soar above the problems and frustrations of this earthly life.
WE WILL SEE GOD
What will be the greatest part about heaven? "[His servants] will see his face" (Revelation 22:4). The thought of seeing the face of God truly exhilarates me. It ignites my passion and energizes me to work harder for the Lord. It fulfills me completely and empowers me in all that I do for Him. In the Old Testament, seeing the face of God was unthinkable, which is why this promise is so awesome. It's an incredible privilege—a great honor—one that even Moses did not receive in this life. When God says we shall see His face, it ought to be the most thrilling, astounding, magnificent thought. For in the face of God, you will find the fulfillment of all your longings.
The thought of seeing the face of God should comfort us when we grieve and help us rejoice even in the face of disappointment. The thought of seeing the face of God ought to lift us up when we are in the dumps of life and encourage us to keep on keeping on even when doing so is hard.
SATAN ENVIES US
Why does Satan lie about heaven and fill believers with dread over it? The answer is obvious: Satan was thrown out of heaven. He will never be allowed to enter it. He not only hates God, but he hates us because we will inherit everything he lost when he rebelled against God and fell from heaven. Satan envies you and me—and that is why he is constantly lying to us about our heavenly home.
So don't be duped. If you are afraid that heaven is going to be boring or unpleasant, consider this: Heaven comes from the mind of the same Creator who gave us Yosemite National Park, the Grand Canyon, and Niagara Falls. Just think of all the amazing, beautiful, thrilling places God has created around the world for humanity to enjoy. If there is so much beauty and wonder in a world that is fallen and broken by sin, imagine what heaven will be like! Imagine eternity without sin and suffering! The most awe-inspiring waterfall will seem as impressive as a lawn sprinkler next to the wonders God has prepared for us in heaven. Truly, no eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for us (see 1 Corinthians 2:9).
Will we continually praise God in heaven? Yes, we will. Will we be standing in a big room around a throne, singing endless praise choruses? Hardly. The throne of God is symbolic, telling us that God is the fixed center of the universe. But God does not sit in one chair in one limited locality. God is everywhere. And wherever we go in the universe, whatever we do as we explore heaven, we will be able to speak to Him, thank Him, and praise Him. With each new discovery, with each new wonder, our hearts will leap with praise. We will be reunited with our loved ones. We'll discover answers to all the questions that troubled us in our earthly lives. We'll explore the gleaming streets and many mansions of the New Jerusalem. We'll thrill to the wonders of the new earth and the new heaven. And with every new surprise and delight, we will praise the Lord again and again.
If Jesus is your Lord and Savior, all of eternity will be yours to explore. You won't be floating on the clouds, strumming a harp. You won't be a robot. You won't be bored for all eternity. You won't be a disembodied spirit floating around in some strange dimension. Heaven will be filled with all the excitement you could ever want. That's why words are inadequate to describe it.
BUILD TREASURE IN HEAVEN TODAY
When we contemplate the awesome wonder of seeing God's face, it should be our greatest inspiration—what we live for in this life—to please the one "who did not spare His own Son, but gave him up for us all" (Romans 8:32). It should be our ultimate motivation in every decision we make, every business deal we strike, every plan we embark upon. For what you want to build in heaven starts here at this moment in your life. The Bible also tells us there will be believers in heaven who will not receive any rewards. For though they believe in Jesus Christ and have eternal salvation, they did not spend this life for Him (see 1 Corinthians 3:10-15). I pray that would not be said of you and me. Let's build on Christ, our foundation, with gold, silver, and precious stones.Pray with me: "Lord Jesus, I want to live for You so that in eternity I may hear those wonderful, magnificent words from Your lips, 'Well done, good and faithful servant.' May I spend every waking moment looking to that day when I will see You face to face."