Message from Sunday, May 22nd, 2022
"A Clean Picture of Heaven"
Often times we wonder what heaven is going to be like. When I visit our shutins we sometimes get on this topic. Quite often our shutins are elderly and experiencing health problems. This life isn’t as enjoyable to them as it once was. So, they have their eyes set on heaven, being with the Lord forever. Quite naturally, they have questions about what heaven is going to be like.
We, too, wonder what the Lord has in store for us in heaven. “What’s it going to be like?” we ask. We know that eventually we are going to die, and so we’re curious about what is going to happen to us. We hope we’ll make it into heaven. And if we do, what’s it going to look like. There is nothing wrong with wanting to know more about our eternal destiny. We’re curious creatures by nature. That’s how God made us. If people weren’t curious by nature, we wouldn’t have made all the discoveries we have over the centuries. It’s our curiosity that has led us to analyze and research things, and make some wonderful discoveries that have made our lives easier here on earth.
Our text gives us a glimpse into what heaven is going to look like. John, Jesus’ disciple and author of our text, refers to heaven as a holy city, the new Jerusalem. He does use human measurements and the names we have given to valuable stones to describe the holy city. The reason he gives the city a somewhat human description is so that we might better realize what heaven is going to be like.
Now even though John gives us such a description, our minds still can’t grasp what heaven will actually be like. If anything, this description causes our imaginations to run even wilder. But we do get the picture that with this description of its physical appearance John is trying to convey to us a picture of cleanliness. It’s a beautiful city with brilliant colors and stones. These generally aren’t found in a dump or in unclean and dirty places. We don’t find such things in a manure pit. We usually find beautiful colors and stones in clean places. For example, when diamonds and emeralds and other valuable stones are displayed for the public to see, they’re set in clean cases. I’ve never seen a diamond display in a pig sty setting. Instead, the setting compliments the diamonds display. And the setting is almost always clean.
John is trying to create in our minds a vision of cleanliness in the new Jerusalem, or heaven. It’s not going to be dirty there. Who remembers the saying “cleanliness is next to godliness”? I sure do. I remember being told “Wash your hands, clean up your room, pick up after yourself, take off your shoes in the house.” It was as if cleanliness were one of the seven virtues.
Anyway, John is painting this picture for us about heaven to set us up for what comes at the end of our text: “Nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life.” In other words, the spiritually unclean will not be allowed to enter the holy city. Those who have lived unholy and unclean lives will be shut out.
This gives us another idea of what heaven will look like. Everyone who is opposed to God and all He stands for will not be there. If we think about it, wicked people cause much of the evil in the world today. Who is the cause of war in Ukraine? Evil people. Who is the cause of murder, stealing, lying, adultery, fornication, homosexuality, etc. etc.? Wicked people who refuse to live by God’s ways. These people will not be in heaven. The only people allowed will be those who love the Lord. The spiritually clean will dwell in heaven.
In our world both dwell together, and sometimes it’s hard to know who is spiritually clean and who isn’t. But in heaven there won’t be this confusion. In heaven, all people will be spiritually clean, and there will be no doubt in our minds. We won’t have to second guess.
It’s going to be wonderful to be surrounded only by people who love the Lord. We’ll never have to keep our guard up. The people we meet now are questionable. We’re not sure we can trust them or not. Only after some time when we get to know them do we feel comfortable around them. Sometimes we never get to feeling comfortable around certain individuals. But that lack of trust will not exist in heaven when it comes to our relationships with others.
This is the picture that John gives us of heaven. This is what he saw. He wrote his vision down for us to give us an idea of what heaven will be like.
I don’t know about you but I need this to boost my spirit. Everyday life and relationships can be stressful. It’s when I think about what Jesus has in store for us in heaven that I keep on going. I think how wonderful it will be there. None of the dirt and grime we encounter here will be in heaven. The unclean will not exist there. That means the troubles that the unclean cause will not be there as well. No stress to speak of.
I would hope that we all are looking forward to living in the new Jerusalem. As Christians, this is what we hope for. This is one of the reasons we proclaim to be Christians, followers of Jesus Christ, God Almighty. If heaven isn’t included in God’s promises to us, then what good is our Christian faith? But praise the Lord that we don’t have to contemplate no heaven in God’s plan for us. He intends to bring us into His heavenly kingdom.
We are ever grateful for what the Lord has done for us. There was a time when we were spiritually unclean. We were dirty. We weren’t presentable before the Lord. This was a result of the sin in which we were born. We were a mess. But then we were washed clean in the waters of our baptism. Jesus came to us and cleansed us from all our unrighteousness. It was then that we became clean in the eyes of the Lord. And because of what the Holy Spirit did for us in our baptism we are now included among the clean and pure who will be allowed into heaven.
Jesus has made us clean. His blood washed us clean of our sin and His resurrection is proof that we too will rise to a new life in heaven. We will be forever clean and pure. Never again will be included among the dirty and unclean. Never again will we become spiritually dirty because of our sin.
Now I’m sure we’ve heard this before. This isn’t brand new. But what I hope will be brand new to us today is how we look at heaven. Maybe we’ve gotten so used to our sinful world and all its problems that heaven doesn’t excite us hat much. What happens here in our world is normal—and we’ve gotten used to it. So, all this talk about heaven is nice but not earth shattering for us.
I sincerely hope that we will look at heaven in a different light if that’s how we really feel about it. The talk of heaven ought to make us jump up and down for joy. Heaven is the place where we will experience ultimate happiness. Isn’t that what we want? I don’t meet many people who look forward to being sad. “I want to be sad in life. That’s my goal.” Just about everyone wants happiness. And our Lord promises us ultimate happiness in the new Jerusalem, heaven. That is our great joy.
I pray that John’s description of heaven in our text for today will bring us great joy. Jesus had to suffer and die in order to give us such joy. Our eternal joy and happiness cost Him much. But that joy and happiness is ours because of Him.
I pray that we are looking forward to heaven where there will be no uncleanness whatsoever. All the garbage we experience now will be a thing of the past. Take heart when bad days come upon us because those days will be short lived. Look forward to the eternal joy and happiness the Lord has prepared for us in the new Jerusalem. Be encouraged by our text.