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Heaven Is A Wonderful Place!

John 14:1-6 - ”Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me.2In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. 3And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. 4You know the way to the place where I am going.” 5Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?” 6Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

“Heaven is a wonderful place, filled with glory and grace. I’m going to see my Savior’s face! Heaven is a wonderful place!”

The words of this praise song capture the essential truth of why Heaven is a wonderful place. Heaven is a wonderful place because we will see our Savior face to face and be with Him forever! This is the sure hope of every true believer. The Bible doesn’t tell us everything about Heaven, but it certainly gives us enough information to show us how to get to Heaven, and to excite us about being there!

You can’t find more clear and concise directions on how to get to Heaven than the words of our Lord Jesus found in John 14:6. Thomas, one of our Lord’s disciples, had specifically asked Jesus the way to Heaven. The Lord responded, “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father but by Me.” This one statement of truth eliminates all other world “religions” and philosophies, and all man-made constructs of the way to heaven. If any person anywhere in the world is truly seeking the truth and the way to heaven and eternal life, God will in some way lead that person step by step to Himself. And Romans 1:20 leaves no doubt that God has given everyone enough evidence of Himself in creation so that no one has an excuse not to respond to the one true God.

In addition to clearly showing us the way to Heaven, the first few verses of John 14 should excite us about being in Heaven. After considering the background for this passage of Scripture, we’ll look at three truths the Lord revealed about Heaven and why it is such a wonderful place.

Background Notes

John 13 begins the section of the Gospel of John that is known as the Upper Room Discourses. These discourses, or talks, were given on the occasion of the Last Supper. Besides the event of the Lord Jesus washing the feet of His disciples and the institution of the Lord’s Supper, the Lord took time to give final instructions and comfort to His disciples before He went to the cross.

In John 14:1 the Lord said to the disciples, “Let not your hearts be troubled…” The disciples were bewildered and discouraged. Why? First, the Lord had told them that He was going to be crucified. John 12:32-33: “‘And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to Myself.’ This He said, signifying by what death He would die.” Then He had revealed to them that one of them would be a traitor. John 13:21: “When Jesus had said these things, He was troubled in spirit, and testified and said, ‘Most assuredly, I say to you, one of you will betray Me.’” 

Moving on, He had told them that He was going to leave them. John 13:33: ”Little children, I shall be with you a little while longer. You will seek Me; and as I said to the Jews, ‘Where I am going, you cannot come,’ so now I say to you.”Then Jesus told Peter that he would deny Him three times. John 13:38: “Jesus answered him, ‘Will you lay down your life for My sake? Most assuredly, I say to you, the rooster shall not crow till you have denied Me three times.’” So I think that we can understand why the disciples were discouraged and bewildered, and I think we would have felt the same way. It was in this context, then, that the Lord said to them, “Let not your hearts be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me.”

In John 14:2-3 the Lord explained to the disciples that He was not going to leave them permanently. He was going away to prepare a place for them, and He promised that He would come again for them. He reassured them that they would be with Him again. This, by the way, is not a reference to the death of the believer--it is a reference to the return of the Lord. So here in these three verses of John 14 we not only have a description of heaven, but we also have the promise of the Lord’s return.

Now let’s ask a theological question – this return to which the Lord referred here: is this the Rapture of the Church, or is it the Return of the Lord to the earth to set up His kingdom? What is the difference between the “Rapture” of the Church and the Return of the Lord to set up his kingdom?

First let’s discuss the return of the Lord to this earth to set up His kingdom. In the Olivet Discourse, in which our Lord taught about the future, the Lord spoke of His return in power, glory, and judgment to this earth. He was speaking about His return to the earth to set up His kingdom. The Olivet Discourse is found in Matthew 24-25, Mark 13, and Luke 21. Let’s read Matthew 24:29-30: “Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.” This passage describes the return of the Lord to this earth to set up His kingdom. All the Old Testament passages dealing with the coming of the Messiah to set up His kingdom here on earth appear to refer to this same return – the one of which our Lord spoke in the Olivet Discourse.

However, in the Epistles (letters that are specifically written to the Church), we find a “return of the Lord” which appears to be different. In the return of the Lord mentioned in the Epistles, He does not return to this earth in power, glory, and judgment. No cosmic signs are associated with this return. He is not seen by everyone on earth. It seems that this return does not occur after the special time of great trouble on the earth that is mentioned by the Lord in the Olivet Discourse--it appears to occur before the end-time period of tribulation.

The return of the Lord that is mentioned in the Epistles is specifically for the Church. At this coming, the Lord does not return to the earth but to the air, where Christians will be caught up to meet the Him. That’s why this coming of the Lord is sometimes called the Rapture. (This term can be confusing, because today the word rapture is used to describe an ecstatic emotional state. However, the word “rapture” is derived from the Latin word rapere, which means “to seize” or to be “caught up.” From this same root word we get the term “raptor” for an bird that snatches up its prey into the air.) There are two specific passages in the Epistles that deal with this return of the Lord to the air – 1 Corinthians 15:51-54 and 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18. Let’s read two verses from 1 Thessalonians 4, that speak of the event that we call the rapture of the church, when believers will be “caught up” to meet the Lord in the air. 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 “For the Lord Himself will descend from Heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord.”

So there is a difference, then, between the return of the Lord to this earth to set up His kingdom, and the return of the Lord when He will “rapture” or “catch up” His people to be with Him.

These two great passages in the epistles, 1 Corinthians 15 and 1 Thessalonians 4, deal with the Rapture of the Church. All the other passages in the Old Testament and in the Gospels that refer to the return of the Lord look ahead to the Return of the Lord to this earth to set up His kingdom--with one exception! There is one passage in the Gospels that appears to refer to the Rapture of the Church, and it is this passage right here – John 14:2-3. Notice verse 3 once again, “And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.” We believe this verse refers to the coming of the Lord for His people, the Rapture of the Church.

Doctrinal / Teaching Point

Heaven is a place where "it doesn't get any better than this!" 

“It doesn’t get any better than this!” I’m sure you’ve heard that expression used before, right? We use it all the time! Imagine sitting on a beach in the Caribbean (especially in the winter!) - warm sunshine, turquoise-blue water, sipping iced tea – and we think to ourselves, “It doesn’t get any better than this!” Or maybe it’s a beautiful day in the mountains during ski season, with clear blue skies, crisp air and perfect snow conditions -- “It doesn’t get any better than this!”

Well, it does get better than that - much better!! Heaven is the only place where we will truly say, “It doesn’t get any better than this!” Let’s briefly look at three reasons from verses 2-3 that tell us why Heaven is the place where “It doesn’t get any better than this!”

1. First of all, Heaven is a place called home.

 “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”(v2). “My Father’s house,” or Heaven, is a place called home. That’s really the idea that the Lord is conveying with the phrase, “in My Father’s house are many mansions…” This verse may have given some of us the idea that we’ll each have our own big, beautiful, private mansion when we get to Heaven. No! That’s not the idea! The Lord’s thought here is that there are many rooms in the Father’s house. There’s room for everyone, and we will all be at home together as one big happy family--God’s family!

Heaven is our home! Maybe the best way we could capture the idea is to think of the expression, “going home for the holidays.” Now if that phrase gives you a warm happy feeling because you’re thinking of the whole family together for Thanksgiving or Christmas, sitting together around the fireplace, sharing family secrets, fun times and memories--then you’re getting close to the concept expressed here by our Lord. Heaven is home! And the great thing is, it doesn’t end after the holidays--it’s eternal!

2. Second, Heaven is a place that is being prepared for us!

 “I go to prepare a place for you”(v2). Heaven is a place especially prepared for us by the Lord Jesus! The Lord knows all about us – after all, He created us. Certainly He knows what’s going to be the best for us. Now I know that some of you might be hoping that there’s golf in Heaven, or skiing in Heaven, or great entertainment in Heaven, or maybe even great-tasting guilt-free food in Heaven! Well, all joking aside, Heaven will be the greatest, because the Lord has prepared it just for us! And if you’re a believer, you will be there--it’s our eternal home and it’s specifically prepared for us.

3. Third, the Lord Jesus is there!

And He wants us to be there, too! “And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.” The Lord wants us to be with Him forever! It’s going to be great! Did you ever make a trip somewhere, expecting to see someone special, but when you got there, that special person wasn’t there? What a disappointment - not a happy experience! Well, we don’t have to worry about anything like that happening in Heaven, because our Lord Jesus will be there, for sure. In fact, the Lord Jesus Himself is coming to get us, to personally take us with Him to Heaven. He says He’ll “receive us unto Himself.” He wants us to be with Him! And we’ll be with Him forever! 1 Thessalonians 4:17 says, “And thus we shall always be with the Lord.” Heaven is the place where “it doesn’t get any better than this!”

Practical Application

Think about Heaven when you’re discouraged! 

Look again at verse 1: “Let not your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in Me.” In other words, the Lord was saying to the disciples, “Right now you’re discouraged, but you believe in God, even though you can’t see Him. Now trust in Me the same way, even though I am going away and you won’t see Me physically here on this earth. Cheer up! Don’t let your hearts be sad or troubled! You can be sure that even though you can’t see Me, I’ll be thinking of you! In fact, I’m going away to prepare a wonderful, special place for you, and I’ll be coming back for you to take you to be with Me forever!” The Lord told them about heaven to cheer them up and to encourage them. In the same way, when we as disciples are discouraged, let’s think about Heaven! When you’re discouraged with your job, or your circumstances, or your ministry, remember: it’s not a permanent situation---it’s temporary! Let’s think about Heaven when we’re discouraged.

I think we’re all vulnerable to discouragement. Here’s a rather trite illustration: I tend to get discouraged when things that are new get damaged for the first time-- that really bothers me. Take, for example, a new car. It won’t be long before that pristine surface gets a scratch or a “ding”! Even though it may be only a small mark, I tend to think, “Why did that have to happen? It’s so discouraging!”

Well, how can we cheer up? Think about Heaven! It really helps to put our discouraging circumstance into proper perspective by thinking like this: “One hundred years from now, what difference will those little dings or scratches make? No big deal!”

Think about Heaven! This is very practical. No matter what area or what circumstance makes you vulnerable to discouragement, think about Heaven. Think about Heaven when you’re discouraged!
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