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Spiritual Things: Part 1 – Heaven

First Baptist Church https://fbcbartow.org

“Spiritual Things: Heaven”

Series: Spiritual Things[on screen]

Rev. Matthew C. McCraw, EdD

First Baptist Church, Bartow, Florida

May 10, 2020

Introductory Comments:

There’s a show that came out on Netflix a few years ago called “Stranger Things.” The show captured a lot of the American population for several reasons, one of which was that the show dug into the paranormal, and people seem to be really interested in that. 

Similarly, when people suggest sermon ideas for pastors there are usually multiple people who suggest that the pastor teach a series on Heaven and Hell, angels and demons, spiritual warfare, and the like. People are interested in the supernatural. They are interested in spiritual things.

Well, the people have spoken. People have asked me to do a series on spiritual things. Since I am a man of the people (most of the time), I’ve decided to do a series on spiritual things. I’ve dug deep into my creative capabilities and have come up with the title, “Spiritual Things.” [show slide for Spiritual Things] Over the next several weeks we will learn about Heaven, Hell, angels, demons, and spiritual warfare. 

Today, on Mother’s Day I wanted to talk about something very positive. Let’s talk about heaven today!

Before we do, let’s pray together.


As we get into today’s lesson we will seek to answer several questions regarding Heaven.

It’s important to stop and recognize how popular a topic Heaven is. There has been so much said and so much written about Heaven that there’s no way we can address all the information about Heaven. 

Similarly, there is a lot of confusion about Heaven in our culture. Rather than address every question about Heaven, this morning we will seek to hit the main points from the Bible regarding Heaven.

So, let’s dive in. First, . . .

I. What is Heaven? [on screen]

Immediately, as we seek to answer this first question we must acknowledge that there are two answers, from the Bible, to this question. 

The Bible speaks of Heaven in two ways. At least, in the sense that we understand Heaven. We’re going to learn about what we call present Heaven and future Heaven. 

A. Present Heaven [on screen]

Present Heaven is just what it sounds like. Present Heaven refers to Heaven now. 

You might wonder, “Pastor Matt, are you saying that Heaven will be different later than it is now?” The answer to that is an emphatic yes. I’ll show you from the Bible how that is the case. 

We know that God dwells in Heaven now. This present Heaven is the place where God dwells in His glory, accompanied by His angels, the spirits of His children who have already left this earth, and with Jesus seated at His right hand. We’re going to get into these specifics in just a minute. 

You see, the truth is, for followers of Jesus, to be away from our bodies now is to be in Heaven with God now. The apostle Paul says in 2 Corinthians 5:6-8, “6 So we are always confident and know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord. 7 For we walk by faith, not by sight. 8 In fact, we are confident, and we would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord.” [on screen]

Similarly, Jesus spoke to the criminal on the cross who was crucified next to Him. Listen to their exchange in Luke 23:42-43, “Then he said, ‘Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.’ 43 And he said to him, ‘Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.’” [on screen] So, there’s not an intermediate state before Heaven. There’s no purgatory. Jesus said that this man would be with Him in Heaven today. His spirit is with Jesus in Heaven. Obviously, the man’s original body is not in Heaven because his body was buried. But the man’s spirit was in paradise with Jesus and is with Jesus today. 

So, then, what happens to our bodies?

Well, that takes us to our second understanding of Heaven . . .

B. Future Heaven [on screen]

The Bible clearly teaches that there will be a second place in the afterlife for those who are followers of Jesus. For our understanding, we can refer to this as the future Heaven.

Listen, for instance, to John’s vision in Revelation 21:1-2: “1 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. 2 I also saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared like a bride adorned for her husband.” [on screen]

Listen also to this Old Testament prophecy from Isaiah 65:17 as God says, “For I will create new heavens and a new earth; the past events will not be remembered or come to mind.” [on screen] Clearly, in the Old Testament prophecy and the Revelation of Jesus to John concerning the end of the earth, we see a picture of a new heaven and a new earth that God will create. We’ll talk more about that in a moment. 

So, present Heaven is where God dwells now and the spirit of those followers of Jesus go when they die. 

The future Heaven will be the place where we are united with our new resurrected bodies. We will have physical bodies in the future Heaven. This will happen when Jesus returns and makes all things new. More about that later. 

II. What is Heaven like? [on screen]

Well, we’ve spoken for a moment about what Heaven is, but what is Heaven like? That’s our next focus. Again, let’s think in terms of the present Heaven and the future Heaven.

A. What is the present Heaven like? [on screen]

As we learned earlier, the present Heaven is the place where God dwells in His glory, accompanied by His angels, the spirits of His children, and with Jesus seated at His right hand. So, let’s look at these elements:

Remember, the present Heaven is the place where God dwells. Jesus said in Matthew 6:9, “Therefore, you should pray like this: Our Father in heaven, your name be honored as holy.”[on screen] God the Father is in Heaven now. This is where He dwells in His glory. 

God is accompanied by angels in Heaven. For instance, speaking of Jesus, we read in Luke 22:43, “Then an angel from heaven appeared to him, strengthening him.”  [on screen]

The present Heaven is also the current dwelling place for the spirits of those followers of Jesus who have passed away. Again, Paul says to be absent from the body is to be with the Lord.

The present Heaven is also where Jesus sits at the right hand of God the Father. Speaking of Jesus Peter says in 1 Peter 3:22, “ . . . who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God with angels, authorities, and powers subject to him.” [on screen]

Also, you may have heard the phrase “the third heaven.” Some of you might ask, “What about the third heaven?” For instance, in 2 Corinthians 12:2, Paul says, “I know a man in Christ who was caught up to the third heaven fourteen years ago.”  [on screen]This refers to the present Heaven. Jewish people spoke of the first heaven as the visible sky, the second heaven as the cosmos (or outer space), and the third heaven as the place where God dwells. This is the present Heaven.

This present Heaven is wonderful for several reasons. We are in the presence of God the Father, Jesus our Lord, angels, and other believers. We are away from the curse of sin. Ultimately, Jesus says that this place is paradise. 

However, this is not the final heaven. This is not the place where we will spend all eternity. That is the future Heaven.

Well, what is the future Heaven like? I’m glad you asked. 

B. What is the future Heaven like? [on screen]

The future Heaven will be vastly different than the present Heaven. 

The main differences between the present Heaven and the future Heaven are that future Heaven will be on the new earth and it will be permanent. 

Let’s look at the Bible regarding this. Listen again to Isaiah 65:17-18: “17 For I will create new heavens and a new earth; the past events will not be remembered or come to mind. 18 Then be glad and rejoice forever in what I am creating; for I will create Jerusalem to be a joy and its people to be a delight.” [on screen]

The old earth, as it is now, will be destroyed. 

Peter spoke of this in 2 Peter 3:10-13. He says, “10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief; on that day the heavens will pass away with a loud noise, the elements will burn and be dissolved, and the earth and the works on it will be disclosed. 11 Since all these things are to be dissolved in this way, it is clear what sort of people you should be in holy conduct and godliness 12 as you wait for the day of God and hasten its coming. Because of that day, the heavens will be dissolved with fire and the elements will melt with heat. 13 But based on his promise, we wait for new heavens and a new earth, where righteousness dwells.” [on screen]

This new earth will be as it was originally intended to be before sin came into the world. 

No more death, sorrow, pain, heartache, loss, sin, or guilt. All efforts of the curse of sin will be remedied!

The future Heaven and new Earth will have many similarities to our world today. We learn from Revelation 19:9 that we will eat. We learn from Luke 22:18 that we will drink. We learn from Revelation 22:1-3 that there will be natural features of the land such as rivers. We learn that there will be music in the future Heaven. There will be many similarities to today’s world, but everything will be perfect and good!

We will see some of the same things, smell some of the same things, hear some of the same things, feel some of the same things, and taste some of the same things, but it will all be good.  

God will once again be able to say of the earth, “It is very good.”

Also, we will enjoy the world in the fullness of perfection and godliness. 

In the future Heaven, we will experience Paradise restored.

Jesus is preparing a place for us to enjoy in the future Heaven. He says in John 14:2-3, “2 In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? 3 If I go away and prepare a place for you, I will come again and take you to myself, so that where I am you may be also.” [on screen]

In the future Heaven, we will be able to enjoy the rewards that we have stored up in Heaven. Matthew 6:20 says, “But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves don’t break in and steal.” [on screen] What a joy it will be to receive and experience these treasures.

Most of the promises of God will be enjoyed in their fullness in the future Heaven, not in the present Heaven. The rush of the river of God’s goodness will be unleashed when He makes all things new. 

Best of all, we will see Jesus and be with Jesus forever!

Revelation 22:4 says, “They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads.” [on screen]We will see Jesus and delight in Him!

Revelation 21:23 speaks of the glory of God and of Jesus. It says, “The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, because the glory of God illuminates it, and its lamp is the Lamb.” [on screen]Jesus, in His brilliance, will dwell with us!

Think about this, church: theologian Wayne Grudem says, “Heaven is the one place where everyone worships God.” We will all love and worship God in His glory!

Someone may still ask, why have two Heavens? I don’t understand this. Well, think of the present Heaven as a glorious step on our way to our final destination. 

Author Randy Alcorn helpfully explains the journey from the present Heaven to the future Heaven like this: imagine that you are retiring and moving to a beautiful mountain cabin in the Carolina mountains. It’s a perfect location with mountain views, a beautiful river that crosses behind it, with a butler and a maid for the rest of your days. Now, imagine that as you retire and set off to move you stop along the way and spend time with family in Savannah, Georgia. You stay for a while and just have a great time. Even though you thoroughly enjoy your time in Savannah, and it was wonderful, that is not your final destination. Your final destination is your mountain cabin. 

In the same way, the present Heaven is glorious and wonderful. However, it is not our final home. Our final home is the New Jerusalem, the New Heaven and the New Earth, with King Jesus, and all His followers, forever. 

In the present Heaven now, those who are there are looking forward to the future Heaven, along with the rest of us. We’re looking forward to the day when we can spend eternity with our brothers and sisters in Christ, united with our Heavenly Father, enjoying the new creation forever.

III. How do I go to Heaven? [on screen]

Perhaps the most important question to answer from this sermon is, “How do I get to Heaven?”

John 3:16-17 says, “16 For God loved the world in this way: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” [on screen]

We secure our place in Heaven by committing ourselves to Jesus. When we do, Jesus prepares a home for us there. 

Concluding Thoughts:

Jesus is our hope. Heaven is our home. Let’s look to Jesus and look forward to Heaven. 

Listen to this beautiful description of Heaven from John L. Dagg, a pastor and theologian from the 1800s: “Oh, to see our Father’s face, without a cloud between, and to feel that perfect love occupies the full capacity of our hearts, and governs every emotion! We pant after God, the living God. We long for heaven; because there we shall dwell forever in the light of his countenance.”

Heaven is real and it is promised to God’s children. 

That takes us to our bottom line:

Bottom Line: Heaven is God’s dwelling place and the promised home for His children[on screen]


I can’t wait to be in God’s presence. I can’t wait to be with Jesus. 

If you are God’s child, trust Jesus and His promises. Look forward to Heaven with hope. 

Weekly Challenge: [on screen]

1. Consider your impressions of Heaven. [on screen]

Perhaps you have some ideas about Heaven based on pop-culture, books, or reported visions of others. 

Listen, church: let God’s Word shape your impressions of Heaven. Trust the Bible.

Consider your impressions of Heaven this week. Dig deeper into the Bible yourself and learn more.  

2. Consider your place in Heaven[on screen]

Do you have a home in Heaven prepared for you? It’s only through Jesus that you can do so. 

Take some time this week and consider your place in Heaven.


Trust Jesus. Trust in the Hope of Heaven. 

There’s a lot to cover about Heaven and there’s no way we can cover it all. Let me know if you have further questions and join us for Digging Deeper Wednesday at 6:00 PM. 

If you don’t know if you’re going to Heaven after this life, you can know that for sure. 

(Gospel presentation)

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