Happily Ever After
Heaven Our Home
Happily Ever After
April 15, 2007
Richard E. Powell
Introduction: Today we will begin a new series of messages about heaven. The series is called, “Heaven our Home.” For the next three weeks we will take a look at what Heaven will be like. We will answer the questions, “Is Heaven real? What will it look like? What will we do there? Will we know our loved ones there? How can I know for certain that I will go to Heaven when I die?” We will seek to answer these questions from the Bible. There are a lot of people out there writing books, producing movies, and giving interviews about Heaven. Much of what they say is contradictory and untrustworthy. I believe the only reliable guide for learning about Heaven is the Bible. The Bible has a clear, coherent, and consistent testimony about Heaven. We do not have to listen to the opinions of men about this subject. We can go straight to the one who owns the place and ask Him. We can trust God to give us the answers we need.
Open your Bible to Psalm 23. We will read the entire Psalm, but I want to focus in on the last verse. There are Bibles located under the seats if you would like to use one of them. I have also given you a sheet to jot down some notes as we consider this first message in the series. Today’s message is titled, “Happily Ever After.”
READ PSALM 23
Every child loves a good fairy tale. My children do. This is my daughter’s book about Sleeping Beauty. The cool thing about this book is it is a pop-up storybook! TELL STORY: SHOW PAGES
The story ends with the Princess and Prince getting married and living “happily ever after.”
All the children hear the words, “happily ever after,” and they say, “How sweet!” Adults hear those words and say, “Yeah, right!” Adults don’t believe in fairy tale endings. Life does not work out this way. The story book does not tell you the rest of the story.
You see, before long the couple started having children of their own. After the third kid the princess had trouble losing all the weight she had gained. She was busy trying to raise the kids and keep the household going. The Prince had become King when his father died suddenly of food poisoning. The new King had to deal with the stresses of being the King during a time of economic recession. He was forced to raise taxes. This, along with an unpopular war caused his approval rating to plummet. Things were not much better at home. The King and Queen had grown apart over the years. Then the scandal broke when it was discovered that the King was having an affair with an intern. A nasty divorce followed. The King got the castle, but the queen got the mansion on the Lake. And they lived miserably ever after.
As adults we don’t believe in fairy tale endings do we? We have difficulty believing it is possible to live happily ever after. That is why verse 6 of Psalm 23 is so intriguing. “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life. And I will dwell in the House of the Lord forever” (Psalm 23:6). David is saying that he is confident that even after he dies he will live happily ever after with God in Heaven. And some of you this morning are wondering if this is a fairy tale ending. It sounds too good to be true. Friend, the Bible’s testimony is clear and trustworthy; Heaven is not a fairy tale.
I. Heaven is not a FAIRY TALE.
David did not declare, “I hope I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” He did not say he dreams or speculates about going to Heaven. He said, “And I will!” As a child he was born in a real place called Bethlehem. As a boy he tended his father’s sheep on the hillsides of Judea. As a young man he hid from Saul in the Judean wilderness. Now he lives in the holy city, Jerusalem. But when he dies he fully expects to live with God the Father in Heaven. He knew that Heaven was a real place! God also wants you to know that Heaven is not a fairy tale. It is a real place. Let me mention three realities of the place we call Heaven. First,
A. Heaven gives a HOME to pilgrim PEOPLE.
Joshua and Casey each have a hamster. Donna and I bought them a few months ago. The hamsters, not Josh and Casey! We bought hamster food and hamster toys and hamster cages. But when I look in those cages at the hamsters I feel sad. They have plenty of warm bedding, plenty of food, and plenty of water. But I feel sad because I know they were meant for such a larger environment. I think instinctively they know they were created for more. They know that the cage is not their natural environment. Each one of them scurries around the cage, climbing the sides, looking for a way out and into a larger world.
I believe that people know there is something more than this small, sinful world in which we live. God placed a yearning in our hearts for something more than what we experience down here. There has to be more than the sin, and sickness, and sorrow, and shortness of this world. The Bible says God has set eternity in our hearts. David once wrote that “as the deer pants for the water brook” so his soul longed for God.
The Bible says that the believer’s home is with God in Heaven. “For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ” (Phil 3:20).
On Oct. 3, 2004 - for the first time in American history - someone became a U.S. citizen on foreign soil. On that date 48 foreign born American soldiers gained their citizenship in Iraq. Paul says we are citizens of Heaven. When we accept Christ as Lord and Savior here on earth we became citizens of Heaven! We received our heavenly citizenship on foreign soil!
We have a home in heaven with God. That is where our spiritual citizenship is. This is why the fame and fortune and fun of this world does not bring lasting satisfaction. We were meant for so much more. We are like pilgrims down here. We are merely passing through on to a better place. Only our Heavenly home can satisfy our deepest longings for peace and joy and purpose. The old Gospel song sums up the Christian's longing for Heaven quite well:
This world is not my home I'm just passing through
my treasures are laid up somewhere beyond the blue
the angels beckon me from Heaven's open door
and I can't feel at home in this world anymore
O Lord you know I have no friend like you
if Heaven's not my home then Lord what will I do?
the angels beckon me from Heaven's open door
and I can't feel at home in this world anymore
Jesus promised to prepare a place for us in Heaven after he died, was resurrected, and ascended into Heaven. (Jesus said) “Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. 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” (John 14:1-2).
B. Heaven gives HOPE for passing PROBLEMS.
The Apostle Peter once wrote of the Hope that is available to us for Passing Problems in 1 Peter 1:3-7:
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 1:3-7).
Some of you here today know what it means to be grieved by all sorts of trials and troubles. You have been hurt by insensitive or cruel people in your life. Some of you have gone through the furnace of depression or disease. Others of you have gone through the furnace of failure or financial problems. Many of you have lost a loved one through divorce or death.
Peter reminds us that we can have hope no matter what because Christ conquered death and the grave for us. Because He lives we have a living hope. Christ is with us and helps us. We know that our present circumstances may be painful, but our future is glorious! There is a lot down here in our lives that painful trials can take away. But you have an inheritance “incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you”
I know that it seems like there is no end to the pain, but Peter reminds us that our trials are for a little while. Compared to eternity, our momentary problems will last but a little while. The purpose behind your pain is the development of your faith and trust in God. When you exercise your physical muscles it hurts at first. But as the old body builder’s motto goes, “No pain, no gain.” So it is with our spiritual growth. “In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ.”
This is why suicide is not an option. Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem. To give up and to take your own life is not an evidence of faith, but a lack of it. I would not want to face God and have to admit that I did not trust Him to carry me through my problems. I would not want to stunt my own spiritual growth by cutting this life short. Instead, we can endure knowing that the groaning of this life will one day give way to the glory of the next! The Apostle Paul declared, “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us” (Romans 8:18).
Heaven gives a HOME to pilgrim PEOPLE, HOPE for passing PROBLEMS, and…
C. Heaven gives HELP for a proper PERSPECTIVE.
The world as we know it is passing away, but Heaven is permanent! This world is temporal, but the next is eternal. The knowledge that you are going to stand before God one day and give an account of how you have lived your life ought to make you examine what you are doing with your time, talents, and possessions. The Bible says in 2 Peter 3:11, “Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness…” (2 Peter 3:11)?
This world is destined for destruction. It would be foolish to put all your hopes and dreams in the things of this world. If you knew the stock market was going to crash tomorrow would you invest your life’s savings in it today? Don’t become enamored with temporary things. There is nothing wrong with enjoying life, but not at the expense of your relationship to God and others. We should seek to live lives that are dedicated to God’s and characterized by godly conduct.
I hope you see that the testimony of the Bible is that Heaven is not a fairy tale. It is a real place that gives us a home, hope, and help. However, I have got to make one serious distinction about Heaven. I would be untrue to the Scriptures and unloving to you if I did not. Heaven is not our default destination.
II. Heaven is not our DEFAULT DESTINATION.
Nearly everyone thinks he is going to Heaven. Randy Alcorn writes in his book, Heaven that, “for every American who believes he’s going to Hell, there are 120 who believe they’re going to Heaven.” If you attend most funerals you would assume nearly everyone is going to Heaven when they die. People even say that all roads lead to Heaven. Many individuals, perhaps some in this room who have never trusted in Christ for Salvation sincerely believe that they are too good to be damned. But Jesus warned us that Heaven is not our automatic destination. Hell is! He said our sin will keep us out of Heaven and condemn us to Hell if we do not believe on Him to forgive us and pay the punishment we deserve. Jesus said to die in your sins is to perish. To perish means to spend eternity separated from God in Hell. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God” (John 3:16-18).
Jesus spoke these words to a man named Nicodemus. You might call him Nick at night because he approached Jesus one night with a question. He wanted to know what he had to do to inherit eternal life. He thought he could do something that would outweigh the sin in his life. And this was a good guy by all accounts. He was religious and moral. He was the kind of guy you would want your daughter to marry. But he was a sinner like us and he was condemned by those sins. But Christ had some bad news and some good news for Nic. The bad news: We are all sinners and we are going to perish without Christ’s help. The good news: Christ’s mission in coming to Earth was one of SALVATION not DAMNATION. The Savior did not have to condemn us. We had done a good job of that ourselves. Jesus came to saves us!
I know that what I am saying, no, what the Bible is saying, is politically incorrect. But it is biblically correct! Friend, the most loving thing I can do for you is warn you that Heaven is not your automatic destination. There is a Hell to be shunned and a Heaven to be gained! I must warn you or I would be unloving and calloused. In fact, it would be criminal for me to remain silent. I must sound the alarm.
In March of 2007, in the Kuban region of southern Russia, at least 62 people were killed by a fire that quickly blazed through a home for the elderly. The greatest tragedy was that it could have been prevented. Authorities say a night watchman ignored two fire alarms. When the third alarm sounded, and the watchman saw flames, he finally took the necessary action for evacuation. Even then, other staffers were notably absent from their posts, making the escape effort nearly impossible in some cases. By the time fire authorities and rescue workers arrived, many residents had already died from smoke inhalation. (Citation: Brian Lowery, associate editor, PreachingToday.com; source: Associated Press, "Fire kills 62 after alarms ignored," CNN.com 3-20-07)
I do not want you to die in the flames of God’s righteous wrath against sin. I want you to be saved and rescued. Jesus came to save you. He is the one who declared, “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it” (Matthew 7:13-14).
Listen, Heaven is not a fairy tale. There is a Heaven! But Heaven is not your default destination when you die. Hell is your default destination. Do nothing and that is where Jesus says you will go when you die. Without Christ you are on the road to destruction. But you can know today that you will go to Heaven when you die. Don’t you want to make it sure? Don’t you want to go to Heaven when you die?
Mrs. Troutman, the Sunday school teacher, asked her preschool class, “Now, how many of you would like to go to heaven?” All the children raised their hands except Justin. The teacher asked Justin why he wouldn’t like to go to heaven. Justin’s reply: “I’m sorry, but I can’t. My mother told me to come right home after Sunday school.”
Listen we are not loading up a bus this morning to go to Heaven. But the Bible says “it is appointed unto man once to die and after this the judgment” (Hebrews 9:27). If you want to go to Heaven when you die then you need to make the reservation today.
You do not have to die in your sins. You can live happily ever after by trusting Christ as your Lord and Savior.
III. You can live happily ever after by TRUSTING JESUS as your Lord and Savior.
In June of 2006, Warren Buffet, the world's second-richest man at the time, announced that he would donate 85 percent of his $44 billion fortune to five charitable foundations.
Commenting on this extreme level of generosity, Buffet said: “There is more than one way to get to heaven, but this is a great way.” (Citation: Associated Press, "How Do You Spend $1.5 Billion a Year?" cbsnews.com 6-27-06)
Is there more than one way to get to Heaven? You have a choice to make today. You can either stake your eternal destiny on the words of Warren Buffet, or you can stake your eternal destiny on the Words of Jesus Christ. Warren Buffet knows something about finances and how to get rich. But Jesus knows all about forgiveness and how to get to Heaven! Jesus made it very clear that if you want to go to the Father’s House when you die then you must come through Him. He is the door to Heaven and faith in Him is the key that unlocks the door. Listen to His words in John 14:6. “Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me’” (John 14:6).
Jesus says, “If you want to be saved, then I am the WAY. If you want to be sure, then I am the TRUTH. And if you want to be satisfied, then I am the LIFE. There is no other way to make it to Heaven than through Me as your Lord and Savior.” Jesus is the door to Heaven and faith in Him is the key that unlocks the door.
“Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life. And I will dwell in the House of the Lord forever” (Psalm 23:6).
How could David speak with such confidence about living happily ever after? How could he be sure that he would dwell in the House of the Lord forever when he died? The answer is found in verse one of Psalm 23. “The Lord is my Shepherd.” Can you say that today? Have you turned to Jesus in faith, accepting Him as your Lord and Savior? Have you committed your life and your eternal destiny to Him? Do it today. You can live happily ever after when you trust Jesus as your Lord and Savior.