Faithlife Sermons

Through the Tunnel

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Jose/ Bayly was a respected author and speaker on the subject of death. In this excerpt, he wrote of the difficulty we have when we try to understand the realities of the life to come.

I cannot prove the existence of heaven. 1 accept its reality by faith, on the authority of Jesus Christ: "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 14:2).

For that matter, if 1 were a twin in the womb, I doubt that I could prove the existence of earth to my mate. He would probably object that the idea of an earth beyond the womb was ridiculous, that the womb was the only earth we'd ever know.

If I tried to explain that earthlings live in a greatly expanded environment and breathe air, he would only be more skeptical. After all, a fetus lives in water; who would imagine its being able to live in a universe of air? To him such a transition would seem impossible.

It would take birth to prove the earth's existence to a fetus. A little pain, a dark tunnel, a gasp of air — and then the wide world! Green grass, laps, lakes, the ocean, horses (could a fetus imagine a horse?), rainbows, walking, running, surfing, ice-skating. With enough room that you don't have to shove, and a universe beyond.

What is heaven like? For the tired, it is a place of rest. For the sorrowing, a place where "God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying; and there shall be no more pain" (Revelation 21:4). Or war or greed or evil of any kind. It is a place of total happiness: "!n Your presence is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore" (Psalm 16:11).

Heaven is also a place of activity, of work (but without the curse of toil and sweat and barren ground), of sharing in the responsibility of divine government.

I sat with a friend recently in his hospital room. The diagnosis is terminal cancer. If death comes, it will interrupt a distinguished career as a leader in training young men to serve Jesus Christ. "When we think of heaven," he said, "I don't think we give enough consideration to what we're told in Revelation, that 'His servants shall serve Him' (22:3), and that their service is 'day and night' (7:15). We talk too much about rest — our rest will be found in serving God."

In heaven we will be freed from our present fragmented intellectual knowledge, and see truth and beauty with greatly expanded vision. "Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known" (1 Corinthians 13:12).

Heaven will be supremely beautiful. The biblical descriptions include walls of precious stones, gates of pearl, streets of gold. (My mother used to say that she didn't find any particular attraction in golden streets. I had no answer for her until I read a comment by F. B. Meyer, that in heaven all earth's values are turned upside down. "What do we count most valuable on earth?" he asked. "Gold. Men live for gold, kill for it. But in heaven gold is so plentiful that they pave the streets with it ....")

"But," someone says, "how could I enjoy such a place? I'm not made for it." neither is the fetus made for earth until he goes through the tunnel. Is there another place? Yes, but if the reality of heaven is questioned today, the reality of a place of eternal separation from God (hell, as it is usually called) is ignored. I accept its reality by faith, on the authority of Jesus Christ: "I say to you, My friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do. But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear Him who, after Me has killed, has power to cast into hell; yes, I say to you, fear Him!" (Luke 12:4,5).

Jesus Christ described it as a place of "weeping and gnashing of teeth" (Matthew 25:30), of remembering the past with its lost opportunity to repent am? sum to God, of the loss of those gifts men enjoyed on earth without a thought of their Source: ". . . from him who does not have, even what he has will be taken away" (25:29).

Jesus Christ defined hell's reality in stronger liin-guage than any other person in the Bible. But He also had compassion on the multitudes, wept over an unbelieving city, and defined His mission as corning not to condemn, but to bring life.

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