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Flames of Heaven

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The Flames of Heaven
by Rob Bell
Text: Revelation 21:1–3
Topic: What would happen if heaven crashed into Earth
Big Idea: The flames of heaven will illuminate, expose, and refine our lives on Earth.
Keywords: Blessings; Christian service; Day of the Lord; Heaven; Judgment, divine; Light; Meaning of life; Stewardship

Introduction: * Revelation 21:1–3

  • John is giving us a glimpse, a picture, of the end of the world.
  • If heaven were to crash into Earth tomorrow, would that be a good thing for the church? Would that be a good thing for you?
  • Transition: I want to work through three icons (images) that the Scriptures give of heaven.

The image of light. * Revelation 22:5; 1 Corinthians 4:5

  • If heaven were to crash into Earth, everything would become exposed—our actions, our motives, our thoughts, etc.
  • Luke 12:2
  • To live "in the light" means having the awareness that everything we do matters.
  • God exposes our faults simply by showing up in his own perfection.
    - Illustration: Bell used to have a neighbor that followed a very strict diet, and his discipline exposed Bell's lack of discipline.
    - Luke 5:4–8

The image of dirt. * Matthew 25:19–30

  • The image of dirt is the image of someone who's been giving something valuable, but buries it instead of using it.
  • God has given each of us many gifts, and we are expected to use them.
    - Illustration: Bell describes a young girl who wasn't able to participate in a tutoring program because there weren't enough volunteers.
    - Illustration: Bell describes a young boy from Michigan who wasn't offered a pair of mittens until New Year's Eve.
  • So the question simply becomes: What have you been given?

The image of fire. * 1 Corinthians 3:10–15

  • God as a "consuming fire" evokes images of refinement, not destruction.
  • In the presence of God, everything impure is burned away.
  • Heaven crashing into Earth would reveal what we have done with our lives.

Conclusion * These images are not telling us to look busy, or focus on doing the correct number of good things.

  • These images are an invitation for us to ask very difficult questions about what we have been doing with our lives.
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