Here is the second sermon in a series about Heaven by Judah Smith. In it, Judah recommends "Heaven," by Randy Alcorn, and "Heaven is For Real," by Todd Burpo. I've never read them, but maybe they're good.

I don't think much about seems kind of far-off and mystical. I actually become a little afraid imagining myself standing amongst a throng of worshipers in an unknown paradise. Maybe that's fear of the unknown; or maybe it's just comfort with earth. Judah makes a good point though, "To let ourselves get caught up imagining paradise, it increases our urgency to tell others and minimizes our problems." That seems to be his thesis to this whole series. He reminds us that it's okay to get excited about heaven! It's the place God intended for us to exist in in the first place!

I definitely encourage a listen to the whole series, as it builds into some powerful statements about how thinking about heaven affects our lives on earth.

John 3:13 - "No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven--the Son of Man."
Luke 23:39-43
One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: “Aren’t you the Messiah? Save yourself and us!”
But the other criminal rebuked him. “Don’t you fear God,” he said, “since you are under the same sentence? We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.”
Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”
Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.”
  •  In this exchange with the thief
    • Jesus, in the worst pain ever, assures the thief for whom He is dying
    • Jesus replaces the thief's word "heaven" with "paradise"
  • Rev. 2:7 - "Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who is victorious, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God."
  • What's heaven going to look like?
    • Look the end of the age there will be a new heaven and a new earth
    • Our planet is innately good - "it is very, very, very good" in Hebrew
    • The earth is under a curse (like us) and will be redeemed (like us)
    • "That is what the Scriptures mean when they say, "No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him." - 1 Corinthians 2:9
  • Jesus' resurrected body is a good indicator of what it will be like (John 21:1-14)
    • He eats!
  • Why use the word "paradise?"
    • Is heaven, but not necessarily the "new heaven and new earth"
    • The word is closely associated with, and sometimes a derivative of, The Garden of Eden
  • Three men hanging on trees
    • Jesus bringing assurance to a criminal who deserves his punishment
    • The two categories of people: those who think their righteousness is enough, and those who admit that it isn't and depend on God
  •  Heaven can be more tangible than we think
    • Revelation 22
      • Describes a tree, a river, streets
      • We will have duties
      • Music, arts
      • "They will see his face" = the zenith of heaven
        • Nothing will compare to that joy
  • To let ourselves get caught up imagining paradise, it increases our urgency to tell others and minimizes our problems.