What I Believe About Heaven: The Inexpressable Preciousness
June 24th, 1990 @ 8:15 AM
WHAT I BELIEVE ABOUT HEAVEN
THE INEXPRESSIBLE PRECIOUSNESS
Dr. W. A. Criswell
6-24-90 8:15 a.m.
We welcome the uncounted throngs of you who share this hour on radio. You are now a part of our dear First Baptist Church in Dallas. This is the pastor bringing the message entitled What I Believe about Heaven – Its Inexpressible Preciousness, the answer to questions that are most frequently asked.
As you know, these sermons are to be printed in a book by Tyndale Publishing House. The first one, What I Believe about Heaven, the Place; the second one, What I Believe about Heaven, the People; last Sunday, What I Believe about Heaven, the Pageantry, what we shall do; and this, What I Believe About Heaven, the answer to questions most frequently asked. It has been an interesting thing for me as I have studied God’s Holy Word and prepared these answers. The answers have to come from the Bible; there is no other infallible source of revelation. God has to tell us what it is like over there and what we shall be in that coming world.
All right, let’s begin. The number one question most frequently asked is this: will we know each other in heaven? A baby is born in a home. The grandmother dies; she goes to heaven and is expecting a little grandchild there, a little baby there. A little brother dies, and he goes to heaven, and he is expecting a little child there. The years pass, and the mother dies, and she is expecting a teenager there, a youth there. The years pass, he marries, his wife dies, and she is expecting a husband there. And the years pass, and a grandchild dies, and the grandchild is expecting a grandfather there. What will it be? That baby expected by some, all through the years expected by other members of the family, and finally an aged grandfather expecting a grandchild? The answer is this: we shall know each other in heaven by intuitive knowledge.
You have an example of intuitive knowledge in Peter, James, and John on the Mount of Transfiguration, recognizing Moses and Elijah intuitively [Luke 9:28-33]. You have another example of that in Matthew 8:11: “Many shall come from the east and the west, sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven.” How do they know Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob? We shall know each other intuitively. And when that little baby, or that youth, or that man, or that grandchild, when they all get to heaven, they will know each other intuitively.
In 1 Corinthians 13:12: “Now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.” We shall not know less of each other in heaven than we know here. In fact, we shall not really know the full circumference and parameters of life until we get to heaven. In Revelation 3:5: “He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot his name out of the Book of Life, but I will confess his name before My Father, and before His angels.” We shall possess our individual names in heaven. We shall be known by our names. You, you, we, we, personality and individuality exists beyond the grave. We’ll be ourselves, and we shall know each other intuitively.
Do those in heaven know what is happening on earth? Yes. In heaven we shall have a knowledge of what is developing in this world. Hebrews 12:1: “Wherefore seeing we are encompassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses . . . let us run with patience the race that is set before us.” The passage certainly does not deny the thought that the saints in heaven look down upon us in earth. In [1 Samuel 28:15-19], Samuel is in the other world, but he knew what was developing about King Saul and Israel in this world. In Luke 15:7, our Lord says: “I say unto you . . . joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth.” And in verse 10: “Likewise, I say unto you, that there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth” [Luke 15:10]. Who are these rejoicing ones in the presence of the angels of God? They are the saints in heaven that know when somebody comes down that aisle and gives himself to the Lord Jesus. In Luke 16:23, the rich man died, quote, “And in Hades,” translated “hell” in the King James Version, “he lifted up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom [Luke 16:22-23] . . . I pray thee,” he says in verse 27-28, “father, that thou wouldest send him to my fathers house: for I have five brethren; lest they also come to this place of torment” [Luke 16:27-28]. Down there in hades he knows his five brothers are still lost.
Revelation 6: 9-10: “And when He had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God…and they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord . . . dost Thou not judge them . . . that dwell on the earth?” They know what is happening on the earth, and they follow it with intensest interest.
If our loved ones do not arrive in heaven, will we know that? How can we be happy if someone dear to us in this life dies without Christ? The answer: they will not be remembered; they will be as if they never lived. There is no life or existence outside of Christ. Deuteronomy 25:19: “Thou shalt blot out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven.” Psalm 9:5: “Thou hast rebuked the heathen, Thou hast put out their names for ever.” Psalm 69:28: “Let them be blotted out of the book of the living.” And Psalm 109:13: “Let their name be blotted out.” If someone dies without Christ, their names are blotted out. It is as though they never existed, they were never born. That’s why it is so vital for these whom we love to be won to Christ. There is no life, there is no existence, there is no remembrance outside of our living, saving Lord [John 3:36].
If a man had two wives on earth, or a woman had two husbands on earth, in heaven, will he have both wives? Or will she have both husbands? This question was asked of the Lord Jesus by the Sadducees in their scorn for the doctrine of the resurrection of the dead [Matthew 22:23]. You can read it in Matthew 22: 23-30. They used the law of the Levirate marriage; namely, that if a man who died left his widow, the relative next of kin, the male relative next of kin, had to take the widow and raise up seed to the deceased [Deuteronomy 25:5-6]. So the Sadducees in this instance say that the widow had seven different brothers as her husband: the husband died, and the first brother took her; he died and the second brother took her; he died and the third brother took her. And so they say, in [Matthew 22:28], “Therefore, in the resurrection, whose wife shall she be of the seven? For they all had her.” And I can just see those Sadducees: “Ha-ha-ha-ha-ha, let’s see You answer that question.” It was a question of disdain and scorn.
Our Lord never circumvented any kind of a question or any kind of a situation or development. Whatever you read of our Lord, He is forthright and positive and dynamic in His answer. So the answer of Jesus: Matthew 22:30 quote, “In the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels of God in heaven.” Angels do not have sex; they are persons like you, but they are not sexed. Angels do not procreate. Angels do not share sexual intimacy, nor shall we in heaven. That alone, sexual intimacy, is taken away. Now, is sexual intimacy necessary for our knowledge of and enjoyment of each other? Well, look at it honestly. I loved and knew my mother, with no thought of sexual intimacy. I knew and loved my father, with no thought of sexual intimacy. I knew and loved my brothers and sisters, with no thought of sexual intimacy. I know and love you; you are dear to me beyond anybody in this world, but with no thought of sexual intimacy. I know the Lord Jesus my Savior in my heart, with no thought of sexual intimacy.
An older couple, give them time, an older couple loses their sexual intimacy. For example, in Genesis 18:12, when Abraham and Sarah were told in their old age they were going to give birth to a son, son of promise, Isaac [Genesis 17:15-19]; “Therefore Sarah laughed within herself, saying, After I am waxed old shall I have pleasure, my lord being old also?” [Genesis 8:9-12]. He was ninety-nine; she was eighty-nine [Genesis 17:17]; they no longer lived in sexual intimacy. And if you live long enough with your spouse, you will lose all sexual intimacy. But they still loved each other, Abraham and Sarah; and they were blessed by the presence of each other. So we in heaven, we shall no longer be sexually intimate as you were when you first married, but you will know and enjoy and appreciate each other in the life of our Lord in glory, as here in our church, as in the presence of our friends, and as before the whole world.
Will Jesus be the only Person of the Trinity we shall see in heaven? Yes. There is one God, and only one. We shall not see three gods in heaven. The only God there is, is God. Deuteronomy 6:4, the famous Shema: “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord.” Not only is there one God, but the only God we shall feel is the Holy Spirit: “Being filled with the Spirit,” Ephesians 5:18. We shall experience Christ living in us: Romans 8:9-10. First Thessalonians 1:6: “Ye became followers of the Lord with joy of the Holy Spirit.” The only God you’ll ever feel is the God inside your heart: the Holy Spirit. Now the only God we shall ever see is the Lord Jesus. [John 14:9]: “He that hath seen Me hath seen the Father.” Will He have nail scars in His hands, as we knew Him here in earth? Yes. Luke 24:39, “Behold My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself,” and He showed them His hands and His feet [Luke 24:40]. John 20:25: the disciples said to Thomas:
We have seen the Lord. But Thomas said to them, Except I shall see in His hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into His side, I will not believe
Verse 27, when Jesus appeared, He saith to Thomas:
Reach hither thy finger, and behold My hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into My side; and be not faithless, but believing. And Thomas answered, My Lord and my God
Sometimes, for a moment, the risen Lord Jesus was not recognized. In Luke 24:16, “Their eyes were holden that they should not know Him.” In John 20:13-15, Mary Magdalene, her sadness drowned with tears her eyes. In John 21:4, the fog of the early morning hour partly hid the figure standing there on the shore. But all of this was for an earthly moment. Jesus revealed Himself to those He loved and who loved Him, in His chosen time and way.
Can you eat all you want in heaven and not get fat, such as donuts and pizza? The answer is yes, a decided yes! Jesus ate. Luke 24:41-43: “Jesus said, Have you here anything to eat? And they gave Him a piece of a broiled fish, and of an honeycomb. And He took it, and did eat before them.” Revelation 19:9: “And He saith unto me, Write, Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb.” Revelation 22:2: “In the mist of the street of it . . . was there the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month.”
This brings to mind the miracle of assimilation, of constructive metabolism. You are what you eat; and if you don’t believe it, see what happens to you if you quit eating, just try it. Before your eyes on a table are dishes of food. Eat it and it becomes you, lifted up, raised, quickened into another realm of life: one of thought and mind and emotion and living. Dead, inanimate—raised into a living, thinking, emotionally motivated person. Dead, inanimate matter, by a miracle of assimilation, metabolism, is quickened into you and into me.
Now, that miracle is repeated once again when we in our resurrected, glorified, spirit bodies eat. The food is raised and quickened one step and level higher: it becomes a miraculous part of the spiritual body. And I don’t think one miracle is any more miraculous than the other one. When you eat dead inanimate matter here and it is quickened into you, it’s a miracle. When it is quickened one step and level higher into your spiritual body, it’s another miracle—both of them marvelous.
Questions about going to heaven: will angels escort us to heaven? Yes. Luke 16:22: “And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom.” And when you die, there will be an angel that will take you to heaven. You won’t get lost on the way.
Will we go to heaven when we die or to an intermediate state? We go to an intermediate state when we die called Paradise, waiting for the resurrection of our bodies. But I want you to notice, that Paul in 2 Corinthians 12:2, 4 uses the word “Paradise” for heaven: he uses them interchangeably. Where Jesus is will be heaven enough: and He is waiting for us in Paradise [Luke 23:43]. There we will be with Him, waiting for the resurrection of our bodies [1 Thessalonians 4:16-17].
Do people who commit suicide go to heaven? Yes, if they are saved. First Samuel 28:19: “Tomorrow shalt thou be with me,” Samuel in heaven says to Saul, King Saul. You and I, we can be sick in any part of our living existence: in our head, in our heart, in our foot, in our hand, in our torso; we can be sick anywhere. We can also be sick in our mind and in our soul. Does God hate us because we are sick? Does He disown us because we are not well? People who commit suicide are sick: sick in heart, sick in soul. Jesus is the Great Physician [Matthew 8:16, 15:30]. He will heal us up there in body and soul. The retarded will be retarded no more. The cripple will be crippled no longer. And the sick in mind and in soul and in heart will be tortured no more. If they are saved, they’ll go to heaven.
Do homosexuals go to heaven? We’re all alike, tempted to sin: a heterosexual, to those of opposite sex; a homosexual, to those of the same sex. We must all ask for strength to overcome: the heterosexual to remain chaste and pure, and the homosexual likewise to be chaste and pure, and both of us asking Jesus to forgive us and to save us.
Will animals go to heaven? The garden of Eden was filled with animals, [Genesis 2:20], and Genesis 3:1 it is repeated again. The millennium is vividly and dynamically described as being at peace with the whole animal world. Isaiah 11:6, “The wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion together.” Romans 8:19-22 avows the deliverance of the whole creation. Creation, that word ktisis is used as the subject in verses 19, in verses 20, in verses 21 and 22 [Romans 8:19, 20, 21, 22]. These animals will be in heaven. It’ll be the Paradise, the Eden of God; and your pet will be there also. What you think about that? If you love a pretty little cat, precious little dog, a pony, the whole creation is going to be delivered from the curse of death.
“Explain the new heaven and the new earth” [Revelation 21:1]; they are not annihilated. Matter, atomic material, is everlasting and indestructible. The creation will be re-created in perfection. Like our bodies that can decay, they can be burned, but they are going to be remade, re-created, resurrected. Jesus spoke of this re-creation in [Matthew 19:28-29] as palingenesia, “the regeneration.” Peter spoke of it in Acts 3:21 as apokatastasis, “restitution.” Peter again wrote of it in 2 Peter 3:6, 7, and 10, as kausoumena, “purged by fire.”
The New Jerusalem, our eternal and heavenly home, comes down from God out of heaven [Revelation 21:2, 10]. It is from our mansions in this city that along with Jesus [John 14:2-3] we shall rule the universe [2 Timothy 2:12], with its teeming multitude of angels, saints, and cities. Jesus, resurrected in an instance [Matthew 28:5-7], could be anywhere; so we shall be able, in an instant, to be anywhere in the re-created universe.
We shall keep on learning throughout eternity, as do the angels, 1 Peter 1:12. We shall keep on serving along with our fellow saints, using our differing talents and abilities, Revelation 22:3, Matthew 25:15. And we shall work without tears, without sadness, without regret, and without weariness. All this belongs to—tears and weariness, age and decrepitude—belong to this veil of tears in this earth; but it’s no longer a part of heaven, Revelation 21:4, 14:13.
Last: why do I fear death and going to heaven? The answer: this is God’s way of keeping us in this present world and work at our assigned tasks. Innately do we draw back from death; death is a frightful enemy, the last one that shall be destroyed. You know the passage: 1 Corinthians 15:26, “The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.” Death is an enemy, and we innately, congenitally, draw back from it.
Second: our shortcomings and our weaknesses and sins make us hesitate before facing the great Judge of all the earth. Although we are Christians, saved by the blood of the Crucified One [1 Peter 1:18-19], we’re all sinners [Romans 3:23]. God says that these sins are completely blotted out and remembered against us no more. Isaiah 43:25: “I, even I, am He that blotteth out thy transgressions for Mine own sake, and will not remember thy sins.” God says, “I put them at My back. It is as though you have never sinned” [Isaiah 38:17]. Isaiah 44:22: “I have blotted out, as a thick cloud, thy transgressions, and, as a cloud, thy sins; for I have redeemed thee.” Jesus says, in Matthew 26:28, “This is My blood of the new covenant, shed for the remission of sins, the taking away of sins.” And Paul, in Romans 5:8, says, “God commendeth His love toward us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us,” and verse 10: “By the death of His Son we shall be saved” [Romans 5:10].
And those glorious songs:
Glory, I’m saved! Glory, I’m saved!
My sins are all pardoned, my guilt is all gone!
Glory, I’m saved! Glory, I’m saved!
Saved by the blood of the Crucified One!
[“Saved by the Blood,” S. J. Henderson]
There is life for a look at the Crucified One,
There is life at this moment for thee;
Then look, sinner, look unto Him and be saved,
Unto Him who was nailed to the tree.
[“There is Life for a Look at the Crucified One,” Amelia M. Hull, 1860]
It’s a great, marvelous, incomparably inexpressible preciousness that God hath reserved for us who love Him [1 Corinthians 2:9; 1 Peter 1:4], and it is ours for the asking, for the receiving, for the taking. And why anyone would spurn the love and grace and promise of Jesus is beyond my thinking, my imagination. God has opened such a precious door to us.
Now, Fred, let’s sing us a song. And while we sing the hymn of appeal, a family you to join this precious congregation, a couple you to come forward, a one somebody you to give your heart in faith to the Lord Jesus [Romans 10:9-10; Ephesians 2:8-9], welcome; a thousand times so, while we stand and while we sing.