Introduction: What motivates you in life? Money, reputation, power,
love, success, God or all of the above? Why did I list God among
human motivators? Because God is in the motivation business. One
major motivator is His promise of heaven for those who are faithful.
Last week I asked you to consider Satan’s strategy when it comes to
undermining the authority of God. What do you think is Satan’s
strategy when it comes to the issue of heaven? If heaven does not
exist, sin (which does exist) looks pretty good, right? At least at
first. Let’s dive into the Bible and see what it says about our
- Elijah, Elisha and Heaven
- Read 2 Kings 2:1 and 2 Kings 2:11-12. How did Elijah die?
- Where did he go? (He went directly to heaven.)
- What do we learn about heaven from these few verses?
(It is “up” and it has public transportation. More
seriously, it has to be a physical place where
physical bodies live.)
- How do you explain Elisha’s reaction? Tearing your
clothes means you are unhappy. (Elisha called Elijah
“the chariots and horsemen of Israel.” Israel had no
chariots and horsemen. Elisha was saying that Elijah
was the power of Israel, and he was sad to see him
- Read 2 Kings 13:21. What happened to Elisha when he died?
Did he follow the path of his friend, Elijah? (No. His
bones were in a tomb.)
- Does this mean Elisha was not in heaven? (We know for
sure that, unlike Elijah, his body was not in
- Moses and Heaven
- Read Deuteronomy 34:5-7. What happened to the great man
Moses when he died? (God buried him!)
- Was Moses in heaven when he died? (Elijah shows us
God had the option to take him to heaven, but the
text says God buried him instead.)
- Read Jude 1:9. What is Jude talking about? (Apparently,
after Moses died, God and Satan had a dispute over Moses’
body. In that dispute, God rebuked Satan.)
- What do you think was the subject of the dispute? (No
doubt God wanted Moses’ body and Satan did not think
God had a right to it because Satan was the “ruler”
of the earth.)
- Read Matthew 17:1-3. Who won the dispute over Moses’ body?
- Where did God take Moses’ body? (Must be heaven
because that is where Elijah was taken!)
- What was the timing of Moses going to heaven?
(Sometime after God buried him.)
- Jesus on Heaven
- Read Matthew 22:23-28. Why would the Sadducees ask this
question if they did not believe in the resurrection of
the dead? (They wanted to show it was an impractical
- Read Matthew 22:29-32. What does Jesus say about whether a
resurrection is in your future? What does Jesus say about
God’s plans for believers? (Jesus specifically endorses
the idea that we will be resurrected. He bases that both
on the Bible and the power of God.)
- We see from these stories and Jesus’ statement that there
is a heaven and there is a coming resurrection. What does
that teach us about God’s interest in you? (That God has a
rescue plan for us so that if we are faithful, we can live
- Heaven When?
- There is a great deal of speculation and debate about what
happens when a believer dies. Some believe a person’s
“spirit” goes to heaven while the body decays. Others
believe the spirit is not separate from the body, and body
and spirit lie unconscious in the grave until the
resurrection. What do the stories of Elijah, Elisha and
Moses teach us with a very high degree of certainty?
(Elijah teaches us that God can take us directly to heaven
without seeing death. Elisha teaches us that the normal
course upon death is that our body decays and remains on
earth. Moses teaches us that after we die, and our body is
buried, Jesus can raise us to life before the general
- What do these stories tend to teach us about having a
separate, conscious spirit? (They tend to refute it.
Why was Elijah’s body picked up? Why would Moses’
body be the subject of a wrestling match if we have a
spirit existence in heaven? The fact that God
collected the body of two prominent believers tends
to show that in heaven we will have our bodies. God
can take us to heaven at any time during life or
after our death. But, it seems He takes everything,
and He takes it to Heaven, a place where bodies seem
to be important.)
- You and Heaven
- So, you are in heaven with your entire body. What is there
to do? Is there a water park? Do they have trees to climb?
What about good restaurants?
- Read Revelation 21:2-3. What is the first thing to do in
heaven? (We will have a close relationship to God. Our
Creator and our Redeemer – who loves us beyond imagination
– will be there.)
- Read Revelation 21:4. What will be our emotional state in
heaven? (We won’t be sad. There will be no death or pain.
The “old order” of progress towards the grave is
- Read Revelation 21:5 and Isaiah 65:17. Do you like new
stuff? (It is all new in heaven and the new earth.)
- Read Revelation 21:10-11 and Read Revelation 21:18-21.
Imagine the most beautiful jewelry. Then imagine a whole
city that looks like one massive gorgeous jewelry setting!
That is in our future!
- Why would God make the New Jerusalem like that? (The
time of self-sacrifice is past. This suggests that
God creates and gives us a lavish world.)
- Read Revelation 21:23-26. What do we learn about lighting
conditions and sleep patterns?
- What does the discussion about “kings” and “nations”
suggest? (That we will have organization.)
- Read Revelation 22:1-3. What does this tell us about water
parks, tree climbing and eating in heaven? (It is all
- What does this eating and drinking idea suggest about
a spirit existence? (That we are not spirits.)
- Notice again the reference to “nations.” The
discussion of the New Jerusalem includes all the
physical stuff that is familiar to us – except
fantastically better. What does this teach us about
heaven? (That it will be familiar to us in many
- I read a book by Randy Alcorn called “Heaven.” Alcorn
looks at the Bible and concludes that when God brings the
New Jerusalem down to the earth made new, that the same
general geographical landmarks will be recreated.
Revelation 21:1 reveals that the sea no longer exists.
That would expand the present land mass. Thus, Alcorn’s
understanding is plausible. I would like to continue to
live in Virginia. Would you like, in the earth made new,
to live where you do now? To be able to visit the area
where you grew up?
- Read John 14:2-3. Oh no! Are we now reduced to a “room”
in heaven? (No. This is our “New Jerusalem” condo. In the
New Jerusalem there is limited space. We have our condo in
Jerusalem and our country home(s) wherever we want.)
- Read Isaiah 65:21-22. Is this the country home to
which I just referred? (I am uncertain how to treat
this text. I think it primarily refers to God’s plan
for the Jews if they were faithful to Him. However,
just as some prophecies have more than one
fulfillment, I think this may very well (to some
degree) point to heaven as well. It certainly gives
us a view of what God wants for us.)
- Friend, would you like to live forever in a perfect place?
A place of joy? A place of extravagant beauty? God has
promised His people heaven, a New Jerusalem and an earth
made new. You can be there. Will you confess your sins to
God, accept Jesus’ life and death on your behalf, and ask
Jesus to join with Him in that glorious resurrection to a
new life with Him?
- Next week: Discipleship.