When You Reach The Sunset Years Of Your Life And The Sun Goes Down
But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.
Therefore we are always confident, knowing that, whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord: (For we walk by faith, not by sight:) We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.
2 Corinthians 5:6-8
Heaven is not just our far-off future home, but a place we can joyfully look forward to today. The Bible provides more than 600 references to heaven, and we can gain incredible joy and fresh vision for our lives on earth as we read and understand these passages. In this lesson we will look at a handful of these Scriptures.
Billy Graham once said “The most thrilling thing about heaven is that Jesus Christ will be there. I will see Him face to face. Jesus Christ will meet us at the end of life’s journey.”
“Heaven doesn’t make this life less important; it makes it more important.”
“The Bible says that as long as we are here on Earth, we are strangers in a foreign land. There are enemies to be conquered before we return home. This world is not our home; our citizenship is in heaven.”
Where Is Heaven?
The first heaven is the atmospheric heaven – the sky with its clouds and birds and life-giving oxygen that extends nearly 300 miles into space.
The second heaven is the vast universe in which we live, filled with billions of stars, planets, dust clouds, meteors, and galaxies. The story of the creation of the second heaven is told in the Bible.
The third heaven is the one Jesus referred to when He taught us to pray:
Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.
The third heaven – the heaven of heavens – is the locale of the throne and the dwelling place of God. It is paradise. It is our eternal home. This is where we will live with God, the angels, and the redeemed of all ages.
How Do We Get There?
The Bible is abundantly clear on this point. When the saved die, they go directly into the presence of the Lord.
The Apostle Paul said “To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord.”
At this point we remember the words of Jesus to the thief on the cross, “I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:43, emphasis added). This appears to be a straightforward promise that at the moment of death the repentant thief would pass from his life of crime and his agonizing death into the realm called “paradise.”
This would seem to contradict the teaching called “soul-sleep,” which implies that at death a believer “sleeps” in a kind of suspended animation until the day of the resurrection. How could the thief be that very day in paradise if his soul went to sleep when he died? At the moment of death the believer passes immediately into the personal presence of Jesus Christ. This is our hope and comfort as we stand at the graveside of a loved one.
How Long Does It Take To Get There?
“To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord” means it is instant. As you take your last breath here you will take your first breath there.
Where Do We Go When We Get To Heaven?
“To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord” means you will appear before God on The Throne because The Lord sits at His right hand.
Who Will We See First In Heaven?
“To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord” means you will appear before God on The Throne because The Lord sits at His right hand. Therefore, You will see Jesus The Son and God The Father.
What Happens When We First Get To Heaven?
First, I believe that Jesus’ eyes will widen when He glances your way when you first pop up and He’ll get a big smile on His face. Then He will step off that throne with His arms outstretched, and walk over and put His arms around your neck and hug you and say “Welcome home my child, I love you, I have missed you, I am glad you are here”.
Second, if you have pleased Jesus with your Christian life here on earth, you will receive the prize Paul talked about having his eye on in The Bible when you hear those words coming straight from Jesus’ lips to your ears saying “Well done good and faithful servant!”
What Do I Need To Do To Hear, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant’ When I Arrive In Heaven?
In Jesus’ parable of the talents, the Lord tells of two faithful servants who used what they had been given to increase the master’s wealth. When the master returned from a long absence, he rewarded his two faithful servants and said to each of them, “Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!” (Matthew 25:21, 23). Every Christian longs to hear those words from Jesus’ lips someday in heaven.
We are saved by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8–9), but we are saved “to do good works” (Ephesians 2:10). Jesus spoke of laying up treasures in heaven (Matthew 6:20), and His parable of the talents hints at various rewards for those who faithfully serve Him in this world.
To hear those words, “Well done, good and faithful servant,” from Jesus, first make sure you are saved. The unbelieving will never hear those words, for “without faith it is impossible to please God” (Hebrews 11:6). And recognize that Jesus is not only your Savior; He is also your Lord (see Luke 6:46). “Serve the LORD with gladness!” (Psalm 100:2, ESV).
Here are some ideas on ways you can serve the Lord:
1. Share the gospel. The Lord Jesus desires us to make disciples, teaching others of the nature and character of God and sharing the meaning of His death and resurrection (Matthew 28:18–20).
2. Help the disadvantaged. In the story of the rich man and Lazarus in Luke 16:19–31, the rich man is condemned because he doesn’t help Lazarus and because he trusts in his wealth too much. Don’t put self-gratification before the needs of others. First John 3:17 says, “If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person?”
3. Forgive others of their offenses. This isn’t the same as reconciliation or trust, but it means you renounce vengeance. The Lord Jesus modeled forgiveness: “When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to [the Father] who judges justly” (1 Peter 2:23).
4. View your position of authority as an opportunity to help the people under you, and view your position of subservience as an opportunity to submit to your authority, just as Jesus submitted to the Father’s authority. Either way, you can be Christlike, because Jesus was both master and servant to different people. “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2).
5. Seek to know the character of God better through church fellowship, listening to sermons, studying the Bible, praying, and chronicling how He seems to have been involved in your life.
6. Recognize that every advantageous position you’re in is because of God, the Source of every blessing: “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights” (James 1:17).
7. Be willing to be unpopular, displaying rare courage like the Good Samaritan in Jesus’ parable (Luke 10:30–37). Do what the Bible says is right, always. “We must obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29, ESV).
8. In introspective moral judgment (evaluating your own character), look at the character of Jesus as a measure rather than rationalize your questionable actions and attitudes. Show humility.
It all comes down to this: love God more than anything, and love others sincerely (Mark 12:30–31). At the judgment seat of Christ, those who are faithful to the Lord who saved them will hear those words, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” No true servant of the Lord could ask for more.