In My Father’s House
There is a place called heaven. Jesus spoke of heaven when he said, “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal.” (Matt. 6:19-20)
Just prior to His crucifixion Christ said to His disciples, “In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.” (John 14:2) The Reverend Thomas DeWitt Talmage preached on heaven and invited people to select their eternal home.
“There are celestial homes yet to be awarded. Which one do you want? You shall have it.
Do you want an orchard? There it is; twelve manners of fruit, and fruit every month.
Do you want river scenery? Take your choice on the banks of that river which is longer, wider, and deeper than the Danube, or Amazon, or Mississippi rolled into one and emptied into the sea of glass mingled with fire.
Do you want your family back again? Go out and meet your father and mother without the staff or the stoop, and your children in a dance of immortal glee.
Do you want a throne? Select it from the million burnished elevations.
Do you want a crown? Pick it out of that mountain of diamond coronets.
Do you want your old church friends of earth around you? Begin to hum an old revival tune and they will flock from all quarters to revel with you in sacred reminiscence.”
There is a place called heaven. The teaching of Jesus, and the hopes of the heart, become meaningless unless there is a real, literal, dwelling called heaven.
If we ask where heaven is located, we must confess we are not completely certain. Some believe that heaven is in the “north” so at death the soul travels faster than the speed of light beyond the atmosphere and through all the terrestrial space, ever northward until it comes to the third heaven, the heaven of all heavens, into the presence of God. Of this place the Psalmist wrote, “Beautiful for situation, the joy of the whole earth, is mount Zion, on the sides of the north, the city of the great King.” (Psalms 48:2)
When God gave Moses instruction about the blood of the sacrifice he poured it out on the “north” side of the altar toward the Lord.
According to the prophet Isaiah when Satan made his intentions known he spoke of the north.
“For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High.” (Isa. 14:12-14)
It may be that heaven is somewhere in the “north”, and our hearts are encouraged as we look in hope to another world.
There are many Bible texts which calls for the Christian to look off to other worlds.
“Look there!” says Job, “at [the constellation] Mazzaroth and Arcturus [the Great Bear] and his sons!” (Job 38:32).
“Look there!” says John, “at the moon under Christ’s feet!”
“Look there!” says Joshua, “at the sun standing still above Gibeon.”
“Look there!” says Moses, “at the sparkling firmament.”
“Look there!” says Amos the herdsman, “at the Seven Stars and Orion.”
In all of this, there is a divine certainty. Heaven is a literal place. And where Jesus is in His glorified, resurrected body, there is heaven. Not only is heaven a literal place but it is a peaceful place. Peace is precious to the heart of God.
The royal command comes, “Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord.” (Heb. 12:14) Then again, heaven is a place of holiness. The Apostle John said that evil will not be allowed in heaven. “And there shall in no wise enter into it anything that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb’s book of life.” (Rev. 21:27)
Because heaven is a place of holiness, individuals should prepare to go there. The English author John Robert Seely (1834-95) said, “There are two unalterable prerequisites to being happy in the world to come.” Personal sins must be pardoned, and the heart must be changed. People must have a title to heaven, and a fitness for heaven.
These two ideas underlie the whole of Christ’s work, and without the title to, and the fitness for heaven, no one can enter into the kingdom of God. Charles Stanford, an English clergyman (1823-86) wrote, “Heaven must be in me before I can be in heaven.”
Matthew Henry taught the same thing. “It is not talking, but walking that will bring us to heaven.”
Heaven is a prepared place for a prepared people characterized by holiness.
Therefore, Christians must not only learn about heaven, but we must long for it as well. Paul did. Paul said, “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. But if I live in the flesh, this is the fruit of my labour: yet what I shall choose I wot not. For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better” (Phil. 1:21-25)
There is something else. Heaven is a place of happiness.
“Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fullness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.” (Psalms 16:11) There is no more sorrow in heaven. “They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more; neither shall the sun light on them, nor any heat. For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters: and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes.” (Rev. 7:16-17)
There are many reasons why heaven is a place of happiness.
What makes heaven a place of happiness is the fact that in heaven there is the absence of sin, the effects of sin, and the agents of sin. Sin has not always been absent from heaven. Sin has touched even this sacred place for we read that there was war in heaven.
But then comes Revelation 21:1.“And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea.”
In heaven we are safe from sin, and in the new heaven we shall be safe from the agents of sin for the Old Serpent shall be cast in the Lake of Fire forever.
What makes heaven a place of happiness is the presence of Christ. “After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands; 10 And cried with a loud voice, saying, Salvation to our God which sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb. 11 And all the angels stood round about the throne, and about the elders and the four beasts, and fell before the throne on their faces, and worshipped God, 12 Saying, Amen: Blessing, and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, and honor, and power, and might, be unto our God for ever and ever. Amen.” (Rev. 7:9-12)
What makes heaven a place of happiness is the reunion of loved ones. That we shall know each other in heaven is certain. Jesus said, “ye shall see Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, and all the prophets, in the kingdom of God.” (Luke 13:28)
The Bible teaches that we shall know the saints. On the Mount of Transfiguration, Moses and Elijah appeared before Christ. Moses lived before Elijah, and Elijah lived before Christ, yet each knew the other, and they all had their names. “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.” (1 Cor. 13:12)
Husbands will know their wives, and wives will know their husbands. Children will know their parents, and parents will know their children.
David had a child in heaven many years before he died. The day the child died, David wiped his tears and said, “My son cannot come to me, but I can go to him”. And he did. What makes heaven a place of happiness is an open vision.
A young couple had three small children. The pastor was called to conduct the funeral of one of the little ones. A few months later the second child died. And in less than a year the third child was taken. All three had unrelated diseases. It was an unusual thing and the pastor had never experienced anything like it before.
As the family walked away from the gravesite of their last child the mother wept and cried out in anguish to the pastor, “Explain to me why this has happened. Why did God take every child we had while other families never lose anyone?”
The pastor could not answer and he said so. “I cannot see the end from the beginning,” he confessed. “But God knows”. In times of sorrow faith must remember that Romans 8:28 is true because it is the Word of God.
It is a fact. All things [do] work together for good to them that love God. The pastor said to the young couple, “You may not always be able to trace God, but you can always trust Him.”
“My Father’s way may twist and turn,
My heart may throb and ache;
But in my soul, I’m glad I know
He maketh no mistake.”
God knows what He is doing, and one day the vision will be clear on these matters. I have read the story of a very young boy in England who, due to his father’s death, had to drop out of school and go to work to make a living for his family.
He was only ten or eleven years old but he could work and the money was needed. He sold papers to help provide for the other members of the family. Each day after selling his papers he would stop at a toy store on his way home to look at some beautifully painted toy soldiers in the window. The storekeeper noticed this. Then one day he missed the boy. He inquired of those in the street. Has anyone seen the little paperboy who stops and looks at the toy soldiers?
Someone said, “Oh, haven’t you heard? An automobile hit him the other day, and he is in the hospital unconscious.” The storekeeper was moved. He gathered up the little toy soldiers and took them to the hospital. He told the mother how the boy had looked at the soldiers every day, then he asked permission to leave a few. Though the boy was unconscious, the man placed the little soldiers near the bed. They stayed there several days.
One morning, in the grace of God, the boy regained consciousness and the first thing his eyes focused upon was the toy soldiers. He could hardly believe it. Then he saw the smiling, worried face of his mother. He began to move and he reached out to touch the soldiers. With a smile he exclaimed, “Oh, look, Mother! Here are the soldiers, and there is no glass between.” In heaven there will be no glass, and no veil between Christ and us. The vision will be perfect and we will understand it better by and by. Since heaven is a literal and glorious place, since heaven is a holy place, since heaven is a happy place, the only question is,”Will you be going there?”
Those in heaven want you to be there with them. Anticipating her words beyond the grave Becky Coxe wrote,
“I am now in heaven,
the gates have opened wide,
And now I have the privilege
of walking by His side.
The angel choir is singing,
and the music is so sweet;
I’ll join them just as soon as
I have worshipped at His feet.
I am now in Heaven,
and the blood-washed throng is here.
I recognize a lot of them,
there’s not a single tear.
There’s joy beyond description,
and reunions by the score;
There’ll be no separations,
for we’ll be here evermore.
I am now in Heaven,
please wipe away your tears!
I’ve fought the battle, run the race,
I’m rid of all my fears.
There is no pain or sorrow here;
the heartaches now are past;
I’ve read and sung of Heaven,
and now I’m here at last!
I am now in Heaven, and,
OH, the place is grand!
No one could ever tell me
all the beauties of this land.
Since I cannot describe it,
you’ll have to come and see
That it was worth the trials,
to live here eternally!”
It may be surprising but those in hell want us to go to heaven as per Luke 16:19-31.
Those in heaven want us to come there, and those in hell want us to go there too.
Finally, Jesus Himself invites us to come. The last words of the Bible are a great invitation to be part of the eternal throne that shall enjoy God in eternity. “And the Spirit and the Bride say, Come.”(Rev. 22:17)
So, come. Let us go to our heavenly home. “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved.” (Acts 16:31)