Welcome to Grace Summit!
Sunday Services at 9:30 and 11:00 am
Grace Summit Community Church is a nondenominational church which focuses on authentically living out what the Bible teaches. It’s also a church with a big heart—toward its members, guests, and those in our community.
Grace Summit leadership and members desire to make a difference in our world by demonstrating through our lives that God is real, that He loves people and that He wants a relationship with each person. The mindset of “making room for more” underlies the plans and activities of Grace Summit as we strive to include and connect with more people in all we do. We’d love to have you be a part of what God is doing here at Grace Summit!
This Week's Message
Mike and Cindy are out of town this weekend –
Lord, Jesus, we want to lift up Mike and Cindy this morning – bless their day. We also pray for Rachel and Tim – that You would bless their life together. Be with us this morning as we look at Your Word – give me clarity of speech.
We’ve all seen the cartoons of the typical person who has gone to heaven – sitting on a cloud playing a harp. We don’t hear much about heaven – a while ago, we used to hear about hellfire and brimstone. We don’t hear much about that anymore either.
We studied this book – Heaven – by Randy Alcorn – in our Adult Sunday School – and it took about 16 hours. I’ve got this down to about ½ hour… If I didn’t we would be here the next 4 months.
The scholars disagree about a lot of things regarding heaven. What I am presenting today is entirely possible. I won’t spend a lot of time going through the arguments. I encourage you to get either this book or one Mike recommends. This is not that deep – but it is thorough.
What is heaven? It is agreed that it is the dwelling place of God – so wherever He is is heaven. Once we die, as believers, we will go to heaven to be with God. But there are some other things that go on between here and there. If we die before Jesus returns, we will not be going to the final version of heaven, we will be going to what is referred to as an intermediate heaven. There will be a new heaven and new earth. I’ll talk about that for a bit.
Say you live in Cuyahoga Falls – and come on hard times – and you end up in a homeless shelter. There you get a letter that you inherited a beautiful mansion in Santa Barbara, California.
The day arrives to go – and you see you have a layover in Dallas. If people ask where you are going, you wouldn’t say, Dallas – that is not your final destination. This isn’t a true analogy either. When you get to Dallas – you expect to go on to SB – but the ticket says Cuyahoga Falls! And you come back here – and get a beautiful mansion overlooking the Cuyahoga River! This is just an intermediate stop.
As I’ve looked at Scripture – I see it tells us more than we might expect.
One question about this intermediate heaven – will we remain conscious? Aware of what is going on – Jesus said – Today, you will be with me in Paradise.
To be absent from the Body is to be present with the Lord – 1 Cor. 5
To die is to be with Christ – Phil. 1:23
Luke 16 – the story of the rich man and Lazarus. Think about it in light of what we are reading. The rich man dies and goes to an intermediate hell – (The final hell will be the Lake of Fire) – and he was conscious of what was going on.
Will we be judged? Revelation talks about the final judgment seat of Christ. There is a judgment right when we die – to judge the Believers from the Unbelievers. Do we have faith in God?
he Fifth Seal—Martyrs
9 When the Lamb broke the fifth seal, I saw underneath the altar the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God, and because of the testimony which they had maintained; 10 and they cried out with a loud voice, saying, “How long, O Lord, holy and true, will You refrain from judging and avenging our blood on those who dwell on the earth?” 11 And there was given to each of them a white robe; and they were told that they should rest for a little while longer, until the number of their fellow servants and their brethren who were to be killed even as they had been would be completed also.
We know this is the intermediate heaven. When they died –t hey were with God – in heaven. They were the same people they were on earth – ones who had been slain – not a placeholder.
They knew what had happened to them – they carried that knowledge with them.
They can speak – they called out in a loud voice – in unity
They remembered, knew what was going on – and called out to God. They knew what had happened on earth and they know they are in heaven.
They are praying – communicating to God – asking Him to intervene. They are free to ask God. What an amazing thing.
They were aware of life on earth…”How long until you judge the inhabitants”
They had a concern for justice.
They are praying for judgment.
They see God’s attributes – concern for justice and retribution for those who follow Satan and his lies.
They are distinct individuals.
They had intermediate bodies.
God talks to them – He tells them to wait – and to wait a little longer. There is an awareness of time.
There are also a familial connections – brothers and sisters – these saints who had been martyred are aware of what is going on on earth.
So – if we are aware of the sad things going on – is it really heaven? God is in heaven – He sees what is going on – does it diminish heaven for Him? The angels see what is going on on earth – does that diminish heaven for them?
We see the rich man and Lazarus – they saw into heaven and hell.
Jesus has sorrow – but that does not diminish heaven for Him. It does not take away the joy of being in God’s fellowship.
Rev. 21:4 – no more tears in heaven – no more death – but this is once the new heavens and new earth are ushered in. Before that – there is no indication that there is not sorrow until the new heavens and new earth.
So our relatives may very well be aware of what is going on here.
We have a great cloud of witnesses, Hebrews tells us. This is an intermediate heaven.
To die is to be with Christ, but I think we’ll know more than the cartoons tell us.
At a funeral – you may hear someone say – may he rest in peace… But resting is not accurate –
Before we get to the new heaven and new earth – why was it created in the first place? The first earth – Adam and Eve were visited by God – He spent time with them – and when they sinned, the fellowship was broken. But the sin didn’t only affect Mankind – but the animals and the rest of the earth and the whole universe.
Why does creation await our resurrection?
The gospel is far more than we imagine – it is good news for the universe – a restoration of an original good creation.
Gen. 1:31 – it is very good – everything that was created – and then sin came in and spoiled creation. We see that there will be weeds – hard work as a result. Pain in childbirth – everything was corrupted.
Romans 8:19-23 Romans 8:19-23
19 For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. 20 For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God. 22 We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. 23 Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies.
All creation – everything that was created – is groaning and waiting – like in childbirth – and what happens there? A new life is birthed – and there will be a new earth birthed.
Think of a tree – thousands of leaves – and the number of trees in a city block – think of the forest – all the leaves – but this world is tainted – imagine what the new world will be like – we can’t imagine it.
Think about the animals – do you think this is how they were created to be? I don’t think that is how animals were in the garden of Eden. It is a dog-eat-dog world – and I think it is a consequence of sin. Isaiah 65 – is a prophecy of the new heavens and earth
25 – the wolf and lamb will lie down together… Will neither harm nor destroy – a prophecy of the new heaven and new earth…
Sin has corrupted the world so much. The struggle of the animals and us too!
What will be our greatest joy?
Rev. 22:4 – we will see God’s face. Moses came close – but we will see the face of God – and for it to happen – we have to undergo a transformation – completely sinless – to be able to see God and live – it will be our greatest joy – the joy by which all others will be measured.
To understand what it all meant – our lives – sin, Christ’s sacrifice on the cross – and in heaven, the barriers will be gone – seeing the God who made us for His good pleasure. Not only will we see God, but He will be the lens through which we see everything else. I think we will understand our trials – and blessings – and see through God’s eyes.
John 17: 3 This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.
Rev. 21: 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will [a]dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them[b], 4 and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.”
The new earth will be much greater than the original. God will dwell here with us. The new heavens and new earth will be God’s dwelling place. If our relationship with God will be greater – the earth will be greater – and what a time that will be.
What will it mean for God to dwell among us? Eden’s greatest attraction was God’s presence. The greatest tragedy was sin and the curse – and God could no longer dwell there.
Imagine what it will be like – to wake up not worrying about what sin you might commit?
When we get to heaven – we will see everyone through God’s eyes – and the love He has – and there won’t be any cliques or partiality.
We will be so free. We will have no desire to sin. We will understand the sacrifice Jesus made for us and the life we have living on the new earth with God.
What a glorious day that will be!
We will worship Jesus as the almighty without sensing His disapproval – because we won’t disappoint Him. Christ bore every one of our sins – so we would be free from sin and the fear of sin – all barriers will be gone – He will be our best friend.
We have learned a lot about heaven. What keeps us from thinking about heaven? If you won an all-expense trip to Hawaii – or Disneyworld – or wherever – what would you be talking about to everyone you met? How much you are looking forward to it – you would tell everyone.
We have to admit – Satan doesn’t want us to think about it. He is mad – he is not going there. He hates us – as Christians – when you see bad things around us – those people aren’t the enemy – it is Satan – not people. He hates us and doesn’t want us to think about it – if we talk about it – we may take others with us. So I encourage you – think about heaven more – and share it with others – and the relationship we will have with God.
It is no wonder the devil is so intent on keeping us from grasping our relationship with Christ –
One last thought – it is no coincidence that the first two chapters begin with the creation of the heavens and earth – and the last two deal with the recreation of it. The new heavens and earth will be even greater. Don’t let Satan squelch that joy in your life.
Lord Jesus – thank You for sharing with us what heaven will be like – and the joy it will bring – and that we should share that joy – that this is not our final home – and we thank You for that – so we can know where we are going and where we will spend eternity.