We’ve had some wonderful Scriptures read to us this morning. I would like to add one more brief Scripture reading from the Gospel of John, Chapter 14. If you’ve brought your Bibles, would you open John’s Gospel, Chapter 14, and hear the words of Jesus: “Let not your heart be troubled. Believe in God. Believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many dwelling places. If it were not so, I would have told you. For I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to myself, that where I am there you may be also. And you know the way I am going. “ Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going. How do we know the way?” Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father but through me.”
Would you pray with me, please.
Father, we ask now your blessing on this Bread of Life. We ask that you make it personal and meaningful and relevant for the glory of Jesus. And it’s in His name we pray, Amen.
This past week it was my privilege and honor to go to Ground Zero in New York City. And I was escorted there by a clergyman who heads up a task force of clergymen that minister to those who are working to clear the rubble and sort through all the debris and untangle all the steel beams and find the parts of loved ones and friends for NDA analysis and identification. And this clergyman showed me some pictures that he had taken shortly after the attack. And two of the pictures that he showed me brought me to tears. And one of the pictures was of clergymen, like himself, dressed in their black robes with their white clerical collars, walking down the street, covered in dust, grimy tears streaked down their faces, putting their arms around the people, loving them, crying with them, on their knees in prayer. And the second picture that brought tears to my eyes was of a close-up of the boots of one of the clergymen. He had on his black robe and his clerical collar, but the close-up was of his construction boots covered in filth and dust and grim from all of the concrete debris from the Trade Towers implosion. And across his boots was written this: “Jesus loves you.” And I thought to myself, if Jesus were here, visibly present in our midst, that’s where he would be. He would down in that pit with his arms around the workers, helping them to dig out from the debris, helping them to sort through it, helping them to untangle the steel, helping them to find the victims and the loved ones, the family members who are buried there.
Jesus, visibly, if he were here, would be at the Pentagon, helping them to sort through that mess and rebuild that structure, and comfort those who have been so directly devastated by what took place on September 11th. He would be in the field in Pennsylvania, walking through the grass in the woods, tears streaming down his cheeks.
And I was moved to tears. And then I thought to myself, “Wait a minute! That’s what Christmas is! We’re celebrating Christ-mass — worship of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Lord of Glory who left Heaven’s throne and came down to the pits of humanity. And got down in the pit with us. And put his arms around us, and helps us sort through the debris and the mess and all of the twisted complications that sin has built in our lives. And he puts his arms around us, and after he had lived for thirty-three years, showing us how to live, showing us how to love, showing us exactly what God is like in the flesh, Jesus Christ gave his life on the Cross. God, giving himself, as the atoning sacrifice for our sin. God, like one of those firemen, walking into the flames to give his life to save you and me.
And after Jesus died on the Cross, he was buried, he rose again from the dead on the third day. He ascended into heaven with, the Bible says in Hebrews, “today he ever lives to pray for you and me.” And one of the things that he’s praying is that you and I will make the choice, one day, to live with him forever in my Father’s house.
Somebody told me this week, they said, “Anne, my God doesn’t send anyone to hell.” And I said, “You know, my God doesn’t anyone to hell either. Because when you and I are born into the human race, the Bible says we’re born sinners. And the wages of sin is death, and not just physical death, but spiritual death, eternal death. Meaning, when you are born into the human race, you’re condemned to hell already. God doesn’t say, ‘go to hell’. God says, ‘go to heaven’. That’s why he sent his son Jesus Christ to save you and me from the destructive path we’re on as we’re headed towards hell. And he sent his son to die on the Cross to save us so that we might go to live with him forever in his heavenly home.”
And Jesus said in John, Chapter 14, that knowing about my Father’s house–and he spoke of heaven as my Father’s house–he said it brings peace. “Let not your heart be troubled.”
Is there someone here this morning who has a troubled heart? Are you troubled about the future? And we watched all of those people on television stepping into eternity in the burning buildings in New York and here and in the field of Pennsylvania, and we were aware that thousands of people were stepping into eternity. Did it make you wonder, if that were your moment, and you stepped into eternity, would you be going to heaven? Would you be going to my Father’s house?
And Jesus said, “Let not your heart be troubled”, because you can know for sure, today, that when that moment comes for you to step into eternity that you’re going to step right into the arms of Jesus and into my Father’s house.
You know, knowing where you’re going can take away the fear of getting there. I remember the first time that I went to India, I was so afraid to go because I didn’t know what to expect when I got there, and I didn’t know who would be there at the airport to welcome me. Now, I was very afraid to go. It’s a long way from home. And the second time I went to India, I looked forward to going because I knew what to expect, and I knew who would be at the airport to welcome me there.
And, when we think of dying, and every single one of us the Bible says “one day will die and step into eternity and face God.” And that can be a very frightening thing less you know where you’re going and something of what to expect on the other side, and who it is that’s waiting there to welcome you to his heavenly home.
So Jesus said, knowing about my Father’s house brings peace. Let not your heart be troubled. You believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. There’s room enough for every single person here, every single person in your family, every single person in your city, every single person in this country, every single person in the world. Heaven is a big place. Feel free to invite everybody to come to my Father’s house. Not only does knowing about my Father’s house and stepping into it when you step into eternity, bring peace to your heart, but my Father’s house is being prepared for you, Jesus said. He said, “I’m going to prepare a place for you.”
Now when I went to India the second time, I made the four-hour journey from Delhi to Agra to see the Taj Mahal, and it’s the most exquisitely beautiful building I have ever seen. It’s made out of white marble. It’s carved and inlaid with semi-precious stones. And it was built by Indian prince as a tomb in which to buy his wife to whom he’d been married for fourteen years. And it took him over twenty years to build. It involved twenty-two thousand skilled craftsmen. And I thought, if an Indian prince could build something exquisitely beautiful like the Taj Mahal for his wife as a tomb in which to bury her, what is Jesus preparing for his bride, not as a tomb in which to buy her, but as a home in which he will live with her forever and ever. And it’s taken him not twenty-years. It’s taken him at least two thousand years! Heaven is an exquisitely beautiful place, the Bible says, and it’s being prepared in detail for you and for me, and those of us who place our faith in the Son of God as our Savior.
My son, Jonathan, lives in Fresno, California. He says he’s coming home for Christmas, and knowing that he’s coming home for Christmas, I want to begin to prepare things that will make him feel welcome and let him know that I’ve been expecting him. So I know Jonathan loves barbecued spare ribs, and I know he loves a homemade apple pie. And I know he loves to play tennis with his dad. So when Jonathan comes, I’m going to have those things prepared so that when he walks through the door, he will know that he’s been expected, he’s welcomed, this is his home!
And if I do that for my son, what is Jesus going for you and me? He knows the colors that you enjoy. He knows the people that you want to be with. He knows the landscape that you like to look at. He knows the music you enjoy listening to. And he’s beginning to prepare those things so that when you walk through the doors of heaven, you will know that you’ve been expected you are welcomed, because this is your home! Heaven is being prepared just for you.
The same apostle John, in Revelation, Chapter 21, says the same thing. He says I saw a new heaven and a new earth, and it was prepared as a bride is prepared for her husband. And in verse three, he says I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold the Tabernacle of God is among men. And he shall dwell among them, and they shall be his people, and God himself will be among them. And he will wipe away every tear from their eyes. There will no longer be any death. There will no longer be any mourning or crying or pain.” And he said, write this down, these words are faithful and true: in my Father’s house there will be no more hospitals, no more suffering, no more funerals, no more grief, no more walkers, no more canes, no more wheel chairs; there’ll be no more suicide bombers or firing infernos, no more broken hearts, or broken homes, or broken lives, or broken dreams, or broken hopes. No more mental retardation, no more physical handicaps, no more muscular dystrophy, no more multiple sclerosis, no more blindness, no more deafness, no more lameless, no more dumbness, no more sickness. There’ll be no more Parkinson’s Disease, no more arthritis, no more heart disease, no more diabetes, no more cataracts, no more paralysis, no more cancer or strokes or AIDS or anthrax. No more guns in school, no more guns, no more car bombs, no terrorists, no missiles, no air strikes, no more war!
Heaven is a safe, secure place that’s being prepared for the Father’s children to live with him forever and ever.
My Father’s house, knowing about it, brings peace to your hearts. You know it’s being prepared just for you. And Jesus said in John, Chapter 14, he says “I’m preparing a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you I will come again and receive you to myself that where I am you may be also. My Father’s house is a populated place. It’s not just a show place.
I was in Buckingham Palace this past summer. And it was a beautiful, beautiful palace. Absolutely, breath-takingly-beautiful, but no where did I see a coffee cup beside a chair, or a magazine that was open on a table, or a coat that was flung over a sofa. It was a show place!
But heaven is not just a show place. Heaven is a home. It’s the home of God the Father, who loved you so much that he created you. He brought you into existence so that you might know him in a personal, permanent, love relationship. God the Father who loved you so much when you sinned and your relationship with him is broken and you’re separated from him, he loved you so much he sent his own son to die on the Cross to be your Savior.
And heaven is not only the home of God the Father, but God the Son who when his father told him to come to earth and die for you, he came, and confined himself to a woman’s womb for nine months and submitted to the human birth process and allowed himself to be dressed in swaddling clothes and laid out in a manger and grew in wisdom and stature and favor with God and man. And at thirty-three years of age he smashed himself on a Roman Cross and gave his life, as God’s atoning sacrifice for sin that you and I might be forgiven, that we might be reconciled to the Father.
Heaven is the home of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. And when you receive Jesus Christ by faith, comes to live inside of you to give you deep peace, never mind your circumstances, and joy and hope and strength to live and wisdom for decisions, and one day, he will usher you into the Father’s presence when you step into eternity.
Heaven is the home of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit, and all of God’s children. Revelations says nothing that’s impure, nothing that’s sinful or abomination will enter into heaven. Only those who have been born again into the family of God.
If you would to visit my father, Bill Graham, in the western part of North Carolina in the United States, he lives in a log cabin up in the mountains, and you would access the house by a winding mountain road. But the house and property are secured by a fence and a gate. And you would come up that winding drive and bang on the gate and say, “Bill Graham, Billy Graham, let me in.” And you would say, “I watched you on TV. I’ve read your books. I’ve even been to one of your meetings. And my father would say, “depart from me, I don’t know you, you’re not a member of the family, you’ve not made arrangements to come.”
If I drive up that same driveway, and I come to the gate and I bang on the gate and I say, “Daddy, this is Anne; I’ve come home.” The gate swings wide open for me, and I go right on in, and you know why? Because I’m the father’s child. And you say, “Anne, that’s not fair.” Well, that’s the way it is. Because my father has the sovereign right to decide who comes into his house and who stays out. You have the same right in your home. And I would imagine that you don’t allow everybody into your home either. Certain people are allowed in. Certain people stay out.
God the Father says that heaven is his home, and he has the sovereign right to decide who comes in and who stays out, and he has said very clearly in the Bible that the only ones that he allows to come into his heavenly home are those who have been born again through faith in Jesus Christ, and they’re members of his family.
And the invitation — oh, listen to me — the invitation goes to the whole world! Everyone is invited to spend eternity in my Father’s house. But you have to RSVP. You have to respond to his invitation. And he invites you this morning to make sure, when the moment comes for you to step into eternity, that you have peace in your hearts, that you know heaven is being prepared for you, that you’re going to be one of population there because you’re the Father’s child, you’ve placed your faith in Jesus Christ.
There’s story of a little boy in London, England, years ago who wanted to hear Dr. Dale Moody preach, and he came to the church where Dr. Moody was to preach, and he ran up the steps and went to go through the front door, and somebody grabbed him and said,