|By: Dr. John Ankerberg and Dr. Erwin Lutzer; ©2003|
|Dr. John Ankerberg’s guest is Dr. Erwin Lutzer. Far beyond the beauty of heaven, as revealed by John in Revelation, Dr. Lutzer tells us that Heaven will be a “family reunion” for the saints!|
Heaven: What Will It Be Like?
Dr. John Ankerberg: Erwin, start us off with just a reminder of some of the things we learn about Heaven from the Bible.
Dr. Erwin Lutzer: John, I love to tell that story about the preacher who asked, “How many of you would like to go to heaven? Raise your hand.” And everybody raise his or her hand except a man in the front seat. The pastor said to him, “You don’t want to go to heaven?”
He said, “Oh, yes, I do. But I thought you were getting a group to go right now.”
Well, you know, we smile, but the fact is that every one of us is going to spend eternity somewhere, and eternity is very, very long. Think of a hundred million years—almost impossible to grasp—and then another hundred million and on and on. It never ends! And that’s why it’s so important for everyone to hear what we are saying, because we are talking about heaven. The Bible paints a beautiful picture of what we call “the New Jerusalem,” and I interpret Revelation chapters 21 and 22 to be a picture of our final home. That’s the best we can do as we think about the heavenly realms.
We’ve learned that the size of the city is able to accommodate all of the saints—1,500 miles square, the Scripture says; 1,500 miles high; 1,500 miles in diameter. We’ve learned that the materials are absolutely exquisite and beautiful. And you know, when the Apostle John uses expressions like “streets paved with gold” or “the pearls on the gates,” he may be speaking metaphorically here, but he saw a vision and this is the best he can do, the best he could do to communicate it to us. It’ll be so much better than the way in which it is described.
Then we’re going to have a new occupation. We are going to be able to work for God but to do so effortlessly. He’s going to have assignments for us to do. The Scripture says that, “We shall reign with Him forever and ever” and “His name shall be on our foreheads.”
The other day someone said to me, “Pastor Lutzer, when I get to heaven, is it possible for me to sin and then be thrown out of heaven like Lucifer once was?” Well, you know, the answer to that question is, “No.” Number one, you will not want to sin, and number two, you have been “elect,” the Bible says, “from before the foundation of the world” and God preserves those who are His.
And if you want to know, however, whether or not you are going to heaven, I want you to understand, it is possible for you to know right now. You can know, and that is through faith and trust in Jesus Christ.
Ankerberg: Okay. Those are the things we have already learned about heaven. But you wanted to tell us something else—another special benefit that awaits us in heaven.
Lutzer: Yes. I want to point out that there is another characteristic of heaven, and that is, we are going to get a brand new family. You know, there’s a question that people frequently come to me and ask. They say, “Now, in heaven, are we still going to have those good family picnics?” Let’s suppose that you come from a good family and those get-togethers— Thanksgiving, Christmas—they were so special. “Are we ever going to get together? Well, what I want you to do is take the intimacy that you experienced—I’m speaking now to those
of you who came from good families—take the intimacy that you experienced and then broaden that to all those who are in heaven and you’ll have the same fellowship and intimacy and fulfillment that you had with all the saints who are there. And if you came from a bad home—I speak to someone rejected. Your father didn’t want you. He left the family. Your mother maybe rejected you. I speak to orphans. I speak to those of you who perhaps were conceived out of wedlock. You’ve always wondered, “Am I going to really belong?” Oh, yes, I want you to know that if you are a believer in Christ, you will belong and you’ll finally get the family that you’ve always wanted!
Ankerberg: What if someone says, “Can you show that to me from the Bible?”
Lutzer: I think I can. In one of the most remarkable stories of when Jesus was on earth, I want you to listen to this because this just enlarges our understanding of the glories of heaven and the whole family structure that may exist there.
Mark chapter 3, beginning in verse 31: “And his mother and his brothers arrived, and standing outside, they sent word to Him and called Him. And a multitude was sitting around Him and they said to Him, ‘Behold, your mother and your brothers are outside looking for you.’ And answering them, He said, ‘Who are my mother and my brothers?’ And looking about on those who were sitting around Him, Jesus said, ‘Behold, my mother and my brothers, for whoever does the will of God, he is my brother and sister and mother.’”
Jesus is saying that if you follow Him, if you know Him, you are brought from the fringes into the very heart of the heavenly family, and Jesus considers you to be His brother. In fact, we read in the Book of Hebrews, “He is not ashamed to call us brothers.” We share the same Father. It only makes sense. After the Resurrection Jesus said to Mary, “I ascend to My Father and to your Father; your God and My God.” You see, if God who is in heaven is my Father and He is the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, that makes Jesus and me brothers, does it not? Can you imagine the beauty, the beauty and the fulfillment of the heavenly family with that kind of a close relationship?
I’d like to read the words of a man by the name of Richard Waitley who wrote this about the heavenly family. Listen carefully. “I am convinced that the extension and perfection of friendship will constitute a great part of the future happiness of the Blessed. ‘I wish to see and personally know (for example) the Apostle Paul, or John,’ is the most likely to arise in the noblest and purest mind. I should be sorry to think such a wish absurd and presumptuous and unlikely. The highest enjoyment doubtless will be the personal knowledge of our great and beloved Master; yet I cannot but think that some part of their happiness” —that is, our happiness—“will consist in an intimate knowledge of the greatest of His followers also and of those of them in particular whose qualities are to each especially attractive.”
Now, what he’s saying is, “Do you want to talk to Peter? You want to ask him what it was like to deny Christ as well as follow Christ? You’ll get a chance to do that. You want to talk to Martin Luther and ask him, ‘Now, what was it really that motivated you to nail the 95 theses to the castle church door in Wittenberg?’” He will tell you. I don’t know if we’ll be talking about those kinds of things or not, but I do know this, that our wishes and desires will be fulfilled.
The one who is a believer in Jesus is part of a magnificent, wonderful family!