Welcome back to the Story of Liberty, this is John Bona. Someone asked me the question about heaven recently and we had a short discussion. I had to explain to them that I was involved in a serious car accident but God protected us, and we came out unscratched. So we thank the Lord for that. We started talking about heaven, and people say interesting things when you talk about heaven. I wondered, as we got into the conversation, how big heaven really was. So, I did some checking out in scripture and the Bible tells us that the city lieth four square. Revelation 21:16.
Now this means that the city measures 12,000 furlongs long, 12,000 furlongs wide, 12,000 furlongs high. Now, furlong is not a term we use anymore except that of a horse race. But, it's an eight of a mile, a furlong. Because if you go to the horse track, and I have not been there for years, but I remember a six furlong race, or an eighth furlong race would be a mile. It's an eighth of a mile. So this city that the scripture describes is 1500 miles long, 1500 miles wide and 1500 miles high. Now, that's a big city. That would stretch all the way from Florida up to Canada and from New York over to Minnesota. That's one large city.
Think of it this way; a building that is a hundred stories high, and if the stories are about 15 feet a story. Well, that would make the city have about over 500,000 stories. That's how high it would be. We would need some pretty powerful elevators to get up 500,000 stories. It would have over 2 million square miles per stories. Now that's the way the math works. The entire city would have over a trillion square feet of space. Now, one of the mathematical experts determine that there is around 35 billion people that have ever lived on planet earth. Now, assuming all of them went to heaven, and we know that's not true, but assuming all of them did go to heaven, there would almost be 200 square miles for each family in the holy city.
Now no one ever said that everyone is going to heaven, in fact Jesus said just the opposite. He said, "enter in the straight gate for wide is the gate, and broad is the way that leads to destruction and many there which go there in." He said that the gate is narrow that leads to life, and few find it. So, in conclusion there is plenty enough space in heaven for everyone, plenty of space. We know that in this heaven, the New Jerusalem prepared by God is a bride adoring for her husband. This city which God has prepared for his children is very, very different from any other city we have ever known or even dreamed of. Now, we know the primary activity that goes on and all of our cities in this country is focused around sin. We're engaged to doing all kinds of bad stuff. Some of us try to clean it up, but it's very difficult. But in this city of God there's no sin. In this city there are no more street lights to lighten any dark and dangerous alley. There's no lamps, no candles of any sort. There's not even a sun or a moon, because God Himself shall be the light of it, and the Lamb of God shall lighten it.
You know in this city of God there's no hospital, there are no doctors. Those things are all passed away because there's no more sickness. There's no cemetery, there's no funeral parlors. In fact, there will be no more funerals. Now, some of you may not like this, but in that city there's no Taverns. There's no bars, but there's no slums either. There's no policemen. There's no marines in uniform as you hear. There's no police cars, or jails or prisons. There's no court house because there's no judges or lawyers. Some of you like that. There's no longer any locks for doors. All these things are gone. There's no more sorrow or separation. There's no more tears we're told in scripture, because the former things have passed away.
Heaven is a perfect place, It is a place that we can only imagine. I have heard stories, and so have you, of people that have actually died and went to heaven. Some of them I'll talk to you about went to heaven and some went to hell. They have actually died clinical deaths in a hospital or somewhere else. One man explained that he found himself in an experience where there's a swift passage through a tunnel of light, and he came out and found himself flying over this beautiful city. He said it was magnificent beyond anything he could even dream of. He floated for a while until he came to this big beautiful river. He followed this river and eventually came down upon one of the streets in the city. He saw several people walking there mainly in white clothing, and he recognized some old friends and relatives. They were just walking very casually, and then this individual went over to speak with them and before he could speak he found himself in a hospital bed once more. He describes the city as having beautiful buildings and streets made of gold, the bible says that. The street of the city was pure gold but it also says in scripture that the city was pure gold like unto clear glass, transparent glass. What a glorious city that will be, the buildings, the towers, the pinnacles, all made of gold, clear as transparent glass. I've always loved the thought of that material, it's the most beautiful material I can imagine.
As a young boy, I thought about transparent gold. When I learned that heaven was made of that. These is water, as clear as crystal, it was running through the town, it was not even what we can consider water he said it was so much better and flowing out of the throne of God into a crystal sea. He said the flowers and the plants and the trees were there too. He said each blade of grass was a different you color. Those of you who like gardening, you no doubt will have more to do than your heart can never desire. So we know that the very place where God dwells, that God himself will wipe away all the tears from our eyes. Just think there won't be any minister needed to do that or priest but it will be the hand of God himself. The hand that has taken away sin because he took sin upon Himself.
I love that scripture in I Corinthians 2:9, my good friend Dr. Marshall Foster who is on this program frequently, we were driving in South Carolina once and we notice a billboard right off I95 and it was I Corinthians 2:9. It says, "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."
We realize reading that was about heaven. What a glorious time that will be for the Christian. No forgetfulness, no anger. We know on this earth the scientific name for the curse is entropy, the second law of thermodynamics which simply says that everything is wearing down, it's wearing out. It really becomes more disorganized, it grows old and perishes like us but this curse will be lifted from the universe and with it, all decay and death that wonderful voice from heaven saying there shall be no more death.
Did you ever wonder what you will do in heaven? What occupation you might have in that celestial city? Well, I don't know, but one of the things I want to do first is meet the Triumph God. I hope that I'm pure enough in heart that I could see God. Don't you want to see God? I'd like to walk down the street and talk to Adam, Moses, The Apostle Paul, Peter, Luke, John, King David. I'm looking forward to meeting them. I'm also looking forward to meeting the great people in history that we know about like St. Augustine, St. Patrick, Abraham Lincoln, George Washington. Perhaps we can walk down the street and talk to an archangel today. But most of all think there will be Christ the Lord Himself our redeemer. Is that not incredible? That's who is heaven folks.
There's a book call Beyond Deaths Door. It was written by Dr. Maurice Rolling. He's a cardiologist who is an expert in the diagnosis of cardiovascular diseases and he's also an instructor for the American Heart Association and resuscitation techniques. For the most part he was a skeptic, he was basically a man who believed that when a person died you were dead, you were done, there was nothing in the future, nothing to look forward to, it was the end. However, he told the story that he had a patient, a man who was about 50 years old who had chest pains. He was put on the treadmill with an EKG connected to see if there were any problems with this heart and the man started jogging on the treadmill and eventually something terrible happened, he dropped dead on the office floor. There were no other doctors in the room, so he called for the nurses and they began resuscitation.
Well, they massaged his heart and preform mouth to mouth breathing and after sometime the man came too but he was screaming about hell. Dr. Rollings was kind of shaken by that and he thought there was no such thing as hell and he didn't understand and he thought the man was just confused and delirious. Well, the doctor decided to work on the patient while he was there and help him but the patient kept losing consciousness, rolling his eyes upward. He stop breathing and he would die once more. Each time he regained heartbeat and respiration, the patient would scream "I'm in hell." He was terrified and pleading for help, he had this terrified look on his face. Worst then an expression seen in death, said the doctor. It was just horrific, his pupils were dilated, he was perspiring tremendously and he was shaking, and he would say "you don't you understand I'm in hell, I'm in hell suffering. Each time you quit I go back to hell, don't let me go back to hell please."
At that point the doctor became troubled. He realized the man was in a panic that he had never seen before in all his years as a doctor and he began to work very hard to bring the patient back several times. After several episodes with death, the man kept saying, "how do I stay out of hell? Please, help me doctor. Pray for me." The doctor at that time was not a Christian and he said, "I'm a doctor not a preacher."
Well, fortunately this patient was stabilized and he was taken to the hospital and then the doctor went to visit him one day and he wanted to take note about what this man had experienced. If there was really such a place as hell, he wanted to find out about it. So he asked him: "Where there flames, was there a devil with his pitchfork?" And the man look up at him and said "what are you talking about, I don't recall any hell." He remembered nothing at all.
See, this is not uncommon because Dr. Rollings realized that the human psych had gone into operation and it does what... it always does when confronted when the pain and trauma which is greater than it can tolerate. He suppressed the facts so they cannot be remembered.
Well, the good news is heaven is actually a place. It's not just a state of mind. Jesus said, I go to prepare a place for you John 14:3. It's actually a physical place. We know that Enoch walked with God and then he was not for God took him. So, he never died and he just went to heaven in a physical body. He was then glorified but it was still a real body of flesh and bones. Jesus himself said, handle me and see for a spirit has not flesh and bones as you see me have. And Elijah, he never tasted death. He was taken up in a chariot into heaven. And Jesus rose bodily from the grave and He ascended into heaven. The angel said, Jesus which is taken up from you into heaven shall He'll come and like manner as you have seen Him go into heaven. Heaven is a glorious place.
In scripture, its describe as a city on high, city of God, a city of light. The New Jerusalem, we know that heaven is also described as a paradise, enclosed garden. It described as a palace. Heaven will not be boring. I heard one person say that "Oh, heaven will be boring. There's no beer up there, in heaven there is no beer that's why we drink in here" you've heard that. It's kind of silly, isn't it? No one could possibly be bored in heaven. We'll have all creation to explore.
In heaven we'll recognize each other, we'll know each other in heaven. Did you know that? I think the Bible is quite clear that we will know each other in heaven. Will we know each other as we know each other now? No. We will know each other better, for now we will see it through the dark glass. See then we will see face to face where there is no sin, no deceit, no anger at something said by your friend that we have a hard time forgetting. No grief, no remembrance of being hurt by your friend and there's no guilt to separate us if we have hurt someone else. We shall know each other perfectly. There will not be any dark glass anymore.
I've heard the discussion, do people in haven't see us now, on Hebrews 12:1-2, it says
"Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God."
I know there are differences of opinion of what is actually being referred to here but I think the reason to believe that those who are in heaven are the people who are being referred to, that we are being witnessed. I say that because I think there is evidence in scripture, that is in fact the case.
For example, remember when Saul brought up Samuel and with the help of the which Samuel was aware of the fact of what happen to Saul. In fact that the kingdom was going to be taken away from Saul and give in to his enemy, David. See, Samuel was aware of all the things which had going on since he died. Remember that when Saul brought up Samuel that was not a good thing for Saul to do. And we know in heaven there is great rejoicing in the presence of angels of God when even one sinner repents. In the presence of the angels, who was there in their presence? Well, they maybe referring to the people that have gone on.
You know, the bible teaches us that we're never to pray for the dead. It does definitely teach us that they might be praying for us. Of course, they're not really dead at all. There are more alive than you and I will ever be on this earth. I've heard that said by the great preacher Charles Burgeon, he said something to the effect: "when I die, don't mourn for me because I won't be dead, I will be more alive than I had ever been in my life on earth."
You may have heard of Detrick Bonhoffer, he was a great man, a great theologian, a great preacher who stood up to Hitler and actually he was the man who probably did more to bring down Hitler than anybody else. History has not recorded that and Hitler even knew it himself. You know, here's what the great Bonhoffer said in his last sermon that he preach well a pastor in London. He said, no one has yet believed in God and the kingdom of God, no one has yet heard about the realm of the resurrected and not been homesick from that hour waiting, looking forward joyfully to being released from bodily existence. Whether we are young or old makes no difference. What are 20, 30 or 50 years in the sight of God and which of us knows how near he or she may already be to the gold.
Why are we so afraid when we think about death? Death is only dreadful for those who live in dread and fear of it. Death is not wild or terrible, only if we can be still and hold fast to God's word. Death is not bitter, if we had not become bitter ourselves. Death is grace, the greatest gift of grace that God gives to people who believe in Him. Death is mild, death is sweet and gentle, it backens to us with heavenly power. If we only realize that it is the gateway to our homeland. The tabernacle of joy, the everlasting kingdom of peace.
How do we know that dying is so dreadful? Who knows whether in our human fear and anguish we are only shivering and shuttering at the most glorious heavenly blessed event in the world. Death is hell in night and cold. If it is not transform by our faith, but that is just what is so marvelous that we can transform death. That was Derrick Bonhoeffer, a man who in a relatively young age was hung by the Gustavo and killed. Just three weeks before the allied forces invaded Germany and it was the end of the World War II. But the big question for all of us folks is will you be there? That is by far the most practical question, isn't it?
By the way, all those near death experiences and those that had attempted suicide and did not die, did not have a good experience. So, any of you thinking about getting to heaven sooner, don't think you could go that way. Wait for God's time and not yours. That is the final question, when the roll is called up yonder, will you be there? You know there are millions and millions probably billions of people in this world who don't know that. You could go through this world without an education, without a car, without even a home or a place to live. But those things aren't really that important. But the one thing we cannot go through this world without having to know is eternal life, because if we miss that, we miss everything. And we miss it forever.
So that is the question. That is the great question in the story of liberty because liberty comes from Christ, that's what this program is all about ultimately. Some of you may know or may not know how to get there. See, there's only one bridge from earth to heaven and it shaped like a cross. Christ the Lord paid that prize when they crucified Him. He took our sin, our guilt upon Him and He endured that wrath of His Father. He took our place, He paid for all our sins and He offers eternal life to all those who repented their sins and trust in Him. That is the story of liberty.
It's not hard to invite Him into your heart and make Him Lord of your life. See, if Christ is not King in your heart, if He does not dwell as king in our hearts, you will not dwell in His mansions above. Don't be deceived, there's so many deceptions. A few, there will be that enter in. A few, there will be that findeth. Matthew 7:13-14. But folks, there is a way, there is a way and it's the way of grace. To all of us who acknowledge our sin, our guilt, and put their trust in Christ the Lord. Christ is waiting to receive you, the question is will you come to Him? Come to God, be a joint heir with Christ, to inheritance incorruptible, it never fades away, reserved in heaven for you.
God bless you, and thank you for joining us on a Story of Liberty.
Please excuse any transcription errors.