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WHERE WILL CHRISTIANS GO WHEN THEY ARE RAPTURED?

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached on Lord’s Day Evening, November 16, 2008
at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles

“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. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also” (John 14:2-3).


The Bible teaches that true Christians will be raptured to meet Christ in the air. Jesus will come down into the atmosphere above the earth, and true Christians, both living and dead will be translated, changed in a moment to meet Him in the clouds. This is given in our text.

“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. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also” (John 14:2-3).

The Bible tells us more about this event in I Thessalonians 4:16-17. Please turn to it.

“For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord” (I Thessalonians 4:16-17).

True Christians will be caught up with Christ in the air, both the living and the dead.

A further description of the Rapture is given in I Corinthians 15:51-52. Please turn to that passage.

“Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed”
      (I Corinthians 15:51-52).

In these verses we are told of the musterion, the mystery, of the Rapture. Our bodies will be changed in a split second and raised, along with those Christians who are already dead. This will all happen “in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye” (I Corinthians 15:52).

That takes us back to the words of our text, where Jesus said,

“If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also” (John 14:3).

We now from many Scriptures that Jesus is now in Heaven, seated on the right hand of God, in another dimension that is called Heaven. So, when Jesus said,

“I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also” (John 14:3).

He meant true Christians will be lifted up into Heaven in bodies that are like Christ’s flesh and bone resurrected, glorified body.

But what will this place in Heaven be like? Christians are going to be raptured, transformed and lifted up into Heaven with Christ, but what will it be like there in Heaven when they get there?

For a glimpse of the Heaven we will enter at the Rapture, we must turn to Revelation 7:9-15. Please stand and read these verses aloud.

“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; And cried with a loud voice, saying, Salvation to our God which sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb. 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, Saying, Amen: Blessing, and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, and honour, and power, and might, be unto our God for ever and ever. Amen. And one of the elders answered, saying unto me, What are these which are arrayed in white robes? and whence came they? And I said unto him, Sir, thou knowest. And he said to me, These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Therefore are they before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple: and he that sitteth on the throne shall dwell among them” (Revelation 7:9-15).

You may be seated. What a wonderful description of Heaven this is! But it is not a complete picture of that glorious place. The Apostle Paul said,

“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” (I Corinthians 2:9).

We cannot fully comprehend or fully understand the glory of Heaven, into which our changed bodies will be caught up at the Rapture. This much is certain, we will see Christ face to face.

Oft times the day seems long, our trials hard to bear,
   We’re tempted to complain, to murmur and despair;
But Christ will soon appear to catch His Bride away,
   All tears forever over in God’s eternal day.
It will be worth it all when we see Jesus,
   Life’s trials will seem so small when we see Christ;
One glimpse of His dear face all sorrow will erase,
   So bravely run the race till we see Christ.

Life's day will soon be o’er, all storms forever past,
   We'll cross the great divide, to glory, safe at last;
We'll share the joys of heaven – a harp, a home, a crown,
   The tempter will be banished, we’ll lay our burden down.
It will be worth it all when we see Jesus,
   Life’s trials will seem so small when we see Christ;
One glimpse of His dear face all sorrow will erase,
   So bravely run the race till we see Christ.
(“When We See Christ” by Esther Kerr Ruskoi, 1909-1962).

That’s why we need to listen very carefully this evening. This sermon will tell you exactly what the Bible teaches about Heaven, the place where Christians will go, at the Rapture, in their glorified resurrected bodies. I will give three things about that place where raptured Christians will go when they are “caught up to meet Christ in the air.”

I. First, they will go to a real place called “Heaven.”

Look at our text again:

“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. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also”
     (John 14:2-3).

Regarding those verses, Dr. W. A. Criswell said:

Twice Jesus calls heaven topos (Greek), meaning “a place.” Here (in John 14:2-3) heaven is described as a real place… There are some who say heaven is “a state of mind,” “a dream,” “wishful thinking,” “a sentiment.” But, the Bible testifies that heaven is as real as the home in which you live and as the city in which you dwell (W. A. Criswell, Ph.D., Heaven, Tyndale House, 1991, pp. 5-6).

Heaven is a place - a real place. Christ said, “I go to prepare a place for you.” He didn't say it only once. Christ said it twice in our text:

“I go to prepare a place for you.
  I go to prepare a place for you.”

Heaven is a place – a real place.

There are many “mansions” there. The Greek word for “mansions” is “monai.” The new-evangelical John MacArthur points out that this could describe “apartments (in modern terms). All are in the ‘Father’s house’” (MacArthur Study Bible, note on John 14:2).

We could describe what Jesus said in these modern terms:

“In God’s Hotel there are many apartments.”

That’s not a translation. It is a paraphrase, but it gives the idea of what Jesus was saying. Heaven is a place. It is the place where God lives – and there are dwelling places there for each person who becomes a Christian.

Dr. Criswell said:

The word for “mansions” (monai, Greek) is found only here and in verse 23 and means “abodes” or “permanent dwelling places.” Clearly, Jesus knew that the disciples anticipated some such heavenly abode. He assures them that He would have corrected the situation if it were not true. The place where Christians will abide (live) is a “prepared” place (Criswell Study Bible, note on John 14:2).

We know that Heaven is a definite place because that's where Jesus went when He ascended. The angels said:

“This same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven…”
      (Acts 1:11).

Jesus was “taken up…into” Heaven! Also, we are told in Mark 16:19,

“So then after the Lord had spoken unto them, he was received up into heaven, and sat on the right hand of God” (Mark 16:19).

He was "received up into heaven." He "sat on the right hand of God." This proves that Heaven is a place.

In Hebrews 10:12 we read,

“But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God” (Hebrews 10:12).

He sat down in a place – in Heaven. And we are told to have our affections and our minds focused on things in this place called Heaven:

“Seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affections on things above, not on things on the earth” (Colossians 3:1-2).

We are to have our minds and hearts focused on this place.

When I was a little boy, my aunt Myrtle promised to take me with her son, Johnny, to see the redwoods in northern California. I was about six years old, but I remember vividly my cousin Johnny telling me about the redwoods. He said, “Robert, they’re the biggest trees in the world. There’s nothing anywhere on earth that is as old or as big as these trees.” My heart ached and longed to see them. Later, when I found out that my aunt and uncle went without me to see those trees, my heart was broken. They brought me back a small piece of a redwood, growing a leaf if you kept it in water. What a disappointment! I was expecting to see the biggest tree in the world. All I got was a piece of bark with one leaf on it. It was about twenty-eight years later before I got to see those big trees for myself.

Remember the young girl who tied herself in the top of one of those trees? The tree was over a thousand years old. The lumber company spared the tree. But I read in the paper last week that some maniac took a chain saw and cut through the bark all the way around the tree. They killed it…for nothing. Oh, the madness and wickedness of man's twisted heart! Oh, the savage, monstrous nature of man!

It took twenty-eight years, but I finally got there to see those trees – one thousand, fifteen hundred, some two thousand years old! I stood and looked up into the top of those trees with tears streaming down my cheeks. I thought, “It took twenty-eight years to get here and see you, you beautiful, ancient things. But you were here all that time. You were in this place all that time – waiting for me.”

And that is the way it is with Jesus Christ. He's there, in that place, in Heaven, waiting for you – “they were waiting there all the time.” Don't disappoint Christ. Make sure that you get there – to that place – to Heaven.

II. Second, they will go to the New Jerusalem.

Isaac Watts’ great hymn was, “Am I a Soldier of the Cross?” Later a Sunday School chorus was tacked onto it by an American singer. I don’t usually like that chorus, but this particular one is memorable:

And when the battle’s over we shall wear a crown,
Yes, we shall wear a crown! Yes, we shall wear a crown!
And when the battle's over, we shall wear a crown
In the New Jerusalem.
    (Arranged by William B. Blake).

It’s true! A real Christian will wear a crown – in the New Jerusalem!

Heaven is located in the New Jerusalem. We know about this by reading Revelation, chapters twenty and twenty-one, in the New Testament:

“And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven” (Revelation 21:2).

Abraham looked forward to seeing this heavenly city:

“For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God” (Hebrews 11:10).

“And truly, if they [the patriarchs] had been mindful of that country from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned. But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city” (Hebrews 11:15-16).

What a wonderful promise! He has prepared for us a city! (Hebrews 11:16). So, the New Jerusalem, the city God has prepared, is the place where God is, where Christ is seated at the right side of God, where Christians go when they are raptured – to that wonderful city of God!

My mother gave me a lot of money before she died. I used it to buy a beautiful house for my family. But I wanted my mother to live with us. My wife invited her to come and live in a bedroom in our home. One day she suddenly appeared and brought her things with her. I loved having my mother with me. We talked every day. She was with me seven days a week. We had a wonderful time, my mother and I.

Then one day my mother said, “Robert, I’ve got to move out. I can’t stay here any more.” I said, “Oh, please don’t leave.” She insisted that she had to go. She said, “I like living with you, but I have to move out.” I strongly told her to stay with me. She listened and she didn’t say any more about it after that. About a month later she suddenly went to the hospital, where she died a few weeks later.

Looking back, I think my mother somehow intuitively knew she had to make one last move. “Robert, I’ve got to move out. I can’t stay here any more.” I think she knew that she soon had to move to her new home in Heaven!

“One thing have I desired of the Lord, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to enquire in his temple” (Psalm 27:4).

It is wonderful to be in church every Sunday, with friends we have known and loved for many years. I hope you will come back and make lasting friends here. There is nothing better than being in church every Sunday. I know it isn't your habit to be in church, but this is a good habit to make!

People often say, “What do I have to do to become a Christian?” The first thing you have to do is be in this church every time the door is open. You can learn all kinds of doctrines and Bible verses, but if you don't learn to love being in your local church, you will not become a real, Bible Christian. And whatever you do, don’t miss Christmas Sunday, Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve. Be here in church for those services, no matter what it costs you personally.

Heaven is like being in church forever! If you don't love being in our church every Sunday here on earth, you cannot expect to love being in church forever in Heaven!

When you come to church on Sunday, it is a foretaste of being with loved ones and friends, martyrs of the ages, great missionaries and Christian friends of a lifetime.

Friends will be there I have loved long ago;
Joy like a river around me will flow;
Yet just a smile from my Saviour, I know,
Will through the ages be glory for me.
O that will be glory for me,
Glory for me, glory for me;
When by His grace I shall look on His face,
That will be glory, be glory for me.
   ("O That Will Be Glory," by Charles H. Gabriel, 1856-1932).

III. Third, they will go there only if they are converted Christians.

You know, people who aren’t born again can’t even see Heaven, much less go there! Jesus said:

“Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3).

Simon Peter was thinking about that when he wrote that we are born again to a living hope (I Peter 1:3),

“To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you” (I Peter 1:4).

When you are born again, you have a new hope, you see Heaven by faith. It becomes a real place, where you are really going. Marvelous!

The reason Heaven is not real to you is that you are still lost. You have never been born again.

“But the natural man (the unconverted person) receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned” (I Corinthians 2:14).

It seems foolish and unreal to you when we talk about Heaven, because you are spiritually blind. Your sins have made the eyes of your soul blind. Your spiritual understanding is blinded by your sins. It's like somebody threw dirt in your eyes. It hurts! It burns! It makes you so you can't see! That's what sin does. It blinds you to the reality of Heaven!

Every time you look at something dirty it is a sin. Every time you lie it is a sin. Every time you miss church it is a sin. Your nature is sinful. All of this sin in your heart makes you blind to the things of the world of the spirit. You are too blinded by sin to realize that there is a Heaven you could go to – if you will come to Jesus Christ and have your sins washed away by His Blood! If you will come to Christ and be washed from sin, then Heaven will become real – by faith. Why? Because,

“We look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal (temporary); but the things which are not seen are eternal. For we know…we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens” (II Corinthians 4:18-5:1).

Do you want to be raptured and go to Heaven? Then you must come back to church. Do you want Heaven? Then you must want church. Do you want to be in Heaven forever? Then you must be in church every time the door is open.

First, you come into the local church. Then you come to Jesus Christ. He died on the Cross to pay the penalty for your sins. He arose from the dead and is seated at the right side of God in Heaven. Come into the church. Come to Jesus Christ. Be washed clean by the Blood He shed on the Cross! Then you will be ready for Heaven!

(END OF SERMON)
You can read Dr. Hymers' sermons each week on the Internet
at www.realconversion.com. Click on “Sermon Manuscripts.”

Scripture Read Before the Sermon by Dr. Kreighton L. Chan: Revelation 7:11-15.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:
“When We See Christ” (by Esther Kerr Rusthoi, 1909-1962).


THE OUTLINE OF

WHERE WILL CHRISTIANS GO WHEN THEY ARE RAPTURED?

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

“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. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also” (John 14:2-3).

(I Thessalonians 4:16-17; I Corinthians 15:51-52;
Revelation 7:9-15; I Corinthians 2:9)

I.   First, they will go to a real place called “Heaven,” John 14:2-3;
Acts 1:11; Mark 16:19; Hebrews 10:12; Colossians 3:1-2.

II.  Second, they will go to the New Jerusalem, Revelation 21:2;
Hebrews 11:10, 15-16; Psalm 27:4.

III. Third, they will go there only if they are converted Christians,
John 3:3; I Peter 1:4; I Corinthians 2:14; II Corinthians 4:18-5:1.