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THE THIRD HEAVEN AND THE NEW JERUSALEM!

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord's Day Evening, October 24, 2010

“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 think the words “In my Father’s house” refer to Heaven. Jesus told us to pray to “our Father which art in Heaven” (Matthew 6:9). So, God the Father lives in Heaven. Jesus said Heaven is “my Father’s house.” In Heaven there are many “mansions.” In God’s dwelling place there are many “residences,” as the Greek word “mǒnē” is translated by Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance. Then Christ says, “I go to prepare a place for you” (John 14:2). The phrase “a place for you” is given again in verse 3. So, Heaven is God’s great house. In that great house there are many dwelling places. And Jesus emphatically tells us that this is “a place.” A proper noun is a particular person, place or thing with a name. So a proper noun must be capitalized in modern English. Basic English grammar is no longer taught in American schools, so young people often write bible, with a small B. They have not been taught that it is a proper noun, a name, and therefore must begin with a capital B. Los Angeles must begin with capital letters because it is a proper noun, the name of a place. Dr. John R. Rice taught English before he went into the ministry. That is why he always capitalized the first letter of Heaven. And he was exactly right in doing so. Heaven is a proper noun. It is the name of a real place. “I go to prepare a place for you” (John 14:2).

There are lots of cartoons showing people floating on clouds, and they call that Heaven. But it is not the Heaven spoken of in the Word of God! In the Bible Heaven is not floating on clouds. Heaven is a place, as real as Los Angeles; London, England; Jakarta, Indonesia; Mexico City; or Beijing, China. According to the Bible Heaven is a place! The Bible says,

“For here have we no continuing city, but we seek one to come”
      (Hebrews 13:14).

That being true, I will answer some questions about Heaven.

I. First, where is this place called Heaven?

The Bible does not tell us where Heaven is located. But it does tell us it is a definite place. The Bible speaks of three heavens. The first heaven is the atmosphere surrounding the earth, where birds fly, and clouds form, and rain falls.

“And God said, Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life, and fowl that may fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven” (Genesis 1:20).

“…and the rain from heaven was restrained” (Genesis 8:2).

“…the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth” (Isaiah 55:10).

The second heaven is the cosmos, the universe, where the sun, moon and stars are located.

“And God made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night: he made the stars also. And God set them in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth” (Genesis 1:16-17).

The Third Heaven is beyond the universe. It is the dwelling place of God the Father, God the Son, the angels, and Christians who have died. The Third Heaven is also called “paradise.”

“I knew a man in Christ above fourteen years ago, (whether in the body, I cannot tell; or whether out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) such an one caught up to the third heaven. And I knew such a man, (whether in the body, or out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) How that he was caught up into paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter” (II Corinthians 12:2-4).

Dr. Henry M. Morris said that Paul was taken up “beyond the heaven of the stars and the heaven of the birds…to the heaven where God’s throne is…the heaven to which Christ ascended to the right hand of God” (Henry M. Morris, Ph.D., The Defender’s Study Bible, World Publishing, 1995 edition, p. 1289; note on II Corinthians 12:2).

In II Corinthians 12:2-4 Paul speaks of being taken up into the Third Heaven. Please stand and read those verses aloud.

“I knew a man in Christ above fourteen years ago, (whether in the body, I cannot tell; or whether out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) such an one caught up to the third heaven. And I knew such a man, (whether in the body, or out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) How that he was caught up into paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter” (II Corinthians 12:2-4).

You may be seated.

Dr. McGee said this probably happened when Paul was stoned and left for dead at Lystra (Acts 14:19-20). Dr. McGee said, “Was he actually dead and caught up into heaven?...I believe he was dead and that God raised him from the dead… He saw the third heaven” (J. Vernon McGee, Th.D., Thru the Bible, Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1983, volume V, p. 141; note on II Corinthians 12:2). Whether it was a vision, or Paul was actually taken up to the Third Heaven, we are not told. I personally believe that Dr. McGee was right, that he actually died when he was stoned. But either way, Paul saw the Third Heaven, which he also called “paradise” (II Corinthians 12:4). While Paul was in the Third Heaven he heard words that “it is not lawful for a man to utter” (II Corinthians 12:4). This much is certain, “paradise” is part of the Third Heaven. Paul saw it. The Third Heaven is a real place! One of the thieves who was nailed on a cross next to Jesus was converted as he died there. Jesus said to him, “Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:43). This means that Jesus and the converted thief both went to paradise, in the Third Heaven, the day Jesus died on the Cross. And the believing thief saw Jesus again in the Third Heaven, in paradise, that very day! We too will see Jesus there! Sing the chorus, “We Shall Behold Him.”

And we shall behold Him, we shall behold Him,
Face to face in all of His glory;
And we shall behold Him, Yes, we shall behold Him
Face to face, our Saviour and Lord.
   (“We Shall Behold Him” by Dottie Rambo, 1934-2008).

So, where is this amazing place, the Third Heaven, that Christ and Paul called, “paradise”? We know it is above the earth’s atmosphere, above the universe, in a very special place beyond space and time. And Jesus has been preparing this place for true Christians for nearly two thousand years. I don’t know about you, but I am very excited about seeing Paradise, the Third Heaven, where Christ lives today! Sing the chorus again!

And we shall behold Him, we shall behold Him,
Face to face in all of His glory;
And we shall behold Him, Yes, we shall behold Him
Face to face, our Saviour and Lord.

In that place called the “Third Heaven” and “paradise” there are many dwelling places, many mansions.

“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).

When we are “raptured” we will suddenly be taken up into the Third Heaven with Christ!

II. Second, how big is this place called Heaven?

Dr. J. Dwight Pentecost described the New Jerusalem as the “place” Jesus has prepared for true Christians to live, the same place mentioned by Jesus in John 14:2-3 (J. Dwight Pentecost, Th.D., Things to Come, Zondervan Publishing House, 1964 reprint, p. 575). Dr. Pentecost said the New Jerusalem of Revelation 21:9-22:7 is a continuation of the heavenly Jerusalem spoken of by Paul in Hebrews 12:22-24. Dr. Pentecost said, “Several considerations lead us to the conclusion that the New Jerusalem is God’s one eternal resting place” (p. 574). J. A. Seiss gives us the enormous size of the New Jerusalem,

The golden city for which the Church of the first-born is taught to look as its eternal home, is 1,500 miles square…John saw it measured [Revelation 21:15-17], and this was the measure of it, just as wide as it is long, and just as high as it is wide; for the “length and the breadth and the height of it are equal” [Revelation 21:16]. Here would be streets over streets, and stories over stories, up, up, up, to the height of 1,500 miles, and each street 1,500 miles every way [Dr. McGee indicated that “we will live inside” this great cube, Thru the Bible, volume V, p. 1071; comment on Revelation 21:15-16]. The base of it would stretch from furthest Maine to furthest Florida, and from the shore of the Atlantic to Colorado. It would cover all Britain, Ireland, France, Spain, Italy, Germany, Austria, Prussia, European Turkey, and half of European Russia, taken together!...every street is one-fifth the length of the diameter of the earth, and the number of whose main [streets], though a mile above each other, and a mile apart, would not be less than eight millions! [John Bengel said] “Stupendous magnitude!...All the cities in the world are mere villages in comparison with the New Jerusalem”…And the population to fill and occupy a city 1,500 miles long, and broad, and high, allowing the amplest room and space for each individual, family, tribe, and tongue, and nation, would necessarily mount up to myriads on myriads [uncounted multitudes]… amplitude of numbers, as well as glorious accommodations – is unmistakably signified, in whatsoever way we contemplate the astonishing picture (J. A. Seiss, The Apocalypse: Lectures on the Book of Revelation, Zondervan Publishing House, n.d., pp. 498-499).

Dr. McGee’s diagram of the New Jerusalem, Thru the Bible, Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1983, volume V, p. 1071; note on Revelation 21:15-16.

Dr. John F. Walvoord said that Christ’s words, “I go to prepare a place for you” (John 14:2) refers to the New Jerusalem, and that it seems to come down from its place in the Third Heaven as “a satellite city suspended over the earth during the thousand-year reign of Christ as the dwelling place of resurrected and translated saints who also have access to the earthly scene” (John F. Walvoord, Th.D., The Revelation of Jesus Christ, Moody Press, 1966, p. 312). Thus, Christians will be able to travel back and forth from the New Jerusalem to the earth, as will the Lord Jesus Christ. Stand and sing “We Shall Behold Him” again!

And we shall behold Him, we shall behold Him,
Face to face in all of His glory;
And we shall behold Him, Yes, we shall behold Him
Face to face, our Saviour and Lord.

You may be seated.

III. Third, who lives in this place called Heaven?

Dr. Pentecost said, “This city is not only the dwelling place of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, but is the dwelling place of the bride [the Christians of all the ages]” (Pentecost, ibid., p. 575). On that same page, Dr. Pentecost said that several verses in Hebrews 12 describe “the same place the Lord had in mind when He said,…’I go to prepare a place for you’ (John 14:2).” Please turn to Hebrews 12:22-24. Stand and read those verses aloud,

“But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect, And to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel” (Hebrews 12:22-24).

You may be seated.

Here the New Jerusalem is called “the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem” (12:22). Then we are told who lives there,


1.  The church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven
(cf. Revelation 13:8; Revelation 20:15).

2.  God the Judge of all.

3.  The spirits of just men made perfect.

4.  Jesus, the mediator of the New Covenant.

5.  The blood of sprinkling.


Strangely, Dr. Pentecost left out verse 24! He certainly should not have done so. Of course Jesus is there! But I think he wanted to avoid controversy by leaving out “the blood of sprinkling.” Weakness on that point by authors in the twentieth century made room for today’s Bloodless gospel. Dr. McGee was far better than most modern commentators on this. Speaking on Hebrews 9:12, Dr. McGee said,

I believe this verse proves Christ took His literal blood to heaven…this is the literal blood He shed on the cross (McGee, ibid., p. 566; note on Hebrews 9:12).

That was also the view of Chrysostom, Calvin, Spurgeon, Dr. John R. Rice, and by far the greatest number of commentators throughout Christian history, before today’s apostasy began under Finney, who denied the efficacy and necessity of Christ’s Blood. Finney’s way is not the right way. The old way is the right way!

Ah! Think of what we will see in the New Jerusalem, the place Christ has prepared for us! The whole church of all the ages will be there! God will be there! The spirits of just men made perfect will be there! Jesus, our mediator will be there – and so will His Blood, “the blood of sprinkling”! Stand and sing that chorus, “We Shall Behold Him”!

And we shall behold Him, we shall behold Him,
Face to face in all of His glory;
And we shall behold Him, Yes, we shall behold Him
Face to face, our Saviour and Lord.

You may be seated.

Now, if you are not converted, you will not see any of those wonderful things, for you will not enter the New Jerusalem!

“But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death” (Revelation 21:8).

Instead of entering the New Jerusalem, you will go to the Lake of Fire!

You must strive to enter in to Christ now. You must come to Him and experience real conversion. If you remain listless and asleep in your present condition, you will not be justified by Christ, nor cleansed from your sins by the Blood He shed on the Cross. How we pray that you will strive to enter in to Christ even now, before judgment comes. Christ is alive in the Third Heaven, in the New Jerusalem, at the right hand of God. How we pray that you will come to Him and experience a real conversion before it is eternally too late. Amen.

(END OF SERMON)
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Scripture Read Before the Sermon by Dr. Kreighton L. Chan: Revelation 21:10-16.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:
“My Saviour First of All” (by Fanny J. Crosby, 1820-1915).


THE OUTLINE OF

THE THIRD HEAVEN AND THE NEW JERUSALEM!

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).

(Matthew 6:9; Hebrews 13:14)

I.   First, where is this place called Heaven? Genesis 1:20; 8:12;
Isaiah 55:10; Genesis 1:16-17; II Corinthians 12:2-4;
Acts 14:19-20; Luke 23:43.

II.  Second, how big is this place called Heaven? Revelation 21:9-22:7;
Hebrews 12:22-24; Revelation 21:15-17, 16.

III. Third, who lives in this place called Heaven? Hebrews 12:22-24;
Revelation 13:8; 20:15; Hebrews 9:12; Revelation 21:8.