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LONGING FOR HEAVEN!

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord’s Day Morning, May 5, 2013

“Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. 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” (John 14:1-2).


Christ was with His Disciples for the last time. They had just eaten a Passover meal. Christ had served them the Lord’s Supper, called Holy Communion by some churches. They were about to go out into the darkness of the Garden of Gethsemane. Christ would be arrested there. They would take Him away and crucify Him the next morning. Christ knew this was His last chance to comfort them. The next morning He would be dragged away and nailed to a cross. He said, “Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me.” He made it clear that they needed to believe in Him no matter what happened. But then Christ said something that must have seemed strange to them. He said, “In my Father's house are many mansions...I go to prepare a place for you.” The “mansions” refer to dwelling places, rooms – in modern terms, “apartments.” “I go there to prepare a place for you.” Christ meant that He was going to His Father’s house to build a place for them – an apartment for them to live in forever. That is Heaven. Notice Christ said, “I go there to prepare a place for you.” Heaven is not an existence where you float on the clouds. It is a real place – a place that Christ has prepared for followers to live after they die, a place called Heaven.

In the few minutes we have together this morning I will give you some thoughts I have had about Heaven.

I. First, it was never hard for me to believe in Heaven.

Many of the things I experienced as a child were negative. I was moved over twenty times, so I never got settled in one school. I was never taken to church until I was thirteen years old. There was a lot of drinking and fighting in some of the places I lived.

But there were some positive things. My mother read books to me every day. And she encouraged me to use my imagination. I was an only child, and I was sick with bronchial allergies most of the time. So I learned to play by myself. I was a sickly child, playing by himself in the back yard. That’s where I discovered God. It’s hard to describe, but I spent a lot of time with God – there in the back yard. That’s why God was always real to me, and Heaven seemed as real as San Francisco. It was even more real, because I had never seen San Francisco. But Heaven came down every afternoon in the back yard. Alone there, I played in a kind of translucent maze of color and light, angels and God. Sometimes I felt transported into the third Heaven, where I saw things I could never explain. I felt like the Apostle Paul who “was caught up into paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter” (II Corinthians 12:4).

I soon found out that I couldn’t tell other people about this. It would have been completely foreign to them. I take these experiences as gifts from God, by His grace. How else could a child who had never been taken to church have such a vivid experience with God, and angels, and Heaven? It had to be from God because “the natural man 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).

I found that other children had given up any contact they had with the unseen world. They were taught, “Seeing is believing.” If you can’t see it, and feel it, it isn’t real. That’s what the adults pounded into them until they became cold-hearted materialists. But that kind of thing never affected me. I simply thought, “They’ve never been alone in my grandmother's back yard, like I have.” I was a little bit sorry for them. In a way, I still am.

Dr. A. W. Tozer wrote many wonderful essays. My favorite is titled, “The Bible World is the Real World.” Dr. Tozer said,

      The blind eyes of modern people cannot see the invisible. But that does not destroy the reality of the spiritual creation... We are not opposed to science, but we recognize its proper limitations and refuse to stop where it is compelled to stop. The Bible tells of another world too fine [too subtle] for the instruments of scientific research to discover. By faith we engage that world and make it ours. It is accessible to us through the blood of the everlasting covenant. If we believe, we may even now enjoy the presence of God and the ministry of His heavenly messengers. Only unbelief can rob us of this royal privilege (A. W. Tozer, D.D., “The Bible World is the Real World”).

“Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. 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” (John 14:1-2).

II. Second, Heaven is a place.

Jesus said, “I go there to prepare a place for you.” The Greek word translated “place” is “topos” – a place. In our text Jesus described Heaven as a real place. That is why I always capitalize the first letter of Heaven. It is a noun – the name of a place like Los Angeles. There are some who say that Heaven is “a state of mind,” “an idea,” or just “wishful thinking.” But Dr. W. A. Criswell said, “The Bible testifies that Heaven is as real as the home in which you live and the city in which you dwell...Did Jesus go up into a state of mind? No! Jesus went to a real place, a genuine home, the final and permanent and eternal assembly of God’s [people]” (W. A. Criswell, Ph.D., Heaven, Tyndale House Publishers, 1991, p. 6).

Though I don’t agree with Dr. John MacArthur on the Blood of Christ, he did give a wonderful description of the eternal city of God in the new Jerusalem. In an exegesis of Revelation 21:15-16, he said,

      According to these measurements, the New Jerusalem covers a surface of 2.25 million square miles. By comparison, all of greater London is 621 square miles. The actual city of London is only one square mile, with a population of about 5,000. [The “City of London” lies within the larger city which is called “London.”] On that basis, the New Jerusalem would be able to house over eleven billion people! And that does not even take into account the towering height of the city!...
      The city is laid out as in a square, and its length is as great as its width; and [John] measured the city with the rod, fifteen hundred miles; its length and width and height are equal. So the city is perfectly symmetrical, a massive cube, fifteen hundred miles square and fifteen hundred miles high...
      How far is fifteen hundred miles? It is about the same as the distance from Maine to Florida. Imagine such an area squared off, then cubed, with multiple levels and millions of intersecting golden avenues. [The] New Jerusalem is a place of immense size and unearthly majesty and beauty! (John F. MacArthur, D.D., The Glory of Heaven, Crossway Books, 1996, pp. 107-108).

The Bible says that Abraham looked forward to that beautiful city,

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

Concerning the Old Testament saints, it is said, “God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city” (Hebrews 11:16). Squire Parsons called the Heavenly city Beulah Land. He wrote the lovely song Mr. Griffith sang a few minutes ago about that Heavenly place. Mr. Griffith, come and sing it again with me.

I'm kind of homesick for a country
   To which I've never been before.
No sad goodbyes will there be spoken,
   And time won't matter anymore.
Beulah Land, I'm longing for you,
   And someday on thee I'll stand.
There my home shall be eternal.
   Beulah Land, Sweet Beulah Land.

I'm looking now across that river
   To where my faith shall end in sight.
There’s just a few more days to labor,
   Then I will take my heavenly flight.
Beulah Land, I'm longing for you,
   And someday on thee I'll stand.
There my home shall be eternal.
   Beulah Land, Sweet Beulah Land.
(“Sweet Beulah Land” by Squire Parsons, 1948-).

III. Third, finding the way to Heaven.

Before we bought this building our church met in the Ambassador Hotel. I was preaching one morning. About halfway through the sermon I saw a woman come in. Three men in dark glasses were with her. At the end of the sermon she introduced herself to me. It was the movie actress Diane Keaton. The men were bodyguards. Miss Keaton said she wanted me to narrate part of a film she was making on Heaven. I said, “OK.” A few days later she recorded my voice preaching on Heaven and Hell. You can hear it in her movie titled, “Heaven.” Several weeks later she invited my wife and me to a movie set where we met Warren Beatty. I gave her a copy of a book on how to be saved by Dr. John R. Rice.

Miss Keaton became interested in Heaven when her mother died. She made the movie to find out more about Heaven. It was a research project. Here is what movie critic Leonard Maltin said about it,

Nothing if not bizarre, this personal project of Keaton’s intersperses oddly shot interviews with...clips from old movies on the subject of Heaven, how to get there, what it will be like, if it exists. Clips range from “Metropolis” to [Jack Benny in] “The Horn Blows at Midnight.” What’s the point? (Leonard Maltin, Movie and Video Guide, 1998 edition, Penguin Books, p. 572).

My name is in the credits! This “bizarre” little movie is my claim to fame in Hollywood! But it was a nice opportunity to witness for Christ to Diane Keaton and Warren Beatty.

I only tell you this story to point out one fact – if you look in the wrong place, you won’t find the right answer. You won’t find the truth about Heaven by interviewing people and looking at old movies! You can't learn much about Heaven from Jack Benny playing the angel Gabriel! Our knowledge of Heaven comes from what God revealed to us in the Bible. The Bible is a “sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place” (II Peter 1:19). God gave us the Bible to tell us things about Heaven we could not learn any other way.

You can’t find out about it by looking at old movies! You can’t find out about it by asking other people! You can’t find out about it by self-meditation or rationalistic thought! The Bible alone is the “sure word of prophecy.” It tells us what we could learn in no other way. Amen!

When I was a child I heard my father and his brothers talk about a village in England called “Alston.” I heard about it like a fairy tale or a dream. My grandfather was born there. But, since they came over to Canada, none of them had ever gone back to England until my uncles Oscar and Clifford went. All we knew about Alston was a few flimsy stories. It was a mythological place to me. It was as unreal as the land of Oz or Alice’s “Wonderland.” But then we went to Alston. There it was, as real as Los Angeles. My cousin David Hymers and his wife are from Alston. They are here with us this morning. They are not ghosts or fairies. They are real people, from a real place, that really exists!

I’ve only been to Alston once. But it is etched like a photograph in my mind. That’s the way Heaven was to the Apostle John! He only saw Heaven once. But he could never forget it! He said,

“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. They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more; neither shall the sun light on them, nor any heat. For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters: and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes” (Revelation 7:9-17).

I'm looking now across that river
   To where my faith shall end in sight.
There’s just a few more days to labor,
   Then I will take my heavenly flight.
Beulah Land, I'm longing for you,
   And someday on thee I'll stand.
There my home shall be eternal.
   Beulah Land, Sweet Beulah Land.

Stand and sing the chorus with me!

Beulah Land, I'm longing for you,
   And someday on thee I'll stand.
There my home shall be eternal.
   Beulah Land, Sweet Beulah Land.

Amen. You may be seated. One more story and I’m through.

Several years ago a girl I went to high school with phoned me. I had not seen her for many years. She said, “Robert, my son has leukemia. Will you come and pray for him?” Of course I said I would. I went to the hospital, the City of Hope. The boy was only seven or eight years old. As soon as I looked at him I knew he was dying. She asked me to pray that he would be healed. I placed my hand on his forehead and prayed. The next week she called me and said he was worse. I drove out there again. This time I took quite a while to explain to the child how Jesus died to pay the penalty for his sins, and how he could trust Jesus and be saved. He was a smart boy. He understood. I led him in prayer as he hopefully trusted Jesus.

The next week that little mother called me again. She told me he was worse and they didn’t think they could save him. She asked me to come to the hospital and baptize him. She said, “I never took him to church. He’s never been baptized. I’m afraid for his soul.” I knew that he didn’t need to be baptized to be saved. I knew that he had trusted Jesus, and nothing more was needed. But his mother pleaded with me. So I went, and I baptized that little boy there in the hospital, with nurses and doctors looking on. A few weeks later the child died. She called me to perform the funeral. I went. I performed the service over the little coffin that held his broken body. Afterwards, beside the coffin, his mother wept as I hugged her. She said, “They are going to put him under the ground in that box.” As I held her in my arms, I’m so glad I was able to say, “Carol, he’s not in that box. He’s in Heaven with Jesus. And Jesus will take good care of him, as He does with all children who die.” I’m so glad I believed in Heaven. I’m so that that I had the hope of Heaven within me. If I didn’t, I would not have had any comforting words for that grieving mother. Without Christ we are “strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world” (Ephesians 2:12).

“Having no hope, and without God in the world.” What a terrible way to live and die! But Jesus came down from Heaven to give us hope. He died on the Cross to pay the penalty for our sins. He rose physically from the dead to give us eternal life. Jesus is there, right now, in Heaven, seated at the right hand of God. You can come to Him. You can trust Him. You can be cleansed from all your sin by His Holy Blood. You can have hope by trusting Him. Mr. Griffith and I are going to sing the first stanza of that song again. If you would like to speak with us about this sermon, please leave your seat and go to the back of the auditorium while we sing. Dr. Cagan will take you to a quiet room where we can talk and pray for a few minutes. If you would like to speak with us about this sermon, and about becoming a Christian, please step to the back of the auditorium now.

I'm kind of homesick for a country
   To which I've never been before.
No sad goodbyes will there be spoken,
   And time won't matter anymore.
Beulah Land, I'm longing for you,
   And someday on thee I'll stand.
There my home shall be eternal.
   Beulah Land, Sweet Beulah Land.

Dr. Chan, please come and pray for those who responded. Amen.

(END OF SERMON)
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write to him at P.O. Box 15308, Los Angeles, CA 90015. Or phone him at (818)352-0452.

Scripture Read Before the Sermon by Mr. Abel Prudhomme: Revelation 7:9-17.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:
“Sweet Beulah Land” (by Squire Parsons, 1948-).

CLICK HERE TO WATCH THE VIDEO OF "LONGING FOR HEAVEN!"


THE OUTLINE OF

LONGING FOR HEAVEN!

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

“Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. 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” (John 14:1-2).

I.   First, it was never hard for me to believe in Heaven,
II Corinthians 12:4; I Corinthians 2:14.

II.  Second, Heaven is a place, Hebrews 11:10, 16.

III. Third, finding the way to Heaven, II Peter 1:19; Revelation 7:9-17;
Ephesians 2:12.