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Jesus gave a parable, very clear, about a rich man who dined sumptuously. He wore beautiful clothes. There was a beggar named Lazarus who was content to eat the scraps off the rich man’s table. The Bible says they both died. He says the beggar was carried by the angels to Abraham’s bosom. The rich man wound up in hell. He saw Lazarus in Abraham’s bosom, and he says, “Please, send Lazarus over to me and just dip his finger in some water, because I am 'tormented by this flame.'” Abraham said, “I’m sorry, old buddy, but there is a great gulf between us. He can’t go from where he is to you, and you can’t come over to us. You are set there forever.” Jesus Himself talked about outer darkness. He talked about a lake that burns with fire. He talked about eternal separation from God. Hell is real. Whether it’s the torment of the flames of remorse, it’s what you could have had. The Bible talks the lake of fire reserved for the devil and his angels. There is no doubt that it’s real.
The Bible says that there are ministering spirits sent to look after the heirs to salvation. Those who know the Lord indeed have ministering angels. Jesus talked about little children and said, 'Their angels always behold the face of my father in heaven.' What do they do? They are there to protect you and to help you. God has put a certain shield around those who love Him to keep them from the assault of the devil. Otherwise we would be under attack all of the time. The life that we live, we should live with the view that we have an angel present. And if we want their help, we should act like we would expect them to be with us. If we begin to act in a contrary fashion, the angels may withdraw their protection.
Well, they talk about rewards [for] those that have done the Lord’s will. You look the parable of the talents. Those who used what they had found that they got more. So I do think there are levels of reward in Heaven. Paul talked about being caught up into the third Heaven, as if there are several layers of Heaven. The Bible doesn’t give us a full roadmap on this whole thing. But it says we will all stand before the judgment seat, the Bema, of Jesus Christ to receive what we have done in our bodies. So if you’ve been a slouch and haven’t done anything, you’ve just barely skated through, you’ll be saved as if by the skin of your teeth. Others will get rewards. That’s what the Bible teaches.
What about the Scripture that talks about the many mansions? Does that mean that some people have mansions and some people have condos and townhouses?
The best translation in the Greek is dwelling places. “In My Father’s house there are many dwelling places.” Not mansions. Forget mansions. All right. Bad translation.
The thing you don't realize is that sin is sin. It is probably
no worse to kill somebody than it is to slander him or her. If
you slander their reputation, you are killing them. But slander
seems to be cool in most churches. There is all kind gossip and
slander going on, and everybody thinks it is OK, whereas if someone
does something promiscuous in the sexual way, they are shunned.
Sin is sin because it is all an offense against God. I don't know
anything about venial sins and mortal sins and peccadillos. I
know our friends in the Catholic Church categorize them, but I
see nothing in the Bible that indicates that. We are sinners,
and the wages of sin is death -- period. Dante had various levels
of hell in his writings, The Divine Comedy. I just don't
believe in that. I don't believe it is biblical.
The Apostle Paul said, "Eye has not seen, and ear has not heard, and which have not entered the heart of man all that God has prepared for those who love Him." Heaven is so wonderful that we can't conceive of it, yet Paul went on to say that the Lord has revealed it to us by His Spirit. These things are spiritually discerned.
We read in the Book of Revelation of streets of gold that are like clear crystal. It needs no light because the light of God is in it. It has a river flowing from the throne of God, with trees growing on either side of it that are for the healing of the nations. You see people walking in bliss and the redeemed souls praising God. You have pictures in the Book of Revelation of the throne of God. Throughout the Bible there are scenes describing the seraphim, the "burning ones" that burn with their holiness, surrounding God's throne. We also read of the cherubim and the twerity-four elders that are throwing down their crowns before God. God is sitting in the midst of this, the firmament beneath Him, and the brilliance of gemstones sparkling in His presence. Heaven will be blinding in its beauty!
The Bible says, "There shall no longer be any death; and there shall no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away. And He who sits on the throne said, "Behold I am making all things new." We will live eternally in a new heaven and a new earth. There will be no more fear, poverty, sickness, war, or suffering, because these things will have passed away.
Jesus believed in heaven, and He encouraged His disciples to look forward to their eternal home. He said, "'In My Father's house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for 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 to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.' "
How do we know heaven exists? Not because of deathbed confessions or "life after life" reports from people who claim to have "died" while on the hospital operating table and then traveled down a long tunnel toward a bright light. No, we believe heaven exists, because Jesus Christ said so.
Oh, I think definitely that the saints of God, the angels of God—of course, we’ll see our loved ones in Heaven. Jesus will occupy things, because He’s so bright. But it’s a city that the redeemed of the Lord will walk in the gates. There won’t just be one person there. We’ll see our loved ones, I believe it, in Heaven. Glorious reunions.
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