Sermon #1486 Miscellaneous Sermons
Text: Isaiah 35:10
Date: Sunday Evening –
Tape # W-71a
I read a sermon several times last week by a Scottish preacher named Andrew Gray. He lived from 1633-1656, leaving this world when he was only 23 years old. So he was only a very young man when he preached the sermon. The title of his message was “Returning to Zion.” But I can’t tell you when I have read a message than was more delightful or of a greater blessing to my soul. I want to share with you some of the things I gleaned from that message tonight. I hope it will be a blessing to you.
The title of my message is Heaven. I will take for my text the same text Mr. Gray used in his message, Isaiah 35:10. Let’s read it together.
35:1-10) The wilderness and the solitary
place shall be glad for them; and the desert shall rejoice, and blossom as the
rose. 2 It shall blossom abundantly, and rejoice even with joy and
singing: the glory of
I want us to think and meditate for a little while about heaven. May God the Holy Spirit give us grace to put everything else out of our minds. Let us, O Lord our God, set our hearts on things above this hour, for Christ’s sake. Set our hearts now upon heaven, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Keep from our hearts and minds the things of the earth.
Let us now focus our hearts and minds on our all-glorious Savior and on the everlasting joys of heaven with him. My reason for preaching this message is that our hearts may long for those glorious mansions that are yonder provided for us by the Lord Jesus.
Divisions: I will give you my message in five points:
1. A short description of heaven.
2. The employment of God’s saints in heaven.
3. The excellence of heaven.
4. Six questions to be asked of Christ.
5. Six great struggles we have in regard to heaven.
I. I will begin by giving you A Short Description of Heaven
A. Heaven is a place of rest without rest.
This is clear from Hebrews 4:9 and Revelation 4:8.
(Hebrews 4:9) There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God.
(Revelation 4:8) And the four beasts had each of them six wings about him; and they were full of eyes within: and they rest not day and night, saying, Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come.
B. It is a place where the soul is always satisfied yet never satisfied.
The psalmists says, and we say with him, “I shall be satisfied, when I awake with thy likeness!”
There we shall always see God in Christ. Yet, we shall ever want to see more of Him. We shall always embrace Him, yet want to embrace Him more; always feed on Him, yet want to feed on Him more. In heaven there is both satisfaction and hunger. Heaven is full of mysteries.
C. Heaven is a place where joy and love eternally flow into our souls, while admiration and praise eternally flow out to our God and Savior.
All the saints' language in heaven is, 'Hallelujah! Praise to the Lamb who sits on the throne.' O what shall it be to be taken within the gates of that blessed to hear that heavenly music? What shall it be to enter into that rest in which we shall never rest from Immanuel’s praise? What will it be to be satisfied with that great satisfaction that ever hungers and thirsts for Christ without lack of satiation?
II. Second, think for a moment or two about the employment of God’s saints in Heaven.
There are five things that exercise the saints in heaven: admiration, praise, joy, love and gazing upon blessed face of the incarnate God, our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, the Lamb who died, the Lion who reigns, the God who is!
There is not one look there that is not fixed on our precious Redeemer, -- not one movement of the tongue that is not spent in commending Him, -- not one step of the feet that is not bent on following Christ, -- not one stir of the hand that is not occupied in unfolding Christ, -- not one thought that is not filled with Christ, -- not one desire that is not taken up with loving Christ!
What makes heaven such a lovely house? Is it not Christ, who is precious to our hearts? The Lamb is its light. (Rev 21:23) Heaven would be a dark house if Christ were not there. The Lamb of God, crucified, risen, reigning, glorious is the light of that house.
Do you see what I am saying? – Heaven is that everlasting world of light, adoration, holiness, perfection and ceaseless worship to which God’s saints are rapidly moving. If you only knew, the charms of that place would make you long to join us there in eternity. All the three persons of the Blessed Trinity cry, "Come up hither!” “Come up here to us who are here." All the angels and saints cry, "Come up here to us who are here."
Will you be taking up your lodging there? Only if you are made clean every wit by the blood of Christ and robed in the spotless garments of salvation and righteousness by faith in him.
(Revelation 7:13-17) And one of the elders answered, saying unto me, What are these which are arrayed in white robes? and whence came they? 14 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. 15 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. 16 They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more; neither shall the sun light on them, nor any heat. 17 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 14:1-5) And I looked, and, lo, a Lamb stood on the mount Sion, and with him an hundred forty and four thousand, having his Father's name written in their foreheads. 2 And I heard a voice from heaven, as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of a great thunder: and I heard the voice of harpers harping with their harps: 3 And they sung as it were a new song before the throne, and before the four beasts, and the elders: and no man could learn that song but the hundred and forty and four thousand, which were redeemed from the earth. 4 These are they which were not defiled with women; for they are virgins. These are they which follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth. These were redeemed from among men, being the firstfruits unto God and to the Lamb. 5 And in their mouth was found no guile: for they are without fault before the throne of God.
(Revelation 14:13) And I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Write, Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours; and their works do follow them.
(Revelation 21:1-8) And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea. 2 And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3 And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. 4 And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away. 5 And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful. 6 And he said unto me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely. 7 He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son. 8 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 21:22-27) And I saw no temple therein: for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it. 23 And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof. 24 And the nations of them which are saved shall walk in the light of it: and the kings of the earth do bring their glory and honour into it. 25 And the gates of it shall not be shut at all by day: for there shall be no night there. 26 And they shall bring the glory and honour of the nations into it. 27 And there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb's book of life.
III. Next, let me direct your thoughts, as best I can in this feeble frame, to The Excellence of Heaven.
We know that heaven is a pleasant place. But what makes it pleasant, except that its windows and streets are all sprinkled over with the Rose of Sharon and the Lily of the Valley?
What a great sight John had when the angel talked with him and said, “Come up here, and I will show you the Bride, the Lamb's wife,” and carried him to an exceedingly high mountain, and showed him the holy city, the New Jerusalem (Rev 21:9-10).
What is it that makes heaven such an excellent place? It is the soul-satisfying vision of God that we have there in the person of his dear Son, our Mediator, in all his glory! There we shall see God face to face! What could be more excellent and glorious? What could be more rewarding and honoring? What could be more joyous and satisfying?
Here we see Christ dimly, through the veil of ordinances. There we shall see Him face to face. What will be the Bride's thoughts when Christ first takes her in His arms? Who can imagine such things? – “This is my Beloved! – He has brought me now into his banqueting house! – His banner over me is love!”
Mr. Gray said to his congregation, “What shall be your thoughts when Christ shall take you in His arms, if ever He will take you? I think we shall fall apart! O is not heaven an excellent place?”
IV. Now, here are six questions to be asked of Christ.
As I meditate upon the excellence and glory of heaven, I cannot help asking these six questions of my Savior. I you will be asking them as well, as I relate them to you.
A. The first is this: Shall this tongue, that has so often taken my Savior’s name in vain and so often polluted the holiness of God, ever be made like the tongues of angels, to express the greatness and glory of Christ?
B. The second question is this: Shall these eyes, that have been the windows through which so many sins have come into my soul, ever see the Spotless One who sits on the throne?
I think the first hour we shall see Christ (if there are hours in eternity) we might well blush to look Him in the face. When we see His face, His transforming face, where shall we turn our eyes? A sight of Christ will make us eternally wonder. Do you not groan, my brother, my sister, for the sight of Christ? – Soon, we shall see him as he is!
C. The third question is this: Shall these ears, that have listened to so much foulness and enjoyed so much vanity, ever hear those songs above?
We must hear either the eternal shriekings of souls in hell or that excellent harmony that is amongst the choirs of heaven. O how sweetly they sing! For now comfort yourselves with this: the day is coming when you shall no more hang your harps on willow trees because you are in a strange land, but you shall eternally cry out, "Praise to Him who sits on the throne!"
D. The fourth question is this: Shall these feet of mine, that have pursued so much vanity and folly, ever follow the Lamb wherever He goes?
E. The fifth question we may ask is this: Shall this heart of mine, which has been house of many idols, ever be made the unrivalled dwelling-place of the my Savior?
F. The last question we may ask is this: Shall these hands, that have been the instruments of so much evil and iniquity, ever enfold that matchless Object who sits yonder on the throne?
O what will you do when you first get Christ in your arms? It is a question whether our first day in heaven will be the most pleasant. But I do not think so, because though we have never seen our Husband before, the longer we are there the more we will love Him.
What shall I say there is in heaven? There is no outcast there, no desertion, no unbelief, no misconstruing of Christ, no questioning His wisdom, no misunderstanding of His ways. When we go through the gates of the New Jerusalem we shall pass over the graves of desertion, and jealousy, and unbelief, and all our idols, and we shall never return to them!
"O", you might say, "but will not faith and hope leave me when I come to the gates of heaven?" Yes, faith and hope will leave you there. But what a pleasant day that will be when faith and hope shall yield themselves to love and sight. Faith and hope are the attendants of the Christian here, but love and sight shall be his eternal attendants above. Faith and hope fight the battle, but love and sight sit at home and divide the spoil. Faith and hope embrace Christ through the veil, but love and sight embrace Him with the eyes. We must leave our faith and hope, but we shall never weep for leaving such companions. And now, what shall I say more to commend heaven? What shall I say more of eternity? Time would fail me.
Lastly I will mention six complaints the saints make in relation to heaven:
1. Some are weeping in secret under their ignorance and presumption, and saying, 'I am more brutish than any man, and have not the understanding of the holy.'(Prov 30:2-3) "I never saw such a blind, ignorant person as I am."
But comfort yourselves with this: when you first enter the gates of that blessed city all your clouds shall shed; you shall not have a wrong thought of God throughout all eternity; and you shall begin to say to yourselves, "Is this ignorant and brutish I?"
2. Others are complaining, "I am under much desertion. I never go to pray but I meet with an absent God, a veiled and angry Christ; and then I cannot speak to Him."
But comfort yourselves with this: there is no desertion in heaven. In all the higher house there is no-one who asks, 'How long, Lord, will you hide your face from me?' (Psa 13:1) Yet I confess it is no wonder that we go to heaven with a veiled Christ, because when He is sent to us we do not know how to entertain Him! It is a mystery to some that they shall never weary of the service of heaven: they cannot understand that those who cannot pray for half an hour shall never weary of praising Him through all the ages of eternity. O blessed are they who are above! There is no wearying in heaven. But I fear few of us shall go there!
3. A third complaint of Christians is this: "I do not know whether I shall go to heaven or not." I know there is much questioning the reality of our faith, but we dispute more with our light than with our conscience. If our exercise was in our conscience, I do not think we could dispute our saving interest in Christ for one day.
But comfort yourselves with this: there is no doubting in heaven. When you go over the threshold of that divine entrance, you shall say, "Farewell all disputing and debating."
4. A fourth complaint which troubles some is this: "I fear I have no love to Christ." And I think it is true in relation to many of us! O where has love gone? I suppose that if angels would come and speak to some of our hearts they would find that love has gone.
But comfort yourselves with this: love will be much of your exercise in heaven. Some may ask whether the saints love anyone besides Christ. Do not misunderstand me when I say that one saint shall not hate another saint, yet one saint shall not love another saint. What I mean is I do not know if the saints in heaven will have any love to spare for anyone except Christ! O to be near Him!
5. Fifthly, some complain: "I will never prevail over my idols, and get them forced out of my heart!" It is true, there are some of us who will go down to the grave with our idols in our hearts.
But O, what do you think of heaven? All your idols shall be slain before you go there. It is a mystery to some that the idols they are wrestling with all their days shall one day leave them, but it is so. Yet there are some professing Christians who drag Jesus at their heels and embrace idols in their hearts. I say your religion is not worth much if you do not slay your idols. O believe it, it is the ruin of many who speak of Christ that out of love of pleasure they will not slay their prevailing lusts. O that cursed tongue, that has spoken much of Christ! Perhaps you shall curse Him with it eternally! It is not much to be a tongue Christian.
I know what makes our religion false: we take it up before it takes us up. Many of us take it up by guess. I do not wish to prophesy sad things; but believe it, if religion were more out of fashion, Christ would have fewer followers. It is much to love a persecuted Christ. We follow Christ because of the loaves, and not because of the grace that is in Him. Some are knit to Christ with a very small thread. However, your idols will forsake you when you have gone to heaven.
6. Lastly, some are troubled with this: "I fear I never prayed with delight."
It is true, many go about spiritual duties merely to satisfy a natural conscience. Will you search this point? You will find it to be the truth. You would pray less, come to church less, and read the Scriptures less, were it not for your conscience. O there are some who would be altogether quit of their conscience if they could!
But I shall not speak any longer, except to say this: the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, the three persons of the Blessed Trinity, are each crying out, "Come up here to us who are here!" And the joys of heaven, if they had a tongue, would cry out, "O come up here!" And that sweet and blessed transcendence in the face of Christ cries out, "Come up here!" And does not our need cry out, "Go up there!"?
Some hope to climb up to heaven by the short ladder of presumption. Do you think you will go to heaven? Shall we all be there, where we shall fight no more? Do you think our lodging will be taken up in one place at night? I dare not say more, but I fear there will be strange divisions among us. We do not know if we shall ever meet again. Some of us may be in eternity before long; and that does not matter much either, for eternity is sweet if we go to heaven. I remember a word in Job (9:25) - 'Now my days are swifter than a post; they flee away as the ships (or 'as the ships of desires').' To Christians death clips the thread of their life, but it makes up the everlasting knot between Christ and them. Death is your friend. Your death day is your coronation day. Death is Christ's messenger to bring you home, sent to you either with a letter of commendation to speed you on or with a love letter in his hand to make you shout for joy. O, therefore, let us love Him and long to be