What Must We Do To Prepare For Eternity?

Heaven May 19, 2024 John 6:25-40 Notes


What must we do to prepare for what comes after death? How can we prepare for the ultimate journey? It’s a journey that most of us don’t want to think about, but it’s a journey that everyone must take.

Trips take a lot of preparation, some more than others. But how much more must we prepare for the trip that everyone will face one day… the trip to our eternal home! In the gospel of John chapter 6, Jesus told His hearers what they must do to be prepared for eternity.

Audio

Transcript

Good morning, church. We're concluding our series today on heaven. We've gone through six weeks together on this series that we've entitled heaven. It's better than you ever imagined. And today's sermon is entitled, what must we do to prepare for eternity?

What must we do to prepare? And as we look back over the last six Sundays, the last six messages, we've been asking questions of God's word about eternity, about heaven, and about the new earth and the new heaven. We've been asking these questions. We began the series by asking the question, why focus on heaven? Why are we even doing this?

And we found in the book of Colossians that we were instructed that we're to seek things above, not things of this earth, and that we're to set our hearts and our minds on things above. And so we're instructed by God's word that we are supposed to imagine heaven. We're supposed to think on it and set our minds on it. And then we ask the question, what's heaven like? And what we had in mind on this particular sermon is, what's the present heaven like?

Because as we've learned from God's word, we must differentiate between the present heaven, which is the place where the. The Father is at, where Jesus the Son is at the right hand of the Father, where the heavenly host and where the saints that have gone on before us are presently in the present heaven. So this particular sermon, what's heaven like? We were really asking, what's the present heaven like? And the answer that we found in scripture is that, first of all, we'll be with Christ.

That's what it's like. We will be with Christ. Second of all, we will be conscious. We will know who we are. We will be conscious.

Third, we realized that we would be actively engaged, that it won't be boring, as some suggest, that we'll have things to do, activity, and that we also, finally, would be eagerly awaiting, that we would be looking forward to the new heavens and the new earth, so that even in the present heaven, we will be waiting for the consummation of all things. And so we were clarifying that in that sermon. The next question we asked was, will we know one another in heaven? Will we know one another? Heaven?

A lot of people had that question, and I believe, yes, we will know ourselves, we will know others, and certainly we will know Jesus, and we'll be known by him. And so, yes, the scripture teaches that we will know one another. We ask the question, what about heavenly rewards? Should we care about heavenly rewards. And the apostle Paul actually answers this question.

He says we should take care how we build upon the foundation of our salvation so that we have a mind or. Or a goal of our heavenly reward, that we're to think on these things. Last week, we asked the question, what's our eternal home going to be like? And what we were talking about there is not the present heaven, but the consummation of all things, which is the new heavens and the new earth and the new you. We talked about that last week.

And so let me just pop up a chart really quick to kind of summarize what we've been talking about. And one of the beautiful things about scripture is that God starts his story with two chapters and ends his story with two chapters, and you can kind of see the arc of human history and what God has planned for man. And so at the beginning, in the Garden of Eden, we find that God was with man, that there was no differentiation between heaven and earth, that God walked in the cool of the evening and talked to Adam and Eve, that he said, creation is good. It was unaffected by sin. At this point, everything about creation was good.

And then finally, there was no sin or death. That's the reality of paradise, of this time in the Garden of Eden. But then, because of man's sin in Genesis three, all the way from Genesis three to revelation 20, we have the story that we're living today in the present. And now there's a division between heaven and earth. And the present heaven is removed from us because there can be no sin there and no death there.

But we live and a planet of sin and death. And so even creation groans. So in Romans chapter eight, we read that Paul writes that creation itself groans because it awaits its resurrection. So it's not just us, but all of the animal kingdom and all of the heavenlies and all of earth groans, awaiting for that consummation. And we live in a time of sin and death.

But in the last two chapters, which is where we were last week, we recognize that God's bringing it all to an end and that he will once again dwell with mankind. There will be no separation between heaven and earth, that the creation will be perfect. It'll be even better than good. It'll be the best ever. And you could say that what's our current condition in Jesus is good.

But Paul says it's better by far to be with the Lord. So to be in the present heaven is better, but to be in the final new heaven and new earth is best. And that's where we're headed, and sin and death will be no more. I hope that's helpful. I've had several of you talk to me and thank me as we were just talking about how many of us have confused the present heaven and the features of the new heavens and the new earth and kind of pushed them together.

But one describes this and another describes that. So it's kind of good. It's kind of good for us to get clarification. The Bible says way more about eternity than we realize, and that's what we've been unpacking together. And now this final sermon.

What must I do to prepare for eternity? We've been talking about it. How do we get ready, people? Get ready. Jesus is coming.

That's a song that maybe many of you know. How do we prepare? And another way we might say this is how do we get ready to face death? Because this body must die. It's not fit for heaven.

Aren't you glad you came to church today? Like, I didn't know we were having a funeral service. But no, we're not. That's the only time I've had several of you say, you know, the only time I ever hear the preacher talk about heaven is at a funeral. And so that shouldn't be that way.

We should be people that talk about heaven and understand what the Bible says about heaven. You know, the people that we baptized this morning, one of the reasons that we do baptism by immersion is we believe that the old life has died. The old sinful life has died and buried with Christ, and the new life is risen in Christ. And so the picture of baptism is the very picture that we're talking about here. And so we're asking this question.

We don't like to think about it, but the book of Hebrews tells us it is appointed unto men once to die, and after that, the judgment. So death has a perfect batting average. All of us will face this one day. So why not prepare for death? Why not get ready?

If I'm taking a journey to the store to buy something, I have to go somewhat prepared. I don't have to get that prepared, but I have to make sure I have my wallet, my car keys, and because I'm who I am, I don't just go shopping. Now, some of you, like my wife, she goes in, she has an idea. She wants a thing, but she likes to look on every aisle to see if there might be some other things she might want, like that, but not me. So, like, if I'm going to go to Lowe's, and I need to buy a thing, a certain thing, before I go.

I go online and find out what aisle and what bay it's in, partly because I could bump into one of you people and you'll start talking to me and I'll forget why I was there. But mainly because I'm not going to Lowe's for Lowe's. I'm going to Lowe's to get that thing, whatever that thing is. And that's just the way I roll. So I have to prepare a little bit, so I have to have my wallet, I have to get my keys.

I have to get there. And then I prepare where I'm going to go when I get there and what I'm going to buy, and that's all I'll buy. I just buy that thing and then I leave. That's the way I do things. Maybe you do it differently, but you probably prepared, too.

Now, preparing for the store didn't take much. That's a small preparation. But I've been on several mission trips, and I've actually led some mission trips. I've led trips to Israel. I've led trips to Uganda, to Guatemala, to Indonesia.

Now, some of those take a little bit more work. You got to get a passport, right? You really got to start a year in advance and start talking to the partners that you're going to be working with before you get there and see what they need. And then you start building a team. You got to train your team.

You got to, like, if we go to Uganda, what kind of medications and what kind of physical preparation do you need to make? And you find out, well, you got to get a shot for yellow fever and a shot for dengue fever and things. Kind of fevers I never heard of. And then you got to take medicine for malaria and all this that you got to carry with you, and you got to do these things to get ready. And then you got to make sure you pack not just your clothes that you need for a two week trip or whatever, but you got to pack your ministry tools and all these.

And then you got to train your team. And you haven't even got on the plane yet. You've been working for almost a year preparing. It's important to work on these things in preparation. How much more would it be important to prepare for eternity?

Because we're all going on that trip, every one of us. We're all going on that trip. I tell you, I still remember my first trip to Uganda. I thought I had figured it all out. I mean, I had gone through every detail.

But there was this one little detail that I just didn't buy into. And it was. I had in my mind that the part of Uganda that, you know, it would be like the savannah, you know, like where there are elephants and giraffes and lions, and it would be hot. And I was wrong. We were in this volcanic mountain region where the mountain gorillas live.

And it gets really cool in the evening. Now, they told us that. I just didn't buy it. And so my first trip there, the first night, I'm like, like that. And I was like, man, here we are.

We're here in June, and I'm freezing to death. Fortunately, somebody on the trip with us had an extra jacket, which I wore the whole trip. I was there. So even when you think you're prepared, you might have forgotten something. You see, going on a mission trip, going to a foreign country, it takes a certain amount of preparation.

But going to heaven, how much thought have you given to that? Are you prepared for eternity? That's what we're talking about today. We're in the book of John, chapter six. And in the book of John, chapter six, we see Jesus describing what we must do in order to be prepared for eternity.

And as we look at the text, I believe we can be prepared. We'll see, I think as we unpack the text together, we'll see three important details for our preparation. So let's read, and then we'll unpack it starting at verse 25 of chapter six. When they found him on the other side of the sea, they said to him, rabbi, when did you come here? And Jesus answered them, truly, truly, I say to you, you are seeking me not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves.

Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the son of man will give to you. For on him, God the Father has set his seal. Then they said to him, what must we do to be doing the works of God? Jesus answered them, this is the work of God that you believe in him whom he has sent. So they said to him, then, what sign do you do that we may see and believe?

What work do you perform? Our fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, as it is written. He gave them bread from heaven to eat. Jesus said to them, truly, truly, I say to you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven, but my father gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.

They said to him, sir, give us this bread always. Jesus said to them, I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst. But I said to you that you have seen me and yet do not believe. All that the father gives me will come to me.

And whoever comes to me, I will never cast out. For I have come down from heaven not to do my own will, but the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me. That I should lose nothing of all that he has given me. But raise it up on the last day.

For this is the will of my father. That everyone who looks on the son and believes in him should have eternal life. And I will raise him up on the last day. This is God's word. We're looking for three important details about what we must do to prepare for heaven.

Here's the first. Come to Jesus for kingdom entry. Come to Jesus for kingdom entry. The first important detail is you need a passport. Need a passport to eternity.

And Jesus is that passport. As we read in chapter six, we find ourselves in the context. It's the day after jesus has fed, miraculously fed the 5000. He fed them with five loaves and two fishes. You remember the well known story.

He has fed them this bread and these fishes miraculously, to the point that he even asked the disciples to gather the leftovers. And there were twelve baskets full of leftovers. It was a miraculous event. And the people in the crowd there were looking for Jesus again. And so that's how this story begins.

Our reading today begins. They had seen the boat pull out and they saw the disciples leave, perhaps, but they didn't see Jesus. And the reason is jesus went up on a mountain to pray and that night walked on the water and got to the boat. So when they got there, they were like, rabbi, when did you come here? Because they heard he was in Capernaum.

But they couldn't figure out how he got there, so they found him. But their question was, when did you come here? But Jesus just skips over that question. He doesn't answer that question. He actually addresses something else that he talks to them about.

And he says, you didn't really come looking for me. You came for free food. Did you see that? That's really, he said, truly, truly, I say to you, you're seeking me not because you saw signs. That's the Gospel of John's way of describing a miracle.

He doesn't call miracles signs. He tells us seven signs in his gospel. And the thing about a sign is a sign doesn't point to itself. That's why he calls the miracles of Jesus signs, because they point to the miracle worker. Like, if you're on 301 and you see a sign pointing towards Elm City, you don't pull over and park at the sign and go, I'm here.

You don't park at the sign that says Elm City and think you're at Elm City. No, you follow the sign to the destination. Signs point to a destination, not to themselves. And the miracles of Jesus were not to be pursued. You don't go looking for the miracle.

You go looking for the miracle worker. He says, you didn't come here. You didn't really come here looking for me. You came because I gave you free food. And the food I gave you is the kind of food that perishes.

He says, it's the kind of food that you eat it and then you need more of it. The next day he goes, I'm trying to tell you something, that if you would come to me, if you'd really come to me, you would enter into eternal life and you'd have the kind of spiritual food that would satisfy you forever. He says, if you didn't really come to me. This is what he's talking to them about. He says, instead, you've been seeking after food that perishes.

It reminds me of what jesus said in the sermon on the mount in Matthew. He says, do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys. Where thieves do not break in and steal. He says, look, you've been concerned about the things of this life, but trust the Lord for those things instead. Lay up treasure in heaven.

Come to me. And then he says something down in verse 35 as he keeps describing to them this reality. He says, I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never hunger again. I'm the true bread.

I'm the bread of life. This is one of the seven I am statements in the book in the Gospel of John. I told you, John likes sevens. He's got seven signs. He's got seven I am statements.

Why am I saying they're called I am statements? Because they're very profound to a jewish hearer. Do you remember whenever Moses encountered God at the burning bush? He goes, what name should I call you by? We've been calling you the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

But what is your name. You want me to go tell your people that they're to be set free to deliver them? I don't even know your name. And he says, I am. That I am.

Tell Israel I am sent you. Which in the Hebrew is Yahweh. Yahweh. It means I am not. I was not, I will be.

But I am the self existent one, eternally present outside of time. I am sent you. Make no mistake, when Jesus said this, the hebrew ears rang. They knew what he was talking about. In fact, in the Greek, it literally is Jesus saying, I.

I am the bread of life. It's called the emphatic use of I. He doubles down on the I because he says I. I am like that. So it sort of stands alone in his speaking.

He's saying. He's claiming, I am God. I'm the son of God. I'm the source of life. You wouldn't be.

You wouldn't exist if it weren't for me. You wouldn't draw the next breath if it weren't for me. I am life itself and you come to me for free food. Now I don't know why you came to church today. I can't judge your heart.

I don't know if you came today because you heard we have free coffee and you might. I doubt that you did. It's pretty good coffee, but you can get better. We do offer cup holders. Not many churches have that.

It's not the free coffee. We like the fact that this church used to be a movie theater and you have cupholders. That's why we come to that church. Well, then you would be like those in the crowd. You wouldn't be coming to Jesus for Jesus.

You'd be coming to Jesus for the coffee and the cup holders or for whatever it is that you think is your need. You're not really coming to Jesus, but you're, well, I need this or I need this, or I need this. And yes, you can come to Jesus for those things, but until you come to Jesus, for Jesus, you haven't really come to Jesus. Until you come to Jesus, for Jesus, you haven't really come to Jesus. And he is the entry, the only entry, the only way.

In fact, he invites us to come to him. He says, come to me in Matthew chapter eleven. Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. Come to me, I will give you rest.

Spiritual rest, I will satisfy your hunger. I'm the true bread. Notice in verse 27, he says, the seal of the Father is upon me. In other words, I'm the genuine article. The seal of authenticity, of approval, is upon me.

Remember at Jesus baptism when he was raised up from the water? It says that there was a voice that spoke from the heaven. This is my beloved son in whom I am well pleased. And the Holy Spirit descended upon him like a dove. The seal of approval is on me.

He sent me. I am the bread of life, the bread from heaven, and I will satisfy your hunger. According to Cs Lewis, he says this, and this is such perfect logic. He says, if we find ourselves with a desire that nothing in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that we were made for another world, and we are. And so we are.

And there is a desire deep within us for something other that this world does not offer. Or as the french philosopher and mathematician Pascal was quoted as saying, there's a God shaped vacuum in the soul of every man that can only be filled by the person of Jesus Christ. There's a hole in our soul that only Jesus can feel. Jesus says, he's the narrow door. He's the narrow gate.

Luke, chapter 13, someone said to Jesus, Lord, will those who are saved be few? And he said to them, strive to enter through the narrow door. For many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able. When once the master of the house has risen and shut the door, and you begin to stand outside and knock at the door, saying, lord, open to us, then he will answer you, I do not know where you come from. Then you will begin to say, we ate and drank in your presence, and you taught in our streets.

But he will say, I tell you, I do not know where you come from. Depart from me, all you workers of evil. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, but you yourselves cast out, and people will come from east and west and from north and south and recline at table in the kingdom of God. It's a narrow gate, this passport. You can't get this passport just anywhere.

You can only get it through Jesus. He's the gate. He says. In John chapter ten, he says, truly, truly, I say to you, I. I am the door of the sheep.

I'm the gate. There's no other. I'm the only way. Now, I told you, you have to have a passport to travel internationally. Some of you have passports.

I'm on my fourth passport now. They last ten years, and then you have to renew them. I remember when I was going for my first passport, I had to go to the library. There was no Internet then, kids. And so I went to the library and did research on how do you get a passport?

I don't know how to get a passport. And so I found out, well, there's this list of requirements, and one of them is you have to have a proof of citizenship. And so for someone born in the United States, that's called a birth certificate. And so I had this birth certificate that my mom gave me. I remember she put me in elementary school with this birth certificate.

She enrolled me in little league with this birth certificate. She got me into high school, I carried it and went to college on this birth certificate. But then when I read the fine print of getting a passport, it said it has to be an original birth certificate with an embossed seal. And an embossed seal's got, like, you rub your hand over it, you can feel it, it's like, got this stamp, like a notary. And so I looked at mine, and it didn't have that.

And so I grew up in Virginia. So I wrote a letter to the state of Virginia asking for my birth certificate, and they said, we never heard of you. I went, I got a problem. So I was asking mom about it. She goes, Gary Wayne, you were born in Tennessee.

I said, oh, that's right, I forgot. Cause I was born in Bristol. And it's, you know, main street in Bristol's called State street, on this side's Tennessee, on the other side's Virginia, and the hospital, Bristol Memorial hospitals on the Tennessee side. And I said, I forgot, mom. I only lived there for three days, you know.

And so I sent a letter to the state of Tennessee, and sure enough, I got a birth certificate with an embossed seal, and got my first passport. It took preparation, it took some investigation, it took some effort to get a passport to go on my first mission trip. Why would we think that we could just stumble into eternity and hope for the best? You have to have a passport, and you have to have a birth certificate. You must be born again.

You must be born again, spiritually believing in Jesus. You come to Jesus not for what he can do for you, but for himself, because he is your passport. Got Jesus. It's not good English. Got life.

Don't got Jesus, don't got life. He is life. He is the bread of life. If you come to Jesus, you have kingdom. Entry this is the first important detail of preparation.

Here's the second important detail. Believe in Jesus for kingdom life. Believe in Jesus for kingdom life. When does eternal life begin? At the very moment you come to Jesus.

You don't have to wait till after death. You know, life after death to begin eternal life. No, it starts right now. An eternal life, which is what Jesus promises. To who?

To all who believe. The word believe in. The reading that we've got today from John six is in there five times. The word believe is in there five times. It's the most important word in this passage.

In fact, it's the most important word in the entire gospel of John. He says that he wrote the book so that we might believe. The purpose of the gospel of John is that we might believe in Jesus Christ, the son of God, savior of the world, the messiah, that he is the only way, and he's the only eternal life. And so five times, verse 29, verse 30. Verse 36, verse 40.

It's in there five times. And what do you get if you believe in Jesus eternal life? Now, this believing is not belief. It's not to have beliefs about Jesus. You can know about Jesus and not know Jesus.

This belief is not a belief. It's a believing. It's a trusting, it's a commitment, it's a competence in. It's a faith into. It's a verb, not a passive noun.

It means you're staking your life on it. I'm committing my life to him. This word believe means to place my utmost confidence into. And then what is this eternal life? It's not just quantity.

It certainly is quantity. It's everlasting that the one who believes in Jesus will live forever. That's true, but it's also quality. The greek word is Zoe. If your name is Zoe, there's several greek words for life, bios and others.

But this Particular one is always the one that Jesus uses. And he speaks not just of quantity eternal, but of quality. And the word Zoe implies this. And he says it even better in another place, John 1010. He says, the thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy.

I came that they might have ZoE Life and have it abundantly. And so this kind of abundant life that Jesus is talking about is not just its quantity, but its quality. And so this quality of life is full and overflowing without measure. It's your best life now. It's your best life forever.

Because why? He's the bread of life. He's the source of life, any true life. He's the true bread. He says in this Bible, you want true life, abundant life.

You can only get it from Jesus. And he's the one who comes down from heaven. He's the bread of life. Come down from heaven. When they heard this, when the crowd heard this, some of them understood more than Others.

Some were still thinking, he's going to give us bread so we never get hungry again. And they thought he meant, like, wonder bread, some kind of bread. You just eat it and it just keeps feeding you. But he was taught, he was using, he was using physical language to teach us spiritual things, just like he did with Nicodemus in John chapter three. He goes, you must be born of water and of the spirit.

And he goes, do I have to climb back in my mother's womb? Because Nicodemus got all stuck on the physical side of it. He was going, no, you claim to be a teacher in Israel and you don't understand what I'm talking. You have to be spiritually born again. You need to be born again spiritually.

And so he's using that kind of language here, and he promises this kind of quality of life that we're to draw on. The apostle Paul talks about this in Philippians, that it's the one thing we should be focused on. We should be focused on this life we have in Jesus and how he's pulling us towards eternity and everything else around us. Yeah, it should fade into lower priority, he says in Philippians chapter three. One thing I do, forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you only. Let us hold true to what we have attained. Brothers, join in imitating me and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us. For many of whom I have often told you and now tell you, even with tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their end is destruction, their God is their belly and their glory, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things.

But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself. Listen, Christian, we should draw on his life knowing where we're headed. So we begin to live heavenly lives now, drawing on the bread of heaven now so that we live the abundant life now one of the people that I've looked up to in the last 20 years or so as an author, and also because I got to spend some time one on one with him at a conference some years ago, is Dallas Willard. He's graduated to heaven now. But I've read a lot of his books and a lot of, you know, renovation of the heart and others that I've quoted to you in the past, I've thought highly of Brother Dallas Willard.

When a student would come up to him, a believer would come up to him and say, why are we here, Doctor Willard? What's our purpose as believers on planet earth? I mean, why are we here? And he says, we are training for raining. We are in training for reigning.

In other words, he just took so literally that word from the book of Revelation, which says, this worthy are you to take the scroll, speaking of Jesus and to open its seals for you were slain, and by your blood, you ransomed people for God. From every tribe and language and people and nation, you've made them a kingdom and priest to our God, and they shall reign on the earth. And so our destination is not just the present heaven. That's like the temporary heaven that where God is now. And if we were to pass away today and graduate to heaven, that's where we would be.

But even there, we would be awaiting the resurrection of the bodies and of the new body, the new heaven and the new earth, where we will reign as co heirs with Jesus. And Dallas Willard would tell people this, and he would say, we should start looking at heaven or looking at our life now on earth as preparation for heaven, that we're in training for raining. And so if you're in training for raining, if you're thinking like that, Dallas goes on to say, and I'm quoting much of this from a book that's entitled preparing for heaven, what Dallas Willard taught me about living, dying and eternal life, written by Doctor Gary Black. And so if you are a reader like I am, I've read about 20 some books, including, most importantly, the Bible, in preparation for this series. But this book, preparing for heaven, has really touched my heart as Doctor Black spent the final moments with Dallas Willard when he lay dying in a hospital bed, and he got to record his final words.

But he had this idea, Dallas Willard had this idea that many christians are mistakenly thinking that when they die, they go through, like, a cosmic car wash, and they immediately are perfected in every way. Now, the Bible does say that we will be perfect, there will be no sin in heaven. And so he understands that, but Willard says, but I'm not sure that we will all be completely matured instantaneously, like, we'll be sinless, there'll be no sin because the flesh is now gone and we will be pure in that sense. But there might still be some growing pains for us. And what made me really think about this more is I have a grandson in heaven.

His name's Connor, and if he follows earthly years right now, he's twelve years old. I say that because I think it would be weird for Conor to arrive in heaven as a baby, because he died as an infant and to instantly be a 30 year old man. Why do you say 30, Harry? Well, because many theologians say that since we're going to get a body just like Jesus, that Jesus was around 30, and that maybe that would be the fully mature, maybe it's 25 or 30, but that we would be, this resurrection body would be a fully mature one, male or female. It would be fully mature at its very, very best.

It would be kind of weird if Connor showed up and became a 30 year old man. He didn't get to experience growing. And so when I sit and talk to my son Stephen, whose son Conor is in heaven, we imagine, and I'm standing farther from the Bible now, because I don't know. I do know what David said in the book of first Samuel when he lost his son. He said, he shall not come to me, but I shall go to him.

I know that. And I believe Jesus had suffered the little children to come unto me, for such is the kingdom of heaven. So I believe he's there, but I don't think he's 30 in human years. I think he's growing up around the saints and around Jesus, and he doesn't have flesh to inhibit his growth. He's growing faster.

He's more mature probably at twelve spiritually than any of us, because he doesn't have any sin to hold him back. But I think there's still, I think there's still learning in heaven. In fact, I think for eternity we will still be unfolding the mysteries of God, because he's infinite. We'll never know everything. A lot of us think it's going to be like Matrix.

They plug this thing in the back of your head and you instantly know everything. No, I think we'll spend eternity learning and growing and maturing. And so I think it would be better for us if we go ahead and start practicing now and drawing on the life of Jesus now, so that we're packing our bags and preparing ourselves for the journey to eternity, because there. I don't think I got to kind of agree with Dallas here. I don't think there's a cosmic car wash that just makes you perfect on arrival.

In fact, for some of us, we might have to go through a cosmic body shop, because we arrive, as Paul says, in another place, as those who lost all the works that we did in this life. And we got to heaven as one passing through the fire. We read that just a couple weeks ago, if you'll recall. Let us prepare for heaven. Let us get ready for heaven.

Let us be ready when we get there. Okay? So I've got my passport now. I've got Jesus, so now I can live like I want to. No, no.

I've got my passport. I've got Jesus now. I'm going to live my life having fully surrendered to him. And so I'm preparing myself for eternity by drawing on his life now.

Which leads us to the third detail we've said, come to Jesus. Believe in Jesus. Finally, look to Jesus. Do you see it in verse 40? That's where we're at now.

We're in verse 40. What does he say here in verse 40? For this is the will of my father, that everyone who looks on the son look to Jesus. Be ready. This is your hope.

You want to know what your hope is? Hope is a person. His name is Jesus. Look to Jesus. This word, look in the Greek has the idea.

There are several words for see or look in the Greek. This one has to examine and to understand and to know. It could be to know Jesus. It could have been translated to know. It can include the eyes of thinking that thought.

And so, for this is the will of my father, that everyone who knows the son, it could have been translated like that. Looks is a good translation. Translation, however, look to Jesus for kingdom. Hope. Are you looking for Jesus?

Do you believe he's returning? The scripture over and over again, tells us he's coming soon. He'll come like a thief in the night when people aren't ready. But the people of God should be ready. We should be prepared, and we should be ready.

I've said before, be all right with me if he shows up on a Sunday morning while I'm up here preaching the good news, we all just jump up. I don't know if I'm facing east right now. I'd have to get a compass out right now. But. But I've already bought my grave plot, and I told the lady which way is east, and she goes, nobody's ever asked me that before.

Why do you want to know that? I said, because when I pop up, I want to make sure I'm facing where Jesus is at. Because he's coming from the east, it says in the scripture. And I don't want to miss his arrival. Are you looking for him to come again?

Because that's how we finish up here, he says, for this is the will of my father. You want to know God's will for your life? I have. We have seven graduates in our church right now graduating from high school. We got a big class from our youth group graduating from high school.

And you know what? Kids that age, they'll often come to me. Maybe they've never come to me before, but they'll come. Pastor Gary, would you pray for me? I just want to know what God's will for my life is.

Well, what particular. Well, what college should I go to? Should I go to college? And who should I be looking for for a spouse? Because that's like the two biggies, right?

Like, when you're that age, you're like, okay, what am I going to do with my life and who am I going to do it with? You know, like that. And so. And God's word gives you a lot of direction, a lot of principles about that, but it won't let you know in detail. You can't pull off a certain verse that says, thou shalt go to NC State.

You can't find it. Thou shall not go to Chapel Hill. You can't find. You can't find that anywhere, right? And so.

But you can find principles about what to do with your life. And so. But people want to know. But if you really want to know God's will, here's Jesus speaking. He says, this is the will.

Okay? So time out. What's the will of God? Jesus is about to tell us. Here's the will of God.

Here it is. That everyone who looks on the sun, you want to know God's will for you? Here it is. Every one of you that looks on the son and believes in him. You have eternal life.

You're going to spend eternity with God. That's his will for you. But not only that, Jesus nails it down with a greater detail, and I will raise him up on the last day you get a new body. You see, you're not, as we've been talking these past few weeks, you're not living out a toilet tissue commercial like angel soft, where you're floating on a cloud in heaven playing a harp. You got like a little ring, little fat angels flopping around with their wings around you.

That's an angel soft toilet tissue commercial. That's not heaven. In fact, Jesus is even talking past present heaven. He's talking all the way to the new heavens and the new earth. Because God's ultimate will for us is that we would have new bodies on a new earth and a new heaven forever.

And we would have a room, a mansion in the new Jerusalem, come down out of heaven from God. This is the new reality. This is the new future. This is what he says. You know what my will for you is?

That you eat of this bread of life, that you come to me and you receive this eternal life because I have plans for you, for you to reign with me forever over this perfect and new place of eternity. Nt wright, in his book surprised by hope, says this. He says God's kingdom in the preaching of Jesus refers not so much to a post mortem destiny, not to our escape from this world into another one, but to God's sovereign rule. Coming on earth as it is in heaven is how we pray. Right?

Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Salvation then is not so much going to heaven, but being raised to life in God's new heaven and new earth. That's Doctor Wright in his book surprised by hope. Doctor Black, in his book preparing for heaven says without an eternal perspective, much of human existence simply will not make any sense at all. Suffering makes no sense in this world if this is all that there is.

But suffering makes perfect sense if we're going to live forever with Lord. And then suffering for Jesus in Jesus becomes a badge of courage. When we arrive knowing that we kept the faith and endured, everything in the world starts making better sense. Doctor Black says if we understand life with an eternal perspective, he says, now this is not to suggest that we become so heavenly minded that we are no earthly good. In fact, we are to be heavenly minded in order to do earthly good.

It affects how we live in a positive way. Paul says we can have confident hope of our eternity in Colossians. He says, we've heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and your love for all of God's people, people which come from your confident hope of what God has reserved for you in heaven. You have had this expectation ever since you first heard the truth of the good news. You can have confident hope.

You can get your passport, that's Jesus you can pack your bags with. Well, not things of this world. But how about that other list from the spirit of Christ, like put some love in your baggage, some joy, some peace, some patience. That's. That one takes a little heart.

You got that one. You got to wrap that one up. That one. People like that one's hard to get in your baggage. But love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and that last one, which can also be difficult.

Self control. Pack those. Pack those for heaven and then be ready to go. There's nothing like when you're getting ready to go on an international trip and you've done all this preparation. You've been working for a year, and then you're finally sitting in the airport, and you're looking, you've checked your bags, and you go.

Ready to go? Ready to go. Are you ready to go? Are you prepared? It's the one journey that every one of us will face.

Every one of us, according to some. I've read that the three grand essentials of happiness are someone to love, something to do, and something to hope for. Well, Jesus gives us all three. He gives us someone to love, something to do, something to hope for. We can look to Jesus for kingdom, hope.

Now, we began this series with me talking about my journey and how, for me, the study of heaven began when I was eight years old and my father, my 39 year old father, died of lung cancer. I'm the oldest of four children. And I went from just being a little kid, thinking little kid thoughts to growing up kind of overnight, being raised by a single mom and having a lot of questions about eternity. And they brought the preacher over because little Gary was asking questions that were disturbing the other adults. And could you come talk to this little kid?

And we sat at my mom's kitchen table, and he said, gary, I understand you have some questions. And I said, yes, sir. He goes, what are your questions? And I said, well, my first question is, where's my daddy now? Where's my daddy now?

And he says, the Bible says, absent from the body, present with the Lord. He's with the Lord. I said, that's where he's at right now. He goes, yeah, he's in present heaven right now with the Lord. I said, okay.

He said, you got any more questions? I said, yeah. Can he see me now? Can my daddy see me? Because the relationship I have as the oldest son, I was a daddy's boy, and, like, I saw my whole life at that age kind of through his lens, and, like, he was the one that I would talk to him about what I did at school or what I did in sports.

And if he couldn't see me and applaud me, it's like I couldn't imagine what my life was going to be like. And he said, well, son, I'm not sure about that question, but I do read in Hebrews, chapter twelve, that we are being watched by a great cloud of witnesses as we run life's race. And he said, that seems to suggest to me that perhaps the saints in glory who have already finished the race, have some aspect of understanding.

We also read in revelation that I've learned as I've grown, that grown up, I've studied this, that we see in the book of revelation that we have the saints there asking God, how much longer before you do this? And that it seems that they have awareness of things on earth, or how would they ask how much longer? So I think there is some awareness, perhaps as we read the scripture, I've still been meditating on this. How much do the saints know about what's going on on earth? As I was reading doctor Gary Black's book on Dallas Willard's last hours, he was sitting by his bedside recording his final words.

Here's what he said. He said at times he would look at me and it seemed like his eyes were going out of focus. But then at this particular time, this was only a few hours before his passing, he looked me right in the eye and he said, I need to tell you what's happened to me so you can be prepared. He started saying that he felt like he was passing through a hallway. And he said, and it seemed like there were people who loved him that were surrounding him as he passed through this hallway.

And he said, I always struggle with that passage from hebrews twelve about what does God mean by this great cloud of witnesses? I tried to understand that. He goes, but not now. Now I know they're surrounding me. I know it's true.

I'm surrounded by this great cloud of witnesses. Such love. It's captivating. And then he says, he got quiet and he said, do you see anything? Do you see anything else?

He goes, it isn't an effort. There's no strain to believe what Jesus said. He that keeps my word will never taste death. He goes, I don't think I'll, I won't taste death, he said. Then he just dozed off.

A few hours later, about 03:00 a.m. He said he'd act disturbed and raised up and asked me to adjust his pillow. And I adjusted his pillow. And his last words on earth before he went to sleep and passed from this life to the next was he looked at me and he said, thank you.

He said it was a good death. Did you know there's a such thing? Because all those who die in Jesus, to live as Christ Paul says, but to die is gain. For to be with Christ is better by far. Oh, I pray for each of us.

Come to Jesus. Believe in Jesus. Look to Jesus. He is our life. And those who believe in him will never taste death.

Are you prepared? Let's pray. Lord, thank you for your word.

Thank you for Jesus. I pray for the person in my hearing. Maybe you're watching at home. Maybe you're in our gathering place next door. Maybe you're in this room.

Wherever you're at, Jesus is listening. He's listening to your heart. He says, come to me. Have you ever done that? Have you ever come not for what he offers, but for him?

Have you ever come to Jesus? You can do it right now through prayer. Prayer is an expression of your faith. Pray like this. I'm a sinner, dear Lord, I'm a sinner.

But I believe you died on the cross and paid for my sins, that you were raised from the grave and that you live today. I believe that. Come and live in me. I invite you to come and take up residence in my life, to take control. Forgive me of my sins.

Adopt me into your family. I want you to be my lord and my savior. I surrender my life to you. If you're praying that prayer of faith, believing he'll save you and he'll make you begin that journey of preparation, you'll take the most important step of being prepared for eternity. Others are here today.

You've done that. You're a Christ follower. But you've been stumbling into making the things of this earth your priority. You haven't been living out the life of Christ. You believe in him.

You're a follower. But you're not laying up treasure in heaven. You're not focused and setting your mind on things above. Would you repent right now and say, Lord, forgive me. I want to follow you in all things.

I want to be prepared. I look forward to your return and I'm ready. In Jesus name, amen.

Audio

Transcript

Good morning, church. So great to see you. So thankful you're here this morning. As we finish conclude this series on heaven. I hope it's been a real encouragement to you.

I hope it's been a joy to wrestle through many different books of the Bible, but really to consider the wonder of what Jesus has done is doing and will do. It's very amazing to consider. And this week we're finishing with this question of what must we do to prepare for eternity. Certainly taking a few moments to let your imagination wander would be a good thing. I hope that song, even though I'm sure it was very familiar to you, will still inspire you to consider sitting back and just what will it be like?

Let your imagination wander. I think that's the joy of heaven, is just let your dreams run wild. And that's a wonderful opportunity if you get the chance ever to sing, I can only imagine you're probably going to want to put Mark Bunn on it. Like, that's the right voice for that song. So thanks, brother.

Good job on that. And I got to admit, that song kind of hit me new again as I consider this final thing is, am I really prepared? Am I truly ready? I asked this question some weeks ago and said, you know, if the Lord could take you home today, would you be, like, excited about it? Or would you be more like, give me a couple more years?

Like, there's some stuff I still kind of want to do or see. And I got to admit, I got some mixed feelings about that. I should. Paul says, and many of the apostles say I should be like, okay, to live is Christ, but to die is gain. I definitely would rather spend time there.

But there's some things I'm like, man, I'd like to see my kids grow up. I'd like to see them get married. I'd like to see what they become. I'd like to see what happens at this church over the next few years. There's things I want to see.

But I guess in the end, as we studied heaven together, I'd rather go ahead and go up there with y'all. Let's just do that. You know, if the Lord wants to come today, he can come on. I do prefer him come while I'm preaching. So come on, Lord, if you're going to do it while I'm doing what I love and what you've called me to do.

And we're asking today, how can we be prepared? We're really asking this question of what does it look like for me to be ready now? Over the last few weeks. If you missed this, you can go check it out all online. At Eastgate church, we've answered several questions, and hopefully you've learned some thoughts or considered some things about what heaven, the present and future heaven will look like.

We've answered a big question, which is why we should focus on it at all. And the truth is, many of the writers say, seek the things that are above. Set your minds on things that are above. It's important for us as believers to have a heaven mindset, if you will. And we talked about heavenly rewards, and are we going to know each other, and what's heaven going to be like, and what's the eternal home going to be like?

Now we're asking, maybe the most important question is, am I ready for that? This isn't just a question for you in the room. If you've not really, you're not really sure about your faith, you maybe have doubts. It's not just for you. It's for all of us, believers, young and old.

Are we ready? What must we do to be prepared for what comes after this? And how can we be prepared? The writer of Hebrews says, as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this, the judgment. Well, okay, so how do I prepare for what's after this, this thing that is to come?

Now, I gotta admit something. If I'm. If I'm about to take a trip to the store, like, half the time, I've forgotten something that needs to be in the meal I'm about to make. And so I've got to run over to Harris Teeter and pay triple what I should for the product, but I'll run there because it's close to my house. And so when I do this, there's only really three things, as a man, I ever need to consider, and that is phone, wallet, keys, period.

That's left pocket phone, underneath wallet, boom. Keys, right. Boom. And you're thinking, I don't like your setup. That's fine, man.

That's my setup, and I'm not going to change. It's done. That's what I'm doing. I used to be a back pocket wallet guy. Nah, nah.

I'm done with that. Front pockets. So those three things, boom. I'm ready to go, and I never leave the house without them. And that's all I need.

I don't have to put a lot of thought into this. Maybe if I'm going to the grocery store, I might make a little list. But it's easy for me to prepare for a day to day visit. Now, if I'm going on a mission trip to Uganda, it's a whole different thing. A whole different matter.

I mean, we're talking a year out. I need to be considering a whole lot of things, preparing in advance. Do I have my passport? Is it ready to go? Are our partners there ready to receive us?

Do they have a mission for us? Do we have airfare covered? Room and board? Is the ground transport ready when we get there? And the worst part of all, do I have all my shots?

Because they require some stuff. They have diseases over there we ain't familiar with. So you got to get some new stuff, new shots. Got to take malaria meds, which I'll just tell you, if you take the over the mouth kind that you take, like, once a week, I think it is, they'll give you some wacky dreams. Wacky dreams, at least for me.

It's apparently a pretty common thing. You gotta raise support, pack clothes, all your ministry tools. You're having monthly meetings with your team. There's a ton of work that goes into this. And a lot of you have done something like this in your life.

So much preparation. But eternity is like a whole different animal, isn't it? How do I prepare for that? My whole life is intended to be preparation for that. Did you know that?

That this life isn't the end? It's not even the. It's barely the beginning. Like, it's a start. But I don't know what you're gonna get.

I don't know what the Lord's gonna give you. He promises us roughly, like 70 or 80 years. Some of us get that, some of us don't. Some of us get a little more. But in eternity's perspective, 70, 80 years isn't very long.

It's a drop in the bucket. So this life is about preparation. It's about getting ready with all of this preparation. In fact, even on the way to Uganda, I found out something very surprising. When you picture Africa, I bet you picture it's gonna be hot.

It's not hot in Kosoro, Uganda. It's cold at night. That was a surprise. Probably need some warmer clothes if you're going there. There were some surprises I wasn't ready for.

What I'd like to be able to do when it comes to eternity is to generally have the important surprises covered. Now I'd love to be surprised on some other stuff, like what it's gonna look like. Oh, that's gonna be a surprise. What everything's going to feel like what it's going to taste like, who I'm going to see there, what those interactions, a lot of that's going to be surprising. But what I need to do in this life beforehand, that doesn't have to be a surprise.

We're going to be in the book of John today actually in chapter six going through really a famous story. But Jesus gives us some very clear instruction about what we must do to be prepared for eternity. In this simple lesson that he gives after the feeding of the 5000, he tells us we can be prepared. And there's three ways I believe the text will show you to be ready. Chapter six of John, starting at verse 25, we're going to read a little bit and I'll give you the context.

What has just happened is Jesus has fed the 5000 which most historians say he fed 5000 men. So it may have been 20,000 people. It could be because there's women and children there. It could be way more than that. Most think so.

What's occurred now is he's left them. He's done this amazing miracle and now he's crossed over to Capernaum and he's teaching and they have followed him. A lot of these thousands have followed him across, I guess. I don't think they got on boats. They took a journey to get around the sea to come see him some more.

And we're gonna find out. Their reasoning isn't great. They just got a full belly and they like another one. They like a full belly. So that's where we're at.

At verse 25, it says, when they found him, they being those crowds, when they found him on the other side of the sea, they said, rabbi, when did you come here? Jesus answered them, truly, truly, I say to you, you are seeking me not because you saw signs but because you ate your fill of the loaves. Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life which the son of man will give to you. For on him, God the Father has set his seal. Then they said to him, what must we do to be doing the works of God?

Jesus answered them, this, this is the work of God that you believe in him who he has sent. So they said to him, then what sign do you do that we may see and believe you? What work do you perform now, our fathers, they ate manna in the wilderness, as it is written. He gave them bread from heaven to eat. Paul's right here for a second.

I find this interesting that they're demanding another sign when he's just done something pretty incredible. I don't know if this is a weird reverse psychology. Show us some more, because I don't think you can do it. I don't know. This is interesting.

But Jesus comes back to them, saying, truly, truly, I say to you, it was not Moses who gave you bread from heaven, but my father gives the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world. They said to him, sir, give us this bread always. Then Jesus gives one of the seven im statements of the book of John, these very clear signs of his divinity. He says, I am the bread of life.

Whoever comes to me shall not hunger. Whoever believes in me shall never thirst. But I said to you that you have seen me and yet do not believe. All that the father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me, I will never cast out. For I have come down from heaven not to do my own will, but the will of him who sent me.

And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he's given me. But raise it up on the last day. For this is the will of my father, that everyone who looks on the son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. God bless the reading of his word. Amen.

It's a really powerful moment that he has with these crowds of people, really trying to prepare them for something beyond this life, for what I might call an eternity kind of perspective. So how do we prepare, looking at this story, how can we also be prepared for eternity where the first thing, and they kind of get this right, but not fully, that is, come to Jesus for kingdom entry. Now, you might think, as a believer in the room, I've done that. Well, that is not so, because coming to Jesus is a constant occurrence. It is something you have to consistently do.

Otherwise you will walk right back in your ways, your old flesh, the ways that you've always done things. This is why Paul says, I I beat my body. That is, I wrestle with my body daily and make it my slave. I put it under service to God every single day. Otherwise, I'll jump right back in the driver's seat, and I will not come to Jesus.

Now, it's funny to me. I had to think about this again this week because we use, in christian culture, we'll say, oh, y'all need to come to Jesus. You need to have a come to Jesus moment. We'll use that a lot. I've often thought that was a little cliche, but to be fair, it's actually a biblical phrase.

And Jesus says exactly this. He says, that's what you must do. You must come to me in verse 35 there, this powerful statement, I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me now, that seems very minute, but this word comes here. This word literally means to leave one place and go to another.

That is when you come to faith in Christ Jesus. You have made the decision. I am not here anymore. I am here. Who I once was.

I am no longer. I am his. I have to do this again and again. I have to do this on a daily basis. Now he's told these poor people that show up, and these are.

I don't think we're so different now. In fact, I would argue we're almost identical to these people. We just come looking for something else that's satisfied. They come because their tummies are growling. And this is a very agrarian culture.

They're constantly working to eat. We have to admit, we're pretty blessed. I don't know if you've ever considered this fact that you can look in your pantry and see spices from around the world. That's insane. You're living like kings of old.

Doesn't feel that way, though, does it? But you are. If you've got saffron in your spice rack, you know what? You're somebody. I'm proud of you.

You've got some good stuff. You're living like a king and a queen in the house. No, these poor people, they show up. Wow. This guy, I don't know how he did it, but he fed all these thousands of people fish and bread, and we're coming back for more.

He must be a wealthy guy. I don't know if they've realized there was a miracle that took place. It seems like maybe they did not. So they come saying, show us another. Show us a sign.

Or maybe some of them knew he did something wild. Show us another sign. Let manna fall from the sky like we saw from father Moses, from the teachings of old. And Jesus says something careful to them, and it's careful to you, because you may not be saying, hey, God, hey, Jesus, give me bread. But you might be saying, hey, can you.

Can you give me the next promotion? Can you make this day go easier for me? Can you? And I'm not saying these are. He doesn't even call them out saying, that's a bad ask.

He's just saying, why are you so interested in things that don't last and we often come to christ the same way because we have to admit something. We rarely live with a heavenly mindset. That's what this series is meant to do for you, not just to teach you and maybe encourage you that there's something great that's coming. I hope it's done that. But what do I do with that?

Right now, I need to start looking at my life and going, there's some stuff I'm doing that's extremely important, and I need to do it more and with more fervor. Then there's some other stuff that eats up a ton of my time that really doesn't matter.

It's dust. That's what Jesus is saying. Come to me with this eternal mindset. Do the things that endure. He says in 27, that perish.

This word perish literally means things that come to destruction, that are rendered useless. He says in the book of Matthew, a very similar thought, Matthew 619. He says, do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy. Where thieves can break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth nor rust destroys. Where thieves do not break in and steal.

Maybe just put this in perspective for a moment. Moms and dads in the room that work hard and you work hard, maybe a lot of you are working full time, and I want you to remember something. The reason. Remember the reason why you work. It isn't to put food on the table that's important.

The reason you do it is so that you can raise up the next generation in the Lord. You work hard such that you can take care of the people that God has entrusted to you. And there's a rich reward in this, not just later, but now. There's a rich reward in seeing your kids walk with Jesus. There's no greater reward, I would argue, than this, do that which endures.

He says, here's the seal. I'm the seal. Me. The father has sent me. I.

I am the bread of life. You're coming hungry, you're coming thirsty, but you don't really realize something. The Hurst, the hunger and the thirst that you have is beyond physical. And maybe I pray church. I pray you've recognized this, that, yeah, sometimes your tummy grumbles, but what you're really hungry for is hard to find.

It's hard to find. That's why when we're young, we're hungry for relationships, because we think if she will marry me, if he will like me, if we can be together, if we can have kids. And some of you have had trouble there. If we can have children, maybe. And there's this gap, there's this hunger or thirst that you've tried to fill with careers and with relationships and maybe for a season, and maybe you're in the season, you feel a sense of joy, you feel a sense of success.

But haven't you found out that it tends to kind of. The new car smell wears off or something? When we first got married, you were so sweet. You're not very kind anymore. And maybe you haven't been kind and you start this wonderful cycle of being mean to one another.

Oh, it's just not what it was when we were dating. You were. So you've really let yourself go, we might think, or we have kids and find out, wow, those people. Those people are really about themselves. You ever notice that with kids, they're a great, a great model of what it means to be a sinful mankind.

You can look at them just for a little while and go, wow, you're really about you. You are the center of your universe. It's not your fault. Parent. If you look at them and they're like, wow, these are some selfish people.

You didn't do that. Sin did that. Technically, Adam and Eve did that. But you know what? I'm going to show them grace.

I think we're going to see them again. I'm going to come up there and be like, you know, bro, I probably would have messed this up. I'm not bothered by you. In fact, I'm hoping he's been up there gardening for a while and maybe I can get in on that because I'm down. I'm not going to be preaching in heaven, so I don't know what I'm going to be doing.

Maybe I'll hang out with Adam and do some farming. So we're going to make good on that. They come out this way. We came out this way. And if we're honest, the things that cause us so much struggle in this life are often this innate desire for me.

I want to be better. I want to be happy. I want to be comfortable. And there's. You're not broken, my friend.

That's the sin. Nature's greatest. Like, cry, me, me.

Oh, I'm hungry and I'm thirsty for something. Jesus says, I am the bread of life. Come to me. Sometimes you get bad news. I tend to hear your bad news a lot.

And I'm probably the right guy to receive such things. And sometimes I have to remind myself, God, you know what I really want? I want an ever present peace in my life. I want an overwhelming joy because I know I've been called to be this guy that stands in the gap and people need help. But sometimes I don't feel joy.

Where's that come from? What's that? Hunger and thirst. Boy, I can't eat a meal and get better now. I'll feel a little better for a moment.

You give me a big old bowl of ice cream, I'm gonna smile for a brief moment, and then my tummy's gonna hurt. I'm gonna be better for a second. But this thing that I'm longing for and you're longing for, only Christ can fill it. Cs Lewis, in fact, says, if we find ourselves with this desire that nothing in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that we were made for another one world, and we were. This life is preparation for our eternal home.

So get ready, start working on that. Jesus invites us into that, into this rest that starts right now. He says in Matthew eleven, come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden. I will give you rest, nothing else. I will give you rest.

Take my yoke upon you and learn from me. For I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. Where is that rest? Where is that way? Jesus says, we got to go through the narrow gate, which is him.

The narrow door is Christ. In Luke 13. He says, lord, some asked him, lord, will those who are saved be few? He said to them, strive to enter through the narrow door. For many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able.

When once the master of the house has risen and shut the door, and you begin to stand outside and to knock at the door, saying, lord, open it to us, then he will answer you, I do not know where you come from. Then you will begin to say, we ate and drank in your presence, and you taught in our streets. But he will say, I tell you, I do not know where you come from. Depart from me, you workers of evil. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, but you yourselves cast out, and people will come from east and west and from north and south and recline at table in the kingdom of God.

Do you know him? Do you know the door? Do you know who's behind it? Do you know that man? Jesus says, he himself is the door.

Look at John chapter ten. Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. This is what's unique about this faith. And if you haven't understood this yet, I pray you will today that Christianity is not like other religions and that it's about following the words on these pages. They're important.

Don't get me wrong, but the word of God is Christ. Jesus. The door, the bread, the light. Seven things he tells us in the book of John. I am the light of the world.

I am the way, the truth and the life. I am the door of the sheep. I am the bread of life. I am the light of the world. Jesus, this Christianity thing is all about him.

Do you know him? Do you come to him with your mess? Christian and non Christian alike? Have you come to Christ? That's the.

You can't skip this step. That's step one to preparing for eternity and constantly preparing for the everlasting. A few years ago, we were, I think me and Nicole, it wasn't our first kid. We were up at Wake Med Raleigh. It wasn't the first because I wouldn't have done this on the first kid.

It was probably like the third or fourth. By that time I was like, I'm not staying in this room with you for three days. This room is toxic for me. The first kid, I'm like, I don't know what's going on. I better stay with you.

But literally, these people keep you up all night. It's killer. I understand. I didn't even do any work and you're like, come on, Jonathan. I just need to take.

I'll be right back, honey. Would you like anything? But I'm doing this for me. I'm just saying. So it was a late night and I had left something in the car, something I wanted to probably play with.

It was probably like, I probably had the switch or something with me. I don't know. Something I needed to go get in the car is to entertain myself while these people knock on the door every hour all day. Oh, my gosh. So I go out in the car this late night and I didn't know something that this is news for you.

Maybe this will help you. Probably never, but if it does it, great. Wake med Raleigh shuts and locks all of their doors at night but one. And the door that I went out of that I came into to start this whole escapade, you can go out it, but you can't come back. Wake med Raleigh's not small.

So I go out there and I get my stuff. I'm like, we're going to have a good time. We're going to be all right, I'm taking care of me. And I'm liking. I'm like, oh, my gosh.

There's nobody in here. I'm rattling doors. I go to another door not open. I had to, like, walk around to the other side of this massive facility where the main door is, hallelujah. I can get in.

I can get in. I'm at the moment thinking she's gonna begin to wonder at some point that I've just bugged out. He's not coming back this time.

I doubt she thought that. She was probably sleeping. I don't know. But I really scared myself that night, and I realized something. And I've had many occasions like this where if you've ever been locked out of the house or something, this is a terrifying thought.

But when it comes to eternity, we do not have to be afraid. We don't get this story from Jesus so that we would be afraid. Do you understand this? This isn't meant to fear monger. It's meant to make you go.

There is one. And he has freely offered entrance through the door. I don't have to be worried that I'm going to get locked out. I don't have to worry about it. Do you know him?

He's the door, the only entry. Everything else is locked. Here's the second way. Believe in Jesus for kingdom life. Come to him and believe in him.

Now, those are careful from the text. Jesus does this himself. I didn't make this up. He says, I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me shall not hunger and conjunction.

And whoever believes in me shall never thirst. These are two things to him. It's not just that I would come and see him and say, I've met you, but that I would stake my faith on this, that my life's belief would be in this, that it would be more than lip service, it would be more than me just coming to church. But this thing, I really mean it. Which means I'm not just on my best behavior in this place.

Now, I love y'all. I really do. But I know some of y'all, when y'all roll out of here, you don't act the same. And that tells me something about coming and believing. I'm just saying, if you're not you here and you out there, who are you?

You're something else. Now, I, you know, I think crazy thoughts sometimes. I try to keep things, you know, grace field and faith filled in this place. Really focus my attention on him. But sometimes outside of this place, I might get angry when I shouldn't.

I might say something I shouldn't, and that's true of all of us. But in my heart, I'm trying to be the same Christ follower here as I am there. There's a difference between simply coming and believing. He says, have you put your confidence in? This word is pistuo, which is where we get faith and belief.

From the Greek, it means confidence. It means trust. It means to put one's faith in. And I'm believing in him for eternal life, for that which I thirst for. John calls this whole activity a sign that he has proved his divinity.

Now he goes on to really prove it with the cross and with the resurrection. And he tells them, this true bread is me. And the people finally, rightly ask, I really think this is how this story works itself out, that the people, we are like them. They come to Christ, but they come looking for the wrong thing. And some of us are that way, believers and non believers alike.

We come to Jesus looking for something that he can provide, but it's not his primary purpose. And we come knocking and asking for this stuff. And he gives us some instruction here. And maybe they begin to shift their thinking such that when Jesus says, do you know that Moses didn't, he's not the one who caused the bread. It was God the father who did it.

And now he's sending the true bread. What do the people say? They finally say the right thing in verse 34. And this is the key. This is the key church.

We want that true bread always. This is what I think causes Jesus to say what he's been wanting to tell them. I am the bread of life. You're asking the right question now. How can we have this true bread always?

We want that forever. I am the bread of life. You've come to me now hungry. I want you to know you're hungry for something bigger. Now.

Believe. Believe, and I will. I will provide eternal life. I will provide that which you thirst for. Jesus promises life that is both eternal and abundant, full and overflowing.

And John Tennett says, the thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. But I came that they may have life and have it more abundantly. Paul, he speaks to this and says, we live a life now that's focused as citizens of heaven. This something has changed in the fact that we have come and we have now believed in such that now the way we live is not as. Not even as citizens of earth.

We're aliens now, if you will. It's going beyond just. I'm not an American at the heart, I'm not even an earthling, he says, I'm a citizen of heaven. I'm for a different destination now. That changes the way you do life.

If you can really live that way, if you can really live with an eternal perspective, I would say you're probably going to be a little less offended. I don't know if you've noticed. It seems like everybody's offended about everything now, and maybe sometimes that hits you. But if your destination is beyond what's getting you rattled, and if your destination in heaven and your citizenship there is not only too calm, but it's locked in, and nothing can change this. The keys to that door are held by the savior, and he's given it freely.

And no matter what people think and say of you, that junk is on lock. That changes the way you live, doesn't it? The way you think, the things that motivate you. Paul says this well, in Philippians three, says one thing. Get it?

One thing I do. Forgetting what lies behind, straining forward to what lies ahead. That's what I do. Excuse me, I'm getting a little bit too wild with my vocals here, I guess. Verse 14.

This is the one thing he does. He's putting the past behind him. He's pushing ahead. And what does he do? I press on towards the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

I got a tickle, y'all. Goodness.

Better. Much better. Verse 15. He says, let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you only. Let us hold true to what we have attained.

Brothers, join in imitating me. Keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us. For many of whom I have often told you and now tell you, even with tears, they walk as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their end is destruction, their God is their belly, their glory. They glory in their own shame.

Their minds are set on earthly things. But our listen to this church. Our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we wait. We await a savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself. I think we would easily be able to think this way if we lived in some other places on earth.

I think the blessing of living here is also a distraction, a distraction from seeing that my citizenship isn't here and I long for something more. Some years ago, this guy kind of. He's been very influential, certainly in my life, and a great writer, a great theologian. Just a couple years ago, he passed away. His name is Dallas Willard.

If you've ever ridden any of his or read any of his stuff, it's fantastic. He's a great thinker and a kind man. This particular doctor, Doctor Black, got an opportunity to spend the last days with Doctor Willard and really talk about this idea of heaven. In fact, the book is called preparing for heaven. These final thoughts from Dallas Willard.

And what a wonderful opportunity to sit with him. The way he responded to this question, why we exist, how can we be prepared for what's coming? He says famously, we are in training for reigning. We are in training for reigning. R e I g n rain.

We're in training for it. Dallas's understanding of the call of God on each person's life and their potential, first given in Genesis. The charter to rule there, to subdue and establish dominion over the earth, he believes, describes not only what happened then, but what is to come. Listen to what it says in revelation five. It says, worthy are you to take the scroll and open its seals, for you were slain.

That's. They're talking to Christ Jesus the lamb. And it says, by your blood, you ransom people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation, and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on the earth.

You are in training for raining. What is to come for you, my friends? I don't know. It's hard to imagine exactly what it'll look like. But here's what we know.

We've been promised those in Christ will be a kingdom of priests who reign on the new earth. Okay, so right now I'm getting prepared. Dallas goes on to say, we enter heaven, perfect meaning without sin, but we are not complete. This is a fascinating thought. We are not finished, nor is God finished with us.

As an example, Dallas would say that often that a small tree sprout could be perfectly developed at every stage of its maturity while remaining incomplete. If you plant a plant today, it has everything it needs to be a great tree or fruit or vegetable, but it's incomplete. It's got to grow. His belief is such that when we arrive there, we have everything we need, but we will continue to be completed. Isn't that an interesting thought?

Now, that fits very well. That fits very well with some of my thoughts on heaven, and I don't know if I've shared all of these, but here's a few. Here's a few to help you out. Some people have asked me about a child or someone they've lost in the past. What will that kid look like when I get there?

Will they be a baby forever? Does that sound like heaven to you? That sounds weird. There's just going to be perma babies up there. That's interesting.

I like what Thomas Aquinas thinks. No, this is actually Justin Martyr. I don't know if you've ever heard of that. Famous theologian Justin Martyr, but he famously thought that we would all be the age of Christ when he resurrected, which is the, which is generally kind of the prime of mankind. That's where you're at your best now.

What does that mean? Does that mean if you lost a niece or a nephew or a child, that immediately they become 33 there? I don't think that's how it goes. I think, my dear friend, here's a wonderful thought. Your kid got to raise.

He got to grow up in heaven. Isn't that amazing? And a lot of theologians think this, that there is going to be growth for those who have gone on who were young, who were not, had not reached maturity. That's a physical truth. Perhaps they get to grow up in heaven.

That's the physical reality. If that's true physically, I would argue it's also true in every other capacity, which means my friends and I don't know how you've thought about this. When you get there, you don't get a bell rung over you that goes, Jonathan now knows all things. No, I see no evidence of that in scripture. Guess what?

John, when he's up there, is learning things. He's asking questions, and the elders there are telling him news that not a lot of people knew. People are learning details in heaven. Guess what? You get to keep learning.

Some of you like, man, I hate learning. Get used to it, because that's not part of the fall. You get to spend time with God the father, with the son. And part of that time is learning, getting to know him, his character, his attributes, and what he's doing and what he will be doing, he's not done. God didn't create the world and everything in it and go, I'm not creative anymore.

What is he doing in the future? We have no idea. The book ends, and there's more to come, more to learn. My friends, some of you are not good musicians. You're gonna get a long time to work on that.

If something you're itching to do. Boy, I'd love to learn guitar. We can start that now. But there are some incredible ones up there waiting to meet you waiting to hang out. I've never worked on the harp at all, but David was a killer harp player.

I'm work on that some. I'm going to learn how to properly plant some things because I do not have the green thumb, y'all. Oh, heaven is a place of growth. You ever considered this? Heaven is a place to learn.

And these young people are growing up there. There are some who lost kids in infancy, lost kids beforehand. They have grown up there and are learning now, believing and trusting in Jesus. This is more than just okay. I got my passport to heaven.

Now I can live as I want. No, believing in Jesus is living for Jesus now, preparing to reign. Learning now how to follow him and walk with him. Start getting used to that, because that is heaven. Galatians two.

It says, I've been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me in the life I now live in the flesh. I live by faith in the son of God who loved me and gave himself for me. Come, believe, and finally look to Jesus for kingdom hope. This really is a point for believers, believers in the room.

He says, those who have seen me and look upon me, this is an interesting way of phrasing something that he's trying to teach. And that is, yeah, you've come and yeah, you've believed, but do you have your eyes set on me now?

Is your savior the one that's now what you're trying to strive after? This is an interesting thing that we do as believers. We have to admit, yeah, we might come to Christ and rightly understand the gospel and all that, and then immediately take our eyes on some other prize that isn't what, it isn't him, and it isn't what he has for us. This is not uncommon. Don't feel guilty.

That's not the point. But understand this. Jesus says, look upon me, see me. Set your eyes on me. We used to sing a song.

It was like, set your eyes upon Jesus. Is that how it went? Look full in his wonderful face. Remember that song? That was a song we sang for years.

And it's got a great message because that's the intent, is that Paul and many of the other disciples, they said, hey, imitate me as I imitate Christ. Set your eyes on the savior and walk fast after him. That's your goal, and that's where your hope comes from. And the hope comes right there in verse 40, where it says, those who look on the son and believe in him, I will raise them up on the last day I will raise them up. God's kingdom in the preaching of Jesus refers not to the some postmodern destiny, not to an escape from this world, but rather God's sovereign rule on earth as it is in heaven.

His intent is not to just do something. His intent, it seems, is to rehab what went wrong and repair it and make it whole. Nt Wright famously writes on heaven in a book called surprise by hope. I'd encourage you to read it if you feel like reading something heavy. He says, salvation then, is not going to heaven, but being raised to life in God's new heaven and new earth.

What does he mean by that? I think he intends to say that when you come to Jesus and look upon him, your heaven journey starts now. You're not waiting on that.

Put your confident hope in him now, colossians, one says, for we have heard of your faith in Jesus Christ and your love for all of God's people, which come from your confident hope of what God has reserved for you in heaven. You have had this expectation ever since you first heard the truth of the good news.

As we try in this life to achieve many various destinations, many things we think are our purposes or the things we ought to be doing in this life, having someone to look up to really helps, doesn't it? Like at the end of the day, it would be nice to have someone who's running the race ahead of you and catching all the bugs, right? Someone you can slip, stream in behind that's catching the hard wind, and that's how you run a race. And a lot of us have thought that way. You've heard athletes for years say, I just want to be like Mike, or I want to be like, you know, name the sport.

I want to be like Cal Ripken or whoever. That's who I like growing up. I don't even know if anybody knows Cal Ripken anymore, but he was big to me. Yep. Some of you.

Some, yeah, Nolan Ryan. But see, I couldn't pitch, so I wasn't trying to chase after him. Wild arm. I'll hit batters. That's what I'll do.

But it's nice to have somebody. But even better than that, not, not some famous person that you try to work after their work ethic. There's even better things, like maybe some boss you've had in the past that you really liked the way they encouraged others, you really liked the way that they brought you. Maybe a teacher that really developed you and encouraged you. But even better, if you happen to get a mom or a dad that you were like, boy, I don't want to be exactly like this person, but there were pieces and elements of them that I really want to carry forward.

I like the way they did this, this, and this. That's what it means. That's what the text is speaking to. When it says, look to that. You would get in step with Christ and all of these other wonderful examples.

They're great, and you can use that. But above all else, you've prioritized. I want to go where you would intend. I want to set and get in step with you, Lord Jesus. Someone once said, the three grand essentials of happiness are someone to love, something to do, and something to hope for.

That's pretty good wisdom. But let me say in Christianity, you already have the answer to all three. And it's the door, it's the bread, it's the light, it's the way Jesus is an answer to all three. For you, my friend, and was always intended to be, you know, God made you to worship him. He created you for himself.

If you're looking for something to do, something to hope for, and someone to love, it is Jesus. Set your hearts there. Look to Christ Jesus for your hope. If you really start doing that in your life, then other things, when other things don't go quite right, you can go, well, my hope is not even in that. My hope is in him.

I'd like to include this or conclude this sermon series with a nice story. And there was a bajillion of these. There's a whole book, if you're interested, about these, what they call near death experiences. People that have a similar, a really strangely similar perspective about what it looked like to have almost died. And most of them say there's a bright light.

And like everything I ever did in this life kind of flashed. My life flashed before my eyes. That is a common language among a lot of these people, especially believers, with talk of light. There were some that spoke of a darkness that weren't believers. There's a lot of.

A lot of these stories out there. But I wanted to share with you the final words of Dallas Willard, who I spoke of earlier as Doctor Black sat by his bedside in the final hours. He writes this. He says the discipleship that Dallas had chosen in this life seemed already began to prepare him for his life, reigning with God as a citizen of heaven. At times, Dallas would look at me as if his eyes weren't really able to even see what he was looking at.

It was like he was already seeing something else. Yet on these occasions, I could tell he was able to focus on me directly and say, I need to tell you what's happening to me so you can be prepared. He started by saying he was in a hallway. I'm in a hallway in between this life and the next. And in this hallway, there were people who love us more than we can imagine.

He said, I never really understood what to believe about the Bible when it said we were among a great cloud of witnesses. That's in hebrews twelve, he says, but now. But now. He said, now I do. I really do believe it.

I know they're here in this hallway. He also said his eyes were being opened and that he was seeing things. He realized that he was going through this doorway from earth to glory, this in between space hallways. How he described it, that connects this world to the next. There was much for him to learn that was captivating his mind.

What are you seeing? I asked him. Oh, it's not a strain, he responded, it's not a strain. After pausing to cough for a moment, he continued, it isn't an effort. I'm not straining to believe what Jesus said.

He that keeps my word will never taste death. After that, he slept for a few hours before waking to ask for us to help adjust his pillow. His last words to me were simply, thank you. A few hours later, he was gone. It was a good death.

I say that little story to end the heaven series, to let you know that there's a common language among believers, that there's some sort of receiving party, some sort of hallway, if you will, into glory, where there's light and there's love and there's some moment where your life is kind of run before you. And he says, and I want to give this to you, my friends. It isn't a strain anymore. No effort required. I walk through that hallway remembering.

He says that those who keep the word of God, the word of the Lord, will never taste death. Now, that's awesome. I want you to know that believers in the room, that, yeah, this physical body is failing you. That's a fact. It is on the.

Some of you are still on the upward slope. You're looking at each other like I'm not even at my peak yet, my friends. I've passed it. I'm like, on the plateau. My metabolism is definitely slowing down.

I can't eat what I want anymore. Boy, those were good days. Some of you are well beyond that. Yeah. This body will fail.

But, my friend, those in Christ will never taste death. Are you prepared for this? For eternity? Come to Jesus, believe and look to him with your life. Let's pray now.

Heavenly Father, we thank you so much for your son Jesus. The whole reason that we come week in and week out and worship together and preach your word is because of what you have done for us. The love that you poured out on the cross and through the resurrection for us. That's why we can have faith. That's why we can confidently say, believers, I pray this is true for you.

You can confidently, confidently say, I am ready. Sure. There's some things if God keeps me here, there's some things I can't wait to do in this life. There's some things I can't wait to see happen. That's fine.

That's great. But at the end of the day I want you to be able to say with me, I am ready. I know who my lord is. I know which door to go to and I know in this life what I should be aiming at. Yeah, there's some purpose he's created me for.

But that's not really even the important piece. The more important piece is who am I looking towards and walking with. And he will guide my steps. He cares a whole lot more about my destiny than I do. He made me God.

I pray that over myself as I often doubt. I pray that over your people in this place that they would know that they know that they know you. The savior, the light of the world, the bread of life. Dear, my dear friend, if you've come here today and you know confidently that you have not said yes to the bread, you have not made Christ your savior, oh, he is the savior, but you've not said yes to that. This is scary when I read verses about gnashing of teeth and weeping.

But the gift is available if that's you today and you're feeling the Lord inviting you, I pray that is true. You feel an invitation today? Then answer it. Answer it with a yes. Not under compulsion, but out of understanding, knowing that he is the Lord and he loves me and he's given a gift of free eternal life in him.

He's the door. That that's you, my friend. Pray simply with me. Jesus. I believe that you are Lord, you are the true bread, you are the light, you are the way.

And no one comes to heaven apart from you. I believe that today, Jesus. I believe you died on the cross for my sins, my mistakes, my brokenness, my guilt, my shame. You paid for it. You paid the ultimate price for me.

I believe that today. I thank you for who you are. I thank you for that gift and God, I believe that you raised Jesus from the dead, and that gives me a living hope, a better hope. Dear Father, thank you for saving me. I believe now I ask Jesus, guide my steps.

I want to look to you in this life. I want to follow you. I want to get in step with you. Would you show me now, direct me? Am I doing what I ought?

Am I heading where I should be heading? Guide my steps. Dear friend, if you prayed that with me, welcome to the family of God. The kingdom of heaven. Starting in your life right now, it's no longer something you have to wait on, and there's glory to come.

But we're praying right along with you that God would guide our steps, that we would get in step with Christ Jesus. This is something, believers we have to do constantly. I ask you, Lord, that you would give us boldness and courage to live for you to work for the things that endure, not for things that perish, that we would get a heavenly perspective. God, encourage us, embolden us with that now that as we face our work week, this week, we wouldn't look at it so much as, oh, I've got to click some buttons on this keyboard and do these things on a screen, or I've got to teach these students, or I've got to go out and keep the city safe from criminals, or I've got to help people get well and fix them. I don't know.

You fill in the blank. It's not, at the end of the day, that's not really what you're doing. You're dealing with people, people that are everlasting. They go beyond. They go with you or they go somewhere else.

Those are the things that really endure. I pray, Lord, that you would give us confidence and boldness to do the things that really matter, to have a perspective that isn't so shallow, but goes far beyond this life. Do that in us, Lord Jesus, we pray. Amen.


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