The People of Heaven

Josh Buice

Have you heard someone talking about heaven recently?  Perhaps you’ve overheard someone talking about sprouting wings and playing golden harps while riding around on a fleecy white cloud.  I do hope that you’re not like me as an unconverted boy.  I would sit in worship service with my parents and contemplate heaven.  In my small unconverted mind, I thought it would be endless rows of pews, dusty hymnals, and a long winded preacher who never stopped preaching.  I was guilty of thinking small thoughts about heaven.  What about you?  Do you think heaven will be a boring place?

Last night I had the opportunity to preach from Revelation 21:5-8 as we’re working our way through Revelation 21-22 in a series on heaven.  The subject last night was the people of heaven.  Who exactly will be in heaven?  Once again, when you hear of people dying, the first thing you hear after the announcement is typically by friends and family members of the deceased individual claiming that they are in heaven with God.  It doesn’t matter if they’ve lived a life of rebellion and had zero time for God – when they die – their friends and family announce with certainty that the person is in heaven.

The People of Heaven

As John is given this glimpse into the miraculous scene of the future glory, he is told to write down the words because they are faithful and true.  Our God is a truth telling God and His Word is always true.  What a comforting thought that must have been to John who was suffering exile on Patmos for his commitment to the Word of God.  As he examines the scene, two specific people are mentioned.

The Thirsty

God promises those who are thirsty that they will be able to drink from the spring of the water of life – without payment.  Specifically, those who are thirsty for God will drink of this eternal spring.  They have thirsted for God and it will be God who provides them with nourishment – undefiled and never ending.  The payment has already been made through the blood of Jesus Christ.  Heaven will be the home of those who thirst after God.  Listen to the way the Psalmist described his thirst for God in Psalm 42:2 – “My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and appear before God?”

The Conquerors

Another reference is made to the people of heaven and this time, the reference to conqueror is used.  Those who conquer will receive the heritage of heaven.  To be clear, they will receive the joint inheritance of Jesus Christ.  How do we conquer or overcome?  This verb – conquered – often translated “overcome” is the word, νικάω – “Nikao” which means – “to carry off the victory.” How do we overcome sin?  How do we overcome Satan?  How do we overcome death?  Only in Jesus Christ (Romans 8:31-39; specifically Romans 8:37).  Listen to the way Jesus is described as the conqueror in Revelation 5:1-5:

Then I saw in the right hand of him who was seated on the throne a scroll written within and on the back, sealed with seven seals. [2] And I saw a mighty angel proclaiming with a loud voice, “Who is worthy to open the scroll and break its seals?” [3] And no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll or to look into it, [4] and I began to weep loudly because no one was found worthy to open the scroll or to look into it. [5] And one of the elders said to me, “Weep no more; behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered, so that he can open the scroll and its seven seals.”

The Warning to the Rebels

In a sobering turn, the apostle is commanded to write down a warning to those who will not be in heaven.  Heaven is the dwelling place of God and God’s people will one day live with Him.  As we looked at Revelation 21:1-4 last week, it’s clear that death, weeping, sadness, and pain will be no more.  The evils of this world will not enter the holy city of God.  Notice the list, which isn’t an exhaustive list, that’s given to John in Revelation 21:8.

But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.

Faith in Jesus Christ is necessary to have a home in heaven.  People who are detestable (abominable) will have no access to God’s holy city – the new Jerusalem.  Murderers will be banned from the city.  No more baby murderers in heaven.  Planned Parenthood will not be welcome there.  Those who practice sexual immorality will not be allowed to enter heaven.  Sorcerers and those who engage in such ungodly rebellion will be banned from heaven.  Idolaters will have no part in the holy city of God.  All liars will receive the judgment of God rather than the mercy of God – and they will not inherit the Kingdom of God.

The final statement of this concluding verse states, “their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.”  This is a sobering reminder that hell is real and it’s reserved for the rebel who rejects God and refuses to submit to His authority.

Imagine the beauty and joy of heaven.  We will see new colors, taste new food, hear new sounds, experience new thrills, build new relationships, and most importantly – we will see God!  In God’s holy city, our joy will never end.  Our joy will continue to expand and multiply for all of eternity.  We will never get tired of God, nor will heaven be a stale old boring place.  All of the experiences of heaven will be full of joy, and we’re reminded that nothing impure will be there.  Sam Storms describes heaven by saying it will have:

Nothing that is abrasive, irritating, agitating, or hurtful. Nothing harmful, hateful, upsetting or unkind. Nothing, sad, bad, or mad. Nothing harsh, impatient, ungrateful or unworthy. Nothing weak, or sick, or broken or foolish. Nothing deformed, degenerate, depraved or disgusting.

 Nothing polluted, pathetic, poor or putrid. Nothing dark, dismal, dismaying or degrading. Nothing blameworthy, blemished, blasphemous or blighted. Nothing faulty, faithless, frail or fading. Nothing grotesque or grievous, hideous or insidious. Nothing illicit or illegal, lascivious or lustful. Nothing marred or mutilated, misaligned or misinformed. Nothing nasty or naughty, offensive or odious. Nothing rancid or rude, soiled or spoiled. Nothing tawdry or tainted, tasteless or tempting. Nothing vile or vicious, wasteful or wanton! [1]

What a wonderful thing we as the children of God have to look forward to.  Think big thoughts about heaven!

1.  Joy’s Eternal Increase: Edwards on the Beauty of Heaven

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Author The People of Heaven

Josh Buice

Pastor Pray's Mill Baptist Church

Josh Buice is the founder and president of G3 Ministries and serves as the pastor of Pray's Mill Baptist Church on the westside of Atlanta. He is married to Kari and they have four children, Karis, John Mark, Kalli, and Judson. Additionally, he serves as Assistant Professor of Preaching at Grace Bible Theological Seminary. He enjoys theology, preaching, church history, and has a firm commitment to the local church. He also enjoys many sports and the outdoors, including long distance running and high country hunting. He has been writing on Delivered by Grace since he was in seminary and it has expanded with a large readership through the years.