Preparing for Heaven

Building the Eternal Phase of Your Life

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We are now going to work on raising your future level of excitement in heaven. The more your spirit grows in giving off the light of Jesus and the good news He has brought to the world, the more joy you will have in heaven when all the stories are told.

Keep in mind that the citizens of heaven will be in close, loving relationship and will be continually praising God with the stories of their redemption. In those small circles where are told the loving rescue and care of the Great Shepherd for His sheep, each of us will participate to varying degrees of understanding, empathy, and joy.

Can you remember someone bringing up an event and being able to say, “I was there!” Those in that conversation who were not at the event mentioned will not have quite the excitement. For example, someone says that they visited Glacier National Park. Before that vacation experience is related, someone perks up and announces that she has also been there and seen its beauty. Then, all the time the first person is telling about the trip to Glacier National Park, that person is experiencing the conversation differently than the others, kind of like in three-dimension rather than only two-dimension.

Even if a person was only a little involved in whatever the story being told, there is that sense of involvement – participation rather than just being a spectator. Another example might help. Think of football and a specific Super Bowl game. When a discussion of that particular Super Bowl comes up, a person in the circle of conversation who played in that game would have a high level of excitement inside of himself. Even the young man or woman who walked the sidelines and squirted water into the mouths of players will have a level of excitement in hearing the conversation – not as high maybe as the person who was a player in the game, but certainly higher than the listener who sat in the stands as a spectator. The spectator who attended the game and cheered for her or his team will have a level of excitement during the discussion. Lastly, the person in the discussion who had no connection to the Super Bowl football game will catch some excitement because of the contagion of everyone else’s excitement, but much less than the others.

Let’s now relate all of that to being the light of the world and proclaiming salvation through belief in Jesus Christ and his death and resurrection.

Imagine you are with a group of seven citizens of heaven on a hike through fields of wildflowers on a particularly beautiful path through a very peaceful meadow. On the top of a hill you all sit down to eat lunch. Then one woman who before death lived in England during the 1600’s tells how she was orphaned at age 7 and lived on the streets begging for food and taking shelter wherever she could find it. She tells of when two women stopped to talk to her one day to see that she was unharmed and surviving okay. They also told her that there was a God who cared for her. Every day for a week these two women sought her out on the street to check on her welfare and to continue to tell her that Jesus died for her. Then, on a Saturday, one of the women came with her husband. They sat down with her in the street and invited her to come home with them and be a part of their family. Then, because of the love of God shown through these new adoptive parents and the consistency of their belief and lives, as well as those of their friends, she responded to the one and only God and received His great love. The one telling her story finishes by praising God for His great love for her.

Six of you on that hilltop eating lunch sandwiches listen to this story and experience excitement and joy at different intensities. All of you experience the joy of this woman’s rescue and salvation because each of you has been rescued from separation from God. Like the storyteller, your sinful natures and lack of absolute perfection have been covered by the righteousness of Jesus Christ.

But not every one of you can feel the excitement in hearing of the two women and one husband who were the light of the world and illuminated this woman about God and His great love. Yet, those of you who before death proclaimed the gospel to others by being light to their particular surroundings will feel excitement. And, those who shone the light of Jesus in dark places with people trapped by some of the more ugliness of the world will experience the greatest excitement in hearing this story and its praise for God.

Therefore, to experience great excitement in heaven listening to its stories throughout eternity, you want to grow in your willingness to be the light of the world and spread the news of the gospel where your path of life takes you.

Let’s look into this more deeply.
In the Sermon on the Mount, related in the book of Matthew in the Bible, Jesus said, “You are the light of the world”. He went on to say, “Let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”

It is important to know where your light comes from. It is inside of you, but not from you. First of all, God is light. 1 John 1:5 tells us, “God is light; in him there is no darkness at all.”

Jesus proclaimed, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12) Jesus further clarified that He got His light from God the Father. In talking with God in prayer as recorded in John 17:7, Jesus said, “Now they know that everything you have given me comes from you.”

Likewise, we get our light from Jesus. This is how Jesus can be the light of the world and we can also be the light of the world. Jesus is in us, just as Jesus is in the Father. And so, God’s very nature shines out of us.

John 3:16-19 states very clearly the message that our light is to proclaim. Even if you are very familiar with it, absorb it into your spirit so that it can easily light the way for those who seek to escape the darkness and find the light of salvation and eternal life. It says,

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, . . .”

When Jesus sent people out to tell the good news of salvation and God’s kingdom, he sent them two-by- two. Thus, it is very important that we understand that proclaiming the gospel and being the light of the world is something we usually do not do alone.

When Jesus declared, “you are the light of the world”, the word “you” is plural in form. Jesus did not say, “you are the lights of the world” which would emphasize each of us being the light. Instead, it is more than one Christian shining forth the light that is Jesus that more strongly lights the world and fights off darkness. And, remember that Jesus promised, “where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them”. So, great light can shine in the corners of this world where Christian friends, Christian families, and Christian marriages go because Jesus will be with these small, close relationships in the special way of His promise.

Perhaps an illustration will help. Imagine a person lost in the vast Rocky Mountains. After a while, being lost is life-threatening and frightening. In the daytime, this person wanders around looking for a trail or a stream, finding neither. Then night comes and the darkness is terrifying.

The person searches to see a light that would indicate a direction to travel and find safety. Suddenly, the person sees a light and getting to that light becomes the sole pursuit.

If that light is faint because of low wattage or a dirty glass cover, or too far away, the person will have no chance for life and die in the mountains. One light inhibited by only a little grime of sin on the glass cover will shine only a short distance. But two or three lights will be seen at a much greater distance and have a much better chance of saving the lost person. And, as is the case with us, if two or three lights have Jesus and His Light inside of them, that beacon of light will reach the lost person like a searchlight making a light trail straight up into the night sky.

It really is up to us, using our Christian Inner Circles to shine the light of the gospel on those unsaved people God brings to us. We should be glad that the weight of testifying to someone about our faith in Jesus and the authenticity of the Bible is not one we have to carry alone. It is wise for Christians to present the gospel together. No one individual should be expected to answer all of the objections or satisfy all of the questions of a non-believer. When two people are saying the same thing, it is natural to feel more confident and be less threatened by the challenge of someone’s unbelief.

Quite often we shine our light and present God’s plan of salvation alone. We should pray that others will come along and shine their lights for the same person. This is one way that we shine together.

There are many times when a group of Christian friends, working together, can explain the gospel to others. This is true of Christian families and Christian marriages as well. This stronger light will be powerful and Jesus can use it to bring His lost sheep into the fold.

Proclaiming the gospel and shining the light of Jesus is not just talking. Telling people is important, but too often not backed up by nonverbal communication. That can invalidate the message. Ephesians 5, verses 8 through 10 explain three key elements of being the light of the world. Those verses read, “For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord.”

And, so our light needs to be a whole lot of goodness (good deeds), righteousness (sinless purity) and truth (behavior based on the Bible) to accompany the spoken proclamation of the gospel. We must show the power of God in ways that others can see the miracle of good, righteous, and truthful people within a culture that is so tolerant of deceit, selfishness and other evils.

However, Jesus pointed out that the main validation of our words about the gospel and our status as His disciples would be our love for one another seen by those outside of the faith. Jesus said, as recorded in John 13:34 & 35, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

Since all of the Togethers you are incorporating into your life with this Getting Ready to Go Home to Heaven curriculum are specific ways Jesus loved his disciples, they are ways to validate the gospel. They identify us with Jesus if we take them beyond the level of secular practicality into Christian self- denial for the good of others, especially Christians.

This can be done by implementing the Togethers in the midst of a watching secular culture. While it is easiest to act like Christians in church gatherings, great darkness requiring the Light of Jesus is elsewhere. Can we help one another identify the darkness that surrounds each of those we love and care about who are not in the faith? Together, we need to take the light of Jesus to them.

An effective strategy of Satan is to get us to think that spreading the gospel is just being able to explain the plan of salvation from the Bible. The devil does not want us to understand that gospel words have to be validated by lives that say the same thing. Let’s not let the devil neutralize our proclamation or dim our light.

The gospel says that Jesus Christ paid the penalty for our sins. If we live unsure of our salvation and doubt our eventual residency in heaven, our proclamation of the gospel can be ignored. If we do good in order to get into heaven, we contradict that salvation is free. Instead, we are to be extremely grateful that God sacrificed his only Son for our glorious future. We will then strive to do good and love others spectacularly to thank God and bring Him glory.

In addition to enhancing our lives in heaven by relating more to the stories of redemption and deliverance as mentioned at the start of this section, there is also the additional joy we will have in heaven every time we run into someone there who we feared was going to hell. By letting our light shine in our Christian friendships, families and marriages now to bring others out of darkness and into God’s kingdom of light, we expand our joy in heaven later when we see how others have been snatched from destruction. If we put forth only a little effort to shine for Jesus, we will experience much less joy in heaven.

We can prepare for heaven by increasing the wattage and consistency of our light now where there is so much darkness to conquer. In heaven there will be no darkness and no need for us to let our light shine to expose sin or offer salvation. The growth in our spirits that comes from being light and proclaiming the gospel to lost, helpless people must be developed now this side of death.

To grow in our ability to shine our light more and more into darkness requires us to understand the danger that unbelievers are in and care deeply about their plight. This growing concern will translate into greater joy each time we meet one of the trillion citizens of heaven over the time span of forever. Throughout eternal life we will value the salvation of others proportionately to how seriously we took being the light of the world.

Therefore, list on paper each and every non-Christian important to you who is lost in the darkness of this world. Who does the Holy Spirit lead you to be concerned for in your family, your neighborhood, the place where you work, etc.? Who is not a Christian and is important to any of your friends, family members, or husband or wife?

Keep that list in mind for any opportunities to interact with these people with good deeds, by showing them the purity of righteous living, and behaving faithful to biblical truth. Be light to their world and proclaim the good news, the best news ever, of God’s love and salvation.

Reflection & Group Tools

Together show your community of friends, relatives and neighbors how you love one another supernaturally because of Jesus Christ, the true Light of the world. Be able to clearly present from the Bible God’s plan for the salvation of men and women.

Matt 5:14-16; John 13:34-35; Acts 1:8; Col 4:5-6; Philemon 6; Heb 13:15; 1 Peter 3:15-16; 1 John 1:1-4

Prayer to Embrace this Together
O God who is Light and in Whom there is absolutely no darkness, and Lord Jesus who is the Light of the World, I and those in my Christian Inner Circle will need Your help to grow our spirits to be brilliant with Your Light. Help us to yield to the work of the Holy Spirit for all of us to give You more glory in the way we take our light from You into the dark places of our culture and society.
Please help us all to become more like Jesus and not be afraid of Satan and the darkness he brings, seek out people and places that need the light of the gospel, and proclaim the good news of salvation and deliverance in Jesus. Use us to bring in the harvest of those who will believe and find salvation in Jesus.
May our lives worship You more because we let the light of Your love shine as we often and significantly interact with those who do not believe in Christ. Have the Holy Spirit guide us to unbelievers that we can reflect on them Your divine light, love and goodness.
Make us strong in Your power to defeat the devil by resisting his many efforts to dim our light. Help us to increase our light and march into areas where Satan has established a foothold. Let our light which comes from Your Light be not just the words of the gospel but actions that illustrate and prove the good news of Jesus Christ. As the devil draws people away from You, may our light draw them toward You.
Help us all to prepare for heaven by growing more completely able to proclaim the gospel and be light to the world. Help us to become so comfortable telling our salvation story, our testimony, that we are very ready for heaven where we will meet with the other citizens of heaven and exchange our stories of salvation to the praise of God’s glory for all eternity.
In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Your Spirit is most easily transformed in community. The tools below can facilitate your growth as you meet with those you are in close Christian relationship with.

These are some of the possible benefits in heaven we will be seeking today by opening our minds to the Holy Spirit regarding proclaiming the gospel and being light to the world.
We will in heaven value the salvation of others to the extent that we were light and proclaimed the gospel in the fallen world from which we came and were rescued.

We will have a deeper, expanded interest in the millions of salvation testimonies we will hear from the citizens of heaven, stories from different cultures and centuries. This will give us greater joy and excitement for all eternity.

We will have heightened joy in heaven when we run into someone we knew before death who had not yet accepted God’s salvation in Jesus Christ and we feared was headed to hell.

Sanctification Booster #1:

Let’s take time now to list the things that can keep Christians from putting God first and consistently seeking what He wants. What are the many things that too often Christians serve before they serve God?

Sanctification Booster #2:

To hopefully help us submit more to God and let Him have His way, what are the evidences that God loves us far more than we love ourselves and therefore grasp that His way for us is better than our way for us? First is that God so loved us that He sent His son, but there are many other evidences that testify of His love and grace toward us. Let’s list them.

Sanctification Booster #3:

What are the reasons we do not look at one another’s lives and speak up when we wonder if something has become more important than God and His ways?​