Anne Graham Lotz: God himself is going to take your face in between his hands and wipe the tears from your cheeks. Listen, are you suffering today? One day, God is going to wipe away all tears and there’s going to be no more suffering, no more pain, no more death and nothing that causes that. (Applause) Praise God!
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John Fuller: What a terrific perspective about heaven from our featured speaker today on Focus on the Family, Anne Graham Lotz, as she shares about heaven as it’s described in the Bible. Thanks for joining us today. I’m John Fuller and your host is Focus president and author, Jim Daly.
Jim Daly: John, I think we have so much to look forward to in heaven and as Anne said on our last program, heaven is real. It’s a perfect place. When she talks about no more tears, no more pain-- I have heard people who have had that experience, that death experience, and they have said that feeling, that sense that they were near pure love. I mean, think of that! I don’t know what it’s gonna be like to go over that threshold. But I kind of want to do it with this attitude of “Yahoo!”, you know? Imagine coming into heaven with the biggest smile on your face, ready to meet Jesus as your Lord and Savior. That is gonna be an incredible time. That’s of course, where Anne’s father is now, Dr. Billy Graham, who went to be with the Lord on February 21st at age 99. And I’m sure there was a great celebration in heaven on that day! What an amazing impact that man had for Christ around the world.
And if you missed part one of Anne’s presentation, get in touch with us-- we can send it to you on CD or audio download so that you can listen to it again or even share it with a friend.
John: And you can do so on our app as well. All of that available at focusonthefamily.com/radio or call 800, the letter A and the word FAMILY and we’ll tell you more.
Jim: Anne Graham Lotz is an award-winning author, speaker and Bible teacher, of course. And in fact, her dad used to say she was the best preacher in the family! And she is good! She’s been on the broadcast here, I’ve met her several times; she is so genuine. She has written a book on this topic called Heaven: My Father’s House and you can get a copy through us here at Focus on the Family.
John: Alright, here’s Anne now as she reads out of the New Testament, the book of Revelation chapter 21. The apostle John’s account of a vision he had of heaven and I’ll note this was recorded at a women’s conference that was sponsored by Focus on the Family a few years ago.
Anne: And if you and I are not careful, we’re going to be sucked into this materialistic society of ours that is just living as though this life is all there is. And I believe some of us are going to be very disappointed when we get to heaven and find that the treasures we laid up were small in comparison with what we could have laid up had we given it the time and the attention that we give a lot these material things.
John said the streets were paved with gold, transparent like glass. And you know, I thought, ‘transparent like glass,’ it probably would act like a mirror so that when you would walk every step you would take would be reflected.
When I get to heaven, 1 John chapter 2 or 3, says that I don’t know what I’m going to be like, but I know this: I’m going to be like Jesus. And that means when I get to heaven this old nature and all of this sin is going to drop off, and I’m going to be like Christ. So every step I take and every move I make and every word I speak and every thought I have is going to be a reflection of his glory. And there’s a part of me that longs to see Jesus Christ glorified.
I get so disgusted with people who want to cash in on His glory. I once talked to a speaker, and they said they wanted Jesus to get the glory as long as they could have a 14-percent commission. And it can be humorous except that person meant it. Cashing in on His glory. And then I hear his name profaned and joked about and used in cursing. And even Christians who say, “Well, we want to be tolerant, you know. So in this particular program we want to have a Jew and a Buddhist and a Hindu. We can have a Christian speaker,” as though Jesus is one of the boys, you know, and he’s not. He is absolutely unique! (Applause) Amen!
And when we get to heaven, every single person in heaven indwelt by the Holy Spirit reflecting the glory of Jesus Christ, and every time we make a move those streets of transparent gold reflect the glory of Christ throughout the universe. And for once and for all, for ever and ever, Jesus Christ will be absolutely glorified in the universe through your life and through my life! What a day that’s going to be. (Applause)
Praise the Lord! But I think, perhaps, one of the most meaningful aspects of the physical characteristics of heaven are the gates, because we’re told that the gates are made out of pearls. And in verse 12 it says that there are 12 gates.
And then down in verse 21, “The 12 gates were 12 pearls. Each gate was made of a single pearl.” Now you think about it for a minute. Those pearly gates are hanging in walls that are 200-feet thick. Now can you imagine how big one of those pearls is? And you know how a pearl is formed? A pearl is formed when a grain of sand gets inside of an oyster and irritates it. The oyster begins to cover that grain of sand with a layer of mother of pearl, and the oyster keeps covering that grain of sand with a layer of mother of pearl until it can no longer feel the irritation. And if these pearls are as big as gates that hang in walls 200-feet thick, they’re covering not just an irritation to the oyster, but gigantic suffering. And I think what those gates of pearl are representing is the suffering, the death, the blood, the cross of Jesus Christ. That every time we enter into heaven, every time we pass through those pearly gates we’re going to be reminded that it cost Jesus Christ his very life to open heaven’s gates to us. (Applause) Amen.
Do you know somebody who says that there are other ways to God beside Jesus? Other ways to heaven besides the cross of Jesus Christ? That their good works outweigh their bad works and God owes it to them to let them in? That their own religion is sufficient, thank you. That they’ll go according to their own religion? That if they’re sincere enough, good enough, moral enough? But every time we walk through those gates, the gates themselves, remind you and me that the only way we can enter heaven is through the death and the blood and the cross of Jesus Christ. (Applause)
And I don’t know about you, but whenever I pass those pearly gates I’m going to be humbled and oh so grateful that he was willing to pay the price for me.
Heaven is a perfect place. It’s a prepared place. It’s a physical place, and it’s a populated place. People live in heaven. It’s not just a jewel. It’s not just a showcase. It’s not just like a designer home, you know, that you display, but heaven is a place where people live. Heaven is the home of the Lord and the Lamb. Verse 22: “I didn’t see a temple in the city because the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple.” And the word for temple is that word in the Old Testament that used for the Holy of Holies.
You remember in the Old Testament the tabernacle was divided into two places. There was the Holy Place, and the Most Holy Place was where God was said to live and dwell, and the only way you could get into that Most Holy Place was once a year the high priest would come and grasp a little lamb with both hands and confess the sin of the nation. And the sin and the guilt was conveyed to the little lamb, and then the lamb was slain, and the blood was sprinkled on the alter to make atonement for sin. Then the high priest could go into the Most Holy Place. He would take the blood of the lamb into that Most Holy Place to make atonement for man’s sin.
But you and I and everybody else couldn’t even go into the Most Holy Place. We had no access into the presence of God at all. Then when Jesus Christ died on the cross the Gospels tell us that the veil that separated the Most Holy Place from the Holy Place in the temple was rent from top to bottom, and the divine hand of God tore apart that veil because through the blood of Jesus we can enter right into God’s presence. We have access to his presence. (Applause)
And we can come to him by faith in prayer anytime we choose, and walk right into that Most Holy Place of his presence. And when we get to heaven it says that there’s no need for a temple because the Lord God Almighty and Lamb are the temple.
But I want to tell you something: there are two places being prepared in the universe. One is heaven prepared for the Lord and the Lamb and his loved ones, and one is hell.Verse 8, “But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters, all liars, their place will be in the fiery lake of burning sulphur. This is the second death.” The first death is when you die physically. The second death is when you die spiritually and you go to hell.
And the Bible talks as much about hell as it does about heaven. AndI’m going to describe hell to you in contrast to heaven, not because I want to be negative at the end of a wonderful day, and not because I want to discourage or depress anybody. I just want you to understand the truth of what the Bible says. I’m not going to take the time to give you the verses, but every description I give you of hell comes right straight from the Bible as does the description of heaven.
Heaven, as we have already seen, is a place where there’s suffering, there’s no death, there’s no mourning, there’s no pain, there’s no crying. Hell, on the other hand, has been described as a place of gnashing of teeth. Now, the only time I gnashed my teeth was in child birth, and I’m sorry, Eva, but it hurt. And about the end of all that labor and everything, and they couldn’t give me the medication I needed because of blood pressure, and when that baby came I was gnashing my teeth in pain. When it says that hell is a place of gnashing of teeth, it means that hell is a place of physical suffering and torments.
John: This is Focus on the Family and we’re listening to Anne Graham Lotz sharing a biblical perspective on heaven and on hell. And you can get a CD of this program to share with a friend or get a copy of Anne’s book on the subject. It’s called Heaven: My Father’s House. Those are available when you call 800-A-FAMILY or stop by focusonthefamily.com/radio.
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Anne:Heaven is described as a place that has high walls and gates. It’s absolutely safe and secure. Hell is described as a place of great insecurity. It’s a bottomless pit, the Bible says. And I can imagine if you and I fell into a bottomless pit we would have the sensation of falling, falling, trying to grab onto something to break our fall and not being able to and just this tremendous insecurity.
Heaven is described as a place that has 12 foundations, absolutely stable. Hell is described as a lake; unstable, always changing, fluctuating, moving, never the same.
Heaven is described as a place where the glory of God gives it light, and there’s no night there. Hell is described as a place of great darkness.
Have you ever had somebody say they don’t want to go to heaven because all their friends are going to be in hell, and they want to go to hell and have a big party down there with their friends. Actually had a writer tell this to my brother, and she said that she knew her grandmother and her family members had gone to hell. And so she didn’t want to go to heaven because she wanted to go to hell and be with her grandmother and her family.
Do you know something? Your family may be in hell, and I pray to God they’re not, and I don’t mean to be rude, but I pray to God that they’re not, but if they’re there and you go to hell, you’re not going to see them because hell is dark, and you may hear the screams and the gnashing of teeth, but you’re not going to see them. Don’t go to hell because somebody else is there or because you want to be with somebody. (Applause)
Heaven is described as a place where the nations of the earth walk, where kings bring their splendor; it’s a place of wonderful fellowship like this. Hell is described as a place of absolute isolation. You may hear the screams of other people, but you’re all by yourself in your darkness and your sin and your guilt, and there’s no goodness, no kindness, no righteousness, no holiness, no beauty, no love, and you’re all by yourself in that kind of atmosphere in sin.
Heaven is described as a place where’s there a river of water of life flowing from the throne, and hell is described as a place of fire, of intense dissatisfaction, knowing that you were created for something and yet never being fulfilled in that, always being dissatisfied, wanting something, never getting it, like having a craving and never having that craving satisfied.
And heaven is described as a place where we’re going to serve God and we’re going to see Him face to face, and His face will never be turned from us. And hell is a place where we’re going to be separated from God for all eternity. And the very one for whom you were created and the very one who loves you and gave himself for you, you will never see, never be with, separated from God forever and ever and ever.
Listen to me. Don’t ever tell somebody to go to hell. Number one, it’s not your decision. And when you begin to understand what hell is like you don’t even want your enemies to go to hell. That’s why it says that God is so patient because He’s not willing for any to perish; He wants all to come to repentance. Have you ever heard somebody say, “Well, a loving God would never send anyone to hell”? Listen to me. A loving God doesn’t send anyone to hell. That’s not his choice. (Applause)
God has offered salvation to you and me, and it’s our choice whether we receive the salvation that He’s offered and go to heaven. Or, our choice whether we ignore a message like this and a day like this and shrug and walk off and say, “Well, that doesn’t mean me, and, you know, I’ll wait until another day.” And it’s your choice to refuse God’s gracious offer of salvation. But I want you to understand what the choice is. I want you to make an informed choice. You can choose to place your faith in Jesus Christ as your Savior and go to heaven when you die, or you can choose to ignore this and reject this and just say you’ll wait for another day until it’s too late. And you can choose to spend eternity in hell; that’s your choice.
I believe it’s a choice that’s given to the whole world. It’s just that I wonder how many people around you, your family and your friends, do they even know that it’s their choice. When have you told them about the choice to go to heaven or hell? You and I have a moral, spiritual obligation and a privilege and a responsibility before Almighty God to tell the world that there are two places being prepared, and it’s their choice as to where they spend eternity.
Look at verse 27: “Nothing impure will ever enter heaven, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life.” Do you know how your name is written in the Lamb’s book of life? I didn’t quite understand this until I made a study of Revelation. But as my understanding is that when you’re born into the human race, your name is written in the Lamb’s book of Life.
But if you go through your life and you never receive God’s gracious offer of salvation, if you never deliberately place your faith in Jesus Christ as your savior, when you go out into eternity, your name is blotted out of the book. And when we get to heaven and the books are open and he looks down the page and he comes to my name, Anne Graham Lotz, and he says, “Anne, welcome into your heavenly home. You placed your faith in my Son as your savior when you were a young girl and you re-committed yourself to me, and welcome, welcome; this is your home.” And then I wonder if He looks on the next line, and the next line a name has been blotted out because I never told somebody about their choice to go to heaven or to go to hell, and they didn’t know they could receive Christ as Savior, and they went out into all eternity lost because I didn’t tell them that they could be saved.
Those of you, like myself, who know Jesus Christ as Savior, oh, listen to me. Don’t leave it up to the Billy Grahams of the world. Don’t leave it up to the professional evangelists or the pastor. That’s your glorious privilege to tell somebody else about Jesus. (Applause)
But I want to speak to those of you in this arena right now who know that you have never deliberately with your adult-conscious mind placed your faith in Jesus as your Savior. I don’t know why you haven’t. Maybe you thought it wasn’t necessary. Maybe you are one that thought you could get in by your good works. Maybe you thought just being religious or attending church was enough.
I want to tell you a little story. In London, England, years ago there was a little boy who just lived on the streets, a little homeless child. And he heard one day that D.L. Moody was coming to town to preach and he wanted to hear him preach, and the meeting was going to be across London. And so the day that D.L. Moody was to preach, the little boy set out and he ran through the gutters, and he stole an apple here, and he dodged the carriages there. Pretty soon at evening he came to the church; it was up on a hill, and he could hear the music; he saw the lights coming through the stained-glass windows. It looked like heaven to him.
And he ran up the steps, and he was so excited to go in the church and hear Dr. Moody preach. Just about the time he got to the door to open the door a big hand grabbed him and spun him around, and said, “Where do you think you’re going?” And the little boy said, “Oh!” he said, “I’ve come to hear Dr. Moody preach. I’ve walked all the way across the city, and I’ve worked hard to get here, and I want to hear him preach.” And the man with the big hand said, “Not you. You’re too dirty to get inside. Be gone!” The little boy just stuck his nose up in the air and thought, “Well, I’ll find another way in,” and he went around the church, but the windows were too high to crawl through, and there was no other door. So he came back to the steps, and he sat down on the steps; he began to cry. He was so disappointed.
About that time a carriage pulled up to the foot of the steps and this man in a top hat and tails came out of the carriage and began to walk up the steps. The little boy was intrigued in spite of himself. The man stopped and saw the grimy little boy, tears coming down his cheeks, and he says, “Son, what’s wrong?” And the little boy said, “Oh, I’ve worked so hard and I walked all the way across London, and I’ve come to hear D.L. Moody preach but now they say I’m too dirty to go inside.” And the big man looked at him for a moment and then he stretched out his hand and he said, “Put your hand in mine.” Little boy looked up at the big man, and he thought, “Well...” and he put his little hand inside the big man’s hand, and they walked together up the steps.
When they came to the door that had been closed to the little boy, now the door was flung back. And the big man holding the little boy’s hand walked down the center aisle, and they came to the front row, and the big man put the little boy on that front row, and then he climbed up on the platform, and the big man began to preach. The big man was D.L. Moody. (Applause)
That’s a true story, by the way. And it illustrates in a beautiful way that the only way you and I get into heaven is because we’re holding the hand of God’s Son. I cannot get into heaven because I’m Billy Graham’s daughter. I can’t get into heaven because I’m a member of a church. I can’t into heaven because I’ve done so many good things, and they outweigh my bad things. The only way anyone gets into heaven, anyone gets into heaven is because they’ve put their hand in the hand of Jesus, and He extends his hand to you at the cross, and he says, “Listen, I love you. I love you. I love you, and I love you so much I want you to spend eternity with me. In fact, for 2,000 years I’m preparing a home just for you, and I want you to come live with me forever.” But you have to make the deliberate choice to receive Jesus Christ by faith as your Savior. And I’m going to invite you right now to do that.
For those of you who do not know for sure that if you were to die today, you would go to heaven when you die, but you want to make sure, I’m going to invite you right now to get up out of your seat, and you can come stand around this platform, and I’m not going to embarrass anybody. I’m just going to have a word of prayer with you. We’re going to give you a little card so that you can receive a Bible study through the mail to help you begin to get to know Jesus, and then you can go back and join your friends. But I’m going to invite you right now.
And I’m going to ask -- Listen, Christians, sitting there in the arena, do not leave. I want you to sit there and just be praying, and if you see somebody coming forward to accept Christ and you want to encourage them, you just applaud as the angels of heaven applaud. And those of you who want to receive Christ by faith as your savior you come, and I’m going to ask the Holy Spirit to work in your heart and bring you forward to make this decision now. You come to Jesus now. (Applause)
John: So picture an audience of almost 20,000 women who were just listening to every word by Anne Graham Lotz. And at this point, across the arena, women are standing up and walking forward to follow that, to accept her invitation, to say, yes, I’ll give my life to Jesus Christ. I want to spend eternity in heaven with him. Jim, what a powerful moment that must’ve been.
Jim: It must have. And there are many people that stepped forward that day to accept the Lord and maybe you’ve been touched by Anne’s message as well and you’ve stopped whatever you’re doing to simply talk to God. Let me encourage you to pray this prayer with me right now.
“Lord Jesus Christ, I need you. I know that I’m a sinner. Thank you for dying on the cross for my sins. I repent and turn away from them. I open the door of my life and receive you as my savior and Lord. Thank you for forgiving me of my sins and giving my eternal life. Make me the kind of person you want me to be. Amen.”
And I’m telling ya, that is going to start a journey that you will never regret.
John: Yeah and if you prayed that prayer along with Jim, please, let us know so we can congratulate you on the best decision you’ll ever make and give you some follow-up materials and resources to help encourage that life of faith.
Jim: Yeah, we have a free book, it’s an e-book called Coming Home: An Invitation to Join God’s Family and it’ll help you take the next steps you need to take. You know John, when I was in college; it dawned on me that although I had accepted Christ as a 15-year old, I hadn’t really studied the Bible, the Word of God. And it occurred to me that my eternal soul depends on what’s written in that Book. I’d better know what it says. And I hope you’ll have that appetite as well. That motivated me to blaze through the New Testament. I remember skipping classes in college so I could simply read the New Testament, like the four Gospels; Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. And also to read the letters of the apostle Paul and boy, that really was a faith-builder.
So let me encourage you as well, no matter where you’re at in your faith, read your Bible! And I know it can be intimidating, there’s lots of content there. Start with the Gospels where Jesus is speaking directly and that way you can begin to evaluate it for yourself. Is it speaking to your heart? Find a Bible-believing church in your neighborhood. Get in there, meet some of the leadership. And if you have questions, ask. You know, it’s like being a child-- just keep asking questions until you’re satisfied. That’s how you build a walk of faith.
And here’s one other key: Keep listening to Focus on the Family! We’ll help you build your faith and give you helpful advice for your marriage and your parenting journey, which is a big part of God’s plan for you. And we’ll do it together with you. If you’d like a copy of today’s message from Anne Graham Lotz so you can listen toagain or share it with a family member or a friend, just get in touch with us. We’ll send you the CD and if you can make a donation of any amount to Focus, it’ll be our way of saying thank you by sending that along.But don’t let that stop you. If you can’t afford it, let us know and we’ll get it into your hands. If you prayed that prayer with us, let me say, welcome to the family of God and well done!
John: And we’d love to hear from you. Our number is 800, the letter A and the word FAMILY. 800-232-6459.Or online we’re at focusonthefamily.com/radio.
Be sure to join us tomorrow as we’ll hear from Bart and Shannon Millard of the popular band, MercyMe. They’ll talk about trusting God when life gets messy.
Bart Millard: I’ve got five kids; if we can’t get our order straight in a drive-thru, I’ll snap-- I’m like, “Come on! What is wrong with this?” (Laughter) The smallest thing just set me off and so...
Jim: I’m so relating to you right now! (Laughter)
Bart: Oh man, yeah. It’s like, I’m telling ‘em, “We’re gonna come back around, we’re not ready. (Laughter) Round the horn! Round the horn!”
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John: On behalf of Jim Daly and the entire team, thanks for listening to Focus on the Family. I’m John Fuller inviting you back as we once more help you and your family thrive in Christ.