A Sermon About Heaven
I was walking down to the Depot Church in Philadelphia one night when a friend said to me, “Moody, what are you going to preach about to-night?” I said I thought I would try and preach about heaven. I noticed a little scowl came over his face at that, so I said, “What is the matter?”
“O!” said he, “why don’t you give us something practical? Nobody knows anything about heaven; it is all guess-work to preach about that.”
“Well,” said I, “if the Lord didn’t mean us to talk about heaven He wouldn’t have talked so much about it Himself.” We are told that all Scripture is profitable for doctrine, and we find that a good deal of the Scripture is on the subject of heaven. Stephen had a glimpse of it, and John had a great revelation of it.
It would be better if we read more and talked more about heaven, for that would help us to cut loose from this world, and to set our affections on things above.
If you were going to emigrate to another country, and I had just come from that country, and was here to lecture about it, you would listen to find out all you could about it; about the soil, and the climate, and the people. Now here is an account of heaven which is given by One Who came down from heaven, even the Son of God. Besides that, there are accounts of some of the angels and other people who live there, and as you all want to go to heaven some time I think you ought to be interested to know all about it.
First of all, I want to say that heaven is a place, just as much as Chicago. A pantheist once undertook to tell me that God was not in any particular place, but that He was everywhere and nowhere. But anybody who is well acquainted with the Bible knows that God lives in heaven.
Do you ask me how far away heaven is?
Well, I don’t know. The sun is ninety-five millions of miles from Chicago, but it shines here every day. So I am sure that God, Who lives in heaven, however far away it may be, is able to shine in upon us. His eye sees us, and His ear hears the faintest whisper of our prayers. He is a God at hand, and not afar off.
Do you want to know who else besides God is there? The Bible says that Jesus Christ is there. His disciples saw Him ascend from the Mount of Olives, and He is there at the right hand of the Father advocating our cause for us. The angels are there, and sometimes they come down to us; for we read concerning them, “Are they not all ministering spirits sent to minister unto the heirs of salvation.” The saints are there. We have an account of that in the Revelation. The little children are there, for the Scripture expressly says, “Of such is the kingdom of heaven.” And I hope, my friends, that some time all this congregation will be there.
Some people are anxious to know whether they shall recognize their friends in heaven. Now I will give you a passage of the Scripture that settles that question for me. It is this: “I shall be satisfied, when I awake, with Thy likeness.”
I suppose that means we are to have everything we want. Do you want to recognize your friends in heaven? Then you will recognize them.
Some man says, in speaking on this subject: “I do not feel at all troubled about the question of whether I shall recognize my friends in heaven. I have no difficulty in recognizing them here, and I don’t expect to know any less when I go to heaven than I do now.”
In Luke 10:20, Christ tells His disciples to rejoice because their names are written in heaven. I remember how some of us were unable to find accommodation at the Great Northern Hotel, in Liverpool, and we asked one of our party where to go.
“I am to stay there,” he said.
“How is that?”
“O, I sent on my name in advance, and they kept a room for me!”
That is just how you ought to do, my friends: send up your names, and have them written in heaven, and there will be a place all ready and waiting for you when you arrive, prepared by Jesus Christ Himself.
Now just let this question go around this audience: “Is my name written in heaven?”
“O yes!” says someone, “I belong to the First Presbyterian Church.”
Well, that is a different thing. God keeps His books altogether different from the way they keep the church books. Judas was one of the twelve. Satan himself once sang hallelujahs in glory. Settle this question with yourselves, and then you who are parents ask yourselves another question, “Are my children’s names all written in heaven?” If not, whose fault is it?
Again Christ tells His disciples:
“Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” Some people seem to think that there are only ten commandments. They forget the eleventh, and a great many others besides. Now these words of Christ are just as much a commandment as “Thou shalt not steal” or, “Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain.” There are a great many sad hearts in Chicago because so many people have been breaking this commandment. They have been laying up treasures for themselves on Earth, and the fire has swept them away, or the fall in real estate has made them poor, or they have lost their business, and they feel as if they had lost all they had in the world. Their hearts are broken because their treasure is gone; but the difficulty was, they laid up their treasure in the wrong place.
It doesn’t take long to find out where a man’s heart is. It is certain to be along with his treasure. You begin to talk with some men these days, and you find them all taken up with politics. Just mention the names of politicians and their eyes light up at once. They are full of politics; they think more about the presidential election than they do about the election to eternal life.
Why, my friends, perhaps up among the saints and angels they don’t even know there is going to be an election here, or if they do know it they think of it as the merest trifle, hardly worth a moment’s notice.
Then there are others whose hearts are given to pleasure. You just begin to talk to them about the last new play at the theater, or some dance or party, and their eyes light up immediately.
Other people give their hearts to their business. They think about it by day, and dream about it by night. When they go home from the office they haven’t any time to spend with their children, they are so busy in thinking how they can make a few thousand dollars. It is business, business, business all the week, and when they go to church and the minister talks to them about heaven, they go to sleep under the sermon, or else they go on thinking about their business.
An acquaintance of mine was very fond of investing his money in real estate, and when I asked him the reason of it he said, “O, I like to have my property where I can see it.” And this is one reason why people don’t like to lay up treasure in heaven. They forget what the apostle says, “The things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.”
We have a way of saying, “Such and such a man died worth his millions.” Not at all. The man when he died was worth only what he had laid up in heaven. If he were ever so rich in this world, and hadn’t anything laid up there, he actually died a pauper. His heirs and the lawyers got all he had in this world, and when he went into the next he was worth absolutely nothing. Let every one in the house tonight ask himself this question, Where is my treasure? Is it in wealth, in houses, in lands, in money? Possibly these riches may take to themselves wings and fly away. Is it in reputation and honor? The tongues of slander may ruin the one, and you may ruin the other. Is it love and home and friends? Death will come and take them all away.
You remember that just before the Great Chicago Fire, everybody was wild about real estate. If a man only could get a corner lot somewhere he thought his fortune was made. During those days there was a minister down in Illinois who had a son in the real estate business in Chicago, and the old gentleman, being out of health, came up to visit his son and spend some time with him. He was very much troubled to see the young man so entirely given up to making money, and one day he said to him, “I would rather have standing room in the New Jerusalem than all the corner lots in Chicago.” Sometimes when the son was busy he used to get his father to stay in the office for him, and when people came in to talk about real estate, he would show them the lots that were for sale, and then, before they got through, he would always have something to say to them about their souls. The speculating men didn’t like that, and the young man was obliged to send his father out of the office.
“We can’t sell any real estate while the old gentleman is there,” said he; “he is sure to turn men’s minds away by talking to them about treasures in heaven.”
The next thing which we have in heaven is rest. It is a common mistake to think of the Church as a place of rest. No, my friends, the Church is a place for work. “There remaineth, therefore, a rest to the people of God.” You have got an eternity to rest in; surely you do not need to rest in the Church. This is the time for hard work, and that ought to be a joy to you; for your work in the Church may add to the joy of heaven. The Scripture says, “There is joy in heaven over one sinner that repenteth.”
You have heard of that great rich farmer in this state who gave his check for ten thousand dollars to the Christian Commission. When he had done it he took the agent of the Commission up to the top of his house and showed him his farm stretching in every direction as far as the eye could see. “All that you see is mine,” said the farmer, proudly.
“And what have you got up yonder?”
“Well, I don’t know as I have anything laid up in heaven.”
“Is it possible? A man of your sagacity to lay up all your treasure where you will have to leave it all behind you in a little while!”
Before long that man died as he had lived; and what a poor, poor man he must have found himself when he came up before God to give account of his stewardship!
Give me the Christian whose heart is above the world, whose sails are filled with the gales of grace, and who, by the power of the Holy Spirit, sweeps through the stormy waters of this life right up to the port of heaven.