Heaven Is Like...
One Wildwood pastor is conducting a sermon series about how miracles on Earth help us to see what heaven is like. His sermons lead up to some ways we can think of the tragedies of Sept. 11.
Rev. Michael McIntyre said Sunday it never was God's plan for humans to experience heaven only after death.
"This life was supposed to be paradise; that's what God intended all along," he said.
McIntyre is conducting a four-week series on the "Promise of Heaven and the Afterlife" as lead pastor at Living Word United Methodist Church in Wildwood. Click here to hear an audio or watch a video of his first sermon Sunday.
McIntyre said ever since Adam and Eve, God has tried to bring wholeness back to this world. He said there is no darkness, disabilities, or pain in heaven; only complete healing.
"God planned for us to live in heaven all along," he said. "That's why it greatly affects the way we live here on Earth. We shouldn't be waiting for heaven, we should be working toward it."
He said he believes heaven gives us the hope we need to face our immortality and the brokenness of earthly realizations, such as corruption, wars, natural disasters, economic crises and hatred.
McIntyre said after teaching many years of Bible study classes, he has seen a pattern in the questions people ask about heaven. It typically comes down to these four:
- Will I be me in heaven?
- How does the Bible describe heaven?
- Will my pets go to heaven with me?
- Will there be marriage in heaven?
To songwriter and performer Billy Joel for "Tears in Heaven" as performed by Eric Clapton, McIntyre said yes, we will know each other's names in heaven and there will no more tears. "It will be better than we can possibly imagine."
Here are previews of the remaining three weeks of this sermon series, as stated on Living Word's website:
Aug. 28 - “Judgment” Romans 2:13-16
The Bible is very clear—God does not want anyone to go to hell. In fact, God’s doing everything He can to keep you out and to give you life. But God does allow you to choose. Don’t make any mistake; hell is a choice. If you blow off God all of your life and say, "I don’t need you God.” If God has shared himself with you all of your life and you still say "No, I’m not interested." Why would God force you to be in his presence forever? God gives to all of us exactly what we want. God doesn’t do a lot of damning on the last day, but God does say: "Have it your way."
Sept. 4 - “Resurrection” 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18
Do we go to heaven the moment we die, or do we sleep in death until Jesus comes back? What will we look like in heaven? Will we know each other? We will look at these questions as we explore the foundational Christian understanding of resurrection. Belief in the resurrection positively affects our life, for the promise of resurrection enhances life here on earth and gives to us a strength to keep going when life here gets dark. The promise of the resurrection makes us better human beings, so that we can in turn be an incarnate form of God’s love for others.
Sept. 11 - “Eternal Life" Revelation 21:1-4; 21:22-22:6
Without question, September 11, 2001, was a turning point in history, as the United States was attacked by terrorists on its own native soil. Like no other event in recent memory, the nearly 3,000 lives lost on that day not only made us aware of our own vulnerability and mortality, but forced many to consider even deeper issues. What, really, happens to our lives when we die? Will we "live on" only in peoples' memories? Can a life that was created by God really be snuffed out, completely and permanently, so easily? If it is true that God created us for a purpose, how can our individual stories, which combine both beautifully and tragically to create the human story, end in such a seemingly meaningless way? Surely, our hearts cry, we were made for more than this. Surely, our spirits affirm, we were made for eternity.