Heaven Cannot Wait

Title: Heaven Cannot Wait

Bible Book: John 14 : 1-6

Author: Johnny L. Sanders

Subject: Salvation; Heaven



Hollywood, in 1978, produced move by the title, Heaven Can Wait, which they labeled as a comedy. There had been another movie by that title in 1943 and I believe it was also listed as a comedy. The 1978 version spawned sermons on heaven all across America. Understandably, pastors would respond to such a title, especially when their members were going to see the movie, and when members drove by theaters every day and read the words on the marque: HEAVEN CAN WAIT. Pastors assured people that they must not adopt that attitude toward heaven. A heaven can wait attitude toward Jesus Christ sent a very handsome, fun loving young man named Joe to hell. In fact, he told one older man who witnessed to him that he might become a Christian when he was older, but “right now I am having too much fun.” He didn’t live three days after, in essence, saying heaven can wait.

In this series from our Lord’s Farewell Discourse, we have looked at the Father, the Son, the Holy Spirit, the Trinity, and the Believer. Now, I would like to look at another subject, Heaven. Before you say, “Everyone knows about Heaven,” let me challenge that for a moment. Have you ever listened to different people express different views about heaven? Do you remember when the Sadducees, who didn’t even believe in a resurrection from the dead, asked Jesus about a woman who married a man who then died. She married his brother, who also died, then another, and so on until she had married seven brothers. Which one, they demanded, would be her husband in Heaven? (Matthew 23:23-28). Jesus proclaimed their question to be foolish because there will be no marriages in heaven (Matt. 23:29-33). Their question was foolish, but we may hear some rather foolish statements about heaven today.

The Mormons have an unbiblical view of heaven. However, if you really want to hear something weird, just check out the Muslim story about heaven, and all the virgins awaiting those Muslims who go out and murder people in the name of a god who does not exist.

When you talk with some Christians you may get the impression that heaven will be a big family reunion. Then, there was the neighbor when I was growing up who announced, “I don’t have to have a mansion in heaven. A shack will do for me. I just want to get there.” The man was reportedly living a life of immorality, greed, and selfishness, even while he was going to church every Sunday.

Billy Graham has told of his great grandmother whose husband, a veteran of the Civil War, who lost a leg in the war. When she was on her deathbed, she declared that she could see him, called his name and declared. “and he has both legs!” I knew a man whose family waited beside his bed in the hospital as he was dying. At one point he asked if they could see the light. They asked what light and he pointed toward the foot of the bed and said, “right there.” He, the family said, saw the Lord coming for him, and then he died.

Do I believe in heaven? Absolutely! Do I know all about it? No. Do I have any doubts about it? No. Do I know I will spend eternity in heaven? Yes. How can I be sure I will be in heaven? I Have the Word of God, the promise of Jesus, and the affirmation of the Holy Spirit on it. Peter was inspired to write:

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. According to His great mercy, He has given us a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that is imperishable, uncorrupted, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who are being protected by God’s power through faith for a salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time” (1 Peter 1:3-5, HCSB).

Paul, in his letter to the Colossians, wrote: “For you have died, and your life is hidden with the Messiah in God. When the Messiah, who is your life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory” (Col 3:3-4, bold added). That is good, but it gets better! Wait until we get into the words of Jesus about heaven in His Farewell Discourse in John 14.


A. He Is the One and Only Creator.

When we think of creation we usually think about the creation of the earth, the sun, moon, stars, the plants and animals of the earth. I know there are countless solar systems and I am not forgetting that some are now telling us that there may be one billion stars in our solar system, and that for every one there is another solar system out there. I trust the Creator of the heaven and the earth to maintain, control, and enjoy all of those “worlds” just as He enjoys ours. I have made several attempts to come up with a Reader’s Digest version of the creation of the heavens and the earth, but found myself running a little long, so I finally decided to condense the article on Heaven in the Holman Bible Dictionary and touch on a few particulars:

“HEAVEN. The part of God’s creation above the earth and the waters including ‘air’ and ‘space’ and serving as home for God and His heavenly creatures. The Hebrew word shamayim is plural in form and was easily related by the common people to the word mayim, ‘waters.’ Biblical writers joined their contemporaries in describing the universe as it appeared to the human eye: heavens above, earth beneath, and waters around and beneath the earth. Heaven could be described as a partition God made to separate the rain-producing heavenly waters from the rivers, seas, and oceans below (Gen. 1:6-8). The heavenly lights—sun, moon, and stars—were installed into this partition (Gen. 1:14-18). This partition has windows or sluice gates with which God sends rain to irrigate or water the earth (Gen. 7:11).

There is a lot more, but that does not serve my purpose today. I want us to move on to the heaven Jesus calls “My Father’s house.”

B. If God Is Our Heavenly Father, Heaven Must be Godly.

If our Heavenly Father created heaven as His abode, it must be an absolutely godly place. Anything less is inconceivable. My son Mark is an interior designer and I have know him to draw house plans for a builder and then take them to an architect for him to draw the plans for that contractor to follow. When it comes to the interior, he is a perfectionist. Before he completed his first semester at Mississippi College, the head of the department and my long time friend, Dr. Sam Gore, was commenting to my wife on the Faculty Art Show Mark set up for the Art Department in a restaurant building that had been sold but would not be open for another month. Dr. Gore said, “Mark could drop out of school and make a living right now. He knows it and he knows he knows it.” Becky and I have been the beneficiaries of a few of his plans, plans which I rarely see at the beginning, but appreciate more as the plans begin to come together.

If my earthly son is that particular with a set of house plans, can you not imagine God’s plans for His house? The Lord has some major advantages over the earthly designer, builder, and occupant. You see, He is the Designer, the Builder, and the Occupant. Heaven is the abode of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, as well as the angels, cherubim, and seraphim that serve Him. It is also the abode of the righteous, those who have been born again by grace, through faith.

Francis Shaeffer once wrote that he ceased being an agnostic when he came to understand the doctrine of the Trinity. He then understood that God did not have to create may in order to have someone with whom He could have fellowship. There has been fellowship in heaven within the Trinity for all eternity.

Since you will know that I am in way over my head with some of this, we need to move on to that which is spelled out more clearly in Scripture.


There Is the Hint of Heaven throughout the Old Testament.

1. There is the creation story in Genesis 1. God created, not only the physical world in which we live, He created the world that is unseen to you and me. Pictures from outer space give us views of the earth no one could have imagined before the space age. America funded a program called SETI, Search for Extra Terrestrial Life in Outer Space many years ago. There are some non-believers who seem to think man can eventually find intelligent life out there somewhere, and some of those people used to assume that the life for which they were searching would be far more intelligent than we earthlings. My response was, if they are so much smarter than we are, let them find us and save us all that money. It also occurred to me that they may not want to be found!

Let me quote from the Holman Bible Dictionary again: “As God’s dwelling place, heaven is not a divine haven where God can isolate Himself from earth. It is the divine workplace, where He sends blessings to His people (Deut. 26:15; Isa. 63:15) and punishment on His enemies (Ps. 2:4; 11:4-7). Heaven is a channel of communication between God and humans (Gen. 28:12; 2 Sam. 22:10; Neh. 9:13; Ps. 144:5).”

2. The Holy Spirit revealed something special about heaven in Psalm 23. This psalm ranks with John 3:16 and the Model Prayer (usually called the Lord’s Prayer) as the most familiar passages in the Bible. Let me share just that part of this great psalm. I have preached many sermons from Psalm 23, but because of time restraints, I will only look at these closing words of this famous Davidic psalm: “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever” (Ps. 23:6, KJV). Translating that to New Testament language and hope, “God’s grace and mercy will follow me all the days of my life and I will dwell in my heavenly Father’s house forever.”


A. The New Testament Is Filled with References to Heaven.

1) When Jesus was baptized, “...there came a voice from heaven: This is My beloved Son. I take delight in Him!” (Matt 3:17).

2) Jesus began His ministry by preaching , “Repent, because the kingdom of heaven has come near!”
(Matt 4:17).

3) In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus preached, “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness, because the kingdom of heaven is theirs” (Matt 5:10, HCSB).

4) In the Model Prayer, Jesus taught, “Therefore, you should pray like this: Our Father in heaven,
Your name be honored as holy. Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven”
(Matt 6:9-10, HCSB).

5) Jesus declared, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will never pass away” (Luke 21:33, HCSB). Jesus knew the Old Testament Scripture perfectly, so He knew that “Heaven stands as a symbol of power and unchanging, enduring existence (Ps. 89:29), but heaven is not eternal. The days come when heaven is no more (Job 14:12; Isa. 51:6). As God once spread out the heavenly tent, so He will wrap up the heavens like a scroll (Isa. 34:4). A new heaven and new earth will appear (Isa. 65:17; 66:22)” (Holman Bible Dictionary).

6) With the imagery of a great messianic banquet, Jesus reveals that life in heaven will be a time of joy, celebration, and fellowship with God (Matt. 26:29).

7) Peter was inspired to write: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. According to His great mercy, He has given us a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that is imperishable, uncorrupted, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who are being protected by God’s power through faith for a salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time” (1 Peter 1:3-5, HCSB, bold added for emphasis).

B. Now, We Will Look at What Jesus Says about His Father’s House, John 14:1-6.

First, let us look at this amazing passage in the familiar King James Version:

“ Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. (2) In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. (3) And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.

(4) And whither I go ye know, and the way ye know. (5) Thomas saith unto him, Lord, we know not whither thou goest; and how can we know the way? (6) Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.”

Now, I would like to look at those same verses in the Holman Christian Standard Bible:

“Your heart must not be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in Me. (2) In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if not, I would have told you. I am going away to prepare a place for you. (3) If I go away and prepare a place for you, I will come back and receive you to Myself, so that where I am you may be also. (4) You know the way where I am going.” (5) “Lord,” Thomas said, “we don’t know where You’re going. How can we know the way?” (6) Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”

1. “ Your heart must not be troubled.” Jesus does not want us to live with doubt, fear, and anxiety. Fear is behind many of the problems in this life. Fear can wreck lives, divide homes, paralyze and immobilize both the poor and the wealthy. It can destroy our dreams, block our paths to success in business, joy in our family, and contentment in our daily life. The money spent on counselors in America alone is mind-boggling. There is a genuine need for counseling in the world, but I realized that something had changed when I was a young pastor and heard the announcement that there had been an explosion at a chemical plant some twelve miles from my home. The announcement also told people where they could go for counseling. Professional counselors were provided by the company at hospitals in the area. Previously, in our area, people would have been encouraged to see their pastor, or told that pastors and church members were available for counseling.

I have a great deal of appreciation for those who provide counseling for those with special needs. I receive some training in Christian counseling in college and two seminaries. I know there is a need for professional counseling, as well as the help one may received from a respected pastor or friend. However, there is a famine in American in the area of Bible based Christian counseling. Fear is a threat to one’s mental health and happiness. I am all for Christian counseling, but troubled by those whose counseling may turn them away from the Lord. I had a good friend who was committed to Bible study, Biblical counseling, and Bible preaching and teaching. Then he began pursuing a counseling degree in a secular university and after several years of study and counseling I began to see a surprising change in his theology. Don’t ask me to explain it, but I observed him for a number of years and concluded that I was not mistaken. I am not saying that would happen with another person, but it did with my friend.

Jesus, in His Farewell Discourse, sought to reassure His disciples so that they would not live with fear. In His last opportunity to counsel His closest disciples before His arrest, trials, and crucifixion, he sought to relieve them of fear for both the present and the future. He knew that most of his apostles would become martyrs, but He could stills encourage them not to fear.

2. “Believe in God; believe also in Me.” The one Person who knows them and loves them has an answer to their fears. In fact, He is the answer. The One to whom all earthly counselors will give an account counseled His closest friends and followers to “Believe in God” and those who believe in the Son will believer in the Father.

3. “In My Father’s house are many dwelling places...” This is amazing: Jesus literally promised His followers a dwelling place in His Father’s “house”! He has the authority to provide a dwelling place in heaven. He is not promising a mansion in glory, He is promising a dwelling place in His Father’s house. Picture this: The door bell rings and a strange man introduces himself and says, “I just met your son and he invited me to move in with you and live with you.” Right, imagine that for a moment. Jesus is doing just that. He is preparing a place for us in His Father’s house.

While some will receive greater blessings in heaven because of the way they lived their lives here on earth, there will be but one class of citizens there. We must not think that in heaven some will live in mansions while others live in shacks. One of the joys of heaven is that all the inhabitants there will be satisfied. There is more: the citizens of Heaven will know the joy of blessings and security forever.

Jesus holds the key to the Father’s house. Those who enter must enter through Him. Those who reject Him will never see the Father’s house. You talk about being on the outside looking in! For all eternity those who reject Jesus will know conscious, eternal, torment, and a part of that agony will be knowing that they are in hell because they rejected Jesus, the Door (John 10) to His Father’s house.

4. “(I)f not, I would have told you.” Jesus had spent three years teaching these young disciples the truth about life, about sin, about redemption, about faith, hope, and charity. He had taught them to pray, not just how to pray. He had taught then to love one another, to serve one another, even to lay down one’s life for one another. Now, in His Farewell Discourse, He is preparing them for that which was about to happen to them. In a few hours they would all abandon him, they would doubt His message, and Simon Peter would even deny that he had ever known Jesus. However, after He was raised from the dead, and after the coming of the Holy Spirit to indwell them, these words must have come to mind many times. John was inspired by the Holy Spirit to record them for us.

5. “I am going away to prepare a place for you.” They did not understand what Jesus meant
at the moment, but they would soon understand, even as we understand today. Jesus was going to return to His Father’s house - He was going back to heaven - to prepare a place for all believers. The Holy Spirit inspired John, the “disciple Jesus loved”, to record these words for everyone who believes in Jesus as Savior and Lord. If you are a born again Christian Jesus has a place prepared for you.

6. “I will come back and receive you to Myself, so that where I am you may be also.” Jesus would be raised from the dead, and that is amazing. But that is not all: Jesus is someday, in a time only the Father in heaven knew, returning to receive His saints unto Himself. Everyone who places his or her faith in Jesus Christ will spend eternity in the place Jesus has prepared for him or her. We can say with Paul, “I know in whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have committed unto Him against that day” (2 Tim. 1:12) That day is coming, my friend: what if it were today?

My younger brother Mike is a well known Christian attorney who does not trade on the word Christian in order to draw business to his firm. Instead, he seeks to honor the Lord through his everyday life and everyday practices. One day he stood before a black judge, with an older black lawyer from a large city from New Orleans representing the other side. That older that older lawyer protested that Mr. Sanders had not given him a copy of some evidence. My brother said, “Your honor, this material is included in the brief, but I would be glad to make a copy and bring it to him tomorrow.”

The older lawyer began to protest, but the judge said, “Mr. Jones, if Mr. Sanders tells you something you can take it to the bank. The older lawyer began to protest again, but the judge said, “Mr. Jones, I told you, if Mr. Sanders tells you something, take it to the bank.” Every believer should live, not as if heaven can wait, but as if Jesus might come today. He just might do it and I will say with John, “Even so, come, Lord Jesus” (Rev 22:20). In the HCSB it is, “Amen! Come, Lord Jesus!”

7. “ You know the way where I am going.” They should have known where He was going, but when was arrested they were frightened, confused, discouraged, even embarrassed. They began to understand when He made various appearances to them, but when they were filled with the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost they began to live the Christ life and see Christ like results. On the Day of Pentecost, Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, preached the first sermon ever preached in the power of the Holy Spirit and three thousand people were saved. “Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound!”

8. “I am the way, the truth, and the life.” I love the “I am” saying in the Gospel According to John, and in my seven volume commentary on John (posted on the SermonCity.Com web site) I give special attention to those “I am” sayings. He is the Bread of Life, the Resurrection and Life, the Door to the sheepfold, the Good Shepherd, and here He says, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.” That covers a lot of territory and it is spoken by the one and only Person who could ever honestly say that. Jesus is the only way anyone will receive eternal life and have a dwelling place in heaven.

Jesus is the truth. He was asked, “What is truth?” Jesus answers that here: He is truth. Let me share something I probably heard someone else say first, since I am not known for such brilliance. I made the statement in a sermon one time that God does not say something because it is true, it is true because He says it. Human beings can say things that are known to be true, but when God says something it is true. When He speaks truth is established. Jesus is not just telling something that is true, He was with the Father when truth was established. He can speak with authority on our dwelling place in His Father’s house.

Jesus is the life. The word life is used 2104 times in the Bible (HCSB). In Genesis 1, we find that God said, “Let there be....”, and in John we read,

“In the beginning was the Word; and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. All things were created through Him, and apart from Him not one thing was created that has been created. In Him was life, and that life was the light of men” (John 1:1-4, HCSB).

Jesus is the source of life, the model for life, the hope of life. He is “the life”, and in Him is eternal life. That means that all true believers will have a dwelling place in His Father’s house. It just does not get any better than that!

9. “No one comes to the Father except through Me.” The Gospel of Jesus Christ is both inclusive (“Whosoever will, let him come”) and exclusive: “There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to people by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12). Only in Jesus Christ is there any hope for redemption and if there is not redemption there will be no place in heaven for anyone.

There is no hope in a Morman Jesus any more than there is hope in the sun or moon. There is no hope in a Muslim Jesus than there is in the stars. But there is more: there is no hope for those who would approach Jesus in any way other than a faith that involves a total surrender to Him. There is no hope in works (Ephesians 2:9) and there is no hope through any combination of works and grace (Rom. 11:6). Salvation is the gift of God to those who come to him through faith in His Son Jesus Christ. Rituals and ceremonies will not produce salvation or guarantee eternal life. Scholars cannot figure it out, but small children embrace Him through a simple faith all the time.

C. You Can Know You Are Going to Heaven if You Know Jesus.

You can know Jesus as Savior and Lord and know that you know you are going to spend eternity with the Father and with the Son in Heaven. The stated purpose in the Gospel According to John is that we may know him:

“Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of His disciples that are not written in this book. (31) But these are written so that you may believe Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and by believing you may have life in His name.” (John 20:30-31, HCSB).

The First Epistle of John was written that we may know that we know Him:

“This is how we are sure that we have come to know Him: by keeping His commands. (4) The one who says, “I have come to know Him,” without keeping His commands, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. (5) But whoever keeps His word, truly in him the love of God is perfected. This is how we know we are in Him: (6) the one who says he remains in Him should walk just as He walked.” (1 John 2:3-6, bold added for emphasis).

The Revelation tells us a lot about heaven, among other things. I have fifty sermons from Revelation posted under sermons on the SermonCity.Com web site. In my youth I observed a lot of questionable attitudes when people discussed end time events. When I prepared those sermons from Revelation I stressed that I did not prepare for scholars, or to please a certain position. I prepared them for the people in our pews and I preached them to our local people. While I personally subscribe to the pre-millennial position with regards to end time events, but I stressed to our people that when you have a problem understanding certain arguments, you can stop and remember: Whatever He is up to I am going to be in on it. You do not have to be able to debate scholar in order to spend eternity in a place prepared for you by Jesus Christ. You simply believe in Him with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength.

Various passages in the Revelation tell us something about heaven and I would encourage you to read this book from time to time. I personally love Revelation 21:1-8:

:Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea existed no longer. (2) I also saw the Holy City, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared like a bride adorned for her husband. (3) Then I heard a loud voice from the throne: Look! God’s dwelling is with men, and He will live with them. They will be His people, and God Himself will be with them and be their God.” (Rev 21:1-3 ).


Do I know I am going to Heaven? Absolutely! There is no question in my mind about it? None! In John 10:28, Jesus said, “I give unto them eternal life, and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of My hand.” I have salvation in Jesus Christ and I cannot lose it accidentally, incidentally, or intentionally. I might deny that I am my earthly father’s son, but DNA evidence would prove me to be a liar. My bond with my heavenly Father through Jesus Christ is much stronger than that. Furthermore, no one can take my salvation away from me.

By grace, through faith, I have come to know the Lord Jesus Christ as my Savior. By grace, through faith, my Lord has recorded my name in the Book of Life. Paul explains how this works, and in doing so gives us assurance that all believers will have a place in heaven, our Father’s house. Paul wrote: For those He foreknew (redemptively) He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son (sanctification), so that He would be the firstborn among many brothers. (30) And those He predestined, He also called; and those He called, He also justified; and those He justified, He also glorified”. (Romans 8:29-30, HCSB).

Say whatever you want to about predestination, this verse tells us that the Lord has predestined and predetermined that all who are justified (saved) should be “conformed to the image of His Son”, and that, my friend, is the best definition there is for Sanctification! All who are redeemed (saved) are already marked down as glorified! Is that amazing or what?

Let me repeat what Peter wrote about this: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. According to His great mercy, He has given us a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that is imperishable, uncorrupted, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who are being protected by God’s power through faith for a salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.” (1 Peter 1:3-5, HCSB, bold added for emphasis).

If you have never asked Jesus to come into your heart and give you eternal life I would encourage you to simply ask Him to forgive your sins and give you everlasting life. If you would like for me to pray with you I would be love to do that. Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you will have everlasting life.

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