What Will We Do in Heaven?

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Revelation 22:1-5

INTRODUCTION: Our message series is called Real Answers about Heaven, and we have been learning from the Bible what heaven will be really like. We have looked at so many topics over the past seven weeks, but one thing we haven’t spent a lot of time talking about yet is what will we do in heaven? We know it’s going to be good, but what will we actually do there?

And the short answer is, “A lot!” If you have ever worried that heaven might be boring in any way, I trust this message will convince you otherwise. (Read Revelation 22:1-5 and pray.)

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One of my favorite books growing up was The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, by Mark Twain. I loved reading it as a kid, and then I also enjoyed reading it out loud to my kids as an adult. (By the way, if you’re looking for books to read out loud to your kids, my top recommendations would be Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan, all seven books from The Chronicles of Narnia series by C.S. Lewis, and then if you’ve got boys, most definitely Tom Sawyer, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, and also Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson.)

But back to Huckleberry Finn. In the opening chapter Huckleberry talks about the perils of living with his guardian, Miss Watson. He tells us:

Miss Watson would say, “Don’t put your feet up there, Huckleberry;” and “Don’t scrunch up like that, Huckleberry – set up straight;” and pretty soon she would say, “Don’t gap and stretch like that, Huckleberry – why don’t you try to behave?” Then she told me all about the bad place, and I said I wished I was there. She got mad then, but I didn’t mean no harm. All I wanted was to go somewheres; all I wanted was a change, I warn’t particular. She said it was wicked to say what I said; said she wouldn’t say it for the whole world; she was going to live so as to go to the good place. Well, I couldn’t see no advantage in going where she was going, so I made up my mind I wouldn’t try for it. But I never said so, because it would only make trouble, and wouldn’t do no good.

Now she had got a start, and she went on and told me all about the good place. She said all a body would have to do there was to go around all day long with a harp and sing, forever and ever. So I didn’t think much of it. But I never said so. I asked her if she reckoned Tom Sawyer would go there, and she said not by a considerable sight. I was glad about that, because I wanted him and me to be together. (Mark Twain, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, chapter 1)

Poor Huck didn’t really understand about heaven or hell, and dear Miss Watson wasn’t helping any.

Even today there are a lot of misconceptions about heaven out there. Some people read cartoons instead of the Bible and think we will be angels sitting on a cloud playing harps. Others think heaven will be like a long, boring church service. Others believe they would be happier in hell with their friends. They foolishly think: “I’d rather be in hell with my friends than in heaven with a bunch of strangers.”

But heaven will be far from boring. It will be full of action and activity. Heaven is not just eternal life. It is eternal living. Think of your very best days here on earth. The ones you wish could go on and on forever. Heaven will be like that. You will live and breathe and worship and work and fellowship and enjoy all the good things of God’s new heaven and new earth in your new resurrection body which will be specially designed to take advantage of all that the new heaven and earth has to offer.

In other words, heaven is going to be a blast. We are not just going to be sitting around. There will be plenty to do. So let’s talk about it.

1) We will worship (Revelation 5:11-14, 7:9-10)

What will we do in heaven? First and foremost, we will worship.

We read in Revelation 5: Then I looked and heard the voice of many angels, numbering thousands upon thousands, and ten thousand times ten thousand. They encircled the throne and the living creatures and the elders. 12 In a loud voice they sang: “Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!” 13 Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them, singing: “To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honor and glory and power, for ever and ever!” 14 The four living creatures said, “Amen,” and the elders fell down and worshiped. (Revelation 5:11-14)

Or again in Revelation 7: After this I looked and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb…. And they cried out in a loud voice: “Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.” (Revelation 7:9-10)

Heaven is first and foremost a place of worship. We learned earlier in our series that there is no temple in heaven because all of heaven is a temple. All of heaven is filled with the glory and presence of God, and we will worship him there in the beauty of his holiness.

The very first question of the Westminster Shorter Catechism asks: “What is the chief end of man?” And the answer is: “Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.” We were designed to worship God. It’s what we were made to do. God is deserving of all worship, and only worshiping him makes us complete, fulfilled, and satisfied.

Did you notice in Revelation 5 one of the predominant phrases in worship was the words: “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain.” Much of our worship in heaven will revolve around Christ and what he did for us at the cross. Jonathan Edwards writes: “And when the souls of the saints leave their bodies, to go to be with Christ, they behold the marvelous glory of that great work of his, the work of redemption, and of the glorious way of salvation by him; which the angels desire to look into.”

(Jonathan Edwards, Sermon III, “True Saints, When Absent From The Body, Are Present With The Lord,” preached on the day of the funeral of the Rev. Mr. David Brainerd, Missionary to the Indians, from the Honorable Society in Scotland for the propagation of Christian Knowledge, and Pastor of a Church of Christian Indians in New Jersey; who died at Northampton in New England, October 9, 1747, in the 30th year of his age, and was interred on the 12th following)

Some of the most deeply moving and fulfilling moments of your life as a believer here on earth are those times of worship when you are swept up in the wonder of God and drawn close to his presence by the Spirit of God. And yet you cannot even begin to compare your worship here on earth with the fullness of joy you will experience when you worship God in heaven. Remember our worship here on earth is just a foretaste of all that is to come.

What will we do in heaven? First of all, we will worship.

2) We will fellowship (Hebrews 12:22-23)

Secondly, we will fellowship. We read this about heaven in Hebrews 12: “But you have come to Mount Zion, to the heavenly Jerusalem, the city of the living God. You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly, to the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven … to the spirits of righteous men made perfect.” (Hebrews 12:22-23)

In our message on “Family Reunion” we talked about the many different types of citizens of heaven. There will be Old Testament believers and New Testament believers and angels and other intelligent creatures and, of course, there will be God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. And we will be perfected in Christ so there will be no more sin or hiding to disrupt our fellowship with each other.

I like what David Jeremiah says about heaven: “In heaven, we’ll have fellowship like never before!… Imagine having the unlimited opportunity to fellowship with people from all ages of history – even people we’ve only read about in books…. We will [also] be able to know and fellowship with our Lord in a way that we cannot possibly comprehend…. Our Savior will be our personal friend, and we will fellowship with Him forever and ever.” (David Jeremiah, Answers to Your Questions about Heaven, Kindle location 407)

3) We will serve (Revelation 7:15, 22:3)

Thirdly, we will serve in heaven. We read in Revelation 7:15: “They are before the throne of God and serve him day and night in his temple.” (Revelation 7:15) And again in Revelation 22:3: “No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him.” (Revelation 22:3)

God is not only worthy of all your worship. He is also worthy to be served. And if we are to serve God in heaven, then that must mean that God has tasks prepared for us. We read in Ephesians 2:10: “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” (Ephesians 2:10) We usually apply that verse to the good works God has prepared for us to do right here on earth. And that is true. But we shouldn’t lose sight of the fact that God has also prepared good works for us to do in heaven.

Everybody serves someone. Whom do you serve right now? Your teacher? Your parents? Your boss? Perhaps the governor or president? Well, no matter whom you serve right now, get ready for a promotion! You are going to be serving the God of heaven. Whom you serve affects how you serve, and those who serve God will serve him gladly.

4) We will work (Isaiah 65:21-23; Revelation 22:3)

What will we do in heaven? We will worship, we will fellowship, we will serve, and fourthly, we will work. We read this about the new heavens and the new earth in Isaiah 65: “They will build houses and dwell in them; they will plant vineyards and eat their fruit…. My chosen ones will long enjoy the works of their hands. They will not toil in vain or bear children doomed to misfortune; for they will be a people blessed by the Lord.” (Isaiah 65:21-23)

Your work is not over when you leave this world. And that is a good thing. We were created to work and to find fulfillment in our work. Remember in the book of Genesis, God’s command to work came before the curse for sin. Right now we don’t always enjoy work because God put a curse on work and turned it into toil and labor. But Isaiah 65:23 says we will no longer “toil in vain.” (Isaiah 65:23) And Revelation 22:3 says: “No longer will there be any curse.” (Revelation 22:3)

The Bible says: “He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1:6). God’s work may be completed in you when Christ returns, but that doesn’t mean your work is done. When you get to heaven, your real work has just begun. For the first time in your life you will be truly complete. It’s like graduating from college with all of the knowledge and skills you need to start your new life.

Author N. T. Wright writes in his book, Surprised by Hope: “There will be work to do and we shall relish doing it. All the skills and talents we have put to God’s service in this present life – and perhaps too the interests and likings we gave up because they conflicted with our vocation – will be enhanced and ennobled and given back to us to be exercised to his glory.” (N. T. Wright, Surprised by Hope, Kindle location 2631) We will work in heaven.

5) We will rest (Isaiah 57:2; Revelation 14:13)

We will work, and we will rest. Isaiah 57:2 says: “Those who walk uprightly enter into peace; they find rest as they lie in death.” (Isaiah 57:2) We read in Revelation 14:13: Then I heard a voice from heaven say, “Write: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.” “Yes,” says the Spirit, “they will rest from their labor, for their deeds will follow them.” (Revelation 14:13)

So, yes, there will be work in heaven, but there will also be rest. We never seem to get it right here on earth. We either work too hard and don’t take enough time for rest, or we lounge around and get so much rest that we don’t feel fulfilled in our work. But we will find the perfect balance when we get to heaven.

And once again, although we will work and work hard, we will permanently rest from the painful toil and labor we experience on this planet as a result of the curse on sin. In heaven your work will be meaningful and fulfilling, and your rest will be sweet.

6) We will rule (Genesis 1:28; Matthew 25:21; Revelation 3:21, 5:10, 22:4-5)

What will we do in heaven? We will worship, we will fellowship, we will serve, we will work, we will rest, and we will rule.

We read in Genesis 1:28 about the first man and woman: God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground.” (Genesis 1:28) Men and women were originally created to rule and reign over the old earth. In heaven we will rule and reign with Christ over the new heaven and new earth.

For example Jesus says in Revelation 3:21: “To him who overcomes, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne.” (Revelation 3:21) Revelation 5:10 says about believers: “You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God, and they will reign on the earth.” (Revelation 5:10) Again we read in Revelation 22:4-5: “They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads … And they will reign for ever and ever.” (Revelation 22:4-5)

Jesus told the parable of the talents in Matthew 25. We read in verse 21: “His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’” (Matthew 25:21) That means you will have new responsibilities in heaven. And as we saw last week when we talked about judgment and eternal rewards, some of those responsibilities will be a direct result of how you have served God here in this life.

Anthony Hoekema wrote an article for Christianity Today called “Heaven: Not Just an Eternal Day Off.” He has some wonderful reflections in this article on how we will rule over the new earth which are well worth repeating. Hoekema writes:

“In the beginning man was given the so-called cultural mandate – the command to rule over the earth and to develop a God-glorifying culture. Because of man’s fall into sin, that cultural mandate has never been carried out in the way God intended. Only on the new earth will it be perfectly and sinlessly fulfilled. Only then shall we be able to rule the earth properly.

“The possibilities that now rise before us boggle the mind. Will there be “better Beethoven” on the new earth, as one author has suggested? Shall we then see better Rembrandts, better Raphaels, better Constables? Shall we read better poetry, better drama, and better prose?

“Will scientists continue to advance in technological achievement, will geologists continue to dig out the treasures of the earth, and will architects continue to build imposing and attractive structures? Will there be exciting new adventures in space travel? Shall we perhaps be able to explore new Perelandras? We do not know. But we do know that human dominion over nature will then be perfect. Our culture will glorify God in ways that surpass our most fantastic dreams.” (Anthony Hoekema, Christianity Today June 2003, “Heaven: Not Just an Eternal Day Off”)

And so heaven will be a place of amazing new activity. We will not just be “up there” in the clouds. We will be down here in the dirt and loving every minute of it. As Michael Wittmer says in his book, Heaven Is a Place on Earth – when we leave this world, it’s just the first leg of a round-trip journey. We’re coming back! When Christ returns to earth, he will bring us back with him. And there will be plenty to do in the new heavens and new earth.

(“Our departure from this world is just the first leg of a journey that is round-trip.” Michael Wittmer, Heaven Is a Place on Earth, Kindle location 162)

7) We will not …

So far we’ve talked about what we will do in heaven. I would like to finish out today’s message by talking about what we will not do. We’ve looked at six things we will do in heaven. Now here are five things we will not do.

   – We will not be bored (Psalm 16:11; Isaiah 65:17-18)

First of all, contrary to Huckleberry Finn, we will not be bored. A lot of people worry that they will be bored in heaven, but there will be no such thing.

The Bible tells us heaven will be a place of joy and pleasures and delight. We read in Isaiah 65:17-18: “Behold, I will create new heavens and a new earth. The former things will not be remembered, nor will they come to mind. But be glad and rejoice forever in what I will create, for I will create Jerusalem to be a delight and its people a joy.” (Isaiah 65:17-18) Psalm 16:11 says: “You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.” (Psalm 16:11)

We’ve already seen that heaven will be a place full of activity with plenty to do. Michael Wittmer writes: “Houses, vineyards, kings, and wealthy nations – these words signal a world of cultural activity on the new earth…. So the new earth will be an exciting, interesting place to be. We will be always growing, always learning more about ourselves, the world, and God.” (Michael Wittmer, Heaven Is a Place on Earth, Kindle location 2989)

Elyse Fitzpatrick writes: “Imagine … life without boredom. Or deadlines. Or endings. Imagine a life full of learning and exploration and dominion and strength and life. Imagine work that’s satisfying and meaningful and offered gladly for the benefit of others. That’s it … life on the New Earth!” (Elyse Fitzpatrick, Home: Heaven & the New Earth, Kindle location 1080)

And because there is no death or dying in heaven, there will be plenty of time for us to do all the things we want to do. As Peter Kreeft writes: “After death there will be all the time in the world – more than all the time in the world – to learn, to savor, to sink totally into the meaning of everything.” (Peter Kreeft, Everything You Ever Wanted to Know about Heaven, p. 18)

But the main reason we won’t be bored is because of God. Why won’t we be bored in heaven? Peter Kreeft writes: “Because we are with God, and God is infinite. We never come to the end of exploring Him. He is new every day.… Because we are with God, and God is love. Even on earth, the only people who are never bored are lovers.” (Peter Kreeft, Everything You Ever Wanted to Know about Heaven, p. 62)

So you will not bored in heaven. You can put that thought right out of your mind.

   – We will not hurt or be hurt (Isaiah 65:25; Revelation 21:4)

Secondly, we will not hurt or be hurt. We read in Isaiah 65:25: “‘They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain,’ says the Lord.” (Isaiah 65:25) And in Revelation 21:4: “There will be no more pain.” (Revelation 21:4) We do a lot of hurting and being hurt here in this life. But there will be no more hurting or sickness or pain in heaven. You won’t hurt anyone else, and no one or no thing will hurt you either.

   – We will not hunger or thirst (Revelation 7:16-17)

Thirdly, we will not hunger or thirst. We read in Revelation 7:16: “Never again will they hunger; never again will they thirst. The sun will not beat upon them, nor any scorching heat. For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd; he will lead them to springs of living water.” (Revelation 7:16-17)

Now I sometimes wonder if that simply means we won’t experience the negative effects of hunger and thirst in heaven. We know we will eat and drink in heaven, and so it’s possible we will experience hunger and thirst in a good way, in the sense that we will desire food and drink and then be satisfied in eating and drinking. We don’t know for sure, but we do know that no one will go hungry or thirsty in the negative sense of needing food or water and being deprived.

   – We will not mourn or cry (Isaiah 65:19; Revelation 7:17, 21:4)

Fourthly, we will not mourn or cry. God says in Isaiah 65:19: “I will rejoice over Jerusalem and take delight in my people; the sound of weeping and of crying will be heard in it no more.” (Isaiah 65:19) We read in Revelation 7:17: “God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.” (Revelation 7:17) And in Revelation 21:4: “There will be no more mourning or crying.” (Revelation 21:4)

Once again, I believe this means we will not mourn or cry in a negative way, that is, crying from hurt or from pain. It is very possible we will still shed tears of joy or laughter or tears of emotion welling up from deep experiences of beauty in heaven. Not all tears are bad tears, and as we’ve said before, if it’s good and it’s possible, either it will be in heaven, or something better will be.

   – We will not sin or die (Isaiah 65:20; Hebrews 12:23; Revelation 21:4)

And then fifthly and finally, we will not sin or die.

Hebrews 12:23 talks about coming in heaven “… to the spirits of righteous men made perfect.” (Hebrews 12:23) One of the great truths of Scripture is that we will be perfected in heaven. Here on earth when we trust Christ as Savior we are saved first from the penalty of sin. Then as we grow in Christ we are saved more and more from the power of sin. But in heaven we will be saved even from the very presence of sin. We will not sin, and we will not even desire to sin. As Robert Peterson puts it: “Resurrected and transformed believers will be as incapable of sinning as they are of undoing Christ’s death and resurrection. That is victory indeed!” (Christopher Morgan, Heaven, Kindle location 3669)

We will not sin, and therefore, we will not die. We have looked at Isaiah 65 a number of times this morning and its various descriptions of the new heaven and the new earth. There is a very interesting description in verse 20: “Never again will there be in it an infant who lives but a few days, or an old man who does not live out his years; he who dies at a hundred will be thought a mere youth; he who fails to reach a hundred will be considered accursed.” (Isaiah 65:20)

This verse gives us a description of heaven in earthly terms. It does not mean that we will just live longer in heaven but still eventually die. Rather it is a poetic way of saying we will indeed live forever in the new heaven and new earth. And just in case there is still any doubt, we read in Revelation 21:4: “There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” (Revelation 21:4)

CONCLUSION: So what will we do in heaven? Will we just sit around on clouds paying harps all day? No! We will worship, we will fellowship, we will serve, we will work, we will rest and we will rule. We will not be bored, we will not hurt or be hurt, hunger or thirst, mourn or cry, sin or die.

Heaven is a perfect place designed for perfected people. Sin and all its consequences will be completely removed. We will enjoy all of the good things God intended and none of the bad things that resulted from sin.

Don’t be a Huckleberry Finn and make the mistake of choosing hell over heaven. Hell will be a lonely place full of pain, weeping and regret. Heaven will be full of worship, people, family, friends, laughter, creativity, productivity and joy.

Basically, heaven is going to be a blast. So where would you rather be? Christ offers you heaven. He offers you salvation even today.

© Ray Fowler

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