Today, Jonathan Pokluda discusses the topic of eternity. What does the Bible say about eternity? How does what the Bible teach differ from popular thinking? Listen in as JP answers these questions by taking a closer look at Psalm 16, "The Golden Psalm of David."
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All right. Good. Good. Well, let me just start with a question then. By show of hands, how many people know who the guys in the video are? By show of hands. Okay. Grandma, you're not sure. "Is that Snoop Dogg? I don't know." All right. I think 9:00 beat you guys. Not that it's a competition, but it's a competition. That's Wiz Khalifa and Charlie Puth. Yep. That's them. Here is why you might know who they are. I know a lot of you… Okay, let's just be honest. Most of you are still very much in the dark. You're like, "Wiz who?"
Why some people raised their hands is because they have the number-one song in the country right now. The number-one song on the Hot 100 chart is "See You Again." It's also the number-one song in six countries right now, making it the number-one song in the entire world right now. It's been sitting and holding that record. It holds a lot of records, like the most-streamed song in a single day at 4.2 million streams. Yep. It holds that record. The most-streamed song in a single week at 22 million streams. Yep. It holds that record.
It comes from the movie… It's a tribute to Paul Walker who died during the filming of Furious 7, the most recent The Fast and the Furious movie, but this song has held fast. Some of you are still like, "I don't care. Why are we talking about it?" Here's why. First, because we're moving through a series called Lyrics where we're taking the lyrics from a popular song and we're comparing and contrasting them to the lyrics from a psalm from the Scriptures, authored by the Creator of the heavens and the earth.
That's the series we're in, but here is why you should care: because Wiz and Charlie are doing more to inform the world's theology of eternity than anyone else in the entire universe. Than anyone on the planet, I'll say, more accurately. Wiz and Charlie have informed people's idea, their theology, their learnings, their beliefs about the afterlife more than we have. They're doing a better job than the church.
Frankly, there are a lot of you here this morning who, some of you, your beliefs about eternity are more in line with what Wiz and Charlie think than with what the Bible teaches. So we're going to dive into a psalm today. We're going to be in Psalm 16, if you want to turn there. Let's just look at these lyrics. Charlie sings:
It's been a long day without you, my friend
And I'll tell you all about it when I see you again
We've come a long way from where we began
Oh, I'll tell you all about it when I see you again
When I see you again
In theory this is a song to Paul Walker who, by my very best account and best research, was a professing follower of Jesus Christ. Who knew? Yeah. I didn't either, but he did go on record saying, "I'm a Christian. I've converted from the Church of Latter-Day Saints at an early age in a nondenominational church. These are my beliefs." I don't know Paul; I don't know if he was really a Christian. I don't presume to know where he is today, but I know he is somewhere.
Here is what I know. I know Wiz is not a Christian. He has gone on record. Not a Christian. As much as there is on the Internet about Charlie Puth, YouTube sensation, there is not a single thing about his faith, which makes me think he's not a Christian, certainly not living it out, taking opportunities to be a light. As they sing songs like "I'll See You Again," it's just not true. It feels good. It's fun to sing. Great beat, strong rhythm. It's just not true, unless our Sovereign Lord… I've been praying for Wiz and Charlie all week, so hopefully God will do something.
Here are Wiz's lines. I'm going to try not to rap, but I can't make any promises. He says, "Dang." That's my effort to clean that up.
Dang, who knew?
All the planes we flew
Good things we've been through
That I'll be standing right here talking to you
'Bout another path
I know we loved to hit the road and laugh
But something told me that it wouldn't last
Had to switch up
Look at things different, see the bigger picture
Those were the days
Hard work forever pays
Now I see you in a better place (see you in a better place)
I like the way it sounds. You see, a lot of our theologies… This is the wisdom of the age right now. You die. You go to a better place. Everybody is going to be there, hang out, catch up. "Man, how have you been?"
"Man, what were you…? I've been up here for a while. What have you been doing? How are the kids? How's the family?"
"Man, I missed you."
"Oh, I've been watching from up here."
These are all things, theories, ideas, and theologies we come up with. We make them up. Do you know what they're grounded in? Do you know why they're dangerous? Because they're anchored in imagination. They're anchored in thoughts, feelings, and emotion. No truth. In fact, if somebody says, "Hey, I believe that. All roads lead there…"
Okay, cool. Show me something, show me someone who went there, came back, and says, "All roads lead here." Show me something beyond what you want to feel and what you want to believe is true, something I can hold fast to, because I want to believe that. That's amazing! Everyone gets there? That's awesome. I'm going to see them again. That's great. That will preach at a funeral; it's just not true. It's just not anchored in any truth.
I think a lot of people have bought into the teachings of Oprah, Rob Bell, and pastors on TV who say things like this that feel really, really good. Here is what they're saying. "If I was God, this is what I would do." One problem. You're not God, and it's not what he said he does. As followers of Jesus Christ, we have a burden to know what he does say.
There is a burden on us to know what he says, and not only that, but to teach others and to explain it. I think we kind of view eternity like this thing we can't see beyond. A lot of us have never gone and put forth the effort to know and understand what the Bible actually teaches. We've bought books, read certain things, tabloids and even articles. It's like this…
My family and I just got back from vacation this week. We were spending some time with my parents and my siblings. Monica, my wife, and our three kids, Presley, Finley, and Weston, were there. We stayed at a cabin on a lake that we rented. We get there, and the kids come inside. They go upstairs, and upstairs in the cabin is this loft. When they're up in the loft… You know, kids just kind of explore around. They want to see where they're going to sleep and all that fun stuff. They're with their cousins, and it's a good time.
Upstairs in this loft is this little door. Not like a six-foot door, like a miniature door. Now, I know what it is; it's an added crawlspace. But to kids, they see a little miniature door and their imagination just runs wild. I'm listening to them. They're like, "What's behind the door?" I'm like, "I don't know. What's behind it?"
One of them goes, "I bet that's where the trolls live." I'm like, "Oh, no! The trolls. What kind of trolls, and who's going to want to sleep in here when there are trolls on the other side of the door?" Another one says, "No, no, no, no. That's where the treasure is kept." I'm like, "Treasure? What kind of treasure? Tell me more about this treasure." Their imaginations keep going on. One goes, "No. There's a monster back there." I'm like, "Oh, man! What kind of monster?"
Then Presley, my 8-year-old daughter, has fun. She goes and gets the courage to kind of crack the door open. She looks in there, and then she shuts it real quick. She puts her back to it and makes a face. Then everybody is like, "Oh no!" They just keep talking about what's behind the door, and their imaginations are running wild.
This is what we've done with eternity. "What's behind the door?" "I don't know. Maybe it's a reunion. Maybe it's a party. Maybe we're going to worship God for a couple hundred thousand years on our faces. Maybe we're going to be in clouds and have harps. I don't know." Our imaginations don't have to run wild. The Lord has said a lot about this. He's been there, started there, came here, went back, lives there.
So we can go into Psalm 16 this morning. I'm talking about living with the hope of eternity. What you believe about eternity impacts how you live here. Living with hope of eternity. The path I'm going to take you on is we are first going to talk about verses 1-4, the people of eternity; then, verses 5-8, the pleasures of eternity; then finally, verses 9-11, the promise of eternity.
This psalm is written by King David. It's written with eternity being the backdrop. You're going to have to trust me for now until we get there. You'll kind of be reading this and you're like, "What does this have to do with eternity?" but know it is the backdrop of this psalm.
It's called the Golden Psalm of David, written somewhere around 1044 BC, so 1,000 years before Jesus shows up on the scene, David writes this psalm. This is his mantra. This is his life motto. If you're going to have a mantra, if you're going to have a life motto, I'm telling you right now this is a good one. Psalm 16 is a great one to have. This is the man after God's own heart who writes these words.
Verse 1: "Keep me safe, my God, for in you I take refuge. I say to the Lord, 'You are my Lord;
apart from you I have no good thing.'" This is the theme of the psalm. David goes to God for protection and provision. David knows the Lord is his source of protection and provision. Where it says, "I say to the Lord, 'You are my Lord…'" in the Hebrew it's, "I say to Yehovah," a name only for God, "You are my Adonai," which is a name for kings, rulers, authority. What's he saying? Something really key, right up top.
"God, Creator of the heavens and the earth, you are the one I am submissive to. I know you are there, and so I live my life here like you're there. You're watching me. You're intimately involved in my life. You are my source of protection and provision." I don't just have this idea that there is a God. "Yeah, there is a God. I don't know him." I know him. I walk with him. I'm in relationship with him. He impacts everything I do.
"I say of the holy people who are in the land, 'They are the noble ones in whom is all my delight.' Those who run after other gods will suffer more and more. I will not pour out libations of blood to such gods or take up their names on my lips."
1._ The people of eternity._ David separates the people in the land into two categories. There are the holy people who know he is God. They live as though God, Jehovah, is the authority in their lives. They're his brothers and sisters. He fellowships with them. There are these other people; they worship other gods. He has nothing to do with those people. He is not interested in taking their god's name on his lips.
So who are the people of eternity? Frankly, Wiz and Charlie, they're the ones we'll see again. That's right. The ones we'll see again, forever and ever and ever in God's kingdom. The ones we can say to, "We'll see you again." Now to understand there are these people and then there are other people, we have to unlearn some things, because in Dallas you're kind of like, "Well, in Dallas, everybody is a Christian. If they say they're a Christian, they must be a Christian. We'll see them again."
Jesus actually says most people are going to hell. It's not popular. It says that in Matthew 7, in case you're like, "What? He says what?" He did say that. He said, "Wide is the road that leads to destruction, and many will find it." These are the words of Jesus. Graceful, grace-filled Jesus. Peace-keeping Jesus. "Wide is the road that leads to destruction. Many will find that road, but narrow is the path that leads to life, and very few will find it."
This burdens us this morning. "Few will find the path that leads to life." That's the minority who find that path. So who are those who don't find that path? They're the ones who pursue the gods of this world. As my friend, Garrett, says, "Those who worship power, pleasure, and pennies will experience pain."
This impacts who we hang out with and how, so a question I ask when I'm going to hang out with somebody is…Will I influence them or will I be influenced by them? I have an old group of friends, most whom are not Christians. Sometimes I'm invited to a party. I'm excited. I'll go. I'm like, "Oh. A ministry opportunity." There is one particular time, I'm on the way to a party. I'm praying, "Lord, give me strength."
I begin to realize kind of what that party is and what's going on. I'm like, "I'm going to get there. Nobody is going… It's not like I'm going to have a pulpit and a Bible. 'Hey, guys. Gather around. Sermon on the Mount.' I'm going to get there, and I'm going to be influenced by these people." I U-turn. I'm like, "I'm not going to go there. I'm not doing ministry to them. Frankly, they're going to be doing ministry to me, but their gods are different than mine."
So that's a question I ask. Will I have influence or will I be influenced by those people? Here is my controversial statement: You should only hang out with people you intend to be in eternity with. Let me say it again so you can disagree with me more surely in your heart. Ready? Are you ready? You should only hang out with people you intend to spend eternity with. "Wait a minute, JP. Jesus hung out with sinners." He did. Why? To influence them towards eternity, to show them the way to eternity.
Your life now has a purpose. Do you see what just happened? Now every relationship you have exists for one or two reasons. Are these brothers and sisters who I'd better get along with because I'm going to be with them for a really, really, really, really, really long time? Or are these people who I hope to be with for a really, really, really, really long time? Every relationship has eternal implications.
Did I just tell you not to hang out with nonbelievers? No. I said when you hang out with nonbelievers, make sure you hang out with them with the intentions of influencing them towards eternity. Make no mistake about it; They worship other gods than you do. Power, pleasures, and pennies. Be cautious not to take their gods' names on your lips.
We do ministry to nonbelievers, and we do ministry with believers. We do ministry to non-Christians and with Christians. Why? Because we don't belong to this fallen world. We belong to a redeemed kingdom, a perfect one. It will be this world. If you're curious, Jesus comes back here. Heaven is here. Heaven will be here, ultimately.
After Jesus comes back, we're going to live here forever and ever and ever. Right here. That's true. It's going to be perfected. No weeping, no crying, no death, no cancer, no tears. It's going to be amazing. No sin. Fully in the presence of God. It will be here, but we don't belong to the broken world we live in right now.
The other night, I was tucking my girls in (Presley and Finley). They share a room. We go through this nightly ritual. We read a story and say our prayers. I kiss them on the forehead and go turn on their humidifier. I'm walking out the door and one of them says, "Daddy, I have a question." Stall tactic. I've been here. "Okay. What's your question?" "Are there such things as aliens?" I looked her in the eyes. I go, "Yes," turned off the light, and left.
"Oh. Wait, wait. What kind of aliens?"
"You know. From outer space."
"Oh. I doubt it."
She goes, "What?" I go, "Well, the Bible doesn't talk about them, so I doubt it. They're either not important or not real. I don't know. God didn't tell us about them, but he does talk about aliens." "Really? Who are the aliens, Daddy?" "We are." She's confused. I'm like, "That's right. You live in a family of aliens." She goes, "What are you talking about?" I go, "The Bible calls us strangers and aliens." "What does that mean?"
I said, "That means we're living in a world we don't belong to. We live in a broken world. We serve a God who is going to come back. We serve this King of a foreign land who is going to come back and take this world back over. Then it will be our kingdom, but until then we don't belong here. We live as aliens, belonging to another universe, another world, another realm, a spiritual realm you can't see."
She's like, "Really?" I'm like, "Yes. It's amazing." She goes, "But not all aliens will go there." I said, "What do you mean?" She goes, "Well, some go to… You know." She can't look at me. I'm like, "Do you mean hell?" She nods her head. I go, "No. No aliens go to hell. See, people who make this world their home go to hell. People who have rejected the one true King go to hell. Those aren't aliens. They belong here. They've made this place their home, but aliens, those of which we are a part of, we will be with God, our King, forever and ever and ever and ever."
This is what David is saying. He's saying it's alien talk. He's saying, "There are people who belong to the Lord and people who don't, and it matters in light of eternity." Some of us, we think about heaven as this reunion. We're frankly like Wiz and Charlie. When we think about heaven, where our minds go is, "Oh, man. I get to see Grandma again. It's going to be amazing."
I don't mean to make light of that because I know losing someone is really hard. I know from experience. Losing someone to eternity is a really difficult thing to go through. Sometimes it feels like God took them away. We go through all of these emotions, but if what we get most excited about is a reunion with a person then we've missed out on the amazing truth of eternity. Some of us, when we think about eternity, it looks like this.
It looks like a reunion of friends. I'm just like, "That looks like a bad Lifetime special, you know?" Like, seriously? I'm bored already if that's heaven. We're going to be sitting on steps just talking to each other? Catching up, like a bad high school reunion? Heaven is so much more than that. Eternity is so much more than that. What we do with people here matters. When we see people in light of the promise of eternity, we prioritize relationships accordingly.
Let me say that again. When we see people in light of the promise of eternity, we prioritize relationships accordingly. It's important. Verse 5: "Lord, you alone are my portion and my cup; you make my lot secure." David says, "God, you are what I need. I have no desire to seek other gods because I know I will be with you one day. My lot is secure." Then listen to this. This is a beautiful verse. We don't know it. It's worth memorizing. "The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance."
Did you hear that? What a statement of great contentment. "Where I am is right where the Lord wants me. Surely delightful things will come my way. My boundary lines have fallen in pleasant places." "I will praise the Lord, who counsels me; even at night my heart instructs me.""I have peace. I have direction." "I keep my eyes always on the Lord. With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken.""There is no problem I cannot endure with God. I find pleasure in him."
2._ The pleasures of eternity._ From this psalm, let's talk about the pleasures of eternity. In the pleasures of eternity, because the psalm goes there, we're going to talk about the problems in this world also. The pleasures of eternity… Let me tell you this up front. The hope of future pleasures helps us resist the temptations of fleeting pleasures. The hope of future pleasures helps us to resist the counterfeit pleasures here, the temptation of fleeting pleasures. Why? Because we're satisfied by God.
Now for a lot of us, this is an abstract idea you have heard preachers say, and you have no idea what it means. We're satisfied by the pleasures of an eternal God. See, a lot of us this morning, we're going through the world hungry. Do you ever go into the grocery store hungry? What happens? You start to buy things you don't need. You start to load up that cart.
You go there for bread and milk. You're just like, "Man, I'm hungry. Waffles. Cereal. Candy. Oh, look at this drink. I just saw that commercial. Case." You get to the checkout line, and you're like, "I'm here for bread and milk. I forgot bread and milk, but I got all this. What am I doing?" You get in the car and you're like, "What did I just do?" You went to the grocery store hungry. Some of us are going through the world hungry.
We have this eternity-sized hole in our hearts we're trying to fill with the things of this world like we have to experience all the pleasures of this world because there's nothing after it. We're going through and we're like, "Oh. I have to date them. I need that attention, to get a house, a better neighborhood, need a lake house, have to get that thing, that thing, that car, that boat, these things, this watch, these trinkets, treasures." Like I'm going to keep this stuff forever. Like I'm going to take it with me. Like this is all there is, pursuing the pleasures of this world.
Some of us even think that's what heaven is. Our view of heaven is so small. It's like, "Well, the fleshly desires of this world, it must be that in heaven forever and ever and ever." But every pleasure here (of God's pleasures) is either counterfeit or commercial. Every pleasure we experience in this world is either counterfeit (it's not what God has intended; it's some gross shortcut, some sugary-filled thing that's going to make us feel gross afterwards), or it's a commercial.
Do you know what I mean by commercial? Like you're walking through the woods, the forest. The sun is coming perfectly through the leaves and the branches. All is right in the world. It's 70 degrees. You hear the birds chirping, and you're just at peace. It's just a commercial of the amazing beauty of God's kingdom forever.
When it feels perfect here, it's just a commercial of what will one day be perfect. Perfect in God's world. So he says, "The thought of our inheritance give us peace. In our place are pleasant places. Our boundary lines have fallen in pleasant places." The Lord is in charge of where we live, and when I live. The hope of an inheritance gives me peace here. What does this mean?
Have you ever been at work the week before vacation? You've planned a vacation. You're going on vacation. You've done the work. You went Mexico, all-inclusive. Beach. It's going to be amazing. Some problems come to you at work. You're just like, "Eh. Who cares? Vacation. Friday." Have you ever been there? Usually these problems that are coming at you, they would take you to monster.com. "I'm probably… I shouldn't be here. This isn't the Lord's will. I knew it. This problem just is the icing on the cake. I hate my job. I want to quit right now."
That would be the normal week, but because of this week, because you know beautiful mountains or beautiful beaches or both sit… On Friday you're going to be on a plane going somewhere amazing, all-inclusive where they're going to be like, "How can help you?" You're just like, "Eh. It's okay. No big deal." Everything is falling apart. "Eh. Vacation. Friday."
We're all about to go on vacation. Are you tracking with me? Compared to eternity, 80 years, 70 years, 60 years, is even shorter than a week. You're all about to go on vacation, so when those problems come at you… I know there are some real big problems. I get it. I'm in pastoral ministry. I get it.
Big, heavy, crazy, huge problems. Life is really, really hard. The world is really, really broken. But another world awaits you. When you see everything, when you see the problems through that lens, they change form, they change shape. When we see problems in light of the promise of eternity, we persevere.
Paul says it like this in 2 Corinthians 4:16-18… I'm just going to give you a heads up. He is going to call your problems light and momentary. You're going to be like, "Dude, you don't even know. Cancer. Lost my dad. You have no idea. Surgery. You have no idea. Don't you dare." Keep in mind, before you go there, this brother saw friends beheaded, was shipwrecked three times, was bitten by snakes, was whipped, beaten. They thought they killed him, dragged him outside the city, and put him with the trash. He knew hard times.
He says, "Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal." How you live in this world points to what you believe about eternity. When we see problems in light of the promise of eternity, we persevere. We persevere.
Eternity is something we long for, but people say silly things about it. They're like, "No, no. I can't wait for heaven. I just want to get married first." I'm just like, "What? The Bridegroom waits for you. I don't know. Have you read about it? You want to get married first?" I've been there. I remember the week of my wedding. I'm like, "Okay, Jesus. You're going to come back sometime. Maybe not this week, you know? Let's postpone that until after the 'I do.' Or after the honeymoon, better yet." I've been there.
People will say things to me… Like now, I think after I spend some time in the Scriptures understanding the amazing beauties of heaven, I'm like, "I'm ready to go. Lord, take me tonight. I want to be with you. The only reason you should leave me here is because there are people around me dying, not going to be with you forever, and you would use me to change that. If it's not that, take me home."
They'll say things like, "JP, don't you want to walk your girls down the aisle?" I'm like, "Yeah. But instead of going to heaven? No. Do I want to go to a wedding I'm going to pay for or the wedding feast? Like the wedding feast in God's kingdom, the presence, the beauty. It's God. He owns the cattle on a thousand hills. It's his party. I'm going to that party." My party I'm like, "Uh. Yeah. We're going to have doughnuts. I don't know. I'm going to his party. And no, I don't need it."
They're like, "Well, wait. Who is going to be their dad?" I'm like, "I don't know. Do you think God needs me? Like as soon as I get up everything falls apart down here? I hope…" I mean, come on. Seriously. Sometimes in my arrogance I might think that, but that's foolishness, stupidity on my part. God doesn't need me. "I'm ready, God. Take me." I was going to say, "Wait till I finish this sermon," but no. "If you want to right now, I'm ready. They'll figure it out." It's going to be amazing, guys. That's all I'm saying. Like so much more amazing than we think.
I'm embarrassed to tell you this. When I was going through adolescence, I had this friend. We went to Catholic school together. His was the house you would go to if you wanted to watch R-rated movies and eat a lot of chocolate. You would go to his house and do that. He had this poster on the wall. It was this Lamborghini, and all these girls surrounded it in scantily clad bathing suits, kind of. They were all around this car.
I remember sitting on his bed in his room. I'm saying, "Yeah. Heaven. That's it. Lamborghinis and bikinis, God. You and me. It's going to be amazing." I wasn't even being funny. I didn't know it was going to be in a sermon later. That's what I believed as an adolescent young man. That's what heaven is: it's more of the things I didn't get to experience that my flesh desired here.
Those things are counterfeit. Our view of heaven is so small that some of us, in fact, when we think about heaven, this is actually what we would picture and imagine: fancy houses and nice cars. Our view of heaven is silly, is small, is tiny. It's rooted in our experience and what we didn't get to experience.
Heaven is more of God, our pleasures fulfilled by the only One who can. Not a fleeting grocery store visit of trinkets and treasures, but our pleasures fulfilled by the only One who can. David says, "Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices…" Why? Why is his heart glad and his tongue rejoices? "…my body also will rest secure, because you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead…"
There is this other realm. Sheol it says, which is the grave. David doesn't even understand the depths of what he's talking about, that there is another place, the outer darkness, where there's weeping and gnashing of teeth. Jesus says, "That's where are most people, to my tragedy, those who rejected my payment. That's where a lot of people go. I came here so that wouldn't be. I tried to rescue them. But most people, when they get there and they expect to see Lamborghinis and bikinis, they see fire.
"Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest secure, because you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead nor will you let your faithful one…" Your Bible might say holy one. "…nor will you let [your holy one] your faithful one see decay. You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand."
Did you hear that? "…eternal pleasures at your right hand." Those commercials? Those counterfeit pleasures? I have eternal pleasures at his right hand. Eternal pleasures. Not fleeting pleasures. Eternal pleasures at his right hand. Here's what he is saying…
3._ The promises of eternity._ You don't have to go to hell. No one has to go there. Jesus said, "Hey. Those things you did, terrible things… You deserve hell, but I paid for them. I purchased your ticket into eternal pleasures. You have a ticket if you trusted in me. That pornography? That went on me. That ADD disorder? That went on me. That adultery? That went on me. I paid for it.
That materialism, those trinkets and treasures you were collecting? On me. I paid for it so you could be with me forever and ever and ever in the eternal pleasures of my God, the One who created the heavens and the earth. I don't want anyone to go there." The Lord does not want anyone to perish, but he is patient with you, it says. The promise of eternity. This is good news for us.
How can we know there's an afterlife? "How can you be so sure, JP?" Here's how. Someone went there. They came back, and they told me. I'm not talking about Colton Burpo. He wrote Heaven is for Real, in case you're wondering who that is. It does shock me, frankly, that when Christians read that, they get excited. Like, "Oh, man! I just found out heaven is for real." We already knew that. I read another book that said it was for real. It already said that.
I'm not saying Colton didn't go to heaven. I don't know if he did. I don't presume to know. I'm just saying I don't need his testimony to know heaven is for real. These books, they sell like… There are a lot of them. You go on Amazon, and there is a list of eight of these. 90 Minutes in Heaven and such.
Alex Malarkey and his father Kevin co-wrote The Boy Who Came Back from Heaven, and Alex said this afterwards. "I did not die. I did not go to heaven. […] I said I went to heaven because I thought it would get me attention. When I made the claims I did, I had never read the Bible. People have profited from lies, and continue to. They should read the Bible, which is enough. The Bible is the only source of truth. Anything written by man cannot be infallible."
Malarkey went on in the statement to share his belief in Jesus and the central Christian doctrine that Christ died for humanity's sins, concluding by saying, "Those who market these materials must be called to repent and hold the Bible as enough." Amen, I say. The Bible is enough. It tells us a lot about heaven. If you want a book, Randy Alcorn did write a book called Heaven where he just captured a lot of what the Bible says and put in about 700 and something pages.
The Bible says a lot about heaven, and we should know what it says. We should know what heaven is like. We should know what eternity is like. That burden is on us so we can explain it to others. When they say silly things like, "I'll see you again," or "They're in a better place," or "They're looking down on us from heaven," we should know if that's true. Is it anchored in truth or is it anchored in feelings and emotions and not true?
Here's the deal. I've been a believer for a little over a decade. My friend asked me before I came up. "Did you go to seminary?" I did not go to seminary. I learned the Bible from this place. Todd, Blake, Rick, and others sitting me down and teaching me the Scriptures in my own study. When I teach something like the Psalms, I feel a real burden to present you with something accurate.
Typically what I'll do, my process, is I'll listen to about five or six sermons on the topic, other teachers who I respect, who have taken the topic on. Then I'll stew over the commentaries. With this particular one, I was looking at three really thick commentaries in regards to this psalm. Do you know who wrote the best commentary?
Let me say this first. I could not find a single sermon on Psalm 16…not a single one…except the first sermon ever preached in the Christian church. How about that? The apostle Peter, he could have chosen any book from the 39 Old Testament books, and he grabs Psalm 16. How about that?
Do you know who wrote the best commentary on Psalm 16 of all the ones I read? Do you know who wrote the best one? The Holy Spirit. How about that? Let me show you. It's Acts 2. Peter said, "You guys killed Jesus," which is not a popular sermon. It's almost like opening doors to hell. Not a popular sermon.
He says, "You guys killed Jesus. You killed him." But he says in verse 24, "But God raised [Jesus] from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him." That's good news. " [King] David said about him…" Where, Peter? Where did King…?" In Psalm 16, "I saw the Lord always before me. Because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken." Sounds familiar.
"'Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest in hope, because you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead, you will not let your holy one see decay. You have made known to me the paths of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence.' Fellow Israelites [fellow Watermarkers], I can tell you confidently that the patriarch David died and was buried, and his tomb is here to this day." You could go see it today, in fact.
"But he was a prophet and knew that God had promised him on oath that he would place one of his descendants on his throne. Seeing what was to come, he spoke of the resurrection of the Messiah…" Did you hear that? "…that he was not abandoned to the realm of the dead, nor did his body see decay." He was resurrected 3 days later. "God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of it."
Do you see that? Do you see that commentary on Psalm 16, written by the Holy Spirit through the apostle and David? It would be enough if that was it. If that was all we had, it would be okay. That's the first sermon ever preached in the Christian church, like post-ascension Jesus. This is Peter at Pentecost. That would be enough, but we have Paul at Antioch. Paul says (Acts 13), "You will not let your holy one see decay," from Psalm 16.
"Now when David had served God's purpose in his own generation, he fell asleep; he was buried with his ancestors and his body decayed. But the one whom God raised from the dead did not see decay. Therefore, my friends…" Listen carefully. This is the important part. "…I want you to know that through Jesus the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you. Through him everyone who believes is set free from every sin, a justification you were not able to obtain under the law of Moses."
There was One who did not see decay. That is the One who you hope in. That is the One who has paid the price for your sins. That is the gate. That is the path. That is the road. He is the door. He is the way you get there. He is the only way you get there. That's Jesus.
Charlie Puth sings:
So let the light guide your way, yeah
Hold every memory as you go
And every road you take will always lead you home, home
No, it won't Charlie. Every road you take will not lead you home. It won't. It's a great song. It's a great lyric. It's a great beat, a great rhythm. I wish I could sing as high as he does. Psalm 16:11 says, "You make known the path of life. You alone. You will fill me with your joy and your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand."
Jesus said, "Wide is the road that leads to destruction, and many will find it." John 10, verse 7, says Jesus is the door. How can we trust the promises of eternity? Because Jesus purchased our way there. He didn't only just purchase our way there, but he prepared a place for us there. He says that. "I'm going to go there, and I'm going to prepare a place for those of you who trust in me. I've got your spot. It's reserved." Jesus said that, and he will fill you with joy in his presence.
Heaven is Jesus' party. He is the Bridegroom. Eternity is Christ's party. Have you ever been to a party? Guess who gets to write the guest list to the party? The one whose party it is. He wrote the guest list. He handed it to the bouncer at the door and said, "This is who gets in." It's called the Book of Life. Jesus' party is heaven, and Jesus determines who goes there. If you go there or not is determined by what you did or what you've done or what you will do, even now, even right now, with Jesus. This is what our hope is anchored in.
Hebrews 6:19-20 summarizes it really well for me. "We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, where our forerunner, Jesus, has entered on our behalf…" Jesus came here, died for our sins. He went there. He is going to come back. He is going to take our resurrected bodies, he is going to finish the work on the earth, and we're going to come back here.
We're going to live forever and ever and ever and ever with God, if we've trusted in Christ. That's good news. That's what Jesus has done. This is what our hope is anchored in. It's not feelings and emotions. It's the One who has gone there. Our hope is secured in that. It's not just this flailing hope. It's not just something we sat down and our imaginations ran with as we tried to think about what's behind the door.
He is the One who has gone behind the door, the One who lives behind the door, the One whose party is behind the door. He says, "Let me tell you what it's like. It's going to be amazing. Me forever and ever. You forever. A feast. A banquet. It's going to be incredible. Forever and ever and ever. Joys, glorious riches," he says, "forever and ever and ever."
Do you guys know what I mean by anchor? When we were at the lake, we were in a boat. We rented a boat. We dropped an anchor. The anchor didn't grab anything, so the boat continued to drift. It continued to drift, and as it got closer and closer to the shore, the anchor eventually held on to a rock, something firm, something secure, something immovable. The boat stopped drifting.
This is how we go through life, with our hope secured in Jesus' resurrection, which has secured our eternity. So when we go through this life and we face problems, we're not drifting. "I don't know what to do." We look at those problems in light of eternity. When we talk with people, we see those people in light of eternity. When we deal with pleasures or we seek pleasures, we seek them in light of eternity, with our hope secured through Jesus' resurrection in eternity.
In summary, when you have hoped in the resurrected Christ, you invest in the people of eternity. When you have hoped in the resurrected Christ, you hold out for the pleasures of eternity. When you've hoped in the resurrected Christ, you hold fast to the promises of eternity. Let me close with this.
Life is a journey of realizing what is important. It's really a journey of learning your priorities. If you were honest with me, if we had a conversation, you would tell me your priorities have always changed. They have evolved. In fact, what was important to you in years past is now silly. Let me prove this.
When I was in high school, when you were in high school, do you know what was important to us? Making the team, going to prom, getting a letter jacket and maybe some patches, being liked. These were so important to us. These would drive our emotions. This is what would make us cry at night. This is what would make us get up in the morning. This is what would make us not eat.
Then you go to college and you're like, "Oh, silly me. Now I know what's important. I have to make the grade. I have to get that professor. I have to go to that class. I have to get in this sorority or this fraternity. This is what's important. I have to get a degree. I have to graduate. This is what is really, really important. Silly me in high school."
Then you graduate from college and you're like, "Pshh. College. Child's play. Now I know what's really important. Now I'm wise. I have to get a good job. I have to make some good money. I have to get married. I have to trick someone into spending the rest of their life with me. I have to have some children, start a family. This is what is important."
Then you do, and then you're like, "Oh, man. How silly was that? Now I know what's important. I have these kids to provide for. I need to work really hard. We need to get a bigger house, a better neighborhood. This is what's important. We need to sign these kids up for more sports than any human should play. This is what's important. They have to be one in a million good at…" whatever. "This is what's important."
Then you're an empty nester. You're like, "Oh, man. Silly me. That was going to work itself out? It turns out my kid is not the best in the world at soccer. But now I know what's important. I have to travel. I have to buy an RV, and we need a killer seashell collection. We need to start collecting seashells. We need to spoil our grandchildren to get back at our kids. This is what is important. This is what is ultimate."
Do you see how the journey of life is a journey of learning what's really important? Here is what I'm begging with you; here's what I'm pleading with you. We're all going to know one day, and I think it's going to be different than what you came in here thinking. We're going to go, and it's going to be like, "Okay. What's behind the doors?
Oh. Oh. Now I know what's important. Now I see what was ultimately important. All those experiences, those people down there. Some of them aren't here; some of them are. I see why you had them in my life. Now I understand. Those pleasures. They were counterfeit pleasures, or they were commercials for this. Those problems. In light, I see what you were doing now. I understand. My priorities were so off. I was living down there like I was going to stay down there. Now I know what's important, forever and ever."
I'm just telling you. We're all going to have that revelation. You don't have to wait. We have silly screen tricks, funny illustrations, and stories about kids to try to convince you right now that you're going to realize that one day, and we pray we wouldn't have to wait.
Father, we love you. Would you anchor our hope in the resurrected Lord, Jesus Christ? Father, thank you that our boundary lines have fallen in pleasant places. We don't have to play games down here like this is all we have. We don't have to collect seashells or silly trinkets and treasures, hoping they're eternal pleasures when we know they're not. Father, would you stir our hearts and minds for who you are?
There are a lot of people here, God, who don't know you. They've gone through life playing a game, pretending they do. Would you, by the power of your Spirit, introduce yourself to them? For my brothers and sisters, the holy ones in the land, the ones who we'll fellowship with forever and ever and ever and ever, God, would you just help us get along?
Would you, by the power of your Spirit, help us to have peace with one another and forgive one another so we can experience that eternity together in joy, even here, even now, in fellowship? We thank you that it is you, your Son Jesus Christ and him alone, that our hope is anchored to. It's Jesus. It's our hope. Our hope of eternity is anchored in him.
If you want to be in eternity, get to know Christ. Know what he has done for you. Know who he is. Know his desires for you. He is Jehovah and Lord of your life. He wants to be, anyway. If we can help you in that way, you just come forward. There will be a team of folks up here. You can write in the Watermark News, "I just want help." Or "I heard something I disagreed with." Or "I'm unsure about this." We would love to follow up with you.
It's a joy to be with you this morning. Have a great week of worship.