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Philippians 1:23-24, “For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a
desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better: Nevertheless to
abide in the flesh is more needful for you.”
I wish you dear readers could
have known one of the many faithful deacons whom I was privileged to serve with
by the name of Cecil Kammediemer. I wish also that you knew another deacon by
the name of Wayne Daniels and another deacon Norm Tennimon. However, one of my
favorites is Joe Simmons a faithful usher who on his death was worried about
who would take his place at his post. I think of our Receptionist Elaine Howie
and our Records Secretary Mary Robinson. 
I am thinking of one of our faculty
members Bill Nelson with his weekly letters of encouragement to me as his
pastor. I am thinking of little Candice Connor who would stare at me, think for
a minute, and then run up to me and hug my leg. I cannot but think of Dr. Paul
Duckett Jr. who served with me on staff for 18 wonderful years!
All of these have one thing in
common they are waiting for us in Heaven. I am thinking of over 150 of the dear
members of Longview Baptist Temple who are in Heaven as of the writing of this article.
Every time the death angel visits
someone has a broken heart, and empty spot at the dinner table, an empty spot
in the bed, and has a heart that is heavy. I am thinking of Kathleen Davis who
sat on the front pew at Longview Baptist Temple, Longview, TX, for over a decade and died from cancer. Held to a
wheelchair all of her life by illness. She never missed church and not only a
faithful rider of our Sunday school buses, but she visited every Saturday on
that same bus route. She is missed!
Little by little age starts to
show herself in all of us. May I say to all of us Heaven is getting nearer and
dearer and sweeter all the time? I remember the day when the word came that our
bus mechanic Bill Neiland had died suddenly from a heart attack how shocking it
was to all of our church family. I recall the phone call at midnight of the
tragic car accident where Bill Nelson returning home from his Shreveport bus
route was suddenly and tragically taken in an automobile accident on I-20.
Every Memorial Day our church LBT
made a tradition of reading the names of the dear members who have graduated
into Heaven and each one had a special spot in my heart as pastor. I would sit
in the pastor’s chair and thank God for every one of those soldier’s of the
cross who helped make LBT the great church she is. Over one million souls came
to Christ during my 3 decades of pastoring that great church.
So much is mentioned in the Bible
about the New Jerusalem that is in Heaven after the Millennium, which is
prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. We find ourselves in a guided tour
by John in Revelation chapters 21-22. We are shown so many things about the New
Jerusalem in this guided tour by the Apostle John.
We are told of its size
approximately 1,500 miles wide, high, and long. This cube, if you will,
typified by the Holy of Holies. John tells us in this conducted tour about the
walls of the city being 214’ high. We are told about the gates of the city
being twelve gates with each made of one big pearl! Wow, I wonder what the
oyster looks like? Ha!
We are told about the foundations
of the city, the streets of the city, the trees of the city, the river that
flows through the city, the glorified body the redeemed will have, and so much
is told about the New Jerusalem, but there is no such tour about the Heaven
that exists now. Nobody in the Bible tells us how big Heaven is now, what the streets
are like now, about the gates now, or about the whether there is a river there
now. No one tells us if there are streets there now. We assume the streets are
of gold, because the streets of the New Jerusalem are, but the Scriptures do
not say.
Surprisingly very little is said
about the present Heaven. Occasionally we can see the door open briefly for us
to quickly look in. Let us now take a brief peek into the Heaven that exists
now. In the Bible we have a man who died and went to Heaven and came back. He
is about the only one who can give us a glimpse into the present Heaven.
Let’s look at what the Apostle
Paul said. The Apostle Paul on his first missionary journey went to the place
called Lystra and there outside the city of Lystra he was stoned and died. The
Scriptures tell us in I Corinthians chapter 12 he was caught up into the third
Heaven. Now, let us ask Paul what he observed up there? For he is about the
only one who give us any glimpse of the present Heaven.
Do you realize that deacon Cecil
Kammediemer, the Apostle Paul, John R. Rice, Bob Jones Sr., Billy Sunday,
Lester Roloff, Lee Roberson, Carl Hatch, Curtis Hutson, and Jack Hyles see
Jesus and talk to him daily.
Hey Paul what is it like now?
Paul says, “I can’t tell you! There is no way I can tell you because there is
no human vocabulary that can describe it to you.” Paul what is Heaven like now?
He replies, “You have never seen anything like it that I can use to describe
what Heaven looks like.” Paul said, “The eye has never see anything like Heaven
is now. The ear has never heard anything like Heaven has right now.” Well Paul,
can we imagine what Heaven’s like and Paul says, “You can’t even begin to
imagine what Heaven is like now!”
Paul says, “I’m helpless in being
able to tell you what it is like now for eye hath not seen he says!” Mrs. Gray
and I have been to Hawaii and there is no way to describe it and do it justice.
We have been to the Caribbean and again there is no way to describe its beauty
and majesty.
We ask Paul for help! Paul says
let me give you a few words to describe Heaven now.
Paradise is a word Paul used.
Paul called Heaven Paradise. Now what is Paradise? It was the word the Jews
used for the ultimate in blessings. I mean the ultimate or that which was beyond
description. Paul said Heaven is the ultimate in blessedness. What does it
It’s the
ultimate in joy
It’s the
ultimate in contentment
It’s the
ultimate in happiness
It’s the
ultimate in peace
It’s the
ultimate in fun
It’s the
ultimate I pleasure
Paul said I can’t tell you how
wonderful it is so I’ll just have to choose the best words in our vocabulary to
help you understand what its like now.
The second word used to describe
Heaven as it is now is the word “mansion.” The word mansion in the Greek was
the word for the ultimate comfort in a dwelling. Paul said I’ll take the top
word you know concerning housing to help you understand. The top word you know
concerning blessedness you know is the word “Paradise.”
Paul said I was there, I was
caught up into the third Heaven, and I can’t tell you what its like for it is
unlawful. The word “unlawful” means it is sacrilegious. Paul said it would be
sacrilegious for me to take a human vocabulary and try to tell you how
wonderful Heaven is now. Heaven is a wonderful place God is preparing for his
We use to gather around the piano
on Sundays and Mama would play and we would sing…
I’ve heard of a place that’s called Heaven
Sweet home of the happy and free
Fair haven of rest for the weary
How beautiful Heaven must be
Oh, they tell me of a home far beyond the skies
Oh, they tell me of a home far away
Oh, they tell me of a home where no storm clouds rise
Oh, they tell me of a home with an unclouded day
Oh, the land of the cloudless day
Oh, the land of the unclouded day
Oh, they tell me of a hoe far beyond the skies
There is a land that is fairer than day
And by faith we can see it afar
Now my Mama and Daddy are there
seeing and talking to Jesus every day! WOW!
Paul you have been there could
you just give us a little hint of what Heaven is like now? Give us a few words
to help us!
Jesus said, “I go to prepare a
PLACE for you.” The word “place” simply is defined as “a region” or “a
locality” or something that is solid and occupies space. Doesn’t sound like a
bunch of blind folded spirits in a vacuum to me as the liberals in Southern
Baptist Seminaries are teaching their empty headed ministerial students. It is
It is a place with real streets,
real houses, and real mansions. A place you can see and a place with real
bodies. Paul said it is a place! God tells us just enough! Paul can’t decide
which human words to use to describe Heaven. So God allows Paul to use the word
“Paradise,” or the ultimate, “mansions,” or the best dwelling, and the word
“place,” or a real place! Paul is using human words to help describe the
Paul then uses another word
“gain.” Paul said, “It’s gain.” The word “gain” can be defined “make a profit.”
He is saying Heaven is more profitable than here.  It is “gain” to go to this “place” called Heaven. Our loved
ones and friends who are in Heaven have gained not lost. Paul said it is
virtually impossible to use human words to describe such a Heavenly place as
Paul must however use human words
to give us a hint of what Heaven is like now.
Paul said is “far better” to
be in Heaven. What a place it must be? Far better is a double positive, which
in essence means “more better.” He is saying it is so much better than here and
only a double positive will work in aiding us in our understanding. We said
about Mama, “She’s far better off!” The truth is we have not the foggiest idea
how much better off Mama is and the others who are in Heaven.
Paul you gave us hints with words
like Paradise, mansions, place, gain, and far better is there any thing else
you can give us as a hint? Yes, says Paul for I have one more word!
Remember when Paul, as Saul of
Tarsus, held the coats of the men who stoned that good godly deacon and Stephen
saw Jesus standing at the right hand of the Father?
Jesus said, “I will receive you
unto myself that where I am there ye may be also.” It really doesn’t matter
what the streets or mansions are made of as long as Jesus is there. It doesn’t
matter if the gates are made of 2 x 4’s as long as Jesus is there. It doesn’t
matter if the streets are asphalt as long as Jesus is there. However its not
that way for the streets are paved with gold, the mansions are real, the gates
are of pearl, the foundations are made of precious stones, and on top of all of
that Jesus is there! AMEN!
Paul what’s it like to die? He
gives us another word for he says to die is like the word “departure.” He said
the time of my departure is at hand. The word “departure” is a sea faring term.
It is a neutral term for it is like when a big old ship leaves the port of dock
or like a jet pulling away form the airport gate. Paul gives us some hint about
Heaven in certain words.
ultimate in dwelling
is real
Better-more better
be there with us
a ship leaving the dock
Paul do you want to die? No! Paul
do you want to go to Heaven now? Not now he says! Boy, that makes me feel
better!  Paul why don’t you want to
go now? He answers because I have some more people whom I love and they need
me. I have more souls to lead to Christ. I have more churches to establish. He
said, “To depart is far better, but is more needful for me to stay!’ Amen to
that Paul!

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