False Heaven Exposed

Revelation 21-22

Alan Lewis
Elon, North Carolina
July 2023

Last week, we began a fascinating study of heaven.  Heaven will be beyond our imagination.  It comes from God out of heaven.  The streets are made of gold.

We talked about what heaven will be like.  It is a big city.  It is bright.  It shines with the glory of God.  It is absolutely beautiful.  It will be stunning.

There are all of these precious stones there. and people will be happy there.  There will be no sorrow or suffering there.

If you did not see out study last week, you need to take a look at it.  It is a topic we could spend a month studying.  Randy Alcorn wrote a 500 page book on heaven.

There has also been some really good preaching on this topic.  One preacher mentioned seven things that will be missing from heaven from Revelation.

Keith Peters points out that in heaven, there will be no DARKNESS.  There will be no DANGER.  There will be no DEATH.  There will be no DECEPTION.  There will be no DEFILEMENT.  There will be no DISEASE.  There will be no DEVIL.[1]

Another preacher pointed out some special blessings in heaven.  David Nolte mentions four special blessings that we will have in heaven.  It is all based on the last two chapters of Revelation [2]

There will be CHRIST, NOT A CURSE: “There will no longer be any curse; and the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it.”

There will be SERVICE, NOT SLAVERY: “His bond-servants will serve Him.”

There will be SIGHT, NOT SPECULATION: “And they shall see His face.”

There will be RELATIONSHIP, NOT REJECTION: “And His name shall be in their foreheads.

Satan has two main tactics when it comes to heaven.  Satan hates heaven.  He used to live there and then he was kicked out.

His first tactic is DENIAL.  Some deny that heaven even exists.  The Cambridge scientist Stephen Hawking called heaven a fairy tale.  He says that it is not real. [3]

Very few people believe Hawking, so Satan users another tactic.  His second tactic is not denial but DISTORTION.

Last week, we looked at “Heaven Revealed.”  Today, we want to look at “False Heaven Exposed.”

There are many false ideas that people have about heaven.  There are some false ideas about heaven in other religions.  Today, we are going to look at seven false ideas about heaven.

The Moralist Heaven

What is the moralist heaven?  A good moral life will get you to heaven.  On Judgment Day, God will look at your life and place all of your deeds on a scale.  If your good deeds outweigh your bad deeds, you are in.

If you live a good decent life, God will let you into heaven.  That is the humanist heaven.  That is the error of legalism.  It is the error of works-salvation.  It is the error of merit theology.  It is the view of many world religions.

The Bible teaches, “there is no one righteous, no not one” (Romans 3:11).  It teaches, “there is none that doeth good, no not one” (Romans 3:12).  Not only are there NONE that do good; there are NO exceptions to the rule (“no not one”)

The only way to get into heaven is to have your name written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.  That is clear from the Book of Revelation.

Revelation 20:15 says, “Anyone whose name was not found written in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire” (NIV)

If your name is not written in that book, it doesn’t matter what you have done.   It doesn’t matter if you come from a Christian home.

It doesn’t matter if you attend church.  It doesn’t matter if you give to the poor.  If doesn’t matter if you read your Bible and pray.  We are saved by grace, not by works.

The Inclusive Heaven

The inclusive heaven says that everyone goes there.  That is what universalism teaches.  That is what Unitarians believe. All people go to heaven.

According to universalism, you don’t have to accept Christ as Savior to go to heaven.  Jesus is a way of salvation but there are other ways as well.

You don’t have to be a Christian to go to Heaven.  All religions are true and lead to God in some form or another.  There are many roads to God.

Atheists will be there.  If everyone goes to heaven, then even Hitler would be there.  If Hitler goes to heaven, it would not be heaven. All religions do NOT lead to God.  There are not many ways to God.

Jesus said, “I am THE way and THE truth and THE life. NO ONE comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6 NIV)

The Apostle Peter, full of the Holy Spirit, said, “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12 NIV)

According to Revelation, everyone does not go to heaven.  Not everyone will be there.  Certain people won’t get in.  In fact, we are told that three times.

But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars—their place will be in the fiery lake of burning sulfur” (Revelation 21:8 NIV).  Here are eight types of people who will not be there.

Nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful” (Revelation 21:27 NIV).  Here are three types of people who will not be there.

In fact, John uses a double negative in Greek.  In English, a double negative is bad grammar.  In Greek, double negatives (ού μή) are used for emphasis.  It is used to emphasize that certain people will NOT be there.  The impure will never ever  enter it by any means.

Outside are the dogs, those who practice magic arts, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idolaters and everyone who loves and practices falsehood” (Revelation 22:15 NIV).  Here are seven types of people who will not be there.

Excluded from Heaven

What do we learn from these three lists of people?  Some groups of people on the list are who we might expect and some are not.

We would expect no murderers to be in heaven (Revelation 21:8; 22:15) but you could actually be outwardly moral and not get into heaven.   You don’t have to be an ax murderer or serial killer to not go to heaven.

Plain UNBELIEVERS won’t be in heaven (Revelation 21:8).  Some of them might even be religious.  COWARDS won’t be in heaven (Revelation 21:8) either.

Why would God keep cowards out of heaven?  If God against weak people who are timid and fearful?  The KJV translates δειλοῖς as “the fearful.”

Is it a sin to be a coward?  Is it a sin to be afraid?  No.  It is a sin to refuse to take a stand for Christ out of fear.  That is why Peter denied Jesus three times.  That is why many in the Tribulation Period will take the Mark of the Beast.

Whoever confesses Me before men, him I will also confess before My Father who is in heaven. 33 But whoever denies Me before men, him I will also deny before My Father who is in heaven. (Matthew 10:32 NKJV)

For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it. (Mark 8:35 NIV)

Another strange group on the list is those who practice the MAGIC ARTS (NIV) are excluded.  We are told that twice (Revelation 21:8; 22:15).  What is that about?

It is not talking about someone doing a magic trick.  It is talking about witchcraft and the occult (Ouija boards, vision boards, tarot cards, palm reading, healing crystals, spell books).

It is not talking about magicians.  It is talking about sorcery.[4]  Witchcraft is on the rise today (the modern Wicca movement).

Our society says that there are good and bad witches.  There are no good witches in the Bible.  God says that those who practice witchcraft will NOT be in heaven.

What sin is repeated in all three lists?  There are two of them.  What are they?  They are not serial killers.  Murderers are listed in two of the lists (Revelation 21:8; 22:15).

That is a big deal, but it is not mentioned in all three lists.  The sexually immoral are mentioned each time (Revelation 21:8; 27; 22:15).  In our society, we do not think that is even wrong.  It is socially accepted today.

In fact, in certain portions of society, we celebrate immorality.  We glorify it (Pride Day) and yet three times we are told that the sexually immoral and the impure will not enter heaven.

The other sin that is mentioned in all three lists is lying (Revelation 21:8, 27; 22:15).  But for the cowardly, and unbelieving, and abominable, and murderers, and sexually immoral persons, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, their part will be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.” (NASB)

I guess this means that no politician will be in heaven.  We don’t think lying is that serious.  Everyone does it and yet here we learn that lying can cost you your soul.

This raises a really important question.  If all liars go to Hell, then every person on the planet would go to Hell, because we have all told a lie.

The truth is that you can commit all of these sins and still go to heaven.  David committed murder.  He committed adultery and murder.  Will he be in heaven?  Yes.  Why?

He repented.  Revelation is talking about people who commit these sins without apology.  They don’t feel bad.  They don’t repent.  In fact, they justify their behavior, and it becomes a pattern of life.

The rest of mankind who were not killed by these plagues still did not repent of the work of their hands; they did not stop worshiping demons, and idols of gold, silver, bronze, stone and wood—idols that cannot see or hear or walk. 21 Nor did they repent of their murders, their magic arts, their sexual immorality or their thefts. (Revelation 9:20-21 NIV)

We are all sinners.  We all have dirty robes.  Some wash their robes in the blood of the Lamb (Revelation 7:14; 22:14) and get them clean.  Some do not.

The Immaterial Heaven

We could call this the Hindu heaven or the new age heaven.  We all reach Nirvana.  It is the view of the Christian Science cult.[5]  This is the eastern view of heaven.  Heaven is just a state of mind.

Many Christians have a similar view.  They think that heaven is spiritual, not physical.  It is nonmaterial.  Are they right?  They are partially right.

Heaven is being in the presence of God.  It is more of a relationship than a location.  Right now, if you die and are saved, you go to heaven.  It is an immaterial place.

It is different from earth.  Earth is down here.  Heaven is up there.  Heaven is in the North.  The Bible says that Jesus looked up to heaven to pray (Mark 7:34; John 11:41).

Jesus did not pray the way we pray.  When we pray, we fold our hands, close our eyes and look down.  When Jesus prayed, he opened His eyes and looked up to Heaven.

We will not be taken up to heaven.  Heaven will come down to us.  For all eternity, heaven will be on earth.

That is one thing that the Jehovah’s Witnesses got right.   There will be another paradise on earth.

It is the only thing they got right.  It is the only thing they got right.  They are wrong about the 144,000.  They are wrong about who Jesus is.

Jehovah’s Witnesses do not believe that Jesus is God and yet Jesus sits on a throne with the Father in heaven (Revelation 22:3).

Jesus is not only a son of David; He is the root of David.  He is the Root and the Offspring of David (Revelation 22:16 NIV).  He is not only David’s descendant; He is David’s Creator.

Jesus is also worshipped in heaven.  We will see next week that angels do not receive worship (Revelation 22:8-9) but Jesus did, which shows that He is not an angel, like the Jehovah’s Witnesses teach.  Jesus was worshipped in Revelation.

And I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, saying, “To him who sits on the throne AND TO THE LAMB be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!” 14 And the four living creatures said, “Amen!” and the elders fell down and worshiped. (Revelation 5:13-14)

Heaven is a real place.  We will spend eternity in a material heaven.  We will eat and drink on the new earth.

We will not spend eternity floating in space on some ethereal cloud.  Jesus said, “I go to prepare a PLACE for you” (John 14:3 NIV).

Heaven is a real city.  It is as real as Charlotte or Los Angeles. It is called a city fifteen times in this section (Revelation 21:2, 10, 14, 15, 16 (2), 18, 19, 21, 22, 23; 22:2, 3, 14, 19).

The city is given a name, the New Jerusalem.  It was named after the old Jerusalem, which was a real city.

It has real streets (Revelation 21:21; 22:2).  You can walk on those streets.

It has real dimensions (Revelation 21:16-17).  You can measure them.

It has a real mountain (Revelation 21:10).

It has real walls (Revelation 21:15, 19).

It has real gates (Revelation 21:12, 13).

It has a real foundation (Revelation 21:14, 19).

It has real rivers (Revelation 22:1-2).  One river is called the River of the Water of Life.

It has real trees in it.  They are fruit trees with real fruit on it, different kinds of fruit.

These trees contain fruit you can actually eat.  There will be real food in heaven.  We will eat in heaven.  You can’t get any more physical than that.

The Marital Heaven

This is the Mormon heaven.  We believe in the concept that marriage is “until death do us part.”  Mormons believe in the concept of ETERNAL MARRIAGE.  It is one of their doctrines.  That is the goal of every Latter Day Saint.

What is an eternal marriage?  In Mormonism, if you exchange vows in a Mormon Temple by a Mormon priest and kneel at a sacred altar, you are pronounced husband and wife for time and all eternity.[6]

Marriage is ordained by God.  He was the one who created it.  Marriage is holy.  It is sacred.  There was marriage in the world before there was sin.   Will there be marriage in heaven?

23 That same day the Sadducees, who say there is no resurrection, came to him with a question. 24 “Teacher,” they said, “Moses told us that if a man dies without having children, his brother must marry the widow and raise up offspring for him. 25 Now there were seven brothers among us. The first one married and died, and since he had no children, he left his wife to his brother. 

26 The same thing happened to the second and third brother, right on down to the seventh. 27 Finally, the woman died. 28 Now then, at the resurrection, whose wife will she be of the seven, since all of them were married to her?”

29 Jesus replied, “You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God. 30 At the resurrection people will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven. (Matthew 22:23-30 NIV)

A woman was married seven times.  Which husband will she have in heaven?  Jesus said that she won’t have any in heaven.  Now Mormons have an answer to Jesus.

Mormons would say that Jesus is right.  In heaven, people will neither marry nor be given in marriage.  There won’t be any marriage in heaven.

The question is whether marriages on earth go into eternity.  If we were married on earth, would we still be married in heaven?  There is only one problem with that argument.

That was the very question that Jesus was answering.  He was dealing with a marriage that took place on earth.  He said that there will not be that type of relationship in heaven.

If that bothers you, it shouldn’t.  Even if you have been married for fifty years, you won’t miss it in Heaven.  Heaven will be so amazing that the former things will not even come into mind.

We won’t be married in Heaven, so if you want to get married, you better do it now.   Some say, “If we wont be married in Heaven, I don’t want to go to heaven.”  Well, there won’t be any marriage in hell either.

We won’t be married in heaven.  It does not mean we won’t recognize our spouses in heaven.  It doesn’t mean we won’t have a relationship with our spouses.

I hope my wife will invite me over to her mansion in heaven, but we won’t be married.  It will be a different type of relationship.  It will be better than the relationship we have now.

The Sensual Heaven

This is the playboy heaven.  This is the hedonist heaven.  Hedonists are pleasure seekers.  They believe that the pursuit of pleasure is the most important thing in life.  This is the Muslim heaven.

That is why Muslim terrorists carry out so many suicide attacks.  They believe it will guarantee a sensual paradise with seventy virgins in heaven.  Heaven will be a sexual paradise.  There are several problems with that view.

Intentionally committing the mass murder of innocent people will not guarantee you get to heaven.  It will guarantee you won’t be there, unless you repent.

How terrible it will be to die and get the shock of your life.  You think you did a good deed, and you did a bad deed.  You think you are going to heaven, and you are going to hell.  You expect to be rewarded. Instead, you are punished.

Revelation 21 says that murderers will NOT be in heaven (Revelation 21:8; 22:15).  I John teaches the same truth.

Anyone who hates a brother or sister is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life residing in him. (I John 3:15 NIV).

However, this does raise an interesting question.  Will there be sex in heaven?  The Bible does not say but it gives a big hint.  It says that there will not be marriage in heaven.

According to Scripture, sex was destined by God for the marriage relationship and there will not be any sex outside of marriage there either, because there will be no immoral person there (Revelation 21:8; 27; 22:15).

You say that sounds like bad news.  Some people could not even imagine heaven without any sex.  It wouldn’t be any fun.  The truth is that there is nothing wrong with pleasure.  God created it.

There will be pleasure in heaven.  Psalm 16:11 says, “You will show me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” (NKJV).

Pleasures in heaven are infinitely greater than any pleasure we could have on earth.  You say, “I can’t imagine anything better than that.”  That is like a three-year-old child who can’t imagine anything better than a happy meal at McDonalds.

The Parochial Heaven

The parochial heaven is small.  It is filled with people just like you.  There is not a lot of diversity in this heaven.  Everyone is the same color and same denomination.

Many think that the only people going to heaven are members of their church or their denomination.  Catholics say that outside of the Catholic Church there is no salvation.”  Some Baptists think that no Pentecostals will be in heaven.

What is the problem with this view?  Heaven will be big.  It is a place that will be big enough for everyone.  Look at the size of the New Jerusalem and it is just one city on the new earth.

When he measured it, he found it was a square, as wide as it was long. In fact, its length and width and height were each 1,400 miles (Revelation 21:16 NLT).

There will be a lot of people in heaven, and there will be a lot of different kinds of people.

And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people (Revelation 21:3 NIV)

You wouldn’t know it by reading this in English but in Greek, the word “people” both times in plural, not singular.  God’s dwelling place is now among the people (ἀνθρώπων).  They will be his people (λαοι).  It is literally, they will be “his peoples.”

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 before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. 10 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 NIV)

There will be people from every nation, tribe, people and language.  There will be people there from every race and ethnicity.  Every color will be there.

There will be both Jew and Gentile there.  There will be Jews there.  The city is called The New Jerusalem.  The twelve tribes of Israel are written on the gates (Revelation 21:12).

We are also told that “the glory and honor of the nations will be brought into it” (Revelation 21:26 NIV).  That is a reference to Gentiles.

The Boring Heaven

Many think heaven is boring. Satan’s two tactics are to deny heaven exists or to say that if it does exist, it is so boring that you would not want to go there.

Some say that they would rather go to hell and have some fun, rather than go to heaven and be bored.  We will be sitting on a cloud playing a harp for all eternity in utter boredom.

Everything about that picture is completely false.  You won’t have fun in Hell.  It is a place of torture.  It is a place of torment in a lake of fire.  Heaven, by contrast will be a place without any pain or any suffering.

There is nothing boring about being in God’s presence.  We will be face to face with Jesus.  In God’s presence is “fullness of joy” (Psalm 16:11), not boredom.

We will not be bored in heaven.  We will have something to do.  We are told that his servants will serve him (Revelation 22:3 NIV).  How we will serve Him we are not told but we will have something to do.

We will work but it will not be like work on earth.  We will not be exhausted from our job.  We will not be under the curse (Revelation 22:3).  It will be like working our dream job times a thousand.

[1] Keith Peters, “Things Missing in Heaven” (https://www.sermoncentral.com/sermons/things-missing-in-heaven-keith-peters-sermon-on-heaven-158429)

[2] David Nolte, “Things in Heaven” (https://www.sermoncentral.com/sermons/four-special-blessings-in-heaven-david-nolte-sermon-on-heaven-251245)

[3] https://www.cbsnews.com/news/stephen-hawking-in-2011-heaven-is-a-fairy-story/

[4] James Hope Moulton, Vocabulary of the Greek New Testament, 664.  It is translated “sorcerers” by the KJV, ESV, NASB, NKJV.

[5]Mary Baker Eddy defines heaven as “Harmony; the reign of Spirit; government by divine Principle; spirituality; bliss; the atmosphere of Soul” (Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 587).

[6] https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/manual/gospel-principles/chapter-38-eternal-marriage?lang=eng


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