<2 Corinthians 4: 18>
“while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.”
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
Beginning today, I am going to deliver the messages on ‘Heaven’.
I already delivered a series of about 30 messages about 10 years ago about heaven. Two books were made based on those sermons.
Among them, as of November 2006, ‘Heaven I’ has been published in 7 languages including Korean, English, French, Spanish, Chinese, Japanese and Indonesian, and it is going to be published in Tamil and Tagalog, too. ‘Heaven II’ is also published in 3 languages including Korean, English, and French, and translations into other languages are on going at this time.
The reason why I am delivering the messages on heaven again is because there are many more things that God has let us know about heaven during the last 10 years.
So, in this sermon series on heaven, I am going to explain to you about the secrets of heaven that are not explained in the books.
Also, these messages will be produced as TV programs and will plant clear hope of heaven in numerous GCN viewers around the world.
I hope you members will gain more faith, hope, and love as you listen to each of the messages.
Today’s passage from 2 Corinthians 4:18 says, “While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.”
Therefore, we should not put our heart into the worldly things that last for only a moment in time compared to eternity.
Even though they are not seen, I hope you will believe there are things that are eternal. I pray in the name of the Lord that you will become wise believers who always seek the eternal things above with heavenly hope.
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, one person has traveled to a foreign country and tells you something like the following:
“While I was in that country, I felt like I was in a fairy tale. The place I stayed was a house built so beautifully, it was like a nest in mountains, and there were so many peculiar animals and plants that I had never seen before.
Especially, there were many monkeys with cute faces. They didn’t even fear me. They rather enjoyed playing with me and came up to sit on my shoulder.
Also, it was so fantastic when I saw some trees that had their branches facing heavenward at dusk.
People there all appeared to be good, nice, simple and honest people.”
When you hear this kind of story, you may think, “That place is paradise on earth! Is there really a place like that on this earth? I would like to go there, too!”
This story is extracted from a travel article by somebody who has been to Madagascar, which is an island located in eastern Africa.
Madagascar is the fourth largest island country in the world, and its size is six times larger than that of South Korea. When you hear people tell you about a place where you have not visited, you get new information about a new place in the world and you generally believe what they say.
But when you go to another country and see something for just a short period of time, it is only a very small part about that country you know about. It is factual, but it is not everything.
Therefore, if you want to get detailed and specific information about a country, what just one person, who has only been to the place briefly, is able to tell you, is not enough.
You can get more reliable information when you hear from somebody who has lived in that country for a long time and is one of the leaders with understanding about the full functioning of the country.
It’s the same when we would like to know about the kingdom of heaven.
Around the world, there are quite a few people who claim that they have been to, or have seen the kingdom of heaven by the special grace of God. There are also some of them who diligently visit many places to testify about their experiences and there are also others who have written books.
Because God wants the secret of the heavenly kingdom to be known, He has showed the kingdom of heaven to those who can testify about the kingdom of heaven with genuine hearts, and He has let them preach about it.
God wants as many people as possible to believe in the existence of God and come into the kingdom of heaven.
When many people experience the kingdom of heaven, there are some different kinds of experiences. The first is when they die and then come back to life.
I will give you specific examples of this case in later parts of the sermon series, and these are really special cases. There are undoubtedly some of you who have heard about somebody who has died, but came to life again.
Likewise, when the life of the body ends, the spirit goes out of the body, and at that time they experience the life that is to come. The second case is when they see a vision. With the gift given by God, or by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, their spiritual eyes open and they see the kingdom of heaven in a vision.
The third kind is when their spirit visits the heavenly kingdom. I will explain about this in detail in the lectures on the book of Revelation, so I will just briefly mention it here.
In this case where their spirit visits the kingdom of heaven, according to whether the person is a man of spirit or not, there is difference again.
A man of spirit can visit the heavenly kingdom through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. In the Bible, the apostles Paul and John had been to the heavenly kingdom this way in sprit.
But for a man who is still in flesh to separate his spirit, there must be God’s special protection. Most cases of visiting the heavenly kingdom belong in this classification. In such a case, the body that is left on this earth still has life, but they do not have any consciousness.
When they visit the heavenly kingdom in this way, they see and hear many things in the heavenly kingdom, but when they express what they saw and heard, much of it is affected by the operation of their soul.
Also, only a few of these people have been to visit the whole kingdom of heaven. Therefore, it is not very appropriate to say they know well about heavenly kingdom based on only what they have seen.
For example, many people visit New York in the United States and just see the Empire State Building. In this case, some of them would only be able to explain, “There is a very high building in New York. It has 102 stories.”
If you would like to find out who designed it, why they built such a high building, when they built it, and how long it took, what kind of companies are in the building, and about the things that are going on in that building, you would have to get some materials from the general manager of the building.
In the same way, who is the one who has the most extensive knowledge about the kingdom of heaven? It is our Father God.
Therefore, if you would like to know about the heavenly kingdom most properly, you have to listen to the explanations of God.
Even before I opened this church, I only concentrated on the Word of God and prayer for understanding, and even after the opening in 1982, I left home after Sunday services to pray and came back only on Friday.
It was especially so in order to receive the explanations of the passages that were most difficult to understand in the Bible, and to receive power as a pastor, that I accumulated countless prayers and fastings.
For the first two years after the opening of the church, God moved my heart to offer up fasts on my birthdays.
In 1984, my birthday was a Sunday (May 20), and from a couple of days prior to my birthday, God moved my heart to stay at the prayer place and keep on fasting and praying. When I obeyed the urging persuasion of God, He began to explain about the kingdom of heaven from that birthday of mine.
God explained that the heavenly kingdom is not just one space and also about how we will live there one by one in detail.
Therefore, these messages about the kingdom of heaven are the true words of God and are the truth. Also, it is the hope itself and is expression of the great love that our Father God, the owner of the heavenly kingdom, is giving to us who are living this world that is full of sins at this end of time.
Therefore, I hope all of you will receive this word with more joy and thanks, and I also hope you will completely put your heart not in this momentary world but in the eternal kingdom of heaven.
If you move your house, you change your address, too. Likewise, I hope you will move the address of your heart to the heavenly kingdom, and I pray in the name of the Lord that your address will be moved to a better heavenly dwelling place as you keep on listening to the messages.
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, now, before I get into the explanations on the kingdom of heaven, I will introduce some of the testimonies of those who have experienced the spiritual realm.
The first thing I am going to introduce is a survey result of a heart surgeon specialist in the United States.
This surgeon never used to believe in the world after this life, but as he was interviewing those who have been momentarily dead but were revived by CPR, or Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation, he changed his thoughts.
He interviewed more than 200 patients that had experienced this (momentary death). The stories of these patients had slight differences from person to person, but there was a common thing as a whole, and they all testified to two extremes.
First, the common thing was that all of those patients, right after their death, went through a narrow and long passage way as if they were sucked in by something. Next, there were two different groups of people in the two extremes.
One group arrived at a place like a grass-covered plain, which was endless and filled with the mild and beautiful aroma of flowers, and they heard, “Your time has not come yet, so go back.” And then soon they returned to consciousness and recovered their senses.
The other group of people went to a very dark place which gave them a ghastly feeling.
They also heard, “Your time has not come yet, so go back.” But these people, as soon as they regained consciousness and came back to their senses, asked the surgeon and cried, “How can I receive salvation?”
But a very special thing about them is that, their memory becomes faint after one day, and after two days, they hardly remember anything.
In the conclusion of this report on his survey, the surgeon also said, “Generalizing the interviews of these patients, those who had seen the dark world were afraid, but those who had seen the bright, beautiful, and fragrant world felt relieved about their death. I do not exactly know what life after death is, but I assume that it is divided into a bright and dark world, and I suppose they are heaven and hell.”
I will tell you another story about the life to come.
The term “hospice” refers to the people or a facility for those patients with incurable diseases, and for their family members to decrease their physical pain and try to give them mental comfort just before their death, so that they will face death peacefully.
And in a diary of a Korean nurse with a PhD who has taken care of about 600 hospice patients over a time period of 20 years, there is a very interesting thing. It is about how patients, in the moments just before their death, reacted after seeing one of two kinds of worlds while they were dying.
Let me introduce a couple of cases here.
There was a 15-year-old boy whose osteomyelitis (or bone cancer) had spread to his lungs and brain. He was diagnosed to be incurable and finally came to the hospice.
This boy was having a hard time because of the pains of the disease, but beginning one morning, he began to laugh and was amazed while looking at the sky, saying that he was able to see something.
Then, he asked his mother who was providing nursing care to him, “Mom, who is that brightly shining man over there?” The mother answered, “What are you seeing? I don’t see anything.” This boy began to sob loudly, “Mom, no, what a pity! I am going to heaven, but it seems you are going to hell!”
This mother was surprised, and although she didn’t see anything, to comfort the heart of her son, she said, “Oh, that! Now, I see!” Then, this boy was so happy and he really thought his mother was also seeing what he was seeing and explained each of them pointing at them.
That evening, he held his mother’s hands firmly and breathed his last after saying, “Mom, you saw that, right? I will go first, so you can come later!”
When this mother was caring for him, she used to shed so many tears because of the pain of her son, but at the funeral, she was rather bright and happy, and saying to the guests, “My son went to heaven.”
There was another 46-year-old man who had lung cancer and finally came to this hospice. This patient could not sleep for 3 weeks.
The reason is, every night, a man in black clothes would come out and call his name, “You! Come out!”, and he was too afraid to sleep.
So, this hospice invited a pastor to visit this patient, and since then, this man in black clothes stopped appearing to this patient.
Finally, this patient also reached the last moment of this life. He seemed to be looking at something and he was gesturing that something was very shiny. So people asked him what he was seeing, and he said that there were some people in white robes there with them.
When they asked in more detail, he said, there was a person at the head of the bed and another person on the other side, and they were both shining and had wings on their shoulders.
There were people like him who faced death with joy and in peace seeing the light, while there were some others who were breathing their last and crying out, “No! Never!” Still others breathed their last waving their hands in the air, with their eyes wide open in fear, saying they were hearing something strange and seeing something like a ghost.
After this nurse saw 600 patients, she felt it was something normal to see another world at the time of death.
When you put on gloves and then try to take them off, it takes some time for your hands to come out. In the same way, for the spirit and soul to come out of the body, the period of the death process to the moment of death lasts usually about a couple of days but sometimes as short as several hours, and all those patients see the spiritual realm.
She said that when she witnessed the last long breath coming out through the noses at the last moment of the death process, she felt like she was observing the existence of the spirit.
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, likewise, the spiritual realm surely exists, and this life is not the end. There certainly is the life to come.
I just gave you the example of gloves. Now, let’s suppose you have been wearing the pair of gloves since your birth.
Because you have been wearing those gloves for such a long time, when your hands move, you mistake it to be as if the gloves themselves moved. But when you try to take those gloves off, you realize that the gloves did not move by themselves but it was the hands inside the gloves that really moved.
When people are healthy, they think the body they can move and the world they see is everything, but when the moment of death comes to them and their spirit and soul are about to leave their body, they realize that it was not their body that actually moved, but it was their spirit and soul that moved the body.
Also, just as the gloves without the hands cannot move by themselves, the body without the spirit and soul is just a corpse and we have to have a funeral.
Then, where do the spirit and soul that came out of body go? As I told you in the testimonies, they go to either world of light or world of darkness.
About this, Hebrews 9:27 says, “And inasmuch as it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment.”
Also, in John 5:29, our Jesus said, “and will come forth; those who did the good deeds to a resurrection of life, those who committed the evil deeds to a resurrection of judgment.”
Likewise, the life on this earth is not everything, and there is life to come, so that after life on this earth, you will certainly go to either heaven or hell.
Now, what kind of qualifications do you have to have to go to heaven, and not hell?
Also, what is the place where the spirit and soul that just came out of body goes, and after arriving there what will happen?
I will explain to you about these things in the next session.
1 Peter 1: 24-25 says, “All flesh is like grass, And all its glory like the flower of grass. The grass withers, And the flower falls off, But the word of the Lord endures forever.” And this is the word which was preached to you.”
Will you choose a life that will bloom splendidly only for a short time and soon withers?
Or will you choose a life to go to the heavenly kingdom in which you will live forever? If you are wise, you will obviously choose a life to go to the kingdom of heaven.
For this, you will preciously spend every moment of the time given in this life on earth as time spent to prepare for the life in the eternal kingdom of heaven.
I hope that all who are listening to this message will make a wise choice.
I pray in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ that when your life on this earth ends you will look back without remorse and that you will be at the side of the Lord of Love being able to confess that you had done well!