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This blog post is Part 15 of a series entitled, "Orthodoxy" by Pastor Jeffrey Dean Smith of Donelson First in Nashville, TN. 

Message Date: April 23, 2023

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In May of 1995, JavaScript, which is a scripting language and a core technology of the Internet, was built and implemented and shipped in beta mode in only 10 days.  

In 1948, during the blockade of Berlin, 277,000 flights supplying more than 2.2 million people landed every 2 minutes on a short-term constructed runway until, just 92 days later the Tegel Airport was fully repaired, constructed, and completed.  

Disneyland went from Walt Disney’s imagination to reality in just 110 days.

In 1927, The Spirit of St. Louis, designed by Donald Hall & Charles Lindberg was designed, built, and flown from New York City to France in just 60 days.  

The idea behind Amazon Prime was dreamed up in late 2004, and a short 60 days later, it launched on February 2, 2005.  

In 1968, NASA decided it should launch Apollo 8 to the moon and did so in a mere 111 days.  

These are all some really amazing moments in history that happened really, really fast!  

Well... it has taken us a little bit longer! On January 8, 112 days ago, we began the study of Orthodoxy: The Foundational Principles that define the Christian faith. It has taken us 4 months... but we have finally made it to the end of what I can personally say, has been the most in-depth and intense, and robust Bible study I have been through in my lifetime!  

I pray it has been spiritually rewarding for you as well! 

Is there a song that, every time you hear it, you cry? I have one... okay, maybe two. Here’s one:  

When I Get Where I’m Going by Brad Paisley and Dolly Parton  

This beautifully crafted song is about the moment we finally arrive in heaven. Brad sings about all the things he is going to do when he “gets where he is going” in heaven. What moves me every time are the lyrics about finally seeing his grandfather again!  

I miss both of my grandfathers. My daddy's dad we didn’t see as often as my momma’s. I’ve told you before I called him, Pepa! Pepa was the most interesting and smartest person I have ever known. He had this strong and infectious personality, and he lit up a room when he walked into it. He loved Big Band music, as do I! He loved Coca-Cola in a glass bottle, as do I. He loved catfish, which I do too! 

 Pepa passed away after a long battle with cancer on August 13, 1990. He’s been gone 33 years. And I so look forward to the day I can walk step by step with him and hug his neck. I know that will happen again one day because I know Pepa loved the Lord and is in heaven today.  

Then there is my Memaw, my dad’s parents, Meme and Papa, my younger brother, cousins, and Aunt’s and Uncle’s... Who do you miss? We all miss someone who has passed away. What happens after life on earth? Well, we don’t know everything about life after life on planet earth. Even among the Christian faith, there is much ongoing debate about what happens after death.  

For reasons we do not fully know, the Bible does not reveal to us every detail about the afterlife.  

However, the Bible does reveal to us very clearly and boldly that there is 1 of 2 eternal destinations awaiting every human.   

After life on planet earth... Every human faces the same reality. Every human will either go to heaven or to hell. And... Every human gets to decide their eternal destination.  

And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life. 1 John 5:11-13  

There are many, many things you cannot control. THIS one you can!  

I get to decide where I spend eternity. 

After life on planet earth... For the Christian, eternity is heaven.   

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16  

For the non-Christian, eternity is hell... literally.  

Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on them. John 3:36  

Today, we are not discussing the eternity of hell. That will be a time of teaching for a later date.  

Here’s a question: When I think of heaven, what do I envision? Of course, we know that heaven will be unlike anything ever that we have experienced. We will be in the presence of the Lord forever. We will worship Him. We will dine with Him. We will be forever together. But, what about the other stuff...  

Will we know one another? Will we eat? Will there be pets? (If so, Bentley our 2-year-old will absolutely be there. Boone, the elephant-sized pooper, absolutely will not be there!) Will those married remain married? Will there be chips and salsa as good as Cinco de Mayo? Well, we won’t have time to answer each of these questions today. The Bible is not clear on every aspect of eternity. But, it is clear on some Orthodoxy essentials about what heaven is...  

I want to share 5 realities about heaven with you today. So let’s jump in!

1. Heaven is eternal life.  

Think of the greatest or the favorite of gifts you’ve ever been given.  

I remember in 2nd grade my parents bought me a gerbil. His name was Brownie.  

I got a go-cart in 5th grade. We rode the fire out of that go-cart for many years. Even after I had my driver’s license, I still loved riding around in the woods behind our house on that go-cart!  

This one is pretty special - - My grandfather’s vinyl collection. 

There are many gifts I have received that are unique, special, and dear to my heart. But none of these gifts impact, control, or change my eternity. Only one gift can do this... The gift of eternal life.  

Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life. Matthew 25:46  

Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt. Daniel 12:2  

Jesus said these words: Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?” John 11:25-26  

The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever. 1 John 2:17  

"Truly I tell you,” Jesus said to them, “no one who has left home or wife or brothers or sisters or parents or children for the sake of the kingdom of God will fail to receive many times as much in this age, and in the age to come eternal life.” Luke 18:29-30  

Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. Galatians 6:8  

When the Bible speaks of eternal life, it is referring to the gift that only comes through Jesus Christ.  

What’s intriguing about the Greek word “eternal” and too the phrase, “eternal life,” is the fact that both actually have less to do with “years and span of time,” and instead in the Greek mean:  

Eternity /Greek/ aionios = ongoing quality  

Why is this so important Church? Because as Christians, this means we do not have to wait until the afterlife to experience eternity!  

Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on them. John 3:36 

 As a follower of Jesus Christ, eternity does not begin when I die. Instead, it begins when I surrender my life to Jesus.  

From this moment forward, I can have a timeless and ongoing quality of life.  

Look at these two verses:

Very truly I tell you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life. John 5:24  

Very truly I tell you, the one who believes has eternal life. John 6:47  

The verb “believes” in both of these verses is present tense. Therefore, the believer, in the present tense - today, can have a timeless and ongoing quality of life now!  

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 6:23 

This gift is one-of-a-kind. This gift literally changes my forever. Because this gift is a disparity to the death I deserve.  

A gift becomes more than a thoughtful gesture when the gift offers the recipient a life alteration that otherwise could not and would not happen without the generosity of the giver.  

This is why Jesus stated:  

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life and have it to the full. John 10:10  

Life /Greek/ zoe = eternal life  

Full /Greek/ perissos = exceeding; complete

Think of every pain and brokenness and heartache and stress and depression and rejection and humiliation and betrayal I feel and experience...   And then imagine... eternal life will replace it all with an exceedingly and complete ongoing quality.   Heaven is not only eternal life.

2. Heaven is eternal life as a reset for humanity's loss.  

Let me explain...  

To fully grasp the weight of eternal life, it is imperative I comprehend the eternal life humanity lost.  

I’ll help you to understand this by asking you to answer this question:

Other than God and mankind, what is mentioned in the Bible more than any other living thing? (Any guess?)  


How many of you love trees? I love trees. I love landscaping in my yard. Some of you probably know that our house has been going through a remodel, well... mostly our yard and driveway since the second week of September. Additionally, as I assume many of you too, we lost many trees from the cold snap this past winter. Since January, we have cut down 12 trees and removed more than 20 bushes.   

Obviously, trees are important to God. Trees play an incredibly valuable role throughout the Bible: In the first recorded Psalm, the Psalmist writes we are to be like trees:  

Psalm 1:1-3

In the book of Luke, a tax collector Zacchaeus climbs a tree to get a glimpse of Jesus as our Savior is traveling through his town, Jericho.  

Look at what the Bible refers to as wisdom:  

She is a tree of life to those who take hold of her; those who hold her fast will be blessed. Proverbs 3:18  

After floating in the ark for many months, Noah received an olive branch in Genesis 8. Abraham sat under an oak tree at Mamre. Moses was confronted by God through a burning tree. In Mark 8, a blind man, once healed by Jesus, sees humans as this:

They came to Bethsaida, and some people brought a blind man and begged Jesus to touch him. He took the blind man by the hand and led him outside the village. When he had spit on the man’s eyes and put his hands on him, Jesus asked, “Do you see anything?” He looked up and said, “I see people; they look like trees walking around.” Mark 8:22-24

Before He is arrested, our Savior prays in a garden of trees. The disciples gathered on the Mount of Olive Trees.  

And, of course, without a tree, none of us would have ever been given the opportunity to gain access to heaven. Our very Savior died for the sins of humanity, offering access to those who believe in His name, by willingly hanging on a tree for 6 hours.  

It is actually at the beginning of time on earth, that we hear of the importance of two trees.  

Genesis 2:9  

We then read where God commands Adam and Eve not to eat from one specific tree: Genesis 2:16-17 

Two things we learn here concerning the trees from which man can and cannot eat: 1. Man can eat from any tree, including The Tree of Life. 2. Man cannot eat from one tree, The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.  

Notice the location of these trees? Right in the center of the garden. Why this location?   

In the Orthodoxy of God’s Word: 1. Nothing is of coincidence. 2. Every event, person, and situation has a very specific meaning in the plans of God.   

“The middle of the garden” location = 1. Allowed for The Tree of Life to be easily accessible. 2. Allowed for no confusion as to the location of The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.  

These trees provided both ease of accessibility and zero confusion as to what was on and off limits to humanity.   

One tree provided mankind with life – everlasting life – eternal life.  

The other tree offered mankind the knowledge of good and evil.  

One tree was permissible. The other was not.  

What happens next:  

Genesis 3:6-7  

Man and woman both eat from The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.  

And what is the immediate impact upon Adam and Eve - - the actual knowledge of good and evil! Immediately upon taking a bite of the fruit, earth’s first inhabitants race to clothe themselves! Why? Because they now possess the knowledge of good and worldly evil... and guilt over sin! They have done evil, and they now know it. This is why they see themselves naked.   The result: 

Genesis 3:22-24   

So why was it permissible for Adam and Eve to eat from The Tree of Life prior to their sin but were no longer allowed to do so afterward?  

Well, the answer is proof to us of just how very much God loves us! This tree, The Tree of Life, obviously plays a role in sustaining eternal life for mankind.  

In their disobedience, Adam and Eve lost their “eternal life.”  

If God were to allow Adam and Eve, and all future humans, to continue eating from this tree, in their fallen position, all of mankind would live forever and eternal.   

You may be asking, “Why is this a bad thing, Jeffrey?” Well, let me ask you, Do you ever hurt? Are you hurting today in some way? Has life been difficult for you as it relates to children, marriage, your career, finances, sickness, betrayal, loneliness, abandonment, isolation, tragedy, divorce, or death? Of course you do and of course it has!  

Let me then ask this: Do you want to continue forever in such pain, misery, brokenness, rejection, ridicule, or heartbreak? Or course you do not! You see...

Sin is constant misery. Sin is all-consuming. Sin affects me and cripples me in the most terrible of ways. Sin, once a part of my life, remains a part of my life... and it leaves me in need of redemption, release, and restoration.  

If, as a sinner dealing with such brokenness, I have access to the very tree that offers me eternal life, then such access would leave me forever marred with the unrelenting and intolerable effects of sin and all its misery.  

But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you so that he will not hear. Isaiah 59:2   

They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might. 2 Thessalonians 1:9  

It appears that access to The Tree of Life would have painfully lingered and prolonged as humanity experiences the effects of sin indefinitely.  

It is for this reason that God will eventually send His Son, eternal life, to us. Look at what John had to say about this very act of compassion and love:  

And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life. 1 John 5:11-12

You see...   

A merciful God has kept me from The Tree of Life. In doing so, God has provided compassion, though I deserve misery and death. It was God’s mercy that kept me from The Tree of Life. It is too God’s mercy that has offered me a way to regain eternal life.

So why does God forbid man to eat from The Tree of Life after he sins? He does so not for punishment! Instead, He does so for man’s protection!  

So how interesting it is... the Bible begins with an extremely important reference to this tree!   

The Bible too ends with God restoring The Tree of Life in its proper place with humanity: Revelation 22:1-5  

You see, it is extremely clear when one examines the fullness of the Orthodoxy of Scripture that, in heaven, we experience a reset for humanity's loss of eternal life.    

3. Heaven is eternal life as entirely indescribable and an undefinable beauty.  

The word “heaven” appears 622 times in the Old and New Testaments. Jesus spoke so much of this indescribable place, because He truly came so that we might have a return to eternal life with Him.  

Revelation 21:10-21  

I really can’t add any words to this passage to accentuate such marvel and pristine beauty.    

4. Heaven is eternal life in a place of no “mores.”   

1. In heaven, there will be no more pain, hurt, death, lust, jealousy, depression, loneliness and sadness.  

Revelation 21: 1-4    

2. In heaven, there will be no more church buildings.  

Revelation 21:22    

3. In heaven, there will be no more sun or moon.  

Revelation 21:22-23     

4. In heaven, there will be no more sin.  

Revelation 21:27    

5. In heaven, there will be no more questions.  

If you could ask God one question, what would you ask?  

Here is a list of questions for God a 2nd-grade group of kids assembled: Why did God make mosquitos?  

How come you haven’t invented any new animals lately? We still have all the old ones.  

Can you put another holiday between Christmas & Easter? There’s nothing good there right now!  

God, if you can see me, do you watch me when I poop? Did Jesus practice walking on water before He actually did it?  

Who draws the lines around the countries? Who told you that you were God?    

What do you want to ask God?  

We each have questions. And there are times when the unanswered questions, if we are not intentional in our faith, can leave us frustrated, and for some, possibly even angry.  

In such times, let me remind you: 

God is always willing to accept my questions.  

When He does not answer, I have to be willing to accept His silence.   

God always has a reason for everything He does.  

And there are times when what God does is not as I desire.  

For now, we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. 1 Corinthians 13:12  

It is so good to know that, in heaven, there will be no “mores!”

5. Heaven is eternal life forever in the presence of Jesus Christ.  

I’ve been asked before: When we get to heaven, since we will finally be in the presence of Jesus, will we even still know one another? I believe yes!  

And there are numerous places in scripture that suggest exactly this: There he was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light. Just then there appeared before them Moses and Elijah, talking with Jesus. Matthew 17:2-3

Moses and Elijah had departed this world centuries before, yet they still remained recognizable. And, in Luke 16:19-24, there is recorded a story of a rich man who dies and goes to hell.

Abraham, Lazarus and the rich man are all recognizable. In each of these examples, the Bible seems to indicate that, after death, we will still be recognizable to each other. Of course, the greatest example of this reality is that we will see and know and recognize and worship our Lord, Jesus Christ, in heaven. And I can assure you of this:  

When I see Him for the first time, I will absolutely know it is Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world.  

This will be the greatest moment of our lives and will be the most wonderful part of heaven: Heaven is eternal life forever in the presence of Jesus Christ.   

While still on earth before going to the cross, Jesus had one final meal with His followers. As He did, He told them: Matthew 26:26-29  

He spent these final moments with His followers and took the cup and broke the bread:  


As we come to the conclusion of Orthodoxy, we end with our focus on Jesus. And we do so by reading the final recorded words of Jesus Christ, our Savior, and Lord, as recorded in the book of Orthodoxy, God’s Holy Word.  

Revelation 22:12-21 


Jeffrey Dean Smith is a husband, father to Bailey & Brynnan, author, and the Senior Pastor at Donelson First in Nashville, TN. If you are in Music City, meet Jeffrey and enjoy iced tea on the front lawn each Sunday at 10:30a.