Month: October 2006
It’s a tragedy that today so many people within the church in the West view heaven as a materialistic haven of sorts, where every possible desire for earthly things will be perfectly fulfilled. I’ve heard pastors and teachers of various sorts state that heaven will be a place where you can always be playing golf, jumping off clouds, swimming into the depths of the ocean without a scuba tank, we’ll get to ski down mountains at 200 miles an hour, a place where we’ll basically get whatever we wanted here on earth, and it will be better. In this view it seems heaven is viewed as some sort of divine Disney land where we get to do whatever we want all the time.
The tragedy lies not merely in the fact that none of these perceptions of heaven in any way come from the Scriptures, but most of all that none of these perceptions in any way involve God, the glorified Christ, and the fact that He is the highest value to obtain for all eternity, not perfected possessions. In heaven we could have nothing to possess, no material objects, and yet be rich for all eternity because we possess Christ as our treasure. Where is Jesus in any of the ideas modern people profess as heaven? The only reason heaven is great is because Christ is there. If He wasn’t there, and we had all the greatest possessions God could possibly create, it would be void of any joy. The only reason we have enjoyment in anything God has created here on Earth is because He gives it significance. This is no exception in heaven. Even though things will be perfected, if He is absent from giving those things significance, what is left of worth in those things? God gives anything any worth at all, and more specifically Christ holds all things together by the power of His word.
So what is the best part of heaven, or what is the best part about our salvation? Many would say it’s the fact that we’ve been reconciled from the wrath of God that is even now being revealed against the world. Many would say it’s the fact that we’ll have new perfected bodies at the end of the age, that creation will be restored back to perfection. And I would indeed affirm that all these are priceless, incredible benefits of our salvation and of heaven. Yet Scripture speaks of something even better. Let’s look at Romans 5:6-11. As you read this, pay attention to how Paul reveals the benefits of our salvation, how they build upon each other.
6 For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For one will scarcely die for a righteous person–though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die– 8 but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. 10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. 11 More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.
Starting in verse nine, Paul shows that because we are justified by the blood of Christ through faith, we shall be spared the wrath of God. What an incredible benefit this is! For those of us who have placed faith in Christ, we have been saved from eternal torment in fires of hell. What a blessing! How incredible is this!? And yet Paul continues. Even better than being rescued from hell, we are saved by the very eternal, infinite, priceless life of Christ Himself! How wonderful! … And yet he continues and states that even “more than that”, the greatest blessing of all, of everything accomplished by the work of Christ on the cross, is that we are reconciled to God Himself! The greatest blessing of Christ’s work is that we have God once again as our treasure! We get Christ for all eternity, the very one through whom all of creation was spoken into existence. How much great is the Creator through whom the creation came to be!? There is nothing greater in all that exists, in all of the benefits of our salvation even, than the fact that we are reconciled back to God Himself, the Author and Founder of all creation, the Author and Founder of even our faith. We get God forever!
Heaven is the place where this great Sovereign God and King of the ages resides. And so I would submit to anyone who has seen heaven as an eternal playground (the way so many people portray it), that the only reason heaven is great is because Jesus is there, because this is where God Himself resides. Could there be anywhere greater than where God Himself lives? There is nothing greater than obtaining God Himself as your treasure forever. All meaning, significance, reality and value is found in God Himself, through the Gate of Jesus Christ. What a wonderful thing we have to look forward to, that we get to spend forever with Christ, getting to know the depths of God for all eternity!
For years and years now, the church in the West has enjoyed freedom from hostility. But if this pans out in Europe, eventually it will make it’s way here and as the link at the top states at the end, “And given the way evangelicalism has been going the last 50 years, we aren’t even remotely ready for it.”
Many read through the Sermon on the Mount and seem to portray what Jesus said in such nice terms. But if you really think about what He was doing, He was raising the bar of the law even higher to where it’s impossible for us to even begin to keep any of it at all. So instead of thinking that Jesus’ sermon on the mount was just a nice talk He gave, and merely a “good moralistic teaching,” really it should cause us to despair of doing anything right in ourselves and strike fear in our hearts.
For instance, in Matthew 5, Jesus will state a law, by saying in verse 27 for example, “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery,’ and then He comes along behind that and refines that law, by saying in verse 28, “But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” Whoa. The deed is already done in our hearts even if we don’t commit the physical act! And He does this with several laws. If anyone is angry with his brother, he has committed murder in his heart! Man, what a defeater. And that’s the point! We should indeed despair of doing anything right in ourselves and see that Christ Himself did everything right and that when we trust Him to be our perfect law-abider, then we are freed from the judgment we all fall under because of our law-breaking.
This is exactly what Jesus taught in Matthew 5:17: “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.”Christ came to do what we could never do, perform and fulfill the requirements of the law perfectly on our behalf. Praise be to God for the person and work of Jesus Christ, that He was able and in fact did obey the law perfectly, that when we place our faith in Him, we gain His perfect record on our behalf. And through this we then gain power by the Holy Spirit to actually begin to do what the law says, not because we have to out of duty, but because we want to, and the desires of our hearts are changed. What a wonderful and gloriously free gift!
Repent and believe in Jesus Christ that you may be saved, because you definitely cannot count on out-weighing your good with your bad, mainly becaise there is no good within any of us at all (when compared against God’s standard of righteousness displayed in Matthew 5 here)! We are sinners. We fall short continually and yet in Christ, we can be presented perfect before the Father because of Christ’s perfect work on our behalf. How amazing …