Posts tagged ‘Heaven’

In the Glory Land Way

Navigation systems.
Seems like nowadays we have to have them. They are useful, when the work correctly. But many things can go wrong. Sometimes, if you put in that you want to go to Appleton, you have to make sure you specify the one in Wisconsin. Following directions to Appleton, Illinois will not get you home any time soon!

We are all on a journey, and we need to make sure we are on the correct path, and also in the right kind of vehicle if we are to arrive at our desired eternal destination.

The onramp: Salvation
Before we are delivered from sin, we are all on the wrong road. It is a very wide and spacious road, and no one gets in your way. Most folks are on it, and who are we to say that they are wrong? Right? Well Jesus said otherwise.

“Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it. (Matthew 7:13, 14 NASB)

The vehicle: Grace
In Ephesians 2:8-9, Paul wrote that we are saved “by grace through faith” so I am making grace the vehicle, and faith the engine. For after we are saved, we must remain in grace in order to make it to our heavenly home. At no point in the journey are we ever without the need for grace. So now we have the vehicle, and discovered as well that it is ours as a gift! So how do we make it go?

The Engine: Faith
We must have faith to make any progress on our Christian journey. And faith we must have, without faith we cannot please God, nor receive the reward for those who diligently seek him.

And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him. (Hebrews 11:6 NASB)

But how do we get this faith and make it strong? By taking in the Word of God!

So faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. (Romans 10:17 WEB)

So we now know we need faith for an engine, and we know where to get it. Now we need some fuel.

The Fuel: Love
The fuel our faith engine runs on is love.

For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision amounts to anything, nor uncircumcision, but faith working through love. (Galatians 5:6 WEB)

For this reason I too, having heard of the faith in the Lord Jesus which exists among you and your love for all the saints, (Ephesians 1:15 NASB)

I cannot emphasize enough the importance of love. Without it, your entire journey is for nothing. Nothing else matters if you don’t mix it with love.

so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, (Ephesians 3:17 NASB)

We have our vehicle, the engine is in, the tank is fueled, and will continue to be refilled, with love. What kind of highway are we supposed to drive on?

The Road: Patience
Back in Matthew 7 we saw that the road is narrow and few people will find it. Once we are on this narrow road, what kind of road is it? It is a road of patience. If we were to receive everything instantly, we would have little opportunity to build our character. It is in the waiting that we learn to trust God.

so that you may not be sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises. (Hebrews 6:12 ESV)

Yes, our final salvation must be hoped for with patience.

For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience. (Romans 8:24, 25 ESV)

Paul commended the Thessalonians for their patience, faith and love.

Remembering without ceasing your work of faith, and labour of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ, in the sight of God and our Father; (1 Thessalonians 1:3 KJV)

Now we are equipped for the journey. We have to remember that not of the things I have mentioned above are optional. They all are essential and there are no substitutes for them. Take away any of them, and the others are ineffective and/or nullified. If this is not a journey you have begun, or if you realize that you thought the journey had begun but find yourself on the broad road, come to Jesus and begin the journey on the narrow road. Get in the Glory Land Way!

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Our Pains and Diseases

Healing is a popular subject these days. From medical advances that boggle the mind, to seeking out alternative cures and dietary solutions, it seems there is a universal desire to be healed. Better yet, we want to walk in health so we won’t need to be healed! It is no different in the religious world. A quick survey of religious broadcasting reveals numerous teachers preaching to packed arenas about divine healing. Prominent among such teaching is the idea that Jesus did not just pay for our spiritual healing on the cross, but that his suffering, specifically his stripes, paid for our physical healing as well. “Our healing has already been accomplished” they say. All we have to do is to have faith and not doubt, and receive the healing that is rightfully ours. But is this accurate teaching? Let’s see what the Bible says.

In the faith healing teaching, Isaiah 53 is a foundational passage. Let’s take a look at it and see if it is being properly applied or not.

But he lifted up our illnesses, he carried our pain;
even though we thought he was being punished,
attacked by God, and afflicted for something he had done.
He was wounded because of our rebellious deeds, crushed because of our sins;
he endured punishment that made us well; because of his wounds we have been healed. (Isaiah 53:4, 5 NET)

On the face of it, there seem to be two very compelling statements here about healing. In verse 4, The Suffering Servant (Jesus) is said to have lifted up our illnesses and carried our pain. And if one goes with the assumption that this verse is talking exclusively about the crucifixion, it looks like a reasonable interpretation of the verse. Fortunately, this verse is quoted in the Gospel of Matthew, chapter 8 verses 16-17, so we don’t have to guess at when this verse was fulfilled. Matthew records the following incident.

“When evening came, they brought to Him many who were demon-possessed; and He cast out the spirits with a word, and healed all who were ill. This was to fulfill what was spoken through Isaiah the prophet: “HE HIMSELF TOOK OUR INFIRMITIES AND CARRIED AWAY OUR DISEASES.” (Matthew 8:16, 17 NASB)

As anyone can see, this verse is not applied to all disease for all time being paid for at the cross. Through inspiration, the Apostle Matthew says that the miraculous ability Jesus had to heal the sick and drive out demons from those who were possessed was a sign that he was the Suffering Servant who would be our Messiah. In other words, they could recognize who Jesus was by his ability to heal the sick!

But what about Isaiah’s statement that by his wounds we have been healed? It is true that this portion of the verse could still be talking about our healing being paid for on the cross. True, that is, unless the New Testament apostles applied it to something else instead. Let’s see how this verse is applied by the Apostle Peter.

“When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly. He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.” (1 Peter 2:23-25 ESV)

At first this passage looks more promising because Peter is talking about what happened at the crucifixion of Jesus here. But again, how is the quote from Isaiah applied? To the bearing of our sins in his body on the cross, which would enable us to die to sin and live to righteousness (kind of sounds like baptism here). The result of this healing from the wounds he endured was verse 25. We are no longer like sheep who were astray, but have returned to God. His wounds purchased for us, not physical healing, but spiritual healing of our souls and our reconciliation to God! Once again, after careful examination, we find that the faith healers have misapplied this verse.

So can God heal today? According to Psalm 103, all healing of any kind is a gift from God. And surely God would not command us to pray for one another when we are sick if there were no benefit from it, or if said healing was not his will. In fact, during his earthly ministry, there is no record of Jesus ever declining to heal anyone who asked. But that was during his earthly ministry, and during the time of the apostles, who confirmed the validity of their message as being from God by signs and wonders (Hebrews 2:4) And one day, those of us who will spend eternity in his glorious presence will be freed from every disease and pain.
Until that time, enough of television and radio preachers who tell the sick that their healing is now, and they just have to receive it by faith. And if they are not healed, it is because they lacked that faith. To heap such guilt and condemnation on one who is suffering is beyond cruel, and only adds a deeper layer of suffering to the physical pain they are enduring. This is especially true of those who, like Simon the Sorcerer in Acts 8, tell desperate people that God is holding their healing but will pour it out upon them if they send in money.

No, the ultimate healing will take place in the dwelling place of God, not on this fallen earth.

“And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” (Revelation 21:3, 4 ESV)

He who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming soon.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus! (Revelation 22:20 ESV)

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Mission Accomplished

Some things in life are done on a regular or even a continual basis. And in our spiritual walk with God, there are disciplines that we cultivate that aid our spiritual growth. Our Father in heaven also has things which he is constantly repeating, like forgiveness, salvation, and guiding His children. What I want to take a look at now, though, are things that God has done in Christ that are accomplished events, and will never be repeated because they are permanent I their effect.

Christ has delivered the Gospel and founded His church.
“Dear friends, although I have been eager to write to you about our common salvation, I now feel compelled instead to write to encourage you to contend earnestly for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints.” (Jude 1:3 NET)
This verse in the little letter of Jude deals a lethal blow to the teachings of those who claim that the Gospel has been lost and that we need a new revelation. There is no plan to reintroduce the Gospel after a time of complete apostasy and darkness. That is also why Jesus was able to say to Peter in Matthew 16:18 that, “you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” (Matthew 16:18 ESV)
Jesus also promised that he would be with us always, even to the end of the age just before His ascension in Matthew 28.
The Canon is closed, and the revelation of His will is complete. There is no need to give heed to those who claim new revelation.

But there is another thing that has been done once for all. Christ has shed His precious blood and eternally completed the sacrifice for our salvation.
The Holy Spirit put it this way through the Hebrew writer:

“And by that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. And every priest stands daily at his service, offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, waiting from that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet. For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.” (Hebrews 10:10-14 ESV)

The sacrifice that was made to secure our forgiveness was made once for all time, and it needs no repetition. In fact, to try and repeat it on a weekly or even daily basis is to cheapen the value of the original sacrifice! Nor is there a need to continually offer that sacrifice to God, for Jesus offered it and has already sat down. That’s generally how you know when someone has finished something. They return to their rightful place and sit down! Thus, when His mission was completed, Jesus was able to cry out “It is finished” as a confirmation that he had suffered enough and shed enough of His blood to fully accomplish that which He was sent to do. We dare not try to continue that sacrifice or repeat that sacrifice today.

In the future, there will be another work that will be accomplished once and for all. That will be the eternal judgment after death that will determine our eternal condition.

“And these shall go away into eternal punishment: but the righteous into eternal life.”(Matthew 25:46 ASV)

Yes, our condition will be one of eternal bliss or eternal destruction. There is no indication that either of these destinies will be temporary or changeable. Thankfully, we can decide that destination today. According to Romans 6, If you are buried with him in baptism, you will rise to walk in newness of life and be on the road to Heaven. What could possibly be big enough to keep you from doing that today?

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The Value Of Tears

There are a multitude of reasons to shed tears. I have wept hot tears of sorrow as I held my baby girl as her life slowly ebbed away in the newborn intensive care unit. I have seen many weep at the loss of a relationship or a treasured family pet. On the other hand, it is genuinely a pleasure to laugh so hard that you cry! And who would fault someone for getting misty-eyed at a tender and moving scene like a wedding or the birth of a baby?
It is normal for us to weep, and it is part of our human nature. Even Jesus wept at the tomb of his friend Lazarus, even though He was about to raise him from the dead! (John 11:35) We are commanded to “weep with those who weep” and many times such weeping is more appreciated than words we could think to offer.
But tears are also a valuable addition to our individual ministry. As we pray for those with whom we share the Gospel, and weep over their lost condition, the Lord seems to use those tears to make the seeds of our prayers grow.
In Psalm 126 the psalmist wrote through inspiration, “Those who sow with tears will reap with songs of joy. Those who go out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with them. (Psalm 126:5, 6 NIV)
In the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5, Jesus said, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.” Matthew 5:4 NIV) Could it be that this comfort will be obtained as that for which we have wept before the Lord comes to fruition?

Elsewhere in Scripture, weeping is associated with repentance. David wrote this in Psalm 30:5,
“For his anger is but for a moment, and his favor is for a lifetime.
Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning.” (Psalm 30:5 ESV)
This weeping, which Paul refers to as “godly sorrow”, is essential to our spiritual growth and progress. Paul explained it to the Corinthian Christians this way:
“As it is, I rejoice, not because you were grieved, but because you were grieved into repenting. For you felt a godly grief, so that you suffered no loss through us. For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death. For see what earnestness this godly grief has produced in you, but also what eagerness to clear yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what longing, what zeal, what punishment! At every point you have proved yourselves innocent in the matter.” (2 Corinthians 7:9-11 ESV)
Furthermore, this godly sorrow gets God’s attention. It is often referred to in the Bible as “a broken and contrite heart.” Let’s take a look at Isaiah 66. Jehovah is speaking and lets His people know that He is in need of nothing, and there is no building they could erect that He would find impressive. But look in verse 2 and see what DOES cause God to turn and look.
“Thus says the Lord: ‘Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool;
what is the house that you would build for me, and what is the place of my rest?
All these things my hand has made, and so all these things came to be,
declares the Lord.
But this is the one to whom I will look: he who is humble and contrite in spirit
and trembles at my word.'” (Isaiah 66:1, 2 ESV)
Wow! Do you want to get God’s attention and have Him look with favor on you? Be humble, contrite in heart, and be in awe of His Word such that you tremble at the thought of the value of it!

But tears and crying will not always be with us. There will surely come a day when death and tears and crying will be no more. I mentioned briefly the passing of my infant daughter. She was only with us for eight hours, but I know that she is not gone away, but rather she has gone ahead. When she was buried we put the reference to this verse on her gravestone.
“He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” (Revelation 21:4 ESV)
Speaking of eternity together with the Lord can be an abstract theological discussion. But all of that changes when you face reality and no safety net, and faith in the Everlasting arms is all you’ve got to stand on. But rest assured, the God who spoke the universe into existence and sent His only begotten Son to redeem us cannot lie, and what he has promised will surely come to pass.
Weeping may last the night, but there will most definitely be joy in that eternal morning!

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What Happens In The Garden

What Happens In The Garden

My mom has always loved gardening. For as long as I can remember, she has had lush flower beds and a vegetable garden. While the eleven of us were growing up, mom and dad had a huge garden, along with goats and chickens. Most of what we ate came from our own pasture or gardens. In retrospect, it was an idyllic time, and a wonderful way to grow up.

In the span of salvation history, gardens are important places for God as well. When God created Adam and Eve, he placed them in a garden (Gen 2:8). It was a lush place, with everything that could be desired. It was also a place of intimate fellowship with the Creator, and he would physically manifest (preincarnate Jesus?) and walk with them in the cool of the day (Gen 3:8).

But the garden became defiled by sin, as Adam and Eve willfully said “no” to the command of God and they, their descendants, and the earth over which they were given dominion fell. From then on, sin reigned and through sin, came death. As a result, they were expelled from the garden that had been their only home.

Thousands of years later, another scene was taking place in a garden. This time it was the Garden of Gethsemane, where Jesus, who would be called the “second Adam” (1 Corinthians 15) The difference was that this Adam, who was a perfect man in an imperfect garden, was saying “yes” to God and would, through His obedience, bring eternal life to all who would receive it.

Someday, there will be another garden. One that is perfect, wherein righteousness dwells. With a river flowing out of the throne of God, and with the tree of life. We shall once again have perfect communion with our Lord, and spend eternity in his presence. John describes it this way:
“Then he showed me a river of the water of life, clear as crystal, coming from the throne of God and of the Lamb, in the middle of its street. On either side of the river was the tree of life, bearing twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit every month; and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. There will no longer be any curse; and the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and His bond-servants will serve Him; they will see His face, and His name will be on their foreheads. And there will no longer be any night; and they will not have need of the light of a lamp nor the light of the sun, because the Lord God will illumine them; and they will reign forever and ever.” (Revelation 22:1-5 NASB)

My friends, that will be a garden worth seeing. And unlike the gardens of my youth, there will be no weeds to pull. Just the full enjoyment of paradise spent in His presence.

And THAT will be the most wonderful garden of all!

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