…which was the topic of a great blog post I read today, how do YOU feel when you think about heaven? When you think about crossing the bridge from temporal to eternal? When faced with the potentially immediate possibility of earthly death?
I can’t answer for you. But I can – and am about to – answer for myself.
I had to come to terms with my own mortality quite a number of years ago when I developed cardiovascular disease. That first ambulance ride was an eye-opener, and the following hospitalization gave me 5 days to think seriously about it between tests. I was a Christian then, and had been for nearly 20 years, but I had never considered imminent death, only that someday I would die but would have plenty of time to get used to the idea. Now all of that time had shrunk down to days, or even hours, in my mind.
The first place to turn during this wake-up call was the Word. I needed assurance that the prayer I’d prayed 2 decades ago was still good, and if I died it would still get me admittance to heaven. I had some ideas of what heaven would be like, mostly things like the whole no pain or tears idea which sounded good…being reunited with people I loved that were already there was a big attraction to me, and that whole banquet thing – wow! Who doesn’t love a good spread? I also wondered if I’d be able to fly.
Then the Word – God’s own answers to the questions I had – lit me up with a few surprises! First, where was that part about saying a prayer and from then on having a free pass? Try as I might, I couldn’t find it! I did find a lot of places talking about repenting1 – as in turning away – for my sins; I had asked to be forgiven for them on that night 20 years ago but had I truly turned away from them? Was I still turned away? Secondly I noticed that repentance was mentioned hand-in-hand with following Jesus2. The accounts of Him calling men, just people like me, away from what they were doing to do His work instead was telling; was I living differently from before? Was I changed from a believer to a follower? What – whose – work was I doing? And thirdly, why did the Bible keep linking believing with obeying? Nobody said anything about that part. Nobody told me that there were rules! But there they were, in every book, things that I was told I needed to do – or not do – in order to be obedient3. And what was this? Without obedience my belief didn’t count? Certainly that couldn’t be!
The road since that time has had some rocky places, many things of which I’ve needed to repent over and above asking for forgiveness, and even sins I’d be ashamed to admit now. But I will say this: It is only now that I’m able to have confidence that, should I take my last breath today, my eternity with Jesus is assured. Over the intervening years God’s own Spirit has opened my eyes and my heart to the realities of grace and adoption, and what following Jesus, every minute of every day, means. And what heaven means. It isn’t about eating or flying or some grand reunion in the sky. It is about Jesus Himself, the Lamb who was slain to gain my admittance, so that I can spend forever with Him, in praise and in love and in beauty. Anything less just wouldn’t be heaven.
Following are a few of the verses used for reference; I couldn’t possibly share them all here. But I urge you to look them up, read the context of each, and then follow the references – we used to call them chain references back in the day – to find more Scripture on each topic. No single verse ever tells the whole story – and trust me, you do want the whole story!
1Repent therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out. Acts 3:19
Just so, I tell you, there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents. Luke 15:10
2Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” Matthew 16:24
For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. 1Peter 2:21
3“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven…” Matthew 7:21
And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments. Whoever says “I know him” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him… John 2:3-4
Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever. 1John 2:15-17
2 thoughts on “Speaking of Heaven…”
Here I am, commenting on my own post…but right after I finished it I checked into one of my favorite places [Dingdash] and there, posted just an hour ago – as I was writing today’s post – was this: “But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves. For if you listen to the word and don’t obey, it is like glancing at your face in a mirror. You see yourself, walk away, and forget what you look like.” James 1:22-24 NLT Isn’t that fantastic, how God orchestrates???
This is very good. It got a little hard to read when the font size got smaller but I perservered.
I can’t recall the exact verse references (not quite 3;30 am) but here are verses that come tom mind.
There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
There are those who will enter into the kingdom of Heaven
There are those who will see the kingdom of Heaven afar off
Not everyone who says “Lord, Lord” will enter in. Many who say “Didn’t I cast out demons in your name? Didn’t I lay hands on the sick? etc Jesus will say “I never knew you”.
There are those whose hearts will be broke because they thought once saved always saved and those who have seen the kingdom afar off will not enter in. Those are the ones who will be weeping. The latter group trying to persuade Jesus to let them into the kingdom by telling Him what they have done, it is they who will be gnashing their teeth.
The Word say to Bring up a child in the way he should go and he will not depart from it – is about teaching obedience to God, obedience to parents who are of the Lord..
The world is filled with many voices – none without significance. Think about that. What voices do we listen to = those in the world, those of Satan and his demons or do we listen to God’s voice, in His Word. in the Holy Spirit and from what Jesus has set an example for us to follow
Guard your hearts/ Take heed to what you hear. Discerning of the spirits backed by the Word of God to protect your heart – and – be obedient.