Tag Archives: heaven

Does true Hope exist?

 

I don’t know why but I was just thinking about death recently.  The sun is shining, life is good, but I believe I started pondering it for a good reason.  I’ll share that reason with you.

I think death entered my idle mind as I started thinking about my little brother who is in the Holy Land right now, touring around Israel.  I love him so much.  My mind went into “what if…” mode.  I hate it when it does that, and I have to forcefully stop it sometimes, because it can be so damaging.  But my mind played the “what if…” question to my brother.  “What if my brother died in Israel?”  Well he would certainly get a front row seat of the return of Christ when he rises from the dead, but in the off-chance he did die in Israel, it would be a devastating blow the family.  We would miss him dearly!  But praise be to God, we would have hope of seeing him again.

Does everyone have this hope?  I know of a family who don’t believe in a heaven and hell.  They believe that we live for the best we can in this life, and then die.  Die and disappear pretty much.  Which is why its important to them to invest in society so much, so as to leave a legacy.

I want to pose a series of “Isn’t it curious….” questions to this type of outlook towards death, for those who say there is no God, and there is no after-life, we just…..disappear.

Isn’t it curious we place so much effort and life into the pursuit of love….only to lose it in the end?

Isn’t it curious we spend the good part of our lives investing in material things that we seek and work to call our own…to only lose it in the end and it become others possessions?

Isn’t it curious how we react to death…as if death is a cruel thief stealing our loved ones at a most inconvenient time?

Isn’t it curious how we mourn and miss our loved ones….as if we feel we have been dealt a crappy hand, and life turns to be an unfair master?

Isn’t it curious why a word even exists called HOPE?

If a word called “hope” exists, and all is useless in the end, are we just fooling ourselves when we talk about hope, at all?

Or maybe there is hope…true hope!  Hope that says, “All your love is not wasted!”  Hope that calls back from the grave, “You’ll see me once again, but in paradise!”  Hope that offers a saving hand to you, that will pick you up out of any trouble you get into.  Hope that says, “Even if you’ve been dealt a crappy hand, ultimately there is hope for you beyond the grave.”

Hope is written on Christ’s arm as he turns to death and deals a blow so great, it crushes him to disappearing, while saying, “Death is swallowed up in victory; O death where is your victory?  O death where is your sting?”

Those who love Jesus Christ, we are “waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.” Titus 2:13-14

“That is it! That’s Jesus!”

Have you talked with someone and had to imagine their face?  Have you ever been in a long distance relationship and never actually met them in person?  Have you ever had a pen-pal and with great excitement you wait til you get a picture of them?

We were made to do two things (well many more, like eat); 1) to behold glorious things (which is why we go to geological attractions like the Grand Canyon and the Niagra Falls), and 2) to behold the glory in each other.  We each have a shadow of the glory of Jesus in our faces.  We were made after his image, his likeness, bone of his bone.  And some awesome day, some glorious day, we will behold the face of Christ, our God in the flesh.  Don’t we all yearn for that day?

Some have already supposedly seen him.  The apostles for one, but also some in our century have also.  People who have had near death experiences often describe going into a dream like state where they enter heaven, talk with Jesus, see Gabriel the angel, etc.  Many Muslims who have come to Christ have done so by way of talking with Christ himself in their dreams (which is obviously not a near death experience, and an important distinction).

Well what I’m about to say I don’t put a ton of stock in, but find it very interesting, and truthful in a very big way.  Two young people, one a boy at age 3, and a girl who was around 7-8 years old, both almost died, and both witnessed seeing Jesus Christ.

The parents of the boy, Colton Burpo, were obsessed with finding images and portraits that Colton might find in the likeness of Christ.  But again and again, Colton would say no.  Until they come across a picture that the girl painted after she came back, of Jesus.  When Colton saw this painting, he said, “That is it!  That’s Jesus!” So we have the testimony of two very young children who have seen Jesus, and agree together as to what He looks like.  You want to see a picture of what Jesus may look like?  Here it is:

Surprise!  He’s not white, or has blue eyes!

Todd Burpo, his father, wrote a book, last year, about this whole experience, of his sons getting sick, seeing him through, and takes us on a journey through years of Colton recounting and telling the story of what he saw in his “three minutes” of heaven.

Matthew Patton of Parchment and Pen wrote a good critical review of this book.  In which he asks the question, “Are they lying?”  After all, this sort of stuff could get one very rich quick in the world of Christendom.   This is a good review of the book if you are interested.

And because I think everything that is worth believing in, is worth questioning, (I’m not saying I whole-heartedly believe this story) here is a good clip by David Platt on why we shouldn’t believe this story of “ascending to heaven and descending again to earth”, which as Platt will explain, is only attainable and was only attained by Jesus Christ.  The other “experiences” of heaven, were through visions, not by one who died and came back again.  I don’t we think we should declare this story true too quickly.  Instead, let this be a time when we search the scriptures to see what it says on this sort of matter.

Here is a short clip that explains who Jesus is;

If this has interested you, and you want to go deeper into who Jesus is, and what he said, maybe you can start here;

Learn more.

Water cleanses, but Fire refines within! The prophecy through Noah.

Listen to the Prophets

Peter in his second letter, in chapter three, delivers a word of prophecy that I never noticed before.  One, because I never considered the story of Noah to be connected to the second coming of Christ like this.  It’s an old Testament story, but it is deeply connected.  It manifests Gods heart of distraught with the sinfulness of man, and a willingness with holy zeal to start over because of his love for mankind.  This is how he begins to conclude the third chapter…

“I am stirring up your sincere mind by way of reminder, that you should remember the predictions of the holy prophets and the commandments of the Lord and Savior through your apostles.”

Our next question should be, well which predictions of holy prophets are you talking about Peter?  We find which prophets he means in the paragraphs below.   Talking about people who will mock us for believing Jesus Christ will come again, Peter says

“For they deliberately overlook this fact, that the heavens existed long ago, and the earth was formed out of water and through water, the word of God, and that by means of these the world that then existed was deluged* with water and perished.”

*other translations may say, flooded, or overcome with water.

The Flood as Prophecy to the Return of Christ

In the same chapter Peter talks about predictions of the holy prophets and mentions the very story of Noah.  Now we know God flooded the earth, because he was sorry he even made humans, because they were violent all the time.  War was everywhere, and sexual immorality was prevalent.  It says men took women as they wanted (its interesting to note, that before that point God had not given the law…he had not given order to things….this was what man did without restraints), and there was sinful chaos.  Noah was the remnant, he was holding out, and God was going to save him and his sons, and so purify the earth of its moral dirt and filth by way of water.  A fresh start was needed, because man was continually evil the word says.  So he flooded the earth, and every living thing died that was not on the ark.  God promised he would never flood the earth again, and he won’t.  But to ready the kingdom of God, a second cleansing is needed.  In God’s presence there can be no sin, and if there was, He would cease to be a just God, so He has chosen to cleanse his creation with a stronger cleansing agent, with a stronger scrub….with fire.

Water cleans the surface, but fire burns and refines deep within, not just the surface, but throughout.

Same skies, two different rains

Rain comes from the sky, everyone knows this.  But think this way….every time it rains, it is a MERCY, that it doesn’t rain fire on us, like it will some day!  Consider the scripture below, still in the third chapter,

“But by the same word the heavens and earth that now exist are stored up for fire, being kept until the day of judgement and destruction of the ungodly.”

“…the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done in it will be exposed.”

“It’s never rained before!”

The people in Noahs day mocked Noah for building an ark.  Because they had never seen rain before.  The scripture says that water came up from the ground and the heavens, indicating that God kept an amount of water in the atmosphere and in the ground (read the creation account in Genesis).  So the people who saw Noah, had never seen the ark, and thought it foolish and silly to build a boat.

So also today, NO ONE has seen fire fall from the heavens!  And OH what a terrible sight it would be!

Noah as a prediction of what is to come

So it is my estimation that the flood is not merely a model of how things may pan out in the end, but a prediction. It is a necessity, by way of insufficiency, that Noah predicted the return of Christ.  Just as Moses gave the law, predicting Christ by way of insufficiency, so Noah predicted the end times in greater sufficiency, just as Christ fulfilled the law in a very necessary way.  The law was insufficient, and so was the flood.  The end-times will be a fulfillment of the flood, and God’s covenant with the earth.

An encouragement

But, this is not our hope!  Fire is not it!  There is joy and pleasure forever more in the presence of God, once he comes!  Be encouraged by these words Peter leaves us with.

“Therefore, beloved, since you are waiting for these, be diligent to be found by Him without spot or blemish and at peace.  And count the patience of our Lord as salvation….take care that you are not carried away with the error of lawless people and lose your own stability.  But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity.  Amen!”

 

Will we be playing harps in heaven?


What do you think of, when you think of eternity in heaven? Do you think of yourself a million years in, being like “Phew, I know my fingers are perfect and all, and even though they’re not bleeding from plucking this harp, they feel like they could. Sheesh, if only I could have a break from this monotonous eternity stuff. Same thing, day in and day out.” Because you can’t imagine heaven being interesting for the rest of eternity, with your finite mind, doesn’t mean that’s how it is. Consider this wonderful quote from GK Chesterton (equally wonderful is my wife who showed this to me last night, thank you sweety).

“Because children have abounding vitality, because they are in spirit
fierce and free, therefore they want things repeated and unchanged.
They always say, “Do it again”; and the grown-up person does it
again until he is nearly dead. For grown-up people are not strong enough to exult in monotony. But perhaps God is strong enough
to exult in monotony. It is possible that God says every morning,
“Do it again” to the sun; and every evening, “Do it again” to the moon.
It may not be automatic necessity that makes all daisies alike;
it may be that God makes every daisy separately, but has never got tired of making them. It may be that He has the eternal appetite of infancy; for we have sinned and grown old, and our Father is younger than we.”  – GK Chesterton