Where are you now?
There is a lot to do.
Where are you now?
There is a lot to do.
What is Heaven?
I was charged with giving a study on heaven and suddenly found that I, and I presume, many, if not most, people have no real idea of what heaven is. It all points back to the gospel. Is God really God? Is God really good? And ultimately, is God really Holy? Then, by definition, it points to us… Are we good enough? Are we good at all? The Bible states in Romans 3:10 “As it is written, there is none righteous, no, not one;” This is a follow on from the Lord’s declaration in Isaiah…
“Assemble yourselves and come;
draw near together,
you survivors of the nations!
They have no knowledge
who carry about their wooden idols,
and keep on praying to a god
that cannot save.
Declare and present your case;
let them take counsel together!
Who told this long ago?
Who declared it of old?
Was it not I, the LORD?
And there is no other god besides me,
a righteous God and a Savior;
there is none besides me.
“Turn to me and be saved,
all the ends of the earth!
For I am God, and there is no other. <Isaiah 46:20-22 ESV>
I wanted to introduce this topic and then expand upon it over the next few days and/or weeks. Throughout our denominations, we consistently refer to heaven as “out there” or “up there”. That is, in fact, a complete misunderstanding of what heaven is as we generally use the term today. Now, there are the “heavens”, which are the created elements around us beyond the surface of the earth. But this is not heaven. God is not out there somewhere, waiting for us to die… waiting for us to come to Him. No! He is so far beyond our comprehension that our greatest thought is still too limiting to define even His attributes. Christ and God are One. “in the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God.” But where is heaven? Context is extremely important here. I’ll summarize to say that heaven is where God the Father dwells. Then we will need to expand on this notion during the course of this topic.
We think that we, ourselves, have and are good to some extent. What we don’t understand is that “all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” and “there is none righteous, no not one.” We are not good. We have no good in us. The only good that we have is what God has graced us with… In the instance of our sin, we deserved to be completely and utterly decimated… destroyed… and eternally judged for falling short of the glory of God. Every breath; every day; every ray of sunlight beyond that IS the grace of God. So, we being the enemies of God, can experience this abundance of grace that we all call life, and we think that God is out there in “heaven” waiting for us to die and come to Him.
Thus, I submit to you that heaven does not exist in our capacity to experience. The saints that have passed on, while in the presence of God, still wait beneath the throne, crying out “How long, O God?” We will not experience heaven until the time, that only the Father knows, has come to pass. Christ will clothe all people in perfection according to their faith. Christ will then separate the sheep from the goats. He will expose us to our inherent evilness and we will truly understand sanctification. It is at that point that He either justifies those who believe or gives justice on those who don’t. Then He will wipe away all tears. We will know that justice has been done and in each and every judgement; whether justification or justice all of creation will ring together that God, the perfect judge, has acted according to His perfect Holiness. It is at that point where the justified will experience heaven. “Heaven and earth shall pass away and behold all things shall become new.”
“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 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. And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.”” Rev 21:1-5a
Then we shall be in heaven… here on the new earth, holy and justified in ever constant communion with God! THE God, that desires to dwell with us. Now that’s something to look forward to.
Faith author Thom Schulz has released a new book entitled, “Why Nobody Wants to Go to Church Anymore”. He has written a blog and has been interviewed on the topic contained in his book. Before we address the details, let’s take a moment to review the foundations of what the church are…
We want to take a look at this same topic as it is on the minds of many in leadership positions at church buildings today, The Blaze interviewed Thom Schulz on his book and the main four reasons within the book. The identity of the article’s worldview can be determined from the opening paragraph, which states:
Within the remainder of the article are summary answers to the four topics/reasons although the four topics are not fully spelled out in the interview. Thom did spell them out in his blog on Churchleaders.com. Here they are straight from that blog. I have combined the four reasons and answers from the blog and the interview here below:
Of all of these reasons, it is only…
#3: Church People are a bunch of hypocrites. that we can agree upon. The Christian is a hypocrite! The Christian must be humble! However, there is some level of the “teaching” that Schultz refers to. Paul both says that he has not obtained (Philippians 3:1-14) and he also says to imitate him as he imitates Christ (1 Corinthians 11:1). The Apostle Paul was one of the foremost Bible writers that had the answers. He imitated Christ and even then says to test everything in 1 Thessalonians 5:21. The Apostle John says to test every spirit to see if it is from God (1 John 4:1). And Christ himself says that you will know them by their fruits (Matthew 7:15-20). Thus, while it is a fact that we are hypocrites. We are saved; justified; sanctified; and redeemed. Thus, our sins are in the past. They are forgiven. They are forgotten and we can walk justified in the fullness of grace. “And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” (1 Corintians 6:1-11).
Let’s look at the others…
#1: I feel judged. I have a simple response to this… You think? In order to understand this, one must read the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John). We must understand the life of Christ. Then we must follow this up with the rest of the New Testament that both refer back to the Old Testament truths and to Christ himself. There is too much to go into all of this here so we humbly ask you read these texts and discern for yourself that there are judgements that the true Church inherently makes. We are called to discernment. We are called to correction, reproof and teaching (2 Timothy 3:16) and this is what Schultz has an issue with. His “‘radical hospitality,’ which essentially means embracing a church paradigm of full acceptance” is antithesis to what Christ says when he says “See that no one leads you astray.” (Matthew 24:4). Therefore, we must not compromise. We ARE to judge, but, we are to judge in the right manner. “For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you.” (Matthew 7:1-2) We know this because Christ follows this up immediately with “Do not give dogs what is holy, and do not throw your pearls before pigs, lest they trample them underfoot and turn to attack you.” (Matthew 7:6). Thus, we must be able to discern dogs and pigs so that we do not give up what is holy and of great worth.
#2: I dont want to be lectured. Again, I don’t know what to say to this one. Look through the Gospels and you will see Christ teaching for his entire ministry. Our teachers in our schools (regardless of the school) lecture us every day of school. Our parents lecture us. Lecture is a very important part of training. As the body of Christ, we call this discipleship. Christ lectured the masses. He taught; told parables; fed, trained and healed as he lectured. This is all recorded in the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John). Christ said that “If you love me, you will keep my commandments… even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive… (John 14:15-17). The Spirit of truth guides us as we press on towards the mark. We will stand therefore and state “Please lecture us… But do not expect that we will not test everything you say by the Scriptures and will hold it accountable.”
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