Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Benji’s BlogSpot

Do you remember the Model Prayer that Jesus taught
his disciples to pray? You know, “Our Father, who art in
Heaven…” Yeah, that one – starting in Matthew 6:9. What
about these lines: “… And lead us not into temptation, but
deliver us from evil…” Why are those included?
I think it has quite a lot to do with what Jesus has done
for us, and what He calls us to do. First of all, Jesus Christ
saved us from being devoured by sin, and delivered us from it.
Secondly, Jesus calls us to follow Him, away from it.
Think about it this way – you are in a tunnel. You see
sunlight at the end of a tunnel. The sunlight came to you
through the tunnel. You see that light, and with every step you
get closer, you feel its warmth. The tunnel is brighter around
Then, you stop and turn around. You can see the
direction you came from is illuminated, because of the light
coming from behind you. You can see the nasty crevices,
along with the allure of what you knew as your dwelling place.
It was your comfort zone. Even though there are some nasty
things about it, it doesn’t look so bad. You think, “I could go
back, and fix it, I would just need to do this and this…”
Then, you feel the warm sunshine on the back of your
neck. How it feels like warm water in the shower. The light
and the warmth of the sun are pouring over your back. You
sense you should turn around, and face the sunlight again.
You’re tempted to try and fix what you see, but called
to turn around. You are not forced, you are called. And every
part of your being knows that you should head for the sunlight.
The biggest lie so many follow is that we are capable
of saving ourselves. Remember that Jesus was the one
who brought light to your darkness in the first place.
He illuminates. He saves, and He leads.

Will there be any Sin or Sorrow in Heaven?

No! Heaven will be so dramatically different from the present world that to describe it requires the use of negatives, as well as positives. To describe what is totally beyond human understanding also requires pointing out how it differs from present experience.
The first change from their earthly life believers in heaven will experience is that God will wipe away every tear from their eyes (cf. Rev. 7:17, Isa. 25:8). That does not mean that people who arrive in heaven will be crying and God will comfort them. They will not, as some imagine, be weeping as they face the record of their sins. There is no such record, because "there is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus" (Rom. 8:1), since Christ "bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness--by whose stripes you were healed" (1 Pet. 2:24).
What it declares is the absence of anything to be sorry about--no sadness, no disappointment, no pain. There will be no tears of misfortune, tears over lost love, tears of remorse, tears of regret, tears over the death of loved ones, or tears for any other reason.
Another dramatic difference from the present world will be that in heaven there will no longer be any death (cf. Isa. 25:8). The greatest curse of human existence will be no more. "Death," as Paul promised, "is swallowed up in victory" (1 Cor. 15:54). Both Satan, who had the power of death (Heb. 2:14), and death itself will have been cast into the lake of fire (20:10, 14).
Nor will there be any mourning, or crying in heaven. The grief, sorrow, and distress that produce mourning and its outward manifestation, crying, will not exist in heaven. This glorious reality will be the fulfillment of Isaiah 53:3-4: "He is despised and rejected by men, a Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him; He was despised, And we did not esteem Him. Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; Yet we esteemed Him stricken, Smitten by God, and afflicted." When Christ bore believers' sins on the cross, He also bore their sorrows, since sin is the cause of sorrow.
The perfect holiness and absence of sin that will characterize heaven will also mean that there will be no more pain. On the cross, Jesus was "wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed" (Isa. 53:5). While the healing in view in that verse is primarily spiritual healing, it also includes physical healing.
Commenting on Jesus' healing of Peter's mother-in-law, Matthew 8:17 says, "That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Isaiah the prophet, saying: 'He Himself took our infirmities and bore our sickness.'" The healing ministry of Jesus was a preview of the well-being that will characterize the millennial kingdom and the eternal state. The glorified sin-free bodies believers will possess in heaven will not be subject to pain of any kind.
All those changes that will mark the new heaven and the new earth indicate that the first things have passed away. Old human experience related to the original, fallen creation is gone forever, and with it the mourning, suffering, sorrow, disease, pain, and death that has characterized it since the Fall.

Praise God for the Heaven He is preparing for us!

- Bro. Dave

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Can Christians become too Heavenly minded?

As we continue to study heaven I have yet another helpful article by John MacArthur:

Can Christians become too Heavenly minded?
No! It may sound paradoxical to say this, but heaven should be at the center of the Christian worldview. A proper Christian worldview is uniquely focused heavenward.
Though some would deride that as escapism, it is, after all, the very thing Scripture commands: "Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth" (Col. 3:2). The apostle Paul penned that command, and his approach to life was anything but escapist.
In fact, Paul is a wonderful example of the proper biblical perspective between heaven and earth. He faced overwhelming persecution on earth and never lost sight of heaven. In 2 Corinthians 4:8-10 he says,
We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed-always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body.

Then in verses 16-17 he adds, "We do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory." Elsewhere he told the church at Rome, "I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us" (Rom. 8:18).
Paul was saying exactly what Peter told the scattered and persecuted believers he wrote to: we endure the sufferings of this world for the sake of the glory of heaven (1 Pet. 1:3-7). Whatever we suffer in this life cannot be compared with the glory of the life to come.
In other words, we don't seek to escape this life by dreaming of heaven. But we do find we can endure this life because of the certainty of heaven. Heaven is eternal. Earth is temporal. Those who fix all their affections on the fleeting things of this world are the real escapists, because they are vainly attempting to avoid facing eternity--by hiding in the fleeting shadows of things that are transient.

May God grow our desires for Heaven!

- Bro. Dave

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The Preciousness of Heaven

I am enjoying researching the sermons for the present series on Heaven. I have another excerpt this week from John MacArthur's book, The Glory of Heaven that I would like to share for this week's Chime's article:

"In reality, everything that is truly precious to us as Christians is in heaven.
The Father is there, and that’s why Jesus taught us to pray, “Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name” (Matt. 6:9). JesusHimself is at the Father’s right hand. Hebrews 9:24 says, “Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us.” So our Savior is also in heaven, where He intercedes on our behalf (Heb. 7:25).
Many brothers and sisters in Christ are there, too. Hebrews 12:23 says that in turning to God we have come “to the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect.” Our departed loved ones in the faith are there. Every Old and New Testament believer who has died is now in heaven.
Our names are recorded there. In Luke 10:20 Christ tells His disciples, who were casting out demons, “Rejoice not, that the spirits are subject unto you; but rather rejoice, because your names are written in heaven.” And by saying that our names are written in heaven, Christ assures us that we have a title deed to property there. This is our inheritance. First Peter 1:4 says we are begotten in Christ “to an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you.”
“Our citizenship is in heaven,” according to Philippians 3:20 (nasb). In other words, heaven is where we belong. We’re just “strangers and exiles on the earth” (Heb. 11:13). Our goals therefore should not include the accumulation of possessions here. Our real wealth—our eternal reward—is in heaven (Matt. 5:12). In Matthew 6:19–21 Jesus says that the only treasure we will possess throughout eternity is there.
In other words, everything we should love everlastingly, everything we rightly value, everything of any eternal worth is in heaven."

May God grow our desires for the things that are above and not for the things on this earth!

- Bro. Dave

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Benji's BlogSpot

Look at just the boxed words. Think about the Ten
Commandments, and how a youth minister broke them
by ‘coveting his neighbor’s ox’ or ‘committing adultery.’ Now
look at the picture. You see now, how the Ten Commandments
were actually ‘broken?’ Not the same thing you originally
thought, is it?

It is so easy to take the words of scripture, line for line,
and leave behind the picture that God set them in. Without the
intention that is behind the words, the Good News is lost. Just
look at Matt. 5:30: “And if your right hand causes you to sin,
cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part
of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.” Jesus
is not preaching to amputate our hands when we sin - He wants
us to separate ourselves from the instrument that puts our sin
into action. If it is a bar (drunkenness), a computer (lust), a hair
salon (gossip), or even a tradition of being ‘right’ (pride), Jesus
wants us to ‘cut it out’ of ourselves.

Discipleship is not about living right by keeping to a
strict interpretation of the Bible, but by denying our selfishness
and self-righteousness. You’re not right – God is. It’s not how
you can make people see it your way, its about how you can
see it His way. Set aside what you know about the words in
the Bible, and seek out what is going on in the Bible where
those words are written. Jesus didn’t say go follow ‘righteous
people,’ He said “follow me.”(Lk. 9:23) and His way is mercy.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Books About Going to Heaven and Back

I have been reading Don Piper’s book, 90 Minutes in Heaven and I have been asked what I think about such books. John MacArthur, in his excellent book, The Glory of Heaven, responds to this question with the following:

“I’ve read many accounts of people’s near-death experiences and visions of heaven. What is most remarkable to me in virtually all of them—even the ones that supposedly reflect a “Christian” perspective—is that they are not the least bit like the descriptions of heavenly visions in Scripture.
Such a vision of “heaven” plainly has nothing to do with the heaven spoken of in Scripture. In fact, the modern visionaries make a stark contrast to people in Scripture who were given glimpses of heavenly glory. The apostle Paul, for example, relates his account only reluctantly, fourteen years after the fact, framing it as a third-person narrative:
I knew a man in Christ above fourteen years ago, (whether in the body, I cannot tell; or whether out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) such an one caught up to the third heaven. And I knew such a man, (whether in the body, or out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) how that he was caught up into paradise.
      —2 Cor. 12:2–4
When it comes to relating specific details of what he saw in heaven, the apostle is simply not very talkative. He only says that he “heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter” (v. 4, emphasis added).
Here we learn that the apostle Paul, who had been called to one of the most important apostolic roles in the early church, regarded the details of what he saw and heard in his heavenly vision as unlawful things to recount. How does that compare with people today who fill up whole books, reporting what they supposedly saw and heard on their trips to heaven?
Clearly, because Scripture is the Word of God, we must reject every anecdotal account that contradicts what Scripture teaches. Ultimately, we are forced to conclude that the Bible is our only reliable source of information about heaven. There’s no point in probing and dissecting people’s near-death experiences, as if they would give us some important truth about the afterlife that we are lacking from Scripture. What Scripture teaches us about heaven, angels, and the afterlife is sufficient and accurate. God has already given us all we need to know to equip us fully for every good work (2 Tim. 3:17). There’s nothing an eyewitness testimony could reliably add.
Furthermore, those who demand to know more than Scripture tells us are sinning: “The secret things belong unto the Lord our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children for ever” (Deut. 29:29). The limit of our curiosity is thus established by the boundary of biblical revelation.
As we get into our study of what Scripture teaches, you’ll see that although there are many questions left unanswered, Scripture does in fact give us a remarkably full and clear picture of heaven and the spiritual realm.[1]
It is the inerrant biblical truth about heaven that should grip our hearts and minds—not a lot of fantastic and delusional ideas from someone’s near-death experience.”

May God bless us in our study of heaven!

-          Bro. Dave