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Archive for the ‘Heaven’ Category

Pastor Paul Tautages thinks we should (and I agree). He gives 3 Benefits to Thinking about Hell:

Thinking about the terrors of hell causes us to fly to Christ. Arthur Dent’s fictional pastor Theologus encourages those who grieve over their sin “to believe that ‘Christ is for you,’ and that they must ‘apply Christ, and all the promises of the gospel’ to themselves, ‘for we have not other remedy or refuge but only his merits and righteousness—he is our city of refuge, whither we must fly, and where we must take sanctuary—he is the balm of Gilead, whereby our souls are cured.’”

Thinking about the terrors of hell guards our hearts from a false sense of security. How many professing Christians lack a burning desire to turn away from their sin because of a false security regarding their salvation? “In seeking to motivate us to fear God more than men and to awaken ‘drowsy consciences,’ Love focuses on the power of God to subject men to eternal torment, which ought to ‘work an awful fear of God’ in our hearts. Hearing of such torments should ‘startle’ our consciences out of a false sense of security, strip away ungrounded hopes of glory, and drive us away from wallowing in sin.” By seeking to give preaching on hell a bad name the devil “seeks to ‘nuzzle men in security in their sins’….Satan will do all that he can to keep the thoughts of hell from men so that they go on in their sins with ‘no fear of death, and judgment to come.’”

Thinking about the terrors of hell motivates us to continually turn away from our sins. Christopher Love argued that this was one reason God does not tell us in His Word the exact physical location of hell: “That God has chosen not to give us the exact location may be to ‘prevent Curiosity’ and unrest in our hearts, to keep us from fearing hell more than the sin that leads us to it.” In another place, “Love testifies that hearing a sermon on hell is good if it causes you to tremble and keeps you from feeling hell itself and turns you from the sins that lead you there.”

Brothers and sisters, it is a good for us to think about hell. Thinking about hell not only is biblical counsel that will aid our sanctification, but it also motivates us to hold out Christ to our lost friends and relatives as the one and only Savior. “Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord [and the terrors of hell], we persuade men” (2 Cor 5:11).

By the way, Paul also encourages us to think often about heaven as well.

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Your reward is secure

I preached yesterday from 1 Peter 5:1-4 which speaks about the duties of elders. Verse 4 provides the motivation for pastors to fulfill these duties. Future reward is an incentive to present faithfulness.

But it’s not just faithful elders who can except a faithful reward. Every believer may expect to receive rewards from a faithful God.  Spurgeon speaks eloquently to this issue as he speaks of another crown which is reserved for all who love the appearing of Jesus Christ!

“There is laid up for me a crown of righteousness.” – 2 Timothy 4:8

Doubting one! you have often said, “I fear I shall never enter heaven.” Fear not! All the people of God shall enter there. I love the quaint saying of a dying man, who exclaimed, “I have no fear of going home; I have sent all before me; God’s finger is on the latch of my door, and I am ready for Him to enter.” “But,” said one, “are you not afraid lest you should miss your inheritance?” “Nay,” said he, “nay; there is one crown in heaven which the angel Gabriel could not wear, it will fit no head but mine. There is one throne in heaven which Paul the apostle could not fill; it was made for me, and I shall have it.” O Christian, what a joyous thought! your portion is secure; “there remains a rest.” “But cannot I forfeit it?” No, it is entailed. If I be a child of God I shall not lose it. It is mine as securely as if I were there. Come with me, believer, and let us sit upon the top of Nebo and view the goodly land, even Canaan. See you that little river of death glistening in the sunlight, and across it do you see the pinnacles of the eternal city? Do you mark the pleasant country, and all its joyous inhabitants? Know, then, that if you could fly across you would see written upon one of its many mansions, “This remains for such a one; preserved for him only. He shall be caught up to dwell forever with God.”

Poor doubting one, see the fair inheritance; it is yours. If you believe in the Lord Jesus, if you have repented of sin, if you have been renewed in heart, then you are one of the Lord’s people, and there is a place reserved for you, a crown laid up for you, a harp specially provided for you. No one else shall have your portion, it is reserved in heaven for you, and you shall have it ere long, for there shall be no vacant thrones in glory when all the chosen are gathered in.

~ C. H. Spurgeon

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Jim Hamilton in his highly recommended commentary on Revelation (pages 381-382):

My friend Denny Burk had prayed a beautiful prayer during our wedding ceremony, and the morning after the wedding I sat at the kitchen tale, reading that prayer. Before long I was weeping. I think it was a kind of emotional catharsis. Before the wedding I was amazed that I might get to be Jill’s husband (I’m still amazed by it!), and I couldn’t wait for it to happen. Now I was overwhelmed that it had really come true.

To be honest, I wondered if there was anything else to look forward to in life. The best day of my life had come and gone. Was there anything left to long for in life? I was too short-sighted to see that life with Jill was going to be even better than our wedding day itself and there were all sorts of things to look forward to, from doing things together to having children to walking life’s pathways and enjoying each other’s company. Just being with her is a blessing unto itself.

Perhaps when you think about what will happen in the new heaven and new earth you wonder if there will be anything else to look forward to. Perhaps you wonder if all suspense, all the drama, all the tension will be gone. To think about the new earth as through there might not be sufficient contrast to make it interesting would be as foolish as a single man being worried that after the wedding day there is nothing left to which to look forward.

HT: Brick in the Valley

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Phil Johnson calls “Peddling fiction about the afterlife as non-fiction is the current Next Big Thing in the world of evangelical publishing.”

He’s talking about the books such as Heaven is for Real by Todd Burpo and The Boy Who Came Back from Heaven, by Kevin Malarkey-both best-selling accounts of children who claim to have gone to heaven.

Phil writes, “No true evangelical ought to be tempted to give such tales any credence whatsoever, no matter how popular they become. One major, obvious problem is that these books don’t even agree with one another. They give contradictory descriptions of heaven and thus cannot possibly have any cumulative long-term effect other than the sowing of confusion and doubt.

But the larger issue is one no authentic believer should miss: the whole premise behind every one of these books is contrary to everything Scripture teaches about heaven.”

Phil talks about an updated, forthcoming book  The Glory of Heaven by John MacArthur on heaven in which MacArthur will deal with this new genre of literature.  Read “The Burpo-Malarkey Doctrine” to understand more what is going on.

 

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“Our joys here are born weeping rather than laughing, and they die weeping. Sin, sin, this body of sin and corruption embittereth and poisoneth all our enjoyments. O that I were where I shall sin no more! to be freed of these chains and iron fetters, which we carry about with us! Lord, loose the sad prisoners! Who of the children of God have not cause to say, that they have their fill of this vain life? and, like a full and sick stomach, to wish at mid-supper that the supper were ended, and the table drawn, that the sick man might win [get] to bed, and enjoy rest? We have cause to tire at mid-supper of the best messes that this world can dress up for us; and to cry to God, that He would remove the table and put the sin-sick souls to rest with Himself.”

~ Samuel Rutherford (Letters)

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Recently we had a missionary speaker who challenged us to think about the importance of the city.  He pointed to texts about the first city in the Bible, how the Apostle Paul’s missionary strategy was to visit and plant churches in strategic cities and how even in the last chapters of the Bible there is an emphasis on two cities: Babylon and the New Jerusalem.

I have lived in some big cities and outside a smaller city.  I enjoy traveling through and visiting big cities which offer much culturally and cross-culturally.  But I am looking forward to the last city mentioned in the Bible: New Jerusalem.  How about you?

Nathan Busenitz has a a great post about this new city that every Christian is going to visit one day. Here’s just a sampling:

Christians rarely think of heaven as a city, and yet that is precisely how God describes it (Heb. 11:16; cf. John 14:2). Cities have buildings, streets, houses, and citizens. They are places of political power, economic industry, higher learning, refined culture, and impressive architecture. These characteristics are true of the heavenly city as well, though the New Jerusalem will far outshine any of earthly city in both its magnificence and its might.

The fact that every major society on earth organizes itself into cities is indicative of the way God designed human beings. He created them to function in community with other people. It is not surprising, then, to learn that life on the new earth will center around a great municipality. As John MacArthur explains, “The concept of a city includes relationships, activity, responsibility, unity, socialization, communion, and cooperation. Unlike the evil cities of the present earth, the perfectly holy people in the new Jerusalem will live and work together in perfect harmony” (Revelation 12-22, 264).

In stark contrast to the harlot city of Babylon (destroyed in Rev. 18), the holy city of the New Jerusalem is free from God’s judgment (21:9). It is the home of the redeemed and the bride of the Lamb (21:2). It is also a realm characterized by the glory and presence of God (v. 11). Like a giant prism, illuminating God’s glory everywhere, the New Jerusalem will light up the entire new universe.

Unlike the dirty, smoggy cities of this world, the New Jerusalem glistens like a massive jewel as it descends from heaven onto the new earth. The Greek word translated “jasper” in Revelation 21:11 does not necessarily refer to the actual gem jasper, which possesses a reddish or brownish hue. Rather, it is a general term that can refer to any kind of precious gemstone. The further description, “clear as crystal,” suggests that John is describing a diamond. Thus, the New Jerusalem descends from heaven onto the New Earth like a jewel-studded crown from heaven. The image of a heavenly crown is appropriate because, as Revelation 22:2–5 describe, it is the very throne room of God Himself.

According to Revelation 21:15–17, the measurements of the New Jerusalem are immense, approximately 1,500 miles long on each side.  By way of illustration, if one corner of the city were placed on Los Angeles, a second corner would sit on Mexico City, a third corner on St. Louis, Missouri, and the final corner on Edmonton, Alberta. If the center of the New Jerusalem rested where the current Jerusalem stands, it would stretch across three continents from Greece to Iran to Saudi Arabia to Libya. The current city of Los Angeles has an area of 468 square miles. The state of California comprises roughly 164,000 square miles. But the New Jerusalem will encompass over 2 million square miles. That is the equivalent of 14 states of California put together; or 4,807 cities of Los Angeles combined.

Keep reading here.

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Read the following from Mike Wittmer.  Then immediately take one minute (or longer) to think about death and hell.

“Last week I spoke to the adult campers about death and then last night I spoke to a high school group about hell. You’d think such topics would be entirely depressing, and you’d be right. But I’ve discovered something else too. These topics are actually inspiring, for they provide the opportunity to speak about Jesus. Indeed, they supply the only opportunity to speak about Jesus, for if we don’t begin with sin, death, and hell, then we will have no reason to bring up Jesus.

If we try anyway, people will wonder why we’re talking about him. What does Jesus even mean to someone who is untroubled by sin, death, and hell? Why would they ever think they need him?

I didn’t start out to write books and preach on these depressing subjects, but I’m glad I have, for Jesus is more precious now than he ever was before. When your love for Christ begins to cool, stop and think about death and hell. That is the fastest way I know to recover the joy of the Lord.”

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