Posts Tagged ‘eternity’

When approaching the topic of the Gospel, my first thought was that this subject has been talked about extensively enough that I had nothing to add to the ongoing discussion. I felt every aspect of it had been covered. Then, upon further reflection, I was seized by the realization that I had, in fact, the opposite problem: I couldn’t narrow down what to talk about! The more I thought about the Gospel and its impact on my life and the world, the more I realized that the Gospel of Jesus Christ permeates everything. So much for feeling I had nothing to talk about. I could write an entire book!

But for the sake of time and space, I will focus on how a recent revelation of the Gospel directly affected my view of Christ, His sacrifice, and my daily life. Having been in church all my life, I could easily quote back that the Gospel means “good news,” specifically that Christ died on the cross for our sins so that we could go to heaven, and if we accept Christ into our hearts, we will be with Him in heaven one day. At age seven, I accepted Christ after understanding the basics of the Gospel and trusting Him for my salvation. I had been saved from my sins, but at seven, I didn’t fully grasp the all-encompassing breadth of salvation and the Gospel (which is OK, because Christ asks us to have child-like faith). Sadly, after nearly two decades of being a Christian, the Gospel had become a textbook answer and not a personal encounter/revelation.

This summer I read a book on grace that reignited my joy in Christ and His sacrifice for me. (I highly recommend it. It’s One Way Love by Tullian Tchividjian.) Surprisingly, I had to be prodded and cajoled by my parents to read the book. They even bought it for me. (Sometimes I get burned out on “Christian” books and feel I could better spend my time in personal Bible study rather than reading another human’s opinions, but that’s another blog topic.) But once I read the book, I truly did see my salvation and Christ’s unconditional gift in a different light. As the title suggests, the book is all about Christ’s love and grace towards us being all we need. Let me rephrase that: Because of Christ’s redeeming love, we do not need to do anything else. It’s done. Complete. Finalized. All we need to do is accept it in humble repentance.

The good news doesn’t stop with salvation. (“Hooray! I’ve got my ticket into Heaven and I’m set now.” NO!) Salvation is only the beginning of truly living. Because of the cross, I do not have to do anything for Christ to make Him want or love me any more or less than He already does, because I did not have any hand in my redemption. He paid for it, He covered it, He said “it is finished.” And because of that, I can live joyfully. Tchividjian points out that because of Christ’s unconditional love, we are free to be nobodies and do absolute nothing because He is the Somebody who did Everything. (Not that we want or should be passive Christians, but we could without condemnation.) We are free from guilt in doing things for God because they don’t affect our eternal position with Him. His Son covered it.

This all gave me great personal relief. I am a fairly Type A, planning, organized, people-pleaser kind of personality. I feel that there is always something more I should do or could do, and I hate feeling like I’ve upset someone. But Christ did it ALL for me. I am free to be a nobody who does nothing with her life. But, because I have the weight of performance lifted from me, I am inspired to do good and live holy because Christ is not keeping score.

The perfectionist in me rejoices. Often, when I have a big project, I avoid it like the plague for as long as possible because it feels insurmountable and I don’t think I can do it well. Eventually, I cave and finish it. But Christ tackled my big project of life. He fulfilled my requirements so that I’ve passed with flying colors. I’ve already passed the class of life without having finished it here on Earth because of Him. Therefore, I’m living free of expectations of myself and what is “good enough.” Christ is more than good enough. And because of that, I can live and love for Him in total abandon. Because nothing I do ultimately matters in my salvation, I’m free to truly live. I don’t have to be fearful or anxious that I’m not doing enough for God. God doesn’t condemn me. Christ’s blood covers me, allowing me to live life abundantly. We aren’t just safe from eternal damnation, but we are also free from condemnation in this life now. Isn’t that the BEST news?

PS: A quote for further pondering from Relient K: The beauty of grace is that it makes life not fair.

Living in grace,
Larkin

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Proof of An Afterlife?

Posted: January 10, 2012 by liftyourvoice1 in Heaven
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This weeks topic on Lift Your Voice is “Heaven.” It is a very broad subject and I have yet to sit down and discuss with Dr. H as to how we will approach the subject as a whole. But, the inspiration for the topic this week is the book “Heaven is for Real” by Todd Burpo. I was given this book for Christmas and I read it in one day. It is an excellent book and it chronicles the true story of a Todd’s son Colton and his trip to Heaven. I would recommend this book to anyone. It is a heartwarming true story, and it can strengthen the faith of many believers.

On that topic in particular I will be discussing. For our regular listeners you will recall that we did a show on doubt several months ago. When I was younger one of my biggest doubts and worries was about the after life. It was a struggle for me, and I believe for many people still living because we simply do not know what will happen when we die. Will I see a bright light? Will it be like I’m sleeping? Will I just cease to exist? Even though I was a young believer these were the questions that graced my mind. But, thankfully as I’ve grown I trust in what the Bible says. I believe that upon my earthly bodies death I will see my Savior in Heaven and spend eternity with Him there.

But there are still doubts and doubters out there. They ask questions like what proof is there other than the Bible? We live in a culture that seeks evidence. As Dr. H often says Christianity and the Bible is not about blind faith, but about having evidence to back up what we believe. Thankfully in a book that was given to me for Christmas there is an article that tackles this very subject. The following portion of this post is taken from the book “The Complete Bible Answer Book” by Hank Hanegraaf. The title of the article is called “Is There Evidence for Life After Death?”

–IS THERE EVIDENCE FOR LIFE AFTER DEATH

Atheists believe that death is the cessation of being. In their view, humans are merely bodies and brains. Though they reject metaphysical realities such as the soul a priori (prior to examination), there are convincing reasons to believe that humans have an immaterial aspect to their being that transcends the material and thus can continue to exist after death. Christian philosopher J. P. Moreland advances several sound arguments for the existence of the immaterial soul.

First, from the perspective of logic, we can demonstrate that the mind is not identical to the brain by proving that the mind and brain have different properties. As Moreland explains: “The subjective texture of our conscious mental experiences—the feeling of pain, the experience of sound, the awareness of color—is different from anything that is simply physical. If the world were only made of matter, these subjective aspects of consciousness would not exist. But they do exist! So there must be more to the world than matter.” An obvious example is color. A moment’s reflection is enough to convince thinking people everywhere that the experience of color involves more than a mere wavelength of light.

Furthermore, from a legal perspective, if human beings were merely material, they could not be held accountable this year for a crime committed last year, because physical identity changes over time. Every day we lose multiplied millions of microscopic particles—in fact, every seven years, virtually every part of our material anatomy changes, apart from aspects of our neurological system. Therefore, from a purely material perspective, the person who previously committed a crime is presently not the same person. A criminal who attempts to use this line of reasoning as a defense would not get very far. Legally and intuitively, we recognize a sameness of soul that establishes personal identity over time.

Finally, libertarian freedom (freedom of the will) presupposes that we are more than mere material robots. If I am merely material, my choices are merely a function of such factors as genetic makeup and brain chemistry. Therefore, my decisions are not free; they are fatalistically determined. The implications of such a notion are profound. In a worldview that embraces fatalistic determinism, I cannot be held morally accountable for my actions, because reward and punishment make sense only if we have freedom of the will.

While the logical, legal, and libertarian freedom arguments are convincing in and of themselves, there is an even more powerful and persuasive argument demonstrating the reality of life beyond the grave. That argument flows from the resurrection of Jesus Christ. The best minds of ancient and modern times have demonstrated beyond a shadow of doubt that Christ’s physical trauma was fatal; that the empty tomb is one of the best-attested facts of ancient history; that Christ’s followers experienced on several occasions tangible post-resurrection appearances of Christ; and that within weeks of the resurrection, not just one, but an entire community of at least ten thousand Jews experienced such an incredible transformation that they willingly gave up sociological and theological traditions that had given them their national identity. Through the resurrection, Christ not only demonstrated that he does not stand in a line of peers with Abraham, Buddha, or Confucius but also provided compelling evidence for life after death.

-Adapted from Resurrection

For further study, see Gary R. Habermas and J. P. Moreland, Beyond Death: Exploring the Evidence for Immortality (Wheaton, Ill.: Crossway Books, 1998).

Matthew 10:28
“Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.”

(This excerpt is taken from pages 121-124 of the Book “The Complete Bible Answer Book” by Hank Hanegraaf)–

I found truth in these words and  I pray that you do as well. I also found comfort in the words of Colton from the book “Heaven is For Real.”  On page 119 Colton is talking with a man who is dying and he says these words… “It’s going to be okay. The first person you’re going to see is Jesus.”  For followers of Christ we can trust those words. And what amazing words they are. I cannot wait to see Jesus face to face in Heaven and if He truly is the first person I’ll see when I get there how grand it will be.

Brandon Witmyer–Host and Director of Lift Your Voice Ministries

Heaven

Posted: January 8, 2012 by andreacaresse in Heaven
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Wow… If I thought last week’s topic of “Forgiveness” was a big subject how much more so this week’s topic is!  Heaven is one of the most fascinating things to think about – maybe because there is absolutely nothing like it on earth.  Even in our wildest imaginations and most spirited thoughts we are probably incapable of giving Heaven’s beauty even a remote amount of justice.

What are some things that come to your mind when you think of Heaven?  For me, wow… words can’t even describe it…   Absolute peace beyond comprehension.  No fear and perfect rest.  An unfathomable joy that reaches every atom of my being.  Beauty that is impossible to imagine with my limited earthly thoughts.  I think about so many things…

When I knew the topic was going to be Heaven for this week there was one question that came immediately to my mind:  What is that first moment when we arrive in Heaven going to be like?  I can only hope and imagine what glorious sights, sounds, and feelings we’ll experience.  First and foremost:  to be physically present with our God for the first time… To be able to see our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, as we’ve always wanted to see Him.   The sheer glory and majesty surrounding the throne of God that makes our legs shake… the power and might of His presence which causes us to fall prostrate on the ground.  Will we even have the courage to look upon Him?  Will His fabulous white and pure glory enwrap us so that all we can do is fall down and breathe-in His presence?  Or perhaps, when we fall on our faces, will Jesus reach down and pick us up and give us that one and only kind of perfect hug that we’ve all been waiting for?  Something inside me says that this glorious bear hug awaits His children. The final completion of everything our souls have been longing for:  Forever eternal, literal and perpetual union in Heaven with our Heavenly Father.  It’s true that we have an eternal relationship with Him here on earth, but in Heaven we will never lose the fellowship we have with God.  The mountains and valleys we experience in our walk with Christ here on earth will never be found in Heaven.  There will be no sin to cloud that relationship. That in itself is a glorious thought.

Beyond finally meeting our Lord face-to-face, the other joys of Heaven pale in comparison… but are exciting things to think about.  What other sights and sounds will we see? Will it be white and golden with vivid colors?  Will it be like combining the most beautiful sunrise we’ve ever seen with the most breathtaking scenic vista we’ve ever discovered?   We get some descriptions in the Bible, and also of the New Heaven and New Earth that come after the defeat of satan. But exceedingly great detail about Heaven isn’t really given.  I believe God knows that sometimes, surprises are more enjoyable than knowing exactly what’s going to happen.  But we do know that Heaven is going to be unlike anything we’ve ever seen on earth.  No artist’s rendering could ever touch the surface.  Not only is the visual beauty incomprehensible, but what we will hear is unlike anything we’ve ever heard as well.  Innumerable amounts of angels praising God in a chorus like no other.  I’m sure that we also will be joining the voices and lifting praise to our Father.  Just think… millions of believers from since the beginning of time exclaiming His goodness in one accord.  We’ll see the faces of those we knew on earth and once again be reunited with believers who have gone on before us.  We’ll know believers that perhaps we never met on earth, but we will know them there.  And what about what we will smell?  Will there be scents? I think so… like stepping out on a beautiful spring morning and filling our lungs with the smell of honeysuckle and clover wet with dew.  That fresh, clean air that makes you want to inhale deeply and sigh with sublime happiness.

I also know there will be a time where we stand before our Maker and give an account for our lives… A time when God will give us crowns in Heaven based on how we have lived our lives for Him here on earth.  Knowing this causes me to want to live the most God-honoring life possible while I am alive in this world.  I don’t know what that interaction is going to be like with my God, but His Word says there are no tears in Heaven, so I can rest in knowing that it will be a loving judging of my life–not one of harsh words which one could expect here on earth.

This brings me to my final thoughts for this post… I find incredible peace and joy in knowing that there will never be sorrow, will never be pain, will never be worry… period.  No one will ever be concerned with all the fallen human issues that we face today like: sin, guilt, sadness, abandonment, sickness, hunger, persecution, and death… I am very much looking forward to that kind of place.

As believers who look forward to eternity in Paradise such as this, let us be sure to live a good and productive life for God now.  Sometimes we can get so caught-up in the future, that we forget about the present. This could be another reason God didn’t fill us in completely on what Heaven is going to be like… He doesn’t want us rushing to get there and surpassing the existence we have now.  He has us on earth living our lives for a purpose.  Let us never forget that.  Since we are in Christ, we can look forward to that day when we arrive to our Heavenly Home… right now we are simply visiting planet earth for a very short time in comparison to eternity.  We need to not waste each opportunity God presents to invite others to come with us to that Resting Place.  After all, that’s one of the very reasons He’s placed us here.

Andrea MacBean –  Listener and Contributor