Tag Archive for 'Heaven'

Heaven Isn’t a Place for Getting Even!

I’ve heard people say–and even authors write–many times, “When we get to heaven, we’ll see who’s right!” I think this is an abominable (and I don’t think I’ve ever used that word) attitude to have, for a number of reasons.

Dear friends, now we are God’s children. What we will be isn’t completely clear yet. We do know that when Christ appears we will be like him because we will see him as he is.
1 John 3:2 GW

In This Life
We know it’s true that “every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus is Lord.” Sadly, this includes those who have rejected Christ as Lord, but will see that he is Lord when he comes back to judge, and they will be separated from God for eternity. But this isn’t what I’m talking about. Seeing people going to hell isn’t something to gleefully say, “I told you so” about.

When it comes to debate about theological or other topics, you’re not as smart as you think you are. Instead of comparing ourselves to others, we should be comparing ourselves to God (Isaiah 55:8-9). If you have read the Psalms, notice how God is described; or read the oft-neglected Proverbs to see how to act. I confess this all the time–thinking I know more than I do. Silly.

Every day in a thousand ways I make myself the center of the universe.

–William Temple

If we’re constantly thinking this way, there may be a lack of love.

Don’t act out of selfish ambition or be conceited. Instead, humbly think of others as being better than yourselves.
Philippians 2:3 GW

This isn’t to say that we should never criticize those who arrogantly disobey Scripture, or disagree with other people, or tell them when we think they’re wrong (1 Timothy 3:16 etc.). This can be edifying and educational.

In Heaven
When people talk about their pet theological theories and have disagreements, they often think that when they are with Christ in glory (Colossians 3:4), they will at the same time seek out those who disagreed with them to tell them they were right. Or, it may be more friendly than that and two people or groups of people will try to see who was right about what.

Short Answer
You won’t care!

Reasoning
First of all, when we are in the presence of our indescribably magnificent God, seeing him face to face, do you think you are going to be seeking out others to see who was right about your pet theological ideas? Really? I would think this is enough to grieve the Spirit in this life.

Do you think you know so much that when you get to heaven, after seeing God, his angelic army, and his heavenly creation that you will be telling people how you were right about .0000000001% of things in the world? And what if you found out that the people that you disagreed with knew .000000001% more than you anyway? (That’s one less zero.)

When we are perfected, we will be happy. We will have an attitude of love. There won’t be spite, arrogance, or even earthly knowledge. It will all fall away compared to what there will be. We will be too busy praising God and enjoying the fellowship of the saints, worshipping in perfect spirit and truth.

After this I looked, and there was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, robed in white, with palm branches in their hands. They cried out in a loud voice, saying, “Salvation belongs to our God who is seated on the throne, and to the Lamb!” And all the angels stood around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, singing,

“Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever! Amen.”
Revelation 7:9-12 NRSV

Our knowledge is incomplete and our ability to speak what God has revealed is incomplete. But when what is complete comes, then what is incomplete will no longer be used. When I was a child, I spoke like a child, thought like a child, and reasoned like a child. When I became an adult, I no longer used childish ways. Now we see a blurred image in a mirror. Then we will see very clearly. Now my knowledge is incomplete. Then I will have complete knowledge as God has complete knowledge of me. So these three things remain: faith, hope, and love. But the best one of these is love.
1 Corinthians 13:9-13 GW

Full disclosure: While I have not ever had thoughts of seeing who’s right or wrong in heaven, God has been showing me how arrogant I am about how much I think I know, the mean thoughts I have and things I’ve done to people, and general lack of love. So while the post is scolding in manner, the same general sin applies to myself in many various ways.

Suffering, Cancer, Cyber Friends and Heaven

After writing a possibly humorous and possibly ill-timed post about David Black “running into an old friend” I thought I’d post this wonderful entry about their battle with his wife Becky’s cancer. I would like to be able to “suffer well” as they do.

Tuesday, January 18
8:24 PM We’re home! As you know, we had a very important meeting with the thoracic surgeon at UNC this afternoon. The bottom line is this: Becky’s lung tumors are inoperable. This means that surgery is no longer an option (if it ever was), just as more radiation and chemo have been ruled out as therapies since they have proven to be ineffective. There remains the possibility of treating her with a procedure called Cyber-Knife (Robotic Radiosurgery), which UNC just “happens” to specialize in. It involves shooting the larger tumors with extremely high levels of radiation. Pending approval by the Cyber-Knife committee, we are looking at this procedure taking place in about two weeks. Before that can happen, “fiducials” must be placed into Becky’s lungs by a thoracic surgeon to help the oncologists know exactly where to concentrate the radiation. We have tentatively scheduled this procedure for next week Thursday. Of course, all of this awaits the blessing of our insurance company.

How to respond? Just like Paul in Philippians! Just as Paul could write that his imprisonment had turned out for the progress of the Gospel, so Becky and I know that our cancer journey has worked out for the best and the future holds no shadows. Our one fear is that we might betray Christ by our lives and testimony. Our single desire is to live in a manner worthy of the Gospel (Phil. 1:27) – to live in a way that commends the Gospel to our friends and neighbors. We desire to be more concerned about the needs of others than our own – to be unselfish, unconceited, to take the path of obedience, to know Him and the power of His resurrection and the companionship of His sufferings. We know we can do all things through Him who strengthens us. We are confident that our God shall supply all our needs according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus. On top of it all, we know that our love for Ethiopia has never diminished. No distance can weaken it and no amount of suffering can quench it.

So thanks muchly for your prayers. And for your love. After our appointment with the surgeon I took Becky out for dinner at the Outback Steak House in Durham. As we ate we thought of our many cyber friends. I told Becky, “Every time we eat at the Outback I think of Aussie John, who has been such a faithful prayer partner with us through this entire journey.” Becky replied, “Won’t heaven be wonderful, Dave? We’ll get to meet in person all of the wonderful people we only know now by name.”

All I could say was, “Amen, honey, amen.”

Thoughts On Contentment and Perfectionism

I’m a perfectionist. I want everything in my life to be just right. In addition, I’m a very visual person and like to personalize everything. Take the computer for example. I have everything tuned and tweaked and sized and themed and colorized. But as we know nothing works perfectly.

So when I can’t make something perfect I use it as an opportunity to realize that Jesus said we’d have trouble (John 16:33)–although I don’t think he was referring to things as minor as how our computer works–and imperfections to help us realize there is something better. There will be a place where everything is renewed and perfect and this gives us hope.

At the same time, I’m trying to become more willing to say that something is perfect. If it’s as good as it can possibly be, it’s perfect, even if in a perfect world it may be better. Or if something suits my needs perfectly without being exactly how I want it. These are things that the perfect God has provided for me/us (1 Tim 6:17b).

This self-help thought of the day for perfectionists has been brought to you by Jeff at Scripture Zealot.

Contrasts Between Present Affliction and Eternal Glory

2 Corinthians

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In his commentary on 2 Corinthians Garland points out “a series of contrasts between the present affliction and the eternal glory that follows” in 4:16-5:9.

outward man / inner man
wasting away / being renewed
slight / beyond measure
momentary / eternal
affliction / glory
what can be seen / what cannot be seen
tentlike house / building from God
earthly / heavenly
destroyed / eternal
stripped naked / clothed
mortality / life
preparation, the guarantee of the Holy Spirit / not yet
sight / faith
at home in the body / away from the Lord

I would like to try to highlight these things within the passage. The specific colors have no meaning. They are just alternated to show the pairs hopefully without too much confusion.

2 Corinthians 4:16-5:10 (NIV)
Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 17 For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 18 So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

5:1 Now we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands. 2 Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, 3 because when we are clothed, we will not be found naked. 4 For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. 5 Now it is God who has made us for this very purpose and has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.

6 Therefore we are always confident and know that as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord. 7 We live by faith, not by sight. 8 We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord. 9 So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it. 10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.