How Can I Go to Heaven? Part 1

How Can I Go to Heaven? Part 1

People who have not been exposed to church attendance or religious teaching of any kind may not know how to answer our title question.  They may not even understand why anyone would like to go to heaven!  What is the definition of heaven

Heaven is

  • the dwelling place of the Deity and the blessed dead;
  • a spiritual state of everlasting communion with God;
  • a place or condition of utmost happiness;
  • the abode of God, the angels, and the spirits of the righteous after death; and
  • the place or state of existence of the blessed after mortal life.

One thing mentioned more than once in these definitions is that heaven is the dwelling place of God.  Since we believers know that God is love (1 Joh 4:8), the concept of living forever with the God who IS LOVE becomes a very appealing goal for us. 

A key aspect of our life as human beings is the understanding that God created all humans in His own image.  (Gen 1:27)  Since we’ve all been created in the very likeness and reflection of God, not only is a relationship with God important to us but love, itself, is important to mankind. 

We need to recognize these two facts because every human being needs to make a decision about faith in God, and every human being wants to receive and to give love. 

In the next article, we’ll continue with this subject.

Beauty

Beauty

“Beauty will save the world.”  ~ Fyodor Dostoevsky

Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty, God will shine forth.  (Ps 50:2)

How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who proclaims peace, who brings glad tidings of good things, who proclaims salvation,
Who says to Zion, “Your God reigns!”
  (Isa 52:7)

What is Zion and why is it important to Christians? 

Jerusalem and Zion are one and the same city.  Zion was the place of God’s special presence among His people, and the place where they turned for help and deliverance.  Jerusalem has been the holiest city in Judaism and the ancestral and spiritual homeland of the Jewish people since the 10th century BCE (before Common Era).  During classical antiquity, Jerusalem was considered the center of the world, where God resided.

What does all of this have to do with our topic of beauty?  Because God promises to shine forth out of Zion, which is called the perfection of beauty

Rejoice in the Lord, O you righteous! For praise from the upright is beautiful.  (Ps 33:1)

The Word of God reminds us that praise is beautiful—not only in the sight of God but in the sight of men, as well.  If I happen to find a television program that is broadcasting a praise and worship service, I find it so beautiful to see that I’m moved to tears.

. . . rather let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God.  (1 Pet 3:4, emphasis added)

In this verse from first Peter, the Word of God tells us that a gentle and quiet spirit is indestructibly beautiful!  It is also very treasured by our God.  So, we see that God considers salvation to be a beautiful thing, along with our praises to Him.

It is this inner quality of beauty that God commends and which the entire world unerringly recognizes!  We will achieve this level of beauty as we obey God and seek to follow Him.  He is the only One who transforms lives because He is the glory and the lifter of our heads!  (Ps 3:3)  Because His Spirit lives within each one of us, His beauty will shine forth through us.

This is why Isaiah 52:7 (at top of this article) calls the feet of those who spread the Gospel “beautiful feet”!  We all may confidently pursue this beauty that shines forth from our inner man.

 

The God of the Living

The God of the Living

But concerning the dead, that they rise, have you not read in the book of Moses, in the burning bush passage, how God spoke to him, saying, ‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’?  (27) He is not the God of the dead, but the God of the living.  You are therefore greatly mistaken.  (Mk 12:26-27) 

Jesus is speaking with the Sadducees, who did not believe in resurrection from the dead.

In verse 27, the word mistaken correctly communicates deceived.  This indicates to me that there is an important point hidden in this verse that we need to investigate.

Jesus was discussing resurrection from the dead with the Sadducees, and the disciples were pleased with Jesus’ statement above in Mark 12:27, since they felt it was His verbal victory. 

We can see that the gospel of Luke echoes the main point:

 For He is not the God of the dead but of the living, for all live to Him.  (Lk 20:38)

This verse reminds us that “all live to Him,” meaning that to the Lord, no human being is ever dead or will be, but all mankind sustain an abiding conscious relation to Him. (Source of italicized, bold type material:   Jamieson, Faussett & Brown)

The “all” who live to Him mean “those accounted worthy to obtain that world.”  (see Lk 20:35)  They maintain a loving covenant relationship with the Lord which will never end.   

How helpful is this to us in the here and now?  The Bible states that God made mankind in His own image.  (Gen 1:26a; 27; 9:6)  Because we’re made in the image of God, once a human being has been born on this earth, it means that their soul [the essence of their identity and consciousness] will live for eternity.

For we know that if our earthly house [our body], this tent, is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.  (2 Cor 5:1, bracketed comment added)

We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord.  (2 Cor 5:8, emphasis added)

That is why God provided our salvation through Jesus Christ, so that we could spend eternity with Him.  We live unto God while here in the flesh; and when we vacate our body, we go on to live with the Lord in Heaven. 

We serve the living God (1 Thes 1:9; Heb 9:14)—the God of the living.  Hallelujah!

A Kiss for a Right Answer!

A Kiss for a Right Answer!

But those who rebuke the wicked will have delight, and a good blessing will come upon them.  (25) He who gives a right answer kisses the lips.  (Pro 24:25-26)

This passage from the Bible has a couple of good spiritual points to make. 

  • The first recommends that we admonish those who commit evil, depraved, or heinous acts, rather than justifying or remaining neutral to what they do. Verse 24 says that that when we reprove the wicked, a blessing will come upon us.
  • The second point (v. 25 above) is shown like this in a reverse interlinear: “Every man shall kiss his lips that giveth a right answer.”  In short, this means that plain, direct words are preferable to deceptive or ambiguous ones.  And that when someone speaks plainly to us, we should appreciate and value them. 

The “right answer” spoken of here is an answer that is filled with the wisdom of God.  The more we are acquainted with the Bible and familiar with the voice of the Holy Spirit, the easier it will be to recognize and value a “right answer” when we hear it.

All the words of my mouth are with righteousness; nothing crooked or perverse is in them.  They are all plain to him who understands, and right to those who find knowledge.  10 Receive my instruction, and not silver, and knowledge rather than choice gold . . .  (Pro 8:8-10, emphasis added)

I believe that the purpose of these two verses is to help us to remember that ALL of the words of our lips are colossally important, both in the natural and spiritual realms.  Additionally, the Lord is giving us His advice on when to be critical of someone’s actions, as well as when to welcome and to be grateful for wise counsel or a useful and eye-opening insight.

By God’s empowering gift of grace, we’ll know when and how to apply this biblical wisdom.

Really? Nothing?

Really?  Nothing?

For with God nothing will be impossible.  (Lk 1:37)

This Bible verse above says that NOTHING is impossible with God!  Does the Lord really mean this?  Let’s look at where else this idea is shared in the Word.

But Jesus looked at them and said to them, “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”  (Mt 19:26)

But Jesus looked at them and said, “With men it is impossible, but not with God; for with God all things are possible.”  (Mk 10:27)

But He said, “The things which are impossible with men are possible with God.”  (Lk 18:27)

Now these three verses assert the same idea from a positive mindset rather than a negative one.  These verses declare that with God ALL things are possible.  How do we, as believers, respond to these assertions? 

What looks or feels impossible to you right now?  What situation in life or what need are you facing?  Why not stand upon these passages of Scripture and ask God to fulfill His Word in your life today? 

Trust Him, and stand in faith on His Word with a firm expectation in your heart of His miraculous answer.

Power to Serve

Power to Serve

Here are a handful of Bible verses about:

  • God, who has power and uses it;
  • God gives strength and power to His people;
  • Jesus, who demonstrated his power by many mighty miracles; &
  • Jesus sharing His power with His disciples (and us).

O God, You are more awesome than Your holy places. The God of Israel is He who gives strength and power to His people. Blessed be God!  (Ps 68:35)

He gives power to the weak, and to those who have no might He increases strength.  (Isa 40:29)

And when He had called His twelve disciples to Him, He gave them power over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all kinds of sickness and all kinds of disease.  (Mt 10:1)

Then He appointed twelve, that they might be with Him and that He might send them out to preach, and to have power.  (Mk 3:14-15)

And He called the twelve to Himself, and began to send them out two by two, and gave them power over unclean spirits.  (Mk 6:7)

Then He called His twelve disciples together and gave them power and authority over all demons, and to cure diseases.  (Lk 9:1)

Behold, I give you the authority to trample on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt you.  (Lk 10:19)

For the kingdom of God is not in word but in power.  (1 Cor 4:20)

Jesus called His disciples together to commission them to preach and to impart power to them.  Luke 9:1 says that He gave them power and authority; and Luke 10:19 says that our power can triumph over the enemy and protect us from harm.

We have been given this power to SERVE–in order to testify of Jesus and to preach Good News to all.  We are called to serve the Kingdom of God from the moment that we accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior.

What a joy and a privilege to serve Jesus!