Tag Archives: heaven
September 23-24 will be when I get to address the supporters at Camp Elim in Colorado (their “Heritage Retreat).” These posts give me the opportunity to work on my messages which will be from 2 Corinthians 12.
Let’s look at our text one more time:
We don’t need their testimonies — we have the Word of God to guide us.
The first challenge in Living Now in Light of the Future is that we have a biblical view of boasting (vv. 1-6).
Let’s notice our second challenge from this text and it is that we would have —
II. A Clear Focus on the Future! (vv. 2 & 4 & 7).
In these verses Paul tells us that his tour of heaven was very real, but he was not sure whether he was literally taken to heaven or he experienced a vision of heaven given to him by the Lord. One could ask, what difference would it make? His experience was genuine — and he learned several truths from it.
What does he say about his experience? First of all, he says he was “caught up to the third heaven” (v. 2). Later he says he was “caught up to paradise” (v. 4). Obviously those moments were real and he was in a real place (if he was “out of the body”) or he was shown a real place (if he was “in the body”).
What did he experience there? We are given two extremely succinct statements:
(1) He “heard inexpressible things — things that no one is permitted to tell” (v. 4). We verbal creatures think that all of life can be explained or described with mortal words. We deceive ourselves and we shrink our view of heaven by our conversation. Some experiences are beyond words. And if heaven, the abode of God, doesn’t fit that description, it is unworthy of our thought. But what if just a glimpse overwhelmingly convinces us, not just of heaven’s reality, but of its auditory superiority to any sounds we have ever heard — or could ever utter?
(2) He saw “surpassingly great revelations” (v. 7). We often cavalierly use superlatives when they are deserved or earned. “That was the best meal I have ever had!” “That concert left me breathless!” “He was the greatest Christian that ever lived!” When we have “used up” all our superlatives for merely earthly things, what words are left to speak about eternity? What visual descriptions remain that could be used about heaven?
Paul’s trip to heaven was not given to him to satisfy his curiosity — or to convince him that “heaven is real.” The text doesn’t tell us why gave him this experience. Perhaps as an expression of God’s grace God lets Paul hear and see the future. And it changes his life! But the changes in Paul’s life are very different from those described in the heaven tour books.
To receive a “clear focus on the future” for Paul meant keeping the experience to himself for 14 years and staying faithful in his ministry. We will notice two major impacts that his vision of heaven had on him in our next several posts.
The Challenge Today: It’s not wrong for the believer to think about heaven and what life will be like in the New Heavens and the New Earth. Sounds and sights will superscede our imaginations. We read in I Corinthians 2 —
“What no eye has seen,
what no ear has heard,
and what no human mind has conceived”—
the things God has prepared for those who love him.”
“We are very shy nowadays of even mentioning heaven. We are afraid of the jeer about ‘pie in the sky’, and of being told that we are trying to ‘escape’ from the duty of making a happy world here and now into dreams of a happy world elsewhere. But either there is ‘pie in the sky’ or there is not. If there is not, then Christianity is false, for this doctrine is woven into its whole fabric. If there is, then this truth, like any other, must be faced, whether it is useful at political meetings or no. Again, we are afraid that heaven is a bribe, and that if we make it our goal we shall no longer be disinterested. It is not so. Heaven offers nothing that a mercenary soul can desire. It is safe to tell the pure in heart that they shall see God, for only the pure in heart want to. There are rewards that do not sully motives. A man’s love for a woman is not mercenary because he wants to marry her, nor his love for poetry mercenary because he wants to read it, nor his love of exercise less disinterested because he wants to run and leap and walk. Love, by definition, seeks to enjoy its object.”
“[To have Faith in Christ] means, of course, trying to do all that He says. There would be no sense in saying you trusted a person if you would not take his advice. Thus if you have really handed yourself over to Him, it must follow that you are trying to obey Him. But trying in a new way, a less worried way. Not doing these things in order to be saved, but because He has begun to save you already. Not hoping to get to Heaven as a reward for your actions, but inevitably wanting to act in a certain way because a first faint gleam of Heaven is already inside you.” (Mere Christianity)
On September 23-24 I get to speak to the supporters of Camp Elim in Woodland Park, Colorado!
I’ve been working my way through 2 Corinthians 12 and want to begin a series of posts on this incredible chapter. Here’s the passage I’ll be speaking on:
A few words about our future: The overall context of this section of 2 Corinthians has to do with Paul’s defending his apostleship. He pulls his trump card — a visit to heaven itself! No one can top that credential!
What do we learn about heaven from Paul’s experience? We learn at least two truths: (1) The sounds in heaven will be amazing! They are described as “inexpressible things” (v. 4). In fact, they are so incredible that “no one is permitted to tell” about them. What will we hear in heaven? We don’t know. But we will be blown away by the sounds of the celestial kingdom! (2) Secondly, the sights in heaven will be overwhelming! We learn that Paul received “surpassingly great revelations” (v. 7) as he was “caught up to the third heaven” (v. 2) which he later describes as “caught up to paradise” (v. 4)
The “So what?” for today: Knowing the Lord Jesus should get us excited about eternity! The greatest sounds and sights in this broken world don’t hold a candle to what God has prepared for those who love Him. Thank Him for that today.
Thomas Watson says, “The reason our affections are so cold to heavenly things is because we do not warm them at the fire of holy meditation. As the musing on amorous objects makes the fire of lust burn; the musing on injuries makes the fire of revenge burn; so meditating on the transcendent beauties of Christ, would make our love to Christ flame forth.” Watson, The Christian Soldier, part 4.
HEAVEN—An angelic representative for Chick-fil-A confirmed Wednesday morning that its restaurants located in Heaven are open seven days a week, rather than closing on Sundays as the fast food chain’s earthly locations are known for.
The statement was released in response to “literally millions” of prayers and petitions from Christians concerned about the operating hours of the establishment in the heavenly realms.
“There is no death, nor mourning, nor crying, nor pain, nor excellent chicken sandwich establishments closing their doors for 24 hours each week, for the former things have passed away,” the heavenly messenger confirmed, adding also that normal business hours do not apply in glory, and the beloved purveyor of moist chicken never closes.
“It just wouldn’t be paradise if citizens of the Kingdom couldn’t rely on getting a warm chicken sandwich 24 hours a day, seven days a week,” he added.
At publishing time, sources had been able to confirm that workers would still be asked to say “my pleasure” in response to any simple request from patrons in heaven.