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Living Now in Light of the Future (A Series of Messages on 2 Corinthians 12) Part 6

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’ve seen that Paul’s experience of heaven is dramatically different from the often silly reports of people who say they have toured heaven.

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.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on August 13, 2019 in 2 Corinthians 12

 

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The Future . . . Life? (Time for a Great Cartoon)

 
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Posted by on June 27, 2018 in the future

 

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Not That You Asked . . . Possibilities for the Future . . .

For you loyal readers of my blog, I want to thank you.  The last almost year and a half at Crossroads Fellowship Church has been such a blessing for me.  Every week I got to work on another Sunday message and many of them found their way (in some form) onto this blog.

You might be wondering what is next for us.  We’re wondering too!  I want to serve another church that is between pastors and am looking into several possibilities.  I’ll be teaching an online course on leadership for CIU later in September.  Here are several other projects I’m pursuing:

1. I might help one Bible college develop online courses.

2. I have a couple of “Theology Matters” conferences coming up in November (one in Kansas and another in Iowa).

3. I will be teaching at a Bible college in Myanmar (Burma) sometime next year.

4.  I have already done some professional editing for a publisher in Scotland and would love to do more.

5.  I’m finally getting back into writing and have a number of projects I’m working on (details in my next post).

Sure appreciate your praying for us. We’re trying to hold off drawing Social Security until my birthday in February.  I might do some driving for Uber (what an opportunity to share the gospel with others).

 

 
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Posted by on October 12, 2017 in the future

 

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What We Do Not Need to Know (Dr. Lindsay Hislop)

Friends:
Our church is going through the Gospel of John and several of our congregation are writing short devotionals to challenge us in our faith.  Here is a very provocative one from one of our elders, Dr. Lindsay Hislop:

What We Do Not Need to Know
I dropped out of college in Florida and went to work. Then there was a year Screenshot 2016-02-24 06.43.43of Bible college and marriage and kids. At age thirty-five I came to Columbia with the family to start college again. Five years later I began teaching, and six years after that I finished my formal education. That is when, looking back on the wonderful support of Pam and the sacrifices of our kids along with her, I wrote these words: “If God had shown us the way beforehand, we may not have set out on it; in His goodness He did not, and we did, and He saw us through.” God in His grace does not show us the future.

Beginning in John 13 and going through His prayer in chapter 17, Jesus was preparing His disciples for His departure. They needed to understand that He would leave them. In 13:36 Peter asked, “Lord, where are you going?” And in 14:5 Thomas asked, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?”

Jesus had just said, “I am going to prepare a place for you.” And, of course, from our Monday-morning-quarterback position, we know what He meant. But imagine the puzzlement of these men with none of the advantages we have. They were about to embark on the great adventure of beginning to plant the church around the world, and they had no idea of what lay in their paths.

God graciously hides the future for two reasons. First, if we knew the roadblocks and detours we will face, we may be afraid to go on with the journey. Will we face illness or injury, conflict or confusion, trial or trouble of any kind? The Lord knows, and graciously we do not. These are the things that teach us to walk by faith, and we need the spiritual exercise they bring. These are part of the “all things” that God causes to work together for our good.

But there is another reason: if we knew the blessings that lie ahead of us, we may fall into complacency. We may just rest on the Lord with no exercise of faith and never grow to maturity. Like a child with no exercise we would become weak and listless. The blessings will surprise us in their time, but we need to look for them by faith. We need to pay the price of the field not knowing the value of the treasure that lies buried there.
God is gracious, and graciously He keeps us in the dark about what we do not need to know.

 
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Posted by on April 12, 2016 in the future

 

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