“I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life. 25 I tell you the truth, a time is coming and has now come when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God and those who hear will live. 26 For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son to have life in himself. 27And he has given him authority to judge because he is the Son of Man.” 28“Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice 29and come out—those who have done good will rise to live, and those who have done evil will rise to be condemned. 30By myself I can do nothing; I judge only as I hear, and my judgment is just, for I seek not to please myself but him who sent me.
This post may sound a little “preachy.” Please understand that I am preaching to myself, and not you, Dear Reader, and I would love to hear your thoughts, too!
From my last post, When I die…
What do you think about Heaven, and why do you think you’d get to go there? What do you think it means to do good versus evil? If you believe in Heaven, do you really believe, deep in your heart, that Heaven is better than earth? Are you still afraid of death?
These are some questions I asked myself after a prompting in last week’s sermon by our associate pastor, and friend, Glen. The only thing I can know for certain about Heaven is what I read in God’s Word. And at this point, I am completely convinced that what is in the Bible is absolutely true. If you’re not convinced, you might read Josh McDowell’s book, Evidence that Demands A Verdict. He began as a skeptic, seeking to disprove the Bible, but became one of the world’s best apologists for it’s divine inspiration and historical accuracy.
Regarding God the Father, the Son, and the Spirit, Revelation says that there is constant worship going on in Heaven. It sounds like this:
“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come.” Rev 4:8b
“You are worthy, our Lord and God,
to receive glory and honor and power,
for you created all things,
and by your will they were created
and have their being.”Rev 5:11
“Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain,
to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength
and honor and glory and praise!”Rev 5:12
“To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb
be praise and honor and glory and power,
for ever and ever!” Rev 5:13b
Whenever I sing these words in worship or pray them, I really get the feeling in my spirit that I am joining in with the Heavenly hosts who are continually proclaiming this to the Lord. Whenever I doubt that my God really has prepared a place for me, I think from now on, I’ll pray these words, and glorify the Savior along with the angels.
As for why I deserve to go there, an answer is also found in Revelation. The four creatures and the elders sang this song to Jesus, the Lamb, who was slain:
“You are worthy to take the scroll
and to open its seals,
because you were slain,
and with your blood you purchased men for God
from every tribe and language and people and nation.
You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God,
and they will reign on the earth.” Rev 5:9-10
That’s it, only because of Jesus’ sacrifice, and nothing within myself. Anytime I start to think I can be good enough on my own, I need to realize that Jesus said, “”I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14:6
And this is why, in the past, I’ve struggled with this sentence in John 5: 29: those who have done good will rise to live, and those who have done evil will rise to be condemned. Wait a minute, I thought Jesus said that it was only through Him that we can come? That “all our righteous acts are like filthy rags,” (Is 64:6) but then James says, ” For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead.” (James 2:26)
The key is that we cannot truly have good works with out the Spirit enabling us. So the bottom line is that “doing good” means accepting Jesus’ sacrifice for us. That’s it. If we do that, we will naturally bear fruit, meaning to do good deeds. The question of why Jesus would allow people who haven’t accepted Him to be condemned, well, that’s for another day!
I believe this with all my heart, that God has prepared a wonderful place for me in Heaven, where I will worship the Lamb eternally, and be constantly in His Holy Presence. I want to go there, I really do. Just not now, not yet. I want to be with my children and my husband, because on this earth, with what I can fathom in my humanity, this is the expression of love I’ve known.
MorningSong commented on the last post, and I can so relate to her feelings. She wrote:
I am not afraid of death but I am still enjoying life. I am not ready to die. I am ready in my soul but my mind still wants the familiar. That may seem like opposing thoughts but I think that is natural. I can imagine heaven as a glorious place but I want my loved ones there too. I can’t imagine leaving my kids behind. Now, if we go in the rapture then ok but if we don’t then I want every minute I can with my kids until God sees fit to bring me home.
Sometimes I feel it as a tug-of-war, pulling me closer to each side, depending on what God is teaching me at any given moment. And I think that is how it’s supposed to be. If I were only living for Heaven, would I be motivated to do anything here on earth? To see Jesus rescue others as he has done for me? And if I were only living for the here and now, would I really run toward the “goal”? I’d be like a runner, running a marathon without a finish line. I’m not a marathon runner, but I imagine they must have to master the balance of living in the moment, while keeping in mind the finish.
I’ve always been a little uncomfortable with the tug-of-war, like I must not be “getting it” if I felt this way. I’m going to embrace this tug-of-war, from now on. I’ll let God pull me closer to the Heavenly goal or back to my race here on earth as He sees fit. And I’m not so sure it’s a bad thing, right now, to be a little afraid to leave those who depend on me so much, and whom I love so much. I am looking forward to when He does bring me home, when
“He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” Rev 21:4
Thank you Glen, for allowing God to speak through you on Sunday, prompting me to work out my faith through study of the Scripture.