Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Guest Post: Our Focus is Heaven

The Bible begins with God creating the universe and it ends with Him destroying it entirely and creating afresh a "new heaven and a new earth" (Rev:21:1). From beginning to end history is the eternal God fulfilling His immutable purpose. Once we get a clear view of the cosmic proportions of God's plan, we lose any delusions as to our own greatness and are delivered from all mistaken notions that we can somehow fulfill human destiny by our own efforts.
Of course that very delusion fuels the humanist's cosmic aspirations. As part of SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence), President Carter, a professing Christian, cast this message into the cosmosaboard the Voyager spacecraft. It was addressed to any spacefaring civilization that might chance to intercept Voyager:
This is a present from a small distant world...attempting to survive our time so we may live into yours. We hope someday...to join a community of galactic civilizations. This [is] our hope and our determination...in a vast and awesome universe.
Jimmy Carter, President of the United States, The White House - June 16, 1977
Far from hoping to join a community of galactic civilizations, the Christian looks forward to the destruction of the present cosmos and the creation by God of a new universe that will be inhabited by a new race of twice-born children of God, who have received Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord and have been made new creations in Him. Once that tremendous fact grips one's heart it becomes clear why salvation must be by grace alone; it is nothing that we deserve or could accomplish, but it must be entirely God doing for us what we could never do for ourselves.
A new heaven and a new earth inhabited by a new race descended from a new Adam, Jesus Christ himself! That is God's purpose and it is staggering to contemplate! From this perspective, it is ludicrous to imagine that the church by organizing conservative voters or even by preaching the gospel is going to establish God's kingdom. The true and eternal kingdom of God involves not just this small planet but all creation, including the purging by the blood of Jesus and the remaking of heaven itself. Nothing could be better established from Scripture and logic than the glorious fact that the ultimate fulfillment of God's purpose is something that only He can accomplish. Obviously we can only be part of it as we allow Him to have His way in and through us.
This realization puts us on our faces before God in wonder and worship, and causes us to yield ourselves wholeheartedly to His will. Unfortunately, that awesome sense of the greatness of God and the cosmic and eternal proportions of the work that He is doing seems largely absent from Christianity today. Could this be why so many carry the self-imposed burdens of the many "programs" they are trying to put into effect in order to "live victorious lives" or to "advance the cause of Christ"? When we see that the task is totally beyond our capabilities, then we cease from our striving and begin to allow Him to work in and through us by His mighty power.
Many object to this heavenly/eternal perspective as "pie-in-the-sky in the sweet-bye 'n' bye" talk. There are warnings about being so "heavenly minded" that one is of "no earthly good." We must be practical, so the argument goes, meeting first of all the earthly needs of ourselves and others and doing our best to make this world a better place for everyone.
Yet Christ himself continually turned the focus of His followers from earth to heaven. Throughout Scripture we are counseled to live at all times with the understanding that life on this earth is very brief and that it is followed by an eternal existence of either indescribable bliss in God's presence or unbearable agony in separation from Him. Peter declares that the knowledge that "the heavens shall pass away with a great noise [and] the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up" (2 Pt 3:10) causes us to live godly lives. And John adds that the hope of being transformed into His likeness when He shall appear causes us to purify ourselves (1 Jn:3:2-3).
Of course, the greatest motivation is the love that is born in our hearts as we realize that the Creator of the universe loves each of us so much that He became a man to die in our place. This love has captured our affection so that we gladly declare that we are His and His alone for eternity. Accepting the death of Jesus Christ as our own death, we have given up life as we would have lived it so that He can live His resurrection life through us. The eternal Kingdom has already begun in every heart where the King reigns! Moreover, as His bride, we long to be united in that heavenly marriage with Christ our Bridegroom and to honeymoon with Him forever in His Father's house! Forever we will worship and praise the One who has made all things new!
Many would have us believe that self-love is the answer to the world's ills. Both Christian leaders and the unsaved are teaching and preaching this lie. It is self-love that has wrought the ills of the world: greed, lust, and envy. And yet proponents of self-love or self-esteem say this is what will bring inner peace.
A recent newspaper article stated, "About the same time they learned their former governor was holed up in Japan studying Zen [Buddhism], Californians were given the nation's first governmental task force devoted to boosting self-esteem. The Task Force to Promote Self-Esteem and Personal and Social Responsibility will spend $735,000 over the next three years trying to prevent crime, drug abuse and other social ills by making folks feel better about themselves."
Peace cannot be achieved personally until the Prince of Peace, Jesus Christ, reigns in our hearts. And peace on this earth will not be seen until the King of Kings comes to reign. But startlingly enough, even His presence will not turn men from their self-determination to rule their own kingdom (see Rev:20:7-10).
Message 7 in the new video series "Seduction and Beyond" presents further thoughts on kingdom/dominion theology:
You see, the kingdom of God is not the millennium. The Word of God distinctly tells us, "Thy kingdom is an everlasting kingdom: "You get that in Psalm 145. Even Nebuchadnezzar knew that. You get that in chapter 4 and chapter 7 of Daniel. Isaiah:9:6, that verse that we know so well, that we quote each Christmas particularly: "For unto us a child is born. Unto us a son is given. And the government will be upon his shoulders. And his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, the mighty God, the everlasting Father..." And then what does the next verse say? "And of his kingdom and peace there will be no end." No end.
Yet, the millennium ends, and with the greatest war the world has ever seen. Satan has been loosed, he deceives the nations and they march upon Jerusalem. At that time, Jesus himself has been reigning over this earth for 1,000 years. The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb. (Isa:11:6). He has brought peace to this earth. It is not the kingdom of God, but the final proof of the incorrigible nature of the human heart. And there is no hope except we deny self and take up the cross and follow Jesus Christ. The kingdom involves a new heaven and a new earth (Rev:21:1). And that new universe is only to be inhabited by those who have been willing to become new creatures in Christ Jesus. Who have allowed Jesus Christ to take over and make them new. And for whom old things have passed away; all things have become new. They look to Him and to Him alone to be their life; to be their all....
The Bible should be reverenced as doing all that words can do to bring us to God—that is, to point the way. But the life-giving power of Christ does not reside in Greek and Hebrew syntax, but in the quickening of the Holy Spirit; for "the gospel is not in word only, but in power and in much assurance of the Holy Spirit" (1 Thes:1:5). What folly to ascribe to the letter of Scripture that power which the words themselves most plainly tell us is solely in the quickening Spirit of God!
Yet Scripture has suffered this very perversion of teaching at the hands of those who claim to uphold most ardently its infallible inspiration. Thus, many profess a sound doctrinal understanding of the letter of Scripture, but at the same time they reject the very work of the Holy Spirit in their hearts and lives to which the plainest meaning of the Scripture they so zealously study and guard would point them!
By Dave Hunt