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Category Archives: Heaven

Hope that sustains

Book Review: All Things New: Heaven, Earth, and the Restoration of Everything you Love, by John Eldredge

When we experience seasons of loss—loss of a dream, death of a loved one, friends moving away, becoming empty nesters after a child’s graduation or wedding—we have to deal with times of grief. We also need to find a hope that will sustain us and help us move forward.

What if someone told you that everything you’ve lost will be restored to you, but in even better shape than before? What if someone said that all the things you loved will be renewed?

This is the premise of John Eldredge’s latest offering, All Things New: Heaven, Earth, and the Restoration of Everything you Love. The title and theme come from Revelation 21:5 where Jesus says, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Eldredge’s point is that Jesus is not making new things, but regenerating the old ones into new and better condition. If we believe that God is going to restore our lives and everything we love any day now, this hope will give us an anchor which will not only sustain us, but help us to look forward to the future with hope.

All Things New is a very encouraging book. As with John Eldredge’s previous books, it is real, honest, gritty, emotional, and uplifting. He draws illustrations from personal experience, movies, literature, and daily life. While not intended to be a book of theology, it will give you a new perspective on eternity and cause you to rethink your view of heaven.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers <http://booklookbloggers.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

 
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Posted by on October 5, 2017 in Books, Heaven

 

Heaven is for good people

Heaven is for good people, or so we want to believe.

We see this belief portrayed in comic strips like Broom-Hilda. God lets the good people in but closes the gates to the really bad people.

We see it in our own attitudes. We believe that God grades on a scale. If your good deeds outweigh your bad deeds, you get into heaven. But if your bad deeds are greater, well, then you go to that other place (that is, of course, if you believe in hell.) We are skeptical of a deathbed, jailhouse conversion. Could God really save _______?

We even see this attitude in some of God’s servants. The book of Jonah in the Old Testament tells the story of a prophet of God who did not want to preach repentance to the city of Nineveh precisely because he knew God was gracious and would forgive them if they repented. He thought they did not deserve God’s grace.

Contrary to popular belief, heaven is not for good people. Heaven is for sinners who have been forgiven. Romans 5:8 explains that Christ died for us while we were his enemies. “…but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Ephesians 2:8-9 tells us that salvation is not earned or deserved. It is a free gift of God’s grace. “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.”

Heaven is not for good people. Heaven is for those who acknowledge their sins, seek God’s forgiveness, and enjoy the free gift of his grace.

 

 

 
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Posted by on October 2, 2017 in Heaven, Scripture, Theology

 

Are heaven and hell real?

Book Review: Answering the Toughest Questions about Heaven and Hell, by Bruce Bickel & Stan Jantz

What happens when we die? Are heaven and hell real places? If God is loving, how could he send anyone to hell? Have you ever wrestled with questions like these? Have you ever wondered where to find the answers to these and other questions about the afterlife?

Authors Bruce Bickel and Stan Jantz encourage their readers to ask tough questions and wrestle with doubts. In this volume, Answering the Toughest Questions about Heaven and Hell, they asked the young adults from St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church in Newport Beach, CA, to articulate their most important questions about heaven and hell. They then grouped the questions into broad categories which provided the ten chapters and four appendices for this book.

  • Is there an afterlife?
  • What happens when you die?
  • Are heaven and hell for real?
  • Can I believe what the Bible says about the end of the world?
  • Do all roads lead to heaven?
  • If God is loving, how could he send anyone to hell?
  • Is hell a divine torture chamber?
  • How do you get into heaven?
  • What will heaven be like?
  • How can I be sure about heaven?
  • Will there be animals in heaven?
  • Can my loved ones in heaven see me?
  • Will there be rewards in heaven?
  • Are near-death experiences for real?

In answering the questions, the authors combine humor, illustrations, real-life stories, and philosophical arguments. After exploring the questions from various angles, they always ask, “What does the Bible say about this question?” The result is a practical, helpful, biblical exploration of some very real questions.

Disclosure: I received this book free from Bethany House through the Bethany House Blogger Review Program http://bakerpublishinggroup.com/bethanyhouse/bookreviewers. The opinions I have expressed are my own, and I was not required to write a positive review.

 
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Posted by on May 18, 2017 in Books, Heaven, Scripture, Theology

 

What the Bible says about heaven & hell

Book Review: What Happens After You Die: A Biblical Guide to Paradise, Hell, and Life After Death, by Randy Frazee

If a friend on their death bed asked, “Is belief in Jesus enough to get me into heaven?” how would you respond? That question was posed to pastor and author Randy Frazee by his mother. While he answered his mother with a confident, “Yes,” the question bothered him enough to do a thorough study of the Scriptures. The results of his study are explained in his latest book, What Happens After You Die: A Biblical Guide to Paradise, Hell, and Life After Death.

Pastor Frazee deals with the five most important questions about life after death.

  • Is Jesus enough to get me into heaven?
  • What happens if I die without Christ?
  • What happens if I die with Christ?
  • What happens if I don’t know Christ when he returns?
  • What happens if I do know Christ when he returns?

In addition, he also answers questions such as:

  • Are there such things as ghosts?
  • Are our loved one in heaven watching over us?
  • Is there such a thing as purgatory or Limbo?
  • Are there different degrees of hell?
  • Can we earn wings?
  • Will rewards be given out?
  • Will there be pets in heaven?
  • Will we keep our memories or regrets from life now?
  • Will there be marriages and family in God’s new kingdom?
  • What will our resurrected bodies be like?
  • What will we eat?
  • What will a day in the life on the new earth be like?
  • Do we have guardian angels?
  • Is it okay to be cremated?
  • What about people making predictions about the return of Christ?
  • What about life-after-death and near-death experiences?

As Frazee explains in the opening chapter, the book was born out of a deeply personal search for truth after his mother’s death. Throughout the book, he attempts to separate what is simply cultural tradition from what is truly biblical. He explains not only the death Jesus came to save us from but also the life he came to save us for.

The book is very helpful and encouraging. It clearly explains what Scripture says about what happens after we die.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers <http://booklookbloggers.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

 
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Posted by on April 20, 2017 in Books, Heaven, Scripture, Theology

 

What do we mean when we say, “Rest in Peace”?

This was originally published in July 2013. Since I have seen “R.I.P.” posted twice in the past week I thought it might be time to repost.

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I’ve noticed recently that several Christian friends on Facebook post “Rest in Peace” when a well-known actor, author, or celebrity dies. It caused me to ask the question, what exactly do we mean when we say, “Rest in Peace”?

In one sense, death is a time of rest, at least for our physical bodies. Scripture uses the metaphor of “going to sleep” to describe death. This picture is mentioned three times in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18. Dr. Luke uses the same concept in Acts 7 and the apostle Paul uses it again in 1 Corinthians 15 on two occasions. In Mark, chapter 5, the daughter of a religious leader had died and Jairus, her father, begged Jesus for help. Jesus said, “She’s not dead; she is asleep.” In this sense, death is a time of rest.

In another sense, death is a time when we rest from our labors and enjoy our inheritance. Hebrews 4 talks about the “Sabbath rest” for the people of God. It links the idea to God’s work of creating the world in six days and resting on the seventh day as well as Israel’s wandering in the wilderness before entering the Promised Land. Tying them together, to rest means to cease from our labor of trying to earn God’s favor and enjoying the inheritance and blessings he has prepared for us.

This doesn’t mean, however, that eternity will be spent floating on clouds strumming a harp. Scripture pictures heaven as a place where we engage in meaningful activity. We will be engaged in worship (Revelation 22:1-3), praising Christ for providing our salvation. We will also be serving as we reign with Christ in eternity (Revelation 20:6).

However, these pictures of rest are only true of those who trusted Christ for salvation during their lifetime. Those who rejected Christ as savior will find themselves in hell enduring an eternity of suffering (Matthew 13:42, 50).

With this is mind, we need to be careful about whom we say “Rest in Peace” to. We don’t want to come across as closet universalists who believe all people go to heaven regardless of their beliefs or lifestyle. Nor do we want to communicate that we secretly believe God grades on a curve and the more well-known you are, the more likely you will be in heaven. We also don’t want to act as if this life is all there is, and there is no afterlife. In addition, we don’t want to say “Rest in Peace” simply because we don’t know what else to say.

Eternal rest is only available to those who stopped working to earn their salvation. For the Christ follower, they can go to sleep and later wake up in the arms of Jesus. They can rest and fully enjoy the blessings of salvation and heaven.

 

 

 
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Posted by on April 19, 2017 in Facebook, Funerals, Heaven, News stories, Theology

 

No religion in heaven

No religion in heaven

Occasionally, cartoonists get it right.

I’m sure the writer of the comic strip, Non-Sequitur, was trying to poke fun at religion in his comic this week. On the one hand, the strip portrays a cynical view that religion is cause of all the conflicts in the world. On the other hand, the writer inadvertently told the truth about heaven.

Religion will not get one into heaven. Only those who have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ will enter heaven.

In John 14:6, Jesus stated, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” In Revelation 22:3-4, the apostle John described heaven as a place where, “The throne of God and the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him. They shall see his face and his name will be on their foreheads.”

Heaven is not a place for religion. Heaven is a place of deep relationship with Jesus, our redeemer.

 
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Posted by on April 12, 2016 in Fun, Heaven, Scripture, Theology

 

Control your mind

On Sunday, I taught my Sunday School class about the importance of being intentional about what we allow into our minds.

I began by having the group analyze a number of comics. As I have explained on other occasions, comics are a great source of fun entertainment. But they also provide insight into culture. Each writer weaves a worldview into his particular comic. I asked them to discuss what theme was in each comic.

Baby Blues - demand your rights

the world revolves around me

Betty - watch garbage on netflix

8th day - man invented ego

Brewster Rockit - Black hole of narcissism

Brewster Rockit - Lying = Photoshopped Memory

Shoe - life is outside my comfort zone

After talking about the comics, I discussed a recent episode of the TV show, “Once Upon A Time.” The prior episode, “Souls of the Departed,” the twelfth episode in season five, presented the idea that you can work your way to heaven. In the episode, the characters of Emma, Regina, Mary Margaret, David, Henry, Robin, and Gold take the S.S. Purgatory to the Underworld to rescue Hook. (I know, you have to suspend some disbelief to watch the show.)

While they are there, they meet several characters who are confined in the Underworld because they have “unfinished business.” Henry Mills, Regina’s father, helps Regina, and thus is able to cross over to a better place, while Cora, Regina’s mother, fails in her task, and receives greater punishment.

The episode communicated an underlying philosophy that you can live your life without any thought of the consequences because you will have a second chance after you die. If you do enough good work in purgatory, you can still work your way to heaven.

I used the comics and the TV show to illustrate what Paul was teaching in Romans 12:1-2 and 1 Corinthians 10:3-6, that we are to control our minds.

Romans 12:1–2 – 1I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

2 Corinthians 10:3–6 – For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, being ready to punish every disobedience, when your obedience is complete.

In Romans 12:2, Paul says that we are resist going with the flow and becoming just like the world. Instead, we are to be transformed by renewing our mind and testing what is the will of God. In 1 Corinthians 10:3-6, Paul says that we are engaged in spiritual warfare, and part of the battle is in the world of ideas. The world erects ideological strongholds such as selfishness and earning your salvation which need to be torn down. But it is not enough to merely tear them down, we also have to bring our thoughts captive to Jesus Christ in order to be obedient.

Whether reading the comics or watching TV, whether going to the movies or listening to talk radio, we need to keep our minds engaged and thoughtfully analyze what is being presented. Will it help us become more like Christ? Does it teach a philosophy contrary to God’s will? What does Scripture say in regards to what is being presented? What would God have me to think on this topic?

To become like Jesus, we are to exercise intentionality in what and how we think.

 
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Posted by on March 15, 2016 in Baby Blues, Culture, Fun, Heaven, Scripture