Tag Archives: Heaven

Origin of Sin

All of us take it that God made this universe perfect.  “Behold it is very good.”  God must be incapable of making  anything imperfect.  Here is the problem – Why didn’t God leave well enough alone?  None of us would go so far as to say, “Why did God make sin?” And yet we say, “Why did God let it happen?”  We say, “God allowed it.”  Whether he commanded, or planned it, it is not just a theological thing; we must think over this meaning.  It involves our will.  If it isn’t our responsibility we can say, “Well, we can’t help it.  God is responsible.”  That is why we have to answer this question to see if God is responsible or not.  When we say “Why didn’t God leave well enough alone,” we think that Adam was apparently perfect, but he wasn’t.  For example, a pediatrician would say about one of the babies in the nursery, “This baby is perfect,” and not one of the parents would say, “I hope this child stays this way.”  This is a relative thing.  They wouldn’t want that baby to stay a perfect 2 months old, but would want it to become a perfect 4 month old, etc.

Adam was spiritually a child.  If you will permit an illustration:  Our high school and local colleges recently had their examinations, and they aren’t particularly pleasant for the student or for the teacher.  It means a lot of extra work for both the teacher and pupil.  Why do it then?  It is by means of these tests and examinations that they grow and learn more — so it is by means of the possibility of failure that Adam would grow and become a man.  I think every one of us feels that a person who has resisted temptation is a better man thereafter.  I don’t know whether one can logically speak of more perfection, but Adam would have become more perfect if he succeeded in this temptation.  If he had not sinned he would have been confirmed in holiness.  Even the least thought of evil would not have entered his mind, just as the Lord Jesus while he was here on earth – like the angels, who are finite creatures, are incapable of the least sin, they would have worked out their claim to heaven, eternal salvation.

We often speak of paradise as a picture of heaven, but that is just what it is; a picture.  Heaven would have been a step ahead.  They would have gained glory.  That is what God arranged.  Adam and Even were completely capable of that.  They could have said to Satan, “Get thee behind me,” as Christ had done.  Let us not blame God for what he is not responsible.

That is all good and nice, but you are just talking, “Might have been.”  “Why didn’t God make it so that they couldn’t have sinned?”  If God had done that there would not have been free choice, and man would have been merely a puppet in God’s hands.  The very fact that man did not do what God wanted him to do shows how free and independent he was.  Otherwise God would be like a ventriloquist.  An English writer says that sin or failure in the garden of Eden is the risk God ran in order that God could make a creature like himself, self reliant.  The problem of free will as over against predestination comes in here, and the answer is that man is free.  The Bible says that deliberately, lest some people escape their responsibility.  The fact is that there isn’t a soul here that doesn’t act deliberately.

It is true that God knew that man would disobey, and allow me to say, that God planned it that way, but God planned beyond that too, that out of this tragedy would come something better.  The Chicago fire long ago was a blessing because it was through this that better and stronger buildings were built, etc.  Out of the fall came a saved saint, which is an advantage.  If the first Adam hadn’t fallen, Jesus would have never come.  We wouldn’t know anything about the wonderful attributes of Jesus.  We wouldn’t know that we are on a higher level then Adam and Even were in Paradise.  We have eternal life in our hearts.

 

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Different Degrees of Glory

Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things: enter into the joy of the Lord.      Matthew 25:21

Sometimes people ask how it will be possible to be perfect in heaven and still keep growing in knowledge and in likeness to our Lord.  Well, Jesus was perfect from the moment that He was born, and yet the Bible says that He grew not only in stature but in wisdom.

Similarly, when we reach heaven we will be perfect.  But every “day” in heaven we will also keep on growing and learning, and heaven will never become dull because that growth will have no limits.

This means too that there will not be monotonous uniformity in the hereafter.  Just as there are differences among us here on earth, so there will be differences among the citizens of heaven.

It is a strange fact that, while most people are eager to outdo the other person here upon earth and are rarely satisfied with present accomplishments and attainments, many Christians are quite content with the thought that they’ll get into glory, by grace, and are quite unconcerned as to what their station there will be.

Perhaps they are unconsciously thinking of the parable of the laborers who received the same wage at the end of the day despite the fact that some worked many more hours than others.  But this parable only intends to teach us that whether we are young or old upon conversion or young or old when we die we shall all be perfect and completely happy in heaven.  But the parable of the pounds is designed to tell us that our stations in glory will vary tremendously, and they are being determined right now by our degree of faithfulness here upon earth.  Why should anybody be satisfied with barely getting in?

Heaven

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away.       Revelation 21:1

What is it that will make heaven such a marvelous state to be in?  Sometimes we think it is the lovely surroundings — the sights and sounds, the company of our loved ones, and the absence of sickness and even fatigue.  Others say that it is the privilege of being forever in the presence of God.  But as far as we are concerned the “best” part is that we shall be perfect.  If we were to be thrust into the joys of heaven right now we would be no more capable of enjoying its pleasures than a child at a symphony or a dog in an art gallery.  And the reason why we shall be perfect is that finally, for the first, we shall enjoy full communion with the Lord whose presence completely transforms.  In the beautiful third chapter of First John the beloved disciple says that we shall be like God for we shall see Him as He is.  Just as the moon in its full phase is big, bright, and beautiful because it is looking full into the face of the sun, we shall be like God by reflecting His perfection.

This makes all other conceptions of heaven pale into insignificant “pie in the sky.”  Just think: we will be as superior to our present selves as a butterfly is to a worm, almost as superior as human beings are to dogs.  Imagine what it will be like to have never an evil thought, a temper tantrum, a jealous mood, a dark depression, or even a wisp of temptation.  We shall scarcely know ourselves for the pure wonder of it.  “Can this be I?” will be our waking exclamation when we open our eyes in glory.  Mental telepathy and whatever other wonders God may have in store for us in perfection will be possible only because then we are what we are.

Eternal Rest

So then, there remains a sabbath rest for the people of God.       Hebrews 4:9

The purpose of Jesus’ first advent may correctly be described as in order to bring rest into the world.  “Our souls are restless,” cried St. Augustine, “until they find their rest in Thee.”  Jesus great invitation to the masses was couched in the words, “Come unto me,…. and I will give you rest.”

In a far fuller sense it may be said that Jesus’ second coming will be in order to initiate perfect and complete rest, of which the Sabbath day at the end of the creation week was just a faint picture.  In both the Old and New Testaments heaven is spoken of as our eternal rest.  The book of Revelation declares that already now those who are at home with the Lord are blessed because “they rest from their labors.”

This does not mean that heaven is a place of idleness.  To the contrary, the saints in glory are described as serving God day and night, indicating the absence of all fatigue and monotony.  But in that delightful busyness they find self-satisfaction, fulfillment, contentment – in a word, rest.  Heaven is the discovery to the full that Christ’s service is easy and His burden is light.

The godless, by contrast, will enter upon a state that can be scribed as eternal restlessness.  “They rest not day nor night” is the doleful description of hell.  Even the little so-called rest that the unbeliever experiences here upon earth (for they are by nature a restless people) will be taken away when the great separation takes place.

Today is supposed to be a day of rest, a sample of heaven according to a well known gospel hymn.  Is it a day of rest for you and your family or a day of rust?

The Trumpet Shall Sound

And He will send out His angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to another.      Matthew 24:31

It must surely make God laugh to hear men solemnly discussing whether miracles are possible, when we human beings are laughing right now at what our forebears flatly declared was absolutely impossible.  Who would have thought it possible for a missionary in Africa to talk with eco;e in Canada by means of a box no bigger than a suitcase?  Right now man-made moons are circling the world; men can see them and hear their signals.

All this makes ludicrous the remarks that were being made only a generation ago that the sound of the trumpet amouncing Christ’s return could not be heard all over the world, nor could His coming be witnessed by the Orient if He descended into the Western Hemisphere.  Sounds already are being heard simultaneously around the earth, and television girdles the globe.

Skeptics have mocked the idea that if every one who ever lived were gathered together for judgement there would not be standing room on earth.  But one fourth of all the people who ever lived are on earth right now, with lots of room to spare.  One non-Christian historian coldly computed that we could all be accommodated in a box no bigger than one mile wide, long, and high.

All this, of course, is answering fools according to their folly (Proverbs 26:5).  Such people err, because they know not the Scriptures.  The Bible often talks in human figures when it speaks of the last trumpet and the like.  If God were to talk to “intellectuals” the way they think He should, they would not be able to understand it any more than a child can grasp Einstein.

The Children in Our Home

Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.            Matthew 19:14

The simple fact is that there likely will be more people in heaven who never reached maturity than those who did grow up.  We usually have the notion that heaven will be primarily a place for adults, with former children there by way of exception or accommodation.  To the contrary; we who grow to maturity on earth will not be more important in heaven.  Jesus meant very literally what he said about children, “Of such is the kingdom of heaven!”

It has been truthfully said that this is an adult world, and children are tolerated in it.  Nearly all its equipment, customs, and activity are built around adults, and children spend an important part of their life in unfair competition, at a hopeless disadvantage.

There isn’t a more important age of life than childhood.  There isn’t a more important thing in the home than its children.  Even our all-important daily work is done largely for the sake of the children; and yet they are often neglected for the job.  Such irony!

Are our children getting anything out of the daily Bible reading and prayer?  What habits in this regard are they developing for their own future homes?  What attitudes are they developing toward church-going?  Are our divine services on such an adult level that children do not enjoy going to church?

Childhood is for the child itself one of the most difficult times of life.  When we think of it as just one long lark we are looking at it through adult eyes.  Some of the most painful experiences of life are suffered in those years.  Let us never minimize our children’s problems; they are big ones, and not just to them.  Let us not minimize their achievements, or fail to understand their problems.

God’s Last Revelation

I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book:  If anyone adds anything to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book  And if anyone takes words away from this book of prophecy, God will take away from him his share in the tree of life….                         Revelation 22:18, 19

The Bible is a holy book, so that we ought to treat with reverence even the pates on which it is written.  But one of the best ways to treat it respectfully is to write in it.  We may well take a pencil and underline certain words or phrases in the Bible, made notes in the margin of various verses, an write some of our own thoughts on the top of the page.  This is the way a Bible becomes more meaningful, useful, and precious.

Revelation is one of the books of the Bible with which we ought to use our pencil a great deal.  The most important thing is to divide the book, by ends of lines or numbers in the margin, into seven sections.  The book of Revelation is a series of seven sketches of the history of the world from different points of view.  So we have letters to seven churches, followed by the story of the seven seals, the seven trumpets, the battle of the dragon against a woman and her Child, the seven bowls of wrath, the destruction of the two beasts, and the grand finale after Satan is destroyed.

There are many details in this picture book which we do not understand.  But do not let that keep you from reading Revelation.  When we look at a large painting or a moving-picture, we do not look at all the little details, even though they are part of the complete picture.  So we should look at the last book of the Bible the same way we view a huge picture in an art gallery.  Do not worry about the meaning of every word.  Revelation is designed to give us a breath-taking glimpse of the greatness of God and the splendor of heaven.