Tag Archive | Heaven

What Do You Believe In?

By: Paul Borthwick

 

“The United States in having an identity crisis.” The bold print on the full-page advertisement caught my eye. The headline went on, “24 million Americans can’t find our country on a map of the world.”

I was especially interested in what the ad said because part of my job is to make church members more aware of what is going on in the world. Yet I find that quite a few Christians are no different than the population surveyed by the National Geographic. People in our church have told me that Vietnam is next to Surinam, that Africa is a country, and that Communism has been eradicated in the world. (Evidently they forget the People’s Republic of China, where over 20 percent of the world lives under Maoist Communism.)

At the root of our poor knowledge of geography is what sociologists call our “world view.” Our world view determines how we look at ourselves, our world, and our roles in the world. If our world view leads us to believe that we are at the center of the universe, we will usually care little for other countries or cultures.

If, on the other hand, we see ourselves as neighbors in the Global Village or as God’s messengers declaring His glory to the nations (Ps. 96:3), then world awareness will be a natural byproduct of our world view. We will respect other people and cultures and desire to communicate to them.

The Root of the Problem

How can we who follow Jesus Christ develop our world view so that we see our world the way God wants us to? Does it mean buying a world map, taking a cross-cultural trip, or reaching out to an international fiend?

Any of those actions could help, but they still do not get to the root of the problem. We need to go deeper. We need to wrestle with the questions that are at the core of our world view as Christians.

Are you ready to expand your world view? Then wrestle with these six questions. (Note: I will imply or state directly how I answer these questions, but let me encourage you to struggle with them yourselves: How you answer them will affect the way you look at the world. What are your answers?)

1. Do I Believe In Jesus Christ?

Sound too basic? Trust me, it is not. The answer to this question will determine our sense of mission in the world and our outlook on all people (religious or not) who do not follow Jesus Christ.

If Jesus Christ is simply one possible answer on a multiple-choice test of religious options, then I can find peace in Him as my Savior but have no sense of urgency to tell anyone else about Him. I will not be compelled to pray for or preach the gospel to those who have never heard of Jesus (Ro. 15:20).

If Jesus is one among many potential “saviors,” I will not be able to catch that vision of the uniqueness of Jesus (which teaches that there is salvation through Christ alone) that drove missionary pioneers like Hudson Taylor, Amy Carmichael, or Cameron Townsend to proclaim the gospel at great personal sacrifice.

Someone might respond, “But isn’t believing in Jesus as the only truth a little belligerent? Doesn’t it promote a type of religious cultural imperialism?”

Indeed, some Christians have abused this truth, taking it as liberty to mistreat other cultures and ridicule other religions. Our belief in Jesus as Savior should never be a license to repeat the same mistakes.

But we still must develop a world view built on the biblical teaching that

* there is one God (Dt. 6:4),

* who is the unique Savior (Is. 43:11),

* who has revealed Himself as Jesus (Jn. 1:1-14, Heb. 1:1-3), and that this Jesus – crucified, resurrected, and coming again – is the only way, truth, and life; no one comes to God the Father except through Him (Jn. 14:6, Acts 4:12, 1 Tim. 2:5).

If Jesus is the TRUTH, then our world view will be enlarged. We can no longer be content with aspirations to reach our culture alone. If Jesus is the unique Savior, we will fully accept God’s mandate to do our part so that His gospel is proclaimed to the ends of the earth – whether that means praying, giving, reaching
out to internationals in our area, or considering cross-cultural ministry ourselves.

So who do you really believe Jesus Christ is?

2. Do I believe in Heaven?

Any follower of Jesus Christ will emphatically say yes! So let me ask it another way: Is my belief in Heaven reflected in the way I plan, the way I make choices, the priorities I live by?

I have found it easy to say I believe in Heaven and yet live as if this life were all there is. In our materialistic world, I can proclaim a hope in Heaven but put my hope in my career, my achievements, or my possessions.

Compare this world view to Paul the apostle’s. He consistently risked his life to preach the gospel because he saw his citizenship in Heaven (Phil. 3:20). He taught that the sufferings of this life were nothing compared to the glory of Heaven; “For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal
glory that far outweighs them all” (2 Cor. 4:17).

Our lived-out belief in Heaven changes our world view because it suddenly awakens us to the fact that life is more than this world and all of the “stuff” we can accumulate. Knowing that Heaven is real inspires generosity, encourages perseverance in the face of opposition, and gives us the joy that Paul had even when he was in prison (see Philippians).

When the first European missionaries to West Africa packed for their mission, they carried their possessions in coffins, because a coffin was seen as necessary equipment. Some estimate that as many as 60 percent died within the first two years of ministry. So why would they go? They believed that Jesus Christ should be proclaimed, and they believed in Heaven!

3. Do I believe in hell?

Over twenty years ago, Dr. Karl Menninger wrote a book titled Whatever Became of Sin? Perhaps we need a sequel to that book: Whatever Became of Hell?

Although we might discuss topics like the spirit world and the reality of Satan and his angels, we seldom hear much about hell, eternal damnation, or the concept of everlasting suffering for those who have not trusted Jesus.

Dr. Ajith Fernando of Sri Lanka recently completed Crucial Questions About Hell in an attempt to address this oversight.

In it, he shows how Jesus spoke and taught more about hell than about Heaven. Yet few of us have given much study or thought to the subject. Fernando observes, “When one generation neglects this doctrine, the next generation rejects it.”

How does hell influence our world view? If we ignore the biblical teaching about the eternal fate of those outside of Christ, we can live life quietly, complacently surrounded with nice people whom we never ruffle with discussions about concepts like judgment or the penalty of sin.

But if hell is a reality, and we let that reality affect the way we look at the world, we will be compelled to speak out about Jesus Christ. Our proclamation of the gospel will include an aspect of warning as well as good news. Our prayers will expand to include not only unsaved friends and relatives but also ethnic
groups around the world who have no knowledge of Jesus Christ.

Like Jonathan Edwards or Hudson Taylor, our vision of lost people headed toward a Christless eternity will prompt us to action.

4. Do I believe that Christianity is relevant?

Or, to put it another way, do I believe that our faith addresses the real issues of our world?

John Stott once related a conversation he had with two agnostic university students. As he explained the veracity of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, one of the students shot back, “But whether Jesus rose from the dead or not is not the issue, because Christianity is irrelevant to our world.”

That student hit a nerve that should awaken us all. Am I really convinced that the truths I believe in matter in the world today? Does my faith apply to the campus, the marketplace, the neighborhood? Am I living my life as if my Christianity is a private matter that has little bearing on my day-to-day existence? Or am I willing to wrestle with what faith means in contemporary society as we approach the year 2000?

If we believe that “Jesus is the answer,” then our world view expands, because we are forced to wrestle with how issues of faith apply to our modern world. What is the Christian response to AIDS, apartheid, environmental issues, or euthanasia? What does it mean to be a Christian in a society that is increasingly secularized or pluralized?

A bigger world view enhances our witness. My wife and I have had opportunities to proclaim Christ to others by explaining our biblical convictions against apartheid in South Africa and our commitment as Christians to environmental issues. Believing that our faith is relevant to our world, we have struggled to
understand how God wants us to respond to these issues. When we articulate a biblical response, people are more inclined to ask about our faith.

5. Do I believe that God wants to use my life?

Perhaps nothing will shrink our world view faster than a sense of being overwhelmed by the needs of our world. Millions of starving people, the homeless, the Hindus, Moslems, and Chinese – the vastness of need alone is enough to make us shrink back like turtles into the protective shell of a smaller world view.

But do we believe in a personal God who uses broken people to do His will on earth? Do we believe in the God of “mustard seed” faith, who does great things through what look to be insignificant means?

If our view of God reminds us that God uses ordinary people who make themselves available to Him, then we enter the world with hope! If we remember that our God is the God who changed the world through cowards, shepherds, and impulsive fisherman, we will start asking, “OK, Lord, how do you want to use me in this broken world?”

Stephanie asked this, and God directed her into an outreach ministry to students from the People’s Republic of China. Rather than being overwhelmed by the volume of people in China (1.1 billion), she focused on God’s ability to use her life for His Kingdom. She used her gifts of hospitality to build friendships and provide a comfortable environment where the gospel could be presented. In the course of her outreach, she visited some of her friends in China. Through that visit, God directed her to move to
China as a teacher. Now, she touches lives in the enormous city of Beijing.

The God who influenced Egypt through Joseph, Babylonia through Daniel, Ninevah through Jonah, and the world through Paul – this is our God! The needs of the world are overwhelming, but we have an awesome God, a God who will do His work through people like you and me!

6. Whose agenda will I live by?

This final question strikes at the issue of Lordship – who will be the Lord of my life? It is easy to profess to follow Christ without really giving Him free rein in our lives. We may call on Him as needed, but we do not make decisions or set priorities with an absolute devotion to Him as our Master.

When we live by our own agenda, we can tolerate behavior and attitudes that keep our world view narrow. A self-centered agenda can include racist attitudes and feelings of cultural superiority. We might be able to convince ourselves that we do not really need to care much about people outside of our normal sphere of
influence.

But when we submit ourselves to Jesus’ agenda, our world view enlarges. Suddenly we find Him calling us to care for those who are socially rejected – our modern day lepers, Samaritans, or prostitutes. He stirs us to go beyond our comfort zone to reach out to people from other cultures, other ethnic groups, other
worlds.

A recent conversation with a sixty-eight-year-old Christian brother illustrated what it means to live under the lordship of Christ. In contrast to discussing his retirement plans (a normal topic for sixty-eight-year-olds), he discussed how God led him to minister in an enormous Third-World city. I asked him if he had
ever considered retiring. “Well,” he said, “I suppose I could retire, but I’m not really sure that the model of retirement I see in the United States is a biblical model.” Rather than doing something that our culture considers normal, his first priority was to submit himself to the Lord.

When Jesus is Lord, we place ourselves at His disposal as witnesses – willing to go out into our Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and the uttermost parts of the earth (Acts 1:8).

(The above material appeared in Issue 74, 1993 of Discipleship Journal.)

Christian Information Network

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“Heaven”

“Heaven” Today’s Funny
Author Unknown

A sidewalk preacher stood on a soapbox downtown and started a rousing sermon on salvation, ending with, “Brothers and Sisters, if you want to go to Heaven, come stand by me!”

Half of those standing around joined the preacher, and he went on, raising his voice and fervor, again with the call, “Brothers and Sisters, if you want to go to Heaven, come stand with me!”

Half of those left came over and the preacher continued, ending again with the call to Heaven. This time, all but one man came over.

“Brother!” the preacher called, “Don’t you want to go to Heaven when you die?” The man said, “Oh sure, when I die. I thought you were taking a load up now!”

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Dear Operator

Dear Operator
Author Unknown

Mommy went to Heaven, but I need her here today,
My tummy hurts and I fell down, I need her right away.
Operator can you tell me how to find her in this book?
Is heaven in the yellow part, I don’t know where to look.

I think my daddy needs her too, at night I hear him cry.
I hear him call her name sometimes, but I really don’t know why.
Maybe if I call her, she will hurry home to me.
Is Heaven very far away, is it across the sea?

She’s been gone a long, long time she needs to come home now!
I really need to reach her, but I simply don’t know how.
Help me find the number please, is it listed under “Heaven”?
I can’t read these big, big words, I am only seven.

I’m sorry operator; I didn’t mean to make you cry,
Is your tummy hurting too, or is there something in your eye?
If I call my church maybe they will know.
Mommy said when we need help that’s where we should go.

I found the number to my church tacked up on the wall.
Thank you operator, I’ll give them a call.

This article “Mommy Went to Heaven” is by an unknown author and was excerpted from: www.bulletinbits.com website. April 1999. It may be used for study & research purposes only.

This article may not be written by an Apostolic author, but it contains many excellent principles and concepts that can be adapted to most churches. As the old saying goes, “Eat the meat. Throw away the bones.”

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WHERE IS THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN?

WHERE IS THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN?
By Jack Tanner

The 12 disciples during the time of Jesus’ ministry on earth as well as those following them have wondered about the various kingdoms. Jesus instructed his disciples before sending them out, to preach one message, “And as ye go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand,” (Matt.10:7).

It seems that the disciples were confused and thought that Jesus had come to set up an earthly kingdom such as during the time of King David. They argued among themselves in an attempt to jockey for the best positions of honor when Jesus would set up His kingdom. This mind set seemed to prevail even though Jesus told them His kingdom was not of this world.

Jesus gave many parables about the kingdom of heaven. Matthew chapter 13 has many of these parables. It is interesting to see that He likened the kingdom of heaven to activities that the disciples were acquainted with in everyday life. He begins by comparing the kingdom of heaven to a sower that when out to sow, and later on about the man that sowed good seed in his field, but reaped tares along with his wheat crop. He gives the parable of comparing the kingdom of heaven to a mustard seed, explaining the potential of one small seed that is planted in his kingdom.

He continued by elaborating on the power of leaven which further emphasized that smallness is not a liability as long as it is allowed to grow and invade the whole lump. The parable of the hidden treasure compares the kingdom of heaven to a priceless treasure hid in the field. Jesus did not point out that He was the hidden treasure and that to be in His kingdom one must completely sell out to buy into the kingdom’s greater riches. The parable of the pearl of great price further emphasizes the value of God’s kingdom.

Jesus then gives the parable of the net cast out into the sea. In other words, the net or truth must be preached to all people. Some will accept the truth and go on to be an asset in the kingdom while others will think lightly of the message. Their own actions lead to their destruction.

Where was Jesus’ kingdom while he was on earth? This may seem to be a simplistic statement: LOCATE THE KING AND YOU WILL FIND HIS KINGDOM. Where ever the King is, there is His kingdom. While Jesus was on earth His kingdom was the people to whom He ministered His Word. Each of the parables reflect their part in the kingdom of heaven. His kingdom was being established although the disciples did not realize it. Jesus still invests in people!

When Jesus ascended into heaven, where was His kingdom? His kingdom is a spiritual kingdom that is not defined by worldly standards. Jesus commanded His disciples to tarry in Jerusalem until they were endued with power from on high. 120 people were the first ones filled with His spirit. Each filled vessel continued His ministry on earth. Their bodies were His temple, their spiritual life depended on the King.. Many are still looking for an earthly kingdom that God will set up on earth. That will some day come, but today His kingdom is in the lives of His saints.

When Jesus is revealed as the true Messiah, He will sit in His temple as their King on earth. The Kingdom of God will again be established through the lives of the Jewish believers. When we get to heaven we will see the King, and He will not be foreign to us. We have long experienced His leading, and witnessed His involvement in the lives of His believers. Look to the true church and witness His power and glory as reflected in the lives of His saints. You will then see God’s kingdom on earth.

This file may be copyrighted and may be used fir study and research purposes only.

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Does This Railroad Lead to Heaven?

DOES THIS RAILROAD LEAD TO HEAVEN?
As told by Pastor F.M. Dosh

This is a true story taken from the 1894 edition of “Touching
Incidents And Remarkable Answers To Prayer.” As you’ll see, this wonderful story seems to speak to adults as well as to children. It’s easy to see why Jesus urged the disciples to “Permit the little children to come to Me, for to such as these belongs the kingdom of heaven.” (Luke 18:16)

In traveling we often meet with people of different nationalities and languages. We also come across various incidents, some sorrowful, and others joyful. I recently witnessed one of the most joyful incidents while traveling on the railroad.

The train was going west, and it was evening. At a station a
little girl about eight years old came aboard, carrying a little purse under her arm. She came into my car and quickly took a seat. She then began to study each face, but all were strange to her. She appeared weary, and using her purse for a pillow, she laid down on the seat to try to get a little sleep.

Soon the conductor came along collecting tickets and fare.
Observing him, she asked him if she could lie there. The gentlemanly conductor replied that she could, and then kindly asked for her ticket. She informed him that she didn’t have one, and then I overheard the following conversation.

Said the conductor: “Where are you going?”

“I’m going to heaven,” she answered.

“Who’s paying your fare?” he asked. She said, “Mister, does this railroad lead to heaven, and does Jesus travel on it?”

“I don’t think so,” he answered. “Why did you think that?”
“Why, sir, before my mommy died she used to sing to me about a heavenly railroad, and you looked so nice and kind that I thought this was the railroad. My mommy used to sing about Jesus on the heavenly railroad, and that He paid the fare for everybody, and that the train stopped at every station to take people on board. My mom doesn’t sing to me anymore. Nobody sings to me now, and I thought I’d take the train and go see my mommy. Mister, do you sing to your little girl
about the railroad that goes to heaven? You have a little girl, don’t you?”

With tears in his eyes, he replied, “No, my dear, I have no
little girl now. I had one once, but she died some time ago and went to heaven.”

Did she go over this railroad, and are you going to see her now?” she asked.

By this time every person in the coach was upon their feet, and
most of them were weeping. An attempt to describe what I witnessed is almost impossible. Some said, “God bless this little girl.” Overhearing someone say that she was an angel, the little girl earnestly replied, “Yes, my mommy used to say that I would be an angel some day.”

Addressing herself once more to the conductor, she asked him, “Do you love Jesus? I do, and if you love Him, He will let you ride to heaven on His railroad. I’m going there, and I wish you would go with me. I know Jesus will let me into heaven when I get there, and He will let you in too, and everybody that will ride on His railroad – yes, all these people. Wouldn’t you like to see heaven, and Jesus, and your little girl?”

These words, so pathetically and innocently uttered, brought a
great gush of tears from all eyes, but most profusely from those of the conductor. Some who were already traveling on the heavenly railroad shouted aloud for joy.

She now asked the conductor, “Mister, may I lie here until we get to heaven?”

“Yes, dear, yes,” he answered.

“Will you wake me up when we get there so that I can see my
mommy, and your little girl, and Jesus?” she asked. “I so much want to see them all.”

His answer came in broken phrases, but in words very tenderly spoken, “Yes, dear angel, yes. God bless you.” “Amen!” was sobbed by more than a score of voices.

Turning her eyes once more upon the conductor, she questioned him again, “What should I tell your little girl when I see her? Should I tell her that I saw her daddy on Jesus’ railroad? Should I?”

This brought a fresh flood of tears from all present, and the
conductor knelt by her side and, embracing her, wept the reply he could not utter. At this point the brakeman called out the name of another station. The conductor got up and asked the brakeman to take care of his duty for him at that station, for he was busy.

That was a precious place. I thank God that I was a witness to
this scene, and I was sorry that at that point I was obliged to leave the train.

THE SEQUEL
(A letter from the conductor to Pastor Dosh)

Dear Pastor Dosh,

I wish to unburden my heart by writing to you and saying that
that angel visit on the train was a blessing to me, although I didn’t realize it in its fullness until some hours later. But blessed be the Redeemer, I know now that I am His and He is mine. I no longer wonder why Christians are happy. Oh, my joy, my joy!

The instrument of my salvation has gone to be with God. I wanted to adopt her in the place of my little daughter, who is now in heaven, and with this intention I took her back to her hometown, where she left the train.

When I talked with my wife about adopting her, she replied, “Yes, certainly, and immediately too, for there is a Divine providence in this. Oh, “she said, “I could never refuse to take under my charge the instrument of my husband’s salvation.”

When I returned to the town where I had left the little girl, I
asked about her and learned that in just three days after her return she died suddenly, without any apparent disease, and her happy soul had gone to dwell with her mother, my little girl, and the angels in heaven.

I was sorry to hear of her death, but my sorrow is turned to joy
when I think that my daughter in heaven received word from earth concerning her daddy, and that he is on the heavenly railway. Oh! sir, I think I see my little girl near the Redeemer. I think I hear her sing, “I’m safe at home, and daddy and mommy are coming.” I find myself sending back the reply, “Yes, my darling, we are coming and will soon be there.” Oh, my dear sir, I am so glad that I know you! May the blessing of the great God rest upon you. Please write to me, and be assured I would be most happy to meet you again.

We learn many things from this incident. “From the mouth of
infants and nursing babes Thou has established strength …” (Psalm 8:2) Not only should we never be afraid to speak out for Jesus, no matter where we are, but we should never give up praying for the salvation of those we love. The conductor’s wife was obviously a godly woman who must have been praying for her husband’s salvation. It looks like God honored her prayers with a visit from this “little angel” who came in love, boldness, and with a word from the Lord about
the conductor’s daughter. The right word at the right time is a
mighty tool in the hand of God.

The Last Days Newsletter.
Box 40, Lindale, Tx. 75771-0040

Computers for Christ – Chicago

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A Visit From Heaven

A Visit From Heaven.
by:
Orlando Wiebe

‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the land
Every creature was stirring, as Caesar had planned;
A census was taken in which every soul
In the Empire of Rome must be placed on the roll.
Up from Galilee, out of Nazareth came
A pair which was Joseph and Mary be name;
To their city of birth which is called Bethlehem
They came as descendants of King David’s stem.
There the days were accomplished that she should give birth
To a son who would reign as King o’er the earth.
She brought forth her first-born, and with her own hands
She wrapped the sweet Child in soft swaddling bands;
In a manger so lowly this life did begin,
Since there was no room for them in the inn.

In the country the shepherds abode in the field,
Keeping watch o’er their flock as in silence they kneeled
In the shadows of night, with their rods and their staves,
Having just settled down in the warmth of the caves,
When out of the sky there shone a great light
That filled the men’s hearts with a terrible fright.
They sprang from the ground with a leap and a dash
To see what was causing this unearthly flash.
‘Twas the glory of God shining down on the ground
With a halo of radiance on the sheep all around.
When, what to their questioning eyes should draw near,
But the angel of God with a message: “Don’t fear!
For behold! I bring you good tidings of joy,
For all men and women, for each girl and boy;
For to you is born a Saviour this day,
In the city of David, as prophets did say.”

Then suddenly with the bright angel appeared
A heavenly host, praising God as they cheered:
“To God in the highest may glory abound,
On earth peace, and good will to men all around.”
Near at hand, far beyond, on the left, on the right,
The heavenly seraphs were poised in their flight.
Then as snowflakes before the fierce storm winds do fly,
Passing o’er the wide fields, soar up to the sky,
So up into heaven the angels they flew
Having given their message so wondrously new.
Then the shepherds declared with faces aglow:
“To the village of Bethlehem quickly let’s go,
And see this great thing which has come to pass,
Which the Lord in this night has made known unto us.”

There they found Joseph and Mary so mild,
And in the rough manger the dear little Child.
So when they had seen Him they made known abroad
The message as told by the angel of God.
The people they wondered at that which they heard
As told by the shepherds in angelic word;
But Mary, who knew all these things from the start,
Kept pondering this great event in her heart.
The shepherds returned giving glory and praise
To the God of their fathers, the Ancient of Days:

“To god in the highest may glory abound,
On earth peace, and good will to men all around.”

(You can find this wonderful story in the Bible in the book written
by Matthew 1:18-25, 2:1-23, and the book written by Luke 2:1-52

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