Showing posts with label Heaven. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Heaven. Show all posts

Friday, March 10, 2023

Too Hot to Handle: Eternity In Their Hearts

In which our regular writers toss around subjects a little more volatile than usual.

In Ecclesiastes, Solomon makes the argument that God has put a longing for the eternal into the human heart, yet seems to have provided less revelation about eternity than some of us might wish. And notwithstanding the fact that we’ve had plenty more prophetic revelation since the book of Ecclesiastes was written, we still have a tendency to speculate about what lies in store for us at the end of history as we move into eternity.

Tom: We’re discussing a recent Todd Billings post at Christianity Today entitled “The New View of Heaven Is Too Small”. What was your last point, IC?

Immanuel Can: Serious Christians need some kind of counter to the common misconception that the eternal state involves a lot of unrelenting, undifferentiated, disembodied, white-clad, purposeless hanging about on clouds …

Friday, March 03, 2023

Too Hot to Handle: An Undersized Eternity

In which our regular writers toss around subjects a little more volatile than usual.

Tom: Earlier this week I poked around the subject of Christian hope a little. My sister had kindly linked me to Todd Billings’ recent post at Christianity Today entitled “The New View of Heaven Is Too Small” in which Billings talks about Michigan deer hunters who expect to continue enjoying their favorite pastime in heaven.

I’d rather not spend more time debunking other Christians’ cherished heavenly speculations, so I’ll trust that my own post didn’t completely fail to make the case that a New Testament view of our hope in Christ is rich, multifaceted and real.

Sunday, May 02, 2021

Inbox: Meditating on the Cross

Recently received from Bernie, and well worth sharing:

“ ‘Don’t cross me.’

  ‘You’re making me cross.’

  ‘I’m at a crossroad.’

All these common phrases speak to a conflict — and not a minor one at that. “Cross” is the coming together of two (often mutually contradictory) standards. What you are choosing to do is not what I want you to do — and thus I am “cross”, or you are “crossing” me. When I’m at a “crossroad”, I am faced with a choice that is one of two directions that do not go to the same place.

“Cross” is a collision, an intersection, a choosing point.

Sunday, February 21, 2021

Too Much for Sunday School

I can recall nearly every chapter of Daniel from my childhood. Many kids who grew up in Christian homes can (or could; our current generation may not be so well versed).

This shouldn’t surprise us. Many stories from Daniel make fantastic Sunday School material, and I mean literally fantastic — there are miracles to be found throughout the book: the golden image and the fiery furnace; Nebuchadnezzar’s dream; the king’s humbling at the hand of God; the writing on the wall; the den of lions; the prophetic visions of coming kingdoms depicted as beasts (kingdoms we actually studied in history class, so I knew this was no fairy tale); and so on.

And the stories are not just fascinating; they make significant moral points: stand for what you believe in; don’t be proud; don’t blaspheme; trust in God; the heavens rule.

Of course the book sticks in our memories. Why wouldn’t it?

Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Marching to Where?

I’m a bit cautious about the practice of grabbing verses out of the Old Testament and some parts of the gospels for the benefit of Christians living in the Church Age.

Notwithstanding the fact that there is centuries of historical precedent for appropriating Israel’s promises to ourselves in hymnology and liturgical language, this practice is quite unnecessary: the church has its own unique place and promises in the plans of God.

Generally speaking, when we replace our own promises with those made to national Israel, we are trading down.

Monday, February 24, 2020

Anonymous Asks (81)

“Will my pet go to heaven?”

As a pet owner and lover, I have no small vested interest in the question myself. That said, given what I know of God, if it turns out that my much-loved critters do not appear beside me in glory one day, I will not be turning to my heavenly Father to complain. There is simply too much about my own consciousness that I do not know with certainty for me to speculate with any confidence about animal consciousness and its eternal value.

Some things we simply have to leave to God. If there is a distinction to be made between the concepts of faith and trust, I would not be able to tell you what it is. Among Christians, then, who have already committed our own selves to Christ for salvation, a little trust on these smaller matters is in order.

Friday, March 09, 2018

Too Hot to Handle: Eternity In Their Hearts

The most recent version of this post is available here.

Friday, March 02, 2018

Too Hot to Handle: An Undersized Eternity

The most recent version of this post is available here.

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

What’s Across the Finish Line?

Christianity Today’s Todd Billings on people who have “too small a view of heaven”:

“A pastor in my home state of Michigan mentioned to me that many members of his congregation assume that there will be plenty of woods and deer in heaven. So naturally, they fantasize about shooting a 39-point buck in the heavenly woods.”

It’s a thought provoking article, worth a few minutes of time if only to draw attention to the extent of what seems like a massive blind spot in modern evangelicalism.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Joy In Action

The precise linguistic distinction between joy and rejoicing is a matter I’ll leave to others, but it is fair to say that joy is most often understood to be an inward response of the spirit, a feeling we may or may not have.

So it is that David can say, “Restore unto me the joy of your salvation.” David rightly recognizes that a full and trusting reliance on God ought to produce an inward joy, a joy which sin mutes. So too in the New Testament we read, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.”

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Earthly and Heavenly

Asked what three things they would take to heaven if they could, respondents demonstrate impoverished imaginations:

“My crucifix, Miles Davis’ Kind of Blue album and a photo of my best friend who died last year”

“My PS3, cell phone, picture of my family”

“My iTouch, my electric guitar and my copy of Pilgrim’s Progress printed in the 1800s”

The most common choices are computers and game systems. A few pets work their way in as apparent afterthoughts.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

A Work in Progress

My clumsy attempt to visually represent the relationships between the various biblical spiritual domains that impact on the afterlife:

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Doesn’t Always Mean What We Think It Means (3)

Yahweh’s Restoration Ministry (let’s call them YRM for the sake of brevity) says the Bible is “the most misunderstood book of all time”.

That’s a provocative statement, and not one that’s easy to prove. But given the ubiquity of Bibles in our times, the number of years most of its books have been circulated, and the diversity of interpretations some derive from it, I suppose it may be correct.

Of course, the question that almost asks itself after such a declaration is “If so, then whose understanding of the Bible is correct?” And we can probably guess how YRM would answer that one.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Too Much for Sunday School

The most recent version of this post is available here.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Marching to Where?

The most recent version of this post is available here.

Thursday, October 02, 2014

(Maybe Not So) Far Kingdom

Anyone with their eyes on eternity is usually alright by me. Like these folks:

I don’t know what the rest of their music is like, but this got to me in a big way.
“There is a far kingdom on the other side of the glass
And by a faint light we see
Still there is more gladness longing for the sight
Than to behold or be filled by anything.”

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Debunking Heavenly Mythology V: Heaven Is Boring

I know, I know — nobody comes right out and says it that bluntly. Of course they don’t.

But lots of people think it. Or, more accurately, are a little afraid it might be.

Here’s one example of someone who does, and I’m sure you’ve heard dozens of similar comments, often at funerals:
“… if there is a heaven, and right now I am sure hoping there is, I like to think my grandfather is just making the turn at nine. A smile on his face from ear to ear because he can walk carrying his own golf bag. His eyesight that was taken from him in the early 90s is back and he doesn't see the world in shadows anymore. That his hearing, taken from him at about the time as his sight has returned. He can hear the birds singing in the trees and the sound of his persimmon driver compressing a golf ball 300 yards down the middle of the fairway.”
Of course there must be golf in heaven. And hockey. And beer. And rock ’n roll.

Because if my favourite thing isn’t to be found in heaven, I simply can’t imagine living for eternity without it. And life without it would be … well, if not ‘boring’ exactly, at least deficient in some way.

Or just maybe my concept of God’s love is a few sizes too small.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Debunking Heavenly Mythology IV: Christians Will Spend Eternity In Heaven

Does it really matter where we’re going to spend eternity, frankly?

I mean Christians, of course. It matters a very great deal indeed to the lost where they end up, whether they recognize it now or not. Time will tell, but if the teaching of the Bible turns out to be the truth, the fact that a person doesn’t see fit to believe in or respond to that truth does not mean he or she can escape the eternal consequences of his choice, or of hers. And those who fail to value the Lord Jesus Christ at his true worth — who fail to see him as his Father sees him — will spend eternity without him.

If that doesn’t seem like a big deal now, bear in mind that there is no cause/effect relationship between what is coming to us after death and your opinion or mine about it. That is the nature of objective reality. The idea of “true for you” or “true for me” is a vapid modern platitude to which no rational person genuinely subscribes, though it makes for a great means of deflecting enthusiastic truth purveyors one doesn’t really feel like dealing with.

Trust me, spending eternity without the Lord Jesus Christ will definitely be a big deal when there no longer exists the opportunity to choose it or reject it.

But to Christians, to those who believe, Paul says, “[T]he Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord.”

We will be “with the Lord”. That is our destiny as believers, and the goal, the true hope of every believing heart. So for Christians, does it really matter where we spend eternity as long as our Lord is there?

Yes and no.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Debunking Heavenly Mythology III: Hark, the Herald Angels Sing

Um … they don’t. Really. Look it up.

Aw, come on, you’re Googling, aren’t you.

It’s okay. I did too. I also got my concordance out. But this particular misconception is not confined to the famous Christmas carol.

Although ... it’s awfully hard to prove a negative. Perhaps it would be more accurate to say that we have “no unequivocal biblical evidence” of angels singing.

I owe my father for this one, by the way. It’s a small point, but one of a number of things that prompted me to begin looking at the words of Scripture a little more attentively, and actually look things up rather than just believing what I was told.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Debunking Heavenly Mythology I: Angels are Dead People

In a previous post, I spent some time contemplating the things of heaven and trying, however haltingly, to point out how very ill-equipped the best of us is to fully comprehend them, even with the aid of the imagery of scripture, since “no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him”.

That said, there are many, MANY things that we can be very sure heaven is not.

The lack of specificity and detail about many heavenly things is not a license to manufacture any old view of heaven wholesale. Let’s address a common myth or two — and I promise not to make any of this up:

Saturday, March 22, 2014

The Things That Are Prepared

The idea of heaven is necessarily a blurry concept to earthly beings. We navigate the world around us via our senses, so it is unsurprising to find a certain conceptual impenetrability to those things we cannot see, touch, taste, smell or hear in this present life. Those who are unacquainted with the Lord might well say, “The reason you can’t conceive these things is that they don’t exist”.

Except they do. We have our Lord’s word on it. He tells his disciples explicitly that “In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?” And he says it as if he’s wondering why on earth we would for a moment expect anything else.

This conceptual fuzziness about heavenly things is a consistent feature of prophetic revelation, both Old Testament and New. Ezekiel peppers his description of the heavenlies with the words “appearance” and “likeness”, as if to say, “I know my account is hopelessly inadequate, but this is the closest I can get”. John, in Revelation, does exactly the same thing, using the word “like” over and over again.

To the believer, it’s emotionally stirring, certainly, but I have to admit to a certain intellectual dissatisfaction with the lack of detail.