Archive for the ‘Heaven’ Category

God’s Method of Inspiration

October 3rd, 2018

The words of the LORD are pure words,
like silver refined in a furnace on the ground,
purified seven times. (Psalm 12:6)

How is God able to give to humanity His flawless words?

The Astounding Fact

We are first amazed at the mere thought of such a thing occurring as creatures receiving the thoughts of the Creator. God reveals to His prophets what He will do (Amos 3:7). Paul wrote of in 1 Corinthians 13:12 of the future fullness of knowledge about ourselves – “For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.” And Christ told of the conviction that the Spirit gives even to the most sinful and worldly of hearts: “And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment” (John 16:8).

In heaven we shall have full knowledge of ourselves. Here on earth our own hearts are a mystery to us, and our actions as well. We read, “For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate” (Rom. 7:15). But in heaven we are promised the completion of the new life begun in our hearts here on earth through the gospel:

Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it. (1 Thess. 5:23-24)

In heaven, in the fullness of that future revelation, we shall “see his face” and his name will be on our “foreheads” (Rev. 22:4) – an expression in Revelation for the knowledge of God. Will there be retained by God some knowledge of Himself that we are not privy to, in heaven? I cannot personally imagine it otherwise, but however we understand this future revelation there is no motive, factor, or truth that is meaningful to our hearts and minds that will not be revealed.

But even here on earth, as we walk with Him, it is amazing to consider that God reveals Himself to us – “such knowledge is too wonderful for me” (Psalm 139:6). God reveals his heart, His ways, and Himself to simple Christians who walk with Him in daily communion.

The Treasure of Knowledge

“I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord” (Phil. 3:8). Time does not permit me to write much on this fact today, but it is a subject worthy of consideration. The treasure of the knowledge of God, which we gain through the knowledge of Christ, is precious beyond words to our hearts. The Word itself expounds on who He is, His holiness, His love, His purpose. This is the satisfying revelation of hope and peace to our hearts. In the midst of the “hub-bub” and worries of today’s world, to stop and consider the peaceful and exuberant praise of God in heaven is a treasure to our souls.

God’s Means of Revelation

I believe the psalmist gave us an image of the means by which God purifies our hearts – like the purification of silver or any precious metal. It is heated until the dross and the true silver separate from one another, and then the dross is poured off, and the metal is allowed to cool. Then it is subjected another six times to the same treatment, until the silversmith can find no more dross at all.

Is there any doubt as to what is pictured here? Heat and purification have the image of the combined challenges of life – the combination of sorrow, troubles, convictions, and sins and confessions. However often we have failed, when we return to God in confession we have placed our hearts into the hands of the Divine Silversmith, who pours off the dross of our minds and lives. I have never known any person to mature very much in the faith without this process of purification.

Christ said to His disciples, “You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you” (John 15:3). And He prayed to the Father, “Sanctify them in the truth. Your word is truth” (John 17:17). So there are cleansings and purifications we experience through personal and corporate devotions and the study of God’s Word. But even then, His Word must seek out the deep thoughts of our hearts, which the Word of God is designed to do:

For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.  (Hebrews 4:12)

Christ prayed and taught us to pray, “Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven” (Matt. 6:10). This is a purifying prayer, and whenever we see some wreck made by the sin and wrongness of our hearts we need to go through the purifying process of confession, cleansing, and the pouring off of the dross of our souls.

There is the process of divine illumination that God has used where He overcame the weakness of earthly thought – such as Balaam’s ass (Num. 22:21 cf) or even King Saul’s prophesying (1 Sam. 19:24). But God’s modus operandi is that the spirit of the prophets is subject to the prophets (1 Cor. 14:32), and the revelation came through hearts that had been purified as silver, seven times over.

Our Response

So our response is to lay our hearts bare before Him daily, to confess our failures and to see how we may grow more and more godly through His Word and His Spirit. No matter how often we have been purified on this earth, there will be more purification needed. The number “seven” is symbolic of completeness – meaning not merely seven times only, but as long as it takes.

Daily Devotions, discipleship, Heaven, Psalms

Processing Life

May 15th, 2018

Nevertheless, I am continually with you;
you hold my right hand.
You guide me with your counsel,
and afterward you will receive me to glory.
Whom have I in heaven but you?
And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you.
My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. (Psalm 73:23-26 ESV)

The Christian life should be one of a continual realization of heavenly realities. As I examine this passage above, here are the truths I see.

The Personal Savior on Earth

The psalmist said to God, “I am continually with you,” meaning you are continually with me. He described his life with God as one where God held his right hand – his favored and strong hand – and guided him with His counsel. He lived constantly in the reality of God, enjoying presence, fellowship, relationship, and guidance with God.

The Christian life is one lived in the reality of the Son of God. Paul said, “The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (Gal. 2:20). God reveals Himself to us in the “face of Christ” (2 Cor. 4:6), meaning that beyond the stories of Jesus, beyond the principles of God’s characteristics, beyond such things as holiness, justice, and mercy, is the personal Christ.

Someone may object that the psalm was written before Christ came, but the New Testament tells us that all of the images and experiences of the Old Testament depicted Christ, “For they drank from that spiritual rock that followed them, and that Rock was Christ” (1 Cor. 10:4). Granted the psalmist had never seen Jesus of Nazareth in the flesh, but during the Old Testament times the Holy Spirit conveyed to their imaginations personal images that represented God. He was their Shepherd, their Father, and their King, that conveyed personality.

We walk with Christ in this life. The Christian life is primarily this reality. No matter how far we excel in life, in knowledge, in devotion, in success, or no matter how far we fail in this life, the Lord is our personal God. He is the One who walks with us and talks with us and encourages us. Oh, we need to be grounded in His word, otherwise we might imagine He is saying all kinds of things to us that He has not said. But still the personal reality of God is to be a constant experience of the Christian.

Is Christ your personal Savior and Lord today? Spend time talking with Him and listening to Him speak to you through His Word.

The Personal Savior in Heaven

The psalmist said of God, “And afterward you will receive me into glory.” God is the only one he had in heaven that really mattered, mattered in an eternal sense. “Whom have I in heaven but you?” he asks. No doubt we will be glad to see Christian loved ones and friends there. We will have our homecomings and re-acquaintances, but all of these are of secondary concerns. The main this is that our God is there and we are with Him!

The center of heaven is God the Son. In chapters 4 and 5 of Revelation, John is transported to heaven and at first he sees someone on the eternal throne but that figure is personless and “had the appearance of jasper and carnelian” (Rev. 4:3), a deep green and a deep red precious stone, that depict the mercy and holiness of God. Around the throne was an emerald rainbow that symbolized mercy and grace (see Gen. 9:12-16). Since the rainbow completely encircled the throne, it depicted God’s mercy completely encircling His holiness. Chapter four ends with God being praised: “For you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created” (Rev. 4:11).

Yet as profound as these thoughts are, the one on the throne has no face – only His attributes of knowledge, will, intention, purpose, holiness and mercy are revealed. Then in chapter 5, suddenly the scene changes as a Lamb appears, looking “as though it had been slain” (Rev. 5:6). There is no question but this is the Lord Jesus glorified in heaven.

And as we come to the end of the book, in the visions of the New Jerusalem, John wrote about heaven: “The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him. They will see his face…” (Rev. 22:3-4). We shall not see three “gods” but the face of our Savior in the one God. Heaven will be about our personal Savior and Lord – it shall be there as it ought to be here.

How We Should Live Today

And the psalmist comes full circle back to us on earth. What difference should this knowledge of the personal Savior make in our lives today? First, in blessing us with a holy sense of anticipation, this also taints everything that is mere earthly as inferior. It is all temporary and passing. No matter how stylish something may appear, in a short time it will be outmoded and old fashioned.  There is nothing that we ought to desire on earth more than the privilege of knowing God and walking with Him in fellowship. If you are dissatisfied with things on earth, then good. We should be dissatisfied with them.

Second, the psalmist reminds us that the heart and body will eventually fail. Everyone of our lives is fleeting and passing, our hour of death is coming and there is nothing we can do to avoid it. The best we can do is to postpone it a while, but we cannot change the ultimate outcome. But God can, and He gives true spiritual and eternal life. He promises a new body and a new heart and life.

Third, God is our strength today. We live in the constant hope and positive faith that we shall see our Redeemer face to face one day. And we live in the constant strength of God. These truths do not merely put our minds on those things of the future, they are not mere distractions from life here, like some fairy tale that makes us forget our problems for a bit. God is our life today, and He shows Himself strong.

He give us forgiveness, purpose, victory, joy, meaning, peace, acceptance, salvation, and love. He gives us all these things because He gives us Himself.

Heaven, Psalms