CITIZENSHIP IN HEAVEN

Christians in the west, in particular, have by and large lost any interest in heaven except when a loved one dies. But hope for heaven, “citizenship in heaven,” longing for heaven, has largely gone away from evangelical churches and homes. Where are the songs about heaven? They used to be common in evangelical churches, on evangelical radio, in evangelical devotional life. The problem: we became affluent and comfortable here on earth and forgot all about heaven—except as a lovely place to go when we die. But we rarely ever sing about it anymore nor hear sermons about it or Jesus soon coming return.

Years ago and possibly still in some evangelical churches the theme of “heaven is my true home” (“My treasures are laid up somewhere beyond the blue”) was very popular and powerful. Another popular song of that time, among evangelicals, was “I’ve got a mansion, just over the hilltop” by Ira Stanphill, a prolific gospel song writer of the 1950s.

The Book of the Martyrs of Jesus

Martin Luther strongly believed that Jesus was going to return in his lifetime. He expected the return of Christ at any time. He thought he was living in the biblical “end times.” But when someone asked him what he would do today if he knew Jesus would return tomorrow he is supposed to have said “Plant a tree.” In other words, strong belief in heaven and in the return of Jesus Christ does not have to take our minds so completely off this world that we become “so heavenly minded that we are no earthly good. My contention is that we should start living eternal now knowing that Jesus is going to return to this earth exactly as the many prophecies in His Word the Bible said He will. In fact, I have said many time before that there are more prophecies about Jesus second coming than there were about His first coming and there were about 300 of those and yet most of the church is blind, living like the Pharisees and Sadducees of Jesus day. Moreover, Jesus and the Bible give us a lot of information about the time of His return particularly about the great tribulation that will occur when the Satanically empowered person known as The Antichrist reigns on the earth for a period of 3 1/2 years. The church will be under intense persecution but it will also be its finest hour. It will be church operating in the power of the Holy Spirit just as it was in the early days of the church as described in the Book of Acts.

Every person who wants to know what true Christianity is like and follow in the footsteps of Christ should take time to read this precious document, THE BOOK OF THE MARTYRS OF JESUS by Joh Foxe.

EASTER – ALL ABOUT ETERNAL LIFE

During this Passion Week, it’s fitting that we turn our eyes to the cross. No tragedy could be greater than God’s blameless Son being slaughtered without mercy in horrid crucifixion. Yet as a result of His suffering, countless people will spend eternity with God in joyful celebration and endless pleasure. Jesus Himself will be forever exalted, and all will recognize Him as Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Eternal benefits are ours, all because He suffered.

He was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth.” Isaiah 53:5-7 NIV

When they came to the place called “The Skull,” they crucified Jesus there, and the two criminals, one on his right and the other on his left.”  Luke 23:33 GNT

“He himself bore our sins” in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; “by his wounds you have been healed.” For “you were like sheep going astray,” but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.”  1 Peter 2:24-25 NIV

My entire theology can be condensed into four words, “JESUS DIED FOR ME.”  Charles Spurgeon

WHAT COMPELS YOU?

For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And He died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for Him who died for them and was raised again2 Corinthians 5:14-15; NIV

Christ died for us, we must no longer live for ourselves, but for Christ Jesus, and let his love flow through us to others. Will we respond as vessels for God’s love in the present Coronavirus context? Let’s step up, not down, as God’s new normal for us is what it has always been for Jesus’ church in the Spirit—engage with all those Jesus connects us, our family, our church family, our workplace and our community.

The following reflection highlights the way one pastor and church, Mark Nicklas and his community Beaverton Foursquare, are stepping up and participating in the triune God’s normative mission in the face of the Coronavirus.

They are partnering with other churches, the school across the street, and civic authorities. They understand that we are all in it together. They clearly comprehend that this is no place or time to be lone rangers. We need to work together in solidarity. This pandemic truly affects us all.

We are called to be ambassadors of Christ (2 Corinthians 5:20), Mark highlights that the love of Christ is to compel us, like it did Paul and his ministry team. Mark says, “Love is lapped up wherever it is spilled.” God’s love is lavish, so it never runs out. Since Christ died for us, we must no longer live for ourselves, but for Christ Jesus, and let the Holy Spirit guide and direct our every step in love.

Are you living your life with eternity in view? The following scripture is tough but it is true.

Jesus said to him, “If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” When the young man heard this he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions. And Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly, I say to you, only with difficulty will a rich person enter the kingdom of heaven.Matthew 19:21-23

DO NOT LOSE HEART

So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.2 Corinthians 4:16-18

Where is your focus fixed? On the things that are transient or things that are eternal. Up to the age of 47 my focus was totally on things of this world. I was managing director of The Ramsay Group, at the time, the largest surgical, dental, scientific and medical educational company in Australia. I had a waterfront home and all the trappings of success. You can read my story in the book Build a Kingdom Business – Empowered by the Holy Spirit. What is my current focus? It is on living eternal now.

available on Amazon as an ebook and paperback from me ron@bakb.com.au

As Jesus return to this earth is not too far distant we need to start preparing to rule and reign with Jesus during the Millennium. Jesus has unfinished business with Israel. Every O.T. prophet was given a vision of their Messiah ruling and reigning the nations from a new Jerusalem. This will happen, but not prior to Christians being tested through a time of tribulation unlike anything experienced previously. Jesus told us to watch and be prepared (1 Peter 4:12-14).

God has also revealed that the resurrected saints will rule and reign with Jesus. The thousand years is a transition period from this current world which is largely ruled by Satan. He will be defeated at the end of this period, chained and cast into the Abyss for 1000 years. Even though Satan is not around to tempt people during the Millennium we are told that Jesus and the saints still need to rule with a rod of iron. At the end of the thousand years Satan and His minions are released and He is still able to raise an enormous army to come against Jesus and the Saints. Jesus of course destroys the army and Satan is cast into the Lake of Fire. God then destroys this earth with fire. The White Throne Judgement takes place after all the dead have been raised to life. Then what? John was shown the following vision.

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” Revelation 21:1-4

And he (Angel) carried me (John) away in the Spirit to a great, high mountain, and showed me the holy city Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God, having the glory of God, its radiance like a most rare jewel, like a jasper, clear as crystal. It had a great, high wall, with twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels, and on the gates the names of the twelve tribes of the sons of Israel were inscribed— on the east three gates, on the north three gates, on the south three gates, and on the west three gates. And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them were the twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb. And the one who spoke with me had a measuring rod of gold to measure the city and its gates and walls. The city lies foursquare, its length the same as its width. And he measured the city with his rod, 12,000 stadia (2000 km/1250 m). Its length and width and height are equal. He also measured its wall, 144 cubits by human measurement, which is also an angel’s measurement. The wall was built of jasper, while the city was pure gold, like clear glass. The foundations of the wall of the city were adorned with every kind of jewel. The first was jasper, the second sapphire, the third agate, the fourth emerald, the fifth onyx, the sixth carnelian, the seventh chrysolite, the eighth beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth chrysoprase, the eleventh jacinth, the twelfth amethyst. And the twelve gates were twelve pearls, each of the gates made of a single pearl, and the street of the city was pure gold, like transparent glass.
And I saw no temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb. And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb. By its light will the nations walk, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it, and its gates will never be shut by day—and there will be no night there. They will bring into it the glory and the honor of the nations. But nothing unclean will ever enter it, nor anyone who does what is detestable or false, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s book of life.
Revelation 21: 10-27

OBEDIENCE AND LISTENING TO THE HOLY SPIRIT

These interviews and testimonies will help you to acknowledge the necessary actions we need to take to disciple and make a difference in other peoples lives. There is 6 minutes of introductory music so you can do something else while you listen to the delightful music but the testimonies that follow are worth the wait. The TLR movement is being used by God mightily to bring many into God’s Kingdom. The healings and the miracles demonstrate that the power is back in the church as disciples move out into the marketplace totally dependent upon the Holy Spirit to do ministry. For me in Australia it was wonderful to learn what God is doing in Eastern Europe. It is wonderful to see how God was moving in wonderful ways so it was obvious God was doing the work. His children were just doing His will. The testimony of the couple Abraham and Annemarie Levy is powerful. You must listen to them on “love”, Abraham makes three important observations of being a disciple that stand out: “You cannot follow Jesus without sacrifice”, “You must deliberately bury your own life”, “The flesh will always war against the spirit”, tough but exciting when you learn what God has done and is doing with their lives. If you live in Poland make sure you connect with this couple.

ETERNITY – WHERE WILL YOU SPEND IT?

For over twenty five years, from 1930 to 1956, the people of Sydney woke up each day to a one-word sermon—”Eternity”—handwritten in white chalk or yellow crayon (when raining) on footpaths, train station platforms, and perimeter walls lining the city’s many walkways and streets. Each day a fresh batch of graffiti rendered in beautiful copperplate lettering style  would appear at places where there weren’t any the previous night. Somehow, for twenty five years, a mysterious figure had managed to sneak into the city every night and leave his presence on the city’s walls and sidewalks. It attracted the ire of Sydney City Council at first, but as the weeks become months, and the months became years, the “Eternity” graffiti became an iconic symbol of the city. Pedestrians stepped around and over the words, and street sweepers and cleaners left the elegant writings untouched. This is some way explains why the “Eternity” graffiti illuminated on the Sydney Harbour Bridge as part of new year’s eve celebration in 2000. The real explanation, God orchestrated it so that many worldwide would be impacted by the “Eternity” message. Arthur Stace was illiterate so it was obvious, certainly to Arthur, that God had initiated it. “I couldn’t understand it, and I still can’t,” Arthur later told in an interview.. But Arthur did know that God had asked him to do it. Arthur was obedient to go out on the streets of Sydney everyday, rain or shine, until the day before he died.

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The “Eternity” graffiti illuminated on the Sydney Harbour Bridge as part of new year’s eve celebration in 2000. Photo credit: National Geographic

The mysterious figure behind the phenomenon, who was to become the most famous graffiti artist in Australia’s history, managed to keep his identity a secret until one morning in June 1956, when he was caught in the act. That morning, Reverend Lisle M. Thompson, who preached at the Burton Street Baptist Church, saw a church cleaner sneak out a piece of chalk from his pocket and write the word on the footpath.

Rev. Thompson approached the cleaner and asked, “Are you Mr. Eternity?”, to which the cleaner replied, “Guilty, your honour.” Soon after that encounter, the Sunday Telegraph published an interview with the artist and the mystery that had baffled Sydney for over 25 years was finally revealed. The cleaner’s name was Arthur Malcolm Stace.

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A rare photo of Arthur Stace – “Mr. Eternity”.

Born in 1885 in Redfern, Stace’s childhood and much of his adulthood was marked by abject poverty. His parents were alcoholics, and his sisters ran a brothel. In order to survive, he resorted to stealing bread and milk and searching for scraps of food in bins. At the age of 12, Stace became a ward of the state and worked briefly in a coal mine. As a teenager, he became an alcoholic and was subsequently sent to jail at 15 for drunkenness. His twenties were spent running liquor between pubs and brothels, and working as a lookout for gambling dens. During the First World War, Stace found work as a laborer with the Australian Imperial Force, but his recurring bouts of bronchitis and pleurisy led him to be discharged.

Stace finally found his calling in November 1932, when he went to listen to a Baptist preacher named John Ridley give a sermon. In a homily titled “Echoes of Eternity“, Ridley declared: “Eternity, Eternity, I wish that I could sound or shout that word to everyone in the streets of Sydney. You’ve got to meet it, where will you spend Eternity?“. The words so captivated Stace that at that very moment, Stace pulled a piece of chalk he had in his pocket, bent down and wrote the word “Eternity” on the church floor.

Even though he was illiterate and could hardly write his own name legibly, the word ‘Eternity‘ came out smoothly, in a beautiful copperplate script. Arthur had to ask the person next to him what he had written.

God has a calling for each one of us, what is yours? Don’t know, then get into prayer until you do. Also, will you be obedient as Arthur was to carry it out regardless of the cost?

The story of Arthur Stace (Acorn Press, 2017)

LIVING ETERNAL NOW

Colossians is a great book for helping us to live eternally now. Paul instructs us to concentrate on the eternal realities of heaven. “Set your minds on things above” The Greek verb for set emphasizes an ongoing decision. Christians must continually discipline themselves to focus on eternal realities instead of the temporal realities of this earth.

“If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.
Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. On account of these the wrath of God is coming. In these you too once walked, when you were living in them. But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator. Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all.” Colossians 3:1-11

Use of old self and new self. These two terms do not refer to the Christian’s fleshly and spiritual natures. Instead, Paul describes our former unredeemed life as the old self and our life as God’s child as the new self. The new self has the image of the new creation in Christ, just as the old self bears the image of our fallen nature. The old self is under an old master, Satan, while the new self has a new master, the Holy Spirit of God living within.

available on Amazon as eBook

WHITE THRONE JUDGEMENT OF THE DEAD, SMALL AND GREAT.

The remains of the 2,411 unborn infants found in Illinois following the death of abortionist Ulrich Klopfer have been laid to rest. Klopfer was described by one local newspaper, The Journal Gazette, as “Indiana’s most prolific abortion doctor,” noting his record of performing tens of thousands of abortion procedures over the course of his career.

Seeking to honor the infant lives horrifically lost and unceremoniously maintained, Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill held a mass burial service at a cemetery in South Bend on Wednesday.

Their lives were memorialised with a shared headstone:

View image on Twitter

Ulrich Klopfer will have to account for his life’s work when he appears before Jesus Christ at the White Throne judgement.

“Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away. And there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books. The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hades delivered up the dead who were in them. And they were judged, each one according to his works. Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire.Revelation 20:11-15

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JOEL ON THE TRADITIONAL VIEW OF HELL

As followers of this website will know, on a recent post “Why Hell is Not Eternal Torment” I supported the Conditional Immortality (Lake of Fire – a Fire that Consumes) view. Joel Richardson in the video below supports the Traditional Eternal Torment view.

This video is the second in a series of three on Hell. In the first video, Joel interviewed a representative of   www.rethinkinghell.com who presented the Conditional Immortality view so I would suggest you start there.

For different reasons, Joel and I believe this is an important subject, and as I value his opinion and the work he is doing on the “end times”, I want you to hear him out. However, you need to ask the Holy Spirit to give you understanding of the truth, in respect to God’s justice, and to what God has in store for unbelievers after the white throne judgement.

I have comments I would like to make on this presentation but I would prefer to wait to hear what Joel has to say about the N.T scriptures and then I will respond as I hope you will too.

 

DO YOU HAVE A HEALTHY FEAR OF GOD?

Jesus expected the church to remain in a state of fear of the Lord:

“Do not fear those who kill the body but are not able to kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matt. 10:28).

But I will warn you whom you shall fear: Fear Him who, after He has killed, has power to cast into hell. Yes, I say to you, fear Him” (Luke 12:5).

“Fear came to every soul. And many wonders and signs were done through the apostles” (Acts 2:43).

Related image

In the Hebrew, there are two types of fear: one is to revere, and implies a state of fear. The other indicates sudden alarm, or being afraid which is a temporary condition.

In the Greek, just one word is used—to frighten, alarm, or be in awe.

The fear of the Lord referenced in the church in Acts was indicative of a continuing “state of” fear, i.e. being in awe of the Lord, rather than a temporary condition.

A brief survey of the rest of the New Testament reflects this theme of the fear of the Lord in the early church:

On hearing these words, Ananias fell down and died. And great fear came on all those who heard these things. The young men rose and wrapped him up and carried him out and buried him. About three hours later his wife came in, not knowing what had happened. Peter said to her, ‘Tell me whether you sold the land for this amount?’ She said, ‘Yes, for that much.’ Peter said to her, ‘How is it that you have agreed together to test the Spirit of the Lord? Look! The feet of those who have buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out.’ At once she fell down at his feet and died. Upon entering, the young men found her dead and carried her out and buried her beside her husband. Great fear came on the entire church and on all those who heard these things. Many signs and wonders were performed among the people by the hands of the apostles. And they were all together in Solomon’s Porch” (Acts 5:5-12).

Also see: Acts 9:31, 13:16, 19:17-19, 2 Cor 7:1,11, Eph 5:21, Eph 6:5, Phil 2:12, 1Tim 5:20; Heb 4:1, 12:28; 1 Pet 2:17, 3:2,3:15

Most importantly, the fear of the Lord always results in one key behavior found in 1 Peter 4:1:

“Therefore, since Christ has suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind, for he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin” (1 Pet. 4:1).

Living in the fear of the Lord always results in the cessation of sin. Proverbs 28:14 shows the contrast between living in fear of the Lord and otherwise: “Happy is the man who always fears, but he who hardens his heart will fall into mischief.”

The fear of the Lord is seen to come upon the church in two ways throughout the New Testament:

External Pressure: God moves supernaturally to respond to sin/evil (Acts 15 and 19) and the people understand and experience the fear of God. This is a reactive response of the church to judgement of sin.

Internal Submission: Believers cease sinning because of fear/awe toward God. This is a proactive response of the church.

Actually, it is the spirit of fear of the Lord that rises up in the heart:

“The Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord. He shall delight in the fear of the Lord, and he shall not judge by what his eyes see, nor reprove by what his ears hear” (Isa. 11:2-3).

The spirit of fear of the Lord is one of the seven spirits of God (Rev. 1:4).

The fear of the Lord is a spirit sent by God (Rev. 5:6), which rests upon us (Isa. 11:2).

So then, the answer to the question of how the church can rise to this level of unity is: by living in the fear of the Lord.

The fear of the Lord may come in either of two ways to the church:

  1. It comes sovereignly as God exposes and judges sin in the church (Acts 5:5, 19:17; 2 Cor. 7:11).
  2. It comes as believers forsake sin and submit to the Holy Spirit (to convict of sin and convince to righteousness and concerning judgment, 1 Peter 4:1). 

Extract from article by Louis Posthauer is the executive director of Hunters of the Harvest Ministry.