Saturday, January 14, 2017

Practical Considerations About The Doctrine Of Heaven

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2 Corinthians 12:1-4 "Boasting is necessary, though it is not profitable; but I will go on to visions and revelations of the Lord. 2 I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago—whether in the body I do not know, or out of the body I do not know, God knows—such a man was caught up to the third heaven. 3 And I know how such a man—whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, God knows— 4 was caught up into Paradise and heard inexpressible words, which a man is not permitted to speak."

These last couple of posts have featured what the Bible has to teach on the subject of Heaven. We began considering the Apostle John's visions of the Heavenly throne room in Revelation 4-5. In the last post we expanded our study to include as many relevant Biblical references as space permitted. These last couple of posts have only skimmed the surface of a subject that can easily turn into a book-length treatment. Today's post will close out this short series of studies, answering how the topic of Heaven practically relates to the Christian. 

Thinking a little-bit further on Heaven
It is in 2 Corinthians 12 that the Apostle Paul refers to this realm as the "third heaven" (hence the reason for terming the first two realms of the sky as "1st heaven" and the universe as "2nd heaven"). According to Strong's Exhaustive Concordance, the third heaven or "current abode of the redeemed" is described as a place of:

1. Joy. Luke 15:7,10
2. Rest. Revelation 14:13
3. Peace. Luke 16:19-25
4. Righteousness. 2 Peter 3:13
5. Service. Revelation 7:15
6. Reward. Matthew 5:11,12
7. Inheritance. 1 Peter 1:4
8. Glory. Romans 8:17,18

Further reflection upon heaven demonstrates it to be literally:

1. Place - John 14:1-3
2. Prioritizing Jesus - Acts 7:55
3. More beautiful than the natural mind can comprehend - 1 Cor 2:9; 2 Cor 12:2
4. Palatial entryway for every Christian. 2 Peter 1:11

With that brief survey of the believer's destination that is called by the name "heaven" or "paradise" in the scriptures, we can turn our attention to drawing-out some life applications for the reader. 

Why the Doctrine of Heaven is crucial for the Christian

1. Eternal perspective. 

The doctrine of Heaven puts into sharp focus eternity and the need to trust in Christ. It should raise the burden to get the gospel to as many people as possible.  

2. Emphasizes the need for Grace.

For the Christian, the doctrine of Heaven has the positive benefit of helping us praise God for His grace and to rely ever more on such grace. 

3. Emphasizes Christ's righteousness, not my own.

Only through Christ can I have confidence before the Just and Holy God.  The thief on the cross evidenced the Spirit's saving work through his faith and repentance in Jesus Christ.

4. Emboldens perseverance.
The wonderful truth about Heaven emboldens perseverance. Peter writes in 2 Peter 1:11-12 "for in this way the entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be abundantly supplied to you. 12 Therefore, I will always be ready to remind you of these things, even though you already know them, and have been established in the truth which is present with you."
5. Entrance into Heaven is through only One-way, Jesus Christ

In this final thought, we understand from the Bible that Jesus Christ is the way, the truth and the life, thus, no one can come to the Father but through Him (John 14:6). Jesus did not come to bring a way to Heaven, rather, He came as the way. Unless we trust in Him by grace alone through faith alone, none of what we have discussed these last few posts can be accessed by moral living, religious devotion nor good intentions. 

Emphasizing the doctrine of Heaven points us to why it is that Heaven is Heaven to begin with - because Jesus Christ Himself is the dominating focus. May we become so Heavenly minded so as to be more earthly good to those around us.