Head First: In the Sweet By and By...

Monday, August 01, 2005

In the Sweet By and By...

NOTE: I know scripture is silent on some of this, so this is all speculative. No claim of revelation here, so don't get nervous.


I don't spend a lot of time thinking about Heaven. Don't get me wrong, I'm all for it. I believe in it, and I want to go there. But I don't really dwell on what eternity will be like. I grew up in an A/G church (back when they were still hellfire and brimstone...well, sort of), and I learned more about Hell than I ever heard about Heaven. Quite frankly, after what they told me about Hell, Heaven could be Newark, New Jersey, and I'd still be eager to get there. My childhood church experience was pretty much STAY OUT OF HELL AT ALL COSTS. Well, that and THE RAPTURE WILL TAKE PLACE TWO SECONDS AFTER YOU'VE SAID "DAMN," AND YOU'RE GONNA MISS IT (but that's a topic for another post). At any rate, the goal was to BE SAVED FROM HELL. Heaven was almost secondary.

These days I hear a lot of people refer to the christian life as a walk, a journey, a pilgrimage, process, whatever, with the "prize" being eternal reward, life in Heaven, I've-got-a-mansion-just-over-the-hilltop. We do our thing here on earth, and death closes the door. Game over. Winners through this door, losers go stand over there...ignore the smoke...I'll be with you in a minute.

Today, there's a lot of talk about "the journey." Someone recently said that there are no destinations, that it's all journey. At first that sounded like postmodern gobbledygook, but it got me thinking. I believe that, at least in this life, there may be no destinations, but there are thresholds, and belief is the first. But what if Heaven is a threshold, too? It occurs to me that the "journey" aspect of existence may not end at death. I don't think I'm alone in that I've never considered that eternity will continue to be a dynamic (versus static) environment. Does scripture indicate anywhere that we will be all that we will ever be the moment we enter our reward? Will the concept of personal, intellectual, emotional growth be possible in eternity? The Bible says that we will rule and reign with Him--rule and reign over who? It is implied that we will have jobs to do in Eternity. That implies accomplishment. That implies progress.

I've always looked at this life as the job, and the end of life as payday. What if this is just the interview--the resume builder, and eternity is "You've got the job?" How does that affect the decisions I make today? What are the implications for life right now? Maybe none. Maybe that's why the Bible spends more time on "Love your neighbor."

25 comments:

DA said...

Great post. Yet, I believe it is actually a place in everyway. You, however, are right that we must focus on what we do now rather than the rewards. However, the rewards shouldn't be downplayed. When I hear all of this talk about "journey" it seems so "what is the point" if you don't have "an idea" (however small) of what the destination or goal is. I don't feel that God leaves us "hanging" and reveals to us in His Word what He wants us to know. The other things are just speculation.

Here is a thought: I think the "accomplishment" we receive in heaven is contingent apon what we did on this earth. THe what we did on this earth is solely our Faith in Christ. The rewards within heaven are contingent apon what we did AFTER our Faith in Christ but we will give all of that to Christ anyway (like the parable of the talents represents). So for me it is both and not mutually-exclusive. What do you think? I agree (I know foundationally we agree) but combine the two concepts that seemed seperated by your post. Made me think. For that I love this post. :)

da said...

I must clarify: I will say that if no Faith in Christ is there, then people condemn themselves to hell by having no Faith in Christ. "Wages of sin is death..." (the ultimate sin of rejecting Christ for the forgiveness of sin) "If you deny Me then I will deny you before My Father in Heaven."

loren said...

Hi Dorsey,

You are the first person (besides myself) that I've ever heard ask the question, 'whom do we rule and reigh over? I wish I had the answer, all I can say is that I have it narrowed down.

But before going there, let me share some thoughts on heaven. If we were to die right now, and die in Christ, we would go to heaven. But Heaven is not our final destination. Jesus is going to rule and reign on the earth, as we are going to reign with Him.

This is something I've only recently started to explore, but the Bible doesn't really say we'll all be in heaven forever. And for me, actually, it's not the point. The point is to be with the Lord forever, and I don't really care where that takes place as long as it does.

But please stop by and let me now if you ever find a good answer to that question.

dorsey said...

DA,
Unless I'm misunderstanding you, I don't think we disagree. Even in the parable of the talents, the master rewards the servants by giving them rule over great things (cities?) because of their faithfulness with a few things. This can be construed to mean that the reward that awaits us (part of it, at least) is greater responsibility, a better job, which implies all the things I mentioned before.

Loren,
You're right, of course. I wasn't focusing on the "where" and should have probably used the word eternity instead of Heaven throughout most of the post.

Kc said...

I appreciate your approach here. Paul says that if we had no hope beyond this life we would be the most miserable of all and uses the analogy of a race to illustrate life. So we have a goal he says but he makes it clear the goal isn’t retirement! :-)

da said...

I think we all agree but have different conceptions within it. We need to combine all of our concepts. 1) God will destroy this earth and create a new heaven and a new earth. 2) there is the rule over cities in the 1000 year reign and in the "new Jerusalem" 3) heaven IS the "New Jerusalem" (on a humorous note I'm not a Jehovah's Witness) 4) We all agree that Heaven isn't the most important thing for we we have things on earth to do and what happens in heaven is contingent apon what we do on this earth.

I guess I got a little ragerd on the term "journey". I don't know why maybe because many "post-moderns" use this term and it seems so diluted. I apologize for taking this as loaded. We agree brother. Great post!!! :)

jeff said...

This life as a journey/progress thing is actually pictured in the parable of the talents. Its a story of "what did you do with what I gave you?"

The guy who did nothing was cast into "outer darkness". While the guys who did the most were given even more.

From this story, it would appear that life is one big stewardship test (not just money). And eternity is the reward for that test.

(its late and I'm not sure this makes sense...oh well)

bergevpi said...

First time poster here. Haven't spent much time on the blog, but I have enjoyed it thus far.

I felt qualified to make a few statements abotu what I have read so far. Nothing that I write about will have scritpure references, but they're available (in the scripture of course).

The authoritative book about heaven (besides the Bible, duh) is Randy Alcorn's subtetly titled "Heaven". He goes through everything that the Bible talks about the very real place.

Another note that I wanted to share was that Christians will be reigning over other Christians. You see there are two judgements. There is the YEs or No "were you a good and faithful servant judgement and then there is the judgement of our works. The judgement of our works is where all of our things of this world are burnt away through God's fire (judgement). This is all of our houses and cars that we own (the hay, wood, and all other burnable material, in Bible terms). Than, what is left are the good deeds that we did during our life on earth. These would be the gold, and all of the other things that survive God's judgement.

This is very pertinent to today's life because what we do today will either store up treasure in heaven for us or take treasure that was meant to be there for us away. God created human beings to be motivated by rewards and reward us he will (or did, if you are dead and now reading this:).

Another good book to read is also written by Randy and it is entitled "Money, Possesions, and Eternity".

Another note to ponder: Brothers and Sisters, if you're not eager to meet God and Jesus in heaven and reign with them for eternity than you've got some seriosu studying and reading and thinking to do. There are rich promises made by God for believers, we just have to have faith, obey, and be disciplined. It's not easy. It means giving up that nice Sienna for a Caravan or giving up that three bathroom for a bathroom and a half, etc. Finally it may even mean being mentally persecuted, or better yet being physically persecuted to the point of death for the belief in Jesus. There is a special reward for martyrs and I have begun to have yearnings to experience this reward, but it requires a love for Jesus that is deep. I hope all of you find this love and hold on to it, along with myself.

cberge@vt.edu

jeff said...

Quoted by bergevpi:
There are rich promises made by God for believers, we just have to have faith, obey, and be disciplined. It's not easy. It means giving up that nice Sienna for a Caravan or giving up that three bathroom for a bathroom and a half, etc.

Do you really believe God gives a flying-flip about what kind of car I drive or house I live in?

The Bible tells us that man looks on the outside, but God looks on the heart. This is very dangerous ground, to equate spirituality with possessions or lack thereof. I could drive a Porsche (pronounced por-sha, not porsh...), and have a clean heart before God. Or, I may drive a 78 Nova with bald tires and live in a box, but be filled with judgement and criticism for those who have more than me, and have some serious issues with God. (these are random examples). Who knows?

You see, the car and the house really have nothing to do with how I relate to God... at least until those things come between me and God. After all, "the love of money is the root of all evil", and you don't have to have money to be consumed by it.

Bottom line? Just because someone has material possessions does not mean that they automatically have no good deeds. If that's the case, I know a lot of people that are screwed at the judgement

Sorry if I'm coming down on you, but this is a pet peeve of mine. People who say you must be poor to be holy are equally, if not more guilty of materialism than those who have a lot, because they're using material things as a spiritual barometer.

(I know I just opened a can of worms. I have braced myself, so swing away!!!)

Anonymous said...

Wow, everyone had some wonderful insight on this. I do think the "what kind of car to drive" like Jeff. However, Jeff we do need to do all we can to give to the poor and help those in need. However, you are correct "...the Kingdom of God is more than drink but righteousness peace and joy in the Holy Spirit." So it is a balence among all of our posts that are correct. We mustn't put an overemphesis on any one of our posts for that clouds the consistency that all of us have said that is within Scripture.

da said...

That anonomous was, DA sorry. :)

jeff said...

I agree da. I was just saying that my car has absolutely nothing with how much I give to the poor.

Its actually funny to me. Many Christians speak of a smaller house/cer...etc. Changing their house payment from $900 to $600, so there will be more money to give to the poor. But do we take that $300 every month and give it to someone less fortunate? I honestly cannot say. But if we don't, it just proves the hypocrisy on both sides of the fence.

peace.

da said...

Amen, Jeff. We agree it is a balance and that balance must not be done with hypocisy. That goes for anything in our response to God. Were good. :)

bergevpi said...

Jeff,
No, I don't think God necessarily cares about what kind, make, or model of car that be buy and drive. The point that I was trying to make is this: God definately cares about what we as his children do with the resources that he has given us. Yes, one day God will look in our hearts and see how we used His money and see how we used His time that he gave us (yes, dads put the video games down and help mom with the kid's baths).

And Jeff you're right what we own as humans has nothing to do with our hearts, but it sure does make it easy to see where someones treasure lies. You see, you may think that someone driving a nice car (like a Porsh without the -ah) could have a clean heart but I would like to hear someone's answer to God as he asks them "so you decided to take my money that I gave you to use and buy a Porshahhh instead of giving it to the church. Hmmm...".
Anyways, I'm not saying that I'm perfect, but it is definately something that I am conscious of in my daily walk (i.e. is this a need or a want?...).
A pet peeve of mine is someone "cpming down on me" claiming that I'm a legalistic ascetic when I am not. :)

jeff said...

beregevpi said: And Jeff you're right what we own as humans has nothing to do with our hearts, but it sure does make it easy to see where someones treasure lies.

This doesn't even make sense! (And I never said that...) Our treasure has everything to do with our heart. Jesus said, "For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." (Mt. 6:21)

What I said was that my material possessions have nothing to do with the way I relate to God or the way I give to the rich OR the poor. And in many respects, my material possessions have nothing to do with my "treasure".

This is not a materialism issue, but a heart issue. A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good things, and an evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth evil things. (Mt. 12:35)

You automatically assume that a person with a nice home or car doesn't give to the poor. In fact, you said, "but I would like to hear someone's answer to God as he asks them 'so you decided to take my money that I gave you to use and buy a Porshahhh instead of giving it to the church. Hmmm...'."

I'll save you the suspense... If God ever asked me a question like that (which I doubt He would), my reply would be as follows. "Yes. Thank You, Father. I really enjoyed it!"

(...instead of giving it to the church???? Did you really say that?!?)

beregevpi also said: it is definately something that I am conscious of in my daily walk (i.e. is this a need or a want?...).

Psalm 23:1- The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.

Psalm 34:9&10- O fear the LORD, ye his saints: for there is no want to them that fear him. The young lions do lack, and suffer hunger: but they that seek the LORD shall not want any good thing.

Psalm 34:19- Oh, fear the Lord, you His saints! There is no want to those who fear Him.

Proverbs 13:25- The righteous eats to the satisfying of his soul, But the stomach of the wicked shall be in want.

and for good measure:
Philippians 4:19- But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus

From what I can see, the Bible has an interesting view on being "in need" & "in want". (personally I prefer shooting for the "righteous", "saints", "seeking the Lord" group. "wicked" & "in want" just sound too harsh...)

beregevpi also said: A pet peeve of mine is someone "cpming down on me" claiming that I'm a legalistic ascetic when I am not. :)

I wasn't "cpming" down on you. :) I don't even know you. Remember, this is only personal if your argument defines you. I simply answered your point. Plus, you said "legalistic ascetic". I did not.

Personally, if asceticism has anything to do with spirituality, it is a personal choice for discipline (or maybe pride, to look more spiritual; or maybe laziness, to avoid passion or initiative [see Mt. 25:26-29]), not a reflection of a man's heart.

Bottom line (once again): YOU CANNOT JUDGE A MAN'S HEART BY HIS CAR OR HOUSE!!! Neither can you judge a man's heart by his poverty.

In fact, you (nor I) have no business judging anyone...especially by outward manifestations. That's what Job's friends did. (and I don't think God liked that very much)

You see, materialism is not the acquiring of material possessions. Materialism is the filling of a spiritual need with material goods, or the conscious, conspicuous shunning of them.

I would like to hear someone's answer to God as he asks them "so you refused to take my wisdom & discernment that I gave you to use, and instead, you used judgement and hypocrisy to accuse my people without knowledge or understanding." (Proverbs 4:7)

hmmm...

da said...

Jeff you said this perfectly. This really encouraged me. "You see, materialism is not the acquiring of material possessions. Materialism is the filling of a spiritual need with material goods, or the conscious, conspicuous shunning of them."

bergevpi said...

Jeff,
I wondering whether you have a mental hinderance. You are baswically restating what I wrote. I see that you do enjoy disecting what I write though. Enjoy.

bergevpi said...

You know Jeff you really turned me off from probably writing anything on this blog again. I just thought I would share that with you. It just seems like a waste of time to write something and have someone try to prove you wrong when they are trying to say the same thing that you just wrote.

sam said...

Bergevpi,

You said, "You are baswically restating what I wrote."
Can you elaborate on that? I perceive a significant distinction between Jeff' comments and yours.

bergevpi said...

Jeff,
I am reading more and more of what you wrote and I am ammused at your extrapolations from my messages. For example:
beregevpi also said: it is definately something that I am conscious of in my daily walk (i.e. is this a need or a want?...).
And then you go on spouting references talking about wants... Read what I wrote retard and figure out that I am saying that I should want only what I need.

It's trolls like you that make forums like this unfun.

BTW, your material possesions (treasure) hve a lot to do with your heart. (Please, put your concordance down and read and think about what I wrote that earlier.) If you put all of your income into shiny electronics then your heart lies there. If you put your money into cars and houses, there your heart lies. If you put your money into God's people (His CHURCH, because you couldn't believe I wrote that...), there your heart lies.

Actually, I look forward to reading what stupid things your trollish mind can come up with to 'prove' me wrong'... (What's your deal anyways?)

dorsey said...

Okay, that's enough.

You can argue here, you can fight here, you can get angry here, you can even cuss here (see my most recent post). Namecalling is where I draw the line.

When someone's eating your lunch in an argument, calling them names, (retard? troll?), only makes you look small.

If you insist on engaging in that way, at least have the 'nads to register. I'm considering disallowing anonymous comments. Maybe that will help.

jeff said...

Berg,

If you can't take the heat...

I specifically went out of my way not to make my comments personal. It's a little thing we big kids like to call maturity.

Steve said...

Well...In a lapse of immaturity...I just hope heaven (whatever and wherever it is) cuz I just don't think we can truly know - except for what we read in the Scripture which is less than black and white on the subject from what I see...I just don't think we can wrap our brains around it and God knows that...so he was vague for a reason...

Anyway...back to my immature desires for heaven...I just hope there is basketball, that I am perpetually 25 and that I can slam dunk....oh and sex...can there please be sex!

Uh-oh...hope this doesn't cause the thread to go downhill any further.

dorsey said...

Steve, there's no place for this thread to go but up. lol.

Ditto on the sex (I got yer slam dunk). I'm counting on that (unless there's something even better on the other side - chew on that!). However, since Jesus said we won't be married, what are the implications? Will we be able to...?

Crap. I guess there was some downhill left, after all.

jeff said...

Some "sinner" used the phrase "self-fornication" on my site...

If we're not married in heaven, is that all that's left??

(and further downhill we go...)