Tuesday, May 11, 2010

A Glimpse of Reality

I kind of feel like I am experiencing a bit of writers block today. But on further examination, that isn't exactly the case. There is PLENTY to write about today. However, my dilemma is that there is NOTHING in the current evil and corrupt political world out there that I really WANT to write about! When I feel this way, I usually just instruct readers to click on the links in my sidebar. There is a plethora of topics to peruse there.

Since I started reading Dr. David Jeremiah's book/study guide called "Revealing the Mysteries of Heaven," my focus has shifted away from the chaotic world in which we live towards learning more and more about heavenly matters.

A Bible verse spoken by Jesus himself comes to mind:

Jhn 3:12 If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how will you believe if I tell you heavenly things?

Jesus said that to Nicodemus in the book of John Chapter 3. Nicodemus was a Pharisee - a leader of the Jews at that time in history. If you read the entire chapter, you will notice that Jesus tells Nicodemus that he must be born again in order to see the kingdom of God.

What I love about the Bible is the fact that so much of Scripture can be applied towards the individual who is receiving the instruction at the time, as well as each and every reader (us!) who studies God's Word.

Introduction excerpt from book/study guide:

Thomas Guthrie was a nineteenth century Scottish preacher and theologian who wrote, "If you find yourself loving any pleasure more than your prayers, any book better than the Bible, any house better than the house of the Lord, any table better than the Lord's table, any persons better than Christ, or any indulgence better than the hope of heaven - be alarmed."

That last phrase is in italics because it highlights the focus of the Revealing the Mysteries of Heaven study guide.

Dr. Jeremiah's book/study guide can be used along with his audio lessons or, it can stand on it's own (with your Bible handy by your side) as a great resource to answer so many of the typical questions Christians might have about heaven. I have been enjoying just reading each segment of the book, and answering the questions at the end of each lesson. It gives me the opportunity to apply what has been learned in my own life, as well as providing me the opportunity to share new and exciting information with others that I, and they, may have missed when previously reading the Bible.

In the introduction portion, Dr. Jeremiah writes:

Intentionally or unintentionally, there are far too many Christians who find themselves loving the prospects of heaven less than they do many of the indulgences of this world. And in the words of the Scottish divine [Thomas Guthrie - mentioned in previous paragraph], we should be alarmed at that reality. The writer of the letter to the Hebrews had it right: there are many weights and sins that so easily ensnare us in this world, causing us to take our eyes off Jesus, "the author and finisher of our faith." We fail to see him sitting "at the right hand of the throne of God" in heaven--the very heaven that is the destination of those who believe in Him (Hebrews 12:1-2).

Dr. Jeremiah admits that many things about heaven are not easy to understand. It isn't like earth, which we know, currently experience, and are used to living in. We have never visited heaven. Even the drawings of what heaven might be like (we have no photos of it!) fall short of what it will be like. Our minds eye cannot even fathom it, yet our souls long to be there one day.

Dr. Jeremiah:

We are left with Scripture alone to inform us about our eternal home and answer the many questions that arise.

One of the most impressive things about the study guide is the fact that it is not based on the speculation of a preacher, or even the writer of the guide. It is filled with Scripture references and descriptions about heaven - many of which were difficult for the prophet writing about it to describe.

For example:

The Bible says, "No man shall see [God], and live" (Exodus 33:20). Therefore, when John looked into heaven, he only saw the appearance of God and tried to put it into words as best he could: "...like a jasper and a sardius stone in appearance; and there was a rainbow around the throne, in appearance like an emerald." A jasper stone is what we know as a diamond, and the sardius is our ruby. So John saw a brilliant, multifaceted stone that sparkled in the light. Somehow, what John saw was best described in terms of brilliance, worth, beauty, and light. Who among us could have described it any better? It is hard to find words in any human language to describe the appearance of God. All John could do, and all we can do, is describe the impact of His presence, not His person. Describing God is like describing the wind --the best we can do is describe the presence or impact or appearance of the wind, not the wind itself.

That is so wonderfully stated! John's experience informs us that worship is not about us -- it's about Him [God]! Worship is not about here --it's about there! Our focus should be on God - not ourselves! We worship Him because of Who He Is, and what He has done for us through His Son, Jesus Christ!

There are so many paragraphs from the book that I could include here! But my thoughts suddenly drifted back to my former post, and the comment that Susan made regarding her mentor. She wrote that her mentor, a woman with deep faith in Jesus Christ and the heart to share the Gospel, said "Worthy is the Lamb" to Susan shortly before she passed on to be with the Lord. I commented, "what better words could she have ever uttered?"

The worthiness of Jesus Christ to open the scrolls at the culmination of all of human history is described in Revelation 5:

Rev 5:1 And I saw in the right hand of Him who sat on the throne a scroll written inside and on the back, sealed with seven seals.

Rev 5:2 Then I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, "Who is worthy to open the scroll and to loose its seals?"

Rev 5:3 And no one in heaven or on the earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll, or to look at it.

Rev 5:4 So I wept much, because no one was found worthy to open and read [fn] the scroll, or to look at it.

During his vision, John "wept much" because "no one was found worthy" to open and read the scroll, or to even look at it!

But watch what happens next:

Rev 5:5 But one of the elders said to me, "Do not weep. Behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has prevailed to open the scroll and to loose [fn] its seven seals."

Rev 5:6 And I looked, and behold, [fn] in the midst of the throne and of the four living creatures, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as though it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent out into all the earth.

Rev 5:7 Then He came and took the scroll out of the right hand of Him who sat on the throne.

The Lamb who had been slain was Jesus Christ on the cross of Calvary. He, and he alone is worthy to open the scroll!

Rev 5:8 Now when He had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each having a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints.

Rev 5:9 And they sang a new song, saying: "You are worthy to take the scroll, And to open its seals; For You were slain, And have redeemed us to God by Your blood Out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation,

Rev 5:10 And have made us [fn] kings [fn] and priests to our God; And we [fn] shall reign on the earth."

You see, the only way for all of us to have been redeemed was by the shed blood of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins. If Christ had not completed his mission, he would have re-entered heaven alone - without "every tribe and tongue, and people and nation." Through what Christ did, we are made "kings and priests to our God" and it is revealed that we shall "reign on the earth" [a reference to the Millennium where Christ rules on the earth for 1,000 years] with Christ!

Rev 5:11 Then I looked, and I heard the voice of many angels around the throne, the living creatures, and the elders; and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands,

Rev 5:12 saying with a loud voice: "Worthy is the Lamb who was slain To receive power and riches and wisdom, And strength and honor and glory and blessing!"

Rev 5:13 And every creature which is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, I heard saying: "Blessing and honor and glory and power [Be] to Him who sits on the throne, And to the Lamb, forever and ever!" [fn]

Rev 5:14 Then the four living creatures said, "Amen!" And the twenty-four [fn] elders fell down and worshiped Him who lives forever and ever. [fn]

Seeing Jesus Christ is going to be so awesome. Indescribable, in fact! We will realize the reality of Jesus being "Worthy is the Lamb who was slain To receive power and riches and wisdom, And strength and honor and glory and blessing!" All we could do is fall on our knees in worship and adoration for our King!

Dr. Jeremiah writes:

In C.S. Lewis's allegory The Great Divorce, he tells of a man who journeys to heaven and finds it to be grander in scale and more beautiful than he could have imagined. Hell, he discovers, is the opposite, a fleck of dust by comparison with heaven. In the same way, Lewis suggests our lives in this world get smaller and smaller the more we comprehend the grandeur of heaven and eternity. Seeing heaven was for John like us walking up to the edge of the Grand Canyon for the first time--speechless in wonder.

This world is passing away. But heaven will last forever! Before his ascension to the Father, Jesus informed us that he is going "to prepare a place for you [us], so that where I [he] go [goes], there you [we] will be also. If it were not so, I would have told you."

Jesus accomplished all that he said he would during his three year ministry here on earth. His promises can be trusted. Our faith is not a blind faith, for we see through the eyes of faith in a Person - Jesus Christ - who did what no other religious leader could have ever accomplished. He rose from the dead! Therefore, we can have the confidence to believe that God is able to do above and beyond what we can ask and think or expect (see Ephesians 3:20). Nothing is impossible for God (see Luke 1:37).

Dr. Jeremiah writes:

We may not see into heaven with our eyes, but we see the character of God through His Word and our songs of praise that proclaim His worthiness. We can hear Jesus remind us of the same things of which he reminded John: "John, I want you to know that things are not as they appear to be. I'm going to show you how things really are. I'm going to walk you into the throne room of heaven and show you genuine reality. Things are not out of control. Satan has not won. Evil has not triumphed. Peek through the door; get a glimpse of reality. God is on His throne, and such a sight will transform your heart and your mind forever."

Hat Tips:

Revealing the Mysteries of Heaven

Blue Letter Bible

NKJV Footnotes:
(5:4) NU-Text and M-Text omit and read.
(5:5) NU-Text and M-Text omit to loose.
(5:6) NU-Text and M-Text read I saw in the midst . . . a Lamb standing.
(5:10) NU-Text and M-Text read them.
(5:10) NU-Text reads a kingdom.
(5:10) NU-Text and M-Text read they.
(5:13) M-Text adds Amen.
(5:14) NU-Text and M-Text omit twenty-four.
(5:14) NU-Text and M-Text omit Him who lives forever and ever.

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