Friday, July 06, 2012

The Two Eternal Destinations of Mankind

Over the years, I have developed a habit of reading my favorite Christian books several times. Usually, it's a book that can give fresh insight each time it is read.    Dr. David Jeremiah's "Revealing the Mysteries of Heaven" is the kind of Bible study booklet that teaches the reader more wisdom and knowledge each and every time it is read!

Recently, I was reading a section of the book entitled "Two Principles." Learning about heaven through Scripture can seem like a complex task. But Dr. Jeremiah makes it easy to understand. He backs up facts with Bible verses, and admits when he ventures into suppositions; even when they are based on certain verses.   We will never know it all on this side of heaven, but God has revealed what we need to know in His Word!  In fact, the Bible says that those who read the words of the book of Revelation will be blessed!  Why ignore this important book?

I know.  Many people think that it is just to difficult to discern what was written in that apocalyptic book.  However, if we take the time to research and study, it becomes easier to understand.

The two principles that Dr. Jeremiah discusses in the "Heaven" booklet are located on pages 24 - 26. They include "The Priority of the Presence of Jesus" (in heaven) and The Permanence of Personal Decisions" (regarding salvation through Christ).

When I read the subtitle called "The Priority of the Presence of Jesus," I was reminded of a Bible study course that I took back in June, 2001.   The study was based on a book by Anne Graham Lotz (Billy Graham's daughter) called "The Vision of His Glory:  Finding Hope Through the Revelation of Jesus Christ."

I picked up my study guide today and re-read what I had written back then in the lesson workbook.  What I liked about the study is the fact that Anne concentrated on "the priority of the presence of Jesus" in the book of Revelation.  It was not the typical "end times" kind of study.  It was geared more towards knowing Jesus Christ through the written words of John the Apostle in the book of Revelation, as well as additional Scripture that backs up what is written about Christ in the last book of the Bible.

Here is a brief editorial review:


In The Vision Of His Glory: Finding Hope Through The Revelation Of Jesus Christ, Anne Graham Lotz explains God's faithfulness regardless of circumstance. All who feel depressed, deluded or discouraged can find hope in all life's difficult situations:

When life seems to small and problems seem to great; when personal insignificance outweighs God's significance; when overwhelmed by the ungodly majority; or when facing death or choosing life. With skilled teaching, an inspiring sense of wonder, practical insight, and heart-touching parables, Anne Graham Lotz brings clarity and understanding to the glorious pageantry and awesome imagery of the book of Revelation. Sharing her passion for God's Word, she leads the reader step by step through John's glorious, eyewitness account of God's plan for our future. The Vision Of His Glory brings the reader to a fresh, personal encounter with Jesus Christ revealing the vastness of God's boundless love and enduring mercy, the source of real, life-changing hope. --Midwest Book Review

There are several additional reader reviews at the Amazon site. The following brief review is a good description of what you will learn throughout the study:

5.0 out of 5 stars Not your usual study of Revelation! Really hits where you live., February 10, 2012 By Candace Ellett "Gramma Honey" (MO, USA)

Before sharing the "Two Principles" from Dr. Jeremiah's booklet, I have to share a bit about the lesson that follows it. Lesson 3 is entitled, "Won't Heaven Be Boring?" The outline section tells us:
Some people suggest that heaven is going to be dull, sitting around strumming on harps all day -- forever! Nothing could be farther from the truth. Heaven is the place where every ultimate longing of the human heart and spirit is satisfied, something we've never experienced on earth.
Recall that Jesus told his disciples (just before his ascension into heaven) that he is going to prepare a place for you [us]. This is for the purpose of us being where He is for eternity! You see, heaven isn't just a beautiful place to live forever. It is heaven,  precisely because of the presence of Jesus Christ! The outline section also tells us:
Heaven will not be boring because:

1. God is not boring.

2. You will not be boring.

3. Your friends will not be boring.

4. You work will not be boring.

5. It is the place you've always longed for.
What is ironic (in the booklet) is what appears on the left sided page of the previous chapter.  It is the end of the chapter that discusses "Where Are They Now" - meaning, where are the dead in Christ.  But at the end of the chapter, the last study question appears at the top of the page:

5.  What level of confidence do you have about your eternal destiny?

Interesting question!  It is one that each of us needs to answer at some point during this lifetime.  It matters how each individual answers Jesus' most important question, "Who do you say that I am?"

Next, on the same page there is a "did you know" section that ends the chapter study question page.

Did You Know?

The most consistent Greek word translated "hell" in the New Testament is geenna, rendered Gehennah in English.  Greek geenna derives from Hebrew ge ben Hinnom--valley of the son of Hinnom, mentioned 10 times in the Old Testament (for example, Joshua 15:8).  It was a valley south and southwest of Jerusalem where Israelites participated in pagan idol worship and child sacrifice (Jeremiah 32:30-35).  Jeremiah prophesied it would become a place of God's judgment (Jeremiah 7:30-32; 19:2, 6).  By the first century A.D. it had become a smoldering trash heap where refuse, even dead bodies of criminals, were thrown to burn.  Jesus used it frequently as an appropriate image of God's final judgment--"hell...the fire that shall never be quenched"  (Mark 9:43).
Helluva way to end a chapter, isn't it? Let's go back a few pages to briefly examine the two principles Dr. Jeremiah mentions in his study booklet.

The Priority of the Presence of Jesus

We can get specific and detailed about the technicalities of heaven, but it boils down to this: Heaven is where Jesus is. The most important thing about heaven is that it's where Jesus Christ is and where He has promised to take us (john 14:1-4). When Jesus spoke to the thief on the cross He said, "Today you will be with Me..." (Luke 23:43). [Christine adds: "in paradise."]  Paul said that to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord (2 Corinthians 5:8). When Paul wrote to the Philippians, he didn't say he was hard-pressed between wanting to be with the Philippians or going to heaven. He said he was hard-pressed between being with the Philippians and being with Christ (Philippians 1:23-24). The priority is not being in heaven, it's being with Christ. Wherever heaven is, as long as Christ is there, we'll be fine. It wasn't heaven that saved us, it was Jesus. It wasn't heaven that is coming again for us, it's Jesus. So the priority is being with Him. The best summary statement of all is Paul's when he wrote to the Thessalonians: "And thus we shall always be with the Lord" (1 Thessalonians 4:17). It's fine to know that what, why, when, where, and how --but most important is to know the "who," Jesus himself.

Richard Baxter said it this way:
"My knowledge of that life is small,

The eye of faith is dim'

But it's enough that Christ knows all,

And I shall be with Him"3
We live in a world where celebrities, athletes, musicians, singers, actors, and even politicians are revered.   At times, many are even "worshipped" by their fans.  This is always a huge mistake.  There is only One person who ever walked the earth that deserves our worship - Jesus Christ.

But the mesmerized, wide-eyed young girl who dreams of meeting (or even marrying?) a handsome celebrity actor and gets her most fervent desire suddenly sees how much more important it is for her daughter to be brought up in the Christian faith rather than in a cult like Scientology.  God bless her for coming to her senses before it was too late!

We are to love others, but never worship them.  Worship is an act that completely belongs to God.  Period.  However, if you look closely at your own life and the lives of others, you will notice that those who choose not to worship the true God of the Bible will worship someone, or something else.  As the Christian song goes, "every body's worshiping something...I choose You." [meaning, Jesus Christ.]

This leads us right into Dr. Jeremiah's second principle.

The Permanence of Personal Decisions (Luke 16:26)

In Jesus' story of Lazarus and the rich man, Abraham described a "great gulf fixed" between hades and paradise, "so that those who want to pass from here to you cannot, nor can those from there pass to us"  (Luke 16:26).  The gulf is fixed and is therefore permanent between heaven and hell.

The decision we make about eternity will be made in this life, and there will be no crossing from one side to the other after death.  There is no such place as purgatory where we can earn our way into heaven.  The Bible says, "And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment"  (Hebrews 9:27).  The only thing that follows death is judgment.  there is no state in which transactions are made allowing one to change his eternal destination.  Whatever decisions are made about eternity will be made in this life.  Paul wrote, "Behold, no is the day of salvation" (2 Corinthians 6:2).

[T]he prospect of spending eternity with Christ in heaven is powerful, but it requires a decision on your part.  I hope you make the same decision that I did--that your eternity is secure with Christ in heaven.


3.  Quoted by J.I.Packer in "Hell's Final Enigma,"  Christianity Today, April 4, 2002.

Hat tips to all links


GMpilot said...

CJW, quoting Dr. David Jeremiah:

”5. What level of confidence do you have about your eternal destiny?”

Very high, bordering on certainty. I am at least as confident about my fate as any Christian, any Hindu, any Jew. Not for the reasons you are, perhaps, but there it is.

”We live in a world where celebrities, athletes, musicians, singers, actors, and even politicians are revered. At times, many are even "worshipped" by their fans. This is always a huge mistake.”

Doesn't “clergymen” qualify in there somewhere? I could name a few, in case you've forgotten.

”...The Bible says, 'And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment' (Hebrews 9:27). The only thing that follows death is judgment. there is no state in which transactions are made allowing one to change his eternal destination.”

But Revelation speaks four times about “the second death” (2:11, 20:6, 20:14, 21:8). Why is that, if we are appointed to die but once? What is that second death, and just who is it for? Can you tell us what Dr. Jeremiah has to say about this apparent discrepancy?

Christinewjc said...

Pressed for time because I have an appointment this morning. But I will say that ANY person could be misconstrued as an object for worship. I cited several examples but it was not meant to be an exhaustive list.

The Hebrew 9:27 verse is accurate. Man dies once physically, then comes the judgment. Eternal death is not a physical death - it is a spiritual one which means that the individuals who reject Christ as Lord and Savior while on this earth die with their own sins upon their souls. Therefore, they cannot enter into heaven and are sent to hell along with Satan, his demons, and all of the unsaved.