“Everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself, just as he is pure.” 1 John 3:3
Let’s talk about heaven. If you’re like me, it’s hard to get your head around it and harder still to let it grip your heart. While most of us believe that heaven exists, we go on with life as though this is the only world that matters.
Nearly every spiritual dysfunction in our lives can be traced back to the fact that heaven does not really have a hold on us. C. S. Lewis had it right when he said: “Aim at heaven and you will get earth thrown in. Aim at earth and you get neither.”
So, how do we “aim at heaven”? First, we recognize that this physical body is not all there is—“what we will be has not yet appeared” (1 John 3:2). In fact, earth is simply a dress rehearsal for the great world to come. All the pain and toil here is temporary. Poverty isn’t permanent. Illness is transient. For followers of Jesus, death is but a door to all that is far better. As we read in Revelation, there shall be no sorrow, no more crying, no more death, and he shall wipe away every tear (Revelation 21:4).
Aiming at heaven also involves keeping Jesus in our sights. Looking forward to the day when “we shall see Him as He is” fills us with hope—not a worldly, wish-list kind of hope, but a hope that reflects the certainty of what is to come. It’s the kind of hope that keeps us from distractions and rivets our attention on what really matters in the long run; the kind of hope that purifies us.
Maybe you’ve never thought of it like this before, but one of the strongest motivations for purity is connected to the return of Jesus. Because, let’s face it, there are some places we just wouldn’t want to be when He comes back. We might hope He doesn’t examine the places the Internet has taken us, or that He doesn’t see our attitudes toward others. If we really believed that today might be our last, we might finally be ready to forgive, to ask for forgiveness, or maybe even to share the love of Jesus with someone.
So, how about it? Let’s stop aiming at earth and turn our hearts toward heaven!
- What did C. S. Lewis mean when he said, “you get earth thrown in” if you’re aiming for heaven? Could it be what Jesus meant in Matthew 6:33? What are you aiming for—earth or heaven? Do your thoughts, attitudes, and actions support your answer?
- Think of some practical, tangible ways that you can be more heavenly minded. (And don’t worry, it won’t make you of “no earthly good”!)
- How would focusing on heaven stir your heart to purity?
Are you determined to have your own way in living for God? We will never be free from this trap until we are brought into the experience of the baptism of “the Holy Spirit and fire” (Matthew 3:11). Stubbornness and self-will will always stab Jesus Christ. It may hurt no one else, but it wounds His Spirit. Whenever we are obstinate and self-willed and set on our own ambitions, we are hurting Jesus. Every time we stand on our own rights and insist that this is what we intend to do, we are persecuting Him. Whenever we rely on self-respect, we systematically disturb and grieve His Spirit. And when we finally understand that it is Jesus we have been persecuting all this time, it is the most crushing revelation ever.
Is the Word of God tremendously penetrating and sharp in me as I hand it on to you, or does my life betray the things I profess to teach? I may teach sanctification and yet exhibit the spirit of Satan, the very spirit that persecutes Jesus Christ. The Spirit of Jesus is conscious of only one thing— a perfect oneness with the Father. And He tells us, “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls” (Matthew 11:29). All I do should be based on a perfect oneness with Him, not on a self-willed determination to be godly. This will mean that others may use me, go around me, or completely ignore me, but if I will submit to it for His sake, I will prevent Jesus Christ from being persecuted.
|JANUARY 28, 2015From: Crosswalk.com
What Gets Me into Heaven?
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” John 3:16 (NKJV)
She was alone, dying and in pain. None of her family or friends was left. She asked the nursing home staff to call someone to minister and pray with her.
It was dinnertime when my phone rang. The caller said it was urgent that I get there.
I didn’t personally know the elderly woman lying in that bed. We’d never met, but instantly, love bubbled up inside me for her. I looked into her eyes, but she couldn’t see me — she was blind. I held her weak hands in mine and asked a few questions. Then she said, “I’m dying. I want you to pray for me.”
“What do you want me to pray?” I asked. Then I paused and waited. Her cloudy blue eyes welled with tears that trickled onto our hands. She said nothing. I said nothing.
After a while of silently waiting for the Holy Spirit to direct me, I spoke: “Tell me about the day you accepted Christ.” She didn’t say anything. I knew to be quiet as she processed. Finally, she answered, “I don’t know. I went to church when I was little; I was always a good person. But I never really knew Jesus.”
It was clear where God was leading us. Bertha understood that simply being good wasn’t the same as living for and obeying the Lord. We had to take it a step further.
“Do you believe that Jesus is the Son of God?” I asked.
She nodded and tears streamed down her cheeks as I shared today’s key verse, John 3:16,“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (NKJV).
I continued, “He died on the cross for your sins and rose again so that you can have eternal life with Him. Eternal life is a free gift; we do nothing to earn it. God loves you so much, Bertha! He wants you to spend eternity with Him.”
We prayed a simple prayer together. She acknowledged Jesus as her Savior and asked Him to forgive her of her sins. Bertha passed away shortly after our conversation. She didn’t have the opportunity to do more good deeds. Nor did she need to. That wasn’t necessary for her to receive Jesus’ gift of eternal life with Him.
There are plenty of opportunities throughout the year to do good: Donate warm winter jackets to children in need, deliver blankets to shelters or give canned goods to food banks. Our family invites others over who have nowhere else to go for the holidays. But I know that visiting the sick in nursing homes or welcoming the lonely around our dinner table (or any other good deed) won’t earn me a place in Heaven.
What will get me into Heaven? Just Jesus, the only begotten Son of God.
And believing that His birth … His death … and His resurrection actually happened are the greatest gifts ever. So priceless, we could never buy them.
You see, it’s not about what good things we do, or even the bad things we avoid, but about what Jesus has already done. Two thousand years ago, He gave His life in death on the cross so we could have life after death. Like Bertha, that is the best gift we could accept in our lifetimes!
“Perfect in Christ Jesus.”
Do you not feel in your own soul that perfection is not in you? Does not every day teach you that? Every tear which trickles from your eye, weeps “imperfection;” every harsh word which proceeds from your lip, mutters “imperfection.” You have too frequently had a view of your own heart to dream for a moment of any perfection in yourself. But amidst this sad consciousness of imperfection, here is comfort for you–you are “perfect in Christ Jesus.” In God’s sight, you are “complete in him;” even now you are “accepted in the Beloved.” But there is a second perfection, yet to be realized, which is sure to all the seed. Is it not delightful to look forward to the time when every stain of sin shall be removed from the believer, and he shall be presented faultless before the throne, without spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing? The Church of Christ then will be so pure, that not even the eye of Omniscience will see a spot or blemish in her; so holy and so glorious, that Hart did not go beyond the truth when he said–
“With my Saviour’s garments on,
Holy as the Holy One.”
Then shall we know, and taste, and feel the happiness of this vast but short sentence, “Complete in Christ.” Not till then shall we fully comprehend the heights and depths of the salvation of Jesus. Doth not thy heart leap for joy at the thought of it? Black as thou art, thou shalt be white one day; filthy as thou art, thou shalt be clean. Oh, it is a marvellous salvation this! Christ takes a worm and transforms it into an angel; Christ takes a black and deformed thing and makes it clean and matchless in his glory, peerless in his beauty, and fit to be the companion of seraphs. O my soul, stand and admire this blessed truth of perfection in Christ.
“And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them.”
What was the subject of their praise? They praised God for what they had heard–for the good tidings of great joy that a Saviour was born unto them. Let us copy them; let us also raise a song of thanksgiving that we have heard of Jesus and his salvation. They also praised God for what they had seen. There is the sweetest music–what we have experienced, what we have felt within, what we have made our own–“the things which we have made touching the King.” It is not enough to hear about Jesus: mere hearing may tune the harp, but the fingers of living faith must create the music. If you have seen Jesus with the God-giving sight of faith, suffer no cobwebs to linger among the harp strings, but loud to the praise of sovereign grace, awake your psaltery and harp. One point for which they praised God was the agreement between what they had heard and what they had seen. Observe the last sentence–“As it was told unto them.” Have you not found the gospel to be in yourselves just what the Bible said it would be? Jesus said he would give you rest–have you not enjoyed the sweetest peace in him? He said you should have joy, and comfort, and life through believing in him–have you not received all these? Are not his ways ways of pleasantness, and his paths paths of peace? Surely you can say with the queen of Sheba, “The half has not been told me.” I have found Christ more sweet than his servants ever said he was. I looked upon his likeness as they painted it, but it was a mere daub compared with himself; for the King in his beauty outshines all imaginable loveliness. Surely what we have “seen” keeps pace with, nay, far exceeds, what we have “heard.” Let us, then, glorify and praise God for a Saviour so precious, and so satisfying.