Tuesday, April 29, 2014

This World Is Not My Home

    When our grandson Branson died in January, I found myself spending more time reading God's Word to find comfort.  I also picked up a number of books on heaven to gain a better understanding of what lies ahead for believers in Jesus Christ.  Recently, I have been reading an excellent book written by Dr. John McArthur entitled "The Glory of Heaven".  In the pages of this work, he points us to Scripture which describes the place we will live for eternity with our Lord and Savior.  I appreciate that he does not go on feelings but rather on the fact of God's Word.  He doesn't speculate, rely on personal opinion but instead points to the glory that awaits us.
     As I have reflected on the Bible passages concerning heaven, I have to confess that often I have been so preoccupied with worldly matters that I have not really loved my future home as much as the present one.  The Apostle James tells us in chapter 4 verse 4:  " You adulterous people!  Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God?  Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God."  James does not mince words here in this passage.  We have a choice to make.  Either we will pledge our friendship to the world or we will ally ourselves with the Lord.  Dr. McArthur makes it clear in this passage from his book:  "And that is the essence of worldliness: it is a love for earthly things, an esteem for earthly values, and a preoccupation with earthly cares.  Scripture plainly labels it sin - and it is sin of the worst stripe.  It is a spiritual form of adultery that sets one against God Himself" (Kindle edition, "The Glory of Heaven" location 935).
     In his letter, the Apostle John pens a similar message to the one that James wrote:  "Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him" (I John 2:15).  Then, he explains why we should not love the world in verse 16:  "For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world."  The problem is that loving the world system means we follow the desires of the flesh rather than God's will for us.  We cannot have two mindsets as Jesus told us in Matthew 6:24:  "No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money."  So, how then can we become more focused on our eternal home of Heaven?  Where can we learn more about it?
     Over the last ten years or so, there have been many books written about people who have had a near death experience and claimed to have visited heaven.  These have sold in large numbers, but we must always be careful about anything we read because only the Bible contains the full truth about God, His character and our eternal destination.  There are some things we will not know until we cross over and return home to the Lord.  As Scripture teaches us: "But, as it is written, “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him”— (1 Corinthians 2:9).  Therefore, be wary of what others say.  We are fallible people who often miss the mark, but God's Word is changeless and filled with truth.   All those other books will pass away, but God's Word will remain.
     With this being said, our best source for learning more about heaven and being renewed in our minds is the Bible.  After all, the Apostle Paul wrote this very clear statement to believers in Romans 12:2:  "Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect."  As we study God's Word, our thinking is changed.  Our hearts are renewed and our love for God grows as well.  The Bible is alive and is a powerful weapon which is able to discern our very thoughts (Hebrews 4:12).  Our purpose in living in this world is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever as the Westminster Catechism teaches us.  If we live with a worldly mindset, we will never accomplish this.
     Cultivating a love for our heavenly home does not mean that we cannot enjoy the beauty of God's creation here or our relationships.  However, our citizenship is in heaven.  We are just passing through this earth, and this must be at the forefront of our thinking.  Therefore, let us study God's Word and let go of an adulterous love affair with the world.  We belong to our heavenly Father who redeemed us by the blood of His Son.  May we strive to serve Him and live for Him in such a way that "the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace."  Selah!

The picture above is courtesy of Aaron Thayer.

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