A Renewed Reality – Mark Appel
By: Mark Appel
May 17, 2017
Heaven is somewhat of a mystery to us all. It’s one of those subjects that is super-interesting to think about and discuss with others; there are tons of ideas out there about what it’s like.
I don’t think Scripture is explicitly clear about what Heaven will be like, though we can find many pictures and references to it throughout God’s Word. But even then there’s a lot of debate. Are the details of John’s revelation literal or symbolic and metaphorical?
Jesus talked about Heaven a lot while He was here on earth. It was an extremely important message to Him. Many think of the earth as a proving ground where we are tested and at the end of our lives, how we lived on earth will determine if we go to Heaven or hell, but that’s just not the case at all! Only salvation through faith in Jesus Christ can act as the bridge between us and Heaven. The Bible talks about a new Heaven and a new earth which is really going to be a renewed Heaven and a renewed earth. In this new reality we too will have renewed bodies that are without flaw or blemish, having been made perfect by His grace. It’s the same Heaven, earth, and body we are currently experiencing made perfect.
“He who was seated on the throne said, ‘I am making everything new!’ Then he said, ‘Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.’” —Revelation 21:5
The picture of this hope that we have to look forward to gives us the opportunity to create little pockets of heaven here on earth. In fact, Heaven in its purest form is anywhere that God is fully manifested. In Randy Alcorn’s book, God’s Promise of Happiness, he writes, “We normally think of going up to Heaven to live with God in His place, and that’s what happens when believers die, but the ultimate promise is that God will come down to live with us in our place on the new earth. The ultimate Heaven won’t be us with God, but God with us.” The disciples were able to experience quite a bit of Heaven on earth while they walked with Him in ministry, and so do we as we live by the Spirit of the Lord, fulfilling His ministry here on earth.
But we can also create little pockets of hell on earth when we gossip, cheat, lie, steal—when we are living according to the flesh. Our current state has us living in a spiritual battleground, where the enemy is trying to convince both believers and nonbelievers alike that God is not victorious. Anytime that we believe those lies, we allow fear, doubt, and insecurity—things not of the Lord—to creep into our lives. And that makes us susceptible to sinful behavior and hurting others.
To arm ourselves against this battle, we need to be consistently in the Word, reminding ourselves of the truth and communicating with God through prayer—renewing our minds so that we see things in a way that’s in line with how Christ sees them. It’s in this way that God teaches us about Himself, His purposes for us, and the future hope that we have in Heaven. And through His Holy Spirit He convicts us and leads us to confession and repentance in the most loving and caring way when we sin against Him.
With the knowledge and anticipation of Heaven, we can live both intentionally and freely. Often we Christians put pressure on ourselves to live a perfect life so that others will see our example and put us on a pedestal. Yes, we are to use our lives to reflect His glory, but we need to be living honestly so that when we do fall short, we don’t lie about it but openly confess and repent of it. That is what will attract people to the Gospel—to see God’s people live through the struggle. The sanctification of a Christian’s life is the most powerful tool for the Gospel. The transformation that takes place in the life of someone who surrenders to the power of Christ is not able to be ignored.
It’s not easy to live in our culture which says, “You do you and I’ll do me.” Many are creating their own truths to live by. This climate only creates more purpose for God’s people to take a stand for the Truth. We stand for things that are right, flee from what we know is wrong, and applaud what is good. It can be really tough to walk alongside a teammate who understands the message of the Gospel, yet won’t believe it for himself. He might say, “That’s fine for you, but it’s not how I’m going to live my life.” But God calls us to remain steadfast, praying for and loving that person as if they were our brother. You never know how God might capture their heart down the road when they remember the truth that you sowed into their heart.
“In that day they will say, ‘Surely this is our God; we trusted in Him, and He saved us. This is the Lord, we trusted in Him; let us rejoice and be glad in His salvation.’” —Isaiah 25:9
Mark Appel is a regular contributor to The Increase, providing monthly articles and opinions.
View Mark’s Increase Profile here: http://theincreasebaseball.com/author/markappel/
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