The centre of my preaching and teaching ministry has always been a verse by verse exposition of Scripture. That said, beginning in the fall, I will be leading my listeners through the exciting book of Philippians, which I believe provides us with a road map for how to penetrate a resistant culture with the gospel.
But for now, it is still summer – the time of the year when people are at their cottages, travelling, or at the very least, trying to get a few extra hours in the sun. So, because of that, I’ve also changed my messages to focus on more topical issues. Here in the studio, we have just finished recording a new 2-week series called “Heaven”, which will air the first week of August. Why have I chosen this topic?
Well, there are at least 4 reasons why Christians need to know about heaven:
1) They are afraid to die. One reason for this is because they have never been taught about what greets them on the other side! So instead many are fixated on what they will lose, rather than what they will gain, through death.
2) They have unwittingly bought into Platonic and Greek ideals of the after life, rather than a thoroughly biblical view of the life to come. Many are surprised to find how much emphasis the Bible places on the body, the physical life and the new heaven and new earth. They are also surprised to find that our resurrection is actually patterned after the resurrection of Jesus.
3) They have been unable to connect the activities of their life here with the life to come. Most believers have not seen how learning faithfulness in this life directly translates into the eternal.
4) They have no knowledge of what they will be doing in eternity. Silly images of playing harps on clouds, or some kind of static existence – devoid of learning, accomplishments and growth — so fill their minds that they have absolutely nothing to look forward to in heaven.
But perhaps above all of these reasons is the deep sense of anticipating that day when we will see Christ. For without a deep and abiding passion to know Christ and the power of his resurrection now, there will be no room for a passionate desire to spend an eternity with Him forever and ever. In short, we need to rediscover a God-enhanced vision of life that goes on in an eternal trajectory.
A number of years ago, a fellow believer told me of a conversation he had with someone in a coffee shop. The man, who was an unbeliever, told my believing friend that he had just turned 40. And he confided, “I am likely half way through my life, and I am terribly afraid to die. I so desperately don’t want to die.”
Since every single human being is facing death, and since most are uncertain of what they face, a clear knowledge of heaven can not only give great peace to a believer, but is an open door to sharing the gospel. What an opportunity we have! We need to learn how to intelligently discuss the hope that is set before us. We also need to do so in a way that does so much more than simply saying, “That is what I happen to believe.” We need to ground what we believe in the objective truth of the resurrection of Jesus. And so, let’s consider heaven. And let’s learn to allow genuinely biblical thoughts about heaven to transform our lives and also transform our ability to share the gospel.