Thinking About Heaven
In the June 2021 issue of the United Pentecostal Church International (UPCI) magazine, entitled Pentecostal Life, I read a well-written article by Jason Avant. The title of the article is “What will Not be in Heaven.” If you are like me, and even if you are not, the article will cause you to think about heaven and wonder what it will be like. Then you will think about who will go to heaven and certainly, the question that might linger in your mind is, ‘what is the prerequisite for admission into heaven?’ This will surely be followed by a host of other questions about heaven and the contents of heaven. Invariable, any conscientious person will also wonder if, the life they are living will qualify them for heaven. Reasonable thought. Anyway, going back to the article, I was not concerned with all those issues, neither did the content of the article aroused my curiosity. As a Christian, and one who has some knowledge of the bible, I am familiar with the content of the article. So, what amused me was the title, “What will Not be in Heaven.”
In composing the article, the author, Jason Avant, cited conventional scriptures associated with the most popular discussions about heaven. He appropriately developed each scriptural point in a succinct and easily understandable manner, in a way that Christians and non-Christians, educated and not so well educated can understand. But, then, I seriously wonder if people, including Pentecostal and Apostolic Christians, really understand that living in heaven will be a new lifestyle, or should I say, a lifeform that has never before been experienced by mankind. There is no point of reference at all. Heaven is a place of eternity; inhabitants of heaven will not experience any of the things we experience in this life. No earthly joy, happiness or worship will be comparable to what heaven will be like, glory to God.
Heaven will not be a temporal abode; everything will be permanent. Let me hasten to say, our temporal bodies, as we are now, will not be living in heaven with Jesus. The Bible declares in 1 Corinthians 15:50 “Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption.” We will have a glorified body, again, this is foretold in scriptures. “Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body… .” (Philippians 3:21). Since we will not be in a temporal or mortal body, our residence will not be temporal and social structures will not be as we know them presently. There will be no cliques in heaven, only Saints…lol. Yeah, so by extension the citizens of heaven will not only have a glorified, but our mindset will be different, one that is appropriate for our new city and residence. It will be a mindset that will be geared toward constant praise and worship of the Lord Jesus Christ. In heaven, there will be no need for any specialized profession or need for specialized service. Guess what, you will not be sleepy or tired, let alone to be sick. Praise the Lord.
What we do today, and how we live our lives, will determine whether or not we enter heaven. The time we spend sincerely praising and worshipping God is merely a dress rehearsal for when we get over yonder; the New Jerusalem. In the New Jerusalem, we will spend all our time around the throne, praising and worshipping the Lord Jesus Christ. In heaven, there will be no more sickness, no pain, no mental or emotional issues, there will be no night, neither will there be any seasonal changes or any of life’s upheaval. The weather and life in heaven will always be perfect for heaven’s citizens ((Revelation 21).
So, I implore us, as prospective citizens of heaven, to commence (if we having been doing so), “set our affection on things above, not on things on the earth" (Colossians 3:2). In so doing we are preparing for our arrival and welcome into the Mansion that Jesus has prepared for us.
Thanks for reading. . .
In an attempt to console others or to appease ourselves, we often use the phrase “God will grant the desire of your/our heart.” True as the statement is, it is frequently misunderstood, mischaracterized, misapplied or abused. God does not always grant our desire, or what we pray for. If our request is incongruous with God’s divine plan for our lives, it is ‘typically’ not granted (further in this blog you will see why I use the word typically). My point is, a just and faithful God will not grant desires that are inconsistent with His purpose for us. Sometimes delayed or denied answer to prayer is actually God’s way of increasing the believer’s faith and trust in Him. This reminds me of Job. Despite his loss, he was also subjected to the relentless and false accusation of his friends. Against the advice of his wife, Job kept his faith and trust in God. Job 2:9 – 10 tells us “Then said his wife unto him, Dost thou still retain thine integrity? curse God, and die. But he said unto her, Thou speakest as one of the foolish women speaketh. What? shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil? In all this did not Job sin with his lips.” His wife and friends did not understand that Job’s experience was a manifestation of God’s will for his life. First Thessalonians 5: 18 states “In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.”
The principle of God granting the desire of our heart is misunderstood because it references, and is applied a section of a scripture verse. The complete verse, found in Psalm 37 vs 4, reads, “Delight thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart” (KJV). A review of the verse shows that “granting the desires of our hearts” is predicated on the first part of the verse. The caveat is to, “Delight thyself in the Lord.” An application of “Delight thyself in the Lord” is John 15: 7, “If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.” As a matter of fact, it can be construed as an overlay for verses 4 and 5 of Psalm 37. Verse 5 says “Commit thy way unto the LORD; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass. Therefore, when we dedicate ourselves to serving the Lord Jesus Christ, there is an assurance that “All things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive" (Matthew 21: 22).
To understand the consequence of zealously pursuing personal motives, we just have to review the Balaam narrative found in Numbers 22. Balaam’s desired to please the King of Moab (Balak) was influenced by the promise of money and notoriety. As the story unfolds, you will notice that Balaam sought God’s permission to curse the children of Israel as Balak requested. It baffles the mind, Balaam, a prophet of Israel, would entertain such a ridiculous request. Well not only did he entertain Balaam's request, but he also had the effrontery to seek God’s approval to do Balak's bidding. In response, God told Balaam “Thou shalt not go with them; thou shalt not curse the people: for they are blessed.” Balak increased his offer, and Balaam did not resist the inducement, he went back with Balak’s men to do Balaam’s bidding. Verse 22 tells us “ And God's anger was kindled because he went: and the angel of the LORD stood in the way for an adversary against him. Now he was riding upon his ass, and his two servants were with him.” Had the ass Balaam was riding not seen the Angel of the Lord, with a drawn sword standing in the way, Balaam would have been a dead man.
Ignoring the voice of God and pursuing our own agenda is an act of disobedience and disobedience is detrimental, even to the point of death. It is more important to delight in the Lord and the things of God, rather than to satisfy one’s own personal desire. The question then becomes; Is the desire of our heart always in keeping with God’s plan for our life? I believe I’ve made the case, now you draw your conclusion.
God bless you!
It is with pleasure that I send greetings to you once again in the exalted and resplendent name of our Lord Jesus Christ!
I feel compelled to address the growing Protestant phenomenon known as the Sinner’s Prayer. However, let me deal with first things first. My first responsibility is to present you with a notion of the Sinner’s Prayer. The Sinner’s Prayer, sometimes referred to as the Consecration Prayer or Salvation Prayer, takes various forms as practised by some Protestant denominations. Here is a shortened version of how it works: a person become convicted and desires to surrender his or her life to the Lord. This desire is conveyed to the Pastor or a Minister. The person who is under conviction is then asked to repeat what is referred to as the Sinner’s Prayer, and then declared as being born again. It is like administering an oath. The prayer takes various forms, some of which reference biblical verses, and are used to disguise and mask the deception of this fallacy.
Some of the scripture verses used to legitimise this practice of deceiving those sincere souls are Romans 10: 10 – 11 “For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.” The purveyors of this false salvation doctrine also use Acts 2: 21 to justify and validate administration of the Sinner’s Prayer for salvation. To see the common thread in their fallacious argument, look at Acts 16: 31, which states, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.” I am sure you can see the sleight of hand, the craftiness and erroneous emphasis on believe and saved as the only requirement for salvation.
Then, there are those versions of the Sinner’s Prayer which are written by proponents of this false teaching. The common theme in the many versions of the Sinner’s Prayer is verbalizing a belief in God and asking His forgiveness of sins. Yes, proponents of this fallacious doctrine argue that announcing one’s belief in God and asking His forgiveness are the only requirements for salvation. Even worst, some of them: pastors of small, medium and mega churches proclaim that after saying the Sinner’s Prayer, the individual is filled with the Holy Ghost.
Is the Sinner’s Prayer Biblical?
After careful review of the Word of God, from Genesis to Revelation, there is not even an implicit support for the doctrine of salvation by repeating the Sinner’s Prayer. In St. John 3, Jesus had an informative discourse with Nicodemus. I will presume we know who Nicodemus was. In the discourse, Jesus gave the fundamentals for salvation. In verses 3-5 of John 3, “Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother's womb, and be born? Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.” There is absolutely nothing in the passage to indicates salvation through repeating a Sinner’s Prayers.
The forgone passage corroborates Acts chapter 2. A careful read of the entire chapter will reveal that the use of verse 21 of the chapter, by proponents of salvation by repeating Sinner’s Prayer is a gross misuse of the Word of God. In Act 2: 37, Peter was asked a crucial question regarding the requirement for salvation. In the following verse; verse 38; he gave a clear and concise response. He said, “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.” Again, I cannot detect or infer anything that remotely resembles salvation by or through the Sinner’s Prayer.
Very quickly, let us also look at Acts 22: 16, which states, “And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord.” What is your conclusion?
The use of biblical passages to legitimize the Sinner’s Prayer is baseless and disingenuous. The notion of “believe and thou shall be saved,” is founded on the fact that salvation is through Jesus Christ. Therefore, true belief in Jesus will lead one to genuine repentance of sin and baptism in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins. Finally there is the glorious baptism or infilling of the Holy Ghost. As a cautionary note, let me add that remission (removal) of sin can only be accomplished through baptism in the name of Jesus Christ. I am feel confident that this blog will help to clarify any doubts or questions that might linger in your mind about the process of giving your life to the Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, I say to you, the only way to salvation is believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, repent of your sinful ways, baptize in the name of Jesus Christ and be filled with the Holy Ghost. This is what the Apostles taught and did. There is no other biblical principle for salvation. God bless you.
“Dress for Battle”, might be perceived as an inappropriate topic for a Christian Blog; an oxymoron even. The perceived incongruity of such a topic is especially loud, especially when the nature of Christianity is understood and upheld as peaceful, loving, forgiving, kind, compassionate and so on- all of which are true! However, let us understand that in order for Christians to experience and exhibit the fruit of the spirit, thereby becoming Christ like in nature, we need to constantly battle against the forces that are antithetical to the development and demonstration of the fruit of the spirit.
Before delving into the battle component of my/this topic, it is important to note that it should be every Christian’s goal to display the fruit of the spirit in their daily lives. Against this background, one may ask what is the fruit (not fruits) of the spirit? The Bible provides the answer in Galatians 5: 22 - “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith. Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.”
On the matter of dressing for battle, the Bible tells us in Ephesians 6: 12 “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” This verse implies that the believer is engaged in a spiritual warfare. Of course the turmoil that we are experiencing in the temporal realm is a manifestation of warfare in the realm of the spirit. Paul, in addressing these two types of battles, was prudent enough to carefully explain the nature of the battle that we face every day as Christians. He reminds that “though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds ;). Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.”
Since it is evident that a child of God should not be engaged in a physical battle, we therefore cannot physically prepare for this battle. Conventional weapons cannot fight spiritual wars. Through the guidance and inspiration of the Holy Ghost, the Apostle Paul gave us a spiritual battle preparation plan. This plan can be found in Ephesians 6: 13 – 17. It states “Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:”
Wow, the Bible is truly an instructional manual for how we as Christians should and can live a victorious life. People of God remember, “No weapon that is formed against us shall prosper…” (Isaiah 54:17). I am so thankful that we have a God who fights for us; just as He did for King Jehoshaphat in Chronicles 20. People of God, when we hold steadfastly to the spiritual battle preparation instructions given to us by Apostle Paul in Ephesians 6, we are assured of spiritual victory. Trust God. He will come through for you. There is one thing that God cannot do, and that is lie. The battle is not yours my friend, it is the Lord’s; “…the LORD your God he shall fight for you” (Deuteronomy 3: 22).
It is with thanksgiving and jubilation that I greet and welcome you into 2018. We certainly did not get here on our own merits; rather it is the grace and mercy of God that have brought us to this point in time. I am sure you may already have, but in the event you haven’t, I would invite you to have a serious reflection on your experiences over the past year. Like me, I am sure you have come through some trying times; you would also have had some experiences that you thought would have floored you. However, again, like me, you survived. Can you honestly identify what you did to overcome those situations that seemed so insurmountable? How did you do it? Well, again, like me, if you cannot rationally articulate how you orchestrated those victories, then I submit to you that God made a way for your escape.
One of my favourite scriptures provides a very comprehensive framework of our life with God. The passage to which I am referring is taken form Isaiah 43: 1-5. However, I will highlight the first five verses at this point and let them speak for themselves: “1 But now thus saith the LORD that created thee, O Jacob, and he that formed thee, O Israel, Fear not: for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine. 2 When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee. 3 For I am the LORD thy God, the Holy One of Israel, thy Saviour: I gave Egypt for thy ransom, Ethiopia and Seba for thee. 4 Since thou wast precious in my sight, thou hast been honourable, and I have loved thee: therefore will I give men for thee, and people for thy life. 5 Fear not: for I am with thee: …”
For a precious moment, stop and listen to the doom and gloom that are being verbalized by world leaders for 2018 and beyond. You will become acutely aware that the trajectory of our political, social and economic structures, along with their various component parts, do not present a bright prospect for the conceivable future. The new “world order” cannot hold; it must collapse and plunge humanity into a dark abyss. Here is the point to be made - the people of God should not be surprised or dismayed by the world’s steady march from a democratic governmental system into despotic regimes, which will eventually cede power to one dominant world leader. Do you see where this is going?
Earlier I said that children of God should not be surprised by world events. I say that because we have been warned. Just take some time to read Matthew 24, Mark 13 and Luke 21. To be forewarned is to be forearmed. The alarming thing is that experts will have plausible explanations for the collapsing world systems. However, none of these explanations will persuade people to turn to God. The Bible tells us in Hosea 4:6 that “…My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to me: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children…” The world is not interested in knowing God, therefore, it cannot comprehend the things of God because “ …the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned…” (1 Corinthians 2:14).
What shall we do for 2018 to preserve our salvation? “…Seek ye the Lord while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near…” (Isaiah 55: 5). We have an obligation to propagate the gospel in order to help others to repent and give their lives to God. Isaiah 55: 7 tells us to “…Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon…”
For us the children of the Lord Jesus Christ, 2018 and beyond will be busy; the future looks bright and prosperous as we fulfil our mandate to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ all over the world. Our CEO has informed us that we are short-staffed and that there is need for an aggressive recruitment drive. He says “…The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few…” (Matthew 9:37). Not only should we “…Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest that He will send forth labourers into his harvest…” (Matthew 9:38), but we should also “…Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel [bid] them to come…”
There are many persons across the world who have a very dismal and pessimistic outlook for their future based on current happenings. However, as Children of the Living God, we ought to resist being caught up in that narrative because we do have much to rejoice about. We walk by faith and not by sight. Our light should always be shining so that we may provide light to those who are lost. There is much work to be done as Christian Soldiers marching in the Lord’s Army. As we work together for the Lord, let us keep our eyes on Him, because any day now He will be coming back for us. That is His promise, and we ought to stand firm on His promises because His words will never fail. God bless you. We know our future is bright with God because He is the lamp unto our feet. We will continue to walk into our victory in Jesus for 2018 and beyond.
While I am cognizant of the historical circumstances associated with the origin of Christmas, and all the anti-celebration debates, I want to take this opportunity to wish you a Merry Christmas and a prosperous 2018. Here is my position, I totally agree that what we now have as Christmas emerged from a dark past and rooted in an ancient Roman practice. However, over the years, there has been a transformation (not a masking) from then to now, which gives credence to some Christian virtues.
I agree that we do not know exactly when Jesus was born, and despite numerous postulations there is nothing to validate December 25th is the actual date of the Messiah’s birth. The various proposed dates have all been contradicted. With this in mind, I have decided that it is futile to spend time debating the origin and merits of Christmas. Instead, I am focusing on Jesus Christ as God giving himself to humanity in a fashion that we can identify with; as a man. In other words, I am not going to be stuck debating when the gift was delivered, instead, I will focus on optimizing the full benefits of the gift; Jesus Christ. Consequently, this blog is not to relitigate or rehash any debate about when Jesus was born.
I am so glad that God robed Himself in flesh and came into this world as Jesus Christ, “to save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21). It doesn’t matter to me when He came (when Christ was born), the important thing is, He did. The quintessential or imperative here is that God came in that flesh (1 Timothy 3:16), so that there could be a spotless lamb, whose blood would be shed for the remission (removal, washing away) of our sin, The bible; my road map to eternal life, tells me that without the shedding of blood there can be no remission of sin (Hebrew 9:22). First and foremost He; Jesus Christ is incontrovertibly God in the flesh: “And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory” (1 Timothy 3:16). He came as a man and yet being God, to be an example for us while we are here on earth. Jesus’ life demonstrates that although we are living in a sinful world we can guard again living a sinful life, Hebrews 4:15 tells us “For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.” This speaks to an aspect of the theological and humanistic purpose of Jesus’ life on earth,
Jesus is our gift to have eternal life with Him “I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly” (John 10:10). Every single human being will have eternal life in the immortal body which we all will be given when He returns. However, unless we accept Christ (the gift of life), as our saviour, we will not be able to spend eternity with Jesus. It is for this reason and more that I have decided to dedicate my life and try to be like Him. The operative phrase is try to be like Jesus because I am still clothed in the flesh and living in a sinful world. The word of God reminds me that there is a constant struggle between the spirit and the flesh “For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would” (Galatians 5:17). Like Isaiah, I want to say “Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts” (Isaiah 6:5).
Let us also observe that despite its origin, Christmas has evolved into an occasion that typifies Christ-like qualities. Jesus demonstrated a depth of compassion for the poor and needy, for example, “Only they would that we should remember the poor; the same which I also was forward to do” (Galatians 2:10). Here is the key, the qualities of benevolence displayed at Christmas, should not be seasonal, rather, they should be perennial. Benevolence should be a life style because it is a Christ-like quality. Jesus served lovingly and selflessly, so should we, in so doing there will be Christmas year round.
Let us not waste precious time to engage in protracted debate about when Jesus Christ was born and lose sight of the significance of his birth. Also, let us not get bogged down in arguments about His genealogy, these things only engender strife “But avoid foolish questions, and genealogies, and contentions, and strivings about the law; for they are unprofitable and vain” (Titus 3:9). Here is what we should do, celebrate Jesus by serving Him, in this way, we are fulfilling God’s requirement for humanity. Our purpose is clearly presented in Ecclesiastes 12:13 “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.
here to edit.
My Observation of unfolding events around the world leads me to conclude that we are living in the closing days of time. I am convinced beyond a shadow of doubt, that the coming of the Lord is imminent. I might say we are in the 12th hour. This implies that children of God need to be more vigilant and ready for the return of the Lord Jesus Christ (1 Peter 5:8). The scripture informs us that the enemy of our soul is on a rampage to deceive and destroy anyone who is not maintaining their salvation.
The Bible provides an insight of the swiftness and suddenness of Jesus’ return; the rapture or catching away of the Saints. As a matter of fact, 1 Corinthians 15: 52a tells us that the Lord’s coming will be “…in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye...” Wow! Let me try to clarify this scripture with a scientific fact. Scientists have concluded that the average person blinks between 15 - 20 times per minute, or between 3 – 4 times per second. When this scientific fact is used as an indicator of the speed of Christ’s second coming, it is alarming, frightening if you will. The implication is that there will be no time to get ready. We have to be ready and waiting.
Because of the swiftness of the second coming of the Lord Jesus Christ (the rapture, or the catching away of the saints), many will be caught off guard. As a matter of fact the Bible tells us “the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night...” (2 Peter 3:10). I am reminded of the parable of ten virgins, five were wise and five were foolish (see Matthew 25: 1 – 13. Verse 13 of Matthew 25, admonishes us to “Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh.”
Not only will the coming of the Lord be quick, but, He will be coming back to reward one of us based on how we lived our life. Revelation 22:12 reiterates the rapidity of the Lord’s second coming and affirms that He, Jesus, will be the one to recompense everyone consistent with the life lived. Revelation 22:12 states that “behold, I come quickly; and my reward [is] with me, to give every man according as his work shall be.” There will be no partiality or favoritism; Jesus is the righteous just Judge.
In conclusion, I want to tell you, my friend, that there will be those (agents of the devil) who will try to distract us by introducing erroneous ideology to facilitate ‘Easy Believism’ and other doctrines of devils (1 Timothy 4:1). Their sole purpose and intent is that we lose our joy in the Lord and be lost. But thank God, as believers we are warned to hold on to our salvation. The bible in Revelation 3:11 tells us “Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown.” Hold onto your salvation...God bless and keep you.