In our previous entry we discussed the changes a believer will undergo when they go to heaven to be with the Lord. We will be transformed into celestial beings of light that share in the divine nature of God and will be co-rulers with Jesus as the adopted children of God. In this entry, we shall discuss how Christians should not view heaven as the end goal of salvation. Instead, Christians should remain focused on communing with God as being more important in their salvation.
First of all, becoming a Christian is not to follow Jesus simply for what He bestows. Does it not seem shallow to follow Christ because He has the power to offer you eternal bliss in heaven? It is true that Jesus died on the cross to offer a means of pardon for our sins. His death and resurrection makes it possible for us to be redeemed in the eyes of God even though we are guilty. God does not ask us to be perfect, but rather He asks us to receive the pardon of Christ who paid our penalties in our stead. Realistically, all one has to do is accept Jesus as Lord and Savior to obtain the free pardon of salvation and gain access to heaven. One doesn’t even have to completely understand God to receive the pardon since we don’t even know God’s real name! As we are now, we are only able to understand what Christ taught us in the scriptures about His Heavenly Father. Since we know so little about Him, it should be our first priority to learn all we can about our God and to love Him for what He is and not for what He has to offer.
So for the time being forget about heaven. Forget about what awesome bliss awaits you. Lets focus instead on the One who is the source of that bliss.
God Is Faithful
No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it. (1 Corinthians 10:13, English Standard Version)
God is faithful in His promises and His abilities to deliver us through our hour of temptation. I’m sure all of us have been in a difficult situation where we could have chosen to take the easy way out or simply given up. But what about those times when a solution became available at the right time just when you needed it to appear? Coincidence? Maybe…but I am willing to bet that God was behind the answer. And if God was behind the answer, what does this say about God? It says He cares about His children (and yes this includes unbelievers too). I concede that there are times when people seemingly don’t receive an answer from God. When a child is murdered, when a woman is raped, or soldiers die in combat, it seems God did not deliver them from their hour of trial. We cannot forget, however, that we still live in a fallen world in total rebellion against God. Until Jesus returns to establish His reign on earth, there will continue to be suffering and death unfortunately. For those who endure until the end, great will their reward in heaven be and nothing can take that reward away.
God Is Light
This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. (1 John 1:5 English Standard Version)
The term “light” can mean many things. It can symbolize God’s purity and holiness. It can represent truth. It can mean exposing evil and the darkness of sin. When we enter into a relationship with God, we will be exposed to His light, which will reveal our hidden sins we must confess to Him. Yes it is a painful thing when we confess our sins to God, but it cleanses us at the same time. Also, the light of God will reflect upon us and shield us from the encroaching darkness of the world and its current ruler Satan. Darkness and light cannot exist is the same place so when we reside in the light of God, we are safe from harm.
God Of Giving
Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. (James 1:17 English Standard Version)
God loves to give blessings to His children. His gifts are perfect and enduring so that the forces of evil cannot undo them. Heaven and eternal life are two of His greatest gifts, but not His greatest. Jesus was His greatest gift to humanity. Without Jesus no other gift would even matter especially heaven itself. A God who loves us so much to give His most precious gift to those who didn’t deserve it, is testament to why we should concentrate on God Himself instead of His gifts. Even if God did not offer us heaven, we should still love Him for who and what He is rather than what He can offer. Salvation is more than living in the afterlife, it is living for God in the here and now regardless of the destiny of our earthly bodies.
God Is Spirit
God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth. (John 4:24 English Standard Version)
Finally, we must remember that God is a spiritual being not corrupted or affected by the material universe. He is not limited to anything or by anything. We cannot adequately worship Him in the flesh or comprehend Him with our brains. We know only what He has revealed in His scriptures, which are merely sufficient for as we are now. However, once we enter into eternal rest, we will know Him on a much higher level of sophistication, and will only then be able to properly worship Him as He deserves. A spirit does not need a physical realm to exist. Nor do spirits need bodies or “things” to live. God is the ultimate spirit being, therefore, residing in Him for eternity would be more than sufficient. Heaven is merely just a bonus He lovingly adds to the super abundance of His presence. In all reality, we should count heaven as nothing compared to just communing with the Lord of Hosts. But as always with God, He always manages to find ways to magnify the perfect and wonderful to even greater degrees.
Heaven is one of the most wonderful things to look forward to, but it is nothing compared to God Himself. We should focus in on His love, holiness, and divine glory before we even consider the majestic things He promises us. Even if God offered no heaven or eternal life, His goodness and love alone, would be sufficient for our salvation. I even dare say we should continue to praise the name of our Heavenly Father should He deny us a place in heaven. God owes us nothing, yet He gives us everything even though we do not deserve it. Heaven is nice, but without God, it would be empty and without purpose. Please remember that a great price was paid for your entry into heaven, and that the gift giver is far more important than the gift He offers.