Background — I have invited a few friends from across the country to join me (and each other) in reading Randy Alcorn’s masterful study, HEAVEN, and then engaging in some dialogue about what we’re reading and thinking about it. Even though I've re-read the book a few times, I'm again taking notes and praying through key points...and there are a gang of those! Previous posts can be found by scrolling down through the blog.
Here's the latest response from Jim Bingham.
I feel clean after reading Randy's quote of John Updike at the very beginning of Chapter 11. It strikes me as an encouraging clarion call to simply believe God for Christ's resurrection. It is spoken boldly as a prophet would speak it; like a man who simply believes God for what He says. It's wonderful. Let me quote it again:
"... Let us not mock God with metaphor, analogy, sidestepping transcendence; making of the event a parable, a sign painted in the faded credulity of earlier ages: let us walk through the door. - John Updike
I'd like to try my hand at similar admonition, aimed at the consequences of ill-begotten doubts:
Would you redefine and diminish the mighty works of the eternal God, guided only by ill-informed, finite, self-important musings of men who subtly and deceitfully seek options and evasion from what God has clearly expressed?
Do you recall the methods of the serpent, who used the very same tactics in the garden, and received judgment for it?
Do you not see that men die and need resurrection precisely because they believe and act on such deceits, and choose to rely on the damning delimitation of doubt, instead of straightforward belief in what God has said?
Stand. Believe. Attribute omnipotence to God and rejoice in His mighty works! Cease defining the light by what can barely be seen in the darkness in which you reside. Doing so imperils yourself and all who regard you.
Heaven and eternal life are necessarily reduced to deformed and misshapen concepts if reigned over by a God incapable of performing bodily resurrection. To the delight of our souls, Jesus returned and walked among us, ate with us, spoke with us, as a resurrected being. We have been informed what He was like; thus, what we will be like; not apparitions seeking embodiment and purpose.(notwithstanding Charles Dickens' "A Christmas Carol")
The consequences of the Resurrection are immense and encompass all of creation. It is total. Rather than recap what Alcorn expressed in exquisite detail, I want to relate how it affects me as I read it.
- I am amazed that King Jesus endured death for me
- I am amazed that as my future became death owing to the federal headship of Adam, my future became life again, owing to the federal headship of Christ, who loved me and gave Himself for me.
- Because Jesus died and was resurrected, all believers have the joyful expectation of eternal fellowship, uninterrupted by death or business demands, or time constraints.
- Some of the greatest words ever spoken are in John 14. "I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I WILL COME AGAIN AND RECEIVE YOU UNTO MYSELF THAT WHERE I AM, THERE YOU MAY BE ALSO."
This is the greatest invitation ever offered. It is a genuine offer, and thrills the soul. It is possible because the resurrection is real, because God provided life for us through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and imparted the benefits to us." Such generosity is indescribable. Such a gift is unspeakable. No such invitation could have been made based on mere metaphor or analogy. The resurrection was real, so the invitation is real.