Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Moving Through Heaven #3: "God is the Ultimate Salvage Artist"

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! Here are a few observations I'll share after reading Sections 2 and 3 of the book.

* A Bible study on heaven naturally corresponds to its teaching about rewards for the Christian in the life to come. We do not work our way into heaven. That comes only from believing in the finished work of Christ's death as the payment for one's sins. He is our substitute. The spotless Lamb of God died for us, thereby opening the way of forgiveness and redemption to all who trust in Him. However, once we are saved through faith in His wonderful gift, our obedience to His Word results in rewards (gifts) besides the entrance into heaven itself. Wow. How awesome is the mercy of God.

* Randy's discussion of Christoplatonism is very important. How damaging the effects have been when certain religious leaders and groups have insisted that whatever is physical is inferior, even debased. These folks end up exchanging biblical teaching for a sappy, sentimental, and self-oriented spirituality.

* Tozer's quote in Chapter 6. "We do well to think of the long tomorrow" has provided my prayers with a new and now oft-used phrase.

* Chapter 7's notations of things we see in Scripture from persons living in the intermediate heaven are encouraging: memory, verbal expression, consciousness and rationality, knowledge of things happening on earth, prayers, understanding of time, family connections remaining important, etc.

* Chapter 8's chart (on pages 82-85) are really nifty. I'm copying it, squeezing it down to fit on 3 by 5 cards, and using it as "meditation stuff" on my prayer walks.

* Randy's emphasis on the redemption of all creation is spot on. And terribly exciting.

* Other wonderful items from this section? Paligenesis...Isaiah 60 as the best biblical commentary on Revelation 21 and 22... A.A. Hodge's quote on pages 97 and 98...the talk of thrones...the paradox of "already and not yet"...and those thrilling lines of "Joy to the World" -- "He comes to make His blessings known far as the curse is found." Wow!