The Daily Word of Righteousness

Not Retreat But Restoration!

Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord; and he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you: whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began. (Acts 3:19-21)

Some of the major religions of the world hold forth the hope of a blissful life after we die. If we observe the rules of the religion, if we are "good," we can look forward to a paradisiac environment when we leave the world. This is the belief of their followers.

The idea of the blissful environment after death has entered Christian thinking to such an extent it has become an integral part of the Gospel of the Kingdom of God, of the general understanding of the redemption that is in the Lord Jesus Christ.

The erroneous doctrine of the pre-tribulation evacuation ("rapture") of the immature believers in Christ is a handmaid of the hope of transfer to the beautiful, carefree spirit realm. Jesus is coming to take us to Heaven. The interpretation of John 14:2 to mean Jesus is busy building houses for us in Heaven also is an important part of the understanding that the goal of the Christian salvation is eternal residence in Heaven.

The belief that eternal residence in Heaven is the goal of salvation is widely held in Christianity. However, such is not the emphasis of the Scriptures. It is our tradition and it has had an unfavorable influence on the spiritual maturity of the believers.

Why would it be necessary for us to grow spiritually when we will go to Heaven by "grace" in any case? Why is it absolutely essential that we grow in Christian character when our destiny is a place where it does not matter whether or not we are strong in the Lord and in the power of His might? Why should we be learning faith and patience amid much perplexity and suffering when neither of these virtues will be required where we are going?

The present writer looks forward to going to Heaven when he dies as he used to look forward to Christmas morning when he was a boy. We read avidly the visions of the saints and of those who have had an encounter with death. We believe Heaven above is a real and delightful place. Nevertheless, God has called us to preach the Gospel of the Kingdom of God, and the Kingdom of God is the doing of God's will in the earth.

The expression "go to Heaven" is not found in the New Testament writings, and going to Heaven when we die was not set forth as a hope by the Hebrew Prophets. Paul never once, in any passage of his epistles, spoke of grace as the means of our going to Heaven. The Lord Jesus Christ never is presented, in the Gospel accounts or elsewhere, as the way to Heaven.

To be continued.