What and who will be in Heaven

If in Heaven we’re going to play harps for all eternity, I don’t want to go there, said a woefully uninformed person. This perspective reveals that people must be careful not to think of Heaven in earthly, carnal concepts, far from God’s revelation in Scripture. This is also a problem for one masculine-centered religion which sees Heaven in terms of access to hundreds of virgins.

What is going to be in Heaven that motivates everyone, men and women, rich and poor, to make every effort to get there? Here’s a short list. Continue reading “What and who will be in Heaven”

Thoughts on heaven

The word “heaven” appears some 50 times in the book of Revelation, in the original language. It is fitting that the last book of the Bible contains the second highest count of the New Testament. Yes, sometimes it refers to the sky or physical space above us, but even then our attention is directed upwards.

The Great Revealing shows “God in heaven” directing all events as the Sovereign King, Revelation 16.11, and to whom people give glory, Revelation 11.13. The great throne is in heaven, Revelation 4.2. Continue reading “Thoughts on heaven”

The church at the center of God’s salvation

Last week, I wrote, “The church of God is at the center of God’s salvation in every way.” What do I mean by that? What is the relationship of the church to salvation?

The saved are added to the church

Nobody joins the church of God. You can join a denomination, but you can’t join the body of Christ (which says a lot about what a denomination is and is not). This is the work of God, just as it is his work to cleanse from sin when we are immersed in water. That first moment of the gospel makes clear what the process is: Continue reading “The church at the center of God’s salvation”

Three reasons to watch and warn

The church is precious. Oh, I’m not talking about human divisions and denominations, but the one, true church of God established by Jesus Christ. Even the denominationalists diminish the importance of their divisions, separating them (and properly so) from the process of salvation, and then schizophrenically talk them up and exalt them. But the church of God is at the center of God’s salvation in every way.

What the apostle Paul had to say to the Ephesian elders applies generally to all Christians, as far as watching against false teachers, because of the price paid for the church: Continue reading “Three reasons to watch and warn”

The Rider with the robe dipped in blood

The first and last times a word is mentioned in the Bible may not be doctrinally significant, but I find them fascinating nevertheless. Indulge my fascination for a moment.

In Revelation 19.13 appears a description of Jesus with the word “blood” — our theme for this month. It is the last occurrence of the word in the Bible.

We usually associate blood with our cleansing from sin, and rightly so. John takes a different tack here. Continue reading “The Rider with the robe dipped in blood”

Crying as I pitch historical documents

I’m up to my elbows in paper, going through old files and crying as I throw away tons piles of historical documents relating to the work and the church in Brazil over the years. I have material in English and Portuguese starting from the 1960s and 1970s.

Months ago, I moved from my office space, which I had rented for 17 years, to a home office. There’s not room for everything, so most of the files must go. I have boxes of papers and files scattered around the office and the bedroom, and it’s past time to pare it down. Continue reading “Crying as I pitch historical documents”

Last words as saving words

Have you ever noticed how so many of the letters in the New Testament end in similar ways? The writers sign off with concern for the spiritual welfare and salvation of others. And more — they urge their readers to act and speak so that others be saved.

James ends his practical letter with a practical, soul-winning exhortation, James 5.19-20.

My brothers and sisters, if anyone among you wanders from the truth and someone turns him back, he should know that the one who turns a sinner back from his wandering path will save that person’s soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.

So does Jude, in some verses hard to sort through, but the general idea is clear, vv. 22-23. Continue reading “Last words as saving words”

Obsessed with the Bible

You worship the Bible! You only talk about the Bible! You’re obsessed with the Bible!

Christians have heard these accusations time and again. In a way, they are right. We are people of the Bible. Because it’s the only way to respect Christ as Lord.

Only the Bible is the word of God. The Bible claims to be his word and proves it. Some affirm the Bible is proof for the existence of God. We can always start with the Bible, with any person, anywhere, to help a soul come to God.

Do we worship the Bible? We do not worship any single copy of the Scriptures, nor any translation. (KJV-only people come close.) If the Bible is the word of God, it deserves our highest respect and allegiance. So the Psalmist thinks: Continue reading “Obsessed with the Bible”

What it means to be rich and what to do about it

There are two classes of people in this world: the rich and those who want to be rich. So said someone, and the division is not far from the mark. We might add a third: those who pretend not to care about riches.

The apostle Paul addressed both groups toward the end of his first letter to Timothy. He has words for those who want to get rich in 1 Timothy 6.9-10. Later, he gives instructions for those who are rich, 1 Timothy 6.17-19.

His words to be passed on to the rich hold three contrasts that are important to note: Continue reading “What it means to be rich and what to do about it”

Excuses and reversed causes

My former roommate from college sang a song with a quartet about excuses: “Excuses, excuses, you’ll hear them every day, / The devil will supply them, if from church you stay away.”/1 Unfortunately, even the people of God can be good at inventing excuses and justifications.

The prophet Haggai dealt with excuses and reversed causes. This short book packs a powerful punch against illogical thinking and unwilling hands. Continue reading “Excuses and reversed causes”