Eternity: This is the promise
Have you ever heard? Someone who died and came back to life has written a book about the experience, telling us what heaven is like. Oh? You have heard? It seems that dozens, if not hundreds, of “someones” have done that.
I and many people I know do not put a lot of “faith” in those stories. We are apparently in the minority, judging from the popularity of those books. While the books are interesting and many have even found them encouraging to their faith, they are not reliable, not objective, not verifiable and according to Father Abraham and Jesus Christ, they are not what we should build our faith upon.
Paul is one of those “someones” who went to heaven (the third heaven or paradise, he called it) and was so humbled by the experience, he described it in the third person as if it happened to someone else and could not verify if he was “in the body or out of the body.” You can read about it in 2 Corinthians 12:2-4, but don’t expect a New York Times best seller, as he said it was indescribable and inexpressible on what he saw.
Another apostle, John, also had a vision of heaven, found in the book of Revelation. Try as he might, John’s description is almost incomprehensible. The best and most understandable part is Revelation 20:11-22:21. Randy Frazee encouraged us to read it aloud when we get the chance and I’ll tell you, it is exciting.
Paul said that if the resurrection was not true, then Christians of all people are to be the most pitied. Christianity stands or falls on the resurrection and the promise of eternity. If Christ is not raised, then our faith is in vain. The tree of life is from Genesis to Revelation, meaning that the overarching theme of the Bible is eternity which was forbidden for us in our fallen state, and only granted to us because of Christ’s sacrifice. And yet so many people do not know what the Bible teaches it means to have eternal life.
This is week ten of BELIEVE, and we are one-third of the way through this study. This chapter also concludes the section on “what we think” or the theological portion of the study. These ten weeks have been deep, challenging, thought-provoking and even troubling for me personally … and I have been to seminary, prepared sermons and have studied the Bible for decades.
Some have said they opted out of BELIEVE because it was too shallow (they must have CLEP’ed out of quantum physics in grad school) while others have said they didn’t participate because it was too much work. Indeed, the reading material has been 90 to 95 percent Scripture and perhaps ten times as much Bible as our regular Bible Study material. We will get a break from BELIEVE next week, as we prepare not only how to believe, but now for the next ten weeks, how to behave.