|Vol. 16 No. 12 December 2014||
I read an article several years ago entitled, “Not Many People Want to Go to Heaven Anymore.” I believe what was written then applies to us more today than it did in the past. According to the author, many people still believe heaven exists, but they don’t let the reality of heaven have any influence in their lives today. The author states of many people, “They find the hope of heaven a comfort at death, but would much prefer there be no death at all.”
There is more than a little truth to what this person says. Do we have a heavenly view of how we live life every day? This isn’t to say we should all want to die immediately. However, do we approach life now so that whenever we face death later, whenever it happens, we have a sure hope in being in eternity with God (Hebrews 6:19-20)? One of Satan’s greatest temptations to us is to become consumed with the physical. It’s easy to give the spiritual just a token significance, to have little, if any, concern about the spiritual. To believe in God, to attend worship occasionally, to pray here and there, is more than enough religion for many. God is a loving God, so it doesn’t really matter all that much anyway, may be the way some people think. Heaven is everyone’s prerogative, and ultimately God will save everybody, many people hopefully theorize. Again, this is a delusion of Satan. Jesus’ words are still true and applicable for us today. “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 7:21).
I don’t know of anyone who wants to spend eternity in hell, but the question is, do we take the time to live so we can go to heaven? Paul said, “Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory” (Colossians 1:3-4). To live in heaven tomorrow means we live for heaven today. Heaven is promised to the faithful, and we do not get to decide what constitutes faithfulness in the eyes of God. To those who commit their lives to Him, to live in Him and for Him, each and every day, heaven is a blessed, precious and sure promise.
Don’t be so busy living life that you don’t have time to live for God. Each day brings you closer to eternity, but which one? “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him” (John 3:36). Allow the hope of heaven to offer a positive influence on your life today. Rejoice that God offered His Son for you so that heaven can be a reality for you. Live your life in such a way that heaven will be a reality when this life is over. “Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life” (Revelation 2:10).
[Editor’s Note: This article is a good example of why we have chosen to highlight the Bible lessons of brother Robert Johnson. Well done, Brother. ~ Louis Rushmore, Editor]
What’s Your Religion?
Television commercials are interesting to me. They are typically well produced and executed, designed to attract attention to the specific product or service being promoted, to convince you it is best equipped for you to spend your money on them. Commercials, however, are more than just marketing tools, as many times they reflect what are current trends or attitudes in society as part of the appeal to attract customers.
One such commercial that caught my attention is one from an online travel service. It shows people in a variety of situations, each with a caption about what one might be looking for in life, and, of course, how it can get you to that destination, wherever it may be. The caption “Find your…” is presented with various terms used to show what people may be looking for in life. So, the travel service finds your connection and appeals to one’s curiosity, gratitude, future and so forth. What caught my interest was when the commercial captioned “find your religion” with the picture of a major league baseball park. In a way, it captured the sense of devotion people give to sports as best described by the term religion.
The term for religion (religious) in the New Testament describes one who is reverent, who fears God. The service which comes from such an individual may be sincere or hypocritical depending upon the individual. By its very definition, one who believes in God is religious, and any expression of faith constitutes religion, whether good or bad. There can be and is false religion, false because it does not come from pure motives or it does not correspond to the will of God. James mentioned this kind of religion in James 1:26. “If anyone thinks himself to be religious, and yet does not bridle his tongue, but deceives his own heart, this man’s religion is worthless.” This doesn’t mean all religion is bad, as James continued. “This is pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father, to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world” (27). Pure religion comes from the heart, seeking to please God by conforming to His will, demonstrated not just in worship but in every aspect of daily living.
In another sense, however, I would agree that the devotion some have to physical pursuits in life is a false religion for them. Being devoted to something, whether a sport, a job, pleasure or any other activity, shows one’s heart is centered on things physical instead of the spiritual. It shows one’s energies, attention and focus are directed on the temporal and not on the eternal. It may offer the temporary feeling of euphoria, happiness or contentment, but it doesn’t last, even in this life. It certainly will not offer one hope after this life is over. To offer any passion, person or pursuit what rightly belongs to God is a form of idolatry, a false religion. Paul reminds us, “For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God” (Ephesians 5:5). Whatever supplants God in our minds and hearts or in our affection and devotion is an idol. To offer it the time and the attention rightly due God may resemble religion, but it’s misplaced and will only mislead.
Satan is masterful at turning our attention away from God to anything else. He deceives us into thinking some physical gratification will substitute for the spiritual longings we have within us, but it won’t. This is why fleshly desires, even if fulfilled, come back and leave one feeling empty. God has set eternity in our hearts (Ecclesiastes 3:11), and it is that part of us that longs for fulfillment, which is found in Christ (1 Corinthians 1:30). Most likely, you won’t find true religion at an online travel service, but you will find it with God. May our hearts “be encouraged, being knit together in love, to reach all the riches of full assurance of understanding and the knowledge of God’s mystery, which is Christ” (Colossians 2:2).
[Editor’s Note: While earthly pursuits are necessary and other amusements are biblically permissible, even God’s children often crossover the limit of what God allows by sidelining God, earthly blessings and the grace and mercy of God that would permit them to live in God’s home forever. “Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you” (Matthew 6:31-33 NKJV). ~ Louis Rushmore, Editor]