Finding Our Place in Heaven

We can live each day, joyously, victoriously, in grateful appreciation of the heavenly home that has already got our name on the mailbox!

Recently we treated the topic of having only about ten minutes left in your life and knowing that it was soon to be over. The topic was spurred on by the recent crash of a Lufthansa flight into the side of the Alps, apparently on purpose. Those on the flight would have known for about ten minutes that they were about to crash. Today we want to take that a step further and consider finding our place in heaven. As we mentioned in the previous offering  there is no biblical support for St. Peter standing at the pearly gates of heaven deciding who should or should not enter.  The GOOD news is that for those who have accepted Christ as Savior, they are already in heaven! You ask how that could possibly be since every morning you wake up and you are still living and working on the mortal plain. If we read what the Apostle Paul wrote to the church at Ephesus, the Lord has already given us every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places and predestined us to adoption. What Paul is helping the Ephesians to understand is that if they had accepted Christ’s forgiveness for their sins, then they were already citizens of the heavenly kingdom. Perhaps an analogy will help us to understand it a little bit better. God had already created a way for us to be adopted us as His children.

Imagine, if you will, that you are a child whose father was in the US Air Force stationed in Germany. When you were born you were born on the U.S. Air base but within the country of Germany. Because you are the child of a U.S. airman you are automatically a citizen of the United States even though you have never set foot in the U.S. Someday you will travel with your parents back to the U.S. and when you arrive you will have credentials that show you are a U.S. citizen even though you have never been in the U.S. and you are immediately admitted. You were, positionally, a U.S. citizen though you had never been in the U.S. That is what Paul meant when he said that God has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places. Just as the child of an American has all the freedoms and rights of every other citizen positionally without ever having been in the country or, for the believer who is positionally a citizen of the kingdom of heaven, never yet having been in the heavenly places.

Paul writes that we were preordained to adoption as sons. Let us use the same example only with an adoption. The U.S. airman and his wife are living in Germany. Both are U.S. citizens. They have an opportunity to adopt an infant who is of German descent. He is, in fact, a German citizen. Once they adopt the little German infant the boy becomes a citizen of the United States positionally because he has never been in the U.S. and was not born there. In this scenario we will make it so that as he gets older, to have his American citizenship he must renounce his German citizenship. He may still have not been inside the United States physically, in fact he may still live in Germany; but his position is one of a full U.S. citizen; adopted as a son of a citizen and given full rights as a citizen. No one will dare deny him access because he is already a citizen. Imagine if when he got to the entry point and they learned that he was the son of the president! The welcome home mat would certainly be rolled out!

When we accept our position as a child of God we will walk up to those gates as a Child of the King; a royal heir to all that is God’s! Talk about a red carpet arrival! The Bible tells us that the angels marvel at us because of what God has done for us. They have been with God since He created them, yet they can never experience being the recipient of the full love we have received and can never be adopted as God’s children. As a Christ-follower, we are children of the King with full citizenship in heaven, instilled with all the rights and responsibilities that are part of our citizenship in heaven.

That is the meaning of Paul’s words in Ephesians chapter 1. I trust it will provide you with comfort knowing that you, if you have accepted Christ as Savior, have already attained your position in heaven. Jesus said, I go to prepare a place for you and if I go, I will come again and receive you unto myself. What a spiritual blessing in the heavens we have already received that our place has been secured, Paul writes, that it is sealed by the Holy Spirit. For those who argue then that we can somehow lose our place there is to believe that we, as failed human beings, Jesus said He understood that we were dust, could take something away from God who has sealed us with the Holy Spirit! Those who live in such a way that one would say they would be in danger of losing their salvation should examine themselves to see if they ever had salvation to begin with. Like the seed that fell on shallow ground and never took root; many need to return to the cross and seek that original forgiveness and then their lives will be eternally changed. The outcome of their human life will be radically different.  Praise God for that!

We have covered a great deal of theology in one lesson but perhaps a reminder for us all. We can live each day joyously, victoriously and in grateful appreciation of the heavenly home that has already got our name on the mailbox!

Christ is the Answer… the Question However…

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 The Questions

 

For millennia man has been asking hard questions of themselves, of society and of history. During the last few generations, those hard questions either seem to have gotten harder or we simply do not like the answers, so, we modify or nullify the questions.  A new way to look at one of those plaguing questions can be to remove emotion or use logic to prevent a zealous nature from giving misleading answers to some fundamental questions. Before going any further, it is imperative to take just a moment to allay some fears that may be building out there. More harm has come to Christianity through the unbridled use of ‘reason’ and ‘logic’ or at least methodologies that some from those schools of thought who utilize logic and reason to attack Christianity and faith. Today the table has turned and logic and reason will confirm for us that it is possible to take facts and present a solid case about a difficult question and answer it. By using logic and reason alongside the Bible and not in place of it, certain facts come to light.

 

To lay the groundwork for any debate or discussion based on logic, there must be certain fundamentals; truths that each side agree to hold as facts. This particular logical search for an answer is based on a facts. For this specific argument from logic the following are statements of fact that are a required part of the logical foundation:

 

  1. The Bible is God’s Word and is, in the original manuscripts, without error and that the Word we have today has been divinely protected so that it is an accurate rendering of those manuscripts. That is, that upon points of doctrine, the Bible is consistent and without error. Paul recorded in 2 Timothy 3:16 states unequivocally, “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness”  
  2. Jesus Christ is the Son of God who came in the form of man.  In the first chapter of John we read that Jesus Christ is God. He was also present in eternity past living with God the Father and the Holy Spirit. The Triune God created the world ex nihilo during which time Jesus Christ, the second person of the Godhead was very much alive. Christ existed fully eternally before and at the beginning of time as we know it.  The Apostle John writes, In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God… And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.”                                   
  3. That Jesus Christ left heaven to come into the world, as a human, to reach out to His own creation and show His love for them. Paul writes in Philippians 2:5 and following: “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.

 

The First Two Questions

 

1)  Is it reasonable to argue, from the testimony presented by the Bible that Jesus Christ ever ceased to exist?   

 

2)    Is it logical, from everything which is knowable about Jesus Christ or about any being, that He or any being who is eternal both from before time began through and after time ceases to exist, ever stopped existing and then began to exist again?   

 

Answers from Reason and Logic    

 

1)     If one holds to the truth of the biblical text which includes the testimony that states: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God… And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth”    then the answer is ‘No, it is not reasonable to argue that Jesus Christ ever ceased to exist.’

 

2)     Again, if one holds to the truth of Scripture which states, “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man…” then again, the answer is ‘No, it is not logical that an eternal being could ever cease to exist and remain eternal as described in the Philippians passage and in other biblical texts.’

 

 

 

 

 

What difference do those answers make since most people of faith have usually believed such as is presented there?

 

 

 

There certainly are times when the answers with which society has a modicum of comfort become strikingly less comfortable when they are aligned with different questions. In one of Hollywood’s better historically based stories, Henry Fonda plays a military intelligence officer assigned to a forward unit near Spa, Belgium not far from the Ardennes Forest in December of 1946. Fonda plays Lt. Col. Kiley who holds out in his belief that the Germans are planning an all-out offensive. His commander, Col. Pritchard is hard pressed to tolerate Kiley but at one point offers the only positive suggestion to Kiley when Pritchard asserts that if Kiley is on the right track then perhaps his other officers are “not asking the right questions.”  

 

A short eight years after Battle of the Bulge was released, a U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Roe v. Wade that to abort a pregnancy was Constitutional. Since that 1973 decision arguments over everything from who can perform abortions, if a juvenile female must tell her parents she is having an abortion, and dozens of other questions have filled the court dockets. A singularly vital argument has been one of ‘when’ an abortion can be performed. At what stage of development does a fetus become a person? This is a particularly crucial argument because with it comes the theory that if the fetus is a person then, in the United States, according to the Declaration of Independence that each has been endowed by “their Creator with certain inalienable rights…” those being  the rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

 

At this point an application of a new question to these comfortable answers is appropriate. Did Jesus Christ ever cease to exist as a person? The theology of the Triune God is One God in Three Persons. Those three persons are God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. If at any time, Jesus Christ was no longer a person, then logic would conclude that the Trinity ceased to exist. If, however, Jesus Christ never ceased being a Person, then from the split second prior to His miraculous conception through to the split second after His conception Christ remained a person. If Jesus Christ is a person at the very moment of His conception, then reason and logic require society to determine that every individual fetus, at conception is a person. In the United States of America, as asserted by our Declaration of Independence that if that fetus is a person then it must be also endowed with inalienable rights, primary of which is life!

Concluding thoughts…

This author certainly does not hold out any splendiferous hope that this short article and its reasoning and logic applied appropriately to what the Bible teaches in its entirety, not carefully chosen proof-texting snippets; will sway anyone who is not already in the circle of those who support choice – the choice of the child to live. However, if there are those who are somehow on the fence or even among those who believe themselves to be Christians yet support the idea of abortion; perhaps the Holy Spirit may use these words to help you understand the incongruity of such a position.

 

Egypt Update August 2013

An al Qaeda flag was flown over the St. Theresa Church in the Upper Egypt city of Assiut before the church was burned.

Egypt camels

Egypt: Where Ancient Meets Future

 A Concise Review of Current Issues

17 August 2013

CAIRO: Sit-Rep – Security Conditions Deteriorating; Army taking larger role in daily government; Economy crashing; Tourism non-existent; Secular/civilian authorities neglecting needy; Christian groups facing severe harassment; General instability across the region giving al Qaeda means for growth and action across the region.

Narrative: Coptic Christians being blamed for Muslim Brotherhood/Morsi failure

According to the Investigative Project on Terrorism News affiliates, forces loyal to the Muslim Brotherhood have burned churches as a “favorite target for Muslim Brotherhood supporters and other radical Islamists across the country.” This comes on the heels of the military’s move on August 14th to push Morsi supporters who had encamped in Cairo, out of the city. According to IPT’s John Rossomando, “Approximately 1,000 Muslim Brotherhood supporters set fire to the Churches of Abraham and the Virgin Mary in Menya. Angry mobs also targeted churches, monasteries and other church properties in Alexandria, Suez and a number of other cities in Upper Egypt, according to Egypt’s Al-Ahram.

The main Coptic Church in Egypt’s city of Sohag, Mar Geergiss, was firebombed and burned to the ground.

(Photo: IPT News) Coptic Church

An al Qaeda flag was flown over the St. Theresa Church in the Upper Egypt city of Assiut before the church was burned. IPT News quoted a report by Vatican Radio: “It is a climate of violence, and the people are scared.”

According to IPT, “…if you ask some Muslim Brotherhood leaders about the Christian –Muslim relations, things have never been better.” This comes in the wake of Coptic priests and lay clergy having been murdered. In Washington D.C., Muslim Brotherhood political face Abdul Mawgoud Darderyl responded to questions denied that the Muslim Brotherhood was anti-Christian.  According to the IPT’s report, Darderyl claimed that relations were the best they have been n 1,400 years. Sadly, even with current events; that may be true. But it does not make the Muslim Brotherhood pro-Christian or the current fate of Christians in Egypt any safer.  Rossomando writes: “It’s a tragedy for all involved. But the Islamists’ reaction – to attack a Christian minority that might comprise 10 percent of the country’s population – is an outrage that exposes the depravity of their thinking. Scapegoating, conspiracy theories and attacks on innocent bystanders. They all show the hollowness of Dardery’s platitudes and what the Brotherhood really believes about Egypt’s Coptic Christians.”

The term ‘Coptic Christians’ or ‘Copts’ is a designation of any Egyptian who follows the Christian rather than the Muslims. The majority of Copts follow what is called in the vernacular, the Alexandrian Orthodox teachings. There are also Protestant Copts and Catholic Copts. As such, all are targets of the Islamists.

al Qaeda Heavily Invested in Success of Islamic State of Egypt

Ayman Zawahiri the current leader of al Qaeda world-wide was born and raised in Egypt. When the Muslim brotherhood ‘won’ the election; he was one of the first to congratulate the new ruler. Zawahiri had always maintained a vision for a fully Islamic Egypt but had put those plans on hold to serve under Osama Bin Laden. Once Zawahiri was the head of the snake, he could re-direct a focus to helping usurp Egypt’s democracy in hopes of bringing in a new Sharia State. He strongly backed Morsi and now that the Muslim Brotherhood has failed to meet Zawahiri’s expectations, it is no doubt a very personal issue for him. It should be expected that Zawahiri to go out of his way to punish those he sees as bringing about the current disaster in Egypt.

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al Qaeda Expands Across the Middle East; Involved Heavily in Syria

 

The Investigative Project reports that “Islamic militants connected with Jabhat al-Nusra, al-Qaida’s Syrian affiliate, have marked Assyrian Christians for death unless they embrace the group’s hard-line interpretation of Islam.” In an SCI/ICTOA report ‘A New Spin on the World’ just this month reported that such declarations are in line with the Prophet Muhammad’s teaching, “I have been ordered to fight against the people until they testify that none has the right to be worshipped but Allah. If they say it, then they save their lives and property from me unless otherwise legally required.”[i] As concluded in the SCI/ICTOA report, “The al-Qaeda-affiliated Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant rebel group in Syria…(assassinated) a rebel commander for the more moderate Western-supported Free Syrian Army earlier this month. The group also staged a massive coordinated attack on two prisons in neighboring Iraq on July 21 that resulted in the escape of more than 500 inmates, including senior leadership of al-Qaeda as well as other terrorists linked to the group.”[ii]


[ii] Riggs, Ross Dr. “A New Spin on the World” ICTOA Radio Archives http://www.blogtalkradio.com/ictoaradio

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