Sunday, December 27, 2015

Eternity in Heaven -- You are Invited to the Wedding Supper of the Lamb

Weddings are a time of celebration and happiness. Certainly, the Bride and Groom are happy, and usually the invited guests are very happy for the couple as well. But, most weddings take a great deal of preparation for the celebration to come about in the way the couple has dreamed that it would. There is also a great deal of preparation for the celebration of the Wedding Supper or Wedding Feast of the Lamb in our coming Eternity with God and His Son, Jesus Christ. But, the first preparation that needs to be made for any wedding and wedding supper, though, is the preparation of the guest list for the celebration.

For many couples, it takes quite some time to plan the wedding. The reason that it takes so much time to plan the wedding is because not only does the couple want the wedding to be extra special for them, but they also want the event to be remembered by all. So, the planning starts first with determining the number of guests that they will invite. God is planning a big wedding, too, for the church which is the bride and for Jesus Christ Who is the bridegroom. But, Christ’s and His bride’s wedding cannot take place until all the guests have been invited and until all those who are willing to accept the Gospel invitation have R.S.V.P’d to the invitation.

Most couples spend a great deal of time determining who they will invite to their wedding. There is one major difference, however, between the number of guests that will be invited to a bride and groom’s wedding and wedding supper here on earth and the number of guests that will be invited to the Heavenly wedding or the Wedding Supper of the Lamb. Couples here on earth invite guests that they know; guests that they are related to, guests that are their friends and acquaintances, or guests that are in their work environments. But the ultimate number of invited guests always depends on where the wedding will be held, where the reception or wedding supper will be held and the amount of money that the couple plans to or can afford to spend on the wedding and wedding supper. In Heaven, though, God is not limited by space or money. Moreover, God loves us all so much that He invites everyone that He has created to come to Christ’s incredible wedding and wedding supper. However, there is just one stipulation. All guests must accept God’s invitation to Salvation thus having their names written in the Book of Life.

Jesus said, “All those who are victorious will be clothed in white. I will never erase their names from the Book of Life, but I will announce before My Father and His angels that they are mine.”  -- (Revelation 3: 5. NLT).  Your name, however, is only written in the Book of Life when you believe on Christ as the risen Son of God and when you repent of your sins and ask Christ to come into your life. God has issued an invitation to everyone, but unfortunately not everyone will accept His invitation. Therefore, those who refuse God’s invitation will not be at the Wedding Supper of the Lamb. They will not spend Eternity in Heaven, but will instead spend Eternity in Hell. On the other hand, those who refuse to accept a couple's invitation to their wedding and wedding supper, will just miss out on seeing a beautiful wedding and some good food and fun. However, those who refuse to accept God's invitation for Salvation and the Wedding Supper of the Lamb will miss out on a loving Eternity spent with God in Heaven.

Only after the bride and groom know how many guests they will be able to invite, will the couple then choose the final wedding location, which will accommodate all their guests. Usually they will choose a wedding location that will signify the couple’s love. For most Christian couples the location they choose will be a church, because they want their love and their union to be blessed by God. The church location will also signify to their guests that the couple plans to put God first in their lives.

Most Christian couples will usually choose their home church building for their wedding, if it is large enough to accommodate the number of guests they are inviting. For, the couple may not only want to make a commitment to each other before God in the building where they have worshiped God, but this home church building may also be the place where they will come together to worship the Lord on a weekly basis as well. The Scriptures say, “Come let us worship and bow down, Let us kneel before the Lord our Maker. For, He is our God and we are the people of His pasture and the sheep of His Hand. …– (Psalm 95: 6, 7. NASV).  Their church home and their church family will provide support, structure, and godly teaching that they can receive from fellow Christians, even as the couple spends time there worshiping the Lord.

For Christians, the wedding and the beautiful clothing along with all the church decorations is just another opportunity to worship God by honoring God’s institution of marriage. In fact, the psalmist said, “Worship the Lord in holy attire.– (Psalm 96: 9. NASV). Therefore, the planning of the wedding and the determination of what they will wear to their wedding takes much of the couple’s time and consideration. On this occasion the couple and the guests have an opportunity to honor God with special clothing that befits a godly wedding.

To signify the specialness of the occasion and the importance of standing up before God and making a lifetime commitment or promise to each other, a Christian bride and groom will usually choose to wear regal clothes (as in a bridal gown and tuxedo) or their most beautiful clothes. The guests attending the wedding will usually want to honor the bride and groom by also putting their best foot forward and by wearing a special suit or outfit for the occasion. Getting ready for Christ’s return and the “Marriage Supper of the Lamb” is no different. For Christ’s church, i.e. Christ’s Bride, will be married to the Bridegroom, Jesus Christ, and there will be a beautiful banquet or the “Wedding Supper of the Lamb” for all to attend. (Similar to our own wedding banquets honoring the newly married couple.). But, I am getting ahead of myself.

How does clothing and weddings fit into our previous discussions on Eternity in Heaven? Well, I have been discussing with you the Scriptures and the assurances that God has given us about Eternity in Heaven. We have already discussed six assurances along with the Scriptures that back up those assurances that Salvation brings with it a future beautiful Eternity to be spent in Heaven with God and His Son, Jesus Christ. This week, I want to talk to you about assurance number seven which has to do with the wedding of the bride, i.e. the church, to Jesus Christ, our bridegroom. Assurance number seven also has to do with becoming acceptable for eternal life with Christ. Metaphorically speaking, clothing will be important to our becoming acceptable for the most important wedding in our lives and with this clothing comes the seventh assurance. So, let’s find out about how we can become acceptable for and assured of our eternal life with Christ.

Assurance Number Seven about Eternity with God

Like the previous assurances about Eternity in Heaven, assurance number seven comes from the Holy Scriptures given to us by God through the Holy Spirit Who directed men to write down God’s Words. Assurance number seven comes from Jesus Christ’s own words within the Gospel of Matthew as well as in the book of Revelation. Looking at these Scriptures we find that Christ again assures us that those who believe on Him as the risen Son of God will have a future Eternity in Heaven.

Many times Jesus Christ used parables or stories that had deeper meanings, other than the obvious story that He was telling, in order to explain hard to understand Truths like Salvation, Heaven, and Eternity to the crowds. In the secular world today many of us remember growing up on Aesop’s fables, which were short stories that had a moral or lesson to be learned. But long before Aesop, the Hebrews used short stories, i.e. parables, to present a truth that would otherwise be hard for people to understand. Jesus Christ also used many parables to present the Truth within the stories He told. These parables usually were stories that the people could relate to from within their culture and within their daily life. In fact, many of Christ’s messages about Salvation were often framed within His parables as was much of the information about Eternity in Heaven or Eternity in Hell. These parables gave the people a chance to understand the deeper meaning behind the simple story told.

One of Christ’s parables was on the “Marriage Supper of the Lamb”, which will take place in Heaven. This parable is a little longer than some of the other parables that Christ told, because it has two parts to the story. I want us to take a closer look at this parable so that we can more fully understand assurance number seven about Eternity and the choice that we each have to make. First, though, I need to explain a few things about the culture of that day, so that you can understand the deeper meaning behind the parable. Because of their culture and customs, many of the people of Christ’s day would have easily understood the deeper meaning within the parable. Unfortunately, there would be others who could not figure out the deeper meaning without someone telling them. Such was the case with the parable on the Wedding Supper.

In order to understand this parable, we need to know a few things about the Middle Eastern culture. The first thing that we need to understand about the Middle Eastern culture is that when a person threw a banquet, two invitations were sent to the guests. The first invitation was sent to ask people to come to the banquet. The guests would need this first invitation so they would to be sure to set aside the time and make plans to attend. Like our R.S.V.P. today, the guests would need to accept the invitation so the one giving the banquet would know they were coming. Then, once the banquet was ready and prepared, a second invitation would be sent out to let the guests know that it was time to come to the banquet. Everyone in that culture knew that they would get two separate invitations to a banquet. The same was true of the wedding supper banquet.

We also need to understand that the feast or the wedding supper banquet was the culmination or finalization of the betrothing or marriage process in the Middle Eastern culture. After the couple was betrothed to each other, the couple remained separated from each other for a period of time. Although the couple was technically married, i.e. a piece of paper (marriage contract) or a handshake had occurred between their parents that essentially gave the two people to each other to be husband and wife, the marriage was not finalized until the groom later came back for his bride. Initially, there was a dowry given by the brides’ parents with the expectation that the groom would provide a good home for the bride. So, the groom would then spend time either building a home for his bride or building a room onto his parents’ home where the couple would have their own quarters within the family home. The groom would also plan a wedding banquet and then when everything was ready, he would go and get the bride and bring her back to his house with great fanfare and celebrating. The celebrating included the culminating wedding supper with several days of celebrating.

The next thing you need to understand about banquets, and the wedding banquet in particular, is that the wedding banquet was very important in Middle Eastern culture. It was a very special occasion, because an important commitment was being finalized between the bride and groom. So, the bridegroom, who prepared the banquet for his bride and all the guests, wanted to make sure that everyone was also dressed appropriately for the celebration. Therefore, it was customary for the bridegroom to give the wedding guests special clothes to wear to the banquet. Some people were rich and would have had beautiful clothes to wear, but other guests may not have had really good clothes to wear to the special banquet. So, it was customary for the bridegroom to give out special clothes for everyone to wear so that everyone would be dressed appropriately and no one would feel less than another at the celebration. The special clothes would also signify the importance of this event.

To participate in the wedding celebration, the guests all wore the clothes that were given to them. In fact, it would have been an insult to the bridegroom if someone refused to wear the clothes that the bridegroom had given them to wear. If someone did refuse to wear the clothes, not only would the host or bridegroom be insulted, but he and everyone else would think that the ungrateful guest was arrogant, thoughtless, and rude. Furthermore, the special clothing would also prevent uninvited guests from attending, because they would not have the proper clothes to wear and could be easily recognized.

Now that you know a little more about the importance of a wedding banquet within the Hebrew and Asian culture and the importance of the clothing worn to the banquet, let’s take a look closer at the two parts to this parable. This is the parable that Jesus told:

The Kingdom of Heaven can be illustrated by the story of a king who prepared a great wedding feast for his son. Many guests were invited, and when the banquet was ready, he sent his servants to notify everyone that it was time to come. But they all refused! So he sent other servants to tell them, ‘The feast has been prepared, and choice meats have been cooked. Everything is ready. Hurry!’ But the guests he had invited ignored them and went about their business, one to his farm, another to his store. Others seized his messengers and treated them shamefully, even killing some of them.

Then the king became furious. He sent out his army to destroy the murderers and burn their city. And he said to his servants, ‘The wedding feast is ready, and the guests I invited aren’t worthy of the honor. Now go out to the street corners and invite everyone you see.’

So the servants brought in everyone they could find, good and bad alike, and the banquet hall was filled with guests. But when the king came in to meet the guests, he noticed a man who wasn’t wearing the proper clothes for the wedding. ‘Friend,’ he asked, ‘how is it that you are here without wedding clothes?’ And the man had no reply. Then the king said to his aides, ‘Bind him hand and foot and throw him out into the outer darkness, where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ For many are called, but few are chosen.” – (Matthew 22:2-14. NLT).

In the first part of this parable of the Kingdom of Heaven, the king actually sent his messengers out three times to invite the guests to the wedding banquet for his Son. The first time was the original invitation, then the second invitation went out that the banquet was ready, but when no one came the king sent out his messengers to invite them a third time to ‘Hurry,’ because the banquet food was ready. He even tried to entice them by telling them about the choice meats that had been cooked for them. But still they refused to come to the banquet.

God wants all of His children to come to the Wedding Supper of the Lamb, which is the wedding of Jesus Christ to the church, His bride, in Eternity. However, there will be many people who will reject the invitation. Furthermore, there will be many people who no matter how many times they are invited will continue to reject the invitation to the banquet. They will reject it, because they will not accept the gift of Salvation. They will refuse to believe on Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior, or they will refuse to think about where they will spend Eternity. But Christ’s parable assures us that there is an Eternity in Hell for those who reject God’s invitation to Eternity in Heaven with Him.

Although in this parable the king only issued three invitations before he sent out his army to destroy those who refused to come to the wedding supper as well as the evil people who murdered His messengers, God continues to issue invitations to those who have not yet believed on His Son. God will never force anyone, though, to accept His Son, but God is good and loving wanting everyone to be saved. Unfortunately, Satan encourages people to live only for themselves and to not think about the future. Moreover, Satan encourages people like those who join ISIS to kill those who come to share the Gospel message and to give out the invitation to the banquet.

Throughout the centuries, Christians have been killed for their trust and belief in Christ as their Savior. But, God’s servants, i.e. “born-again” Christians, will continue to issue invitations to those who have yet to come to know Christ as their Savior, because that is what Christ has asked us to do. This parable of Christ’s on the wedding banquet assures us that there is both an Eternity in Heaven and an Eternity in Hell. We are also assured that we will all receive invitations to the Wedding Supper of the Lamb in Eternity. Will you R.S.V.P. to God and let Him know that you believe on His Son, Jesus Christ?

Unfortunately, there will be many people who will not accept the Christ’s invitations. Then there will be those who will act like they have accepted Christ's invitation, but in reality they are just trying to fit in with a particular group of people and are faking it. Perhaps, too, they think that they can fool God and pretend to be “Saved” just in case there is really a Heaven and Hell. But this parable, tells us that we cannot fool God. For when the king discovered the man without the special wedding clothes that the guests were supposed to wear, the king had his men bind up the man and “throw him into outer darkness where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth.”  Those who do not accept Christ’s invitation to “Wedding Supper of the Lamb” in Eternity will indeed find themselves in Hell.

Wearing the Clothes Christ has Given Us

In Eternity in Heaven there will be a continuous celebration of honoring and loving our Lord. As we have studied about the wonderful assurances that God has given to all who will believe on His Son, we have found that God’s Scriptures have assured us that we will not only have new glorified bodies but that we will have new clothes to wear to the banquet. Wow! God has thought of everything! Why are we not able to think of ways to share the knowledge of Eternity through Jesus Christ our Lord with those who are still lost? We should want everyone we encounter to be in the celebration of honoring and loving our Lord.

One way we can share the Gospel is through Active Relational Christian Mentoring. Please reach out to someone who needs to know Christ and then offer to mentor her in whatever area she needs help. Who knows? Maybe your kindness will produce the fruit of Salvation through the Holy Spirit, and someone else will be ready for Eternity with God. Her clothes for the banquet would be ready for her as soon as she accepted Christ’s gift of Salvation. But, to reach those who are lost, we have to be willing to actively mentor others in whatever area they need help. Then, as a Christian mentor we will be able to find opportunities to share the Gospel message.

Preparing Ourselves for the Wedding Banquet

The second part of Christ’s parable has to do with preparing ourselves for Heaven and the “Wedding Supper of the Lamb”. In fact, through the above parable Christ tells us how we are to prepare ourselves for Heaven. First, the wedding clothes in the parable symbolize the importance of and our need for righteousness in order to enter into God’s eternal Kingdom. But, there is only one way to enter into Heaven and one way to have a place at the banquet or “Wedding Supper of the Lamb”. That way is through the righteousness that Christ gives to every believer. Righteousness prepares us to be able to stand before God at the wedding supper and for all Eternity.

How do we become righteous, though, before God? Well, as you know God cannot look upon unrighteousness. But there is only one way that we can be made righteous and that is through the cleansing blood of Jesus Christ who died for our sins and then arose from the grave. Once we believe on Christ and are cleansed of all our sins through the blood of Christ, we are made righteous. In other words, Christ gives us the righteous pure white clothes that we will wear to the banquet with God. However, each person must choose to become righteous and wear the clothes that Christ as provided in order to go to the wedding supper or banquet, which is eternal life.

The prophet Isaiah wrote:
I am overwhelmed with the joy in the LORD my God! For, He has dressed me with the clothing of Salvation and draped me in a robe of righteousness, …” 
-- (Isaiah 61: 10. NLT).

Only by accepting Christ’s Salvation will we have the clothing that we need to wear to the Wedding Supper of the Lamb, which is in Eternity. In the book of Revelation, Christ speaks to the Apostle John about the seven churches. When He spoke about the church of Sardis, Christ said:

Yet even in Sardis there are some who have not soiled their garments with evil deeds. They will walk with Me in white, for they are worthy. All who are victorious will be clothed in white. I will never erase their names from the Book of Life, but I will announce before My Father and His angels that they are Mine.– (Revelation 3: 4, 5. NLT).

To those who stand firm in their faith Christ promises future honor and eternal life. Moreover, to be “clothed in white” is saying that they will be made pure. We will be set apart for God. Christians know that we will be set apart for God, because Christ tells us that our names will be written in the Book of Life. This book lists all the people who belong to God and who will spend Eternity in Heaven with Him. Standing firm in our faith, means that we acknowledge Christ here on earth. In fact, Christ tells us specifically what it means to us to be given Eternity.

And I assure you of this: If anyone acknowledges me publically here on earth, I, the Son of Man, will openly acknowledge that person in the presence of God’s angels. But if anyone denies me here on earth, I will deny that person before God’s angels.”  -- (Luke 12: 8, 9. NLT).

So, how do we acknowledge Christ here on earth?  Well, there are several ways to acknowledge Christ starting with sharing with others that we are indeed children of God’s. In other words, we are not to deny Christ nor should we hope that no one will find out that we are a Christian. We should be letting everyone know that we belong to Christ. We should also try to always speak up for what is right. Moreover, we should never to keep silent about our relationship with God. In other words, Christians should not want to blend into society to the point that we can’t be recognized as a Christian. Rather, we are to acknowledge Christ by not accepting society’s values over God’s values, morals and ethics. We can also acknowledge Christ by helping others, mentoring others, doing loving Christian things for those less fortunate and by generally loving others as we love ourselves. Furthermore, when we stand up for Truth and justice, we are acknowledging Christ. Finally, when we use our very life to become fruit producing Christians and to put doing for God above our own desires, we are acknowledging Christ.

By acknowledging Christ, we are preparing ourselves for the “Wedding Supper (Feast) of the Lamb”. Certainly, by praising and worshipping the Lord we are acknowledging Christ as our Lord and Savior, and we are preparing ourselves for Eternity in Heaven. Then when the culmination of human history arrives and when Christ returns to call home to Eternity those who have accepted God’s gift of Salvation and those who have acknowledged Christ with their life, we will be prepared for the “Wedding Supper of the Lamb”. Christ will have our righteous pure white wedding clothes waiting for us to wear to the banquet. Again the book of Revelation tells us in greater detail what this banquet will be like.

In the book of Revelation, the Apostle John records his vision of Christ and the end of time. It is in chapter nineteen of Revelation that John speaks about the banquet prepared for the bride. He says:

Then I heard again what sounded like a shout of a huge crowd, or the roar of mighty ocean waves, or the crash of loud thunder: ‘Hallelujah! For the Lord our God, the Almighty, reigns. Let us be glad and rejoice and honor Him. For, the time has come for the wedding feast of the Lamb, and His bride has prepared herself. She is permitted to wear the finest white linen.’ (Fine linen represents the good deeds done by the people of God).

And the angel said, ‘Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding feast of the Lamb.’ And he added, ‘These are true words that come from God.’”
– (Revelation 19: 6-9. NLT).

This Wedding Supper is the banquet in Eternity in Heaven that represents the wedding of Jesus Christ, the bridegroom to His church. The church is made of Christ’s faithful believers. The brides clothing represents the good deeds of the believers. Through both the parable in the Gospel of Matthew and in the book of Revelation we have been given Assurance number seven that those who believe on Christ as their Lord and Savior will be invited to the greatest celebration of all Eternity. We are assured that our sins have been forgiven because we have on purest white. White stands for righteousness and the good deeds that Christians have done for the Lord and for others who needed help. Remember that Christ, the bridegroom, gives this special clothing to the banquet attendees. But we are responsible for preparing ourselves for the banquet. We have to first accept the invitation of Christ’s offered Salvation, though, in order to have our names written in the Book of Life and to come to the “Wedding Supper of the Lamb”. Furthermore, we are responsible for loving others and doing the good deeds that God has asked us to do. In other words, we have to represent Christ in everything that we do while we are awaiting our future Eternity in Heaven. Have you accepted Christ’s invitation? Are you preparing for the “Marriage Supper of the Lamb” by serving God and others? You can do it! You can mentor others for God and you can be of service to God through different fruit producing paths.

If you haven’t asked Christ to forgive you of your sins and to come into your heart, don’t let another moment go by. Remember we are all just a heart-beat away from an Eternity in Hell or an Eternity in Heaven celebrating the “Wedding Supper of the Lamb”. I am personally inviting you to the “Wedding Supper of the Lamb.” So, I hope you take a moment and accept God’s most precious gift, the Salvation He is offering you through His resurrected Son, Jesus Christ and His invitation to Eternity. 

Today is the first day of the rest of your life! Today is the first day of your Eternal life. Where will you spend your Eternal life?

I pray that you have a blessed New Year living for the Lord!

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Do You Have a Home in Heaven? -- Mentoring on Eternity

It’s always so exciting to think about moving into a new home. Whether, you are moving across country to a new job, or you simply need a different or larger home within your community to meet the needs of a growing family, there is a great deal of thought, discussion, and looking that goes into searching for a new home. Some people, though, just can’t find a home that meets their needs or their desires, so they decide to build a home to their specifications. They then spend nearly an entire year working with a contractor to build the new home of their dreams. Every day the anticipation of the new home that is being built grows. The excitement builds too! But, the excitement doesn’t just come from building a new home. For, whether you are buying an existing home, building a home, or looking at renting a home, there is always a certain amount of excitement in looking forward to and in finally moving into a new home.

Some of the excitement in moving into a new home comes from: the change to your surroundings; the chance to have a different home style; the chance to decorate your new home in a different way than the previous one; or in some cases the chance to build or move into the home of your dreams. For some people, the excitement may come from all of the above reasons or anticipations. Sometimes, though, the excitement of moving into a new home simply comes from the unknown, especially if that unknown includes a move across the country to your new home or leads you away from the security of friends and family. In this case, the excitement may also include some fears and uncertainty.

There can be a certain amount of fear or trepidation of the unknown. For, moving to a new home also brings with it many questions. We can have such questions as; will the community that I move into be a kind and loving community?  Will the new job work out so that I don’t have to move again right away? Will there be unforeseen problems with the house that can’t be seen with a general inspection? Or, will the contractor be knowledgeable and really do a good job in building the home of my dreams? All of those questions and many more can produce fears and trepidations, which often go through our minds when we finally make a decision to move into a different or new home.

Christians do not have to have fear or trepidation about the unknown, because God is always here for us. He comforts us when there are problems in this world and He helps us to find answers and solutions to the problems we might face while here on earth. We do not have to fear Eternity either. For, it is through our Salvation, that Christ assures us that we will not only have the promise of an Eternity in Heaven with Him, but that we will have a glorious home awaiting us in Heaven. Indeed, Christ is preparing a home for us. He is building us a new home. We do not know what that entails, but we know this is true, because Christ told us so. Moreover, the Biblical Scriptures tell us about our Eternity in Heaven that God has prepared for those who love Him and His Son. Furthermore, through the Scriptures God has also given us assurances and guarantees that our home in Heaven will be more wonderful that we can even imagine. So, there is no reason to fear the unknown, if we know that we are, indeed, “Saved”.

Over the past weeks I have been discussing with you some of the different assurances that God has given all of us through His Word about our Eternity in Heaven. God has also given us assurances of Eternity through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit and through our innate knowledge of Eternity in Heaven, which was placed in our souls by God. In the last three blogs, we talked about five of the at least ten assurances recorded of which the Scriptures tell us about Heaven and Eternity. Now, let’s take a closer look at the assurance number six that God gives us about our eternal home in Heaven.

Assurance Number Six about Eternal Life with God

Assurance number six comes from Christ’s own words about preparing for each of us a home in Eternity. We know that many days after His resurrection Jesus Christ went back to Heaven to await the time when He would return or come again to bring all Christians home to be in Eternity with Him. But, before Jesus Christ went back to Heaven He made it a point to give His disciples specific information about not only Eternity in Heaven, but information about their new home there. Christ also told His disciples what they would someday be doing in Heaven. For, from Jesus’ own words, the disciples learned that they would be ruling over the twelve tribes of Israel. Assurance number six about Eternity in Heaven also comes from Jesus’ own words. Indeed, Jesus Christ tells us that we can be assured of and be secure in our knowledge about our eternal life in Heaven.

Eternity is just one heart-beat away for each of us. But, Christians are not afraid of that final heart-beat. In fact, true “born-again” Christians are excited about an Eternity in Heaven with a brand new home waiting for us there. However, for those who do not know how to get to Heaven, Eternity can be scary to contemplate, especially if the person does not know how to get there, or if they feel that they are such a sinner that they can’t be forgiven. But, Jesus’ own words have again told us that there is a place in Heaven for everyone. Everyone can be forgiven and receive a place in Heaven, for that is the gift of God. In fact, anyone who will believe on Christ as the risen Son of God and who will repent of their sins can enter into the Heavenly rest of Eternity with God. It is just a matter of whether or not you have believed on Him, or if you will someday believe on Him before you take your last breath. If not, Eternity in Hell is also just one heart-beat away for those who decide that they do not believe in Christ as the Son of God, or that they do not want to ask Christ to come into their heart.

Our Inheritance

For those of us who have believed on Christ and have asked Him to come into our hearts, we have been given the security of an Eternity in Heaven that can’t be taken away. This security is placed deep within our souls, and it is the basis of all joy and love that we share. The Apostle Peter explained to us that the gift of our Salvation comes through the boundless love and mercy of God who doesn’t want any of us to perish. For those of us who have indeed been “born-again”, we live knowing that “God has reserved a priceless inheritance for His children. It is kept in Heaven for you, pure and undefiled, beyond reach of change and decay. … It will be revealed on the last day for all to see.– (I Peter 1: 4-6. NLT).

God has reserved an inheritance for each of His children. As you probably know, inheritances come with the death of someone. Whether you are the first born child, an only child, or you are one of many children who will inherit through the splitting of your parent’s wealth equally, your parents first have to die in order for you to receive your inheritance. For Christians, though, our inheritance came with the death and resurrection of Christ Jesus. Indeed, God and His Son wrote a will or a living testament (New Covenant) telling us what we will receive, if we indeed become one of God’s children.

In Him (Christ), you also, after listening to the message of Truth, the Gospel of your Salvation – having also believed, you were sealed in Him (Christ) with the Holy Spirit of promise,

Who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of His glory.
 -- (Ephesians 1: 13, 14. NASB).

What is this pledge of inheritance? Jesus Christ is our pledge of inheritance. Through Christ’s blood on the cross, our Salvation and eternal life has been secured forever. In other words, Christ is the contract, i.e. the New Covenant, or “will” for our inheritance. He is the One who died for our sins. His blood covered our sins. However, Christ arose from the grave conquering death! He is alive! We now have a living will. Because Christ is alive, we who believe on Him will inherit a home with Him in Eternity. Yes, Christ died to cleanse us from all our sins, but we have to choose to ask Him to do so. Moreover, Christ secured our Salvation and our Eternity with Him in Heaven. First, though, Christ had to fulfill the will or the New Covenant that God made with all of us.


He (Christ) took His own blood, and with it He secured our Salvation forever. …
For by the power of the eternal Spirit, Christ offered Himself to God as a perfect sacrifice for our sins. That is why He is the One who mediates the new covenant between God and His people, so that all who are invited can receive the eternal inheritance God has promised for them. For Christ set them free from the penalty of the sins they had committed under the first covenant.

Now, when someone dies and leaves a will, no one gets anything until it is proved that the person who wrote the will is dead. The will goes into effect only after the death of the person who wrote it. While the person is still alive, no one can use the will to get any of the things promised to them.

That is why blood was required under the first covenant as proof of death. … Then he (Moses) said, ‘This blood confirms the covenant God has made with you.’ … Without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins.” 
-- (Hebrew 9: 12, 14, 15-18, 20, 22. NASB).

Christ died for all of us so that we could be forgiven of and cleansed of our sins. The First Covenant required the killing of an animal to cover the sins of the people. Their sins, however, were just covered and were not permanently cleansed away. However, with the Second Covenant, or living will, Christ’s blood actually cleanses and removes the sins of each person who willingly repents and calls upon the Lord. For, Romans 10: 13 tells us that “Whoever calls upon the Name of the Lord will be Saved.” 
Consequently, Christ’s death and resurrection brought into being the New Covenant or living will for all those who will believe on Christ as the Son of God Who arose from the grave and death. Forgiveness of our sins through Christ’s cleansing blood and His living will brings with it righteousness and a new home in Eternity in Heaven.

How do we receive our inheritance?

Our inheritance as children of God’s is Salvation through Jesus Christ and an Eternity in Heaven with God. But, how do we become a child of God’s? Well, it is a matter of adoption. The Apostle Paul explained our adoption like this: “… when we were children, we were in slavery under the basic principles of the world [i.e. we were slaves to a fallen world and to the prince of this world who constantly lied to us]. But when the time had fully come, God sent His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive the full rights of sons. Because you are sons [i.e. if you believed on and asked Christ into your heart], God sent the Spirit of the Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out ‘Abba” (Daddy), Father. So you are no longer a slave, but a son; and since you are a son, God has made you also an heir.” – (Galatians 4: 4-7. NIV). So, if you believe on Christ as the resurrected Son of God, you can become a child of God’s. In believing in Christ and in asking Him for His forgiveness and to come into your heart, you become a member of the family of God’s; a family member who can inherit a new home in Eternity.

It is because Christ Jesus took our sins upon His body on the cross that we are now no longer subject to eternal death, provided, of course, that we have truly, repented, trusted in and believed on Christ. Instead of being outcasts left out and sent to eternal Hell, everyone has been given the chance to be called children of God’s. As a child of God's, we receive an inheritance that is beyond our wildest imagining. As God’s children we will not only receive Salvation, i.e. cleansing and forgiveness of all sins, but we will inherit eternal life and a home with God.

As I mentioned, part of a Christian’s inheritance is a home in Eternity. Throughout His ministry, Jesus assured His disciples and all believers that not only would they get to spend Eternity with God, but that they would have a home of their own in Heaven as well. But, with all Jesus Christ’s talk about leaving them and then returning someday, the disciples were getting nervous and becoming afraid. So one day, as His time here on earth was winding down, Jesus specifically took the time to tell His disciples about their new home in Eternity. Jesus wanted to reassure them that things would be fine. So, Jesus told them: “Don’t be troubled, You trust God, now trust in Me. There are many rooms in My Father’s home, and I am going to prepare a place for you. If this were not so, I would tell you plainly. Whenever everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with Me where I am. And you know where I am going and how to get there. …”

Then Jesus told the disciples that they would not be alone while He was with His Father preparing a home for them. For, Jesus would send the Holy Spirit to indwell them and to help them. The Holy Spirit would comfort the disciples and help them to remember every word that Christ Jesus had spoken to them. Moreover, Christ would be with them always through the indwelling of His Holy Spirit and through the spiritual peace that Christ would give to them. All that they and future Christians had to do was obey Christ’s and His Father’s Commands. For, Jesus said,

“All those who love Me will do what I say. My Father will love them, and We will come to them and live with them. … I am telling you these things now, while I am still with you. … I am leaving you with a gift – peace of mind and heart

And the peace I give isn’t like the peace the world gives. So don’t be troubled or afraid. Remember what I told you: I am going away, but I will come back to you again

If you really love Me, you will be very happy for Me, because now I can go to the Father, Who is greater than I am. I have told you these things before they happen so that you will believe when they do happen.” 
-- (John 14:1-4,23, 24, 27-29. NLT).

Although there are only a few verses in the Bible that describe what eternal life will be like, these verses give us some knowledge and many promises. First, Jesus told us that not only would He need to go back to Heaven, but that He would return for us. Secondly, Christ Jesus also told us what He would be doing while we are waiting for His return. He will be preparing us a home. I don’t know what kind of home Christ is preparing for me, but I do know that whether it is a home by a lake or some condo high rise somewhere that it will indeed be a home with God, because God’s Kingdom has many rooms. I will get to see the glorious light of God every day.

The Bible tells us, too, that “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love Him.” – (I Corinthians 2: 9. NLT). Yes, Christians have an Eternity in Heaven with God. Yes, Christians will someday have a home that will be greater than anything that we can imagine. Actually, we cannot imagine what God has in store in this life or in Eternity for those who have accepted His Son, as their Lord and Savior. We know through the Scriptures, though, that God will create a new Heaven and a new earth and Christians will get to live with Him forever.  -- (See Isaiah 65:17 and Revelation 21: 1). Until we get to see Heaven and Eternity, we will be comforted, encouraged and guided by the Holy Spirit.  No, we cannot imagine what God has prepared for us. We just know that the best is yet to come. Christ has assured us of our Salvation, our home and our Eternity with Him, if we will just believe upon Him. What more could we ask?

We know, too, that we do not have to have fears or trepidations about our new home in Heaven. There is nothing to fear about where a Christian is going or about where we will live, for we are going to Heaven to live with God and Christ forever. We also will not have to worry about the community we are moving into or worry about our new job, for we will be with the community of believers who will worship God. Furthermore, our job, whatever it will be, will be exciting and glorious for it is the job of honoring and glorifying God. Our rewards, though, are dependent on the kind of love and the help that we have given to people who were in need while we are here on earth. Did we love others? Did we help those who couldn’t help themselves? Did we share the Gospel message with others? Did we truly live for Christ? You see, our fruitfulness or service here on earth will determine the types of rewards that we get in Eternity. Although we don’t know the type of home that is awaiting us in Heaven, we know that Christ is preparing a home for each of us where there is no fear or pain.

Isn’t it exciting to have a new home awaiting you in Heaven? You can share this wonderful knowledge and the Scriptures that provide the knowledge of your new home with your mentees, family members and friends. Time is running out which means that you need to step forward and serve the Lord through Active Relational Christian Mentoring or some other Christian service. You need to speak up! Remember, you were made to serve God! You were given the Great Commission to share Christ and Eternity with others. Don’t let the world go without having done everything that you can to share your gifts, talents, information, godly knowledge and skills with the rest of the world. Sharing also gives you a chance to share the greatest gift of all – the gift of Salvation and Eternity.

I would like to end with a Hymn that speaks of our glorious Eternity to come and the joy that is awaiting us there. The words to this hymn were written by Henry J. Van Dyke in 1907. They are words that express the glory of God and our new Heavenly Home. Below are the first, third, and fourth stanzas to:

Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee

“Joyful, joyful, we adore Thee,
God of glory, Lord of love;
Hearts unfold like flow’rs before Thee,
Op’ning to the sun above.
Melt the clouds of sin and sadness;
Drive the dark of doubt away;
Giver of immortal gladness,
Fill us with the light of day!

Thou are giving and forgiving,
Ever blessing, ever blest,
Wellspring of the joy of living,
Ocean depth of happy rest!
Thou our Father, Christ our Brother,
All who live in love are Thine;
Teach us how to love each other,
Lift us up to the joy divine.

Mortals, join the happy chorus,
Which the morning stars began;
Father love is reigning o’er us,
Brother love binds man to man.
Ever singing, march we onward,
Victors in the midst of strife,
Joyful music leads us Sunward,
In the triumph song of life.”

You can Do it!
You can mentor and share Christ with others!

May God bless you all!

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Love and Joy; Mentoring Eternity -- Which Eternity will you Receive

The last couple of weeks I have been talking about mentoring others in the knowledge of Eternity in Heaven. We have been learning how can we be assured of spending Eternity in Heaven with God, and how we can share that assurance with others. I also mentioned, though, that there is another type of Eternity that is not somewhere anyone would want to go. For, there are actually two very different eternities to choose from; Eternity in Hell or Eternity in Heaven. Obviously, the one that we all desire is Eternity in Heaven. But so many people do not know how to be assured of Eternity in Heaven.

As Christians it is our responsibility to increase our knowledge of Eternity in Heaven. It is also our responsibility to share this knowledge with others. Consequently, I have searched the Word of God for more information about Eternity in Heaven. In doing so, I have discovered that God has not only given us plenty of information about Heaven, but He has also given us at least ten assurances that those who are “born-again” will spend Eternity with Him. We should know what those assurances are, so that we can share them with our mentees and with others who are need to understand that they will indeed spend Eternity somewhere.

As I have shared with you the Scriptures that God has given us about the existence of Eternity and the Scriptures about His assurances that we can have a Heavenly Eternity through Christ, we have also discovered something else. We have discovered that we each have control over which Eternity we will receive. Moreover, God will not force anyone to spend Eternity with Him; rather it is simply a matter of our choice.

When we talk about Eternity, I am referring to an everlasting life that has no end. It is an existence that goes on forever throughout all time. In other words, there is no marking of time, because it is time without beginning or end. Therefore, the Eternity that we choose, will be everlasting, infinite, or without end. Moreover, through the Biblical Scriptures we have discovered that the Eternity we choose will be the place where we will stay forever; you can’t change your mind once you get there. You can’t then say, “Oh I want to go to the other place.” For Jesus told us that “… there is a great chasm separating us. Anyone who wanted to cross over to you from here (Heaven) is stopped at its edge, and no one there (in Hell) can cross over to us.– (Luke 16: 26. NLT). Therefore, we each need to choose wisely. But, even a failure to specifically choose will ultimately become the choice that you have made. For, if you fail to choose Christ and Eternity in Heaven, then you have chosen to go to the Eternity of Hell. This means that every person can know for sure before they die where they will spend Eternity. I know where I will spend Eternity, do you?

If you have chosen to believe on Christ as the resurrected Son of God who died and arose to cleanse you of all your sins while ultimately conquering eternal death, then you will indeed spend Eternity in Heaven with God and Christ. If you have, indeed, been “Saved”, God has also given you assurances of your eternal home in Heaven. Some of those assurances come through your heart and are given to you by the Holy Spirit who indwells all believers. Other assurances are given to us through Jesus Christ’s actual words while He was here on earth. Still other assurances come from the Scriptures that the Holy Spirit inspired the Disciples/ Apostles to write down for all of us. All of those many assurances, both individually and together, give each believer not only the knowledge of Eternity, but give us the assurance of where we will spend Eternity.

Eternity is not something to be taken lightly. Loving and honoring God should not be taken lightly. Furthermore, we cannot keep the knowledge of the gift of Salvation and Eternal life in Heaven to ourselves. We must share our knowledge, taken from the Holy Scriptures, with those who do not yet know Christ personally. Furthermore, if we have knowledge of the assurances that God has given us about our sins being forgiven and our eternal home in Heaven, it is our responsibility to share those assurances with others.

Now, let’s talk about the assurances that God has given us about Salvation and Eternal life. As I said before, I have discovered in the Scriptures at least ten assurances of Eternal life that God has given to those who will believe on Christ as their Savior. Four of these assurances I told you about last week. This week I will tell you about another of the assurances that God has given to us, so that we can know without a doubt that we will spend Eternity with Him in Heaven. But first, to recap: the four assurances that I discussed last week were:

Number 1). God has put the knowledge of or the awareness of the existence of an Eternity within the heart of every person. (See Ecclesiastics 5: 17). Along with the awareness of an Eternity, everyone has also been given the awareness of the existence of God. “For the Truth about God is known to them instinctively. God has put this knowledge in their hearts.”  -- (Romans 1: 19. NLT). Furthermore, God has given every Christian the responsibility of sharing their knowledge of His Son, Jesus Christ, who is the Savior of the world with other people so that they, too, can know Christ personally and have their sins forgiven. The choice of living for God and believing on Christ, though, is up to each one of us individually. We are to tell other people about God and His Son, but we cannot force people to accept the Truth of God or force them to believe in Jesus Christ. However, in sharing the Truth of God and reminding them of what they already know in their heart about the existence an Eternity, then perhaps they will be open to hearing about Christ. For it is only in repenting and in believing on Christ that one can enter the Eternity of Heaven.

Number 2). We have been given the assurance of an eternity in Heaven through the development of a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and His Father. It is through this relationship that we receive God’s gift of Salvation. Salvation assures us of an Eternity in Heaven. But, it is also our continued relationship with Christ and the Father that gives us the strength and love to overcome this fallen world while we are here awaiting eternal life. We know this because the Apostle Paul, through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, wrote:

“… God is so rich in mercy, and He loved us so very much, that even while we were dead because of our sins, He gave us life when He raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God’s special favor that you have been saved!). For, He raised us from the dead along with Christ, and we are seated with Him in the Heavenly realms – all because we are one with Christ Jesus. And so God can always point to us as examples of the incredible wealth of His favor and kindness toward us, as shown in all He has done for us through Christ Jesus. …

Though you once were far away from God, now you have been brought near to Him because of the blood of Christ.

He has brought this Good News of peace to you Gentiles who were far away from Him, and to us Jews who were near. Now all of us, both Jews and Gentiles, may come to the Father through the same Holy Spirit because of what Christ has done for us. So now you Gentiles are no longer strangers and foreigners. You are citizens along with all of God’s holy people. You are members of God’s family.”
-- (Ephesians 2: 4-7, 13, 17-19. NLT).

We are now members of God’s family and as such our bodies will be raised to life because of the resurrection of Christ. Moreover, we have been given the ability to live for Christ while we are here on earth instead of selfishly living for ourselves and the prince of this earthly world. We have also been given the assurance that because of our family relationship with God and His Son that we will someday be living with them in the “Heavenly realms”. In other words, because of Christ’s victory over sin and death, we, too, will spend eternal life with Christ and His Father. We are now members of God’s family, because we have a relationship with God and His Son, Jesus Christ.

Number 3). We are assured of our Heavenly eternal life through our faith in Christ and our subsequent fruitfulness (obedience) to His Commands. For, it is through faith that we have been made righteous. Our righteousness allows us to enter God’s eternal Heaven because we have been given a new life or have been re-born into a righteous child of God’s. Our new life starts as soon as we ask Christ to come into our heart. Once we ask Christ into our heart, we begin our new life based upon our faith in Christ. Furthermore, this new life is to be fruitful, that is, it is to be a life that is obedient to the commands of Christ, including His command to love one another and to share the Gospel with the rest of the world. For, we are to bear “fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to His glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully giving thanks to the Father who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the Kingdom of Light (Eternity with God).– (Colossians 1: 10-12. NIV).

Notice that here again we are told that our Salvation “births us” as children of God’s. As His children, we are part of the family of God, and we have an inheritance from our Father. That inheritance gives us entrance into the Kingdom of Light, which is Eternity with God. However, as we learned last week, our position in Heaven, or our rewards, is dependent on our fruitfulness and obedience to God’s commands while we are here on earth. Are you telling others about Christ? Are you explaining to others that God loves them and wants them to spend eternity with Him? Fruitfulness is seen in “loving others as we love ourselves.” It is seen in our faith expressed in behaviors and words.

Number 4). Christ has placed the Holy Spirit within each “born again” person, and it is the Holy Spirit who guarantees and assures us that we will have everlasting life. Giving us the Holy Spirit to guide and comfort us is God’s gift to us. It is the Holy Spirit Who guarantees and assures us that we belong to Christ and that Christ will do what He has promised. The Holy Spirit is like having God’s signature on a contract that He has written through His Son, Jesus Christ. For it is the Holy Spirit within each believer Who assures us that our faith is legitimate and that we are, indeed, the adopted children of God. 

The Holy Spirit also secures our place in the Kingdom of God for all eternity. To explain this, the Apostle Paul was inspired by the Holy Spirit to write these words:
 “And now you have also heard the Truth, the Good News that God saves you. And when you believed in Christ, He identified you as His own by giving you the Holy Spirit whom He promised long ago. The Spirit is God’s guarantee that He will give us everything He promised and that He has purchased us to be His own people. This is just one more reason for us to praise our glorious God.” 
-- (Ephesians 1: 13, 14. NLT).

Now, let’s discuss Assurance Number five that God has given us about Eternal life with Him.  In many ways, Assurance Number Four and Number Five go together, i.e. hand-in-hand, for Assurance Number Five also has to do with what the Holy Spirit has done in the lives of Christians. As I have mentioned, with Salvation Christians are “born-again”, which means that we become brand new people. We each have become a new person on the inside. We are a new person, because the Holy Spirit has given each Christian a new life with a new attitude and a whole new outlook on life. Within that new life, the Holy Spirit then helps each person to produce or attain the character traits of Christ. So, not only will we receive a new body when we get to Heaven, but we will have the character traits of Christ. Let’s look a little closer at Assurance Number Five.

Assurance Number Five about Eternal Life with God

Assurance Number five has to do with us receiving new bodies from Christ when He returns to take us home, but, it also has to do with a new attitude and the new outlook on life that we receive when we are “born-again”. For, it is this new outlook that leads to the subsequent joy that comes from Christ’s eternal love and from our desire to remain with Him forever. Because Christ died and arose from the grave, He gives us a new life, which includes new bodies in Heaven and a new outlook on life while we are here on earth. With the gift of Salvation, we receive a new life that desires to produce or to attain the “Fruit of the Spirit.” The “Fruit of the Spirit” is actually a list of the character traits of Christ’s that we are to acquire as re-born people who are now the eternal children of God. Let’s find out more about the “Fruit of the Spirit” and the joy that we will receive as eternal spiritual beings. But, first let’s look at the new body that Christ has given to us.

A New Glorious Body

The Scriptures tell us that those who are “truly” Saved will no longer be limited by their earthly natural bodies when Christ returns, because Christ will give us new spiritual bodies or eternal bodies that will never die. Why do we get new Spiritual bodies? Well, the Apostle Paul, through the Holy Spirit, tells us that:

We are citizens of Heaven, where the Lord Jesus Christ lives. And we are eagerly waiting for Him to return as our Savior. He will take these weak mortal bodies of ours and change them into glorious bodies like His own, using the same mighty power that He will use to conquer everything, everywhere.” 
-- (Philippians 3: 20, 21. NLT).

As citizens of Heaven, we will not only have a new Home where Christ lives, but we will have new bodies as well. Those bodies will be glorified bodies like that of Christ's. So, how do we get those glorified bodies, because we know that our earthly bodies start to decay the moment that we die? Well, In I Corinthians the Apostle Paul told the Christians of Corinth that they did not have to worry about what would happen to them when they died, because when Christ came again those who had died would be resurrected with new bodies given to them by Christ. So, no matter how decayed their body was, they would get a new and better body. Moreover, Paul told them and us, through the Holy Spirit’s inspired Scriptures, that our new bodies would never decay or die again. He said,

Our bodies now disappoint us, but when they are raised, they will be full of glory. They are weak now, but when they are raised they will be full of power. They are natural human bodies now, but when they are raised, they will be spiritual bodies.”
– (I Corinthians 15: 43, 44. NLT).

I don’t know about you, but I am confronted every day with how weak and fallible that my earthly body can be. Even if I had a perfect human body, I would be limited by the laws of nature within this world. For example, a human can only run so fast or jump so high; not that I could ever do either very well even when I was at the peak of adolescence. I still may not be a super person in Eternity, but the Scriptures tell me that not only will my body be different, but it will not decay, nor will I be in constant pain. God will give me a transformed new spiritual body that will fit my eternal life with Him. For, “There are bodies in the heavens, and there are bodies on the earth. The glory of the heavenly bodies is different from the beauty of the earthly bodies.” – (I Corinthians 15: 40. NLT).

What happens, though, to those who are Saved but who are still alive when Christ comes again? Well, the Apostle Paul told the Thessalonians what He got directly from the Lord. Paul said, “I can tell you this directly from the Lord: We who are still living when the Lord returns will not rise to meet him ahead of those who are in their graves. For the Lord Himself will come down from Heaven with a commanding shout, with the call of the archangel, and with the trumpet call of God. First, all the Christians who have died will rise from their graves. Then together with them, we who are still alive and remain on the earth will be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air and remain with Him forever.”  -- (I Thessalonians 4: 15-17. NLT). 

That “forever” is Eternity. Christ will not only give new bodies to those whose bodies were in the grave, but He will also give glorified new bodies to those who are alive and caught up in the air to meet Him. Moreover, with the word “forever” the Scriptures have again assured us of having a Heavenly Eternity with God. But if that wasn’t enough assurance, the book of Revelation tells us:

Look, the home of God is now among His people! He will live with them, and they will be His people. God Himself will be with them. He will remove all of their sorrows, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. For the old world and its evils are gone forever.” 
-- (Revelation 21: 3, 4. NLT).

Wow! God will make His home among His people. Not only that, but with this Scripture, we have learned that we will not have to worry about sorrow and pain, hurts and disappointments, or evil. There will no longer be crying for any of life’s problems or any pain ever again. What an Eternity! What wonderful bodies we will have! So, why would people refuse to think about this kind of Eternity? Why are do some people refuse to accept Christ as their Savior? Is it “Pride” in thinking that they have all the answers and don’t need God, or is it just simple stubbornness? Someday when we get to Heaven, we will finally understand. In the meantime, we are to continue to share the Good News of Christ and Eternity with our mentees and others who need to hear about Christ.

Love and Joy: What it is and How to Share it

We cannot know everything about Eternity, but we can know from God’s Holy Word, that not only will we receive the joy of attaining new spiritual bodies, but there will also be eternal joy for those who love God and His Son, Jesus Christ. True and complete “Joy”, though, comes from love. However, because we are generally self-centered selfish beings, it is hard to understand that joy comes from loving others as we love ourselves. But, when we are “re-born” and are given a new life, we finally begin to understand what true selfless love is. Through Christ we begin to have a desire to love others and think less of ourselves. As God’s children, we are to start the process of learning about and developing “Love” while we are here on earth. For, it is through our understanding of love and in our learning how to love those who even seem to be unlovable that we can acquire the type of love that brings us the joy that God wants all of us to have. It is by loving others and the subsequent joy attained through helping others that we will experience true and complete Joy in Eternity.

 Christ explained to His followers, while He was here on earth, just how joy comes from love. He told His disciples that He was the vine and they were the branches and that they were to produce much fruit for the Lord. (See John 15. 5). Their fruit production would lead to joy. The disciples subsequent joy would come from their love of Christ and their love for others. For, in loving others enough to tell them about Christ and the Good News, even when their lives were in danger, the disciples were giving the greatest gift of love. This love would produce joy. In other words, all fruit production requires love. Love then brings us joy. For, in loving others, we are giving of ourselves. There is nothing more joyful than knowing that you have given of yourself for the Lord. Christ said:

I have loved you even as the Father has loved Me. Remain in My love. When you obey me, you remain in My love, just as I obey My Father and remain in His love. I have told you this so that you will be filled with My joy. Yes, your joy will overflow! I command you to love each other in the same way that I love you.
– (John 15: 9-12. NLT).

This brings me back to the “Fruit of the Spirit” that I mentioned earlier. True love and joy comes from developing the characteristics of Christ while we are here on earth. These characteristics of Christ’s are embodied in the “Fruit of the Spirit”. Developing Christ’s characteristics in our own lives will then lead to fruit production which comes from loving others. Then, when we produce fruit for the Kingdom of God through our deeds of love for others, we will receive joy in our hearts. However, we have to work at embodying Christ’s characteristics. They do not come automatically when we are “Saved”. Yes, we can have some quantity of His characteristics, or we may have five of Christ’s characteristics listed in the “Fruit of the Spirit” but then really need to work on the other four. No matter how many of Christ's characteristics we have, the Holy Spirit is there to help us develop and attain Christ’s other attributes or characteristics if we are willing to listen and work on acquiring them.

We live in a fallen world, so we have to constantly deal with the evil of this world as well as the evil of our sinful nature. However, when we are “Saved” Christ gives us the Holy Spirit Who will live in us. The Holy Spirit will not only comfort and guide us, but He will also help us to overcome our sinful nature and open our eyes to the evil within the world. But, we still have free choice, so it is up to us to listen to the Holy Spirit in order to overcome our sinful nature and in order to be aware of the evil that surrounds us. For, “The old sinful nature loves to do evil, which is just the opposite from what the Holy Spirit wants. And the Spirit gives us the desires that are opposite from what the sinful nature desires. These two forces are constantly fighting each other, and your choices are never free from conflict.

With Salvation, though, the Holy Spirit introduces us to the character traits of Christ. Then, if we are willing to strive to encompass those traits, He will produce these characteristics of Christ’s within us. These traits are only acquired when we allow Christ to control our behaviors and actions through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, and as we grow in Christ’s love. So, the only way to acquire or embody the “Fruit of the Spirit” is to join our life to that of Christ’s and listen to the Holy Spirit’s directions for our life. In other words, we must come to know Christ, constantly think upon Him, and imitate His characteristics and love, as we allow the Holy Spirit to control our lives and then we will receive the joy of eternal life. For,

“… when the Holy Spirit controls our lives, He will produce this kind of fruit in us: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. …”

In other words,
“Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to His cross, and crucified them there.– (Galatians 5: 17, 22 -24. NLT). We can now acquire the nine characteristics of the "Fruit of the Spirit."

Certainly, we can find love and joy while we here on earth. But, it will be nothing like the love and joy we will receive in Eternity in Heaven. As Christians living here on earth, though, it is our responsibility to not only acquire the “Fruit of the Spirit”, but to share that “Fruit” or the traits of Christ’s with others whom we encounter. As Active Relational Christian Mentors, but more importantly as Christians, we are to love others as ourselves, and we are to show them the attributes or traits of Christ’s as seen within our lives, i.e. others should be able to see Christ through our loving words and behaviors.

Sometimes the only way another person will ever see Christ and want to find out more about Him, is when they see Christ in the face and behaviors of a Christian. Then, they may want to know more about what makes us so peaceful, patient, kind, good, faithful, gentle, loving and joyful within our spirit and in our actions. If we have the self-control acquired through listening to the Holy Spirit, they will see that there is a difference in our lives. It is then that we can tell them about Christ and Eternity in Heaven.

Completely embodying the “Fruit of the Spirit” does not come immediately upon receiving Salvation, although we immediately have the desire to live for Christ and be more like Him. To acquire all of Christ’s traits, though, we must strive to live for Him, and we must let Him control our lives. Sometimes, too, we have to work on a particular characteristic more than one of the others, because we struggle with it or we just don’t let the Holy Spirit guide us in that area. For example, if a person is very impatient, that might be an area that she needs to focus on, so that she can acquire the attribute of patience. Obviously, Christians are not perfect, so we must constantly work at living for Christ. But, we can find the love and joy that Christ wants us to have, and we can build upon that love and joy until it is time to go home to Eternity with God.

Finding Joy

We cannot imagine what the disciples were thinking as Christ told them over and over again and in different ways throughout His ministry that He would be crucified and then three days later arise from the grave. Certainly, the disciples had a hard time understanding that Christ would be killed and resurrected only to leave them to go be with His Father in Heaven until He returned again. It must have sounded like Christ was talking in circles. To make matters worse, they had just begun to understand the love and joy associated with knowing Christ as the Son of God, and now Christ was again talking to them about leaving.

Finally, some of the disciples got together and questioned each other as they asked: “What does it mean by saying, ‘In a little while you will see me no more, and then after a little while you will see me,’ and ‘Because I am going to the Father?”  -- (John 16: 17. NIV).  The disciples wanted to know what these phrases meant. But, within these words Jesus’ had again told the disciples that He would leave them, yet at the same time He was giving them the assurance of their Heavenly Eternity. For, Jesus said He would leave and then come again to take them to be with Him and His Father.

Although Jesus wasn’t actually listening to their conversation and to the questions they were asking each other, He knew what they were discussing. So, Jesus came up to them and explained the phrase “a little while” this way: Christ said, “I tell you the truth, you will weep and mourn while the world rejoices,[Christ was talking about His crucifixion]. You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy. A woman giving birth to a child has pain because her time has come, but when her baby is born she forgets the anguish because of her joy that a child is born into the world. So, with you; Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice and no one will take away your joy.”  -- (John 16: 20-22. NIV). With this analogy Christ was assuring them that not only would He arise from the grave, and they would see Him then, but that they would also see Him when He returned from Heaven, and they would have eternal joy.

It was in their listening to Christ’s High Priestly Prayer, though, that the disciples finally began to get a glimpse of what Christ had been trying to explain to them. For, in praying out loud to God, His Father, Jesus prayed: “I am coming to you now, but I say these things while I am still in the world, so that they may have the full measure of My joy within them. I have given them Your Word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world. My prayer is not that You (Father) take them out of the world, but that You protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. Sanctify them by the Truth: Your Word is Truth. … Righteous Father, though the world does not know You, I know You, and they know that You have sent me. I have made You known to them, and will continue to make You known in order that the love you have for Me may be in them and that I Myself may be in them.” – (John 17: 13-17, 25, 26. NIV).

The disciples had a relationship with Christ, and they had love and joy in their hearts. They had also been told that at some point they would go to Heaven to be with Christ and His Father. Although they would be sad for a little while when Christ went back to Heaven, Christ had told them that they were to share their hearts of love and joy in knowing Him along with the Good News with other people. For, they were sanctified by the Truth, and they would be protected from the evil in this world until their job for Christ was finished. Then, they would go to Heaven to be with the Lord and have an eternal relationship with Christ and His Father in Heaven.

The key to true joy is having a relationship with Christ and then sharing that relationship with Christ with others. The joy that we have in knowing Christ and in being assured of eternity is one that is based on the love of God and His Son. The Love of Christ enters our hearts when we accept Christ as our Savior, along with the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. It is when we take that love and share it with the world that our love turns into joy. Finally, when we have been fruitful for and obedient to God, we are on our way to embodying a true love and joy that will transcend this earth and blossom as a flower in Eternal Heaven.

When we share our love of Christ with others, we are not only sharing our love and joy, but we are helping others to find God’s Heavenly Eternity too. We are teaching or explaining the difference between an Eternity in Hell and an Eternity in Heaven. How wonderful it will be to someday see all the people with whom you have shared the Truth of Salvation and the Truth of Eternity when you actually get to Heaven. What a glorious reunion that will be. You can do it. You can share the love and joy of Eternity In Heaven with those who need to hear the Truth.

You can mentor others for Christ. You can mentor others in developing the “Fruit of the Spirit”. You can mentor others in learning a new skill, or in acquiring some knowledge. However, with every person you mentor or with each help that you give to another person, you are producing fruit, and you are passing on not only love and joy in Christ, but you are passing on the existence and the assurance of an eternal home in Heaven. For, people see Christ and Eternity in your face and in your actions. Furthermore, many of you will now be able to use God’s Holy Scriptures to tell others of God’s assurances of Eternity too.

I hope you are enjoying learning about the assurances that God has given us about our Eternal home in Heaven, for Heaven is real. Eternity is real. Whether or not you get there just depends on whether or not you accept God and His Son, Jesus Christ’s Gift of Salvation. Next week I will discuss Assurance Six. In the meantime, share what you have learned with others.

May God bless each of you!