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Heaven

(28 posts)

Book Review: Devoted to the Service of the Temple

Wednesday··2007·08·15 · 3 Comments
Devoted to the Service of the Temple: Piety, Persecution, and Ministry in the Writings of Hercules Collins is a collection of the writings of seventeenth-century Particular Baptist pastor Hercules Collins edited by Dr. Michael Haykin and Pastor Steve Weaver. At 139 pages, including a bibliography, it is a short, easy read, but one that is packed full of rich pastoral theology. The book begins with a thirty page introduction, providing a brief biography of Hercules Collins and the historical setting of his writings, followed by thirty-five short chapters, which are excerpts of his writings. This book can easily be read in one sitting, as I did, or one chapter (2–3 short pages) a day, as a devotional. In fact, one would be hard pressed to find such rich theology in any devotional book written today. We owe considerable gratitude to Dr. Haykin and Pastor Weaver for bringing us this collection of writings from this great, though lesser known, “dead theologian.” I heartily recommend it to you, and leave you with this quotation from chapter five, titled God is the Gospel: There are many good objects in heaven and earth besides thee. There are angels in heaven and saints on earth. But, soul, what are these to thee? Heaven, without thy presence, would be no heaven to me. A palace without thee, a crown without thee, cannot satisfy me. But with thee can I be content, though in a poor cottage. With thee I am at liberty in bonds. . . . [I]f I have thy smiles, I can bear the world’s frowns. If I have spiritual liberty in my soul that I can ascend to thee by faith and have communion with thee, thou shalt choose thy portion for me in this world, “For in the multitude of my thoughts within me, thy comforts delight my soul.” —Hercules Collins, Devoted to the Service of the Temple: Piety, Persecution, and Ministry in the Writings of Hercules Collins (Reformation Heritage Books, 2007).
Many today, in a silly, compulsive wish to know, ask what kind of glory believers will have in paradise, whether they will stand of be seated or move about, whether they may still enjoy the created things of earth, to what point and to what end. In short, they love to indulge in useless speculations, to pass through every room in paradise in the hope of seeing what goes on there, but they have no desire to draw near to paradise themselves! We, on the other hand, are already on our way. So let us continue on, as long as we are in this world, and when we have reached our inheritance, then we will know what heaven is like. Suppose a man wanted to buy a house thirty miles away, and promptly sat down and said, ‘Well now, I’d like to know what the house is made of, how commodious it is, and how it is situated.’ If, for all that, he refused to visit the house, how laughable it would be! So we must all learn to grow stronger in our knowledge of God, so that that we might worship him purely, place our confidence in him, and call on him in every necessity. And when we have profited by being trained up in these things, we will finally understand what God’s promise of blessedness and joy really means and how far it extends. At present, to be sure, the manner of God’s working is unknown to us, since Scripture declares that the mind cannot conceive what God has prepared for us. In the meantime, it is enough to know that the Lord Jesus Christ forbids his disciples to practice craftiness and to seek more light than is permissible. For by such means we appear wiser than we are, deceiving some and cheating others. We may not perhaps succeed as the world counts success, for we behave with integrity. We may let many opportunities for gain pass us by. We will willingly accept loss if by our actions we resist offending God. Since, then we are people of peaceable spirit, and have neither wit nor skill to fish in troubled waters, we are bound to lose out. We know, however, that while the world may condemn us, we have a recompense which fully satisfies: we will have God to enjoy. —John Calvin, Sermons on the Beatitudes (Banner of Truth, 2006), 51–52.
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Hymns of My Youth: Love Divine

Saturday··2010·10·23
Today’s hymn is the second in the “Opening and Morning” section of the Concordia. This one has everything: Christ-centered praise and petition, biblical gospel theology, eschatological longing, all to the glory of Jesus, our Savior and Lord. 38 Love Divine, All Love Excelling Love divine, all loves excelling, Joy of heav’n to earth come down! Fix in us thy humble dwelling; All thy faithful mercies crown. Jesus, Thou art all compassion, Pure unbounded love Thou art; Visit us with Thy salvation; Enter every trembling heart. Breathe, O breathe Thy loving Spirit, Into ev’ry troubled breast! Let us all in Thee inherit, Let us find Thy promised rest. Take away the love of sinning, Alpha and Omega be; End of faith, as its beginning, Set our hearts at liberty. Come, Almighty to deliver, Let us all Thy life receive; Graciously return and never, Never more Thy temples leave! Thee we would be always blessing, Serve Thee as Thy hosts above, Pray and praise Thee without ceasing, Glory in Thy perfect love. Finish, then, Thy new creation, Pure and spotless let us be; Let us see Thy great salvation, Perfectly restored in Thee, Changed from glory into glory, Till in heav’n we take our place, Till we cast our crowns before Thee, Lost in wonder, love, and praise. —The Concordia Hymnal (Augsburg Publishing House), 1960. The Concordia tune is Beecher. It is apparently also sung to Hyfrydol, but I must object in the strongest terms. Try listening without thinking Jesus, What a Friend for Sinners and see if I’m not right. Beecher Hyferdol Just for fun, here’s an interesting arrangement to Pachelbel’s Canon in D.
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Hymns of My Youth II: Come, Christians, Join to Sing

Saturday··2011·12·31
After these things I heard something like a loud voice of a great multitude in heaven, saying, “Hallelujah! Salvation and glory and power belong to our God; because His judgments are true and righteous; for He has judged the great harlot who was corrupting the earth with her immorality, and He has avenged the blood of His bond-servants on her.” And a second time they said, “Hallelujah! her smoke rises up forever and ever.” And the twenty-four elders and the four living creatures fell down and worshiped God who sits on the throne saying, “Amen. Hallelujah!” And a voice came from the throne, saying, “Give praise to our God, all you His bond-servants, you who fear Him, the small and the great.” Then I heard something like the voice of a great multitude and like the sound of many waters and like the sound of mighty peals of thunder, saying, “Hallelujah! For the Lord our God, the Almighty, reigns. Let us rejoice and be glad and give the glory to Him, for the marriage of the Lamb has come and His bride has made herself ready.” It was given to her to clothe herself in fine linen, bright and clean; for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints. Revelation 19:1–8 Come, Christians, Join to Sing Come, Christians, join to sing— Alleluia! Amen! Loud praise to Christ our King— Alleluia! Amen! Let all, with heart and voice, Before His throne rejoice; Praise is His gracious choice: Alleluia! Amen! Come, lift your hearts on high— Alleluia! Amen! Let praises fill the sky— Alleluia! Amen! He is our Guide and Friend, To us He’ll condescend; His love shall never end: Alleluia! Amen! Praise yet our Christ again— Alleluia! Amen! Life shall not end the strain— Alleluia! Amen! On heaven’s blissful shore His goodness we’ll adore, Singing forevermore, “Alleluia! Amen!” —Great Hymns of the Faith (Zondervan, 1968).

Face to Face

Monday··2013·04·08
For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known. —1 Corinthians 13:12 As you may remember, a man I esteemed quite highly passed away on Good Friday. His funeral was last Saturday. I wish I had been closer, and been able to attend. The service was live streamed, but I didn’t find that out until it was nearly over. As it ended, the text on the screen indicated the date on which he had “entered glory.” As I read that, I thought of something that really should have occurred to me much sooner: this man who had meant so much to me is now in the immediate presence of the Lord. I had known that, but I hadn’t thought of what that means: that he has now met Jesus face to face. Face to face with Jesus. What a thought! What must that be like, to look at him, to speak with him? It boggles the mind. But one day, we who are in Christ will know. I, for one, anticipate that day with exquisite longing. Face to Face Face to face with Christ, my Savior, Face to face—what will it be? When with rapture I behold Him, Jesus Christ Who died for me. Refrain Face to face I shall behold Him, Far beyond the starry sky; Face to face in all His glory, I shall see Him by and by! Only faintly now I see Him, With the darkling veil between, But a blessèd day is coming, When His glory shall be seen. Refrain What rejoicing in His presence, When are banished grief and pain; When the crooked ways are straightened, And the dark things shall be plain. Refrain Face to face! O blissful moment! Face to face—to see and know; Face to face with my Redeemer, Jesus Christ Who loves me so. Refrain —Favorite Hymns of Praise (Tabernacle Publishing Company, 1967).
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Hymns of My Youth III: Love Divine

Saturday··2013·04·27
We have come to know and have believed the love which God has for us. God is love, and the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. By this, love is perfected with us, so that we may have confidence in the day of judgment; because as He is, so also are we in this world. —1 John 4:16–17 45 Love Divine, All Loves Excelling Love divine, all loves excelling, Joy of heaven to earth come down; Fix in us thy humble dwelling; All thy faithful mercies crown! Jesus, Thou art all compassion, Pure unbounded love Thou art; Visit us with Thy salvation; Enter every trembling heart. Breathe, O breathe Thy loving Spirit, Into every troubled breast! Let us all in Thee inherit; Let us find that second rest. Take away our bent to sinning; Alpha and Omega be; End of faith, as its Beginning, Set our hearts at liberty. Come, Almighty to deliver, Let us all Thy life receive; Suddenly return and never, Never more Thy temples leave. Thee we would be always blessing, Serve Thee as Thy hosts above, Pray and praise Thee without ceasing, Glory in Thy perfect love. Finish, then, Thy new creation; Pure and spotless let us be. Let us see Thy great salvation Perfectly restored in Thee; Changed from glory into glory, Till in heaven we take our place, Till we cast our crowns before Thee, Lost in wonder, love, and praise. —Favorite Hymns of Praise (Tabernacle Publishing Company, 1967).

Your Imaginary Heaven

Monday··2013·08·26 · 3 Comments
Charles Spurgeon on Heaven Is for Real and other heaven tourism books: It’s a little heaven below, to imagine sweet things. But never think that imagination can picture heaven. When it is most sublime when it is freest from the dust of earth, when it is carried up by the greatest knowledge, and kept steady by the most extreme caution, imagination cannot picture heaven. “It hath not entered the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.” Imagination is good, but not to picture to us heaven. Your imaginary heaven you will find by-and-by to be all a mistake; though you may have piled up fine castles, you will find them to be castles in the air, and they will vanish like thin clouds before the gale. For imagination cannot make a heaven. “Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither hath it entered the heart of man to conceive” it. —Cited in The Glory of Heaven: The Truth about Heaven, Angels, and Eternal Life (Second Edition) (Crossway, 2013), 18.
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Pious Gullibility

Thursday··2013·08·29
I know I risk beating a dead horse with this third-of-a-kind post, but the problem of evangelical gullibility concerns me deeply. From The Prayer of Jabez to Heaven Is for Real, evangelicals are ready, and even anxious, to swallow every new, exciting addition to biblical Christianity, which they must find boring and inadequate. In short, the horse isn’t dead, and won’t be until until every Christian demands, with Luther, “Give me Scripture, Scripture, Scripture. Do you hear me? Scripture.” Those who demand to know more than Scripture tells us are sinning: “The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children forever” (Deuteronomy 29:29). The limits of our curiosity are thus established by the boundary of biblical revelation. The typical Christian today seems oblivious to the principles established by Deuteronomy 29:29 and 1 Corinthians 4:6 (“that you may learn . . . not to go beyond what is written”). In fact, people seem to be looking for spiritual truth, messages from God, and insight into the spirit world everywhere but Scripture. Today’s evangelicals have been indoctrinated by decades of charismatic influence to think God regularly bypasses his written Word in order to speak directly to any and every believer—as if extra biblical revelation were a standard feature of ordinary Christian experience. Many therefore think charity requires them to receive claims of “fresh revelation” with a kind of pious gullibility. After all, who are we to question someone else’s private word from God? So when dozens of best-selling authors who profess to be Christians are suddenly claiming they have seen heaven and want to tell us what it’s like, most of the Christian community is defenseless in the wake of the onslaught. —John MacArthur, The Glory of Heaven: The Truth about Heaven, Angels, and Eternal Life (Second Edition) (Crossway, 2013), 39–40.
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John’s Vision

Tuesday··2013·09·03
Defenders of heaven tourism books, reminded that the Apostle Paul was forbidden to tell of his heavenly experience (whatever that might have been—even he was not sure) will reply with the vision of John. Surely, this is an example of heavenly reportage. But the purpose of John’s vision is something else, entirely distinct from that of any of the heaven-and-back books. The apostle John’s vision of heaven is Scripture’s most detailed account of the heavenly realm, filling almost the entire book of Revelation. It makes an instructive contrast to the currently popular heavenly travel journals. John’s purpose in writing is not to tell us what heaven is like. This vision is mainly about “the day of wrath when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed” (to borrow words from Romans 2:5). The name of the book, Revelation, is a translation of the first Greek word that opens John’s message: apokalypsis (Revelation 1:1). That, of course, is the root of the English word apocalypse—which in popular usage is frequently applied to any kind of climactic catastrophe. What John describes in the book of Revelation is literally the catastrophe to end all catastrophes. John’s vision is apocalyptic in every sense of that word. What John saw from heaven’s perspective was a prophetic revelation of the appalling and awesome outpouring of divine fury that will eventually befall the whole earth. In the aftermath, in the closing chapters, John explains how these apocalyptic events will resolve in the triumph of God, the unveiling of the new heaven and the new earth, and the eternal rest of the faithful in the never-ending bliss of that domain. Thus the end of the book of Revelation gives us the best, most complete biblical window on the saints’ eternal rest. But bear in mind: that is not really the point of John’s vision. His real aim is to give us an extended account of how divine wrath and earthy tribulation will be poured out upon all humanity—on a scale unfathomable to our minds and unparalleled in our experience. John clearly wants to provoke wonder, awe, reverence, and fear—and it is in that context that he gives us the Bible’s most detailed description of heaven. So when dozens of best-selling authors who profess to be Christians are suddenly claiming they have seen heaven and want to tell us what it’s like, most of the Christian community is defenseless in the wake of the onslaught. —John MacArthur, The Glory of Heaven: The Truth about Heaven, Angels, and Eternal Life (Second Edition) (Crossway, 2013), 56–57.
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This world is not my home, I’m just passing through. My treasures are laid up somewhere beyond the blue. The angels beckon me from Heaven’s open door And I can’t feel at home in this world anymore. If those words don’t resonate deep within you, there is something seriously amiss spiritually. Perhaps you’ve never come to genuine faith in Christ, so you can’t understand them. Or maybe you’re like many Christians who have become distracted by worldly things. Sadly, having lost sight of the “sweet by and by,” too many Christians busy themselves with the harried here and now, and they themselves are consumed by consumable things. . . . Because the church doesn’t really have heaven on its mind, Christians tend to be self-indulgent, self-centered, weak, and materialistic. Our present comforts consume too much of our thoughts, and if we’re not careful, we end up entertaining wrong fantasies about heaven—or thinking very little of heaven at all. —John MacArthur, The Glory of Heaven: The Truth about Heaven, Angels, and Eternal Life (Second Edition) (Crossway, 2013), 65. Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory. —Colossians 3:1–4
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Heavenly Minded

Thursday··2013·09·05
I am embarrassed to admit that I’ve repeated this old canard: “Some people are so heavenly minded that they are no earthly good.” John MacArthur replies: From time to time someone will suggest that Christians are too concerned with heaven. I’m sure you have heard the common complaint about people who are “so heavenly minded that they are no earthly good.” There is indeed a kind of ersatz spirituality that renders people worthless for good works and mutual edification. But such people are not really heavenly minded at all. They are typically like the Pharisees, going through the motions of ritual and public piety for the sake of self, with no real thought about the glory of God. “They do all their deeds to be seen by others” (Matthew 23:5). That’s the polar opposite of true heavenly mindedness. —John MacArthur, The Glory of Heaven: The Truth about Heaven, Angels, and Eternal Life (Second Edition) (Crossway, 2013), 65.
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Eternal Perspective

Monday··2013·09·09
What if Paul had written, “For me to live is whatever I can get out of it, and to die makes no difference”? That is the nihilistic view of the hedonist. How depressing and hopeless life would be if all there was to it was to work our way to the end, and die. [L]et’s acknowledge that a nihilistic worldview is the most clear and logical alternative to Christianity. If our existence is the product of nothing and will lead to nothing, then life itself is really nothing. Or (as one skeptic expressed it), we are just protoplasm waiting to become manure. If that is the case, then there’s really no good reason we should not simply eat, drink and be merry while we wait to die. But Scripture tells us that is the worldview of a fool (Luke 12:19–20). How much better to have the eternal perspective! A pamphlet I once read related the following anecdote from the life of John Quincy Adams: One day in his 80th year . . . he was approached by a friend who said, “And how is John Quincy Adams today?” The former President of the United States replied graciously, “Thank you, John Quincy Adams is well, sir, quite well, I thank you. But the house in which he lives at present is becoming dilapidated. It is tottering on its foundations. Time and the seasons have nearly destroyed it. Its roof is pretty well worn out, and its walls are much shattered, and it trembles with every wind. The old tenement is becoming almost uninhabitable, and I think John Quincy Adams will have to move out of it soon; but he himself is quite well, sir, quite well.” And with this the venerable statesman, leaning heavily upon his cane, moved slowly down the street. —John MacArthur, The Glory of Heaven: The Truth about Heaven, Angels, and Eternal Life (Second Edition) (Crossway, 2013), 70.
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He Holds Forth the Sceptre

Thursday··2013·09·12
Richard Baxter on being heavenly-minded: A heavenly mind is a joyful mind; this is the nearest and truest way to live a life of comfort, and without this you must needs be uncomfortable. Can a man be at a fire and not be warm; or in the sunshine and not have light? Can your heart be in heaven, and not have comfort? [On the other hand] what could make such frozen, uncomfortable Christians but living so far as they do from heaven? . . . O Christians get above. Believe it, that region is warmer than below. . . . There is no man so highly honoureth God, as he who hath his conversation in heaven; and without this we deeply dishonour him. Is it not a disgrace to our father, when the children do feed on husks, and are clothed in rags, and accompany by none but beggars? Is it not so to our Father, when we who call ourselves his children, shall feed on earth, and the garb of our souls be but like that of the naked world, when our hearts shall make of this clay and dust their more familiar and frequent company, who should always stand in our Father’s presence, and be taken up in his own attendance? Sure, it beseems not the spouse of Christ to live among his scullions and slaves, when they may have daily admittance into his presence-chamber; he holds forth the sceptre, if they will but enter. —cited in The Glory of Heaven: The Truth about Heaven, Angels, and Eternal Life (Second Edition) (Crossway, 2013), 80–81.
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When the Morning Comes

Friday··2013·09·20
By and by, when the morning comes, When the saints of God are gathered home, We will tell the story how we’ve overcome, And we’ll understand it better by and by. How can heaven be perfect when there is such a place as hell? How can we spend eternity in a state of total bliss, knowing that many of our loved ones are in a place of eternal torment? MacArthur writes: Scripture does not give us a direct answer to that question. Some suggest that our memories of relationships on this earth will eventually fade. And there is a hint in Scripture that this may be a factor: In the Isaiah 65 passage describing the new heavens and new earth, God says, “Behold, I create new heavens and a new earth, and the former things shall not be remembered or come to mind” (v. 17). However, I don’t think this can possibly mean we will forget everything about this earth and our relationships here. After all, we will continue many of those same relationships eternally. And we will spend eternity reciting the glory of how Christ redeemed us. Since our redemption was accomplished by his work on earth, it is impossible that we will completely lose our memory of all earthly events and relationships. —John MacArthur, The Glory of Heaven: The Truth about Heaven, Angels, and Eternal Life (Second Edition) (Crossway, 2013), 110. While we will not completely forget earthly sorrows, we will see them differently. We now see things from a human perspective, we will then see them from God’s point of view (1 Corinthians 13:12). As for how this will work out in the hearts and minds of redeemed, Scripture simply does not tell us. We’re only promised that God himself will dry our tears. For now, is it enough to know that we can trust implicitly his infinite goodness, compassion and mercy. Furthermore, notice that when God says that he will make all things new, he adds a message to the apostle John: “write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” (Revelation 21:5)—as if to add an exclamation mark to the reliability of these great promises. We who truly know the Lord know we can trust him even with our unanswered questions. All his words are true and faithful, so when he says he is making all things new, it is a promise we can cling to despite our inability to know precisely how all the difficulties will resolve. Heaven will be utterly perfect, no matter how impossible it may be for us to understand everything now. —Ibid., 111.
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In the Heavenly Places Now

Wednesday··2013·09·25
Justification before God guarantees a place in heaven for all believers. But the benefits of justification are not off in the future. They are now. In terms of our moral and legal status, Christians are judged perfect immediately—not on the basis of who we are and what we have done, but because of what Christ has done for us. We are fully justified the moment we believe. We are forgiven of all our sin. We are clothed with a perfect righteousness (Isaiah 6:10; Romans 4:5), which instantly gives us a standing before God without any fear of condemnation (Romans 5:1; 8:1). This is the great position of privilege Scripture refers to when it says God has “blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 1:3). And when Paul writes that God has “raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:6), he is again speaking of this position of favor with God that we have been granted by grace alone. We are not literally, physically seated with Christ in the heavenlies, of course. We are not mystically present there through some kind of spiritual telepathy. But legally, in the eternal court of God, we have been granted full rights to heaven. That is the high legal standing we enjoy even now. —John MacArthur, The Glory of Heaven: The Truth about Heaven, Angels, and Eternal Life (Second Edition) (Crossway, 2013), 131.
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Glorification versus Purgatory

Thursday··2013·10·03
If sanctification was our final transformation before eternity, we would surely be in need of some kind of purgatory before entering heaven, because sanctification in this life is incomplete. MacArthur writes, [T]he holiness our sanctification produces could never be sufficient to fit us for heaven by itself. In heaven we will be perfectly Christlike. Sanctification is the earthly process of growth by which we press toward that goal; glorification is the instantaneous completion of it. God graciously, summarily glorifies us and admits us into his presence. . . . there is no waiting period, no soul sleep, and no purgatory. Misunderstanding on this point runs deep. No less a scholar than C. S. Lewis wrote, Our souls demand purgatory, don’t they? Would it not break the heart if God said to us, “It is true, my son, that your breath smells and your rags drip with mud and slime, but we are charitable here and no one will upbraid you with these things, nor draw away from you. Enter into the joy”? Should we not reply, “With submission, sir, and if there is no objection, I’d rather be cleaned first.” “It may hurt, you know.”—“Even so, sir.” Lewis was no theologian. He was prone (like too many Anglicans) to water down the clarity of biblical truth with Roman Catholic tradition. But this is surely one of his most glaring and baffling errors. It is as if he were totally oblivious to the biblical promise of glorification. Once more: Nothing in Scripture even hints at the notion of purgatory, and nothing indicates that our glorification will in any way be drawn out or painful. On the contrary, as we have seen repeatedly from Scripture, the moment a believer dies, his soul is instantly glorified and he enters God’s presence. To depart this world is to be with Christ (Philippians 1:23). And upon seeing Christ, we become like him. It is a graceful, peaceful, painless, instantaneous transition. Paul says to be absent from the body is to be “at home with the Lord” (2 Corinthians 5:8). —John MacArthur, The Glory of Heaven: The Truth about Heaven, Angels, and Eternal Life (Second Edition) (Crossway, 2013), 136–137.
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Our Highest Satisfaction

Monday··2013·10·07
Many people imagine heaven to the best of everything they love now. But the glory of heaven cannot compare to earthly existence. Every joy and pleasure we can imagine will be totally eclipsed in the presence of Christ. As Christians, our highest satisfaction will come when we see our God and his Son, Jesus Christ, and when we stand before him in unclouded, undiminished, uninterrupted sight of his infinite glory and beauty, bringing us infinite and eternal delight. We can begin to understand why Peter, after seeing only a faint glimpse of that glory, wanted to make a camp on the Mount of Transfiguration and stay there permanently! (Matthew 17:4). Nineteenth-century songwriter Fanny Crosby expressed the hope of every believer in a well-loved gospel song titled “My Savior First of All”: When my life work is ended, and I cross the swelling tide, When the bright and glorious morning I shall see, I shall know my Redeemer when I reach the other side, And His smile will be the first to welcome me. . . . Thru the gates of the city in a robe of spotless white, He will lead me where no tears will ever fall; In the glad song of aged I shall mingle with delight But I long to meet my Savior first of all. Those words have special significance—Fanny Crosby was blind from infancy. She knew that literally the first person she would ever see would be Jesus Christ. In a way, the same thing is true of us all. Our sight here on earth is virtually like blindness compared to the clearer vision we will have in heaven (1 Corinthians 13:12). We ought to be eagerly looking for that day when our vision will be enlightened by the glory of his presence. I sincerely hope that’s your deepest desire. —John MacArthur, The Glory of Heaven: The Truth about Heaven, Angels, and Eternal Life (Second Edition) (Crossway, 2013), 136–155.
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Talking Back to My Betters

Tuesday··2013·10·08 · 2 Comments
All thinking people, one of whom I pretend to be, disagree with everyone about something, and that everyone should be just that: everone—including those we admire most. I can’t think of anyone with whom I disagree less often than John MacArthur, but today I might, if only on a minor matter. Read the following: First of all, note that our resurrection bodies are our earthly bodies, glorified. The bodies we receive in the resurrection will have the same qualities as the glorified resurrection body of Christ. “We know that when he appears we shall be like him” (1 John 3:2). Christ’s resurrection body as before, not a whole new one. After he arose, the tomb was empty. The body itself was resurrected—the very same body, but in a glorified state. The wounds from his crucifixion were still visible (John 20:27). He could be touched and handled—he was not merely an apparition or a phantom (Luke 24:39). He looked human in every regard. He conversed a long time with the disciples on the road to Emmaus, and they never once questioned his humanity (Luke 24:13–18). He ate real, earthly food with his friends on another occasion (vv. 42–43). Yet his body also had otherworldly properties. He could pass through solid walls (John 20:19). He could appear in different forms so his identity was not immediately obvious (Mark 16:12). He could suddenly appear out of nowhere (Luke 24:36). And he could ascend directly into heaven in bodily form, with no adverse affect as he went through the atmosphere (Luke 24:51; Acts 1:9). Our bodies will be exactly like that. They will be real, physical, genuinely human bodies—the very same bodies we have while on this earth—yet wholly perfected and glorified. Second Corinthians 5:1 calls the resurrection body “a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.” —John MacArthur, The Glory of Heaven: The Truth about Heaven, Angels, and Eternal Life (Second Edition) (Crossway, 2013), 141. I agree on the overall point: “our resurrection bodies are our earthly bodies, glorified,” but I don’t think “our bodies will be exactly like [Christ’s].” I think we will be different in two ways. First, the resurrected body of Jesus bore—and, we can safely assume, still bears—the marks of crucifixion. To be fair, MacArthur did not say, and I doubt he believes, that we will take with us marks of the injuries we have suffered here, but from what he has written above, one could easily draw that conclusion. Christ retained his scars for one reason: so that the disciples would, without a doubt, recognize him. He carries them today, and always will, as an eternal reminder of the gospel. I believe our resurrected bodies will be like that of pre-Fall Adam, or Jesus as he was born, perfect in every way. Lost and injured limbs will be restored. Scars will be healed. Brain injuries and birth defects will be undone. Second, I am not so sure we will possess all the same abilities as Christ, e.g., “pass through solid walls” and “suddenly appear out of nowhere.” Remember, Christ, while on earth, demonstrated his divinity by performing miracles. The Apostles performed miracles to show they were speaking for divinity. In heaven, there will be nothing to prove; everyone will know who is who. Moreover, we are not gods. In heaven, we will be perfectly human, but still not divine. Surely we cannot expect to possess all the powers of God incarnate. These are the smallest of small quibbles, the answers to which serve little purpose but to satisfy curiosity. While I’d like to have John MacArthur pop in some day and explain it better, or maybe set me straight, I guess I’ll find out sooner or later.
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Touched by an Angel?

Friday··2013·10·18
[D]espite the prevalence of stirring tales about angelic interventions (angels who rescue missionaries from cannibals and similar tales), there is no way any of these stories can be verified—except for the biblical ones. That doesn’t mean it wasn’t an angel whose invisible hand mysteriously steadied you when you were about to take a tumble down the stairs. But it means you cannot possibly know for sure whether it was an angel or not. We do know for sure that it is God whose providence preserves us from various disasters. Whether in a given instance he employs angels as his instruments or not, God is the One who should be the focus of our praise and gratitude, not the angelic beings. Scripture does teach that some “have entertained angels unawares“ (Hebrews 13:2). And for that very reason we are instructed to show kindness and hospitality to strangers. But the language of Scripture indicates that that these incidents are rare, and the key to understanding this verse is the word unawares. The verse is describing people who have hosted angels without knowing it. It is certainly possible, according to Scripture, that you might play host to an angel. But in all likelihood, if that occurs, it will be without your knowing it. Nowhere does Scripture encourage us to have and angel fetish, to look for evidence of angles in everyday life, or to have such an expectation of entertaining angels that we imagine them in every serendipitous encounter. The tales that fill today’s rendezvous-with-angels books are unverifiable stories—extraordinary displays of divine providence, perhaps, but not necessarily authentic account of angelic intervention. The whole fixation is of questionable value. Certainly it is causing far more spiritual harm than good. —John MacArthur, The Glory of Heaven: The Truth about Heaven, Angels, and Eternal Life (Second Edition) (Crossway, 2013), 160–161.
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Hymns of My Youth III: Face to Face

Saturday··2013·12·28
For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known. —1 Corinthians 13:12 493 Face to Face Face to face with Christ, my Savior, Face to face—what will it be? When with rapture I behold Him, Jesus Christ Who died for me. Refrain Face to face I shall behold Him, Far beyond the starry sky; Face to face in all His glory, I shall see Him by and by! Only faintly now I see Him, With the darkling veil between, But a blessèd day is coming, When His glory shall be seen. Refrain What rejoicing in His presence, When are banished grief and pain; When the crooked ways are straightened, And the dark things shall be plain. Refrain Face to face! O blissful moment! Face to face—to see and know; Face to face with my Redeemer, Jesus Christ Who loves me so. Refrain —Favorite Hymns of Praise (Tabernacle Publishing Company, 1967).

Hymns of My Youth III: That Will Be Glory

Saturday··2014·01·04
Then the glory of the Lord will be revealed, And all flesh will see it together; For the mouth of the Lord has spoken. —Isaiah 40:5 494 O That Will Be Glory When all my labors and trials are o’er, And I am safe on that beautiful shore, Just to be near the dear Lord I adore, Will through the ages be glory for me. Refrain O that will be glory for me, Glory for me, glory for me, When by His grace I shall look on His face, That will be glory, be glory for me. When, by the gift of His infinite grace, I am accorded in Heaven a place, Just to be there and to look on His face, Will through the ages be glory for me. Refrain Friends will be there I have loved long ago; Joy like a river around me will flow; Yet just a smile from my Savior, I know, Will through the ages be glory for me. Refrain —Favorite Hymns of Praise (Tabernacle Publishing Company, 1967).

Lord’s Day 37, 2014

Sunday··2014·09·14
I was glad when they said to me, “Let us go to the house of the Lord.” For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. —Philippians 1:21 The Eternal Sabbath Philip Doddridge (1702–1751) Lord of the Sabbath, hear our vows, On this Thy day, in this Thy house, And own, as grateful sacrifice, The songs which from the desert rise. Thine earthly Sabbaths, Lord, we love; But there’s a nobler rest above; To that our laboring souls aspire With earnest hope and strong desire. No more fatigue, no more distress; Nor sin nor hell shall reach the place; No groans to mingle with the songs, Which warble from immortal tongues. No rude alarms of raging foes; No cares to break the long repose; No midnight shade, no clouded sun, But sacred, high, eternal noon. Oh, long-expected day, begin; Dawn on these realms of woe and sin. Fain would we leave this weary road, And sleep in death, to rest with God. —Worthy Is the Lamb (Soli Deo Gloria, 2004). Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Please don’t miss worshiping with your local congregation if you can possibly help it. But if you’re in need of a good sermon, try these. Tweets about "sermon from:thethirstytheo" !function(d,s,id){var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0],p=/^http:/.test(d.location)?'http':'https';if(!d.getElementById(id)){js=d.createElement(s);js.id=id;js.src=p+"://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js";fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}}(document,"script","twitter-wjs");
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In Preparation for the Lord’s Day: Love Divine

Saturday··2014·09·20
Love Divine, All Loves Excelling By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him. 1 John 4:9 Love divine, all loves excelling, Joy of heav’n, to earth come down. Fix in us thy humble dwelling, All thy faithful mercies crown. Jesus, Thou art all compassion, Pure unbounded love Thou art; Visit us with Thy salvation, Enter every trembling heart. Breathe, O breathe Thy loving Spirit Into ev’ry troubled breast! Let us all in Thee inherit, Let us find Thy promised rest. Take away our bent to sinning, Alpha and Omega be; End of faith, as its beginning, Set our hearts at liberty. Come, almighty to deliver, Let us all Thy life receive; Suddenly return, and never, Nevermore Thy temples leave. Thee we would be always blessing, Serve Thee as Thy hosts above, Pray and praise Thee without ceasing, Glory in Thy perfect love. Finish then Thy new creation, Pure and spotless let us be; Let us see Thy great salvation Perfectly restored in Thee: Changed from glory into glory, Till in heav’n we take our place, Till we cast our crowns before Thee, Lost in wonder, love, and praise! —The Hymnal for Worship & Celebration (Word Music). This video starts out rough, but it’s worth the wait.

In Preparation for the Lord’s Day: Come, Christians, Join to Sing

Saturday··2014·10·18
Come, Christians, Join to Sing! singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord; always giving thanks Ephesians 5:19–20 Come, Christians, join to sing Alleluia! Amen! Loud praise to Christ our King; Alleluia! Amen! Let all, with heart and voice, Before His throne rejoice; Praise is His gracious choice: Alleluia! Amen! Come, lift your hearts on high, Alleluia! Amen! Let praises fill the sky; Alleluia! Amen! He is our Guide and Friend;To us He’ll condescend; His love shall never end: Alleluia! Amen! Praise yet our Christ again,Alleluia! Amen! Life shall not end the strain; Alleluia! Amen! On heaven’s blissful shore His goodness we’ll adore, Singing forevermore, “Alleluia! Amen!” —The Hymnal for Worship & Celebration (Word Music).

In Preparation for the Lord’s Day: What Wondrous Love

Saturday··2016·01·23
What Wondrous Love Is This . . . he who is hanged is accursed of God . . . Deuteronomy 21:23 What wondrous love is this, O my soul, O my soul! What wondrous love is this, O my soul! What wondrous love is this that caused the Lord of bliss To bear the dreadful curse for my soul, for my soul, To bear the dreadful curse for my soul? When I was sinking down, sinking down, sinking down, When I was sinking down, sinking down, When I was sinking down beneath God’s righteous frown, Christ laid aside his crown for my soul, for my soul, Christ laid aside his crown for my soul. To God and to the Lamb, I will sing, I will sing, To God and to the Lamb, I will sing, To God and to the Lamb who is the great “I am,” While millions join the theme, I will sing, I will sing, While millions join the theme, I will sing. And when from death I’m free, I’ll sing on, I’ll sing on, And when from death I’m free, I’ll sing on, And when from death I’m free, I’ll sing and joyful be, And through eternity, I’ll sing on, I’ll sing on, And through eternity I’ll sing on. —The Hymnal for Worship & Celebration (Word Music).

Lord’s Day 7, 2017

Sunday··2017·02·12
I was glad when they said to me, “Let us go to the house of the Lord.” For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ; who will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory, by the exertion of the power that He has even to subject all things to Himself. —Philippians 3:20–21 The New Song. Horatius Bonar (1808–1889) Beyond the hills where suns go down, And brightly beckon as they go; I see the land of far renown, The land which I so soon shall know. Above the dissonance of time, And discord of its angry words, I hear the everlasting chime, The music of unjarring chords. I bid it welcome; and my haste To join it cannot brook delay;— O song of morning, come at last, And ye who sing it, come away! O song of light, and dawn, and bliss, Sound over earth, and fill these skies, Nor ever, ever, ever cease Thy soul-entrancing melodies. Glad song of this disburdened earth, Which holy voices then shall sing; Praise for creation’s second birth, And glory to creation’s King! —Hymns of Faith and Hope, Second Series (James Nisbet & Co., 1878). Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Please don’t miss worshiping with your local congregation if you can possibly help it. But if you’re in need of a good sermon, try these. Tweets about "sermon from:thethirstytheo" !function(d,s,id){var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0],p=/^http:/.test(d.location)?'http':'https';if(!d.getElementById(id)){js=d.createElement(s);js.id=id;js.src=p+"://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js";fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}}(document,"script","twitter-wjs");
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Preach Hell, for Heaven’s Sake

Friday··2017·02·17
It seems comforting to deny the reality of hell. Eliminating the threat of God’s eternal judgment takes a great load off the mind. But biblical doctrines go hand-in-hand. Removing the threat of hell also removes the hope of heaven. The comforting ideas which the Scripture gives us of heaven are at an end, if we once deny the reality or eternity of hell. Is there no future separate abode for those who die wicked and ungodly? Are all men, after death, to be mingled together in one confused multitude? Why then, heaven will be no heaven at all! It is utterly impossible for two to dwell happily together except they be agreed.—Is there to be a time when the term of hell and punishment will be over? Are the wicked after ages of misery to be admitted into heaven? Why then, the need of the sanctification of the Spirit is cast aside and despised! I read that men can be sanctified and made meet for heaven on earth: I read nothing of any sanctification in hell. Away with such baseless and unscriptural theories! The eternity of hell is as clearly affirmed in the Bible as the eternity of heaven. Once allow that hell is not eternal, and you may as well say that God and heaven are not eternal. The same Greek word which is used in the expression, ‘everlasting punishment,’ is the word that Is used by the Lord Jesus in the expression, ‘life eternal,’ and by St. Paul in the expression, ‘everlasting God’ (Matt. 25:46; Rom. 16:26). —J. C. Ryle, Holiness (Banner of Truth, 2014), 235–236. Furthermore, denying hell is not the loving act it may seem to be. Where is the charity of keeping back any portion of God’s truth? He is the kindest friend who tells me the whole extent of my danger. Where is the use of hiding the future from the impenitent and the ungodly? Surely it is like helping the devil, if we do not tell them plainly that ‘the soul that sinneth shall surely die.’ Who knows but the wretched carelessness of many baptized persons arises from this, that they have never been told plainly of hell? Who can tell but thousands might be converted, if ministers would urge them more faithfully to flee from the wrath to come? Verily, I fear we are many of us guilty in this matter: there is a morbid tenderness amongst us which is not the tenderness of Christ. We have spoken of mercy, but not of judgment; we have preached many sermons about heaven, but few about hell: we have been carried away by the wretched fear of being thought ‘low, vulgar and fanatical.’ We have forgotten that He who judgeth us is the Lord, and that the man who teaches the same doctrine that Christ taught cannot be wrong. —Ibid., 236–237. Finally, we must believe and profess the doctrines of Scripture, even the unpleasant ones, for own spiritual health. If you would ever be a healthy Scriptural Christian, I entreat you to give hell a place in your theology. Establish it in your mind as a fixed principle, that God is a God of judgment, as well as of mercy; and that the same everlasting counsels which laid the foundation of the bliss of heaven, have also laid the foundation of the misery of hell. Keep in full view of your mind that all who die unpardoned and unrenewed, are utterly unfit for the presence of God and must be lost for ever. They are not capable of enjoying heaven: they could not be happy there. They must go to their own place: and that place is hell.—Oh, it is a great thing in these days of unbelief to believe the whole Bible! —Ibid., 237.

Lord’s Day 11, 2016

Sunday··2017·03·12
I was glad when they said to me, “Let us go to the house of the Lord.” And the city has no need of the sun or of the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God has illumined it, and its lamp isthe Lamb. —Revelation 21:23 The Promised Land Samuel Stennett (1727–1795) On Jordan’s stormy banks I stand, And cast a wishful eye To Canaan’s fair and happy land, Where my possessions lie. O the transporting, rapturous scene, That rises to my sight; Sweet fields arrayed in living green, And rivers of delight! There generous fruits that never fail, On trees immortal grow; There rocks, and hills, and brooks, and vales, With milk and honey flow. All O’er those wide extended plains Shines one eternal day; There God the Son forever reigns, And scatters night away. No chilling winds, or poisonous breath, Can reach that healthful shore; Sickness and sorrow, pain and death, Are felt and feared no more. When I shall reach that happy place, I’ll be forever blest? When shall I see my Father’s face, And in His bosom rest? Filled with delight, my raptured soul Can here no longer stay; Though Jordan’s waves around me roll, Fearless I’d launch away. —Worthy Is the Lamb (Soli Deo Gloria, 2004). Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Please don’t miss worshiping with your local congregation if you can possibly help it. But if you’re in need of a good sermon, try these. Tweets about "sermon from:thethirstytheo" !function(d,s,id){var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0],p=/^http:/.test(d.location)?'http':'https';if(!d.getElementById(id)){js=d.createElement(s);js.id=id;js.src=p+"://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js";fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}}(document,"script","twitter-wjs");
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