Tag Archives: The Kingdom of Heaven

and the life everlasting.

(This is part eighteen of a multi-entry blog series exploring the Apostles’ Creed.)

After discussing the resurrection of the body in the previous post, we’ll be looking at what the Creed says we resurrect to; namely

“the life everlasting.”

There have been entire books written about this subject, but I want to highlight a few simple aspects of the life everlasting that I find particularly encouraging.
First, there is a reason that Christians throughout the ages have endured hardships and suffering with joy that is glorious and inexpressible (1 Pt 1:8). Peter wrote that we have been born again to a “living hope” (1 Pt 1:3). He wrote that through the resurrection of Christ, we have been granted “an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you” (1 Pt 1:9). But here’s the kicker, in the next verse Peter wrote that they were rejoicing in their future inheritance, “though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials” and that these trials serve as a test to see the genuineness of their faith (1 Pt 1:6).
It’s that “for a little while” that catches my eye. How long is “a little while”? Is it a few hours? Is it a few days? A week? A month? A year? A decade? Since Peter was just speaking about our eternal inheritance, it makes perfect sense to read the phrase “a little while” within the context of our entire lives. Eternity is a long time; our life on this earth is “a little while.” If we view our lives from an eternal perspective, we will see how short and temporary this life truly is! The brevity of life cannot be overstated.
It’s this perspective that allowed Barb to finish well. It’s this perspective that will empower you to finish well. It’s the promise of a life everlasting that gives us hope, if not for this life, then for the life to come.
This is our great hope; our great joy; and the secret of Christian contentment: the life everlasting.
Second, do you know what will be the best part about Heaven? God! We get to spend eternity with a perfect being that offers endless love and infinite joy; if that sounds boring to you then it’s only because you fail to grasp the fact that God has infinite glory. We could never get tired of worshiping Him; we could never get bored with Him. It’s like Amazing Grace says:
“When we’ve been there ten thousand years,
Bright shining as the sun,
We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise,
Than when we first begun.”
It’s an impossible concept to grasp this side of eternity, but we will never run out of reasons to worship our God. Never. We must remember this: the thing that will make Heaven so heavenly is the fact that we will be with God forever.
Third and finally, we will all experience Heaven uniquely! Consider Revelation 2:17b, which says: “To the one who conquers I will give some of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone, with a new name written on the stone that no one knows except the one who receives it.”
Did you catch that? We’ll each get a name that no one else knows! C. S. Lewis, in The Problem of Pain, wrote very profoundly of this passage:

What can be more a man’s own than this new name which even in eternity remains a secret between God and him? And what shall we take this secrecy to mean? Surely, that each of the redeemed shall forever know and praise some one aspect of the divine beauty better than any other creature can. Why else were individuals created, but that God, loving all infinitely, should love each differently? And this difference, so far from impairing, floods with meaning the love of all blessed creatures for one another, the communion of the saints. If all experienced God in the same way and returned Him an identical worship, the song of the church triumphant would have no symphony, it would be like an orchestra in which all the instruments played the same note.

At the risk of sounding silly… THIS BLOWS MY MIND!! You will have a unique, intimate communion with God for all eternity. There are dozens of other facets concerning Heaven and eternity that could be explored, but those are probably my three favorite. Praise be to God for the grace He extends in His salvation!

Pass the mustard, please?

(For one of my classes I had to write about the Kingdom of Heaven; although I don’t normally post my homework on here I really enjoyed this assignment and thought I’d share. I hope this encourages you, blesses you with a deeper appreciation of the Kingdom, and challenges you to advance the Kingdom.)

The “Kingdom of Heaven” is a topic that I think has been convoluted by many different people I’ve encountered. I’ve definitely appreciated the opportunity to study this topic further. What I find interesting is that the first person to mention the Kingdom of Heaven was actually John the Baptist in Matthew 3:2 when he proclaims, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” When Jesus starts His public ministry, He then uses a similar phrase in Mark 1:15:  “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.” See also Matthew 5:17. In Luke 4:43, Jesus said His purpose in coming was to preach the Kingdom of God. (From my initial scan, the Kingdom does not seem to be a prominent theme in John at all.)

The thing that interests me the most about the Kingdom of Heaven is that it seems like it was such a radical, groundbreaking, revolutionary idea that Jesus was unable to just speak of it plainly; He had to describe it in parables. I wanted to look at the series of parables found in Matthew 13.

Jesus starts in Matt 13:1-9 by describing four different types of soil. First, I think it’s important to note that the seed never changed. This is a call to all Christians in general and preachers in particular to make sure that your message is legitimate seed. If I’m not sowing the right seed, then I’m actually an enemy planting weeds (we’ll get to that in a minute). Second, this parable calls us to examine our hearts; has the “word of the kingdom” (Matthew 13:19) taken root in your heart? Are you producing a harvest? Third, this parable reminds us that we are not responsible for whether or not a seed takes root; it’s not up to us, nor is it our job to somehow change the soil.

The next parable, in Matt 13:24-30, Jesus tells us that within the kingdom of heaven, there will be weeds. I think I agree with Augustine’s assessment that this means there will Christians and non-Christians within the churches we attend, but in light of the previous parable, I can’t help but see a subtle warning to us preachers. What seed are we planting? Are we planting weeds? Or are we planting the word of the kingdom? At the harvest time, will your fruit be taken into the barn? Or will your fruit be bound and burned?

The final parable in this series, (Matt 13:31-33), takes a look at how this seed should reproduce. Turns out, the Kingdom of Heaven should be spreading like a weed! According to the University of California’s Pest Management Program, mustard is a weed! What saddens me about this parable is that I don’t see this rapid, uncontrollable spread of the Gospel in our society. We seem to be on a steady decline and I’m eager to help change that. But that begs the question “Is the modern American Church planting the right seed?”