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Archive for the ‘Eternity’ Category

1. You must love Jesus. I don’t care if you’re a “good Christian boy.” I was one of those too. So I know the tricks. I’m going to ask you specific, heart-testing questions about your spiritual affections, your daily devotional life, your idols, your disciplines, and the like. I’ll cut you a little bit of slack because you’re young and hormonal and your pre-frontal lobe isn’t fully developed yet, but I’ll be watching you like a hawk. I know you. I was you. You will think you can fool me, and you likely have fooled many other dads who didn’t pay much attention to their daughters’ suitors, but I will be on you like Bourne on that guy whose neck he broke. Which guy was that? Every guy. So love Jesus more than my daughter or go home.
2. You will install X3Watch or Covenant Eyes on your computer and mobile devices and have your regular reports sent to me.

3. I will talk to your dad and tell him I will hold him responsible if you don’t treat my daughter like a lady. If he thinks I’m a crazy person, you fail the test and won’t get to date her. If he understands what I’m saying, that bodes well for you.

4. You will pay for everything. Oh, sure, every now and then my daughter can buy you a Coke or something and a gift on your birthday and at Christmas. But you pay for meals, movies, outings, whatever else. Don’t have a job? I’m sorry, why I am talking to you again?

5. You will accept my Facebook friend request.

6. If it looks like you need a belt to hold your pants up, I will assume you don’t have a job. See #4.

7. Young people dating are putting their best face forward, so if you appear impatient, ill-tempered, or ill-mannered, I know you will gradually become more so over time. I will have no jerks dating my daughters.

8. If I am not your pastor, I will talk to the man who is. If your pastor is a woman, why I am talking to you, again?

9. You don’t love my daughter. You have no idea what love is. You like her and you mightlove her someday. That’s an okay start with me, so put the seatbelt on the mushy gushy stuff. Don’t profess your undying love, quote stupid love song lyrics to her, tell her you’d die for her, or feed her any other boneheaded lines that are way out of your depth as a horny little idiot. A lady’s heart is a fragile thing. If you play with hers, I will show you yours.

10. If you ever find yourself alone with my daughter, don’t panic. Just correct the situation immediately. If I ever catch you trying to get alone with my daughter, that would be the time to panic.

11. It may sound like I’m joking in threatening you harm, and while I might not physically hurt you if you offend my daughter or violate her honor, when I am addressing the issue with you, you will not be laughing.

12. You may think all this sounds very legalistic. That’s fine. You can be one of the many antinomians not dating my daughter.

http://thinklings.org/posts/so-you-want-to-date-my-daughter

Some things are just better left as is.

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What about our relationships with other believers? Specifically, what about your spouse? Jesus famously said that in heaven there is no marriage nor giving of marriage. (Mtt.22.30) No doubt for some beleaguered souls this will be a great relief, but for those of us who treasure our spouses and that marital communion, this is a bit of downer. Or is it?

Let’s think about the unique relationship of earthly spouses (at least ideally). Your spouse is the one who has chosen you, the one who loves you in spite of your flaws; he one who would choose you again anyway, the one with whom you build a life, ministries, memories of all kinds. Will this end? Will you be oblivious to your spouse?
● Will you know your spouse? YES

● Will you remember that he/she was your spouse? YES. Just because you are in eternity does not mean you forget this life. Your perspective of the events of this life will be transformed, but you won’t have a memory wipe after the Bema of Christ.

● Will your relationship change toward your spouse? YES. It will be better than you ever experienced here or could ever imagine.

● Will your spouse mean nothing more to you than anyone else? NO. Remember even Christ had followers who were closer to Him than others. We will still be finite in eternity and will not be capable of having the same kind of intimate relationship with everyone that an infinite being like God can. So we will have close friends without cliques.

I don’t fully understand this. I have to accept this by faith. But I am looking forward to knowing Jill better than ever and loving her more and more throughout eternal ages.

Finally, what about those Christians we frankly just don’t like? Let’s face it, we all know Christians that are just obnoxious, irritating, bothersome, or in a whole host of ways just plain unlikeable. Let’s examine a few different facets of this truth to understand it.

That obnoxious Christian will be redeemed! He’s going to be changed. … and so will you. You  will be redeemed in our likes, dislikes, emotions, and thoughts. You won’t keep attributing poor motives to that person you just don’t like. You will find them more likeable because you will be different.

You will also be rejoicing together with them in a joint delight. Let’s compare this to being at a sporting event for your favorite team. I love the Browns (pray for me-and them), and I have attended a few games. I can tell you from first hand experience that there are whole hosts of Browns fans that I would cross the street to avoid under normal circumstances. But at the game when (if) the Browns score, I’m high-fiving them and whooping and hollering like we had grown up together. How much greater will be our union in Christ?

This union and harmony and delight in one another will allow for a community of enthusiastic, constant, corporate worship in all its varied expressions that we only occasionally glimpse here and now. Remember that we assign too narrow a definition to the idea of worship. All of life is worship. Playing with your kids can be worship. A heart-to-heart conversation with a friend can be worship. Every part of our relationships in eternity will serve to make God look good, and that’s worship.

 

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What about our relationship with God? How will this be different? John now builds to the climax of his vision as he explains “They shall see His face, and His name shall be written on their foreheads.” (Rev 22.4)

This is another verse that has lost its breathtaking impact through years of familiarity. Recall the consistent teaching of Scripture since man’s fall: sinful man was not permitted to see God’s face. God went so far as to command the Jews not to attempt to make an image depicting Him. Moses could not see His face and live. Jesus said that no man has seen the Father. God had to be veiled in flesh in order to be seen and even then Jesus’ disciples were struck to babbling incoherence when God allowed them a slightly greater glimpse of His glory.

But in eternity we will see His face, gazing upon His beauty (Ps 27.4) and in His light seeing light. (Ps 36.9)

Many believers have misunderstood 1 Corinthians 13.12 “For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.” I want to explain what this verse is not saying and then what it does tell us.

This is not saying that we will know God fully and completely. This is not a knowledge of quantity. We are finite and will remain finite. There are many attributes of God that we will only possess in a limited sense. For instance, God is life. We have life, but He is eternal and we are only everlasting. He had no beginning while we do. In the same way, only God is infinite in knowledge, wisdom and understanding.

So if the verse is not saying we will know everything about God, what does it mean? First, it is a knowledge of proximity; we will go from faith to sight. (By the way, I do not think that this will remove faith from our relationship in eternity. Rather we will have perfect faith without being tainted by misgivings.)

Secondly, 1 Cor 13.12 is speaking of a knowledge of relationship. There is a difference between your ‘knowledge’ of, say, a historical person and your spouse. There are things about Jill’s likes and dislikes that I ‘know’ even though we have never discussed it. I just know her well enough to know. Because we will see Him face to face our relationship-knowledge will grow and deepen and become richer and more intimate and personal for all eternity.

Third, this describes a  quality of knowledge. There will be an openness to our relationship that we have never known before. How much of your relationship-on your part-is closed off by sin? There will be a desire for God that we have only dimly known before. And there is a profoundly intense intimacy reserved for us in eternity. Have you ever meditated on Revelation 2.17 where we are told that each believer will have a name known only to the believer and God. We often give loved ones nicknames that encapsulate your intimate relationship with that person. Imagine this: God has a nickname just for you!

Finally, It is a knowledge that grows. I love this. We will remain finite and subject therefore to change. So for all eternity we will have opportunity to learn more and more of One infinite in every way. We all meet some people who seem to have no depth, and after a 15 minute ‘conversation’ you figure you’ve explored everything there is to know. Imagine getting to know an infinite being and having all eternity to get to know them.

Why would we ever think that an intimate relationship with an infinite being would ever be boring?

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God has made us social creatures. We are made to have relationships with Him and with others. Will that change in eternity? To hear some Christians talk, we will be so enamored with God that nothing else, no one else will matter. Is that true? Will we be like slack-jawed junior highers gazing at God to the exclusion of everyone else?

NOOOO!!!! We are created for multiple relationships. We learn of God through our relationships with others. So what will we be like socially? What will change in our relationships?

Once again we are reminded that there will be no sin and no sinners. (Rev 21) Everyone there has been forgiven. No one there desires sin any longer. Everyone there is being fully sanctified and is being further sanctified.

For the first time there will be a true one world government and this government will actually work! But this government will not be a governance of one. God delegates responsibilities to mankind and that will continue.
(Is 60.10-12) “Foreigners shall build up your walls, and their kings shall minister to you; for in my wrath I struck you, but in my favor I have had mercy on you. [11] Your gates shall be open continually; day and night they shall not be shut, that people may bring to you the wealth of the nations, with their kings led in procession. [12] For the nation and kingdom that will not serve you shall perish; those nations shall be utterly laid waste.”
Rev 21.24 By its light will the nations walk, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it.”

So there will be nations and cities and communities, all dwelling together in unity and diversity in perfect harmony. Thabiti Anyabwile said that ”the Church is multi-ethnic, but mono-cultural” (2010 T4G), and this will realize its fulfilment in eternity. The insipid Christmas Coke commercials will come to pass.

Every relationship will be fundamentally changed for the better. No need to wonder about ulterior motives. No distrust of one another. No need for Reagan’s quip about the most dangerous words in the English language, “I’m from the government and I’m here to help.” Imagine a world where each person truly desires the best for others and helps them achieve their God-given purposes.

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joy’s eternal increase

Dr. Sam Storms gave a memorable talk at the 2003 Desiring God Conference that focused on Jonathan Edwards. He titled his talk Joy’s Eternal Increase: Edwards on the Beauty of Heaven and here are several quotes from his address:

quoting Jonathan Edwards- “Is it not the case with angels, that though they are perfect and sinless, yet their knowledge and joy increase? Do they not, according to Peter, long to look into the things pertaining to redemption, indicating that though they are perfect, they don’t know everything? Is it not the case that they rejoice when a sinner repents? Although they are in the presence of God, their joy therefore can increase? And if that be true of angels, how much more so true of the redeemed?”

Sam Storms’ thoughts from Edwards comments- “There will never come a time in heaven when we will know all that can be known, or enjoy all that can be enjoyed. We will never plumb the depth of gratification of God or reach its end. Our satisfaction and delight and joy in Him are subject to incessant increase. When it comes to heavenly euphoria, words such as termination and cessation and expiration and finality are utterly and absolutely inappropriate.” Heaven is not a static, unchanging, immutable state “as if to suggest that once we get there at the beginning, we will get all that we will ever get at that moment.”

quoting Edwards again- “If our ideas and thoughts of God increase in Heaven (and how can they not insofar as He is infinite?), then so also must the joy and the delight and the fascination that those ideas generate.”

Psalm 16.11 “You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” (I don’t think God intends us to think of “fullness of joy” and “pleasures forevermore” as poetic hyperbole. They are literal!)

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The Bible explains much more than we first realize about the physical environment we will experience throughout eternity, but what about us? What will we be like throughout those endless ages? Will we remain the same? Will you ever be tempted and even sin in some distant age? Won’t you get bored? After all, how interesting can it be to be good. all. the. time?

The Scriptural teaching about our eternal condition can be seen through two parallel yet distinct lenses. First, we will be utterly and completely changed/transformed; we will be morally holy/righteous through and through.

Romans 12.2 will be fully accomplished. You will be transformed. You will not sin. You will not be a sinner. You will worship God as you have always been intended to, with all of your heart and soul (immaterial), and strength and mind (material).

Second, We will be physically perfect, yet still finite; we will be always growing, always changing. We will be like God in His moral attributes, but only reflect God in His non-moral attributes.  God, because He is infinite, is not capable of change. Finite humanity is ever-changing. In this age we Christians feel the tension of putting off-putting on. In the age to come we will only be putting on greater Christlikeness. Even in eternity we will experience the ‘already but not yet.’

Well, let’s examine some keys to how this will play out.

Physically. We will experience full adoption. Romans 8.23 says that we are waiting “eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.” Right now we live as redeemed spirits in sin-corrupted flesh. In eternity we our bodies will be redeemed so that they will contribute to our growth in godliness. We will still be finite/limited in our strength, abilities, talents, and other capabilities, but we will have an eternal ability to grow and develop. All this so we may worship fully as both an immaterial and material being.

(1 Cor 15.35-48 gives us fascinating hints through analogy of how much we will be transformed.)

Spiritually. We will be sealed in our rejection of sin and sealed in our choice of righteousness. This will allow us to experience permanent, unrestrained growth in sanctification/glorification. This growth no doubt will take place experientially as we serve God without limitations.

I believe we will also grow in our understanding of why God did what He did in our lives. I believe that those many unanswered ‘why’ questions will be answered. Each layer of God’s wisdom in His actions toward us being progressively unveiled for our growth in understanding Him. All of this will encompass true, complete, and growing worship by an unrestrained worshiper.

Intellectually & Emotionally. Will we have desires, ambitions, hopes, and dreams? I believe we will.

God has desires for us. He has made us in His image and we experience these hopes and dreams now. Why would that change in eternity? Simply because they can be fully realized, doesn’t mean that they can be all realized at once.

Think of your desires to be married. I know for myself, I wasn’t thinking about kidlets until after we were married. Now, I can’t think of life without them. Won’t it be much the same in eternity as one desire fulfilled leads to another and another and another?

These desires will be proper prioritized. (Ps 27.4) And, think of this, they will be nourishing rather than withering or corroding as so many of our sinful desires are now. They will be wholly satisfying yet stimulating more desires

We will love God and others without taint, perversion, or limitation. Not the mindless ‘love’ of a junior high crush. Not the sappy sentimentalism of pop music, chick flicks, or Christian romance novels. We will rather love God and others with a purity, perfection, and an intense completeness (Mk 12.28-31)

Our joy and delight will be complete yet every growing and developing and ever expanding. Only God is omniscient. Our knowledge and understanding and wisdom will always be growing and that growth in understanding will lead to greater love and joy and delight, which will lead to greater understanding. Forever!

Consider your marriage (or the ideal of marriage if you are unmarried or not blessed with a harmonious union): You loved your spouse when you married them. I am sure that you loved them completely. But that love is a pale shadow of the love you have for them now as you have grown in knowing them.

Think also of a balloon. You can blow air into it and it is completely filled, right? But wait, you can blow more air in. We will be like those balloons, ever growing, ever expanding in our knowledge of and love for and delight in God and one another.

Selah-imagine that!

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Rev 21-22 pt5

(oops, I forgot to post this earlier in the week.)

Mark Dever described John’s final glimpse of New Jerusalem as “the city bustling with life.” (Rev 22.1-5) I like that. It reminds me how much in this world is weary and worn down, and how at even the best of times, we experience a mere shadow of the energy and vitality of Life at its full swelling surge.

Once again John notes several things that are present and one major element that is missing.

He sees first “the river of the water of life.” (.1-2) It is bright as crystal and flowing from God’s throne. I believe he is seeing a similar vision to Ezekiel’s (ch 47) river that was immensely wide. When this is combined with “the tree of life” that he next observes, we are quickly reminded of Psalm 1, and the life-giving properties mentioned there. Interestingly, in eternity the water gives life and the tree does as well, for the “leaves are for healing of the nations.”

Defining and explaining a thing is often best accomplished by describing what it is and what it is not. Such is the case here as John explains that “there will no longer be any curse” (NAS). That fatal flaw woven into creation because of man’s sin will be expunged forever. Jesus died and was raised to reverse the curse, and now it is fully accomplished.

Sit back and give this thought-experiment a whirl: What would the world and life be like if the Curse were removed completely? See if your head doesn’t begin swimming! Leave some comments about what occurs to you.

John returns to what he sees, building to the pinnacle of our eternal home. He sees the throne of God that has come down from heaven to the redeemed New Earth, which is filled with busy service to God. The verse says that “His servants will worship Him,” and the word translated ‘worship’ is the same root verb that is translated “reasonable service” in Rom 12.1.

Our worship of God will not be just mindlessly singing chants or praise songs, hymns or oratorios. We will worship Him in all we do, in every way, through every moment.

No doubt the highest point of John’s description is wrapped into this short statement pregnant with meaning, “They will see His face.” Contrast this with the reaction of unbelievers (Rev 6.16, 20.11) who feared His face.

Not even Moses could see God’s face and live. Yet we will be welcomed to see Him face-to-face. This is called “The Beatific Vision” or “The Blessed Vision”, and it will be eternally transformative (2 Cor 3.16-18).

“God’s gift of heaven is first and foremost, consumed with the centrality of God such that for the first time, without any footnotes, any taint, we will know, experientially what it means to obey what Jesus calls the most important commandment: to love Him with heart and soul and mind and strength. And we will be so transformed in this Beatific Vision that we will know experientially what it means to love our neighbor as ourselves.

And so Christians in every generation, in every century, in every country, all over the world have learned to come together and pray in words drawn from the end of this chapter, ‘Yes. Even so come, Lord Jesus’.”  DA Carson

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