There are many different views of heaven. Yet the Biblical Heaven is a place where there is no sin and the related consequences like death, sickness and crime to name a few. A Biblical understanding of heaven is a huge motivator to Jesus’ followers to press forward for that time when we are there with Jesus, forever.
The topic of heaven came up today in our Men’s Bible study group about how different it will be in heaven in that we will not be capable of sinning. The comment hit me how appropriate it was to the verse we were discussing. “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.” (Romans 12:1) The phrase that I want to focus your attention on is “to present your bodies as a living sacrifice.” Paul’s admonition is based on the previous eleven chapters on the teaching on salvation by grace. Let’s tease out a few practical take homes from this phrase and verse.
First, I am reminded that my choice to live for Jesus is 100% voluntary. Now the Holy Spirit will be prodding us to do what is right but we still have to choose to put God’s grace into action. The reason why this is so important will become clear in a moment, but bringing heaving into our world does not happen automatically. It does not happen because I consider myself a Christian, it does not happen because I wear a “Christian” t-shirt or put a bumper sticker on my car. It only happens when I make real time choices to put Biblical truth into practice.
Our second take home is built off the previous insight. Our choice is a response to God’s working in our lives not an attempt to gain His favor. Paul reminds us in the first 11 chapters of Romans that we have God’s favor. His admonition in our verse and in the five chapters that follow is to live it out in a practical way. The Lord has already given us the prize.
The third take home is that living out Biblical truth is genuine “spiritual worship.” What this means is that there is more to worship than the emotional side. The practical side, the most overlooked, is when we act in a way that Jesus would act in the situation of our lives.
What stood out to me from the comment about heaven is our fourth take home. It is when we live this way, we are actually bringing heaven to earth. Think about this, our living an other-centered life gives those around us a taste of what Heaven is really like. I know we are imperfect and sin, but when we live in God’s forgiveness the light of heaven sneaks out when we forgive others. This also happened each time we demonstrate humility with putting others first, more of the glory of heaven is revealed.
I know many of us are wondering if the Lord’s return in the rapture is near. The cultural current seems to indicate that more and more each year. For those of us that know Christ, we will experience the glory of heaven when He returns. The Lord reminded the Apostle John, “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” (Revelation 21:4) Yes, that day is coming, but now you and I can give others a little glimpse of glory by practicing our faith!
-Pastor Joe Parkinson