Sam Storms: In the opening words of his prayer to the Father in John 17, Jesus defines for us the essence of eternal life. “And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent” (John 17:3). Sometimes I get the feeling that such texts as this were written distinctively and intentionally for our day and time. Of course, they are written for all God’s people in every age, but it is hard to think of a more immediately relevant statement to what we are facing today than what we find in v. 3. In a day when many are insisting that Allah, the alleged ‘god’ of Islam, is one and the same with the God and Father of Jesus Christ, this text is a ringing denunciation of that claim. Notice first that Jesus says the Father is “the only true God.” And this “Father” is explicitly said on countless occasions
The Key to Contentment
From New Morning Mercies: A Daily Gospel Devotional by Paul David Tripp: Stop Living for the Moment There is no doubt about it—the Bible is a big-picture book that calls us to big-picture living. It stretches the elasticity of your mind as it calls you to think about things before the world began and thousands of years into eternity. The Bible simply does not permit you to live for the moment. It doesn’t give you room to shrink your thoughts, desires, words, and actions down to whatever spontaneous thought, emotion, or need grips you at any given time. In a moment, your thoughts can seem more important than they actually are. In a moment, your emotions can seem more reliable than they really are. In a moment, your needs can seem more essential than they truly are. We are meant to live lives that are connected to beginnings and to endings. And we are meant to live this way because
Why heaven will never be boring
What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived— the things God has prepared for those who love him. (1 Cor. 2:9) Dave Radford: Have you ever worried that you might grow bored in heaven, that things may lose their luster or taste, that the whole novelty and intrigue of heaven might fade as do most things on earth? When you sing, “When we’ve been there ten thousand years . . . we’ve no less days to sing his praise than when we’d first begun,” do you wonder whether or not to be encouraged by such a statement? Sure, eternal life sounds wonderful at first. But unless you have a firm grasp on what the Bible has to say about eternal life, you may begin to wonder. Eternity really is a long time, you might think.Is this something I really desire? After ten million years, will I really have the same desire I once had to go on living here? At the
Sam Storms: Look with me at what Paul says in Ephesians 2:7. God made us alive together with Christ and raised us up with him “so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.” If you ever wondered what God’s going to do in heaven, there it is! The ultimate motivation in God’s heart for saving lost souls was so that they might become, throughout all eternity, trophies on display for all to see the magnificence and the surpassing riches of God’s grace in kindness in Christ! He employs the plural “ages” to make the point that like waves incessantly crashing on the shore, one upon another, so the ages of eternity future will, in endless succession, echo the celebration of sinners saved by grace, all to the glory of God. There will not be in heaven a one-time momentary display of God’s goodness, but an everlasting, ever-increasing infusion and impartation
Eternally Swallowed Up
Jonathan Edwards, reflecting on seeing Christ in the next life, while preaching on 2 Corinthians 5:8 at the funeral of David Brainerd: The nature of this glory of Christ that they shall see, will be such as will draw and encourage them, for they will not only see infinite majesty and greatness; but infinite grace, condescension and mildness, and gentleness and sweetness, equal to his majesty . . . so that the sight of Christ’s great kingly majesty will be no terror to them; but will only serve the more to heighten their pleasure and surprise. . . . The souls of departed saints with Christ in heaven, shall have Christ as it were unbosomed unto them, manifesting those infinite riches of love towards them, that have been there from eternity. . . . They shall eat and drink abundantly, and swim in the ocean of love, and be eternally swallowed up in the infinitely bright, and infinitely mild and sweet beams
Set your hope fully
Michael McKinley: …Set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. (1 Peter 1:13 ESV) The character and object of a man’s hope determines almost everything that’s important about him. But look at what the apostle Peter says about our hope: Notice the verb he uses. Our hope is something that we must “set”. It’s not a passive process, but we must actively choose to locate our hope and place it in something. Our hope can be set to greater or lesser degrees. It can be “fully” set on something or it can be set half-heartedly. Hope looks to something we don’t have right now but that will be brought to us, namely, the fullness of grace (the amazing blessings!) that will be brought when Jesus is revealed. Pastoral ministry and the Christian life in general are often marked by (a sometimes holy) discontent. We are constantly aware of deficiencies,
Letter to a 12-Year-Old Girl About the Eternal Destiny of Those Who Have Not Heard the Gospel
By John Piper: Dear [Sarah], You asked what happens to people who live far away from the gospel and have never heard about Jesus and die without faith in him. Here is what I think the Bible teaches. God always punishes people because of what they know and fail to believe. In other words, no one will be condemned for not believing in Jesus who has never heard of Jesus. Does that mean that people will be saved and go to heaven if they have never heard of Jesus? No, that is not what God tells us in the Bible. The main passage in the Bible that talks about this is Romans 1:18–23. Here is what it says. Then I’ll make a comment or two. For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. 19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature,have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that havebeen
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What can earth do to you…?
“Now suppose both death and hell were utterly defeated. Suppose the fight was fixed. Suppose God took you on a crystal ball trip into your future and you saw with indubitable certainty that despite everything — your sin, your smallness, your stupidity — you could have free for the asking your whole crazy heart’s deepest desire: heaven, eternal joy. Would you not return fearless and singing? What can earth do to you, if you are guaranteed heaven? To fear the worst earthly loss would be like a millionaire fearing the loss of a penny — less, a scratch on a penny.” Peter Kreeft, Heaven (San Francisco, 1989), page 183. (HT: Ray Ortlund)
What Are the “Rewards” in Heaven and Should They Motivate Us?
Justin Taylor writes: The Gospel Coalition has posted my answer for a recent “TGC Asks” regarding the nature of heavenly rewards and whether the prospect of receiving them should motivate our actions now. In its most general sense, “reward” (Greek, misthos) is the appropriate consequence or consummation of a course of action. Sometimes it is rendered as “wages” (Matt. 20:8;Luke 10:7; John 4:36). Negatively, Judas’s blood money is called “the reward of his wickedness” (Acts 1:18). Positively, “reward” (which is always in the singular in the NT) refers to entering eternal life. And the greatest joy of heaven will be seeing God face to face (Rev. 22:4). Every believer longs for the day when “we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is” (1 John 3:2), when we shall “enter into the joy of [our] master” (Matt. 25:21, 23). “They shall see God” (Matt. 5:8) and “your reward is great in heaven” (Matt. 5:12) are ultimately referring to the same thing.
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From Sam Storms’ – To the One Who Conquers: 50 Daily Meditations on the Seven Letters of Revelation 2-3 (Crossway) (used with permission) Chapter 50 – Enthroned! (Revelation 3:21-22) “The one who conquers, I will grant him to sit with me on my throne, as I also conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches” No matter how many times I read this promise, I struggle to believe it. That’s not because I doubt its inspiration or accuracy. Jesus meant what he said and I embrace it. But to think of myself enthroned with Christ is simply more than I can fathom. Others of you may have a better grip on this than I do, but it strikes me as so utterly outlandish, not to mention presumptuous and prideful, that I blink at the words and have to pause simply to catch my breath.
Perhaps the Most Staggering Promise in the Bible
John Piper: What does Jesus mean when he says to the church in Laodicea, “The one who conquers, I will grant him to sit with me on my throne, as I also conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne” (Revelation 3:21)? Sit with Jesus on his throne? Really? This is a promise to everyone who conquers, that is, who presses on in faith to the end (1 John 5:4), in spite of every threatening pain and luring pleasure. So, if you are a believer in Jesus, you will sit on the throne of the Son of God who sits on the throne of God the Father. I take “throne of God” to signify the right and authority to rule the universe. So Jesus promises us a share in the rule of all things. Is this what Paul has in mind in Ephesians 1:22–23? “And he put all things under Christ’s feet and gave him as head over all things
More than Adam lost
“Christ was the second Adam. He came not only to bear our punishment for us but also to obtain for us the righteousness and life that Adam had to secure by his obedience. He delivered us from guilt and punishment and placed us at the end of the road Adam had to walk, not at the beginning. He gives us much more than we lost in Adam, not only the forgiveness of sin and release from punishment but also and immediately – in faith – the not-being-able to sin and not-being-able to die.” (Reformed Dogmatics Volume 3: Sin and Salvation in Christ, Baker Academic, p. 395). (HT: Guy Davies)
Forward lies the crown
“In our Christian pilgrimage it is well, for the most part, to be looking forward. Forward lies the crown—and onward is the goal. Whether it is for hope, for joy, for consolation, or for the inspiring of our love—the future must, after all, be the grand object of the eye of faith. Looking into the future, the Christian sees sin cast out, the body of sin and death destroyed, the soul made perfect, and fit to be a partaker of eternal glory. Looking further yet, the believer’s enlightened eye can see death’s river passed. He sees himself enter within the pearly gates, hailed as more than conqueror, crowned by the hand of Christ, embraced in the arms of Jesus, glorified with Him, and made to sit together with Him on His throne.” —Charles Spurgeon, “The Grand Object of the Eye of Faith” (HT: Of First Importance)
In God, heaven
“The Scriptures constantly teach that man’s only true happiness is in God, and that his full happiness in God cannot be attained in this life, but that believing men have that happiness assured to them in the life to come. Commenting on John 14:6, Godet says, ‘Jesus here substitutes the Father for the Father’s house. For it is not in heaven that we are to find God, but in God that we are to find heaven.’” Alexander Whyte, An Exposition on the Shorter Catechism, page 137. (HT: Ray Ortlund)
Sam Storms: Calvin on the Joy of the Last Resurrection
Is another “fall” possible in heaven?
From James Grant: In the recent “Ask Pastor John” video, someone asked Piper the following question: “If the Angels could fall, how can we know we won’t?” This is a great question, and you can watch Piper’s answer here. Piper’s answer appeals to the doctrine of perseverance. The fact that God holds us in His hand, and no one can pluck us out of His hand, applies not only to perseverance in this life, but also the life to come. That is indeed a helpful way to look at this issue. With the doctrine of perseverance, we should also consider justification and union with Christ. We can see this clearly as we examine the different states of mankind. This structure of history that comes from St. Augustine and is adopted by the Puritans. Thomas Boston (and others) called this the “four-fold estate of man.” One of my early posts addressed this matter. You can read that post here, but here