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Hebrews 4:3, "For we who have believed do enter that rest, as He has said: "So I swore in My wrath,They shall not enter My rest,"' NKJV
What a wonderful promise God has given to the faithful child of God - rest! Of those who die in the Lord John said, "Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labors, and their works do follow them" (Rev. 14:13). There will be activity without fatigue. There will be no more conflicts with unsubdued lusts, all will be peace within, for all there will be pure. There will be no conflicts with false brethren or discord among a dissatisfied world; for all will be in complete harmony there. No more hungering for bread, for all will be fed from the bountiful table of our infinite God. No more desire for a cup of cold water and no more thirst, because all will drink from the river of life which will quench the ragging desire. No more tears from the eyes of those who now sorrow, for there God will wipe away all tears and remove the fountain of grief. No more sorrow and grief caused by dying, no more hunger, no more thirst, no more fear, and no more death! This rest will be glorious indeed.
Eternity, with its vastness and its issues are before us. And as eternity rolls on, one thing is certain. Thither we are rapidly hastening, and there we shall soon find our eternal abode. What question, therefore, is more important than leaving earthly life With unfearing certainty, and being with all the redeemed of earth when done with time and the fellowship of this world. That there is a lovelier world, not far from each one of us is a conviction cherished by many. This is a conviction that has lived in the hopes and floated through the languages of all the kindreds of earth. But most people of the world will never realize the longings for rest for which they seek, because they live away from God. These blessed promises are for those who "believe to the saving of the soul" (Heb. 11: 19-39)
The Promise of Jesus Christ Our Lord
Jesus promised, "Let not your heart be troubled.: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also. And whither I go ye know, and the way ye know" (John 14:1-4). Those mansions will be the eternal home of all who have followed faithfully the Lamb of God, who died for the sinful world. Heaven is really and truly a place. The expressions, "in heaven," "to heaven," " from heaven," "out of heaven," show that heaven is a place, though we are not told where this place is. It is the spiritual abode of the redeemed of earth who will live at home with God forevermore. Somewhere in space, universal space, unlimited space, with its millions of galaxies and stars without number, there is a spiritual place where the Christian will reap the rewards and share the delights of immortality. No human mind can comprehend the vastness of God's creation. This vast universe in unlimited space, created by the God we love and seek to serve, is a symbol of his omnipotence and omnipresence. But there, somewhere, Christians will meet the God they have loved with all the saved of all the ages. And there without interruption, sing his praises throughout eternity.
Man Longs for Home
Man longs for another life because this life is so incomplete (2 Cor. 5:1-9). In this life we "groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven." The Christian knows that while at home in the fleshly body he is absent from the Lord (2 Cor. 5: 1-10). Though Christ is with those who serve him here, he is not really at home. The Christian, a penitent believer, was buried with Christ in baptism, was raised with him, and lives with him now (Rom. 6: 1-8). Christ promised his apostles, "Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world" (Matt. 28:20). No individual wants to die and go down into the grave alone, and our Lord promises to be with his people on this last journey.
The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leaded me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake. Yea. though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever (Ps. 23: 1-6).
The Christian, with great confidence in God's promises, longs for and lives in hope of living with the glorious heavenly host throughout eternity.
Stranger and Pilgrim
But the Christian is not at home on the earth. He is a stranger and pilgrim here. Job asked, "If a man die, shall he live again? All the days of my appointed time will I wait, till my change come. Thou shall call, and I will answer thee: thou will have a desire to the work of thine hands" (Job 14: 14-15). Of Abraham it is said, "He looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God" (Heb. 11: 10). "But now we desire a better country. that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city" (Heb. 11: 16). Peter tells us that this world is not our home. "Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lust, which war against the soul, having your conversation honest among the Gentiles: that, whereas they speak against you as evildoers, they may by your good works, which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation" (1 Pet. 2:11-12). The word "strangers" means "foreign settlers, dwellers in a strange land." The word "pilgrims" translated "strangers" in 1 Peter 1:1, means "visitors" who tarry for a time in a foreign county, not pennanently settling in it. It is derived from a Latin word that originally meant a "sojourner." Christians are only strangers, pilgrims, or sojourners on the earth and while here they are to "abstain from fleshly lust, which war against the soul" (1 Pet. 2:11).
Who Will Be in Heaven?
Only those in the kingdom of God, which is the church, will be prepared for heaven. "Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father, when he shall put down all rule and all authority and power. For He must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet" (1 Cor. 15:24-25). The church was purchased by the blood of Christ on the cross (Acts 20:28), and to receive the benefits of the blood one must be a faithful member of his church. One must be "born of water and the Spirit" to enter the kingdom (John 3:1-8). One is born of water and the Spirit when he dies to the love, practice, and guilt of sin. This occurs when one believes in Christ, repents of his sins, and is baptized into Christ. From Acts 2: 1-47 we learn that when one hears the gospel of the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ, repents of his sins, and is baptized for the remission of sins, upon the confession of his faith in Christ, the Lord adds him to the church (Acts 2:47; Rom. 10:9-10). The sinner is saved "by grace through faith" (Eph. 2:1-10). This is how one obeys the gospel of Christ, which is God's power to save. All that God does for the sinner is a matter of grace, and all the sinner is required to do is a matter of faith. Being saved from past sins, one is to grow in the likeness of Christ, being faithful in work, worship, and life as long as one lives. He then can die in Christ and receive the rewards of the righteous and the blessings of that wonderful city of God.
Description of Heaven
How could we describe the beauties of this world to one who is blind and deaf? How could we tell how beautiful God's world is. It would be impossible to describe the beauty of the colorful flowers, the strength of mountains, the meandering rivers, and the sparkling lakes that our eyes behold. How could we describe the songs of the birds or the rainbow? To describe the scenes of the heavens, with its billions and trillions of stars that twinkle in the sky, to one who has not seen them would not be possible.
How could God picture to us the glories of his celestial city prepared for the Christian? He takes objects that man considers most valuable. The city of God has walls of jasper, gates of pearl, and streets of gold. There are robes, palms, and crowns upon their heads. On earth there is struggle and toil, pain and parting ending in death and the grave. But there in the majesty of heaven, is life, fellowship, and the glories of eternal redemption in its fullness. The Christian has overcome the devil and in his resistance of evil and obedience to the gospel of Christ has been washed and made white in the blood of the Lamb. Therefore, he is free from the stain of sin before the throne of God and shall serve him day and night. A great change has taken place. The Christian has been the subject of heavenly transformation.
Revelation 7:1-17 gives us a glimpse of the city of God. (1) In heaven there is work without weariness. God made man to work, and we never can be truly happy without it. One is mistaken if he thinks that one who never needs to work, unless he chooses, and never chooses to work is really happy. Employment and enjoyment go together. If one wills to work, one will have great pleasure in his work. In heaven the redeemed are "before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple" (Rev. 7:15). (2) In heaven there will be joy and no sorrow. Here health is a joy, but sickness comes. Food is a great blessing, but famines come. Youth is a time of joy, but old age comes. But this is not so in heaven. "They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more, neither shall the sun light on them, nor any heat" (Rev. 7: 17). (3) In heaven there is safety without danger. The Christian will be beyond the reach of Satan. "And cried with a loud voice, saying, Salvation to our God which sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb" (Rev. 7:10). (4) In heaven there will be rest without end. Hebrews 4: 1-11 speaks of this rest and urges all to "labor to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief." Revelation 21:1-27 and Revelation 22:1-5 draw back the corner of the curtain and give us a faint view of the Christian's home with God.
We cannot grasp the full extent of heaven's glory. The Christian with all of the redeemed of all the ages will be there throughout eternity . We cannot count the years of eternity, nor understand the grandeur of the place prepared for the redeemed of the earth. We have only a dim outline of the heaven of our hope and what it means to be at home with God.
By: bro Quentin McCay Passed from this life on June 19, 2007Athens, Alabama)
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