By Meg Bucher, Crosswalk.com
Jesus’ death on the cross allows us to embrace the soul-gripping freedom of eternity that we are invited to share in as Christians.
“But for all who did receive and trust in Him, He gave them the right to be reborn as children of God” (John 1:12, VOICE).
Humanity is born into a curse of sin we cannot control, but we serve a God who has made a way for us to escape it. This Biblical promise guarantees that “every ear will have a chance to hear,” and Jesus will not come back until then. But He will be back. For those who have accepted Him as our Savior, we will get to gaze into the face of Peace and embrace the King of Kings.
There will be no sickness, death, pain, or suffering in Heaven (Revelation 21:4). We will be reunited with believers who have gone before us (1 Thessalonians 4:17). All of the questions that we have stored up will fall away in the midst of the glory that will surround us when we finally arrive home.
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1. Our Future is Bright
“I am the light that shines through the cosmos; if you walk with Me, you will thrive in the nourishing light that gives life and will not know darkness” (John 8:12, VOICE).
When Jesus was born on earth, angels appeared to the shepherds in the fields (Luke 2:8-16). In an instant, the pitch black sky burst forth with blinding light. Jesus assured us that following Him would lead us to the light, keep us within the light, and promise us a bright future (John 8:12). The VOICE version uses the word “nourishing”, which conveys a sense of continued growth throughout eternity. When we follow the light of Jesus, we live past this earth and on to eternity.
The NIV notes on this verse compare the light of Jesus in our present-day lives to that of the pillar of cloud the Israelites followed in the desert (Exodus 13:21). If we follow Jesus, we “will not know darkness.” Not here on earth, or after we pass away from it.
“For you are all children of light. You are sons and daughters of the day. We are not created of night, nor are we owned by darkness” (1 Thessalonians 5:5, VOICE).
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2. Earthly End Signifies Eternal Beginning
“For he has rescued us from the kingdom of darkness and transferred us into the Kingdom of his dear Son” (Colossians 1:13, NLT).
Past this life, we move on to meet Christ. Our earthly ending signifies an eternal beginning. To meet Him in Heaven will trump the embrace of the most beloved person to us on this earth. Every tear will be wiped away. Every hurt, healed.
The remnant of our earthly days are God-purposed to represent a piece of His Kingdom on earth. Jesus-surrendered hearts have the ability to cast light on a quickly darkening world. We are humanity’s life-light. Sirens blare as hearts fail and fall away. Our job is to live while we trod this earth in a way that tells of His love.
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3. Our Place is Reserved
“Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you. I have called you by name; you are mine” (Isaiah 43:1b).
Acceptance of Christ as our Savior (salvation) guarantees our place with Him in Heaven. God has purposed every life on this earth. Jesus went to the cross for every single one of us “so that not one will be lost.” The Author of life loves every soul. He knows the fear in our hearts, and has paid the price for our sin.
I’ve heard it said that our names in Heaven will be different than the ones we answer to here on earth. Let’s not put anything past the One who knows our soul from the inside out. We will finally know “why” and see His face. Just like He assured the Israelites they were His chosen people in Isaiah 43:1, we will know without a doubt that we are His.
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4. Eternal Safety
“Now I know that the Lord rescues his anointed king. He will answer him from his holy heaven and rescue him by his great power” (Psalm 20:6).
This verse was part of a prayer to protect the king before he went into battle (NIV notes), but the same reach from Heaven to protect His royalty is true today. Jesus came to rescue us from being cut off from God. He made a way for us to reach in prayer for protection.
As representatives of the King, Christians are covered by His hand. There’s no way to outrun the evil of the world, or the suffering result of sin. The cross permits our reach up to Him, and promises that we can endure anything. Eventually, one of our battles will pull us right through to His arms in Heaven.
Even from an Old Testament prayer for protection in battle, we can see the protective hand of Heaven reaching down to us.
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5. Jesus is the Only Way in
Entrance to Heaven is gained by salvation, yet some religions create rules beyond what God requires. This verse in Hebrews is restating the fact that Jesus is the only way. The priesthood that existed before Him is no long necessary for us to speak to God, or enter into His presence upon arrival in Heaven.
“Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life.” It’s hard for humanity to grasp a concept that cannot be controlled or kept track of. But it’s all that’s needed.
It’s tempting for humanity to set up standards based on who and what we think is worthy of God’s forgiveness. Jesus died to wipe the slate clean—for everyone. Even the criminal that died beside Him is now with Him.
The standards we place on others are not Jesus’ standards. As a body of believers, we must seek to see each other as He does. He set the benchmark, and chose freedom for every soul.
6. The Updated Version
“And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart. And I will put my Spirit in you so that you will follow my decrees and be careful to obey my regulations” (Ezekiel 36:26-27).
The Old Testament is often full of New Testament hope. Ezekiel is trying to explain to a stubborn people something they cannot grasp. Before Jesus, it was unlikely that a heart could change to the point of being a new creation; but when we accept Jesus as our Savior, that’s exactly what happens.
Now, the rest of our lives on earth can be lived out in the way we choose. Salvation doesn’t make us robots, automatically able to to do the will of God, but it does allow us to have a relationship with Him.
The more we choose to walk with God, the more we will experience shards of Heaven on earth by standing in His presence. In an arena full of others worshipping God together, He is there. In our pursuit of His Word, He speaks directly into our lives. Through miracles that befall our lives, and prayers answered along the way, we join in the love of the Father. Heaven is the pinnacle, but its spark of change is lit here.
“God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it” (Ephesians 2:8-9).
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“See how very much our Father loves us, for he calls us his children, and that is what we are! But the people who belong to this world don’t recognize that we are God’s children because they don’t know him” (1 John 3:1).
The fact that angels roam the earth is something we don’t stop to think about enough. We can’t see them. We’re not sure what their mission is. We’re not even privy to the entirety of the war they are waging, but we know without a doubt that they are out there.
This verse from 1 John assures us that we are His children. The angels don’t belong to this world. We don’t have the ability to see them. God could reveal them to us if He wanted, but that’s not His Will.
We are to be the light to those who do not see God. When it seems like we don’t quite fit in here —as if once we get settled He moves us to another place—that’s because that’s exactly what He’s doing. Moving us, to move them.
Our God-ordained purpose is to shine His light in dark places. Until He calls us home, we may never see all of the hearts that have brightened because of the purpose He had for our lives. But just because we can’t see it, doesn’t mean it’s not happening.
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“I am the gate; whoever enters through Me will be liberated, will go in and go out, and will find pastures” (John 10:9).
Jesus promised never to leave us, and to provide for our every need.
“Pasture - an area covered with grass or other plants used or suitable for the grazing of livestock; grassland.; a specific area or piece of such ground” (Dictionary.com).
Why would Jesus promise us a pasture? A specific piece of land?
He is our pasture. In Him, we have all that we need. And eventually, we will abide with Him. The continued supply of life that He gives us through salvation goes on forever. Far past the needs of this earth, we are guaranteed a pasture—a specific area of ground.
“The thief approaches with malicious intent, looking to steal, slaughter, and destroy; I came to give life with joy and abundance” (John 10:10).
Jesus provides a safe place, a pasture, for us to take refuge from the one out to destroy us. In Heaven, the joy and abundance of this life will exist without the threat of the destroyer.
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“But he was hurt because of us; he suffered so. Our wrongdoing wounded and crushed him. He endured the breaking that made us whole. The injuries he suffered became our healing” (Isaiah 53:5).
We learn early on that life is unfair, when we grow up hungry or without both parents to say goodnight to. Unqualified, and sometimes ill-intentioned, people get picked over us for teams and jobs.
Our heavenly hope required a suffering and bloodshed of innocence. God is holy, and it was required. In a world that feels it deserves every luxury life can offer, we cannot forget that we do not deserve Heaven. We deserve death.
On this earth and Heaven to come, He is our ultimate Healer. He endured the most painful strand of human suffering, to guarantee our complete restoration. His victory over death and conquering of darkness flag the gates of Heaven open.
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10. The Benchmark
Love requires that we recognize the Author of our humanity and accept Him as our personal Savior. There is proof written all over His Creation, and woven throughout His Living Word to touch and guide every day of our lives in the loving care of a perfect Father.
He understands that the curse of sin that we carry is heavy. He cannot be in the presence of sin, so He provided a way out of it: Confession to the Creator.
Jesus, who knew us as we lay in the womb, is here now and reaching down for us. There is no love like that of being forgiven undeservedly.
“Purified from all unrighteousness.” Not only are we forgiven and welcomed into the light for all eternity, as well as protected from the darkness and purposed on this earth, but we are transformed; made new.
“See, I am doing a new thing …” (Isaiah 43:19), and we will see Him face to face when when get home.
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