Tag Archive | heaven

The Prayer Machinery of Heaven #6

And he told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart. (Luke 18:1)

Prayer straddles our lives both on earth when we pray and in heaven when Jesus hears. All week I’m focusing on prayer. It’s important. I need to do better in my life, and I can’t imagine a Christian who doesn’t think they can do better at prayer either.

Charles Spurgeon said,

Prayer meetings are the throbbing machinery of the church.

Last weekend, I was thinking of one of Spurgeon’s sermons, called God’s Providence. (#3114). Spurgeon likened the cherubim’s acts near the throne and the wheels within wheels as described by Ezekiel as machinery of Providence. He described, hypothetically of course, the wheels going up and down and left and right in tandem as the machinery of Providence carrying out God’s will and decrees. It’s an interesting thought, and Spurgeon is vivid about his descriptions.

This series of ‘prayer machinery of heaven’ is inspired by those two thoughts.

Please enjoy this scripture photo I made of the machinery of prayer. Under that will be some further resources on prayer suggestions. Monday I suggested praying for the persecuted and missionaries around the world, with some resources to check out along those lines. Tuesday I suggested praying for our elders (pastors, deacons, teachers, etc), again, with resources. Wednesday I suggested praying for each other. Today focuses on how often to pray. Thursday I offered information about frequency of prayer. Friday we focused on Jesus in heaven who hears our prayers, and what a comfort that is. For this next-to-last picture in the series, I’ll offer some thoughts and resources on persevering in prayer.

I thought Barnes’ Notes said it well. There are different kinds of prayers and seasons for each kind. There are different attitudes of prayer.

Always – At all times. That is, we must not neglect regular stated seasons of prayer; we must seize on occasions of remarkable providences as afflictions or signal blessings to seek God in prayer; we must “always” maintain a spirit of prayer, or be in a proper frame to lift up our hearts to God for his blessing, and we must not grow weary though our prayer seems not to be answered.

Not to faint – Not to grow weary or give over. The parable is designed to teach us that, though our prayers should long appear to be unanswered, we should persevere, and not grow weary in supplication to God.

The parable is instructive for us, to never give up in prayer. Jesus receives prayer around the clock, every day, all the time. For us, it’s a battle to put hands together and carve out time to pray, Satan does not want us to pray. Jesus does. We have to work toward satisfying the one and not the other. Spurgeon again, said-

It is well said that neglected prayer is the birthplace of all evil.

I believe this. Jesus spent time instructing the disciples how to pray. (Luke 11:1-13). He spent time instructing through the parable of the importance of persisting in prayer. (Luke 18:1-8). Prayer is important. I need to do better in lots of ways- in my closet, in persisting, in focus, in content, and in earnestness and fervor. Lord, help me to pray.

prayer machinery 6b

Further Reading

Sermon Series: Elements of True Prayer

Valley of Vision devotional of Puritan Prayers (a wonderful wonderful resource!)

Tim Challies: Persistence in Prayer

Full of Eyes: Visual theology & exegesis of Colossians 4:2-4 being steadfast in prayer

Prayer Machinery of Heaven series:

Prayer Machinery #1: Introduction and Praying for Missionaries

Prayer Machinery #2: Praying for pray for our Elders (pastors, deacons, teachers, etc).

Prayer Machinery #3: Praying for each other

Prayer Machinery #4: How to Pray

Prayer Machinery #5: A focus on Jesus in heaven who hears our prayers, and what a comfort that is

Prayer Machinery #6: Persevering in Prayer

Prayer Machinery #7: The Two ‘If’s’ and the Importance of confessing Sin

Heaven is a busy place

busy

The busyness of Rome’s Piazza del Popolo can’t compare
to the busyness of heaven. EPrata photo

Heaven is busy. I know you know this. But sometimes we let the invisible become abstract, and once abstract, distant. People tell me that they feel that since our faith relies on invisibility, despite their certainty, praying to heaven sometimes feels like whistling in the wind.

I understand the feeling, and I’d like to help along those lines.

Let’s get specific.

When we have a civic issue, we do things. We write letters to the editor. We complain on Facebook. We join protests. We march. We petition. We attend Town Council meetings and speak in the microphone.

“My road isn’t paved and it’s wrecking my car!”
“There’s too many potholes on my road, do something!”
“You can’t fire the Town Manager/increase the budget/Add onto the school!”
“We need a stoplight at John Smith Road!”
“Make John Q. Public Street a 4-way stop!”
“Re-stripe the lines on Main Street!”

We are pretty busy when it comes to civic duties. We make ourselves heard for our civic needs in all the venues that are available to us.

What do we do when we have a spiritual issue? We do things. We write letters to the pastor. We complain on Facebook. We join grumbling protests. We prayer march. We petition. We attend Elder Council meetings and speak up.

What don’t we do? Pray. For whatever reason, we don’t make available to us the first thing we should be doing. Instead, we relegate it to a last resort.

Far from being an inert, harp-playing, cloud lounging, Deistic place, heaven is active and always in motion. It is in operation all the time. Heaven is busy, Heaven is involved.

Heaven has angels coming and going, presenting themselves to God. The High Court is always in session. Jesus is praying. Incense is rising. The angels are hollering holy, holy, holy. Warfare is breaking out. Martyrs are arriving. Jesus is mediating. Requests and Petitions are coming in. Praise and worship is continuing.

So pray! Pray for all your concerns. Pray to praise Jesus. Pray for your sanctification. Pray for your friends’ salvation. Pray for nations abroad, and your kids at home. Pray about everything, especially your concerns.

When you pray, you become intimately involved in the activity of heaven. Your prayer is heard by Jesus and is then absorbed into the great stream of work and operations of the celestial realms. If Jesus heard Hagar’s lone cry in the vast desert, if He saw Elijah’s exhaustion in his escape from Jezebel, if He knows the heart of Nicodemus by night, if He understands all our sorrows, fears, and feelings, He hears your prayer. You don’t have to worry. You don’t need a liver shiver or a sign or confirmation. He hears it.

Scripture references

Job 1:6; Revelation 4:1-11; Hebrews 6:20; Hebrews 7:25, Romans 8:24; Revelation 8:4, Revelation 4:8, Isaiah 6:2-3; Daniel 10:13, Revelation 12:7
Genesis 28:12; Revelation 6:9; 1 Timothy 2:5, Job 9:33; Philippians 4:6, 1 Timothy 2:1; Revelation 19:6-7, Revelation 11:16.

A mighty scene in heaven

The Tribulation is a future prophesied time of distress on the earth that will be unequalled in affliction, so Jesus said. (Matthew 24:21). This is because He will pour out all His stored-up wrath onto the unbelieving world, and He will punish the nation Israel for their rebellion against Him.

A series of judgments in sets of 7 are unleashed from heaven to earth in proceedings that become progressively worse as each set is executed. The angels are mainly the agents who deliver the wrath.

The judgments go in this order-

The 7 Seals. The seal judgments open the events with a dramatic moment in heaven where John of Patmos had been given the vision which recorded that Jesus is the only One who is worthy to open them. Revelation 5:1-5 records this scene:

Then I saw in the right hand of him who sat on the throne a scroll with writing on both sides and sealed with seven seals. 2And I saw a mighty angel proclaiming in a loud voice, “Who is worthy to break the seals and open the scroll?” 3But no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth could open the scroll or even look inside it. 4I wept and wept because no one was found who was worthy to open the scroll or look inside. 5Then one of the elders said to me, “Do not weep! See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has triumphed. He is able to open the scroll and its seven seals.”

The detail that the document was sealed on both sides has meaning. It indicates that it is a legal document. Bible Study Tools explains,

Concerning this practice, Weemse wrote, “For the manner of writing the contract, he who was to buy the ground wrote two instruments; the one to be sealed with his own signet, the other he showed unclosed to the witnesses, that they might subscribe and bear witness of that which was written. This, the witnesses did subscribe UPON THE BACK of the enclosed instrument” . . . Gaston Maspero gave an example of an enclosed document being used as evidence. “Contracts stamped upon clay tablets have been found in Babylonia, enclosed in an envelope of clay, on the outside of which an exact duplicate of the contract is impressed: if in the course of time any disagreement arose and it was suspected that the outside text had been tampered with, the envelope was broken in the presence of witnesses to see if the inside text agreed with it or not.” The fact that the sealed scroll of Revelation Rev. 5:1+ had writing on both the inside and the outside (Rev. Rev. 5:1+), in the same manner as Jeremiah’s and other deeds of purchase in Israel’s land redemption system, indicates that it is a deed of purchase.

The document with the seals upon it is in fact the title deed to the earth.

The revelation then turns to the actual opening of the seals. Jesus has triumphed – on the cross –  and the document is opened by Him who is triumph itself. The judgments begin. The 7th seal unlocks the next series of judgments, which are the Trumpet Judgments. (Revelation 8). These are worse. The ultimate purpose of the judgments are to render wrath for His glory onto the peoples, so they will repent under the knowledge of His active anger. Revelation 8 has the first half of the Trumpet Judgments and the angel announces woe to those on the earth as the worsening of the second half of the trumpet judgments begin. (Revelation 9).

Revelation 10 announces the beginning of the next series of judgments, the Seven Thunders. However in an unusual move, the voice from heaven called out for John to seal up this series of judgments and not to write them down. We do now know why the Seven Thunders are sealed nor do we know what they contain, if they are judgments at all.

The last set of judgments are the Bowls. These are truly the worst of the worst. By now the world has either repented and given Jesus glory, or has confirmed their permanent state of rebellion by accepting the devil’s mark of the beast. The mark is a mark of worship of the antichrist and displays allegiance to him (and the devil). (Revelation 13:15-16).

The scene shifts from the throne as seen in previous judgments, to the sanctuary. The door to the sanctuary is opened and it is an incredible view. Revelation 15:5-8 concludes this chapter and the introduction to the last judgments.

After this I looked, and the sanctuary of the tent of witness in heaven was opened, and out of the sanctuary came the seven angels with the seven plagues, clothed in pure, bright linen, with golden sashes around their chests. And one of the four living creatures gave to the seven angels seven golden bowls full of the wrath of God who lives forever and ever, and the sanctuary was filled with smoke from the glory of God and from his power, and no one could enter the sanctuary until the seven plagues of the seven angels were finished.

No one was allowed to enter. Not the other angels, not glorified humans, no one. Is the reason so that no man or angel may intercede? Is it because God’s glory is so powerful, even for a holy angel or a glorified man? Nevertheless, the angels, those mighty and holy angels, are given the task of delivering the last 7 judgments on the earth.

This is the God of power and judgment. His mercy seat has become a judgment seat. All the millennia of patience, the times of overlooking man’s ignorance (Acts 17:30) are over. He is no longer reasoning with man. (Isaiah 1:18). His might is come to the fore and the sanctuary is filled with smoke. No one is allowed entry. God commands the 7 powerful angels to dispense His final wrath.

It reminds me of the verse in Isaiah 63:3.

I have trodden the winepress alone, and from the peoples no one was with me; I trod them in my anger and trampled them in my wrath; their lifeblood spattered on my garments, and stained all my apparel.

He does indeed tread the wine-press, but it is the great wine-press of the wrath of God (Rev. 14:19, M. Henry). Our precious Lord had taken on all of God’s wrath, had drunk the cup on the cross. He “treads the wine-press” here not as a sufferer, but as an inflicter of vengeance.

It’s good to dwell on God’s love. It”s also good to remember His other attributes- power, wrath, sole arbiter of justice. It is good to remember that these scenes in heaven are future, perhaps to occur in our own generation.  Be clear-eyed about who our God is. He isn’t a romantic Jesus skipping among the daisies to wrap us in His manly arms. He is not a cash machine dispensing wealth from heaven. His attributes include love and mercy, to be sure, but also power, wrath, and justice from the very sanctuary in heaven. He is mighty.

For our God is a consuming fire. (Hebrews 12:19)

Since He is coming again, what kind of people should we be?

I used to teach kids at church on Wednesday nights. I love their conversations and their thoughts and their joy. One night they were asking about Jesus and heaven. They got so excited when they figured out that their Christian friends will be in heaven too. They practically jumped out of their seats when they made the connection that they will actually see Jesus and hang out with Him. They started making plans, clapping their hands … Ironically, the verse being taught that night was of Mark 10:13-16, “suffer the little children to come unto Me, do not hinder them, for the Kingdom of God belongs to such as these.” Boy, does it ever. Let US be excited, innocent, planning, expectant, too. Are we? We should be!

I love that photo of the cross lifted up and the verses referring the Jesus who is lifted up. It’s a comfort to know He is in the Holy Place. It’s also a comfort to know He is returning to catch up His Bride into heaven. He will lift us to His abode and we will never be troubled by sin again. Best of all, we will be with Jesus.

John MacArthur said: You don’t know how long you’re going to live or when Christ will return. That demands a different approach to life. Living in Anticipation of Christ’s Return Part 1

Since He is coming again, what kind of people should we be? Peter asked the question in the second epistle, chapter 3, where he is explaining the last things.

Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set on fire and dissolved, and the heavenly bodies will melt as they burn! But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells. (2 Peter 3:11-14)

It’s not an esoteric, or abstract, or irrelevant question. The sermon linked above will help us learn from the Bible how to live in anticipation of His coming. The children I mentioned in the beginning knew how to live in anticipation of a living and present Jesus in their lives. Let us do the same. Let us be as children, who have no power, are meek, teachable, excited, trusting, and above all, loving Christ simply and beautifully.

Release from the ‘Tyranny of the Clock’

Missionary to Vanuatu in the late 1800s, John G. Paton, writing about the death of one of his first native converts in his book Thirty Years Among the South Sea Cannibals, said:

“While staying at Aneityum, I learned with as deep emotion as man ever felt for man, that noble old Abraham, the sharer of my Tannese trials, had during the interval peacefully fallen asleep in Jesus. He left for me his silver watch one which I had myself sent to the dear soul from Sydney, and which he greatly prized. In his dying hour he said, “Give it to Missi, my own Missi Paton; and tell him that I go to Jesus, where Time is dead.”

That converted cannibal had a real and profound grasp of his position in Christ. I have read many times that in heaven sin will be dead, tears will be dead, sorrow will be dead, but I never read anything put quite like that. In heaven, time is dead.

Graphics Fairy

What will it be like when we are never running late? When the good labors we perform stretch endlessly ahead in joy and interest but not in constriction of artificial hours or days? When we don’t have birthdays or appointments? When there is no catching up, falling behind, or getting ahead? Instead, all our tasks and meetings simply unfold perfectly and in a pace that is like the very river of life streaming from the Fount- constant and perfect?

God instituted seasonal time, and He instituted day and night. (Psalm 104:19, Genesis 1:14). He did this for the benefit of man, certainly not because God needed to mark time. He dwells in eternity where it is all time at once. The clock measures time precisely, in specific increments, and this mechanism more than any other has subdued man. The clock at once has inhibited man in his actions and catalyzed man in his actions. I’m late! I’m early! I’m behind! I’m on time- give me a gold star!

The clock segments the teacher’s day. It regulates the inmate’s day. It formulates the train conductor’s, the pilot’s, the bus driver’s day. The clock convicts the chronic tardiness of the employee. The clock dares. The clock monotonizes.

Anarchist George Woodcock wrote in The Tyranny of the Clock,

Socially the clock had a more radical influence than any other machine, in that it was the means by which the regularisation and regimentation of life necessary for an exploiting system of industry could best be attained. The clock provided the means by which time – a category so elusive that no philosophy has yet determined its nature – could be measured concretely in more tangible forms of space provided by the circumference of a clock dial. Time as duration became disregarded, and men began to talk and think always of ‘lengths’ of time, just as if they were talking of lengths of calico. And time, being now measurable in mathematical symbols, became regarded as a commodity that could be bought and sold in the same way as any other commodity.

Sadly he did not know that liberating man from the tyranny of the clock would only enslave him to another device, another machine, another apparatus, whatever it may be. God created time for our benefit and ever since He has been ordaining its orderly progression, despite man’s over-dependence on the clock.

But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. (2 Peter 3:8)

In heaven, time is dead. However without clocks the orderly progression of all things will continue, for God is God of heaven as He is of earth. Our liberation from the tyranny of the clock will free us in ways we can’t even imagine. The old cannibal and new man, Abraham of Vanuatu, knew. He went where time is dead and men are alive. Where there are no clocks but precision is more precise than it has ever been anywhere on earth.

making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth. (Ephesians 1:10)

Encouragement: How many will be in heaven?

I’ve looked at the numbers and have been discouraged by the seeming few that will be in heaven. The proportions of saved to lost seems wide. All the world died in the flood…except for 8. All four cities of the plain were smote …  only four people escaped … and one of them turned out to be false. The road is broad and many are on it, while the path is narrow and few find it.

I’ve written about that proportion here

I’m looking at the numbers and they don’t look good

and here

Many ‘Christians’ will be left out of heaven

I’ve also been discouraged by the lack of solid churches and the difficulty in finding them. Many of you have written to me about the same thing.

In listening to Justin Peters last night teach about child conversions, he said the encouraging regarding both topics. In his lesson he also named off a list of many solid churches he is personally familiar with.

It is easy to get discouraged when looking at the broad swathe of Christianity, and it is easy when we see so much heresy, so much compromise even from the supposedly good guys. It’s rampant. But there are good churches out there God does have His people everywhere. They’re not in the limelight, they’re not in the spotlight.  … There are good churches, it’s just that they’re in small places. They’re hard to find, but they’re out there.

He said this about numbers in heaven. I’m glad to know I wasn’t the only one who gets discouraged. I’am also glad to know that I overlooked something. Children who have died will massively add to the number in heaven-

I believe that the best understanding of scripture holds that when a baby, toddler, young child dies, that little one goes to heaven. … Have you ever thought about this? have you ever been discouraged at how few people go to heaven? When you look around the world, there’s 7 billion people on this planet and I think it is safe to say that well under and only probably less than 1% of truly born again, there’s a lot of people who say they’re Christians but they’re not. It can get kind of discouraging can’t it? But you know what? Have you ever thought about how many hundreds of millions or billions of children have died? In a miscarriage, before they were even born? Or how many children have been killed in abortions? Or how many children have died at early ages? Do you know where all those young ones are? They’re in heaven. There’s going to be a lot of folks in heaven! It’s going to be a busy place, with a lot of people in it! (Source)

In the lesson, Peters had previously explained from scripture why he and most others believe that infants, toddlers, and children will be in heaven. There was a biblical context for his statement.

In the United states alone, there have been 60 million abortions in the last 40 years. All those aborted children are in heaven. The worldwide infant mortality rate due to natural causes is also very high. It always has been.

The infant mortality rate (IMR) is the number of deaths of infants under one year old per 1,000 live births. This rate is often used as an indicator of the level of health in a country. The infant mortality rate of the world is 49.4 according to the United Nations and 42.09 according to the CIA World Factbook. The under-5 mortality rate of the world is 73.7 according to the United Nations. (Source)

Praise the Lord, the numbers of departed children I’d overlooked when thinking of heaven massively increases the number that will be there. Bless the Lord, and bless the children waiting for us there (whatever age they will be upon heavenly entry).

Jan Crouch and Muhammad Ali- questions of death, final destination, and eternity

Jan Crouch died a few days ago. Muhammad Ali died yesterday. Famous people dying makes us think about eternity. The news coverage puts eternity into the spotlight, along with the eternal question, what happens after death?

One minute after you slip behind the parted curtain, you will either be enjoying a personal welcome from Jesus Christ, or catching your first glimpse of gloom as you have never known it. Either way, your future will be irrevocably fixed and eternally unchangeable. ~Erwin Lutzer, One Minute After You Die

Of those family and friends of who we are pretty sure were justified on earth and are now glorified in heaven, we mourn their passing but celebrate their ongoing life. We might envision them meeting Jesus, and think of their wonder at the glory that surrounds them, and how excited they might be to praise and sing to the Savior. It is pleasant to ponder these imaginings of those we miss but are fairly sure have gone on to glory.

For those of whom we are less sure they are resting in peace or singing in the choir invisible, we have different imaginings. These ponderings would include people like Jan Crouch and Muhammad Ali. What was it like for them one minute after they died?

Janice Wendell Bethany Crouch was a woman who professed Christ but in near certainty did not possess Him. She was in fact a greedy false teacher who taught and believed in a different Jesus. I don’t think that can be debated. By any stretch, she was likely not justified and is probably not resting in peace, but in all probability is in torment. (Titus 1:16). We can’t say for sure, because final destination is the task of Jesus to determine. But there are strong indicators given what the Bible verses say about the entry requirements to heaven. So, we ponder her meeting one minute after she died.

The UK Daily Mail pulled no punches about Crouch’s death and life:

Televangelist Jan Crouch who founded the world’s largest ‘prosperity praying’ church and was famous for her purple hairdo and extravagant spending dies aged 78 

But before she passed away yesterday, days after suffering a massive stroke at her Florida home, the 78-year-old lived a life of enormous wealth funded by her Evangelical TV empire. Alongside her husband Paul, Crouch preached to millions of viewers on a weekly basis, promising them wealth if only they would open up their own pockets and donate to her. Using that money the couple bought adjoining mansions in Florida, jets worth almost $60 million and a $100,000 mobile home just to house Janice’s dogs, according to a lawsuit filed in 2012.

Jan Crouch was a ridiculous caricature of a woman. With her cotton candy, wild colored hair, extravagant lifestyle, and outlandish statements it was easy to dismiss her for being unbiblical in even her appearance. (1 Timothy 2:9, 1 Peter 3:3). Her evil influence regarding life and doctrine affected people across the entire globe. Jan Crouch did not know the Jesus of the Bible. So it’s easy to imagine that she might well have entered hell one minute after she died.

Matthew Henry said of false teachers (2 Corinthians 11:15),

It is far better to be plain in speech, yet walking openly and consistently with the gospel, than to be admired by thousands, and be lifted up in pride, so as to disgrace the gospel by evil tempers and unholy lives.

I have many thoughts about her and others like her, who lead millions astray. She grieved the Spirit many times, and though I want to say more, I’ll end this part on Jan Crouch saying exactly what Paul said in 2 Corinthians 11:15, of false teachers:

Their end will be what their actions deserve.

Muhammad Ali was a famous boxer, heavyweight champion of the world in fact. He was a masterful athlete, a gifted marketer, an orator extraordinaire. I came of age during his tenure as heavyweight champ. I was 14 when the Ali’s victory over Joe Frazier, happened. You remember the Thrilla in Manila. It was the greatest fight of all time, people say. Ali dominated my early adulthood like no other athlete did, not even Olga Korbut, Nadia Comăneci, or Evel Knievel. OK, lol on that last one. But my point is, Ali’s deeds and persona insinuated into even this retiring, bookish gal’s mind. He surely was a force to be reckoned with.

My father-in-law was a policeman and he was on duty inside the arena during the famous 1965 Lewiston Maine Ali-Vs. Sonny Liston fight. Ali was named Cassius Clay then, his real name before his conversion to Islam. The most famous and iconic shot of Ali ever taken occurred in Lewiston during that controversial fight. Neil Leifer’s photo is below,

Muhammad Ali after first round knockout of Sonny Liston
during World Heavyweight Title fight at St. Dominic’s Arena
in Lewiston, Maine on 5/25/1965. Leifer photo

In retirement since 1981, Ali has “helped promote world peace, civil rights, cross-cultural understanding, interfaith relations, humanitarianism, hunger relief, and the commonality of basic human values.”

In 1965, Ali joined the Nation of Islam and changed his name. He converted to Sunni Islam in 1975, and then to Sufism in 2005. Wikipedia reported,

Several weeks before the [Lewiston] fight, the Miami Herald published an article quoting Cassius Clay Sr. as saying that his son had joined the Black Muslims when he was 18. [Nation of Islam]. “They have been hammering at him ever since,” Clay Sr. said. “He’s so confused now that he doesn’t even know where he’s at.” He said his youngest son, Rudy Clay, had also joined. “They ruined my two boys,” Clay Sr. said. “Muslims tell my boys to hate white people; to hate women; to hate their mother.” Clay Jr. responded by saying, “I don’t care what my father said….I’m here training for a fight, and that’s all I’m going to say.”

In 1967, Ali was fervent enough in his beliefs in Nation of Islam to accept the consequences for his refusal to be conscripted. He had objected on religious grounds. Ali was arrested, found guilty and stripped of his heavyweight championship title. He fought the charge all the way to the Supreme Court, where his conviction was overturned. However, Ali had lost 4 prime fighting years in his career. He felt THAT strongly about Islam.

Muhammad Ali was easy to love and Jan Crouch was easy to hate. One spent a lifetime helping people and the other spent a lifetime bilking people. One rejected Christianity and another professed Him. Yet it is entirely likely that both are in hell, enduring eternal torment.

And so while relatives and friend plan your funeral- deciding on a casket, a burial plot, and who the pallbearers shall be, you will be more alive than you ever have been. You will either see God on His throne surrounded by angels and redeemed humanity, or you will feel an indescribable weight of guilt and abandonment. There is no destination midway between these two extremes; just gladness and gloom. Erwin Lutzer, ~One Minute After You Die

Ali’s good works won’t satisfy the entry requirement to heaven. His sincere religious beliefs won’t get him in. (Proverbs 16:25). Crouch’s pleas that everything she did, she did in His name won’t get her in. (Matthew 7:21-22).

The requirements to enter heaven are few, but are clear and direct. You must repent of your sins, and believe in the Jesus as revealed by the Bible. (John 3:15, Acts 1:11, Acts 2:32). Evidence for your profession is that you are submitted to Jesus’s ways, have stayed on the narrow path, and have grown in sanctification-producing fruit. If not…then not.

And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life. (Matthew 25:46)

I don’t write these things to point fingers and certainly not to gloat. I have shed tears writing this, and have stopped many times through the day to pray to Jesus in gratitude for His saving grace. I’m not saying that to appear super-spiritual but to demonstrate the weightiness of eternal matters. We cannot comprehend the seriousness of sin. Unbelievers are eternally guilty. Believers are eternally righteous. These are the most important ponderings in all of life.

When the curtain parts for us, nothing can keep us from answering the summons. One minute after we die we will either be elated or terrified. ~Lutzer

How can we be sure of where we are going after we die?

There are two important tests in Scripture for a person to determine whether or not he or she is a true believer.

There is first of all an objective test, which asks, “Do I believe?” Ask yourself if you affirm the Scripture’s record of the person and work of Jesus Christ. Do you believe that He is God manifest in the flesh? Do you believe that God saves sinners solely through the merits of Jesus Christ’s obedient life and substitutionary death on the cross?

Second is the subjective or experiential test of assurance in which you ask yourself, “Is my faith real?” The apostle John’s purpose in writing the epistle of 1 John was to give true believers assurance of their salvation (1 John 5:13). In that small epistle John gives several marks to distinguish a true believer. Source Gty.org

For more, go to the link, or here:

A Believer’s Assurance: A Practical Guide to Victory over Doubt

Is It Real: 11 Biblical Tests of genuine Salvation

For the unbeliever who may be wondering about the questions of eternity and final destiny, here is a resource,

What is the nature of true saving faith?

May God bless you and may you be assured of your destination into eternity. We all enter an eternity. Mine is with Jesus. I pray yours will be too.

And this is that testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. (1 John 5:11)

[By Elizabeth Prata]