Yesterday morning I went through the normal routine and picked up my laptop for a chance to see what nuggets of wisdom the cyber world had left me while I slept and was refreshed by a post from a well-known pastor that I follow. It read,
“Maybe the 5 most beautiful words in all the Bible: ‘They will see His face’ (Rev. 22:4). Live with that anticipation today.”
Instinct took over and I immediately said my “amen” by clicking the Retweet button. I followed this up by checking out the passage in it’s entirety and was overjoyed by what I read starting in verse one of chapter twenty-two.
1“Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb 2 through the middle of the street of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. 3 No longer will there be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him. 4 They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. 5 And night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever.” Read entire chapter
“HALLELUJAH! GLORY! HALLELUJAH! THANK YOU, JESUS!” My heart leaps for joy because of this promise that is fulfilled in Christ! It hasn’t always been that way though. I remember hearing pastors tell me about how glorious heaven is going to be, how happy I should be that I’m going to be there, and how once I’m there, I won’t care about being anywhere else. The problem was that I didn’t really care to be there… Deep down… if I were to be truly honest with myself and throw off the “church kid” persona and tell someone how I felt… how I really felt, I would say that the only reason I could begin to understand my enjoyment of being in heaven instead of on earth where all the things that I loved were was that “once I’m there, I wont care to be anywhere else” proposal. This, of course, was wrapped up in the fact that I didn’t really understand my own salvation, the gospel, and I was still completely lost in my selfish ambition of sinfulness. In reality, I loved my sin and I hated the cross. This was only revealed to me later as I understood the gospel more. God began to reveal my sin. I began to see that I really didn’t care about Jesus because I didn’t think that I needed Him. I had not been saved from my sins because I didn’t know that I needed to be. But God is gracious and showed this to me. He rescued me from this place and gave me a new hope! I began to see that the things on this earth that I loved were so futile. That I had forsaken my first love and exchanged God for the image of God. Through Jesus and the cross I am continually being renewed with my love for Him and His plan for my wife and I.
Later on yesterday, I got a reply on my Retweet from a fellow tweeter that read
“No ‘anticipation’ of seeing His face is needed if we truly grasp the essence of these two ‘terms.’”
He also linked a post on the end of this to a blog that he had recently written identifying those “two terms.” In natural procession, I followed the link to his blog and read what he had to say. It was a very well-written post containing lots of well-researched material and information on “worship” and the “glory” of God. Now, I have to say that I completely loved it and that I agreed with almost everything he wrote. I have also deleted the tweets to him in order to protect the relationship because I do believe that we both have the same love for Christ and His body. The issue I had was with his response to me, or better put, the person I was simply retweeting. The statement “No anticipation needed” rang every alarm and waved every red flag in my brain! How can you say that there is no anticipation needed and what exactly did he mean? What grounds could he be coming from? After reading his blog about the two terms, I replied back to him. What happened after that was the first of it’s kind in my experience. We engaged in a borderline theological debate (or what would have become a debate if I didn’t shut it down) via Twitter. Now, let me put in a disclaimer here by saying that I’m not a debater, much less a theologian so to be in this predicament was quite uncomfortable for me. But I had to know what he was getting at. The ending was me saying “good-point” to a very heavy “theological” statement that he dropped on me which I still have no idea what the meaning is. The sum of his argument was this: Christ has become the light of the knowledge of God (2 Corinthians 4:6), we are the fullness of Christ, as His body, here on earth (Ephesians 1:22) and therefore, we are living expressions of God’s glory to those around us. – Which I agree with. Here’s the problem.
We are not perfect like Christ. The essence of the word “fulness” says that we are not displaying something of ourselves but we embody Christ. It ought to humble us to remember that God chooses to use imperfect, lowly people to display His glory. Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 13:9-12 that we are like children trying to reason. We are imperfect beings and can only know in part. But there will be a day when the PERFECT One will come! Paul says, and “then I will know as I am fully known.” This must not be misunderstood in thinking that the work of the cross is incomplete. Christ said “it is finished.” There’s nothing that either you or I have to do or can do to obtain our salvation. Christ’s work is perfect but we are not. In fact, this is the very reason we need the work of Christ which is the grace of God the Father! We are naturally sinful and in fact before we knew Christ, all we knew was sin. We were bent on sin, lost in darkness, bound by chains but through God’s sovereign plan, Christ rescued us! He rescued us from our sin by taking the penalty that we deserved upon himself; He died. But he also rescued us TO something. He rose from the dead and by this we have new life from now and all eternity(Colossians 3:1)! HALLELUJAH!! Paul once again says it best in Philippians 3. He talks about knowing the power of the resurrection and the implications of it. He also points us toward the end goal; “upward towards Christ Jesus.”… and this is where the point is. Paul reminds us of it here in v. 18-21:
18 For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ. 19 Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things. 20 But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21 who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.
I encourage you to read the whole chapter!
“Our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await…” Please don’t let those words pass you by as they have for me for so long. From this conversation with my fellow twitterer, God has been working a joy in me that I haven’t had before. It comes from the truth that we just read. Words like “await” and “will transform” brings a confidence that cannot be matched by any earthly thing. It is the greatest promise to us who are in Christ! It is the goal! It is heaven! The place where we will know Christ; our Messiah; our Savior as much as He knows us even now! Where we will have new, perfect bodies without the presence nor the effect of sin. It is the place where there will be no hiding, no fear, no tear, and no death. It is the place where there is no incomplete, or partial but only complete, fully satisfied joy. There is no end and no night. No searching, no questioning, no wandering, no misfits, no discomfort. It is the place where the saints have been traveling forever and it is, in fact, our home.
There are plenty of places that I’ve made my home. But every geographical place produces discomfort at one time or another. Every attempt that I make in being a husband, a pastor, a friend, and missionary has the ability to fail. I have the power to cause grief and pain upon others and they wield this same power. There are relationships that I form that will not last and people will die. Indeed, there is so much in this life that causes us to beg for something more that if there really was “no anticipation needed,” our hope would be at a loss. But there is Hope. It is “Christ in you, the hope of glory.” (Colossians 1:27). Christ did not become man, die, and rise from the dead so that we can live happier lives here on earth but He saved us so that we may enjoy Him for eternity. Indeed, God’s work is fulfilled and one day His plan will be fulfilled.
Today I read a passage of scripture that made me weep and ultimately prompted me to write this blog. “And so we will always be with the Lord” reminded me that there are moments when I feel distant from the Lord and even though those feelings are are not reality, one day there will be no denying it. I encourage you to take the ending verse literally and do the same.
16 For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. 18 Therefore encourage one another with these words.