Jesus and the Eternal State

We are continuing our meditation on the last week before the crucifixion of Christ from Luke’s Gospel (Scroll down for yesterday’s meditation). The Jewish elite that had control (Matthew 23:2) were very angry at Jesus when He upset the money-changers tables in the temple courts. They felt they had to undermine Christ’s spiritual authority by attacking His teaching. After using a simple coin to illustrate giving to Caesar what was his, and to God what was God’s (Luke 20:25), the Sadducees could not remain quiet about a future accountability. Jesus’ ideas of the Kingdom of God and an accountability in eternity were unacceptable to them. Now, it was their turn to try to discredit Christ. They prided themselves as being more intellectual and superior in their understanding. The pro-Roman Sadducees were a small aristocratic group that held sway over the Sanhedrin, the Jewish eldership that comprised the seventy elders and law makers of Israel.

It is thought that the name Sadducee comes from the name “Zadok,” the High Priest at the time of David and Solomon. Other scholars believe that the name Sadducee comes from the Hebrew word saddiq, translated into English as “righteous ones” (saddiqim is the plural).[1] They approached Messiah with their carefully prepared question. It was a hypothetical situation that, in their minds, proved that there could be no resurrection. They considered the idea of a bodily resurrection too ridiculous to be true.

27Some of the Sadducees, who say there is no resurrection, came to Jesus with a question. 28“Teacher,” they said, “Moses wrote for us that if a man’s brother dies and leaves a wife but no children, the man must marry the widow and have children for his brother. 29Now there were seven brothers. The first one married a woman and died childless. 30The second 31and then the third married her, and in the same way the seven died, leaving no children. 32Finally, the woman died too. 33Now then, at the resurrection whose wife will she be, since the seven were married to her?” 34Jesus replied, “The people of this age marry and are given in marriage. 35But those who are considered worthy of taking part in that age and in the resurrection from the dead will neither marry nor be given in marriage, 36and they can no longer die; for they are like the angels. They are God’s children, since they are children of the resurrection. 37But in the account of the bush, even Moses showed that the dead rise, for he calls the Lord ‘the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.’ 38He is not the God of the dead, but of the living, for to him all are alive.” 39Some of the teachers of the law responded, “Well said, teacher!” 40And no one dared to ask him any more questions (Luke 20:27-40).

We may live in a physical world, but we are spiritual beings having a human experience. The Sadducees rejected the idea of eternity and heaven. They also rejected belief in angels, spirits, and the resurrection of the dead (Acts 23:8). They only believed in the physical world. They regarded such a question as the kind of thing that made belief in the resurrection of the body a preposterous idea. Furthermore, they could see no evidence of an afterlife in the five books of Moses, Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. They were comfortable in their worldview, and Jesus’ teachings challenged their thinking. The Lord replied to the Sadducees with four different thoughts. We will look at just the first one today.

1) There will be no marriage in the eternal state for the believer. “But those who are considered worthy of taking part in that age and in the resurrection from the dead will neither marry nor be given in marriage” (Luke 20:35). There will be no need for a covenant of marriage in the eternal state. Our covenant this side of eternity is “till death do us part,” but there is no death in the eternal state. The Lord gave us a covenant of marriage as a means of procreation and a means of filling the earth, but eternity is not populated in the same way. The only way to get there is for a person to receive the gift of eternal life through the substitutional death of God’s Son in full payment for our debt of sin. Have you received the gift of God—new life in Christ? (Romans 6:23).

Taken from the series on the Gospel of Luke, found in the middle column near to the top. To view, click here. Click on study 54. Luke 20:20-47. Questions About Eternity. Keith Thomas

[1] https://bible.org/seriespage/3-sadducees

“I Go to Prepare a Place for You”

We are continuing to meditate on the thought that God has called out of the world a people from all nations to be in a marriage relationship to Himself. This relationship is one that is brought about by the greatest of loves, that of agape love, self-sacrificial love. Jesus came to express His love by dying in place of guilty man. The judgment of sin was, “the soul who sins shall die” (Ezekiel 18:4). God has made a way of escape and sent His Son to take man’s punishment upon Himself—self-sacrificial love. God raised Him from the dead, and now He waits for man to respond to His act of love. In this act of love, He has betrothed those who accepts His death as theirs, into a marriage relationship. When Christ comes, then will begin the festivities. Until then, we are in an engagement or betrothal relationship. We are to live in purity for Him and Him alone. Christians are those who have entered into a covenant of marriage.

I borrow from the words of C.H. Spurgeon here:

“The marriage of the Lamb is the result of the eternal gift of the Father. Our Lord says, “Yours they were and you gave them to Me.” His prayer was, “Father, I will that they also, whom You have given Me, be with Me where I am. That they may behold My glory, which You have given Me, for You loved Me before the foundation of the world.” The Father made a choice, and the chosen He gave to His Son to be His portion. For them, He entered into a Covenant of Redemption, whereby He was pledged in due time to take upon Himself their nature, pay the penalty of their offenses, and set them free to be His own.

Beloved, that which was arranged in the councils of eternity and settled there between the high contracting Parties is brought to its ultimate end in that day when the Lamb takes unto Himself in everlasting union the whole of those whom His Father gave Him from of old.

Next—this is the completion of the betrothal, which took place with each of them in time. I shall not attempt elaborate distinctions. However, as far as you and I were concerned, the Lord Jesus betrothed each one of us unto Himself in righteousness when first we believed on Him. Then He took us to be His and gave Himself to be ours so that we could sing— “My beloved is mine and I am His.” This was the essence of the marriage. Paul, in the Epistle to the Ephesians, represents our Lord as already married to the Church. This may be illustrated by the oriental custom by which, when the bride is betrothed, all the sanctities of marriage are involved in those espousals. Yet, there may be a considerable interval before the bride is taken to her husband’s house. She dwells with her former household and has not yet forgotten her kindred and her father’s house, though still she is espoused in truth and righteousness. Afterwards, she is brought home on an appointed day, the day which we should call the actual marriage. Yet, the betrothal is, to Orientals, of the very essence of the marriage.”[1]

That is what we will talk about next, the home that the Lord has been preparing for us. He said, 1“Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. 2In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? 3And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also (John 14:1-3). I’m looking forward to being with Him in that place, I hope you are too.

Taken from the series Insights into Eternity found in the middle column. Click on the study The Wedding of the Lamb. Keith Thomas

[1] http://www.ccel.org/ccel/spurgeon/sermons35.xxxv.html

There is a Place for You

2In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you.3And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. 4You know the way to the place where I am going.”  5Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?” 6Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me (John 14:2-6).

He said He would come back and take believers to be with Him. Do you believe Him? Have you found the way to His house? The way is not a direction; it is a person, the Lord Jesus Christ Himself. He has paid the penalty for your sin and invites you to receive Him into your life and to receive the free gift of eternal life (Ephesians 2:8-9). You can have the inner confidence that you are home only when you come to the person of the Lord Jesus Christ. Do you remember the one commandment of Mary, the mother of Jesus? Yes, Mary gave the world one commandment that is written in the Bible. Speaking to the servants at the wedding in Cana in Galilee, she said, “Do whatever He [Jesus] tells you” (John 2:5). There is great wisdom in these words, and we do well to heed them, and make His house our direction.

Jesus said, “Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him” (John 14:21). We show Christ how much we love Him by obeying His commands. This is the main thing—to fall in love with the God of the Universe. When you really understand all that Christ has done for you, you cannot but help falling in love with Him. Sometimes, we don’t see the obvious that is written in the Bible, i.e. that of a God of love seeking to reconcile fallen humanity to Himself. From beginning to end, Genesis to Revelation, we see God calling a people for Himself from all the nations—a people who come to know God – not just know about Him, but to know Him intimately. No matter in what nation you live or no matter what you have done, Christ has made a way for you to know God in a close, intimate, love relationship.

The God of the Universe has been separated from His people by their sin (Isaiah 59:2). He calls across the time span of many thousands of years longing to be united with His people and to bring them home to the New Jerusalem where He may dwell with them. What’s His call? “Adam, where are you?” (Genesis 3:9). Adam and Eve, as a result of listening to the enemy, were hiding from the Lord God in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3:8). So many people today are still hiding from God, but He calls to them, longing that they will respond and abandon their own self-righteousness, which is as filthy rags, and come to receive His provision for sin, i.e. the gift of the robe of righteousness in Christ. No matter how long it takes, no matter how far you are apart from Him, He wants to draw you to Himself if you will open your heart to Him. “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him up at the last day” (John 6:44. Emphasis mine). Just the fact that you are reading these words is evidence that the Father is drawing you.

Taken from the series Insights into Eternity found in the middle column. Click on the study The Wedding of the Lamb. Keith Thomas

An Appointment with Death

We have been meditating on the subject of eternity over the last few weeks (scroll down for other meditations). Erwin Lutzer tells the fable about a Baghdad merchant who sent his servant to the marketplace to run an errand. When the servant had completed his assignment and was about to leave the marketplace, he turned a corner and unexpectedly met Lady Death. The look on her face so frightened him that he left the marketplace and hurried home. He told his master what had happened and requested his fastest horse so that he could get as far from Lady Death as possible—a horse that would get him to Sumera before nightfall. Later that same afternoon, the merchant also went to the marketplace and also met Lady Death. “Why did you startle my servant this morning?” he asked. “I didn’t intend to startle your servant—it was I who was startled,” replied Lady Death. “I was surprised to see your servant in Baghdad this morning, because I have an appointment with him in Sumera tonight.”[1]

You and I have an appointment with death. We cannot run from it, and we cannot hide from it. We can only face it. “Man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment” (Hebrews 9:27). Thankfully, there is a God in heaven who has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5). We needn’t face death alone. Christ has told us that He will be with us until the end of the age.

When George Bush Senior was Vice President, he represented the U.S. at the funeral of former Communist Russian leader Leonid Brezhnev. Bush was deeply moved by a silent protest carried out by Brezhnev’s widow. She stood motionless by the coffin until seconds before it was closed. Then, just as the soldiers touched the lid, Brezhnev’s wife performed an act of great courage and hope, a gesture that must surely rank as one of the most profound acts of civil disobedience ever committed: She reached down and made the sign of the cross on her husband’s chest. There in the citadel of secular, atheistic power, the wife of the man who had run it all hoped that her husband was wrong. She hoped that there was another life, that this life was best represented by Jesus who died on the cross, and that this same Jesus might yet have mercy on her husband.[2] There was the leader of a Communist country trying to stamp out all knowledge of Christ and His Word, yet even his wife was a secret believer with the thoughts of eternity in her heart.

We have come a long way over the last few weeks as we have explored what God says about our destiny and where we will spend eternity. We are made for more than the way this world is set up! We have an enemy that seeks to keep our minds occupied with things of this world alone. That enemy, Satan, desires to stamp out all thoughts of another life in Christ, a life that is better by far. He does not want us to focus on the eternal, but he wants us to be mesmerized only by the physical, material world in which we are in to keep us “duped” and ineffective. The enemy does not want us to consider that we are only passing through this present life and being prepared for another. Jesus said that, even though a man dies, yet shall he live (John 11:25). You can deny the thoughts about eternity, and you can tell them to shut up, but that inner knowledge that death is not the end cannot be extinguished. There is a God in heaven Who has not given up on you; He calls to you that you may find your way to His home. You shall seek me and find me, when you shall search for me with all your heart (Jeremiah 29:13). Over the next few days we will take a look at who we are and where we are going. Who are we? Jesus calls us His Bride, and He is preparing us for eternity with Him.

Taken from the series Insights into Eternity found in the middle column. Click on the study The Wedding of the Lamb. Keith Thomas

[1] One Minute After You Die, Erwin W. Lutzer, Moody Publishers, Page 119.

[2] Gary Thomas, in Christianity Today, October 3, 1994, p. 26

Eternity is Written on Our Soul

We are continuing to meditate on the topic of eternity, so today we begin our look at the Millennium. Somehow, in our inner soul, it just does not ring true that this life that we experience in our short time on earth is all that there is. First, when one looks at the complexities of life, the closer we get to the structure of atoms, one who really examines the evidence, finds it completely illogical to buy into any theory that denies our Creator. There are questions that science cannot answer. There is something in our hearts that tells us that there is more to life than what we experience in the here and now. King Solomon, known as one of the wisest men who have ever lived, said:

He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart (Ecclesiastes 3:11).

Under inspiration of the Holy Spirit, Solomon spoke of God’s creative design by saying that our inner nature is divinely imprinted with impressions of eternity. The French Bible translates the original Hebrew by saying that God has “set the thoughts of eternity in our hearts.” Prince Charles once talked about the inner emptiness of the human soul. He said, “For all the advantages of science, there remains deep in the soul a persistent and unconscious anxiety that something is missing.” Princess Diana, speaking at a charity event, spoke of “an overwhelming sense of loss and isolation that undermines many people’s efforts to survive and cope with the complexities of modern life. They know,” she said, “something is missing.” Deep in our heart of hearts, until we come to Christ, there is an awareness of a void, an emptiness of soul. We try to satisfy it with drugs, alcohol, sex, possessions, power, money, and prestige, but nothing satisfies because we are created with that emptiness. As Blaise Pascal, the French philosopher and mathematician, wrote, “Within each human being there is a God-shaped void.”

C.S. Lewis, in his book, Mere Christianity, wrote:

Creatures are not born with desires unless satisfaction for those desires exists. A baby feels hunger: well, there is such a thing as food. A duckling wants to swim: well, there is such a thing as water. Men feel sexual desire: well there is such a thing as sex. If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world. If none of my earthly pleasures satisfy it, that does not prove that the universe is a fraud. Probably earthly pleasures were never meant to satisfy it, but only to arouse it, to suggest the real thing.

The fifth-century philosopher Augustine wrote, “Our hearts are unquieted until they find their rest in Thee.”[1] This missing piece is God Himself.  He is the Living Water, the Bread of Life. He alone is the only One that can satisfy us. Haggai the prophet writes: “I will shake all nations, and what is desired by all nations will come, and I will fill this house with glory,’ says the LORD Almighty” (Haggai 2:7). The One who is desired of all nations, the Holy One of Israel, Jesus the Messiah, will come and stand upon the Earth, and in our resurrection bodies, we shall see God. This is what Job told us:

25“As for me, I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last He will take His stand on the earth. 26“Even after my skin is destroyed, Yet from my flesh I shall see God; 27Whom I myself shall behold, And whom my eyes will see and not another” (Job 19:25-27).

The Second Coming of Christ and His presence on Earth will precede a glorious time of peace. Over the next few days, we will examine what the Bible says about the thousand years of righteousness, joy, and peace under the reign of the King of Kings, Messiah Jesus.

Taken from the series Insights into Eternity found in the middle column. Click on the study The Millennium. Keith Thomas

[1] http://www.newlife.org/know-god-personally