Spirit of Grace Ministries
Spirit of Grace Ministries
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Why Heaven is Missing

By Dennis Pollock



The apostle Paul wrote these words to Titus: "Having been justified by His grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life." (Titus 3:7). Eternal life, or life with God in heaven after we die, has lost favor in the church in the last generation. Quite a few years ago, a Time Magazine cover story made the point that hardly any modern mainline minister ever preaches about heaven anymore. They observed, "Heaven is AWOL from most churches." One United Methodist spokesman said that heaven was too controversial to discuss. In many churches and from many pulpits the idea that God so loved the world that He sent Jesus to give us eternal life has morphed into "God so loved the world He sent Jesus to make us happier and less dysfunctional."


In the old days, heaven was a big topic. Pastors and evangelists would preach joyously about heaven and songs about heaven filled our songbooks. When I was a kid, one of the popular songs sung in our church stated, "When we all get to heaven, what a day of rejoicing that will be." But these days it has become decidedly uncool to talk much about heaven. Teach us the seven steps to our best life now, or the twelve steps to improving our self-esteem, or the nine principles for success in our career.


But when you read the epistles of Paul, or anywhere else in the New Testament, you cannot help but read much about eternal life and heaven. This idea of living forever with God after our earthly life is over is no peripheral issue. It is front and center among the cardinal doctrines of the apostles.


In the Old Testament, you hardly heard about the afterlife. There was so little about heaven throughout the writings of Moses, and in the Psalms and the Prophets, that by Jesus' day, there was a major group of Israelites, the Sadducees, who did not believe there was anything beyond this life. In their mind "You're born, you live so many years, you die, and that's the end of you." Finis, no more, you turn into dust and experience eternal non-existence – no mind, no spirit, no pain, no pleasure, no thoughts…nothing. You are as non-existent after you die as you were before you were conceived."


Be Good – Get Blessed!


You might suppose that such a philosophy would be a poor motivation for godly living, but the Sadducees had an answer for this. They believed that by living godly, upright lives, God would bless you incredibly in this life. You would prosper and succeed and have a happy life for your short years on earth. After that, well, there would be no more you, but at least for a very brief time you existed and had a pleasant life, thoroughly blessed by God.


King Solomon epitomized this sort of religious unbelief when he wrote in the Book Ecclesiastes "Vanity of vanity all is vanity," and stated gloomily, "A living dog is better than a dead lion." (Ecclesiastes 9:4).


But when Jesus began His ministry, He emphasized eternal life continually. He told Martha, just before raising her brother from the dead, "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live." (John 11: 25). And in the most famous verse of the Bible, He declared: "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life." (John 3:16). Not just get a few bonus years of good health tacked onto your days, but you will live forever and ever. He also says "I give (My sheep) eternal life, and they shall never perish." (John 10:28).


In Hebrews we read that Jesus came to "release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage." According to the Bible, people are in bondage through the fear of death. I've thought a lot about that verse. Most non-Christians do not seem to think too much about death. They don't constantly whine "I'm so afraid of death. I'm going to die; I'm going to die! And there's nothing I can do about it." They don't normally say this, but the reality of their mortality is always with them, much like a ringing in the ears that stays with them from the moment they wake up to the time they sleep for the night. The fact that they will age, and eventually die, and leave everything behind, every possession, every relationship, everything that brings them happiness, never quite goes away. They can push it into a corner, and engage in all kinds of pleasant activities, but they can never quite forget. And the older they become, the louder this voice rings out. It transforms from a quiet, dull hiss in their 20s into a clanging bell in their 60s and beyond. And of course, finally, this inward prophecy is fulfilled, and they do die.


Final Season


As I write this, I am 70 years old, which means that well over half of my life is over. I am not going to live another 70 years. According to statistics I should be gone in another ten or fifteen years, maybe much sooner. Most of my life is over. Most of my struggles are done, most of my pleasures are over, and most of my work has already been accomplished. Most of my living is in the rear-view mirror. I will try to accomplish as much good as possible in whatever time the Lord has for me, but I am in the process of winding down. When I see young people in their late teens and early twenties, I think "They are just entering into adult life, and I am quickly on my way out of it."


But it doesn't depress me like it probably would those who have a strictly secular perspective on life, our modern-day Sadducees, who think this life is all there is. The way I see it, this scrawny, short, brief earthly life is just our probation period, to give us a few years to find Christ, put our faith in Him, and receive eternal life. And I've already done that; I did that when I was nineteen years old. And I have been carrying eternal life with me, for the last 50-plus years.


We, God's children should never be ashamed of heaven, and we should never think that heaven is uncool. Some Christians seem to feel that the discussion of heaven or teaching or preaching about heaven is something people did in the 1800s, but we are more sophisticated than that today. "Give me some psychology or a peppy motivational talk but leave the heaven and hell stuff for the old geezers. I'm modern, I'm cool. I don't need heaven; I just need success."


Eternal Life Through Jesus


There is nothing uncool about heaven. The apostle Paul writes: "For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Romans 6:23). Eternal life through Jesus Christ is at the heart of the gospel. It is not uncool to talk, think, preach, teach, write, sing, or to do YouTube videos about eternal life in Christ!


The moment you receive Jesus Christ as your Savior, believing He died on the cross for your sins and rose again three days later, eternal life is planted in your soul. You have become immortal. Yes, your body will die, you can be killed physically, but you can never die in the ultimate sense. Your spirit is immortal, because the Holy Spirit, who was given to you at salvation, is immortal.





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