When we say 'Jesus is the Door', we mean more than 'Abundant Life' here....
we also mean, 'Heaven to come'.
Abundant life here, is where Jesus reigns in your life.
Heaven means 'eternal life' where Jesus is!
If Jesus had not risen from the dead, I would have some doubts, but it is an established fact of history and the Bible, that He DID!
He even underlined it by bringing Lazarus back from the dead (John 11:24 following).
Remember the fellowship meals with Lazarus' sisters, Mary and Martha?
Jesus was Lazarus' best friend in life and became his best friend in death.
I'm not afraid of death because my best friend, Jesus went in the grave and was resurrected.
In one of the last visits I had with my precious Mother, I asked, "Mom, are you afraid of death?"
She replied, "Yes, because I've never talked with anyone who has come back from there."
I knew what she meant, so I said, "Mom, you've talked to Jesus ever since you came to know Him as your Savior and Lord when you were a teenager."
She really DID know Jesus.... not only as "I was" and "I am", but as "I will be"!
If there is no Heaven, I would still rather be a Christian and know Jesus and read and believe the Bible for all that it does for me.
Let me share some church signs that I have found interesting:
1) 'Aspire to inspire before you expire'
2) 'It was not raining when Noah built the ark'
3) 'The best vitamin for Christians is B-I'
4) 'Come in and have your Faith lifted'
5) 'This is a CH__CH. What is missing?'
6) 'You are not too bad to come and you are not too good to stay!'
7) 'Try Jesus! If you do not like Him, the devil will take you back'
8) 'Can't sleep? Try counting your blessings.'
Concerning death, people can be classified in one of 4 groups:
1) The unsaved - not prepared to meet God.
2) The unconsecrated - walking afar off from God and are ashamed to meet God.
3) The uninformed - erroneously afraid to die, for they don't know what the Bible says about death (or if they know, they don't believe it as they should).
4) The saved - (they know it, show it, and are assured that Jesus will keep all of His promises).
Sherwood Wirt wrote in his book, 'Jesus Power':
"Jesus' power began to flow into my life when I concluded (after 14 yrs. of intellectual struggle), that I was NOT an authority on the Bible. Instead, the Bible was an authority on ME!"
Let's talk about Heaven and what the Bible says.
1) HEAVEN IS A REAL PLACE (John 14:1-6, 9)
Jesus said, "Let not your hearts be troubled, you believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father's house are many mansions (rooms). If it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a PLACE for you and if I go, I will come again to receive you unto myself, that where I am, there you may be also."
Amen! That will be Heaven enough...to be with Jesus!
Three Scriptures that I have used before, bear repeating here:
I Kings 8:56:
"There hath not failed one of God's good promises which He promised to Moses."
"Abraham was fully persuaded that what God had promised, He was able also to perform."
"Sirs, be of good cheer, for I believe God that it will turn out just like He said it would."
So, Heaven is a 'prepared place for prepared people'. In II Corin. 5:1, Paul contrasts our state on earth with that in Heaven. The 'former' is a temporary dwelling (a 'tent') which may be struck down (dissolved) at a moment's notice.
The 'latter' is a building of God, a permanent abiding place. It is eternal in the Heavens.
Contrast this to living in a tent in the slums and moving into a beautiful home.
Paul in II Corin. 4:14-5:8 speaks of our body as the 'tent of the spirit' and our spirit (soul) moving out of the tent at death, to a better abode.
2) HEAVEN IS A PLACE OF RELIEF AND RELEASE:
Rev. 21:4 speaks of the 'No Mores' in Heaven. "And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain, for the former things are passed away."
I Corin. 15:50-57 speaks of 'a Great Swap-Meet' where we will trade in the 'corruptible body' for the incorruptible, death for life and defeat for victory.
In II Timothy (the last recorded writing by Paul), we have these words in 4:6-8:
"I am now ready to be offered and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course...I have kept the faith. Therefore there is laid up for me, a crown of righteousness which the Lord, the righteous Judge, shall give me at that day and not to me only, but unto all those who also love his appearing."
The word 'departure' in verse 6 is very interesting.
a) It was used to describe soldiers who were taking down their tents and moving on.
Paul had fought a good fight as a soldier of the Lord and death meant that it was time to move on.
b) It was used of sailors, loosening a ship from shore to set sail. The ship was now free to fulfill it's reason for being.
This is great here, but we can hardly envision what this will mean when we are 'loosed' from the earth and fully free in Heaven.
c) Another use of the word 'departure', is a prisoner being set free.
In some ways, the soul is a prisoner to the body, but in Heaven, this will no longer be.
d) Used to describe at the end of the day, 'un-yoking oxen' or today 'un-harnessing a team'.
I remember how 'free' our horses felt when they were freed from the restraint of the harness and the work of the day. So we too, will be free from the restraints of this earth, in Heaven.
All of this takes faith that believes God not only CAN, but knowing that God WILL!
A religion that does not satisfy your heart and soul in life and in death, is worse than none at all...because it keeps you from the TRUE religion.
I'm not denying that death is 'rough', but for the Christian, it is not gloom, but glory.
This is a poem that I have used at funerals (and especially at the graveside where death can seem so 'final'):
'When God sends forth a spotless soul to learn the ways of earth.
A Mother's love is waiting here....this miracle is called 'birth'.
When God calls home a tired soul and stills a fitful breath...
Love Divine is waiting there...this too, is BIRTH, not DEATH!'
If a baby in the womb could talk, it might say, "It's nice and warm in here. I don't want to leave this place for the unknown". Yet the joy when the baby is unbound and free to become 'more', this is what death and Heaven is.... through 'relief and release'.
3) HEAVEN IS A PLACE OF REUNION (I Thess. 4:13-18)
My first funeral was when I was 4 yrs. of age. My favorite Aunt (who was also our neighbor) was killed in a car accident. I remember sitting in our car at the cemetery and watching as my family gathered around this long box. It was all a mystery (and still is somewhat) for 'now we see through a glass darkly' (I Cor. 13:12).
Since then I have stood by many an open grave as I have served as pastor. I'm always pleased to say, "This looks so final today, but it isn't...for God does not do anything half way. He has prepared the room and there will be a great reunion."
The question is, "Will your family's circle be unbroken?"
La Moyne's little brother who died when he was only 1 yr. old...
My baby sister who only lived a few hours....
My older brother Bryce who died a few years ago....
Our parents and our gr'parents....
These and many more of our family and friends are waiting for us in Heaven.
Wow! What a great reunion awaits us there with family and friends!
One of the songs that many people request La Moyne sing, is entitled 'Family Reunion':
In my mind I can see Christ the Lord of all,
As He prepares the great Banquet Hall.
For all who've been washed by the blood of the Lamb..
There's a Family Reunion, In Glory Land.
I can almost see them standing there,
Robed in garments bright and fair.
See the gates of pearl swing open wide..
Hear them shout 'Halleluyah' as they step inside.
See the crippled toss...toss aside his cane...
Hear him shout for joy as he walks again...
See the tears wiped away by God's own Hand...
At the Family Reunion in Glory Land.
I can see those who through tribulation came,
See the ones who have died for His Holy Name.
Hear them join in a mighty 'Halleluyah' refrain...
At the Family Reunion in Glory Land.
Verse 14 in this passage tells us, "If we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so those also who sleep in Jesus, will God bring with him." Truly, Jesus is all you need, but you never know 'He is all you need until you get to the place that He is all that you've got......and when He is all you've got, then you'll know that He is all you need!"
4) HEAVEN IS A PLACE OF REWARD
The best reward will be to hear Him say, "Well done thou good and faithful servant." (Matt. 25:21)
Don't you know that this thought meant a lot to Paul in prison as he was about to be martyred?
Faith and hope had sustained him in life and it would sustain him in death.
In another website paper on April 2, 2005 entitled 'Is Your Religion Adequate?" I wrote, 'It must do 4 things'.
1) It must have a high concept of God
2) It must bring peace to the human heart
3) It must give power and victory over sin
4) It must satisfy our heart and souls in death...and beyond
So I ask you, "Is your religion adequate?" As I've said before, Jesus is all sufficient.
In life and especially in death, you dare not be wrong! In some areas of life, you can make a choice and be wrong and it may not matter much. But when it comes to your eternal destiny, you dare NOT be wrong!
What are you holding onto? Better still, Who is holding onto you?
John 10:28: Jesus said, "I know my sheep and I give unto them eternal life, neither shall anyone nor anything pluck them out of my hand."
And while we are talking about Heaven in your future, how about each of us resolving to live the character and teachings of Jesus and bring as much Heaven to earth as we can? Heaven knows that this old earth NEEDS it!
Yes, Travis what a wonderful time of rejoicing that will be. I love the thought that you left us with also, and that is, through Christ to bring as much heaven to earth that we can while we are here. Blessings, Sharon