Many people talk about having a hope to go to Heaven. Certainly everyone has a desire to go to Heaven (and even the atheist would choose Heaven over Hell) but how many have the expectation to go to Heaven?
Peter encourages us to be ready to give a defense for our hope:
1Pe 3:15 but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect,
We certainly can defend our hope from the Scriptures. Why do we expect God to save us? Why do we expect to enter into the Heavenly rest? The Scriptures are a great source of comfort for our hope:
Rom 15:4 For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.
When we follow the instructions we find in the Scriptures, when we endure until the end, we are encouraged by these Scriptures and can truly have hope.
Of course, our hope is not just in the Scriptures but in HIM who promised:
Heb 6:17-19 So when God desired to show more convincingly to the heirs of the promise the unchangeable character of his purpose, he guaranteed it with an oath, so that by two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us. We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain,
But Hope is not just a confidence or expectation which we can find from the Scriptures. It is not just something we place in God. It is also something that we need to live!
1Jn 3:3 And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure.
Do you see it? You have a hope to go to Heaven. You have your hope placed on God and Jesus. BUT, then you need to also LIVE that hope. You live it by purifying yourself as he is pure. You remove all hindrances to the statement:
I hope to go to Heaven
Heb 12:1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,
Do you hope to go to Heaven? Does your life support that hope?
I asked the question in my last blog: What do you think is the best way to help a person continue to persevere? Maudie says to be there, listen and to help them fight (summarized) and that is a good answer. Since that answer has been taken, I will offer a different one. (I am glad more of you didn’t respond, I might not have had a different one to offer)
In order to help a person persevere, you have to be able to show them either hope or purpose and those two things sometimes get intertwined. We need to know where we are going in order for a clarity of purpose to emerge in our lives.
When Job was suffering due to Satan’s torments, he first lost his possessions and family, then he lost his health, the joy of living and was only left with his wife and three rather unhelpful friends. While they could have been a help, his wife was encouraging him to let go of his integrity and “curse God and die”. His friends were more interested in finding some fault in Job–he must have done something really wrong.
But Job was a man who trusted God and he knew that life and even death are only worth facing if God is with you. That is the answer.
Christians are sometimes told that their lives are a contradiction. Living holy lives is being selfish, that we only do so because we want to go to Heaven and not to Hell. This misses a very important point. Christians know that without God in their life, they dare not die. Because to do so would truly be death indeed.
For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; (Rom 3:23 KJV)
For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. (Rom 6:23 KJV)
Christians know, need to be reminded, that without Christ’s sacrifice that the only destination for them is Hell. To be reminded that they recognized that they are dying and so they grabbed on to the one chance that they had to live. Now they are reminded to not let go! Is that selfish? If it is, then you must condemn the drowning man who grabs on to the life-preserver that is tossed to him. That man knows that he is dying and when it is tossed to him, his only chance is to grab hold and let himself be pulled to safety.
Both the drowning man and the dying sinner understand one thing: Life is preferable to death.We all know this.
When we fully grasp that we only have one way to go into eternity as a living soul, then persevering will not be a drag, it will become a necessity. The difficulties of this world will seem as nothing compared to the riches of the life to come.
These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country. And truly, if they had been mindful of that country from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned. But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city. (Heb 11:13-16 KJV)
We always have an opportunity to return to the world but we are those who do not turn back. We persevere because we know that Heaven will be worth it. We remove the thorns from our little patch of soil and let the good seed that is implanted into our hearts produce fruit and salvation in our lives. We look to Jesus who also suffered the temptations we do and yet did not sell HIS soul for the porridge that the Devil offered him.
Having been redeemed, how can we turn back? From the poem by Robert William Service “Carry on my son, Carry on”.
From Revelation: Here is a call for the endurance of the saints, those who keep the commandments of God and their faith in Jesus. (Rev 14:12 ESV)
Fight on! Don’t give up! As my brother Dee Bowman has said so often: If you miss Heaven, you’ve missed all there is. Once I again, I say “Persevere, my brother, persevere!”