LOOKING UP HEAVENWARD
P. Samuel Manoharam
Do you, in your heart of hearts, desire to be in a place called heaven, where you will spend a glorious eternity with Jesus?
It is, no doubt, the deepest desire of every Christian to be with his beloved Saviour, who left His heavenly glory to face life and death in our sin-cursed world so that we could live with Him in heaven forever; but most Christians seldom think about heaven!
Being created in the image of God on the planet earth, our ultimate destination and eternal home is heaven, in the very presence of God. We, who have been “raised with Christ”, are called upon to “set your hearts on things above, not on earthly things” (Col.3:2), because it is our Lord’s desire to have us by His side. “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” (Jn.14:3).
Our Greatest Hope
Romans 15:13 says, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” The more we think about this hope, the firmer it will remain in our hearts. When we were born of the Spirit, God placed within us a hope that motivates us to live life to the full (Jn.10:10). Our hope is not only for the present life on earth, it is also for the life beyond (1Tim.4:8). We should have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure (Heb.6:19). So, the Christian’s greatest hope is, “Christ in me, the hope of glory” (Col.1:27).
In this world of turmoil and suffering, contemplation and meditation are indispensable. The higher we get in our spiritual journey, the nearer we get to a heavenly experience. The early Christians lived their lives with a deep passion for Christ and His kingdom. Those who have that kind of a longing for their eternal home, will live circumspectly (Eph.5:15).
Some Christians will have to regret, as they come to the end of their life’s journey on earth, that they lacked a longing for their eternal home, that their thoughts were occupied with almost everything under the sun, except the things that belong to God’s kingdom (Col.3:1-4). Someone has rightly said, “A man’s life is what his thoughts make of it.” We are what we think, or, what we think we become.
Heaven is God’s habitation, His dwelling place (1Kgs.8:30). It is also a place where the righteous shall live and reign. All born-again believers in Christ will one day dwell in this indescribably beautiful place of unspeakable joy and peace. It is a place with no trace of sin, temptation, pain, sorrow, sickness and death. Heaven is filled with the awesome glory of Jesus Christ who is being worshipped by a great host of angels along with the humanity (God’s new creation) that was redeemed by the life-giving blood of Jesus Christ. Heaven is a place of victory and triumph. For those who are going to spend eternity in heaven with Jesus, there are glittering crowns of inestimable value.
When we turn the telescope of our faith towards heaven, we will see the perishable grandeur and splendour of the earth swiftly fading to nothingness. Earthly riches will never make us truly happy. How empty this world is in comparison with what God has in store for those who love Him! We are just pilgrims in this world preparing ourselves for heaven, our eternal home. Why, then, are some Christians more inclined towards the earthly things? (Matt.6:19-21;Col.3:1-4). One of the reasons could be spiritual short-sightedness caused by a lack of faith (2Cor.5:5-8). The only way to avoid being trapped by the world and its fading glory is to know and do God’s will. All other ways are shortcuts to hell (Jn.8:51; Phil.2:12-16; 2Pet.2:20; 1Jn.2:15-17)!
The Way To Heaven
The way to heaven is the cross – the symbol of self-denial and surrender as exemplified by Christ. Someone has said, “The way to heaven has only three steps: out of self, into Christ and into glory.” The first two steps represent our spiritual life in this world that begins with ‘death to self’ and ‘life in Christ’ and goes on from glory to glory till our last breath, culminating in the third and final step of heavenly glory (Acts.14:22; Rom.6:1-11;8:17; 2Cor.4:17; Gal.2:20; Col.3:4). These verses clearly teach us that the way to heaven is paved with hardships and sufferings which God uses to renew His children inwardly through the resurrection power of Christ.
Those who are dreaming of going to heaven without taking the first two steps of the new birth experience and a life led by the Spirit of God, are only deluding themselves. Concluding His Sermon on the Mount, the Lord Jesus warned His hearers, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven” (Matt.7:21).
A godly man once said, “Heaven can be missed by eighteen inches” (distance between the head and the heart). Mere intellectual knowledge of the Bible and its divine Author – the Word made flesh – can never qualify us for heaven. Only the living presence of Christ and His kingdom rule in our hearts will ensure our glorious entry into heaven (Col.1:27).
In teaching about the way to heaven and the way to hell, the Lord said, “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it. (Matt.7:13-14).
Have you taken the step that leads heavenward? Are you sure that your name is written in God’s book of life? (Rev.20:11-15).