Thursday, April 24, 2014
I always make use of good exegetical and expositional commentaries for further understanding and to confirm my own findings. I typically stay away from devotional commentaries that give lightweight answers and skim the text. However, having said this I never seek other texts before Scripture. I want to stay committed to allowing God's Word to speak for itself. It is absolutely essential to seek God's Word first allowing the Spirit of Truth to illuminate my mind and not another man's thoughts or experiences. I believe it is important to read books of the Bible from start to finish in order to fully grasp the context, flow, and details of the text--reading multiple times like a good love letter from your sweetheart.
While teaching on the doctrine of heaven I was amazed at the liberty that many authors took on the subject. Subjective feelings ran high and steered some authors in their writings. God has told us all that He wants us to know on every subject within His complete Word. I'm finding that some Christians, having read recent books and having watched recent movies, are giving more credence to personal testimonies of visits to heaven and hell than what the Word of God has to say about it and this greatly troubles me. Emotionalism kicks in and trumps Truth. Hebrews 9:27 states, " And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment,". God's glorious plan for His redeemed people, after death, is to dwell with Him forever and He never even suggests in His word that a preliminary visit would be an option. Scripture is too clear, "No one has ascended into heaven except He who descended from heaven, the Son of Man" (John 3:13). Only Jesus Christ has been given that privilege and it was for the purpose of our salvation, sanctification, and future glorification with the Father.
My heart breaks for Christians who measure the Truth of God's Word by subjective experience. I believe this is what breeds Biblically illiterate Christians and proves contrary to Scripture. Christ states that His true worshippers must worship Him in spirit and Truth (John 4:24). I believe that the thrust of this statement means that we are to worship Christ with our entire being and that we are to measure our worship by the fully trusted, objective Truth of God's Word--not the next fictional book or movie that proves inconsistent with God's Word.
Am I to lovingly discount a child or adult's testimony of their journey to heaven or hell--especially when they believe they can bring back proof? Absolutely. My love for Scripture and God's promises will always remain first and foremost against any good thought or experience. Do I believe it actually happened? I do not according to Scripture and I would make no apologies for holding this position.
God and His Word are sufficient for every believer and He has provided a great future for those who know Him. Walking by faith in His character alone is the "best" life as we know it pleases Him (" And without faith it is impossible to please God,..." Hebrews 11:6).
Paul says in 1 Timothy 6:13-16, "I charge you in the presence of God, who gives life to all things, and of Christ Jesus, who in his testimony before Pontius Pilate made the good confession, to keep the commandment unstained and free from reproach until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, which he will display at the proper time—he who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone has immortality, who dwells in unapproachable light, whom no one has ever seen or can see. To him be honor and eternal dominion. Amen.