Home is where the heart is!
Evere hear that phrase before? I am sure you have!
Guess what? We are here for only a ‘moment’, visitors and strangers in the land as our ancestors were before us. Our days on Earth are like a passing shadow, gone so soon without a trace. This came crystal clear in my post accident experience.
Colossians 3 :: NIV. Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at The right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on Earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.
Where Your Treasure Is Matthew 6:19-21
John of Patmos (also called John the Revelator, John the Divine, John the Theologian) is the name traditionally given to the author of the Book of Revelation. The text of Revelation states that John was on Patmos, a Greek island where, according to most biblical historians, he was exiled as a result of anti-Christian persecution under the Roman emperor Domitian.
Early tradition says that John was banished to Patmos by the Roman authorities. This tradition is credible because banishment was a common punishment used during the Imperial period for a number of offenses. Among such offenses were the practices of magic and astrology. Prophecy was viewed by the Romans as belonging to the same category, whether Pagan, Jewish, or Christian. Prophecy with political implications, like that expressed by John in the Book of Revelation, would have been perceived as a threat to Roman political power and order. Three of the islands in the Sporades were places where political offenders were banished. (Pliny, Natural History 4.69–70; Tacitus, Annals 4.30
Jesus first encountered John and his brother James on the shores of Galilee. He invited them to become his followers, and they complied. John then joined Jesus as he went about his public ministry. John traveled with Jesus during his ministry and was chosen to be in his inner circle as one the Twelve Disciples. This was a special privilege because Jesus had many followers. John was the only disciple that was present when Christ was crucified, and he also was extremely loyal to Jesus during his ministry in Jerusalem. Christ told him to watch over Mary his mother who was also present at the crucifixion.
The Early Church
When Jesus came back to life after his crucifix, he met John and Peter while they were fishing. Christ referred to him as the Disciple whom Jesus loved. John and Peter told the others what had happened, and they went back to Jerusalem until the arrival of the Holy Spirit. John was present with the believers in Jerusalem when the Holy Spirit had arrived. He received power and played a critical role in the expansion of the early church.
In the book of Acts John helped Peter to heal people, spread the Gospel and he was imprisoned for preaching the message of Christ. He also cared for Mary, Jesus’ mother. Until the time she had died in 54 A.D. King Herod Agrippa I attacked the Christians and caused them to scatter outside of Jerusalem (Acts 12: 1 -17). John ended up in Ephesus.
Some parts of John’s life are not clear and historical sources claim that he was a leader of the church at Ephesus. Eventually, he was captured in a persecution campaign by the Roman Emperor Domitian. John was ultimately sentenced to Patmos (Revelation 1:9). Patmos was a small, rocky and barren area where many criminals of Rome were sent to serve out their prison terms in harsh conditions. There were mines on the island that the criminals were forced to work. John was sent to the island for the same reasons because the early Christians were considered a strange cult group who were known for causing trouble within the Empire. After John had arrived, he began to have visions that were written into the Book of Revelation of the Bible.
After we pass, our true selves which exist in the living/moving/functioning body continue to exist. Where? Though is the question!
You enter heaven by forgiveness and through the righteousness that Jesus gives you. You do not enter into heaven by the Christian life. It’s always true that where faith is birthed, works will follow, but salvation is by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone.
How do I get to Heaven? The story of the thief on the cross makes the answer to this question crystal clear—this man had no works to offer, either before or after his salvation. His salvation was only by The beyond AWESOME grace of God.
The story of the thief on the cross makes the answer to this question crystal clear—this man had no works to offer, either before or after his salvation. His salvation was only by grace of God. A. W. Pink asks:
What could he do? [The thief] could not walk in the paths of righteousness for there was a nail through either foot. He could not perform any good works for there was a nail through either hand. He could not turn over a new leaf and live a better life for he was dying.[i]
Truth can always be twisted by perverse people. The wonderful truth that God saves by grace, through faith and without works is no exception. A man said to Spurgeon, “If I believed that, I would carry on in a life of sin,” to which he replied, “Yes, you would!”[ii]
But the redeemed heart loves Christ. The forgiven sinner has a desire to please his Lord.
If the thief had been rescued from the cross and lived another 30 years, he would have lived a new and different life, but he did not have that opportunity. The fact that he entered paradise shows us with great clarity where our salvation lies.
Our salvation in Christ involves three marvelous gifts—justification, sanctification, and glorification. Justification is the gift by which our sins are forgiven, sanctification is the gift by which we grow in the likeness of Christ, and glorification is the gift by which we enter into the everlasting joy of heaven. If you get that, you get the Christian life.
Christ Justified Us
Now think about what happened to this man. He was justified and glorified on the same day! He completely bypassed sanctification! This man missed out on the entire Christian life—no battles with temptation, no struggles with prayer. He was not baptized, he never received communion, and he did not become a member of any church.
Let’s return to our question: How do I get to Heaven? Here’s what this story tells us: Entrance to Heaven comes through justification, not through sanctification. You enter heaven by forgiveness and through the righteousness that Jesus gives you. You do not enter into heaven by the Christian life.
The New Testament repeats this theme again and again:
A man is not justified by observing the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. (Galatians 2:16)
He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. (Titus 3:5)
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast. (Ephesians 2:8-9)
It’s always true that where faith is birthed, works will follow, but salvation is by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone. This is the good news that your acceptance with God does not depend on your performance in the Christian life.
Where would you be if Christ said, “I forgive you, but I’ll be watching to see how you do from now on.” What kind of love is that? “I forgive you, but make sure you don’t mess up again.” When you read the words “not by works,” rejoice. If it wasn’t for this, you’d be sunk because your Christian life is not what you want it to be and neither is mine.
Christ Gives Complete Assurance
“Today, you will be with me in paradise.” (Luke 23:43)
Don’t you just hate the business of waiting for exam results? You do the test, hand in your paper, and then you have to wait. Can you imagine living your whole life waiting for the results? Imagine praying every day, serving every week, and then wondering, “Will I make it into heaven? Or will I spend eternity in hell?”
When the man says, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom,” Christ does not say, “We’ll have to wait and see.” He doesn’t say, “It’s rather late in the day for you to think about repentance now. Look at all the years you’ve wasted!” No, Jesus says, “Today, you will be with me in paradise!”
The Son of God brings the declaration of the last day forward for all who put their trust in him. Do you see how the gift of assurance flows from Christ saving us by grace, through faith, and without works? If our works were in any way involved in our gaining entrance into heaven, assurance would be impossible.
If salvation rested on our works in any way, all assurance would be arrogance because it would be saying “I’ve done the necessary works.” Salvation depends not on your works for Christ, but on Christ’s work for you. His work is finished. It’s perfect and complete. You can rest your life, death, and eternity on him with complete confidence.
Heaven Is Nearer Than You Think
Jesus says, “I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:43). Christ is the Lord of paradise. He holds its keys. There can be no higher assurance than his promise. That’s why the apostle Paul says, “It is God who justifies. Who is he that condemns?” (Romans 8:33-34).
Death does not lead to a long period of unconsciousness. Nor does it lead, for the believer, to a long process of being prepared. For a Christian believer, death is an immediate translation into the joys of life at the right hand of God. To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord.
Christian, Heaven is much nearer than you think. “Today you will be with me in paradise.”