Is the gospel’s goal only to bring us to heaven?

I just finished a book by N.T. Wright entitled “The Day The Revolution Began.” It was quite a thought-provoking book. Loooong but thought-provoking indeed.

He pounded on the idea that the gospel is not just the gospel of the afterlife but the gospel of the kingdom.

To a fresh understanding of what I have called the “goal” of the gospel through a fresh understanding of the early Christian use of the phrase “forgiveness of sins” (which obviously relates directly to the early gospel formula “The Messiah died for our sins”). The goal is not for people “to go to heaven when they die.” That is never mentioned in Acts. The whole book of Acts assumes, first, that God’s kingdom has already been well and truly launched through the death and resurrection of Jesus (1: 6; 8: 12; 19: 8; 20: 25; 28: 23, 31); second, that this kingdom will be fully and finally established when Jesus returns (1: 11; 3: 21); and, third, that in this final new world all God’s people will be raised to new bodily life (4: 2; 24: 15, 21; 26: 23). (Kindle, page 154)

Once again, I do not think any early Christians would have denied that this was true, but it is interesting that they didn’t put it like that. (Kindle location 155)

I’ve often preached this part of the gospel – that we are forgiven, saved, rescued and receive eternal life. But this gives me a different perspective. I am saved not just from something (sin) but for something (the kingdom).

The “royal priesthood” is the company of rescued humans who, being part of “earth,” worship the God of heaven and are thereby equipped, with the breath of heaven in their renewed lungs, to work for his kingdom on earth. The revolution of the cross sets us free to be in-between people, caught up in the rhythm of worship and mission. (Kindle, page 363)

Our lungs have been renewed for worship and mission. We are in-between people. This is not our final destination. We are citizens of heaven. And while that hasn’t happened, we are called to advance God’s kingdom together.

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Oklahoma City Thunder coach Monty Williamswife was killed in a car accident. And in front of 900 friends and family members, he delivered a moving and speech of love, strength, wisdom and forgiveness.

I want to close with this, and I think it’s the most important thing we need to understand. Everyone is praying for me and my family, which is right, but let us not forget that there were two people in this situation. And that family needs prayer as well, and we have no ill will towards that family.
In my house, we have a sign that says, “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” We cannot serve the Lord if we don’t have a heart of forgiveness. That family didn’t wake up wanting to hurt my wife. Life is hard. It is very hard, and that was tough, but we hold no ill will toward the Donaldson family. And we, as a group, brothers united in unity, should be praying for that family, because they grieve as well. So let’s not lose sight of what’s important.

Towards the end of his speech, he thanks everyone who came and said something profound.

“We didn’t lose my wife. When you lose something, you can’t find it.
I know exactly where my wife is.”

Words of hope, security and faith.

On a time of trial, where are our eyes turned towards?

Hebrews 12:1 encourages us to fix our eyes on Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of our faith.

Here’s the video of his eulogy.

 

My family and I got the chance to visit Tito Delfin Ong a couple of weeks ago.

It was so inspiring to listen to him. We endeavored to be a blessing to him but it ended up him blessing us.

Listen in to part of the conversation we had.

;

While I was listening to him, one thought kept coming, “How can he say that?”

He kept saying, “I am ready. I am ready.”

While we are continuously believing God for healing and we know that God is a God of miracles, he was at peace just in case God calls him home.

How can a man say that?

You see,

the way we live now is completely 
controlled by what we believe 
about our future.

Tito Delfin knows that this life isn’t all that there is. That when he reaches the finish line, he has his Savior and Lord waiting for him.

As we ended in prayer, I encouraged him that God hasn’t given us a finish line yet. We will continue to fight a good fight of faith believing that our God is a prayer answering God.

We love you Tito Delfin and we’ll keep praying for your complete healing!

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PS. Here’s an update from John, Tito Delfin’s son.

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For updates, you may check Tito Delfin’s son’s Facebook at

https://www.facebook.com/abijov.ong

As per, Star Inacay’s request, here’s the key thoughts on my message today.

What we believe about the future 
will determine how we live today.

How does my view of heaven 
affect how I live today?

Revelation 21:1-6

1. What is heaven?

Heaven is the place where God most fully makes known His presence 
to bring blessing. (Wayne Grudem)

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, 
for the first heaven and the first earth had 
passed away, and there was no longer any sea. (Rev. 21:1)

Heaven is a place not just a state of mind.

Acts 1:11 tells us that Jesus went up to a literal  place hidden behind the clouds.

When Stephen was being stoned to death, he saw heaven opened up in Acts 7 where Jesus was standing on the right hand of the Father.

Jesus said in John 14 that He was going to leave to prepare a place for us.  It wasn’t just a condition or state, but a physical place.

I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, 
coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. (Rev. 21:2)

It’s interesting that we refer to heaven when we die. But not only is it a place where we go, it also comes down to the new earth according to Revelation 21:2.

Because of sin at the Garden, the world as we know it has been subject to decay. But time will come that it will all change.

For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God. (Romans 8:20-21)

Not only will our world change but even our bodies. We will have a newly upgraded resurrected body.

1 Cor. 15:51-53 tells us For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.”

Our earthly tent will be changed into something imperishable and immortal.

That’s why Paul exclaimed as if he was trashtalking death:

“Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” (1 Cor. 15:54)

If you think earth is fun, 
wait till you get to heaven.

But more than the upgraded body, restored and renewed world, the one thing we will all be amazed is that God Himself will be our reward. Listen to what Augustine said.

“God himself, who is the Author of virtue, 
shall be our reward. As there is nothing greater or better than God himself, God has promised us himself. God shall be the end of all our desires, who will be seen without end, loved without cloy, and praised without weariness.”

2. Why heaven?

John was giving the church a living hope!

He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”  (Rev. 21:4)

“… we wait for the blessed hope—the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ.” (Titus 2:13)

The way we live now is completely 
controlled by what we believe 
about our future.

“Hope is the power of being cheerful 
in circumstances that we know to be desperate.” (G.K. Chesterton)

“The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church.” (Tertullian)

 

3. How to get there?

“It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To him who is thirsty 
I will give to drink without cost from 
the spring of the water of life.” (Rev. 21:6)

When Jesus was on the cross, He said, “I thirst.” It was at the moment when God placed all our sin unto Him that He experienced the thirst we all should’ve experienced.

He said that those who will thirst will be given a drink without cost.

The living water is free but it came with a price – His death.

Jesus lost all hope so that we can 
receive the hope we long for.

The “shadow of death” is just 
our entrance into glory.