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Getting an Eternal Perspective: An Interview with Randy Alcorn

A New Beginning / Greg Laurie
The Truth Network Radio
October 24, 2020 3:00 am

Getting an Eternal Perspective: An Interview with Randy Alcorn

A New Beginning / Greg Laurie

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October 24, 2020 3:00 am

In this episode, we visit a classic conversation between Pastor Greg Laurie and Randy Alcorn. Their discussion centers on how pain, suffering, and the promise of Heaven shapes the believer’s worldview here on earth. 

Pastor Greg starts off with two major questions:

Why is there suffering?

Why do Christians have to suffer?

As Randy explains, “[God] didn’t make the world with all of this suffering. He made it different than that. Then we made some choices—sin—that brought suffering into the world. Now we are living with the consequences. The great thing is, according to the Bible, God doesn’t give up. He is still sovereign. He is still in control.”

Listen to this fruitful discussion about a necessary topic and be encouraged in your faith!

Randy Alcorn is a New York Times bestselling author of more than 50 books, including Heaven. He is the founder and director of Eternal Perspective Ministries, a nonprofit organization dedicated to teaching biblical truth and drawing attention to the needy and how to help them.

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Hey everybody, Greg Laurie here. You're listening to the Greg Laurie Podcast, and my objective is to deliver, hopefully, compelling practical insights in faith, culture, and current events from a biblical perspective. To find out more about our ministry, just go to our website, harvest.org. So thanks for joining me for this podcast.

Today we have a very special treat in store here. We're going to speak with a prolific author whose name is Randy Alcorn. Now, if you can be an expert on the topic of heaven, then Randy is that guy. Then someone will ask, well how can you be an expert on heaven when you've never been there? Well, Randy is not one of these guys that's written a book alleging to have gone to heaven and returning to tell us about it. But he is a guy who has spent a good deal of his life studying the topic of the afterlife and the new earth. He's probably read every book that's been written on the subject. In addition, he has studied scripture, and really I think that his volume on the topic of heaven, which I have right here, is probably the best book I've seen on the subject. I think every believer ought to have this in their library. It's just really the go-to book on the afterlife. And if your questions don't get answered reading this book, I'd be somewhat surprised because he addresses every aspect of heaven in this book. He's also written other books like If God is Good and What Heaven Is to the Afterlife.

This is to the topic of human suffering. I think it's the finest volume I've read on the topic and I've read a lot of books as well. Plus Randy has written a book called The Treasure Principle, which is right here. And then here's one that I just came across, Seeing the Unseen. And now Randy can add to his writing books or all the books he's written a comic book called Eternity. Now really they call these graphic novels now. They're very popular, especially with younger people.

Amazing illustrations. So we'll talk about this in a few moments. But he was a pastor for 14 years. Now he is a director of a ministry called Eternal Perspective Ministries. And he speaks on this topic a lot. But Randy doesn't do a lot of guest speaking. So we're really glad that he has made time out of a very busy schedule to come and join us here. So let's give a warm harvest welcome to Randy Alcorn. Randy, welcome.

Good to have you. So Randy, today I wanted to talk about three basic subjects. One of them is the topic of human suffering. The second one would be the afterlife, heaven, hell, what happens beyond the grave. And then finally, in light of these topics, what an eternal perspective is. How do we live on this earth in light of the hope that we have as believers? And finally, I would like to talk about male pattern baldness. And this is something that you do not struggle with, but I do.

Well, again, it's great to have you. We're going to have a biblical discussion. And while we're talking, let me see your Bible, if you would, please. Now this is one beat up Bible. Look at this Bible. This is Randy Alcorn's Bible.

I mean, look at this. It's been said, a Bible that is falling apart is an indication of a life that isn't. Well then, your Bible is falling apart, Randy.

Every page is marked. And this is obviously a very well-used Bible. So as we're going through these questions, Randy will open up the Scripture. We'll be reading something together and we invite them to join us. This is a biblical discussion, but instead of doing it from behind a pulpit, we're doing it at a desk. We're going to talk about these topics. I'd encourage you all to take notes.

He'll give you a lot of references, things you'll want to go back to later. So let's dive right into the problem of pain. You know, nobody wants pain in their life. Nobody wants to suffer. But when pain shows up and moves in, you don't really have a say-so in the matter. And probably if you're talking to a non-believer, it won't be long until the question is asked in some way, shape, or form, how could a God of love allow suffering in the world?

C.S. Lewis said, quote, the problem of pain is atheism's most potent weapon against the Christian faith. But then there's the pain that the Christian faces that sometimes doesn't make sense to us as believers. And in your book, If God is Good, you write, quote, most of us don't give focused thought to evil and suffering until we experience them. This forces us to formulate perspective on the fly at a time when our thinking is muddled and we're exhausted and consumed by pressing issues.

People who have been there will attest it's far better to think through suffering in advance. So maybe those that are listening today, things are going reasonably well. But there might be somebody listening, and they're not just here, but this will be seen by people later on the Internet.

It'll be seen, heard on our radio broadcasts. There would be a person listening or hearing this that has just come face to face with the worst crisis of their life. And probably the first question that's come to their mind is, why is this happening to me? So maybe a two-part question, why is there suffering in general, and then why do Christians have to suffer? Well, great questions, and I think the Bible is clear in terms of the answers.

One is that God created a world where he said, Genesis 1 31, he looked at everything he had created and said, behold, it's very good. There was no suffering originally in the world. Suffering is the result of sin coming into the world. So sometimes people will say, well, why would a good God design the world with all of this suffering?

I don't get it. And the answer is, he didn't make the world with all this suffering. He made it different than that. Then we made some choices, sin, that brought suffering into the world. Now we're living with the consequences. But the great thing is, according to the Bible, God doesn't give up. And he's still sovereign. He's still in control.

Define that quickly, sovereign. What does it mean when you say God is sovereign? That God is totally in control of all things. Nothing surprises God. He has complete knowledge.

He also has complete power. And sometimes we do a disservice to God by thinking that an individual human being or a demon or Satan himself can do something that totally dismantles or unravels the plan of God. But the Bible teaches that God is bigger than that.

He's infinitely big. And that even when people sin, like Joseph to his brothers in Genesis 45 and again in Genesis 50, you intended it for evil. God intended it for good.

He says in Genesis 45 to his brothers, God sent me down to Egypt. In other words, you did a sinful thing but God even worked through your sinful thing to get me to the place he wanted me to be so that many lives years later could be saved. So if you have this perspective that God loves you completely and that God is in control completely, these will be a huge perspective giving commodity. I mean you're able to look at life through that lens and you realize, yeah, there's a lot of evil and suffering in the world but it is a temporary condition.

If I am a child of God, if I have a relationship with Jesus Christ, I will spend eternity with him in heaven where there will be, according to Revelation 21, he'll wipe away the tears from every eye. No more pain, no more suffering, no more death and that's his promise. You know, it's interesting in the book of Genesis talking about Joseph. He said to his brothers, you know, you meant this for evil, God meant it for good but then you quote where Joseph said, God sent me down. Interesting because sometimes when pain comes our way, we say, I don't know why this is happening, this is horrible. But then with the passing of time, there are seasons in life where we can look back on what was clearly a bad thing and actually say that was a good thing and even move from God allowed it to God did it but there are things that happen in life that never seem to be good and they don't make sense this side of heaven, do they? They don't and this is sometimes where we take Romans 8, 28, great wonderful verse depending on the translation, God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God. And yet, we can take that verse which is true but we can share it with people at the wrong time and the wrong context. So for instance, when your son Christopher died, if somebody came up to you and maybe somebody did, I don't know and said, oh well, you know Greg, don't worry about it because Romans 8, 28, you know all things work together for good to which you're saying don't use the word good in the same sentence with the death of my precious son. And this is what we sometimes have to be very careful of is you can take the truth of scripture but there is a right time and a right way to share it. And when a person then has been in their grief for a while, then they may be struggling for perspective and to be able to reassure, reunion with loved ones who knew Christ and you know Jesus and you'll be together with them and all of that and maybe when the time is right, you'll be able to say now we don't know how but this promise in Romans 8 applies to suffering. This whole chapter is about suffering. And so even the things that are bad, God doesn't make the bad thing good but he takes all the bad things together and works them in concert for a great good. Well that's a great insight and I think it's so true when you quote that verse to a person, there's a right and a wrong thing to say. I think when you're ministering to a person who has lost a loved one, less is more.

I think Job's friends had it right initially when they saw Job from a distance and they began to weep with him. You know after our son went to be with the Lord, I spoke at a conference that I was scheduled to be at a couple of months afterwards and Evie Tornquist was there. You ever heard of Evie?

Is she a popular Christian singer? I didn't even really know Evie that well but she saw me and she started crying and hugged me. That did more for me than all the little sermonettes that people gave me because she was just simply weeping with someone who wept.

I was touched that she was touched and it was really when the counselors of Job started talking that the problems began. But coming back to what you said earlier about the devil having to get permission, you know you remember the story in the book of Job, there was that heavenly conversation. And as I've said jokingly sometimes, I've said to the Lord, Lord if you're ever for a fleeting moment feeling proud of me, please don't brag on me in front of the devil. Because I saw what happened to Job, keep it to yourself because you know God's bragging on Job in heaven. Have you considered my servant Job a perfect and upright man, one that fears God and shuns evil.

The devil challenges that remark. God allows the enemy to bring a series of calamities into Job's life but with restriction. He can't just run willy-nilly and that's because there's a hedge around us and God knows what we can handle.

But there might be someone listening to this right now and they're saying well I have more than I can handle. Is that possible for a Christian? Well scripture says that God will not test us beyond what we're able to endure but with the test and that word for test, trial, temptation, it's translated different ways. It's the same Greek word but he will provide a means of escape that we may be able to bear it. Now bearing and escape may sound different.

Escape may sound like oh I don't have to deal with it anymore. No there are some lifelong pressures, suffering that we have to deal with. Johnny Erickson taught and many other people for a lifetime or the greater part of a lifetime in a wheelchair. And so you don't think of that as a passing suffering because it will last the rest of her life. God has not chosen to heal her to this point. Many people have prayed over her but for whatever reason God in his perfect plan and we can see a lot of the reasons.

A ministry that's been unbelievable and worldwide and look how God has used it to encourage other people. But the point is it is a passing suffering in that it will not last. It will come to an end.

It will come to an end with her death or with the return of Christ whichever comes first. And that reassurance is that yeah these light and momentary afflictions 2 Corinthians 4 talks about. Well they don't seem light.

They don't seem momentary. They can go on and on. But compared to the weight of glory for all eternity they're far outweighed. You talked last time about the like the rock of Gibraltar but then a planet.

You used that illustration again. Yeah it's like okay let's say you've got these scales on both sides here. And you think okay my present suffering is so great. It's so immense. It's like the rock of Gibraltar. I mean do you get any bigger than that.

And it just feels like it weighs me down. But then God says over here he's not minimizing the rock of Gibraltar. That's a big rock.

But now he's putting on the other side of the scales the planet Jupiter. Wow that's a major difference. So God doesn't minimize our present suffering by calling it light and momentary. He just says compared to the glory and eternity in resurrected bodies in the presence of the resurrected Jesus with resurrected family of God serving him for all eternity on a new earth.

Wow. In comparison light and momentary suffering. Exactly. Do you think Christians suffer less more or about the same as people who are not Christians? I think there are times where we suffer less because of the very assurance that we have in our hearts that relieves us of some suffering and even in the midst of other suffering gives us this promise. Blood bought promise by the blood of Jesus Christ that things will be better and so that becomes the light at the end of the tunnel. But in terms of just objective outside types of suffering the rates of cancer or the number of car accidents and other tragedies and all of that that would be very much I think the same scattered out among people.

The rain falls on the just and the unjust. Exactly. But then there is a special suffering that Christians undergo that's persecution.

True. Now there are some unbelievers who are persecuted for other types of things and reasons but we are promised in scripture that we will suffer and scripture says don't be surprised at the fiery ordeal that you are suffering as though something strange were happening to you. It says that in 1 Peter 4. We shouldn't view it as strange and unusual and I think one of the things that happens Greg and you've seen this is that Christians start believing health and wealth gospel prosperity theology and then they have an expectation of God and they act as if God has promised that all will go smoothly in their lives. Have any of you noticed that not everything does go smoothly?

I've noticed that. Right. And the thing is what we do is we set ourselves up to be disillusioned with God. I've had people say to me God promised me this good life and look he hasn't come through with his promise.

I say give me the chapter and verse where he promised that this life would be easy and I can give you dozens and dozens where he promised it would be hard. Right. After Romans 8 28 is Romans 8 29 which is profound to think about. Good. That's why this man is your pastor.

And I'm not. So we all quote you know Romans 8 28 all things work together for good to those that love God. Now they're called according to his purpose but then it goes on to verse 29 for whom he foreknew he predestined to be conformed into the image of his own dear son that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. So God's endgame if you will is to make us like Christ. But let's shift gears now from suffering and let's talk about the afterlife.

You know there's probably no topic out there where there is more confusion than this topic. Of course there's a plethora of books on the afterlife and it seems like more and more these days you're reading of people who have are telling of their out of body experiences. They died and went to heaven. Some are even put up by Christian publishers. And you read these and I'm amazed at how sometimes even believers will read these books and say Oh well they said it in the book and must not be true or it must be true. And they're not comparing it to what this book says which is the only authoritative book on the topic.

And we have all these misconceptions ranging from heaven is this boring place to Oh when we die we become angels so why all the confusion on the topic of heaven. Well first let me really reaffirm what you were saying there Greg about how important it is for us in Acts 17 verse 11. The Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians for they received the message. Now this was a message being preached by the Apostle Paul.

OK. They received the message with great eagerness and examined the scriptures every day. Every day to see if what Paul said was true. If you're going to examine the preaching of the Apostle Paul by the scriptures. Everything should be examined by the scriptures. And this is why I think many of these books and many of these reports of the afterlife.

You know we can't definitively say because since God can do anything he wants. You know if God wants to send somebody to heaven and then they come back he can do that. But whatever they say we better examined it by scripture and if it doesn't hold up to scripture we can know for sure it's not true.

And there are things that are said like for instance I think there's many things that are good and right that don't conflict with scripture. I remember about Colton Burpo the boy who tells the story you know heaven is for real. His dad you know has written this book and this is what his son experienced in heaven. There are things in there that I will say well when he talks about people in heaven have angels and they have circles around their head like halos. Where in the Bible does anyone ever have a halo in heaven or on earth around their head. There are some people who physically shine like Moses but that halo thing is an artistic thing in the ancient world and then revived again in the Middle Ages. And then people never have wings in scripture.

There's not one single place. Angels sometimes have wings sometimes don't have wings. People never have wings. So when somebody says well we know people have wings in heaven because after all it says it right in the book heaven is for real. These people are genuine Christians who love Jesus. I'm not questioning motives or anything else. I'm just saying wow some of those things just don't match up with what scripture says.

And I think one of the worst things is then it opens up the minds of people to start believing these books. And a more recent one by I think it's Mary Neal To Heaven and Back also published by a Christian publisher. Well she says that she went to heaven and Jesus or an angel she's not sure which which makes you wonder. Really you don't know whether that's Jesus or an angel. But either Jesus or an angel says to her look at all of these spirits up in heaven that are about to be born into the world down below.

They have a right relationship with God then they're born into the world down below and spend the rest of their lives trying to regain the relationship with God they once had as pre-existent spirits in heaven. That is a totally unbiblical teaching and yet a Christian publisher publishes it and you say well if an angel or Jesus said that to her I guess it must be true. No this is true. That's right. So I posted on my Facebook page I'm talking with Randy Alcorn.

Any questions one guy asked and this is along the lines of what you just said. Her name is Leah. I've always worried about or wondered about angels and their place in heaven. Is it possible that humans are transformed into angels into heaven or angels a separate entity in heaven created differently to serve God. So we don't become an angel when we get to heaven do we?

We don't and this gets to something that's very critical to understand. There is a biblical doctrine that could be called the doctrine of continuity and what it means is that people always remain people. We are created in God's image.

We are now. We will be for all eternity. We don't become a different kind of being.

We become glorified human beings meaning we're still human. And you see that in in Job 19 where he says I know that my redeemer lives and that I will see him. And here it is in verse 25 I know that of chapter 19 of Job. I know that my redeemer lives and that in the end he will stand upon the earth.

Interesting. Not he will just stay up there in in heaven but he will stand upon the earth. And then Job says and after my skin has been destroyed yet in my flesh I will see God. There are people who say that the Old Testament never refers to a resurrection.

Well if you've read Daniel 12 verses 1 and 2 you know that's not true. It's a clear statement about resurrection. But isn't this I mean this is the oldest written book in the Bible people say and it says after my skin has been destroyed.

Well your skin it's your body. Your body has been destroyed yet in my flesh I will see God. That's resurrection.

I myself and here's the continuity. Job says I myself will see him with my own eyes resurrected eyes. And then he says I and not another.

How clear can that be? Job is saying it will really be me. So when Greg and I are in heaven and any of the rest of you here who know Jesus Christ be in heaven someday. When we're in heaven we will it will be Greg made new.

It will be Randy but Randy without sin. And so it will be the real us just like it will be the real Job and you see this. I think you'll be close to what you are now but I'll be a lot better. Better than you are now or better than me? No better than I am now.

But I think you'll be pretty close to the way you are now. No but let's hope not. But the truth is it will really be us and you know sometimes people get very confused on this. Because they say well I don't think we'll even remember anything. They take one verse in Isaiah 65 completely out of context and say well we're not going to remember.

Well what are we told? We're told in Romans 14 12 that each one of us will give an account of our entire lives. True. You have to remember to do that.

Exactly. In other words we'll have to have better memories. Can you remember everything in your life?

No you can't now. In other words our memories of this life will have to be better not worse. I'll know as we are known. Exactly.

So it's not like the brain wiping Men in Black where you forget everything. You're going to not know less because then that addresses the subject. Well we recognize one another in heaven. Well why would we know less in heaven than we know on earth?

Well no more so clearly we would recognize one another. We would have recollection but I think it would be with perspective right? Exactly and that's the difference because you know sometimes people say well okay if we could remember the things on earth we would be sad. And the same thing if we could see the things on earth when we're having we'd be sad. But what we have to remember is when we get to heaven our peace of mind will not be dependent upon ignorance.

It will be dependent upon perspective and God will give us that perspective. Like I have little granddaughters you know and like the other day they were playing with one of their dolls and a head came off. Well that's like the end of the world to a grandchild and I'm just looking at it I say now don't worry it's okay I'll take care of it.

And no you know but I'm just going to go buy her a new one I know that. But I have the adult perspective. They have a child's perspective. So on earth we have a child's perspective if you will. In heaven we'll see it from God's perspective. Oh that thing that looks so bad from this side I look at it from this side and I see how God used it for good.

So it's not ignorance but it's like you said perspective. So that brings us now to the obvious question you know do people in heaven know what's going on on earth? Are they sitting up there like in little chairs watching us right now or are they completely oblivious to what's happening on earth?

This is a question that's asked a lot. I think they were with us in the first part of the message but they lost interest. And right now no but seriously people in heaven we know from several passages of scripture and Revelation 6 is one of those. Turn to Revelation 6. In Revelation 6 we have people martyrs who died. They've gone to heaven. And then picking up in around verse 9 it talks about those who have been slain because of the word of God.

These are just kind of for clarification. These are people. These are mortals who have died on the earth for their faith. So that's why this is important when we're talking about people in heaven. These aren't angels.

These are people. And then it says in verse 10 these people died and gone to be with Jesus. They called out in a loud voice saying how long sovereign Lord holy and true until you judge the inhabitants of the earth and avenge our blood. Well here they clearly remember their lives on earth. They clearly remember something very bad like they were murdered.

I mean how much worse does it get than that. They clearly remember that but they have a perspective now. Yet they still have a longing for justice and judgment and I think a longing that that other suffering saints on earth would be delivered from their suffering. So they're saying how long Lord before you bring judgment on those who killed us. And clearly they know that God has not yet brought judgment on them. Well how do they know that. Well presumably because they can see. They can see what's going on earth so they know God hasn't yet brought judgment so they're asking him how long.

So I think there's an example of people who remember bad things that happened. See bad things that are happening and are asking God to intervene in judgment. And God says wait a little longer until the last of the martyrs dies. And that's I think you know we think of the return of Christ and one way to ask you know when will Christ return. And people speculate as to days and times and dates and Jesus told us not to do that but people do.

But the great thing is the way from God's perspective what he's saying in this Revelation six passages. I will return after the last martyr has died and only he knows who that last martyr will be. So we go to heaven when we die as Christians. But we don't get a glorified body whenever we die. That's a future event the resurrection. But then we come back to earth don't we.

And then there's going to be a new earth. So I think a lot of people think well I'll just die and go to heaven live there forever. That's actually not what the Bible teaches is it.

It isn't. And turn to Revelation 21 and you see very clearly in verse three. And let me just preface this as you're turning there Revelation 21 three. To say that okay when we die like grandma dies somebody who loves the Lord dies they go to be with Jesus. So we always think of heaven and properly so right now of us leaving the earth to go to live with God in God's home.

The place where God and the angels live. But the ultimate promise of scripture even though that's true for now. Is that God what God will ultimately do is he will bring heaven and heaven is wherever God specially dwells wherever his throne is. He will bring that all down to the new earth to dwell with his people. And look at Revelation 21 verse 3 where it says I heard a loud voice from the throne saying now the dwelling of God is with men. And backing up it's he sees a new heaven and a new earth. He sees the holy city the new Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God. So that new Jerusalem comes down it's on the earth prepared as a bride beautifully dressed. And then it says and the loud voice says now the dwelling of God is with men and he will live with them. They will be his people and God himself will be with them and be their God.

Now with them is used three times. So here's a paradigm shift we tend to think of as it is for the moment. We tend to think of it permanently as if heaven means us going up to live with God in his place. The ultimate heaven will be God coming down from his place to live with us in our place which will be the new earth. And remember when we think about the incarnation of Christ some people sort of act like Jesus like took on a body like we might put on a coat and then later take off the coat and now he no longer has a body.

Oh no scripture teaches the permanent resurrected body of Christ he ascended in that same body that this same Jesus physical Jesus who ate and drank with his disciples fed them breakfast. Who went up to heaven will come again and he will return and he will set up his kingdom. Some believe in a thousand year reign of Christ on the earth I take that position other people take different positions. But then following that in the new heavens the new earth God will bring heaven down to earth. We're told the throne of God will be there in that city and that will be a literal heaven on earth. Now some people try to make heaven on earth they try to make this utopia down here and they say well if we just do this and we just do that we improve the human race then we'll build ourselves up to perfection and we'll conquer death. That's nonsense none of that is going to happen but while we won't bring heaven on earth God promises he will bring heaven to earth and we will reign with him as his people. Resurrected people ruling the earth to the glory of God just as God originally intended for Adam and Eve.

And we think well that was a failure Adam and Eve briefly had dominion over the earth to God's glory and then it all went south. Okay well no for eternity God's people will as kings and queens you know he's the king of kings but we will rule the new earth to God's glory. Amen that sounds good doesn't it yeah come on let's talk about the eternal perspective.

Okay so we have this hope of heaven we have the hope that heaven comes to earth in the new earth we have the hope of a glorified body we're going to serve the Lord we have a future. Sometimes people seem to think that this life on earth is all we have and so maybe they'll have their bucket list. There's a guy that wrote a book called a hundred things to do before you die and in this book he offered this counsel and I quote this life is a short journey.

Make sure you fill it up with the most fun and visit all the cool places on earth. He says you need to make life count and so on his bucket list was attending the academy awards and running with the bulls in Spain. Tragically the author of the book died at age 47 after hitting his head after a fall in his home he himself only was able to accomplish half of the items on the list.

So I thought you were going to say jokingly he died in the bowl no ring well I'd make that real low on my life. That is not that's how to end your life quickly run with the bulls that makes a lot of sense but but this guy is saying you know you've got to do it all now. So the idea is it's all in the here and now oh man if you don't do it now that's it but there is a future of course but should a Christian have a bucket list. Well here's the interesting thing about the bucket list it makes an assumption and it sometimes it's expressed like this. Well you only live once here on earth or you only go around once.

Well according to the Bible we go around twice and the second time will never end. Yes and I mean that's literally what the Bible teaches now that is a paradigm shift right because now when I think of oh well I've got to taste a certain kind of food before I die and travel to some country where they serve this food and experience this situation. But the Bible teaches Jesus probably seven or eight times talked about eating and drinking in God's kingdom and some people say do you take that literally. Well of course we take that literally because in his literal resurrection body he ate and drank with his disciples.

Yeah that's right he fished for them they ate together and when Jesus ate in his resurrected body did the food drop through to the ground. No because he wasn't a ghost. He says I am not a ghost. A ghost does not have flesh and bones as I have. We will have flesh and bones because our bodies will be like his.

So with the bucket list thing you think well oh yeah I want to go visit Lake Victoria in Africa. Well there's going to be a new Jerusalem. There's going to be new nations on the earth the kings of the nations of the earth will bring their treasures into God's kingdom into the new Jerusalem. We're told this at the end of Revelation 21 continuity between old earth and new earth present bodies will be resurrected.

So I can say I will serve God with these very hands. Yes these hands that will be resurrected into a permanent you know incorruptible state and also the new earth will be the old earth made new. So there's a new Jerusalem might there be a new Paris a new London a new Riverside.

Why not. But in any case natural wonders on the new earth. Yes we're told of a mountain.

We're told of the river that flows through the throat. We're talking about the tree of life which is now forced of life that that grows on both sides that yields a new fruit for people to eat every month. So we will eat and drink so on the bucket list it's like no the very best that we will ever experience on this earth will not be experienced here and now. But in a new earth with new bodies the old earth made new the old bodies made new my favorite food very likely is one that I've never tasted.

And I will taste for the first time on the new earth because not only will the food be better but our taste buds will be in corrupted uncorrupted and we will be able to experience all God has for us. Jesus said lay up for yourself treasures in heaven where neither moth nor rust do corrupt nor thieves break in and steal for where your treasure is that where your heart be also. What does that mean because here I'm talking about heaven but I'm living here on earth at the time. And how do I lay up treasures in heaven.

Well I think clearly in Matthew 6 when you compare it to some parallel passages where he says similar words he is talking about giving. He is talking about taking earthly treasures and doing something with them and laying them up in heaven. How do you do that how do you turn an earthly treasure into a heavenly treasure and the answer is by giving it over to the Lord.

So that it can bring the gospel to the nations so it can bring the gospel to our communities so that it can feed hungry people in the name of Jesus. So all of these good and God honoring things can be done and as long as I hold on to it it's a treasure earthly treasure that I can lose and that's what he's talking about. Moth and rust and thieves break in and steal as long as I call it mine and hang on to it then it can be lost. But the moment I give it to the Lord it's yours Lord it belongs to you.

You own everything. Here is the first fruits. Generous giving. Here you go. Use this.

Use this as you know best how to use it. And you know what for some of us the call may be and Nancy in my life the call to us that we believe is we live a good middle class life but a lot of book royalty money coming beyond that but we don't need that. And so we give that so everything that's above and beyond we give to God's kingdom and we're nobody should feel sorry for us but we're able to lay up treasures in heaven we believe and that we will experience someday. But meanwhile the joy that you have in giving.

Jesus said in fact the book of Acts has one single statement made by Jesus that's not in the gospels. And it's chapter 20 verse 35 where it says Jesus said it is more blessed to give than to receive and that word translated blessed means in the original language it means happy making. It is more happy making to give than to receive. Nothing will bring you greater happiness and joy than to invest to give to lay up treasures in heaven. Do you think that tithing is something that is still relevant for today for a person living in the new covenant or is that merely an old covenant teaching to bring your tithes into the storehouse like Malachi.

In the book of Malachi God says bring all the tithes into my storehouse says the Lord and see if I will not open up the windows of heaven and pour you out a blessing that you won't have room enough to receive it. Does that still apply to today do you think. I think to a degree it does. And here's I think that scripture these Old Testament passages sometimes we think okay we're no longer under the law. So for instance we don't need to keep the Sabbath. But yes but is there a principle of a day of rest. Is rest being built into our lives something God still advocates.

And I think the answer is yes or no. You don't have to keep all the detailed rules. But let's set aside the day of rest. I think the same thing is true with the tithe. I think there's a timeless truth in it.

Take the first fruits you know the giving of the first and the best. Give that to the Lord and that's kind of symbolic that the other 90 percent belongs to God as well. I kind of take a middle position on the tithe. Some people say oh yeah well we got to live under the tithe. Doesn't matter.

It applies to us just like it did to the nation Israel. And then I say well you know I'm a little hesitant on that because do you do that with all the other commands. Probably not. But then there's people that go to the other extreme and they say Christian shouldn't tithe. I've literally had people say because you're putting yourself in bondage or putting yourself under the law. You know if you tithe.

And I say no. Tithing is like the training wheels on a bicycle. I look at God's old covenant people. They did the tithing. So as a new covenant person I say okay God do you want me to give just at the level that those people gave or do you want me to give less than that or do you want me to give more than that.

Well at very least how about I start by doing what you had them do. And it can't be a bad thing. I mean God had them do it. How about I do it not thinking I'm earning favor with God. Not checking off a box. Not being legalistic. But just saying okay to help me get up on the bicycle of giving I'm going to use these training wheels of tithing.

And that's how I view tithing. You know this little talk we're having will be seen by people later and there's probably someone watching this right now or maybe even here with us who is suffering. They're suffering deeply. Maybe they have cancer. Maybe they've just lost a loved one.

And they're a Christian. So what hope do you offer them? Well certainly the promise of ultimately the new earth for all those who have a relationship with Jesus Christ. The promise of resurrection. Not just temporarily going to heaven but the new heaven that God will bring down to earth.

To live there for all eternity. Scripture says those who are believers now will be with the Lord forever and we shall see God's face. God is the source of all blessing. God is a happy God. We're actually told that in 1 Timothy 1 and 1 Timothy 6. That same word that's in Acts 20. Macarius that he is the blessed God is the translation. But anyone that lived and spoke the Greek of that day if they were to translate it in English would say the happy God.

And when the King James version was translated that's what it meant. The happy God. He is the blessed God. The happy God. And we will live with the happy God and the source of all happiness for all eternity and we will see his face.

We will enjoy his presence. Scripture says Psalm 16 and 11. In your presence is fullness of joy.

At your right hand are pleasures forevermore. And that with that promise, blood bought promise, Jesus shed his blood on the cross to gain for us that eternal happiness. And that should bring great encouragement to anyone even in their present suffering. I have a good friend who is dying right now and that dear woman I've been saying lots of verses of scripture and great quotes about heaven. And she is about to enter the presence of the Lord and she truly has a joy even in the midst of some serious suffering. Heaven's not the default destination of every person though is it? There is a hell. And Jesus spoke more about it than all the other teachers in the Bible put together. So how does one make sure that they will go to heaven when they die?

How can they guarantee that? First and foremost we need to realize there is nothing we can do to earn status before God. You can't chalk up points.

You don't have this little checklist. Well if I do this, this and this then God will let me into heaven. If that's the way you think, you are thinking completely wrongly and tragically unless you change that point of view you won't end up in heaven in the presence of God. Because scripture says it's not by works of righteousness which we have done but according to his mercy he saves us. For by grace you have been saved through faith. That under the knot of yourselves. It's the gift of God not by works lest any man should boast.

We will have nothing to boast about. So what I have to do is recognize my moral bankruptcy, the fact that I am a sinner, that I do not deserve heaven. I actually deserve hell. But Jesus so to speak took hell upon himself on the cross so that I through trusting in him and his redemptive sacrifice will be able to experience heaven in his presence forever. That's the gospel. That's the gospel that Greg goes around preaching everywhere. That's the gospel that he preaches here. That's the gospel that has been entrusted to us and really in the end what is more important than the gospel, the good news of salvation in Jesus Christ alone.

That's right. I did an interview with Pastor Chuck Smith who is in heaven now only weeks before he died. And I said Chuck if you could preach one last sermon what would your text be? And his response was John 3 16. And I said now why do you choose that?

I think I knew the answer but I wanted to know his reason. He said well it's the gospel. You know it's the gospel in a nutshell. For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son that whosoever believes in him should not perish but have everlasting life.

That's the hope. And for any of you that are listening or watching and you've not put your faith in Christ we want you to do that today so you can know with certainty that you will go to heaven when you die. And so I would like to close in prayer and give you that opportunity to make that commitment to Christ if you've not done that yet.

So let's all pray together. Father I pray for any here, any watching, any listening that do not yet know you Lord help them to turn from their sin and put their faith in Jesus and Jesus alone so they can know with certainty they will go to heaven when they die. And you that want Christ to come into your life maybe you would just pray this prayer after me right where you sit and just pray this after me. Lord Jesus I know I'm a sinner but I know you're a savior and you died on the cross for me and shed your blood and absorb the wrath of God in my place. And then you rose again from the dead. Now come into my life and I choose to follow you from this moment forward as savior and Lord as God and friend. Thank you Lord in Jesus name I pray. Amen.

Everybody Greg Laurie here. Thanks for listening to our podcast and to learn more about Harvest Ministries. Please subscribe and consider supporting this show. Just go to Harvest.org. And by the way if you want to find out how to come into a personal relationship with God go to KnowGod.org. That's K-N-O-W-G-O-D.org.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-02-02 02:40:11 / 2024-02-02 02:58:41 / 19

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