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November 21, 2020 3:00 am
You’ll hear answers to questions such as:
What do we actually have to be thankful for?
What can Christians expect when they go to Heaven?
Will we wear clothes in Heaven?
Does belief in an afterlife change how we live today?
Randy reminds us, “If your hope is in yourself, or your hope is in the economy, or stock market and your retirement plan, and your hope is always being healthy or wealthy or whatever, those things are not a solid or firm foundation for hope. Jesus Christ is the source of hope.”
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.
Learn more about Greg Laurie and Harvest Ministries at harvest.org.
This podcast is supported by the generosity of our Harvest Partners.
Support the show: https://harvest.org/donate/
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Everybody Greg Laurie here. You're listening to the Grigori podcast and my objective is to deliver hopefully compelling practical insights and 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 ready is a rare combination of a theologian in a fiction writer. He is the author of over 50 books and I think is classic there.
There's many classics but the one that is best known for probably is his book on heaven, a large volume that II think is just an outstanding book. It answers so many of the questions that people have about the afterlife. Another when he wrote on the issues of human suffering are is called if God is good is also written of the treasure principle. Here's a little book you just did everything you always want to know about heaven.
Does God want us to be happy were going to talk about that a little bit today. Giving is the good life.
This is a good one.
I like this. My granddaughter was reading it heaven for kids and here's his newest book and I have to admit I was a little offended by the title of this book, Randy Alcorn why did I ever agree to let Greg Laurie interview him what ready come out here and explain this if you could let's welcome Randy Alcorn your newest book, Randy. The question I've asked myself many, we done quite a few of these interviews over the years and someone just on my social media commented and said how much one of our conversations had hoped her because we deal with real life issues that people are facing right now, and in things that people have a lot of questions about but I just thought I just started diving with Thanksgiving coming. Any thoughts on on this special time of year. You know it's really amazing thing you think in America we have a national day of Thanksgiving set in the motion by our first president, George Washington, ratified by both houses. I don't think they get a degree in anything today but they agreed that we should have a national day to give thanks to God Almighty in our country and and now when you hear Thanksgiving reference. They just call it turkey day come from Thanksgiving that turkey day. By the way, I had a full Thanksgiving meal yesterday with lots of turkey and and I think I gained 5 pounds doing that, but it was awfully good but what why is it important not only just on Thanksgiving, but in general for a Christian to give thanks to God. I think God is our Creator God is a God of Providence in our sustainer. The one who gives us every wrath. The one who keeps our heart beating in all the things that go on in our bodies that we don't even think about until maybe something goes wrong and he's the one who created the heavens and the earth and and he's the one who create the new heavens and the new earth will live forever if you think about how much do we have to be thankful for. Even though we live in life under the curse. One day he's gonna reverse the curse were going to be delivered from all that is bad to wipe away the tears from every eye.
We can take our gratitude for the eternity that lies before us and frontloaded into our lives now today and got I'm grateful I'm alive today and I'm grateful for what you have for me today. Even in the midst of suffering because you are who you are and you have called me and gifted me and you have a purpose for me and you can use me today in the live lives of other people and what we have so much to be thankful that we really do.
And that's right. So run in the heels about things, and of course is Christmas and to me, you know there are things I don't like about the modern Christmas celebration.
People get so stressed out you know fighting for parking spaces things like that but you know the there are many things I do like about Christmas and to me, Christmas is a promise. It's a promise of things to come in and you know what we were little kids would get all excited about what I'm I getting for Christmas but I think that longing was something that is really a longing for something even more that can't be satisfied by Christmas. They can't be satisfied by presidents under a tree, but by God presence in our life.
And here I think it's kind of a great thing when you walk through Salem Mall and you hear songs. Hark the Herald Angels Sing Silent Night, Joy to the world.
You hear that name of Jesus being sung and so for a person right now as we enter into the Christmas season with something to remember. So we can keep our perspective. During this Christmas we think of what Christmas is about an inch. It's about the gospel God so loved the world he sent his only gotten son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life in it and it's like okay so there's the incarnation of Jesus, but I also love the promise of the return of Jesus and send that and Nancy and my favorite Christmas song is Joy to the world and love the part about far as the curse is found, you know so so how how far will his blessing go far as the curse is found, because he's gonna reverse the curse and he is going to one day change this world into what he meant it to be from the beginning, but we won't just go back to Eden and to that paradise. We will go forward to an Edenic paradise, one that is greater, one that where we will have not only innocence lack of sin, but the very righteousness of Christ and we will rejoice for all eternity. So to me. I can't think of Christmas without thinking of course of the first coming of Jesus and he came to die on the cross and rise again, but the return of Christ.
When all things will be made right forever. So that's all wrapped up in Christmas. There really is and you know any of your touching on really afterlife issues because when a Christian dies. We go immediately into the presence of the Lord in heaven. But then one day heaven will come to work. We even hear Jesus addressing it in what we call the Lord's prayer we pray by kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. But it's hard first to wrap our minds around heaven. Maybe our minds have been distorted by sort of a Hollywood version of heaven.
What we've seen the movies will be seen in paintings and other things and and we it seems like this. I don't know for some of might seem like a man. Heaven is going to be like a really long church service. You know, kind of the lot is singing and and it's going to be boring, but nothing could be further from the truth right so tell us a little bit about what we can expect when we get to heaven, will the greatest thing about heaven is who we will be with and that that's Jesus to be with Jesus to be with father son and Holy Spirit, the triune God. You know they had a happiness in them before the world was made. I love that promise of Jesus and I were where he says, in the words of Jesus to the servant who has come into his presence.
Well done my good and faithful servant, enter into your masters, happiness and and I love the idea of being with him forever and the him being the source of all happiness.
Some people are looking for happiness but they're looking at all the wrong places, and it can be found ultimately only and fully in God not in the circumstances of our lives and how how well our lives are going because sometimes our lives don't go very well do that but he is there and he is always our cause for rejoicing.
That's the most important thing about heaven secondarily is just the fact that God is going to raise us from the dead that are that did this life we don't pass our peaks in this life because our peaks won't be experienced until the resurrection and will never pass that peak so forever we will worship and enjoy his presence you wipe away the tears from every eye. No more death, suffering no more pain, and forever we will celebrate with him the glories of his presence and the wonder of reunion with each other, our brothers and sisters in Christ and me. Can you beat that now she just yeah exactly right.
Okay, so here's some simple like practical questions I hear these a lot. Will my granddaughter Allie wrote this book. I haven't forget, yet she has me what we were close in heaven. Well, we do know that people in in heaven are depicted as wearing wrote you, and unless I see was a Olsons that means it will all wear robes well I'll think that's what it means because robes is what they want when they come to the nice dinner you know they wear their white robes that clean robes and so I think I mean on the new earth in our resurrection bodies will some people where genes or dresses you pants what will people wear shirts and blouses. Whatever we may very well aware of the kinds of things we were in our culture that we grew up in and lit again, but the fast thinking about that will be there. The people got throughout the ages who have lived in different cultures dressed differently and I love it when Scripture takes talks about people of every tribe and nation language and it doesn't say that there people in heaven who used to be, of every tribe and nation, a language that who are present tense of every nation online well and that's William, you bring up some interesting points out here showing how it's this is tangible.
It's real. We think of it in an unreal way like you're talking about different fashions or styles of dress and then the how in heaven worst you know your ethnicity or what country you came from your still you because sometimes I think people think when you get to heaven. You're not even human anymore. Your good humor were new creation in Christ were still lots till after Jesus rose from the dead. He said to his disciples.
It is, I got another it was still Jesus bearing the marks of the crucifixion in his resurrection body and Scripture says that our new bodies will be like his body so working to eat food because Christ ate food after the resurrection working to recognize one another because Christ recognized his own disciples after the resurrection. There's a lot of practical things are the people sometimes don't understand executives just looking at a Job 19 where Job talks about. I know that my Redeemer lives. John and LCM and Ingleby on this earth, and he then he says I will see him with my own eyes yes and then he says I and not another letter and visit that explicitly say we are trying about Greg that we will still be us and and and and Jesus was still Jesus and some people say, well, they didn't recognize Jesus because what will will Mary didn't recognize Jesus and you will wait a minute, she this is the tomb.
It was early in the morning was still darkish and she thought he was the gardener, and in that culture. Men did not look into the eyes of Army women did not look in the eyes of men that they didn't know and I'll discuss it.
But as soon as he speaks, she immediately recognizes his voice so it was not a case of her not right on the Emmaus Road. Some people say will now they couldn't even recognize Jesus and his and it actually says they were kept from recognizing him and then he reveals himself in the know of course that this is really Jesus of yeah almost those are myths that we have a sometimes people say yeah well once we get to heaven will know everything.
At last, will know everything was know only God knows everything will always be finite and stand Ephesians 27 says, in the ages to come.
God will be revealing that sent us continuously.
The wonders of these kinds of learning. Heaven will learn so how should our belief in the afterlife affect us in this life.
I believe there is a heaven I believe I will go to heaven. I believe I could be in heaven sooner than expected to be a QB to death. It could be to the Lord coming back for his church of being caught up to meet him how to that affect me in day-to-day living in things I think in decisions I make what one of things that were told in in second Peter three is that we're looking forward to a new heavens and new earth. That same context, says what sort of people therefore are we to be in terms of life and godliness.
We are to live lives of purity when we see him we'll see him as he is and and will pure those who are going to see him as he is purify themselves, even as he is pure.
It changes the way we live now because we want to be the spotless bride of Christ. I want to please him and honor him because of who we will be forever in his presence.
So why would we try to find pleasure in things that dishonor our Lord, who is the source of pleasure. Not only is flat wrong.
But it's also stupid because we will never find fulfillment in the things that God has not wired us to find fulfillment in so if it's contrary to Jesus. It's not good for us so worked out the theme of our talk today is heaven happiness and hope. Let's transition to the topic of happiness. It seems to me if we have a proper biblical understanding of what heaven isn't all that's awaiting us.
There I happy and and after all, don't we follow a happy God.
I bring that up because I think some people sort of view God as I do know perpetually angry austere cars. I do we follow a God who we could describe as happy absolutely. In fact, in first Timothy six is called the happy God is to pass as the referring was happy got but because it's the English word blessed which actually use to mean you go to old English dictionaries in the first meeting of blessed is happy feet used to being happy, but to us. Now it sounds like more like holy, so sounds like he sing the holy God. But it's really saying the happy God, Jesus Christ himself is called in Hebrews 1, i.e., it says God your God has anointed you with the oil of gladness beyond all your companions. In other words, Jesus Christ is the happiest person human being who has ever lived and that's actually what that pastor says beyond your companions, which would be the whole human race that he became part and I think sometimes we just think of Jesus as only the man of sorrows and acquainted with grief, as were told in Isaiah 5352 and 53 but but the thing was that that passage is talking about his atoning work for us is suffering on the cross so was he miserable in Gethsemane and miserable on the cross and if you would say yes.
A man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. But that's not how we was every hour of every day of his life. The great majority of the time he was this person full of happiness full of joy and I was reading earlier today in in John 15, where he talks about I have said these things to you that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be full. We are to derive our joy from his joy.
So what were the things that contribute to happiness and what are things that deplete happiness. Why think certainly the things that deplete happiness of the things that are in violation of the way God has designed the universe to operate his best for our life. Every time we violators. It is sure to bring unhappiness every time we follow what God says it brings happiness wait when you when you have us form one which starts with those with the word blessed happy happy are those who do not listen to the counsel of the way I would who delight in the law of God in the word of God. So if you want happiness go to God's counsel seek his thoughts seek his mind. But when you go to the world. And Anna, Greg and I were talking earlier about twitter and what nightmare it can be sometimes are some good things there but you know there's a lot of just rudeness and hostility in pride and arrogance and critical spirit. If you are going there you're going to the political world to get your is that your source of at where you spend your time. You are going to be a miserable person and people are knocking to be drawn to Christ through you go to God and his word and the lights in the pleasures of what it means to follow him and that'll bring happy guy and I think you people just scrolling to their phones constantly.
You know, and in your reading tweets are you looking at social media or whatever you reading this leads and there's only things I can bring you down. That's like dole it down so much.
Look up, you know, look up to God look up to the imminent return of Jesus. Look to the word of God and look to the needs of others you know. Studies have revealed. You know this friend you talk about this in your books, but studies have revealed that when you focus on helping others and actually improves your life, your outlook in general. I read about one survey that was done I probably was from your book of 4500 American adults which revealed that those who volunteered an average of 100 hours a year of them.
68% reported they were physically healthier. 73% said lowered their stress levels and 99% said it improve their sense of well being. So you know now it seems like medical science is catching up with what the Bible is said all along because what it Jesus say it's more blessed to give than it is to receive exactly and that word blessed.
There is that word Beccaria's which means it is more happy making to give than to receive. And this is so interesting.
I i.e. it is you look at Bill Gates and Warren Buffett and some of the secular people. People that don't know the Lord and hear them talk about what they have discovered about the joy of giving and the just the giddiness, the happiness that they have experienced just by God's common grace, even as unbelievers in doing what they're wired to do if you are all think of the word miser will what word comes from the word miser miserable system. Think of Scrooge how unhappy he was when he was just accumulating all this wealth and hanging onto it and using it only for himself and then what happens in the transformation in a Christmas Carol Dickens classic. What happens is Scrooge now becomes what a new person. It's like regeneration. It's as if he's been born again and what is he doing now instead of being the miser who holds on to everything and is therefore miserable. He becomes the giver and as he gives Dickens observed he became the happiest man in all of London. Why, because when you give your happy so don't wait to think oh well, if I become happy about it. Someday I'll start getting no do the giving and that will make you happy, do the action that accords with happiness and then you will become happy, very good. Do your given while you live and then your knowing where it's going exactly. And you know there is a joy giving there really is. I think we miss out on it and so is as we think about this subject under the why, but there's a discomfort among Christians when you address the topic of money and giving the governments of the clutch is a wall letter.
You know you fasten your purse or that they can receive an offering now and what what why are we so reluctant in this area.
Why is there discomfort. I mean you can talk about heaven. Also, you can talk about the promises of God.
You can talk about the imminent return of Jesus.
I love it. You talk about money in the Bible talks about it so much and now all of a sudden the guy I'm uncomfortable I want to hear about this is that I don't get it. Well, I think you week we have turned to money to fulfill our deepest needs and it doesn't do that now is a blessing of God and we do need money to live on and in pride food for families and all that is not a bad thing in and of itself, but when we make it our God is the rich fool you think about this in Luke 12 and here's this man who just he's successful and so what is he do he builds bigger barns just to store up all these things for himself and then God says, you fool, this night your life is required of you and and you have been rich toward yourself, but you have not been rich toward God and judgment falls upon it. But this reminds me of first Timothy chapter 6, which, if you turn in your Bibles to first of the six outlets are there for 76 that would be great, and an this passage has a lot of great stuff and it but in verses nine and 10 of first Timothy six. You have the bad news about wealth and here is, but those who desire to be rich and at first you go. Those who desire to be ritual Wing Commander everybody desires to be rich right I mean whether you're a poor person or whether you're already a rich person you just want to get richer.
Kind of this natural human think well here's what falls upon those who desire to be rich. Those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare. I'm counting on my fingers here and in the many senseless harmful desires that one should people and that word for plunge is a word that's often translated drown.
The drown people ruin and destruction.
For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils not money itself, but the love of money is. It is the root of all kinds of evils and it is through this this craving that some have wandered from the faith and they have pierced themselves with many Greeks were under a thirdhand.
Now there's about four team negative statements about desiring to be rich and you go wow.
We're all in trouble were all in trouble and you you could think it's dislike James five for God can be pretty hard on rich people. He says woe to you who are rich for you and weep and howl for the mysteries that are going to come upon you how that is pretty depressing but then skip forward just about seven verses in first Timothy 62 verse 17 as for the rich in this present age and by the way he's talking to all of us go to Global Rich list.com putting your annual income and find out how rich you are. I just put in the other day $25,000, which is considered US poverty level for a family of four for income of $25,000 and guesswork put you in terms of world wealth put you in the top 2% of the wealthy people of the world. Yeah, it's pretty shocking. You put yours in there and you are going to be way more likely in the 99th percentile, which happens to be the highest percentile and you and you and your sharing it with Bill Gates and Warren Buffett right is just that there in the 99.99 and on urinating the 99.3 or whatever you might be, but you'll be shocked at where you come out so this is all of us. As for the rich in this present age. Charge them not command them not to be prideful or not to be haughty one translations nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches where you put your hope, hope is part of what were talking about today.
You put your hope in God, who is unchanged. You don't put your hope in in in riches, which are here today and gone tomorrow either. You will be taken away from your riches or your riches will be taken away from you one way or the other. You do not have an eternal relationship with your present wealth. But Jesus said, you can take it and store it up for yourselves in heaven and that's where Paul is going to go. He says put your hope in God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy, which is so kind of God. To say that because right when you think how well this is terrible and you should never even enjoy at least know he's given it to us for us to enjoy, but he's given it to us for much larger reasons as well. What are we to do with what God has entrusted to us.
Here's what the return to do the rich are verse 18 to do good to be rich in good works to be generous and eager or ready to share one translations is willing to share about like that's more than willing, eager to ready it is just jump in there. I want to jump in and help people.
Those are four different expressions that are all about giving and this is God's call and command to the rich, and it's the only solution until the problem of wealth, because that that that verses nine and 10 warned us about. And then he says in verse 19 when you do this when you do this, giving thus storing up treasures for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age for the future that after death, let's just like Jesus said don't start for yourselves treasures on earth, but starve yourself treasures in heaven.
In Matthew six, but then he doesn't end there is not just that our eternal future will be better and will enjoy the benefits of it and it's not just that will be helping people and and wonderful that were living there. Our neighbor as yourself in and doing that great thing but then he says, so that they who the rich kid kid. That's the key. The givers so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life, not the false life, not the with the monies going to make you happy and doesn't buy happiness and even secular people and their honest acknowledge that, but it's present tense. So we got our future. That's going to be better reward in heaven for all eternity. We got the president and the future of other people who are the recipients of our guests and that's a wonderful thing but it's so that we in the present may take hold.
Now, of the life that is truly life. It's not just that giving people will one day be happier when we're with Jesus, it's that giving people will be happier to day because we are honoring Jesus and we are about obeying Jesus and we are doing what we were made to do to become like Jesus himself in terms of being givers.
Now let's think about it gets all quiet and still talking about money move on quickly.
So our theme is is have its heaven, happiness and hope and were living in a culture right now were a lot of people of lost hope course of generation ZI has been described by some experts as the hopeless generation in your heart just goes out the folks who who lost hope you know of one person wrote you can.
Men can look 40 days without food three days without water. Six minutes without air, but only one second without hope, ready as we close today. Let's talk to a person who maybe has lost hope. Maybe they something bad has just happened to them really bad that got the worst news imaginable from a doctor or maybe an accident.
They've lost a loved one, or maybe they just feel like life isn't worth living anymore. You know that thinking no one loves me nobody cares about me and I don't matter to anybody I should just take my own life even address the hopeless person and tell them where they should have hope.
You know my mind. Greg goes to Titus two verse 13 where it says that we are waiting for our blessed hope, and that's that word Beccaria's again and the proper literal translation is waiting for our happy hope.
The appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ. And this is what I would say to the person who is suffering from that hopelessness is to say God is given us this happy hope and it's not just the wishful thinking. Hope it's built on the blood bought promises of Jesus Christ that he is going to make all things better. He's gonna wipe away the tears from every I all who believe and trust in him. Now if your hope is in yourself.
Your hope is in the economy and stock market your retirement plan and how your hope is always being healthy or wealthy or whatever those things are not a solid firm foundation for hope. Jesus Christ is the source of hope so. My wife, Nancy's been suffering from cancer for the last two years is a big surgery on Tuesday. Would appreciate your prayers for her and it may let us just pray for her right now. Let's pray for his wife.
Father, we think of Nancy Randy's beloved wife such a sweet lady who loves you so much and is been growing somewhat spiritually through all of that she's been facing, but it is so difficult and pray now for a miracle that he will touch her that you will heal her that you will restore complete health to her Lord, we know you're in control and we know we want your will, above all things, but you have told us in Scripture have not because we ask God so we ask you to touch and heal Nancy Alcorn right now in the name of Jesus Christ, amen and amen. Thank you for that Greg that this means a lot thanks everybody for those prayers will mean a lot to Nancy. I'll be sure that she gets a copy of the service by the anyway.
So for the person without hope. Just ground your hope in the proper place seat are hope in this life is to be in Jesus and that the firm hold the firm basis for our whole is the promise of Jesus that he is gonna wipe away the tears from every I we really will. This is not just a fairytale. We really will live happily ever after. So when you're tempted to give up hope. Just remember, there's every reason to hope God understands it is you wonder sometimes is God really love me because if you really love me. Why would he let me go through all the snow.
Nothing shall separate us from the love of Christ, and I think when we stand before the Lord will will ask ourselves will look at the scars in his hands and will ask yourself how could I have ever doubted whether he loves me and whether he cared what do these look like the hands of a God who does not care know he does care.
He loves you that the basis for your hope that God loves you. God cares about you is a plan for your life. Ultimately, the plan is for you to join him in heaven for all eternity and then one day heaven will come to earth and will live in the new word you're very reunited with loved ones who've preceded you the Kevin who died in faith, and thus it can have happiness from things not from experiences but from a relationship with God himself.
And because of this, you can have hope.
Life without Jesus is a hopeless end life with Jesus is endless hope and in just a few days working to be celebrating his arrival on planet Earth. His birth in Bethlehem, and Jesus was born to die so we might live. The incarnation was so there would be the atonement of the birth of Jesus is so there would be the death of Jesus, and ultimately the resurrection of Jesus and then we ask him to come into our life. He forgives us of our sin and we can have this open only comes from a relationship with God and working to close down prayer and and I'm in the lead prayer for Celine someone a prayer should sake who would like Jesus to come into their life and forgive them of their sin. So maybe today you find yourself an unhappy person. Maybe today you find yourself a frightened person because of the future and and just thoughts of death freak you out or maybe you find yourself completely hopeless. You need Jesus and you need them in your life and you need him right now and he stands at the door of your life in the Knox and the says if you hear his voice and open the door he will come in so I like to lead you in a simple prayer where you can ask Jesus to come in to your life and forgive you of your sin give you the hope and give you the happiness and give you the purpose you want in life. So as we pray you pray this after me if you want Christ to come of your life. Let's all bow our heads father, thank you for this time of looking in your word, and now I pray for any person that is here with us, or is watching or listening wherever they may be.
If they don't know Jesus yet. Lord, let this be the moment they believe. But their faith in him and listen today if you want Christ to come into your life if you want him to forgive you of your sin, you could just pray this simple prayer after me just pray this after me, Lord Jesus, I know I'm a sinner but I know you're the Savior who died on the cross for my sin I discern from my sin. Now that I choose to follow you from this moment forward as my Savior and Lord is my God and friend. Thank you for sharing this prayer and answering it in Jesus name I pray. Amen. Hey let's give a round of applause to Randy Alcorn for coming. Everybody Greg Laurie here.
Thanks for listening to our podcast in the 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 know God.org that's key NOW GLD.org