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A New Beginning is the daily half-hour program hosted by Greg Laurie, pastor of Harvest Christian Fellowship in Southern California. For over 30 years, Pastor Greg and Harvest Ministries have endeavored to know God and make Him known through media and large-scale evangelism. This podcast is supported by the generosity of our Harvest Partners.
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Everybody you're listening to a new beginning, which is a podcast made possible by harvest partners. If this program is impacted you, I love to hear from you.
So just send an email to me at firstname.lastname@example.org again it's email@example.com you can learn more about becoming harvest partner by going to harvest.org Greg Laurie running after lying in my thinking.
It's a really good thing to know is much as we possibly can about heaven that I can think of a better person to help us understand more than the man sitting next to me right now Lisa Spruill. I like you I travel around the world difficult situation and then when you finally get home you feel so good decent chance the image I want you to keep in heaven is like your long special broadcast coming your way. Greg we have a special guest with us today.
Maybe you can introduce sure, but his new book is about the afterlife. Let me ask you first of all why do you think were so fascinated about heaven and the afterlife. Well, we should be because it's if you're Christian your future destination. It is not the default destination for every person. Of course we decide in this life or we will spend the afterlife, but I think it's a really good thing to know is much as we possibly can about heaven. Paul in Colossians 3 said. Set your mind on things above. Another way to translate that is think about heaven or the simplified think heaven, but some will say oh they're so heavenly minded.
There are no earthly good. But I bet people were so earthly minded. There no heavenly good heavens are real places for real people, or we will do real things, and I can't think of a better person to help us understand more than the man sitting next to me right now and unfortunately it's radio so you can see what is wearing a very nice blue sweater and his name is Lee Strobel. Now Lisa Strobel has written a lot of books. Probably the best-known would be the case for Christ, which was also made into a feature film.
His books have sold like 14 million right right and it is just a prolific author or speaker apologist extraordinaire and these are just the things he's asked me to say so I think I know at the scene of the lease, a good friend in these he's a voice of wisdom and so leave written in the book the case for heaven subtitled a journalist investigates evidence for life after death why a book about heaven.
Well, I think you're right in what you said that people ought to be interested in the afterlife.
I will go spend a lot more time there than we will hear the end and I think in light of the pandemic. You know people are our conscious and aware of life and death issues more than perhaps at any other time in my lifetime. I was having lunch with my wife at a restaurant and this waitress was about 18 years old and that we are talking as she started to cry.
So what's wrong she said I'm sorry, almost in coming to work today.
Might we just lost a family member to covert and I thought, here's a young person maybe 18 years old. I never thought about life and death.
I never thought about the afterlife, but now she's full of questions. Now she's this account. Death is come knocking on her family door.
So I think people are more and more interested these days in the question of one heck what actually occurs when we close our eyes for the last time in this world and I think frankly Greg that extends to the question of hell as well. I mean, you're one of the few pastors I know who's not afraid to talk about hell and and so I have two chapters in the book that examine the issue of hell, and it's an important topic that we need to I think is a church pay more attention to it is worth noting that Jesus spoke more about hell than all the other preachers in the Bible.
That's rather that's exactly never seen those the reality of it yet and so this is something we need to understand more the afterlife. What happens what happens to the Christian what happens to the non-Christian.
Here's some of the chapter titles near death experiences.
Heaven, a guide on the edge of eternity.
So you deal with a lot of other topic secures that a chapter on reincarnation right. Maybe somebody's listening right now and they think they have good karma or bad karma and are wondering how that's gonna work out for them. Address reincarnation from a biblical perspective.
Yeah, I wanted to deal with this question whether or not we, life is cyclical, as Hindus in some Eastern religions believe what's interesting about that concept is it's the exact antithesis of Christianity in the sense that Christianity says that we can earn our way to heaven right that forgiveness and eternal life or a free gift of God's grace to anyone who receives him in repentance and faith he reincarnation says not only do you have to earn your way to heaven, but you can't do in one lifetime. If he is going to be so hard you're going to do and maybe a dozen or 100,000 or 10,000 lifetimes. You can haptics and by the way, in this lifetime is your paying off your bad karma for the things you did wrong in your previous life. You don't know what you did wrong, so you know how to correct what you what you did wrong. That's a major problem with reincarnation. You know if your suffering and you sell your suffering because you're paying off the debt from your evil deeds.
In a previous like you but what I do well you don't know. So how fair is that so you know there's some problems from logical problems with reincarnation with that then can brings up the subject of you know someone who says I believe that all roads lead to God and I believe that all religions effectively teach the same thing, which is another way of saying this. I have knowing that what I'm talking about. That's what I've never looked into any of these things because if I had I would know that that's not even remotely true. That's exactly right. I mean you would have to just take a surface level look at we were religions are say they all teach the same thing. They don't go to the Quran syrup for verse 156 as a Jesus didn't die on the cross. Well will wait a minute that contradicts what Christianity says it had dined across. He wasn't really resurrected either.
Lately the Koran says that God does not have a son.
The Koran says that one cannot bear the sins of another and so the very things we need to believe as Christians aren't specifically denied.
In the Quran so you're exactly right. The world religions contradict each other in so many fundamental ways that they cannot all be true. And interestingly of all the world religions. I studied the only one that is based on grace that is based on salvation.
Being a free gift because it is Christianity like every other war.
Religion is based on the do plan to get it do something to earn your way to God.
Christianity is based on the done plan that's right you know it is done. Jesus is accomplished. He paid for sins and across the office forgiveness out of gift of his grace. You may not know this to her list may not, but I'm speaking with the Lee Strobel who is written a brand-new book called the case, for heaven, but Lee was a journalist you work with the Chicago Tribune right you were an atheist and your wife Leslie came to Christ and you tried to talk her out of it and tell us what happened.
Yeah, I mean, I thought.
Give me a weekend and I can disprove Christiana out that you are quite confident when I was quite young as I was treated at Yale Law school. I have a journalism degree from Missouri and I was legal editor of the Chicago Tribune, so I knew what evidence was and I figured will Galley give me maybe a three day weekend. I can disprove it.
But even as an atheist I recognize that the that the foundation of Christianity is the resurrection of Jesus as anybody can claim to be God.
Jesus clearly did you know it's Jesus. At one point said I am the father are one in the Greek word for one, there is not masculine is neuter, which means Jesus was not saying I am the father same person he was a nine, the father the same thing one in nature, one in essence in the audience got what he was saying. I picked up those accounts and you're just a man your claim to be God or Jesus claim regard but I could claim regard. You could anybody could claim to be God. But if Jesus claim to be God diet and then three days later returned from the dead.
That's pretty good evidence he's telling the truth that he is who we claim to be so high I recognize as a skeptic that the resurrection was the linchpin of Christianity.
So I use my journalism background. My legal background and spent two years investigating the historical evidence for the resurrection of Jesus. And interestingly, when I was a Yale law school one of my heroes was a guy named Sir Lena what to Sir Lionel is in the Guinness Book of World Records as the most successful attorney who ever lived one more murder trials in a row than any attorney ever as a defense attorney. I mean he understood what evidences he understood how to take what looks like an airtight case against his client and find all the loopholes I mean this guy understood what evidence really represented. He was a skeptic about the resurrection. As I was, and somebody challenged him and said why don't you take your monumental legal skills and applied to the historical record and come to an informed conclusion about the resurrection. So I said okay I'll do that. He spent several years doing exactly what I did in his can."
His conclusion and in one sentence he said I say unequivocally that the evidence for the resurrection of Jesus Christ is so overwhelming that it compels acceptance by proof which leaves absolutely no room for doubt this from the greatest attorney will ever live to amazing and so I do so that I after two years I Greg was a Sunday afternoon I sat down with all the evidence I collected my kind went through one more time and then I sat back I said wait a second.
In light of this avalanche of evidence appoint so powerfully toward the truth of Christianity. I realized that it would take more faith to maintain my atheism and then to become a Christian, you know that that that that the most logical and rational thing I could do would be to reach the verdict that Jesus did return for the debt he produce a son of God and so I came to that conclusion and then Leslie pointed out a verse to me. John 112 says, but as many as received him right in them he gave the right to become a child of God, even to those who believe in his name, and I look to them first, and I realize her forms an equation of what it means to become a child of God, believe plus receive equal become yes I said okay I got the belief are down based on the evidence, but I needed to receive this free gift of forgiveness and eternal life. This gift of grace and so I got on my knees and I poured out a confession of a lifetime of immorality that would curl your hair and that I receive complete and total forgiveness through Jesus and became a child of God and Leslie threw her arms around my neck and she's crying in and she said almost gave up and you thousand toddlers.
She said that I met some women at church when when I was a new Christian, I told about your sentiment of hope for my husband.
He's a hardheaded hard-hit hearted legal editor of the Chicago Tribune is never to bend his knee to Jesus in this one elderly saint name Sylvia put her armor on Leslie shoulder and pulled to the side and settle. Leslie no one is beyond hope she gave her verse in the Old Testament.
Ezekiel 3626 moreover, I will give you a new heart and I will put a new spirit within you, I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.
And so my wife which I never knew this whole two years and I'm on this investigative journey she every day on her own on her knees in private would pray that first for me and God began on November 8, 1981 when I received his free gift of grace began to answer that prayer because my values changed my character change my morality changed my worldview. I'm all these things. My philosophy my parenting, my relationships, my marriage and yeah just itching to transform my life and then to see my children come to faith and now my grandchildren one by one. That's just baptized our two oldest grandchildren within the last couple years and that's a that's a heartwarming thing you know you hear of the lease troubles of the world that maybe you don't care about the Leslie Strobel's yeah and how are you here about the deal Moody's but you don't hear about the Edward Kimball Edward Kimball was a man that work with young Dwight in the shoe store and share the gospel with them. Dwight came to Christ and eventually became the great evangelist Neil Moody really the Billy Graham of his generation. Yeah. So these people behind the scenes that God uses, but this is a very encouraging word to those listening maybe you have a husband that is a heart that is hard like Lee's was or a wife or parents or children or whoever those people are, and you see that there beyond the reach of God in his Lee is just pointed out so beautifully in his own story.
No one is beyond the reach of God so keep praying for that person sold me know you. You're still though you know you still have a great mind, you're still in intellectual years, but your theologian now to see you brought these skills to this study of heaven, and I think it's hard for people to wrap their mind around have it yet and there's caricatures of it in films, you know like it's a wonderful life you provided every Christmas or or even cartoons or songs and aren't yeah you know, so give us a few thoughts about maybe something you learned about heaven that you didn't know before area or something that impacted you about the afterlife. Yeah, couple of things I think that when you look at Jesus and what he talked about when he talked about heaven. He painted the picture to his disciples of heaven being a home and so it made me think, you know I like you I travel around the world and often very difficult situations. I remember being in India and you know sleeping on the ground and living out of a knapsack and in missing home. You get homesick you handle long for home and and then when you finally get home and see you know some months later you finally get home you walk in the door in such a place of warmth and the relevant security and you get your own bad. It feels so good that I think Jesus at fats.
The image I want you to keep in your Michael heaven is our home in and in those qualities of love and security in grace and so when we think of home. We are to think of those things we think of heaven and somebody else it's up to be something recently that I thought was really kinda profound. He said you know heaven is kinda like having a vacation on your calendar but I support you mean by that.
He said you know when things are hard at work when when you're working long hours and customers are difficult in your bosses and breathing down your neck and the money is not common in and things are hard when you gotta vacation on your calendar. Coming up in a few months you go you know what I'm going to Hawaii.
I'm going to Maui in a couple months with my wife and and just knowing that's on the calendar helps you get through the tough times and heaven is like that. It's like having something on the killed. We don't know the date but in our future that we can help us get past the difficult times in this life, as we say yes it is hard.
It is difficult but you know what I'm going to heaven. It's wonderful and beautiful like a home. I can never experience it and just having that in the future I think gives us courage and gives us perspective dealing with the present. Yeah, I was thinking about how heaven is like. I likened it to what would you think if you're at Disneyland in you were waiting in the long line in the blazing sun and suddenly the CEO of Disneyland part comes right appearances. Hello introduces himself says I want to take you to the front of the line and skip all of the lines in the park and go on the best rides in the best restaurants and this is my gift to you. Now if you were brought to the front. Everybody else would resent it. But you would be happy camping) and I think about when some of this may be called a heaven. Early you know an early death means an early crown and and we think you know I'm so sad will of course were sad because if we love them.
We miss them and that's real yes but if you look at it from their perspective to go from this world to the next world to go from this difficult life to the beauties of the afterlife on that vacation yet permanently case that you just described to me.
That's really the picture and I don't think anyone in heaven if given the choice would want to come back to earth again.
You think I do not think they would want to. What were talking with Lee Strobel today, the best-selling author of the new book were making available called the case, for heaven, Pastor Greg, you made the point before that after your son went to heaven. So unexpectedly, it really piqued your interest in heaven. Yes, it did I wouldn't say I'm an expert on heaven, but I would say I'm a student of heaven always believed in it.
Obviously I've always taught on it but that took on a new tone when our son was called unexpectedly home to heaven because I wanted to know more about where he was what he was doing. I think one of the things that so hard when you lose a loved one, especially if it's unexpected link is you missed communicating with them and and I understand why people want to try to communicate with their loved ones.
On the other side. But of course that's forbidden in Scripture and in so want to hear people say all you know my son, my daughter, my husband, my wife, who died is with me had felt them today and there guiding me. I hate to tell them that that's not true they're not guiding you they're not speaking to you as David said when his son died, he cannot come to me, but I will go to him. So one day you will be reunited with your loved one. If they died in faith in you will be with them so they're not just a part of your past, but also a part of your future. But when my son went to be with the Lord.
I just really started digging in like never before into the topic of heaven, wanting to know more details of a better sense of it. Something I can almost imagine it's very hard to imagine but try to wrap my mind around it a little bit more and in so I'm always interested in talking about the subject. Learning about the subject. That's why I'm so excited that my friend Lee Strobel is written the book the case for heaven and the cool thing about Lee is generally I think it's true to say that there still is skepticism and you and addicted to be a healthy skepticism. Yeah, you know it's been said skepticism is not necessarily a sign that a man is wrong and may be a sign he's thinking, yeah, and Christians can be gullible and just believe what anybody says all someone says I want a heaven and saw X, Y, and Z and I wrote a book about it and they may just believe it but no wheat. We need a reliable source where I of course is the Scripture right but you go with the degree of skepticism. Looking at these things and you do research to well, sort of like you're in a court room and it's a case and tell us about how your brain works when you come to a subject, and specifically the topic of heaven. Yeah, I mean, I spent a lot of time trying to determine who the best experts in the world and talk to because you know I I can't be an expert on everything, but as a journalist you seek out people who have spent a lifetime investigating these issues and so I have interviews in this book with Dr. Sharon Durex who is a neuroscientist with a PhD from Cambridge University talk about the existence of a soul that we hate we do possess a soul that continues after the demise of our physical body binary John Berkley say he studied a thousand near-death experiences and is written a profound book about them.
I interviewed Clay Jones, a professor who wrote a book called immortal, which deals with how people try to cope with her fear of death. So I interview Chad Meister who was interesting. Leah, a young man was on the verge of suicide. God miraculously saved him from that he became like not only a Christian but now is a leading philosopher and I interviewed him about the evidence from philosophy.
The points toward the truth of Christianity. In the real and the truth of heaven so I had Scott McKnight is in there. He's a well-known theologian of Paul Kopan whose an expert on hell interviewed him I interviewed it by the most profound interview I want to interview someone who was headed for heaven soon and so I sat down and had the last interview before he died, with Luis Palau, who was one of the great evangelist of our generation shared his faith with a billion people around the world. He knew he was dying innocent at stage IV cancer and I sat down with him to us to say we are what's it like knowing that you can be going to heaven like any time now, and he had already exceeded the lifespan that they had expected him to have an and so we had a profound conversation and that is in the book and I think that'll encourage a lot of people because even Luis Palau said you know in these last days. Satan whispers in your ears at all. You've you've pointed millions of people toward heaven, but you're not going to know you you been disqualified. You don't, you never had for heaven and into the pilgrims wrote about this that of the Puritans. Rather, that Satan will whisper in your ear, and those those last moments and and Luis said you know he had come against it with the word of God says is not true and so he gives some great insights into what it's like to be on the precipice of entering into heaven beautiful.
And please do book the keys for heaven, a journalist investigates evidence for life after death and we are offering this book to you for your gift of any size. They help us continue to teach the word of God and proclaim the gospel here on the new beginning. This is one of the best things we've ever offered. It's a brand-new book.
It's powerful and it's something that's going to help you be ready for the next life again is called the case for heaven but my friend Lee Strobel. Yeah, that's right. And we have a copy waiting for you here the new beginning.
As you can tell Lee research the subjects in depth speaking with experts in their fields. People have been studying their respective topics for most of their lives and the findings are exciting and convincing. Think of your friend who truly believes that the facts we against their being an afterlife. One great insight to share with him again.
It's the new book by best-selling author Lee Strobel. You may be familiar with his earlier book, the case for Christ letter sent you this new release called the case for heaven is our thank you gift when you partner with us to help keep these daily studies coming your way and your support also helps us reach out with the gospel. As will be doing this weekend in Idaho. Have you heard about the Boise harvest. Get the firstname.lastname@example.org but we hope to hear from you today. You can call us at 1-800-821-3300.
That's a 24 seven phone number 1-800-821-3300 or write a new beginning.
Box 4000, Riverside, CA 92514 or go online to harvest.org and be in prayer for the Boise harvest this weekend with Pastor Greg welcome special music guests, Jeremy Camp, Chris Tomlin, Andy mimeo and Jordan for lease and of course he is preparing some powerful messages of hope and pray the Lord prepares the hearts of those who will hear Pastor Greg's gospel presentations and if you know a friend in Idaho will be sure to tell them about this event again is this, we can get the email@example.com what Pastor Greg dives deeper discussion of the afterlife. Best-selling author Lee Strobel join us here on a new beginning. Pastor and Bible regularly new beginning of the podcast, made possible by harvest partners, helping people everywhere know God if this cell has impacted your life. Share your story leverage you on your favorite podcast and help others find help