November 26, 2022 3:00 am
In this episode, we're revisiting Pastor Greg Laurie’s substantial interview with bestselling author and speaker, Randy Alcorn. They discuss the celebration of Thanksgiving for every Christian, tackle questions about Heaven and eternity, and look at the topic of happiness in relation to the Christian life.
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/support
See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
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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. Randy is a rare combination of a theologian and a fiction writer. He's the author of over 50 books and I think his classic, there's many classics, but the one that he's best known for probably is his book on heaven, a large volume that I think is just an outstanding book that answers so many of the questions that people have about the afterlife. Another one he wrote on the issues of human suffering is called If God is Good. He's also written The Treasure Principle. Here's a little book he just did, Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Heaven.
Does God Want Us to Be Happy? We're 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 this 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 Me.
What? Randy, come out here and explain this if you could. Let's welcome Randy Alcorn. Your newest book, Randy. This is a question I've asked myself many times.
And we've 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 helped her because we deal with real-life issues that people are facing right now and things that people have a lot of questions about. But I just thought I'd just sort of dive in with Thanksgiving coming. Any thoughts on this special time of the year?
You know it's really an amazing thing. You think in America we have a National Day of Thanksgiving set into motion by our first president George Washington ratified by both houses. I don't think they could agree on anything today but they agreed that we should have a national day to give thanks to God Almighty in our country. And now when you hear Thanksgiving reference they just call it Turkey Day. It's come from Thanksgiving to Turkey Day.
By the way I had a full Thanksgiving meal yesterday with lots of turkey and and I think I gained five 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 the God of providence and our sustainer. The one who gives us every breath.
The one who keeps our heart beating and all the 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 will create the new heavens and the new earth where we'll live forever. If you think about it how much do we have to be thankful for? Even though we live in life under the curse one day he's going to reverse the curse. We're going to be delivered from all that is bad.
He'll wipe away the tears from every eye. We can take our gratitude for the eternity that lies before us and front loaded into our lives now today. And God 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 for.
Yeah we really do and that's right. So right on the heels of thanksgiving 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 there are many things they do like about Christmas. To me Christmas is a promise. It's a promise of things to come. And you know when we were little kids we'd get all excited about what am 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. It can't be satisfied by presents under a tree but by God's presence in our life. And you know I think it's kind of a great thing when you walk through say a mall and you hear songs hark the herald angels sing silent night joy to the world you hear the name of Jesus being sung. And so for a person right now as we enter into the Christmas season what's something to remember so we can keep our perspective during this Christmas. Well you think of what Christmas is about and it's it's about the gospel. God so loved the world he sent his only begotten son that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. And it's and it's like okay so there's the incarnation of Jesus but I also love the the promise of the return of Jesus that's in that.
And Nancy and my favorite Christmas song is joy to the world. And I love the part about far as the curse is found you know so so how far will his blessing go far as the curse is found because he's going to 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 but one that is greater one that where we will have not only innocence lack of sin but the very righteousness of Christ and 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 to rise again but the return of Christ when all things will be made right forever.
So that's all wrapped up in Christmas for us. It really is and you know and you're 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 earth. We even hear Jesus addressing it in what we call the Lord's prayer. We pray thy kingdom come thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven but it's hard for us to wrap our minds around heaven. Maybe our minds have been distorted by sort of the Hollywood version of heaven what we've seen in movies what we've seen in paintings and other things and and we it seems like this I don't know for some it might seem like oh man heaven is going to be like a really long church service.
You know kind of a lot of singing and and it's going to be boring but nothing can be further from the truth right. So tell us a little bit about what we can expect when we get to heaven. Well the greatest thing about heaven is who we will be with and 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 where where he says and the words to Jesus to the servant who has come into his presence well done my good and faithful servant enter into your master's happiness and and I love the idea of being with him forever and him being the source of all happiness.
There's so many people who are looking for happiness but they're looking in 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 they 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 our this life we don't pass our peaks in this life because our peaks won't be experienced until the resurrection and we'll never pass that peak so forever we will worship and enjoy his presence he'll wipe away the tears from every eye no more death no more 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.
I mean can you beat that no you just can't. Exactly right okay so here's some um some like practical questions I hear these a lot. Well uh my granddaughter Ali you wrote this book uh heaven for kids she actually asked me will we wear clothes in heaven? Well we do know that people in in heaven are depicted as wearing robes and lots of times people say oh does that mean that we'll all wear robes well I don't think that's what it means because robes is what they wore when they came to the nice dinner you know they'd wear their white robes the clean robes and uh so I think I mean on the new earth in our resurrection bodies will some people wear jeans or dresses you know pants where will people wear shirts blouses whatever we may very well wear the kinds of things we wore in our culture that we grew up in and lived in but the fascinating thing about that will be there are the people of God throughout the ages who have lived in different cultures dressed differently and I love it when scripture talks about people of every tribe and nation and language and it doesn't say that there are people in heaven who used to be of every tribe nation and language but who are present tense of every nation and language. Well and that's really you're bringing up some interesting points now you're 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 how in heaven works you know your ethnicity or what country you came from you're still you because sometimes I think people think when you get to heaven you're not even you anymore you're like a you know we're we're a new creation in Christ but we're still us you know after Jesus rose from the dead he said to his disciples it is I not 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 we're going to eat food because Christ ate food after the resurrection we're going to recognize one another because Christ recognized his own disciples after the resurrection there's a lot of practical things there that people sometimes don't understand exactly I was just looking at at job 19 where job talks about uh I know that my redeemer lives yeah and and I'll see him and he'll be on this earth and he then he says I will see him with my own eyes yes and then he says I am not another that's right and that's explicitly saying what you're talking about Greg that we will still be us and and and Jesus was still Jesus and some people say well they didn't recognize Jesus because well Mary didn't recognize Jesus and you well wait a minute she's this is the tomb it was early in the morning it was still darkish and she thought he was the gardener and in that culture men did not look into the eyes of I mean women did not look in the eyes of men that they didn't know and all this case but as soon as he speaks she immediately recognizes his voice so it was not a case of her not recognizing on the Emmaus road some people say well yeah they couldn't even recognize Jesus and it's and it actually says they were kept from recognizing him and then he reveals himself and they know of course that this is really Jesus so yeah all those those are myths that we have sometimes people say um yeah well once we get to heaven uh we'll know everything at last we'll know everything no only God knows everything we'll always be finite and and Ephesians 2 says in the ages to come God will be revealing to us continuously the wonders of his kindness so we'll learn in heaven we'll learn so how should our belief in the afterlife affect us in this life I believe there's a heaven I believe I will go to heaven I believe I could be in heaven sooner than I expected to be it could be through death it could be through the Lord coming back for his church and being caught up to meet him how should that affect me in day-to-day living in things I think and decisions I make well one of the things that we're told in in second peter three is that we're looking forward to a new heavens a 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 we'll 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 we 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 that 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 yeah so we're 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 is and all that's awaiting us there uh we should be 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 don't know perpetually angry austere harsh uh do we follow a god who we could describe as happy absolutely in fact in first timothy six he is called the happy god there's two passages that refer to him as a happy god but because it's the english word blessed which actually used to mean you go to old english dictionaries and the first meaning of blessed is happy it used to mean happy but to us now it sounds like more like holy so it sounds like he's saying the holy god but it's really saying the happy god jesus christ himself uh is called in hebrews one 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 passage says beyond your companions which would be the whole human race that he became part of and i think sometimes we just think of jesus as only the man of sorrows and acquainted with grief as we're told in uh isaiah 53 52 and 53 but but the thing was that that passage is talking about his atoning work for us his suffering on the cross so was he miserable in gethsemane and miserable on the cross and you would say yes a man of sorrows acquainted with grief but that's not how he 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 um i was reading earlier today uh 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 wow so what what are the things that contribute to happiness and what are things that deplete happiness well i think certainly the things that deplete happiness are the things that are in violation of the way god has designed the universe to operate his best for our life every time we violate us it is sure to bring unhappiness every time we follow what god says it brings happiness when you when you have psalm one which starts with those with the word blessed happy happy are those who do not listen to the counsel of the wicked but 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 and greg and i were talking earlier about twitter and what a nightmare it can be sometimes there's some good things there but you know there's a lot of just rudeness and hostility and pride and arrogance and critical spirit if you're going there if you're going to the political world to get your if that's your source of where you spend your time you are going to be a miserable person and people are not going to be drawn to christ through you go to god and his word and the lights and the pleasures of what it means to follow him and that'll bring happiness to your life yeah you know i think of people just scrolling through their phones constantly you know and you're reading tweets or you're looking at social media or whatever reading news leads and there's so many things that can bring you down it's like don't look 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 randy you've talked about this in your books but studies have revealed that when you focus on helping others it actually improves your life your outlook in general i read about one survey that was done and probably was from your book of 4 500 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 it lowered their stress levels and 89 said it improved their sense of well-being so you know now it seems like medical science is catching up with what the bible has said all along because what did jesus say it's more blessed to give than it is to receive exactly and that word blessed there is that word macarius which means it is more happy making to give than to receive and this is so interesting i i if 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 well think of the word miser well what word comes from the word miser miserable so then think of scrooge how unhappy he was when he was just accumulating all this wealth and hanging on to 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 observes he became the happiest man in all of london why because when you give you're happy so don't wait to think oh well if i become happy about it someday i'll start giving 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 giving while you're living then you're knowing where it's going exactly and you know there is a joy in giving there really is and i think we miss out on it and so as as we think about this subject i don't know why but there's a discomfort uh among christians when you address the topic of money and giving i think everyone sort of clutches their wallet or you know you fasten your purse or they're going to receive an offering now and well why are we so reluctant in this area why is there discomfort i mean you can talk about heaven awesome you can talk about the promises of god fantastic you can talk about the imminent return of jesus i love it you talk about money and the bible talks about it so much and now all of a sudden i'm like i'm uncomfortable i don't want to hear about this why is that i don't get it well i think we we have turned to money to fulfill our deepest needs and it doesn't do that now it's a blessing of god and we do need money to live on and provide food for our families and all of that so it's not a bad thing in and of itself but when we make it our god yeah the rich fool you think about this in luke 12 yeah here's this man who who just he's successful and so what does 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 towards yourself but you have not been rich toward god and judgment falls upon him but this reminds me of first timothy chapter six which if you turn in your bibles to first timothy six yeah let's turn there first timothy six that would be great um and and this passage has a lot of great stuff in it but in verses nine and ten of first timothy six you have the bad news about wealth and here it is but those who desire to be rich and at first you go those who desire to be rich well wait a minute they're i mean 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 it's kind of this natural human thing 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 into many senseless harmful desires that plunge people and that word for plunge is a word that's often translated drown the drowned people in 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 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 griefs we're onto a third hand now there's about 14 negative statements about desiring to be rich and you go wow we're all in trouble we're all in trouble and you could think it's just like james 5 where god's going to be pretty hard on rich people he says woe to you who are rich for and weep and howl for the miseries that are going to come upon you you go wow that is pretty depressing but then skip forward just about seven verses in first timothy six to verse 17 as for the rich in this present age and by the way he's talking to all of us go to globalrichlist.com put in your annual income and find out how rich you are i just put in the other day twenty five thousand dollars which is considered u.s poverty level for a family of four for an income of twenty five thousand dollars and guess where it puts you in terms of world wealth it puts you in the top two percent 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're sharing it with bill gates and warren buffett right it's just that they're in the 99.99 you know and you're maybe in the 99.3 or whatever you might be but you'll be shocked at where you come out so this is to 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 translation says nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches where do you put your hope or talk hope is part of what we're talking about today but you put your hope in god who is unchanging 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 wow wealth is is terrible and you should never even enjoy it and he's no 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 is entrusted to us here's what the rich are 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 translation says willing to share but i don't like that it's more than willing it's eager it's ready it's it's 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 to the problem of wealth because that that verses nine and ten warn 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's after death well that's just like jesus said don't store up for yourself treasures on earth but store for yourself treasures into heaven in matthew 6 but then he doesn't end there it's not just that our eternal future will be better and we'll enjoy the benefits of it and it's not just that we'll be helping people and and wonderful that we're loving our neighbors ourselves and doing that great thing but then he says so that they who the rich who give give 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 the money's going to make you happy it doesn't buy happiness and even secular people when they're honest acknowledge that but it's present tense so we got our future that's going to be better and reward in heaven for all eternity we've got the present and the future of other people who are the recipients of our gifts 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 today because we are honoring jesus and we are obeying jesus and we are doing what we were made to do to become like jesus himself in terms of being givers that's fantastic now let's uh think about it gets all quiet still talking about money move on quickly okay so uh our theme is is uh it's heaven happiness and hope and we're living in a culture right now where a lot of people have lost hope of course uh generation z has been described by some experts as the hopeless generation and your heart just goes out to folks who who've lost hope you know one person wrote you can man can live 40 days without food three days without water six minutes without air but only one second without hope rendy 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 they've got the worst news imaginable from a doctor um or maybe an accident they've lost a loved one or maybe they just feel like life isn't worth living anymore you know they're thinking no one loves me nobody cares about me i don't matter to anybody i should just take my own life even address a hopeless person and tell them why they should have hope you know my mind greg goes to titus 2 verse 13 where it says that we are waiting for our blessed hope and that's that word macarius 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 has given us this happy hope and it's not just a 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 going to wipe away the tears from every eye for all who believe and trust in him now if your hope is in yourself and your hope is in the economy and the stock market your retirement plan and your hope is always being healthy or wealthy or whatever those things are not a solid or firm or firm foundation for hope jesus christ is the source of hope so my wife nancy has been suffering from cancer for the last two years she has a big surgery on tuesday would appreciate your prayers for her and uh let me just pray for her right now let's pray for his wife father we think of nancy uh randy's beloved wife such a sweet lady who loves you so much and has been growing so much spiritually through all of this she's been facing but it is so difficult and we're praying now for a miracle that you 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 we have not because we ask not so we ask you to touch and heal nancy alcorn right now in the name of jesus christ amen amen thank you for that greg that just means a lot thanks to everybody for those prayers that'll mean a lot to nancy i'll be sure that she gets a copy of of this service but um anyway uh so for the person without hope just ground your hope in the proper place see our hope in this life is to be in jesus and the the firm hope the firm basis for our hope is the promise of jesus that he is going to wipe away the tears from every eye we really will this is not just a fairy tale 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 and if you wonder sometimes does god really love me because if he really loved me why would he let me go through all this no nothing shall separate us from the love of christ and i think when we stand before the lord we'll ask ourselves we'll look at the scars in his hands and we'll ask ourselves how could i have ever doubted whether he loved me and whether he cared look do these look like the hands of a god who does not care no he does care he loves you that's the basis for your hope amen so god loves you god cares about you he has a plan for your life ultimately that plan is for you to join him in heaven for all eternity and then one day heaven will come to earth and we'll live in the new earth you'll be reunited with loved ones who've preceded you to heaven who died in faith and thus you can have happiness not 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 we're going 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 or so there would be the death of jesus and ultimately the resurrection of jesus and then when we ask him to come into our life he forgives us of our sin and we can have this hope it only comes from a relationship with god and we're going to close now in prayer and and i'm going to lead a prayer for at least someone in prayer should say 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 uh or maybe you find yourself completely hopeless uh you need jesus and you need him in your life and you need him right now and he stands at the door of your life and he knocks and he says if you'll hear his voice and open the door he will come in so i'd 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 and 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 into your life let's all bow our heads father thank you for this time of looking into 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 and put 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 turn from my sin now and i choose to follow you from this moment forward as my savior and lord as my god and friend thank you for hearing this prayer and answering it in jesus name i pray amen hey let's give a round of applause to randy alcorn for coming today everybody greg lorry 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 dot 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
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