The Holy Spirit Misunderstood

Holy-Spirit

When Jesus left Earth, He gave the disciples and all who would believe in Him the Holy Spirit. And ever since, there has been tension regarding the way Christians interpret this mysterious aspect of the trinity.

Surrounding the Holy Spirit in Christianity, there are 2 major belief regarding the way the Holy Spirit is manfested today: Cessationism and Continualism.

For the sake of background knowledge, I will briefly describe both and then let you know which one I believe and why I believe it – I think this is necessary for me to disclose if I am going to write on such a topic.

Cessationsim argues that, while the Holy Spirit still dwells eith God’s people, the gifts and manifestations of the Holy Spirit ended in the Book of Acts after the 12 apostles ignited the movement of Christianity.

In Acts chapter 2, the apostles are on a mission to spread the good news of this Messiah that just died, resurrected and ascended to heaven: Jesus Christ. One day, the apostles are preaching in a house and God all the sudden sends flaming tongues from heaven that start speaking to all the people there, allowing them to hear the gospel in their own language. 3000 people of different ethnicities were saved that day and it ignited the apostles’ church growth and spreading of Christianity. There is never another time recorded in the book of Acts when flaming tongues fell from heaven again like this. So Cessationism argues that God didn’t need to do that again since the fire of Christianity was already started and burning and spreading. Thus, arguing that the Holy Spirit doesn’t do that anymore period.

Continualism states that the gifts and manifestations of the Holy Spirit continue now and can be present in the life of the Believer.

In 1 Corinthians 12-14, the apostle Paul who was a missionary evangelist for Christ and a key player in spreading Christianity in the ancient world, mentions the gift of speaking in tongues. So it clearly kept happening after Acts chapter 2, because Paul was persecuting Christians at that point and hadn’t yet met Christ until later (Acts 9:1-19), so to be addressing the issue of tongues in his letter to Corinth shows that there had been enough time for this to be active and present in the church.

I personally agree with this position of Continualism and I’ll tell you why.

(You are free to believe what you believe if you really can defend it, this is just what I have come to after research, thinking, and what I see in scripture.)

Cessationism assumes that speaking in tongues was a “one-time” thing.

But as recorded historically, it was not a one-time thing… it pops back up later chronologically in 1 Corinthians 12-14 at a time where Paul is in charge of a church, whereas at the time of Acts 2, he was still a Jewish Christian persecutor. Also, the author of the book of Acts never tells us that what happened in chapter 2 was only a one-time thing.

Not only that, but if the Holy Spirit’s power was a one-time thing and then ceased, how does that line up with the theology of the trinity where the Holy Spirit exists as God in 1 of God’s 3 forms? God doesn’t cease to exist. So the Holy Spirit cannot cease to exist.

Some cessationists push back and say that the Holy Spirit did not cease to exist, just the impartation of prophesy, speaking in tongues and healing.

Okay. But if the Bible says God is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow (Hebrews 13:8), how can the Holy Spirit all the sudden be different today than He was in the 1st century with the apostles? The Holy Spirit is no less God than Jesus or the Father. So He cannot stop being who He is. He cannot stop imparting His powers. 1 Thessalonians 5:19 tells us not to quench the Spirit. Ephesians 4:30 says to not grieve the Spirit. If we try to limit the Spirit by telling people He doesn’t operate the way He used to, then we are violating His identity and quenching and grieving Him, which we are told not to do.

Also, many missionaries and people from other countries will tell you just how powerful and present the Holy Spirit is in other countries doing things similar to things in the gospels and the book of Acts. They’ve seen it. God uses the Holy Spirit to lead people to salvation.

God is still moving in our world and most often, He does the most radical things in the places least expected. And God will do whatever it takes to save somebody, even go so far to speak through somebody in tongues, heal and/or prophesy so that He may draw a sinner to Himself. God loves His creation that much. And He’s way more powerful than we give Him credit for.

Regardless of what position you hold, everyone has the Holy Spirit who believes in Christ (Eph 1:13).

Jesus left the Holy Spirit here with us to be our guide and comforter.

Whether you attribute that power to God generally or the Holy Spirit specifically, the part of God that resides with us here on earth theologically is the Holy Spirit (John 14:16, 26).

Cessationism won’t deny that.

It believes in the Holy Spirit. It just doesn’t like all the “Holy Spirit stuff” as I’ve heard it put.

I don’t even know what that means.

“Holy Spirit stuff?”

That’s like saying, oh I like Christianity, I just don’t like all that “Jesus stuff.”

Or I like Chik-fil-a, I just don’t like all that “chicken stuff.”

Wait what?

The two are mutually exclusive.

You can’t like one part of the Holy Spirit and reject the other.

So I am concerned.

What I am concerned about is the problem of the Holy Spirit being misunderstood.

The Holy Spirit, the one dwelling on the earth, is the part of the trinity that gets misunderstood the most.

The Holy Spirit dwells in the earth…

And the people in the earth just don’t quite know what to do with Him…

Can He still do all the powerful things of the Bible?

Is the Holy Spirit just as important as Jesus?

What does the Holy Spirit do anyway?

Will others think I’m one of those “crazies” if I believe in the power of the Holy Spirit?

What am I supposed to believe about the Holy Spirit with all these different beliefs?

These are just some of the questions others and myself have asked.

Satan loves it.

I think it’s the devil’s goal to get us confused and doubtful about the Holy Spirit so that we will be limited as God’s children and thus be powerless against the spiritual warfare we face.

Because without the power of the Holy Spirit, we’re all going to crash and burn hard. There is no freedom from our flesh and our sin without the help of the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:1-6, 2 Cor 3:17). The Holy Spirit is the part of the trinity on earth currently waging war with the devil, and He encounters great resistance from the devil and, sadly, also from Christians who don’t understand Him.

We did the same thing to Jesus too.

Jesus came to His people, the Jews. And the Jews did not believe in Him or want Him.

They didn’t understand Him.

So they disrespected Him.

Now Jesus has given His people the Holy Spirit. And so many of His people do not believe in the Holy Spirit or want Him.

They don’t understand Him.

So they disrespect Him.

What irony.

It seems that when God touches down on earth in whatever form, He gets misunderstood and disrespected.

We misunderstand the Holy Spirit when He is seen as anything else other than what HE is: holy, God, powerful, authoritative.

We disrespect the Holy Spirit when we see Him as “weird.”

Unfortunately over time, the Holy Spirit has gained this stigma in evangelical Christianity.

And it has stuck to the Pentecostal and Charismatic denominations in particular, since they are the ones who most boldly hold to the Holy Spirit as being just as powerful now as He was in the 1st century church among the disciples.

Evangelicals observe the Pentecostal and Charismatic churches from the outside.

They see or hear about them speaking in tongues, prophesying over one another and praying to God for healing and they immediately assume that all of that is craziness.

But why?

Isn’t all of Christianity craziness?

I mean, heck, we believe in a man who was born of a virgin teenager and proclaimed to be the Messiah and ended up being resurrected after dying on two pieces of wood! We have no problem believing that! We have no problem believing in all the crazy stories in the Bible.

Yet we condemn others who believe that God can do mighty things through His Spirit!?

Why?

It seems that we ALL should be charismatic.

I don’t even know why it’s a denomination.

I thought every Bible believing, Jesus-following Christian believed that God can do whatever the heck He wants to do through His Spirit. HE is GOD after all.

So why has it become such a divisive topic?

“Don’t get carried away with that Holy Spirit stuff” I’ve heard many people say.

What does that even mean? Seeing theologically that the Holy Spirit is the third part of the trinity and is God, you are, in essence, saying that I should “not get carried away with God.”

And I know that’s not what they’re trying to say. The just don’t understand what they’re actually saying.

So what’s the real issue here?

From what I’ve observed and experienced myself, this is the MAIN reason evangelical Christians say “don’t get carried away with the Holy Spirit stuff”: they observe false actions being done in the name of the Holy Spirit.

In other words: these skeptical christians claim that they have seen people do or say something in the name of the Holy Spirit that don’t come to fruition and, thus, aren’t actually from the Spirit or from God. So they assume all these kind of things aren’t real and just emotional exaggeration.

This happened to me several years ago.

Back in 2011 I spent some time with an organization connected to a charismatic style church.

During our week of training, we had a session on “The Holy Spirit.”

*Before I lose anybody, please know that the following is not accurate theology but I am fleshing it out to let you know what this leader believed, as I share the aftermath of his preaching that night.* That evening, our leader preached from gospel passages regarding the nature of the Holy Spirit and this idea of “a second baptism of the Holy Spirit” which he, and many others, decipher from Matthew 3:11, which says Jesus will come to baptize with the Holy Spirit and fire. He interpreted this as meaning that after we accept Christ, there is a second baptism that we have to ask God for in order to receive the actual “power” of the Holy Spirit. He then went on to pick out certain verses from the gospels that illustrate the Holy Spirit “coming upon” Jesus and selected others, arguing that the Holy Spirit must “come upon” someone after they have been saved. Then, he invited everyone in the room to pray and ask God to baptize us with the Holy Spirit so that we can have this special power like the other ones in the room who already seemed to have this power. He started speaking in tongues and so did others in the room. Then people started walking up to each other saying prophesies over them. And I felt very frustrated. I felt frustrated because I was trying so hard to receive this “second baptism of the Holy Spirit” and waiting to feel something and be able to speak in tongues like everyone else but I couldn’t do it. I thought that maybe I wasn’t spiritual enough. I thought I wasn’t praying hard enough. Or not doing something right. So I took one of the leaders to the side and asked her why I couldn’t do this like other people in the room. She said I needed to relax and just ask God. She prayed over me and then said for me just to open my mouth and see what comes out. But it didn’t work. And I was very confused at the whole session. And I do believe that speaking in tongues can happen because I just believe that God can do anything He wants, and if He wants to save somebody through their neighbor sharing the gospel in tongues while standing next to them then by gosh I believe God can do it. But I’m not going to assume anyone can just do it. That is up to God.

So this whole experience made me see the negative consequences of people misunderstanding the Holy Spirit. I see why some are cessationist and are hesitant to believe the Holy Spirit can do today what He did then. I get it. But we need to realize that this incident was precisely the result of people acting upon theological misinterpretation.

This leader and the others around me at this place do really love Jesus, but their theology regarding a “second baptism of the Holy Spirit” is not sound. Jesus gives us the Holy Spirit at the moment of our salvation. The only reason the Holy Spirit was “coming upon people” in the gospels is because of 1 very important detail: Jesus had not yet ascended to heaven to leave the Holy Spirit permanently. After He ascended, the Holy Spirit came to dwell on the earth and with every believer. But I trust that if they do really love Jesus, that He will teach them. It’s not up to me or anyone to correct them. Let’s leave it up to God.

That whole incident was a very different experience for me.

I could let it scar me and make me not want to do anything associated with “the Holy Spirit” or spiritual things.

But I haven’t.

And I’m not going to.

I’ll tell you why: the Holy Spirit is still who He is despite a few people’s misinterpretation of Him. I can’t let a few people who misunderstand the Bible and the Holy Spirit and then go do crazy things obstruct me from letting God be present in my life in the third form of the trinity, the Holy Spirit.

I’m not going to quench God.

Will some abuse the Holy Spirit? Yes.

Will some misunderstand the Holy Spirit? Yes.

Will some believe wrong theology and do wrong things in the name of the Holy Spirit? Yes.

And the enemy fuels this because He knows that if we embrace the Holy Spirit’s power we will be unstoppable.

I am NOT about to fall for that and let it stop me from letting the Holy Spirit be present and active in my life however He wants to be.

I need Him too much.

I can’t get through this life resisting the Holy Spirit. I would be dead and lifeless.

This whole incident just shows how easy it is for good people to get caught up in a desire for “more of God” that causes abuse of the name of the Holy Spirit.

A desire for more is great.

I want more of God.

We all want more of God.

But the danger in combining human will-power for “more” + observing manifestations of the Spirit is that → we assume “more manifestations” means “more of God.”

And we exert all of this effort trying to experience something rather than letting God be God and do what He wants to, whether He reveals something we observe tangible or not.

Because most of the time, God does a lot and we just can’t see it.

So out of a desire, that is actually good, we end up basing our relationship with God on what we SEE happening around us and in us (i.e. healings, ability to speak in tongues, ability to prophesy, etc) because it’s human nature to want to SEE what God is doing.

And what we see becomes a barometer by which we measure our current closeness or distance with God.

This is what has caused division in Christianity: a few minority of people doing things in the name of the Holy Spirit that aren’t actually from God and then others getting all upset about it and thus broadcasting that observation onto every Christian who does things in the name of the Holy Spirit as if it is also not from God.

But we can’t let a few people who abuse the Holy Spirit’s name cause us to expect that every charismatic person must be doing that…because in reality, the majority of charismatic people really are seeking God and are not abusing the Holy Spirit at all.

Rather, they are the ones inviting Him in and expectant that He can move!

And they are living lives of purpose and real connection with God!

I wish we all had that kind of faith!

The Holy Spirit is so much more than gifts and manifestations of power.

The Holy Spirit is basically our lifeline to God the Father.

He indwells us to be who God calls us to be as God continues to work on our hearts.

The Holy Spirit convicts us of sin, leads us to faith in Christ, sustains our hope in God, comforts us in pain, empowers us to overcome sin, addictions and other strongholds in our lives, reminds us of God’s grace, connects us to God, intercedes for us in prayer, and so on…

He is so much more than anything we can see or not see…

If we don’t invite the Holy Spirit into our lives and in to the church because we assume He is weird and not necessary we will never experience the life of freedom and joy we were meant to live here.

We need the Holy Spirit.

Just as much as we need Jesus.

We need EVERY part of God.

In contrast to that 1 horrible experience, I’ve way way more really great encounters in charismatic environments and am always encouraged by the people I am around. I’ve heard so many great stories from friends of mine who have seen God move in mighty ways. And the joy of others I see when I am surrounded by those seeking the Lord for who He is in Father, Son AND Holy Spirit, is just contagious. I could not have anything less than that. Life without the Spirit is not living.

And honestly, when I’m in a place joined with others who are mindful of the Holy Spirit I feel like I can breathe again.

It’s not that the Holy Spirit is not present in other places.

He is.

He’s always there.

It’s just that in some places, most people don’t really care about the Holy Spirit. And there is no communal effort to be mindful of Him.

Whether you’re in church or just in your room or in town or in your car, it doesn’t matter where…be aware of the Holy Spirit…because He’s there whether you invite Him or not. And He wants you to be aware of Him so that You can be at peace with God in your midst.

We need Him far more than we can ever know.

Maybe the Holy Spirit is weird. God saving a soul from death to life is not normal. It is weird. Overcoming alcoholism despite years of addiction is not normal. It is weird. Forgiving the drunk that killed your family member is not normal. It is weird. So if people want to ignore the Holy Spirit because it’s “weird,’ I think we also need to recognize that everything about Christianity is “weird,” especially to those who would look at it from the outside and say “How in that world is that possible?”

1 Corinathians 1:18 says,

“For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.”

So I guess it is weird.

Our faith is weird.

And if it is, then I want it.

I want weird.

I don’t want dead, lifeless religion. I want something that’s alive. And My God is alive…in all 3 forms: Jesus, Father and Holy Spirit! So I’ll take Him in all 3 forms.

I pray that we as a church would start to come together in seeking God while taking advantage of the form He left with us on earth to help us: the Holy Spirit. Jesus and the Father left Him here with us for a reason. And I pray we would not resist. May we invite the Holy Spirit to invade every part of our lives and find that we will be ready for every attack the enemy tries to throw at us. And may we find comfort and lasting peace in Him. Thank You, God, for Your kindness towards us.

 

 

 

“The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace.”

-Romans 8:6

 

“Here As in Heaven” by Elevation Worship

 

 

 

“Cover Your Nudity!” Street Preachers and Bad Theology

fanaticism

Have you ever seen one of those crazy people standing on a street corner yelling about hell wearing a sandwich board?

Well I saw one a few days ago.

Or rather I heard him and his looming voice, carrying all throughout the downtown streets of San Antonio.

My mom and I had driven down to visit the Alamo and the riverwalk. As we exited out to the front of the Alamo I kept hearing a loud noise and couldn’t tell where it was coming from. I figured there was some kind of special event happening or music of some kind.

But as we kept walking I saw a man standing by some trees in the courtyard in front of the Alamo.

He was wearing a vest that read “Cover your nudity!” and shouting fire and brimstone religious rhetoric at the top of his lungs: “You all deserve hell!… God is against… God hates… Repent!…”

I’ve always heard about these kinds of people but I had never actually seen one in public that I can recall.

I kept looking over at him.

Trying to figure out what I thought about it.

And what I should do.

I was getting more and more upset as he kept yelling some really unbiblical things about how God hates people and certain kinds of people more. God may hate sin but he doesn’t hate people.

And everyone was staring. People were turned off. The poor workers stationed at the entrance had probably been listening to him all morning.

So after a few minutes of hearing this guy I couldn’t restrain myself.

I couldn’t stay put.

I told my mom to wait on me and then walked over to where he had stationed himself.

As I approached he said hello and asked me if I had any questions. Apparently he thought I was a potential convert.

I asked him who he was affiliated with and what his personal faith was. He said he was a born-again believer and affiliated with Jesus. I was surprised actually. I thought he might be with some kind of offshoot cult. And maybe he is. I didn’t get any further into his theological persuasion. I didn’t care. The way he had been acting the past several minutes of what I saw just wasn’t right. Now, I don’t want to question someone’s heart or salvation because that’s something only God knows. But I do wonder what kind of bad theology he’s chewing on to make him confident enough to go out there and yell out a bunch of bigotry.

So I told him I was disappointed in his methodology and didn’t agree whatsoever with what he was doing. He didn’t like that too much and went on to say some pretty rude things. I figured some kind of verbal attack was coming and ended the conversation by saying he needed to actually get to know people and talk to them about God in a personal way rather than ranting and raving on a sidewalk.

And I left it at that.

I don’t think anything I said made a dent as he kept on yelling.

But I couldn’t have walked by without saying anything.

What he was doing really got under my skin. And it takes a lot to make me mad.

I was very upset by his approach to “evangelism” and his judgmental, hateful tone which do not line up with what it looks like to follow Christ at all.

Not to mention all the surrounding people who could potentially be turned off from Christ because of this guy’s so-called conviction. He was turning people off to God and it flat out pissed me off. I have no respect for that. Sorry I just don’t. That’s one thing that gets me angry. That and a cold krispy kreme doughnut. Just why?

I’ve grown up in the church my whole life since my dad’s a pastor.

We’ve witnessed our fair share of legalistic fanatics and mean church people.

And at this point, I’m not even surprised by it anymore.

But when I see someone publicly acting a fool, turning people off to God and church I get really mad.

That is not what we are supposed to do.

Hell-fire and brimstone preaching just doesn’t work on a street corner. 

If you wanna talk about hell then that’s fine but you should know how to do it appropriately. A little common sense is all it takes.

Because ultimately, truth without love is vain. 

Actually it’s a stumbling block.

Causing innocent bystanders to be exposed to a false declaration of truth and really bad theology. 

And I’m not okay with that.

I’m not okay with arrogant religious fanatics turning away people from exploring the faith more.

I have a soft spot in my heart for those who have doubts about God or questions about the faith. I love to talk to people about God, their questions, my questions, what we still don’t understand and what life is all about in light of faith.

So when I witness someone, with zero regard for those who struggle to believe and follow God, who tries to condemn others as if he’s got it all together I am extremely disgusted.

Nobody has it all together. 

Jesus himself said in Luke 18:19, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone.”

Nobody is good.

We’re all messed up by sin.

We all need Jesus.

Romans 3:10-11 says, “As it is written:

“There is no one righteous, not even one;

there is no one who understands;

there is no one who seeks God.”

So none of us has the authority to act as if we are good enough and condemn others to hell.

Only God knows a person’s heart.

He alone saves.

Not us.

After all, John 3:17 points out Jesus’ whole reason for coming to the earth and it was to save the world not condemn it.

If anything, as Christ-followers we should be people who can’t help ourselves but to show others the love of God that we’ve already been freely given.

Not turning people away.

Not spewing bad theology.

Not displaying an inaccurate picture of Christ.

Not eliminating people’s desire to visit church.

And ultimately I know that God is bigger and He isn’t inhibited by a fanatic street preacher.

God can reach people despite the “Cover your nudity” man acting a fool.

But it still isn’t right and shouldn’t be taking place in the public or anywhere for that matter. It gives Christianity a bad name. Because that’s actually not Christianity at all. It’s a messed up religiosity is what it is.

I guess this is something that the Lord is gonna have to help me with. I know that I need to be more gracious to this street preacher. I really do. But it’s hard. Sometimes it’s harder to give grace to the one who I feel is causing others to see God in a bad light because I don’t want anyone to misunderstand who God is. But I have to realize that I’m not perfect either. And there will probably be things that I do that cause others to stumble, even though I would never want that. I have to remember how much grace I need so that I can also give grace to this man. So I’m asking God to help me.

Ultimately, we need to talk about God openly and humbly with those we know and those who ask.

Not with hatred.

Not with arrogance.

Not with condescension.

But with love.

Compassion.

Understanding.

And a willingness to accept the reality that we don’t know everything and we’re not perfect.

We all need Jesus just the same as any one else does.

So let’s just treat others with compassion and kindness…and just maybe that will share Christ far more than yelling on a street corner ever could.

“If I have the gift of prophecy and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith so that I can move mountains but do not have love, I am nothing.”

-1 Corinthians 13:2-

Hope of Heaven & The Hope of Christ: An Eschatological Imperative

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The topic of “heaven” is one of the most penned topics in the realm of prose and poetry, and one of the most illustrated points of artistry. Countless television shows describe individuals’ having out-of-body experiences involving heaven. Movies depict those who claim to have gone there. Heaven remains a fascination for humans. And while some might deny the potential of heaven’s existence, it’s hard to deny the appeal that it has in a world where hope often withers in the shadows of human depravity. So it seems that this only proves the point that this present world is not our hope. It’s not our home. It’s not our entire reality, nor should it ever be.

We are in need of an eschatological imperative to invade our lives. Hope of heaven. The hope of Christ.

Without it we risk meaningless living, in a state of inconsequential reality regarding eternity. Our lives won’t mean very much without the hope of heaven. Or without the hope of Christ. We’ll grow stale. Bitter. Complacent. We need heaven to enter our reality. We need Christ to remind us why we’re here in the first place. To glorify God, to love others, and to desire Jesus as the treasure above all else.

Jesus teaches about the kingdom of heaven as an imminent reality in so much of the gospels that it seems He wants us to have heaven on our minds. If you’ve ever heard the saying, “you’re no earthly good when you’re so heavenly minded,” it’s quite the contrary. God desires us to “look for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus,” as it says in Titus 2:13.

But notice that our hope for heaven is wrapped up in our hope of Jesus Christ. It is not an isolated hope for eternal paradise. Not at all. Crucially, we long for the day when we see our Savior. And this is the eschatological imperative pushing through the crevices of our hearts. Demanding us to open our eyes. To look to Jesus. To hope for Jesus’ return.

To expound upon eschatological imperative, the word “eschatological” comes from the Greek word “εσχατοϛ” meaning “last; furthest; or most remote.” Pretty simple word. Thus, a pretty simple connection that eschatology (with root εσχατοϛ and ending “-ology,” or “study of”) means study of “last things.” Or the study of things that pertain to the end of the ages and ultimate realities. And an “imperative” is a must or a necessary essential. A logical must.

So, possessing an “eschatological imperative” means that it is necessary and essential for one to operate from a perspective of last things in everything that one does.

But not just any last things. We focus on last things that are important to God as pertaining to scripture. Things that are last (yet to come). And things that last (forever). Namely, Himself. His coming. And the hope of heaven. For God is the Alpha and the Omega (Rev: 1:8; 21:6; 22:13). The beginning and the last (Isaiah 44:6; Rev: 1:17). And He will come to rescue us through Christ (Isaiah 66:18; John 14:18; Rev. 22:12). As we focus on Christ as our last thing, or our ultimate obsession and our end goal, the hope of heaven penetrates our worldview of what it means to live as a Christian. It’s an earth-shattering, eschatological perspective. An eschatological perspective intertwined in 1) the alpha-and-omega, all-encompassing characteristic of God, 2) the return of Christ, and 3) the hope of heaven, where we have eternal communion with our God.

It’s all about God and always will be. For “God is the best thing that exists,” as Louie Giglio puts it so well. He is what we live for.

It helps me to be reminded in the midst of my current situation that there is more to life than this. Whatever season you’re in, it won’t last forever. But God will last forever (1 Chr 16:34; Psalm 45:6) . No matter how broken our world becomes, it won’t remain broken forever. Jesus is coming back to make all things new (Rev 21:1-4). Our lives may not endure past 100 years on this earth. But our life with God will endure forever (Rev 22:5). These are essential truths that should awaken hope in the midst of today’s burdens. That God lasts forever. Jesus Christ is coming back soon. And we hope for heaven.

We look for a kingdom yet unseen (John 18:36; 1 Tim 1:17). A kingdom that is coming on clouds of glory with a rider in white coming to rescue His beloved (Rev 19:13). We anticipate the wedding supper of the lamb (Rev 19:7). We let the hope of heaven seep into the crevices of our hearts that we may be renewed afresh despite a world of chaos. I need that hope. We all do, if we’re honest.

Especially since I can find it so easy to lose sight of just what it means to possess an eschatological imperative. I drift from focusing on the last and most important thing. I drift from focusing on what’s to come. I focus too much on what I can see. Too little on what I don’t see. And the hope of “last things” becomes cloudy in the distractions of today. And I can find myself too worn out to even think about “right now” things, much less “last things.”

Most of the time, we have a wrong eschatological perspective of life. Our “last things,” or ultimate things that should matter before God, are usually self-seeking “first things.” We may spend more time fixating on our own agendas, working towards our own goals, worrying over petty problems, or wishing wishes that never come. Too often we shout “me first” when it should be “me last.” Because it’s always easier to get what we want. It is. But sometimes, deciding to be okay with the tension that accompanies not getting what we want can be good for us.

For me, I’ve realized that I need to stop avoiding anxiety. It may sound odd that this would be helpful rather than harmful. But I’ve learned that I need to be okay with not having control over the things I want to be in control of. And then I have to confront anxiety or fear head-on. I have to let it go and embrace it, if it comes. But in the midst of letting go, I’m finding freedom in being okay with whatever happens to come my way…even if that means feeling overwhelmed with things I no longer have control over. God is renewing my perspective in light of eternity.

And I know it’s hard to think with a mind postured towards heaven in all that we do. I know we have a lot of distractions. I know we still have daily responsibilities. But may we let it be a spiritual discipline that develops into a pattern of habitual thinking, to continue looking towards our ultimate aim to be with Christ eternally. Like David in Psalm 43:5, I pray that we would respond in this manner: “Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise Him, my salvation and my God.”

My only cure for anxiety is an eschatological perspective. An awakening of sorts. A wake-up call to the reality that life is far more dependent on what I don’t see than what I do see. Hebrews 11:1 says, “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” The impending reality of heaven in our midst should cause us to pause and thank God for the hope He has given us in His Son Jesus Christ. To be with Him one day in glory. To enter into peace and rest. To be accepted as one wholly loved and completely understood. This is our hope. And this “hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us,” as it says in Romans 5:5.

Hope in Christ changes today by curing our anxiety for tomorrow with the truth that forever begins soon. Yes, forever begins soon.

Jesus proclaims in Revelation 22:7, “Look, I am coming soon!” and again in verse 12, “Look, I am coming soon!” John writes down these powerful words of Jesus as he recalls his experience of this revelation. In Revelation 22:20, he writes, “He who testifies to these things says, “Yes, I am coming soon.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.” (emphasis mine). John wanted Jesus to come now. He was ready. He was expectant. His experience and relationship with Jesus further fed his desire to see Christ’s return. So we must ask ourselves: do our relationships with Jesus feed our desire for His return?  We need this kind of longing to keep us hopeful in the midst of what we face here on earth.

I’m finding that as I position my heart towards heaven and my hope in Christ, I don’t worry so much about what is happening now as I used to. I’m learning to take an eschatological look at my circumstances and realize that it is nothing in light of the age to come. There is a “last” thing up ahead that initiates eternity. Jesus will return! And He’s here now with us through His Holy Spirit. Our lives are minuscule compared to His greatness and inconsequential to forever with our Savior.

As we ponder what it means to live life postured towards heaven, may we embrace the very perspective of Jesus. The One who came to earth from heaven and taught us about the kingdom to come. The kingdom of God. The Alpha and the Omega. The first and the last. For our inheritance is “imperishable, undefiled, unfading, and is kept in heaven for you,” as is says in 1 Peter 1:4. 

“But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.” – Philippians 3:20

Questions for Today:

  • How are my ultimate hopes impacting the way that I live daily?
  • Why is it important that we hope in Jesus Christ as it relates to heaven and not hope in the isolated reality of heaven?
  • How can I live my life with an eschatological imperative?
  • What next step is Jesus asking me to take  in my walk with Him?

“Heaven and Earth” by Hillsong Worship