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You Can Take it with You
Sometimes we fall into the world's trap by thinking there is nothing we can take with us after we die. But, for Christians this isn't true.
If you are a believer there is one thing you have today that you will have for eternity: God's Word. Your Bible-toting friends here will be your Bible toting friends there. (We'll also have friends and a one-on-one relationship with the Lord, too).
7 or 94 Years Old - Start Now
So the best time to begin to study the Bible is now. It is never too late. It doesn't matter if you are 7 or 94 years old. Begin to learn it now.
Remember that it doesn't matter how many pages you read each day, either. What counts is how you read it: carefully and thoughtfully.
Joshua 1:8 says we should "meditate on it day and night…" Webster's New World Dictionary says this means to "think about it deeply" (Macmillon 1995).
Verses about our Forever Book
"The grass withers, and the flower falls, but the word of the Lord remains forever" (1 Peter 1:24-25, ESV).
"Forever, O Lord, your word is firmly fixed in the heavens" (Psalm 119:89, ESV).
"For You have magnified Your word above your name" (Psalm 138:2, NKJV).
Yeshua (Jesus) advises us, "Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away" (Matthew 24:35, NASB).
Isn't it awesome that in a temporary world where everything changes we have the Lord and His Word forever?
Be a Bible Detective
Let's learn to make studying the Bible an adventure. Professor Alcorn gives us a wonderful illustration of how we can become Bible sleuths in his book "Heaven." Watch this:
All from Revelation chapter 6
"We can learn a great deal about the intermediate Heaven from three key verses in Revelation: "When (the Lamb) opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God and the testimony they had maintained. They called out in a loud voice, 'How long, Sovereign Lord, holy and true, until you judge the inhabitants of the earth and avenge our blood?' Then each of them was given a white robe, and they were told to wait a little longer, until the number of their fellow servants and brothers who were to be killed as they had been was completed" (6:9-11).
"I offer here twenty-one brief observations concerning this passage:
1. When these people died on Earth, they relocated to Heaven (v. 9).
2. These people in Heaven were the same ones killed for Christ while on Earth (v. 9). This demonstrates direct continuity between our identity on Earth and our identity in Heaven. The martyrs' personal history extends directly back to their lives on Earth. Those in the intermediate Heaven are not different people. They are the same people relocated - "righteous men made perfect" (Hebrews 12:23).
3. People in Heaven will be remembered for their lives on Earth. These were known and identified as ones slain "because of…the testimony they had maintained" (v.9).
4. "They called out" (v. 10) means they are able to express themselves audibly. This could suggest they exist in physical form, with vocal cords or other tangible means to express themselves.
5. People in the intermediate Heaven can raise their voices (v. 10). This indicates that they are rational, communicative, and emotional - even passionate - beings, like people on Earth.
6. They called out in "a loud voice," not "loud voices." Individuals speaking with one voice indicate that Heaven is a place of unity and shared perspective.
7. The martyrs are fully conscious, rational, and aware of each other, God, and the situation on Earth.
8. They ask God to intervene on Earth and to act on their behalf: "How long…until you judge the inhabitants of the earth and avenge our blood?" (v. 10).
9. Those in Heaven are free to ask God questions, which means they have an audience with God. It also means they need to learn. In Heaven, people desire understanding and pursue it.
10. People in the intermediate Heaven know what's happening on Earth (v. 10). The martyrs know enough to realize that those who killed them have not yet been judged.
11. Heaven dwellers have a deep concern for justice and retribution (v. 10). When we go to Heaven, we won't adopt a passive disinterest in what happens on the earth. On the contrary, our concerns will be more passionate and our thirst for justice greater. Neither God nor we will be satisfied until his enemies are judged, our bodies raised, sin and Satan defeated, Earth restored, and Christ exalted over all.
12. The martyrs clearly remember their lives on Earth (v. 10). They even remember that they were murdered.
(…and so forth).
19.There is time in the intermediate Heaven (vv. 10-11).
20.The people of God in Heaven have a strong familial connection with those on Earth, who are called their "fellow servants and brothers" (v. 11). We share the same Father, "from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named" (Ephesians 3:15, ESV). …We are one family with those who've gone to Heaven ahead of us."
(…and so on).
(Alcorn 2004, 65-67)
The Rich Man&Lazarus
Here is another example of becoming a Bible detective from Professor Alcorn's book Heaven. From the story of the rich man and Lazarus in Luke 16 we can gather the following:
- When Lazarus died, angels carried him to Paradise.
- The rich man died and went to a place of torment.
- Lazarus is with Abraham (and, by inference, others). The rich man is by himself (no one else is mentioned).
- The intermediate Heaven and Hell are separated by a fixed chasm. But in this case, people on both sides could see and communicate with each other, at least on a limited basis. (It's possible this was granted to Abraham and the rich man as an exception, not the norm. We shouldn't build a doctrine on it because it's not supported by other references).
- Both the rich man and Abraham reasoned and communicated, and they maintained their distinct identities from Earth (as did Lazarus), indicating direct continuity from their earthly lives to their afterlives.
- The rich man and Lazarus are depicted as having physical forms. The rich man had a tongue and a thirst that he wished to satisfy with water. Lazarus had a finger, and there was water available to him in Paradise, into which he might dip his finger. Of course, these references may be entirely figurative. But they might also suggest the possession of transitional physical forms, existing in a physical Paradise, to sustain and manifest human identity between death and resurrection.
- The rich man certainly remembers - and possibly sees - his lost brothers. He expresses concern for their welfare and asks that Lazarus be sent to warn them. This indicates consciousness after death and clear memory of Earth and people on Earth.
- Abraham says that no one can cross the gap between Heaven and Hell.
(Alcorn 2004, 62-63)
Check and Compare Scripture with Scripture
In case you think the story of Lazarus and the Rich Man is just a parable, check what Jesus says in Luke 13:27 - 28:
- Verse 27: "and He will say, 'I tell you, I do not know where you are from. DEPART FROM ME, ALL YOU EVILDOERS.'
- Verse 28: In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, but yourselves being thrown out."
What can you deduct from the verses above? Try it for yourself.
One possibility is that part of the punishment of hell consists of unbelievers being able to watch their saved relatives or friends in Heaven while they are tormented in hell. Not a pretty prospect. Maybe we should pray for them because seeing you in Heaven might be torturous! What other conclusions can you draw from this passage? List them here:
"And the word of the Lord will be to them precept upon precept, precept upon precept, line upon line, line upon line, here a little, there a little" (Isaiah 28:13, ESV).
We learn by building upon one thing after another. Perhaps we can study weekly verses from a fellowship study, Sunday school, or from weekly sermons in church. Other aids to reading include One-Year Bibles (Tyndale) and systematic reading plans available through bookstores.
For those who have difficulty reading there are weekly tapes available from Chuck Missler at Koinonia House, John MacArthur through Grace to You Ministries, and other fine ministries. You have the world's finest scholars available to you. Shop at your local Christian bookstore for ideas that appeal to you.
Don't forget to keep a prayer journal. Most of us lack concentration. But, journaling our prayers help a lot. It also gives us a surprising record of God's answers to our prayers.
The well known pastor, David Jeremiah, says the strongest reason God wants us to pray is that "God hard-wired the universe so that He works mostly through our prayers. At the split-second we pray we become part of the most powerful force in the universe" (The Prayer Matrix).
Memorize Rhema Verses
Rhema verses are passages that apply directly to you or to your specific problems. It is important that we begin to collect and memorize our rhema verses. For example, Jesus used Rhema verses against the devil as recorded in Matthew chapter 4.
Does your family ridicule you because you are a Christian? Here is a rhema verse for you. See if you can memorize it so that it is part of your private arsenal the next time they taunt you.
"Everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or farms for My names sake, will receive a hundredfold and will inherit eternal life" (Matthew 19:29).
Here is another verse to memorize:
"For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places" (Ephesians 6:12).
This verse shows that it isn't just your family who is hurting you. It only seems that way. Those who ridicule or taunt you are driven by unseen forces of evil against Christians and Jews. Memorizing verses such as Ephesians 6:12 help us to remember this.
Be Open to Hearing from God as you Study
Remember that the Lord speaks to us several ways:
1. Through His Word - "I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go" (Psalm 32:8).
2. Through those in authority over us - "Submit yourselves for the Lord's sake to every human institution" (1 Peter 2:13).
3.Through our circumstances - "The mind of a man plans his way. But the Lord directs his steps" (Proverbs 16:9)
4.Through prayer and a sense of peace - …"whatever does not proceed from faith is sin" (Romans 14:23b).
Now make arrangements to become a Bible detective and study the Bible for yourself. And remember -
You Can Take it With You!
Alcorn, Randy. 2004. Heaven. Wheaton, ILL: Tyndale.
Arthur, Kay. 1994. How to study your Bible. Eugene, OR: Harvest House.
Missler, Chuck. 2002. Learn the Bible in 24 hours. Coeur d'Alene, ID: Koinonia House.
The NASB New Inductive Study Bible. 1996. Eugene, OR: Harvest House. (Note: This is a Bible textbook with questions and charts to fill in and directions on how to study your bible).
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