The Christian's Happiness In Heaven
By David J. Stewart
“The real value of a thing is the price it will bring in eternity.”—John Wesley
I was reading an excellent classic book today written by Evangelist John R. Rice (1895-1980). It is a shame that this new generation is kept in the dark about great men of God from generations past.
People are infatuated these days with modern apostate preachers; but they are woefully ignorant of the Spirit-filled preachers from the past. This is largely because people idolize television. You will become what you decide to be around. Even pastors are caught up into the apostasy of our generation, because they have been influenced by television. As the Apostles Peter and John said in Acts 4:20, “For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.” Today's TV generation doesn't know about John R Rice, Oliver B. Greene, Harry A. Ironside, Dwight L. Moody, Martin R. DeHaan and thousands of other mighty men of God who've authored books for future generations (you and me). They wrote their books with us in mind, so let's read them.
The following lengthy quote is from the faithful man of God, Dr. John R. Rice. In 1934 he launched THE SWORD OF THE LORD, which, by the time of his death, had become the largest independent religious weekly in the world, with subscribers in every state of the Union and more than 100 foreign countries. Thousands of preachers read it regularly, and it undoubtedly had the greatest impact upon the fundamentalist movement of any publication in the 20th century.
Here's a challenging quote to live right in these wicked times, from chapter 4 of the book, “WHEN A CHRISTIAN SINS.” The chapter is titled, “THE CHRISTIAN'S HAPPINESS IN HEAVEN DEPENDS ON HOW HE LIVED ON EARTH” ...
"AGAIN LET ME SAY that I do not encourage sin. No one must treat sin lightly. We are not soon done with the disaster of sin. The Christian who sins will suffer for it in this life. He will suffer for it in the life to come.
Some people suppose that every sinner who goes to Heaven will have the same joy and happiness. But that is not true. In Revelation 20, we find that sinners who go to hell are judged, every man according to his works, according to the things written down in God's Books. The torment of unsaved people in hell will differ, each one according to his opportunity and according to his sin.
Likewise, the Bible makes it abundantly clear that not all Christians will enjoy the same position and have the same honor and responsibility and blessing in heaven. It is true that each one who trusts in Christ has the same salvation and goes to the same heaven. But beyond salvation there will be rewards for Christians according to their service, and Christians must give an account for their sins. Let no Christian think that he is getting by with his worldliness, his sin, his disobedience, his carelessness about soul-winning.
THE CHRISTIAN MUST MEET HIS DEEDS, GOOD AND BAD, AT CHRIST'S JUDGMENT SEAT
Read with me the shocking passage of Scripture in 2nd Corinthians 5:9-10:
'Wherefore we labour, that, whether present or absent, we may be accepted of him. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.'
Here we know why Paul worked so hard, why he endured such persecution, gave up home, family, good name, ease, honors, in order to win souls. He was labouring to be acceptable to Jesus Christ! He knew that he would one day meet the Saviour and longed to have Jesus say to him, 'well done, good and faithful servant' (Mt 25:23). Paul says, 'For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ' (2nd Co 5:10a). Do not confuse this with the final judgment of the unsaved as described in Revelation 20. Do not confuse this with the judgment of the Gentile world as described in Matthew 25:31-46. Here is a judgment, in heaven, of Christians only. After we are already caught up to meet the Lord in the air, after we have resurrected bodies, after we see the Saviour, then 'we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ.'
And what occurs at this judgment seat of Christ?
'that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad' (2 Co 5:10b).
Do not explain away the plain statements of the Scriptures. The Christian is still to come face to face with his past. I know that the Christian has his sins forgiven as far as the destiny of his soul is concerned. It is true that all his sins are laid on Jesus and paid for on the cross. But God is still against sin. And up in heaven no Christian will think it did not matter that he sinned. Every Christian will find how horrible are the results of his sins. He will face what he has done, whether it be good or bad.
I do not wonder that, in the next verse, Paul says, 'Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade man' (2 CO 5:11). Paul knew that it would be a terrifying thing for Christians, born again, and even in glorified bodies, to stand up before Jesus Christ and give an account of the deeds done in the body both good and bad. In my sermon on 'Tears in Heaven' in the book And God Remembered, I have discussed the tears of Christians when they face their sins in heaven. And I hope you will read it.
God may forgive sins, but there are some of the results of sin that will never be undone...”
SOURCE: “WHEN A CHRISTIAN SINS,” John R. Rice; chapter 4, pgs. 60-62; copyright 1954, Sword Of The Lord Publishers; ISBN: 0-87398-911-2
My friend, life is short. Please understand that salvation and rewards are entirely separate matters. We are saved by believing on Jesus Christ, by receiving the Gospel (death, burial and resurrection) as payment for our sins. Adding any amount of self-effort or self-righteous works is a false Gospel. Eternal life is a free gift (Romans 6:23).
God promises to save anyone who calls upon the name of the Lord (Romans 10:13). Titus 1:2 says eternal life is a PROMISE from God, a promise that He made before the world began. Titus 1:2, “In hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began.” Not only does God save those who believe the Gospel, but He gives us the blessed assurance of offering eternal life in the form of a PROMISE. But wait, God goes even further and assures us that He made this promise before the world was ever made. But that's not all, God even takes it a step further and lets us know that He CANNOT LIE. Isn't this a wonderful Bible verse!!! Isn't God a wonderful and awesome God!!!
As Christians, our happiness in heaven will to some degree be determined by the life we live here on earth. I taught this truth once and a man asked, “What's the use of going to Heaven if some people are going to be miserable and unhappy?” How about not going to Hell forever? That's a good reason! Obviously, even if you are sad in Heaven for living a wasted life of sin, you're still going to be happy that you don't have to spend eternity in the Lake of Fire.
The plain teachings of the Scriptures is that some saints shine more than others. Read what the Bible says in Daniel...
Daniel 12:2-3, “And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt. And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever.”
Soul-winners will shine in heaven as the brightness of the stars. Romans 10:15 calls the feet of the soul-winner “beautiful.” Proverbs 11:30 says, he that winneth souls is wise. Wise believers are soul-winning believers. Although we can't save anybody, it is our duty as Christians to proclaim the Gospel to others (Matthew 28:19-20; Luke 8:14-15; Romans 10:15; 1st Corinthians 9:16). 1st Corinthians 3:6-7, “I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase. So then neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase.” Why would God tell us in Daniel 12:3 that some believers will shine above others in Heaven if it were not so?
Consider the Words of Jesus in Matthew 6:19-20, “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal.” It would not be fair, nor would the Lord's Word be honest, if backslidden and immature believers who never lift a finger for God to get people saved share equal rewards and happiness in Heaven as those Christians who sacrifice, labor in prayer, preach the Gospel, contend for the faith and faithfully serve the Lord through much suffering.
Clearly, some believers will have more treasures in Heaven than others. The Lord calls them “treasures.” The Greek word for “treasures” is thesauros, which means “a deposit, that is, wealth.” Literally, the same God who discourages us from laying up wealth upon the earth, encourages us to lay up treasures in Heaven. The heathen world has it all backwards, ignoring eternity and living only for the moment. Oh, how foolish are most people in this world!
Jesus promised that there won't be thieves to steal our heavenly wealth—neither by break-ins, nor by corporate insurance theft, nor by out-of-control government taxation, nor by a rigged and corrupt evil legal system that robs men of their life's savings. So know that our heavenly wealth will be literal possessions. A thief cannot steal something that doesn't exist. Jesus said that neither moth nor rust will corrupt them, which again plainly indicates physical possessions from the Lord.
My mind can think of many nice things which a person could own. I personally believe that God, who knows our secret desires, will give us possessions in Heaven that we never imagined. The Lord knows what will make us happy. I usually tell the Lord to surprise me in Heaven. I don't tell God what I want, because I may choose less than what He knows is best. Howbeit, I have made special requests for certain foods that I love, like egg-rolls, pizza and cheeseburgers from specific restaurants that are unique. I believe that we will eat our favorite foods (and no doubt many new ones we've never tasted) at the Marriage Supper of the Lamb (Revelation 19:9; Luke 22:18).
The Lord plainly commands us to lay up treasures in Heaven, and then assures us that nothing can cause loss nor harm to our wealth in Heaven where we are going. That sounds like a great offer to me. I've been laying up treasures for years and plan to continue doing so. Did you know that prayer is labor, and God rewards labor? Anybody can lay up treasures in Heaven. Colossians 4:12, “Epaphras, who is one of you, a servant of Christ, saluteth you, always labouring fervently for you in prayers, that ye may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God.” Prayer is work. Fasting is work. Soul-winning is work. 1st Timothy 5:18 speaks of labouring in word and doctrine. God rewards saints who do any work concerning Biblical doctrine and the Gospel.
In fact, Jesus said that God will reward even giving a cup of water in a disciple's name, because that person follows Christ. Mark 9:41, “For whosoever shall give you a cup of water to drink in my name, because ye belong to Christ, verily I say unto you, he shall not lose his reward.” Matthew 11:36 says that God will judge men even for the idle words they speak. Clearly, God will hold men accountable for their deeds, even for the slightest bad and good of each subtle thought and action. Nothing passes by the eyes of God, Who knows when a sparrow falls from the sky (Luke 12:6-7), and Who knows at all times the very number of hairs upon our head (Matthew 10:29-30).
But don't be discouraged if you have wasted your life in sin, because the Lord is preparing a place for you in Heaven if you are genuinely His child. John 14:1-3, “Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.”
There is a wonderful truth to be learned here. There are no chapter divisions nor verses in the original Hebrew and Greek manuscripts of the Bible. Men placed the chapter divisions there. So the Words of the Bible are inspired by God, but not the chapter divisions. Having said that, please read the verse in John 13:38 which comes before John 14:1...
John 13:38, “Jesus answered him, Wilt thou lay down thy life for my sake? Verily, verily, I say unto thee, The cock shall not crow, till thou hast denied me thrice.”
The Apostle Peter said, “Lord, I will never deny You!” Jesus replied by telling Peter that before the cock crows (chickens crow when there's light, i.e., when the sun comes up), Peter would deny Christ. Peter was saddened. But the Lord knew the future, as only God knows. Jesus encouraged Peter in advance, telling him to remember that He is going to prepare a place for him in Heaven. Isn't that beautiful?
Jesus said, “Look Peter, I know that you're going to curse and deny that you ever knew me. You're going to disassociate yourself as far as possible from the Church and from having any part in Me. Yet, I love you Peter and know that you will repent afterwards. I want you to know that I am going to prepare a place FOR YOU in Heaven. I'm personally going to see to it and customize your home, just FOR YOU.” Ladies and gentleman, whatever your sins, shortcomings and mistakes in life may be, the Lord is preparing a place FOR YOU in Heaven. You may not have as many rewards as others. You may not shine as bright as others. You may not be as happy as some will be, but you can rejoice in knowing that every saint has a family (Ephesians 3:15) and a home in Heaven. I GO TO PREPARE A PLACE FOR YOU... THAT WHERE I AM, THERE YOU MAY BE ALSO! What a glorious day that will be!!!
The Bible doesn't give us vivid detail of the future in Heaven. I believe that God meant “forever” in Daniel 12:2-3. This means that some Christians will shine more than others throughout eternity. I believe that the Lord meant what He said in Matthew 6:19-20 where He promises that thieves won't steal from us in Heaven. One of the most subtle but effective forms of theft is inflation. As criminal bankers rip-off American taxpayers, the value of the dollar goes down and inflation goes up; thus robbing men of their wealth through devaluation. Hence, the Lord would be stealing from faithful saints in Heaven, if He just gives the same rewards at some point to those carnal believers who never did anything for Christ their entire life.
In Luke 8:11-15 Jesus tells the parable of the sower and the seeds. Worldly and selfish believers who become choked by the cares, riches and pleasures of this life (Luke 8:14) ought not expect to receive any rewards from God for their wickedness. They never bear any fruit because they never share the Gospel message with anyone. Their priorities in life are wrong, placing the Gospel last place. But the seeds cast upon fertile ground are they which bring forth fruit. Luke 8:15, “But that on the good ground are they, which in an honest and good heart, having heard the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience.” An honest and good heart speaks of ethics. Since the Lord gave His life for us, it is only proper and right that we give our life in return in service to the King, which is exactly what He wants from us (Romans 12:1-2; Philippians 2:20-21, 4-5). If we are honest and want to do that which is good and proper, then we will live for the Lord Jesus Christ. In eternity it will be too late to wins souls. Now is the time of opportunity!
What do you see in the following characters?
Most people read that opportunity is no where; but it actually says opportunity is now here!
How do you view life? Most professed Christians see problems, headaches, burdens and more of the same humdrum each day. But you could see each day as a unique opportunity to share the Gospel to get people saved, make a poor person happy with a $20 bill, pass out Gospel tracks, do something for God to make a difference each day, and lay up more treasures in Heaven as the Lord wants us to do. The choice is yours.
To me, the greatest happiness in Heaven will be knowing that I helped others get there by preaching the Gospel. God saves them, so no one can take any credit for salvation itself. But what a great joy it will be when people come up to us in Heaven and thank us for serving God, because they found Christ through our labours. That's priceless my friend!
“There's something wrong with worship, if it makes you mad when somebody tells you the truth.”
—Evangelist Phil Kidd; a quote from the sermon titled, Are You Serious?
When all else fails, read the instructions!
"In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ."
—2nd Thessalonians 1:8
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