What is the goal of Christian Faith?
February 25, 2021
In a recent survey, when asked "what is the goal of Christian faith?" eight out of ten Christians answered "salvation." When asked "What is the point of salvation?" the overwhelming answer was "to live forever with God." Yet when asked to describe the experience of "eternal life with God" the room was silent.
OK, let me get this straight. God sent his beloved Son to live a sin free life, so that he could die as our sin sacrifice, so that we could live forever with God. Whatever the afterlife is like, it must be pretty important to God for him to send Jesus to destroy death for all who believe. Don't you think that if it was that important to God, we should be able look forward to it, like little kids looking forward to their first trip to Disneyland.
We know more about Disneyland than we do Heaven. What's up with that?
If living forever with God is supposed to be the big motivator for faith, heaven, I must confess that for years I was not at all excited about going there. From the things I had heard about heaven by well-meaning Christians, I was convinced that heaven would be boring, without any of the joys of human experience.
I was led to believe that when life was done, I was ready for sitting on a cloud, picking out as tune or two on David's harp and chatting with the occasional angel who flew by.
Now I know that all of you who know me will agree that I tend to be a bit of a strange duck, and you probably have never thought of heaven in these ways. But I was recently motivated to do some serious research on what is supposed to be our hope and dream, the longing of our heart. I realized that for some believers it takes more faith to desire heaven than it does to believe in Jesus Christ.
So, I propose to do a serious of short essays on the wonderment of Heaven.
This is the first one. Why is it so hard to know anything concretely positive about what God says will be the very best experience of our lives?
Various religions have vastly different views of heaven. Where did they come from? I believe that every person has thoughts on what the afterlife should be like. I know what I want it to be...but I am not at all sure that what I or anyone else wants to see in heaven is what the Bible says will be there.
And some of the Apostle Paul words adds to the mystery, "What God has planned for people who love him is more than eyes have seen or ears have heard. It has never even entered our minds!" 1Corinthians 2:9 CEV
Sounds "unimaginable" doesn't it? But does that mean that just because we cannot conceive of heaven in our own imagination, God has been silent on the subject. Is it being kept hidden as a grand surprise for us at the end of our days?
The great Christian mystic Dante describes his experience of "Paradiso" as something entirely in expressible–"my vision was greater than our speech." The 16th century reformer and founder of the Presbyterian Church John Calvin advised that the spiritual experience of heaven has no connection to the physical realm whatsoever. His conclusion is that our experience of heaven will be "only to enjoy God."
Really? Is heaven only a mystical place whose glory and wonders are indescribable, and yet can only be experienced as an out of body experience of pure pleasure and joy? No physical sensation? No walking, talking, hugging, laughing, running or eating?
I think that our God, who "is not the author of confusion," wants us to know enough about heaven to get excited about its benefits and begin to long for it; for ourselves and for our community.
My goal is to discover in the words of Scripture picture of heaven so amazing that we will all agree with John's final plea of Scripture: The one who has spoken these things says, "I am coming soon!" So, Lord Jesus, please come soon! Revelation 22:20
Pastor Roger Pedersen
Pomeroy Christian Church