What lays ahead for believers?
(words of Christ in red) (scripture italicized)
Can we really get excited about sitting around in "heaven" worshiping God for eternity? That is what we have been told is going to happenand at first look it seems like a wonderful life. Preachers have told us for as long as I can remember that it is going to be great to have all eternity to sit, kneel, lay prostrate or stand before God singing his praises for all of eternity and that that is our goal.. If our reward is just that, than something has to be drastically wrong with this picture. Upon longer examination though, it sounds tedious and a little mind-numbing to me. Surely there has to be something else to do that will keep us busy and still glorify God in the process.
From everything I have studied about God's plan for us, and the scriptures that are to prepare us for that, I see a much different picture of the future than what the modern Church is teaching. Anyone with any idea of what eternity represents must agree that it is a very long period of time. Forever is "forever", unceasing and never ending. Even God with all his patience would get bored with a future like this.
I know that there are angels that are constantly worshipping before the throne of God but are they always there or do they take turns? Certainly some angles are running around doing other things. The Bible tell us so. Not that we become angles but Christ says in Matthew 22:30, "For in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels of God in heaven."
As I watch TV I become incredibly aware of the fact of the obsession we have with Robotics, Space Travel, Other World Colonization and Synthetic Intelligence. Add to that Cloning, Genetic Alteration, DNA Mapping and the picture becomes clearer. The need to create and expand to the stars seems to be knitted into our very being. From the beginning of time man has a history of "Tower of Babel" building. How long will it be before God says once again: ".., Behold, the people is one, and they have all one language; and this they begin to do: and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do." Genesis 11:6. Somehow I feel like the guy walking to the market in the city of Babel to buy bread, looking over at a construction site where thousands of workers are busily building an enormous tower with the purpose of reaching the heavens. It's bigger than anything I have ever seen before, and I am thinking how great these times are where men can make something so impressive. The only difference is, today the tower has the letters N.A.S.A. on it and the language that everyone speaks is binary code. We are once again reaching for the heavens, uniting the entire world with science and able to create anything we can imagine. In the immortal words of Yogi Berra "it's like Déjà Vu all over again".
Something I learned a long time ago is
that a lie doesn't have enough power to go too far on its own. In order
for any cult type of doctrine to survive it has to incorporate some truth
or there is no following. The bigger the lie, the bigger the truth it
has to incorporate.
There is also another teaching that appears to be false at first because of who is teaching it. Some refer to this teaching by stating that "Man is God" or "Man becomes God". It is this doctrine of a successful Cult that I feel, has hidden in it, some truth that the Christian Church would find a revelation. Here are some scriptures that show what I am talking about.
1 John 3:2, "Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is."
Philippians 2:5-6, "Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:"
Romans 8:17, "And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together."
Ephesians 4:13, "Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:"
In these scriptures we have a concept proffered to us of "equal with God" and "like him"(God). They that we will be "glorified together" (approved along with) with Christ.
It is not my intent to try to champion this as a doctrine except in the way the scripture does. My belief is that without Christ we are not worthy of approval. Nevertheless, he came and died in order for us have this position of honor. A position of "joint-heir", equal with him in the inheritance of God. Whatever position Christ has inherited in the Kingdom of God we will have also. I know this is hard to grasp but we are exhorted to have "this mind" (understanding).
John 17:21-25, "That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me. Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me: for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world. O righteous Father, the world hath not known thee: but I have known thee, and these have known that thou hast sent me. And I have declared unto them thy name, and will declare it: that the love wherewith thou hast loved me may be in them, and I in them."
This concept is important in order to
understand what happens in eternity.
Genesis 22:15-18, "And the angel of the LORD called unto Abraham out of heaven the second time, And said, By myself have I sworn, saith the LORD, for because thou hast done this thing, and hast not withheld thy son, thine only son: That in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea shore; and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies; And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice."
Genesis 32:12, "And thou saidst, I will surely do thee good, and make thy seed as the sand of the sea, which cannot be numbered for multitude."
Footnote: the average grain of beach sand, (as per "A Study in Sand Grain Sizes" by Julie Montgomery, Erika Velasco and Abel G. Pena), is .0098" in diameter. Using this data we calculate that there are 108,416,578 grains of sand per cubic inch, 23,417,980,950 for 6 cubic inches and 187,343,847,596 for 1 cubic foot.
I don't think that it is a coincidence that God also uses the stars to complete this picture of the future he gives Abraham. According to what we know now there might be as many stars in the universe as there is beach sand on earth. We gave our pastor a photo that we picked up at Kennedy Space Center that was taken by the Hubble telescope. It is a "deep space" (click to view) picture representing a narrow "keyhole" view stretching to the visible horizon of the universe, the HDF image covers a speck of the sky only about the width of a dime located 75 feet away. Though the field is a very small sample of the heavens, it is considered representative of the typical distribution of galaxies in space because the universe, statistically, looks largely the same in all directions. Gazing into this small field, Hubble uncovered a bewildering assortment of at least 1,500 galaxies and these all having tens to hundreds of billions of stars each.
Of course one could argue that God didn't know or didn't mean what he was swearing to. If it were just for Abraham's benefit, a man with one legitimate son from a previously barren wife, wouldn't it be easier to convince him of something a little more believable. Wouldn't it have been better if God used a Pomegranate 's seeds or a stalk of wheat as an example, both of which Abraham knew had many seeds that if planted would produce many more. We can't possibly believe it is easier to believe in the unfeasible over the possible. The truth of the scripture is that what God told Abraham was a statement of fact. God really wasn't trying to impress Abraham, He just had by delivering a ram to take Isaac's place on the altar. God was making a statement that revealed what Abraham's obedience was going to allow Him to do in the future. To fulfill this "statement of fact" however would require Christ to replace the "ram" and open the door to all people.
Of course Christ himself couldn't preach this Gospel of the Kingdom to everyone himself so the discipled twelve,who discipled hundreds who discipled thousands, who discipled millions etc. It is only through this power of duplication that there is any hope of fulfilling God's promise. Does anyone really believe that the Earth as we know it could ever produce as many "sons" as God has promised? Only if Earth could be duplicated is it even remotely possible.
We looked earlier at how the scriptures indicate that Christ could be duplicated in his disciples and through their disciples and eventually every believer stepping into eternity "like him". Is it that much a stretch for other Earths in other solar systems to have the same duplication process take place. Could beings created in the image of a creator be fulfilled by anything less than creating? Could God be fulfilled or glorified in sons who did nothing? What do scriptures like the parable of the talents expect from good stewards? Isn't it that they are to multiply what they have been given? Haven't "they which shall be accounted worthy to obtain that world" the mandate to multiply or duplicate that world? Wouldn't the Father be glorified in the son and are we not all sons? Wouldn't we all be willing to die for that new world as Christ died for this one? Wouldn't this be more fitting a way to worship God and spend eternity? Doesn't the concept of believers stepping into eternity and "arriving" sound just a tad bit selfish to you? Christ is there and he hasn't stopped "doing the will of the Father". He hasn't stopped doing everything he is supposed to do. Isn't all of creation waiting for this.
Romans 8:16-23, "The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together. For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. For the earnest expectation of the creature (creation) waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God. For the creature (creation) was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope, Because the creature (creation) itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now."
Is not the universe with all of it's stars a part of creation?