Predestination

Predestination, a controversial subject. The original Greek word simply means to determine ahead of time, like drawing the boundary lines on a plat.

It’s a destiny and destination pre-planned by God for anyone who accepts Jesus as Saviour.

When we accepted Christ, God changed us.
Not into a frog.
Not into a millionaire.
Into a human habitat for the Holy Spirit, who then enables us to be conformed into the image of Christ.

God also changed our eternal destination.
Not a planet of our own to rule.
Not some great universal mind.
To God’s own home, heaven.

That’s not hard to understand. God didn’t decide who would get those changes, he just decided what those changes would be.

When God created whatever he created, he first thought about it. Once he’d given it every consideration, he decided to do it. He planned it all out, down to the tiniest detail. He designed the what, when, where and how, extrapolating every action and reaction to cover every contingency, all this in his mind before he ever moved to create anything.

Among his plans, God decided to create a being. (He actually created more than one type of being, angels, for instance, but these notes center around human beings.) God planned, designed and created human beings. Mankind. We can speculate as to his reasons but he did it.

When he did it, he designed the human being in his own image. The human didn’t resemble an asteroid, an octupus, a speck of dust or a black hole. God designed man – predestined him – to be made in God’s own image. He energized him with his own life, setting his existence on earth into motion.

Before God created the human being, he designed a habitat for him. He created an expanse we call the universe. There he housed untold numbers of objects, organized into what looks to us like messy and complicated interconnected systems. Some objects he created as stars, nuclear engines that provide energy to power and sustain other objects. Other objects he designed to orbit those stars, forming what we call solar systems. Those include planets and their satellites (moons), planetoids, asteroids and comets. Not to mention interstellar dust and light waves in their myriad forms; building blocks from the universe creation. “Left-overs?” Planets and suns coming and going? Maybe.

When God created that habitat, he planned, designed and set into motion great numbers of solar systems interacting together, smaller circling greater, larger circling even greater. These rotating systems filling the universe are grouped into collections we call galaxies; even the galaxies rotate and orbit something else. NASA’s orbiting telescopes bring us spectacular full-color photographic images of them by the thousands. Amazingly beautiful!

Now, asteroids and comets can be odd shapes but God designed planets to be orb-shaped. Some are mostly dry, others mostly liquid, but our own planet earth He predestined to be an orb containing a balance of gases, solids and liquids.

When God was creating all this, he determined that humans would have a physical lifespan occupying space and time on planet earth. Once the physical lifespan was finished, however, God decided that the spirit – the person himself – would not end.

But what should become of the human’s spirit then? Should he continue on without a physical form on the planet earth? As a ghost, perhaps? Should he occupy some other planet where he wouldn’t need a physical body? Or would he be reincarnated, born into a new body and begin another earthly existence?

No. In the Bible God has told us plainly what He desired for the human being: Eternal fellowship with Him in his own home.

And before he ever created mankind, God designed – predestined – the mechanism to achieve that fellowship. Believe and accept God’s way to be in Christ Jesus, and where Christ goes, we’ll go.

Some folks have made it far too complicated.

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All Heav’n Declares

All Heav’n Declares
Noel Richards, Tricia Richards 1987

All heav’n declares the glory of the risen Lord
Who can compare with the beauty of the Lord?
Forever He will be (Forever He will be)
The Lamb upon the throne (The Lamb upon the throne)
I gladly bow the knee (I gladly bow the knee)
And worship Him alone

I will proclaim the glory of the risen Lord
Who once was slain to reconcile man to God
Forever You will be (Forever You will be)
The Lamb upon the throne (The Lamb upon the throne)
I gladly bow my knee (I gladly bow my knee)
And worship You alone

Where will you be in 500 years?

Sometimes I’m taken aback by the reaction of Christians to the death of another believer.  I don’t mean the normal sense of loss, grief, sadness and sympathy for the family and friends –  those things I understand very, very well.

Those reactions are part of our human nature.  We lose our mother, father, husband, child, friend, and we feel the dreadfully empty hole where they used to be.

No, what I’m talking about is the other regret they sometimes express, that now that person won’t have a chance to see another beautiful sunset, or see their grandchildren all grown up and successful, or experience the grandeur of a vacation in some spectacular place, even spiritual ones in a place like Israel.

As if those things are the very best God ever created and now those opportunities are gone forever.

As if death was the end of our lives.

If we believe God’s word, gorgeous sunsets and spectacular views of the Grand Canyon are nothing compared to what’s available in heaven.

Heaven isn’t imaginary.  It’s a real place with real buildings and grass and trees, and at least one really big city.

There are real things to learn, real work to do, real friends and family to re-connect with, real Father God to praise and worship, real Holy Spirit to be mentored and trained by, and real Jesus to fellowship with and learn from!

To listen to some believers talk, you’d think heaven is sort of fuzzy, foggy, and wispy.  Insubstantial.  Or a second-rate, broken-down, dull and boring place with nothing exciting to see or do. I understand their poor perception of it.  I used to think that way too.

I think heaven is more of a high-tech educational and training facility and an ultra-spectacular worship facility.  Full of excitement, creativity, discovery, a never a dull moment kind of place.  And for now, a temporary one.

Think about it a minute.  In 500 years, where will we be?  If I read the scriptures right, none of us will be in heaven at all.

We’ll all be here on the earth in the midst of the thousand year reign of Christ.  We’ll be carrying out whatever assignment God has for each individual believer.

Some may be repairing environmental damage.  Some may be involved in research, others in administration.  Some may be explorers, traveling in space.  Some may be building new infrastructure and new habitats, and others may be managing those things.

And that’s nothing to be regretful about.

Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, but… there’s a party going on!

I received a lovely card the other day from friends, and I truly appreciated the card and the handwritten note on it. Printed on the inside front cover was a familiar Bible verse, I Corinthians 2:9, “But as it is written (see Is. 64:4), Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.” That’s where the quote ended on the card.

But that’s only part of the Apostle Paul’s statement in I Corinthians. Without the “rest of the story,” that part is really misleading.

Paul’s statement continues in verse 10, “But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit…” How neat!

If we pay attention to the voice of the Holy Spirit, we can have a glimpse of the things God has prepared for us who love him, wonderful things. Reunions. Parties. Worship. Assignments. Fellowship. Learning. Sharing. Laughing.

David Marcy, Pastor of Kingstree United Methodist Church, said a comforting benediction at the cemetery after Ora Lee’s funeral, and he mentioned Ora Lee having peace now. Instantly the Holy Spirit spoke to me and added – and a PARTY!

I suddenly got a mental image of a wonderful celebration going on in heaven with Ora Lee at the center, a for-real party with Jesus, Holy Spirit, Father God, and all of Ora Lee’s family and friends (especially Tim, T.C., Theron and her mom Annie) hugging and laughing and enjoying themselves immensely.

I couldn’t be sad after that moment. I was sorry for us, for all of us who will sorely miss her and T.C. and Tim, but I can’t be sad knowing where she is and what she’s probably doing.

From now on, whenever I see that incomplete fragment of Paul’s comment about heaven, I’m going to think, “PARTY!”

Just suppose

Suppose America had its businesses, manufacturing plants, universities, museums, art galleries, concert halls, libraries, scientific and research laboratories, shopping centers, hobby shops – but had no sin? What else would be missing? Police and military. Jails and prisons. Sickness and disease, doctors and hospitals. Wouldn’t that be heavenly? I think heaven is a busy place, full of activity, learning and creativity, but there’s no sin, no sickness or disease there. Hmmm.