Sunday, June 29, 2014

Golfing in heaven?

What will heaven be like? It is a marvelous question those of us who long for our heavenly home ask often. On the one hand, the glimpses given to us in scripture are wonderful and awe-inspiring. On the other hand, those glimpses make us long to be there even more!

There are some things the bible is silent on however, regarding our future in eternity. We know heaven will be a place where we will be active, and working for Jesus. We don't know exactly what we will do. "Rule and reign", worship Jesus, of course, and it won't be boring. But as to exactly what we will do in the eternal state, the bible is silent.

We do know that our citizenship is in heaven, our new name is in heaven, our brethren are in heaven, our reward is in heaven, our life is in heaven, our hope is in heaven- Jesus is in heaven!

But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. (1 Peter 4:13)

As John MacArthur says in his essay What heaven Is-
Everything we love, everything we value, everything eternal is in heaven. Nevertheless the church in this century has tended to be self-indulgent, proof that many Christians have lost their heavenly perspective. Too many don't want to go to heaven until they've enjoyed all that the world can deliver. Only when all earthly pursuits are exhausted, or when age and sickness hamper their enjoyment, are they ready for heaven...
It is so important to have a heavenly perspective. The bible mentions heaven 550 times! It is obviously important to God that we know about it, or He wouldn't have mentioned it so much. One of the most wonderful things about heaven is that we will see God.
"We will see He who is...according to 1 Timothy 6:15...the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords who alone possesses immortality and dwells in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see." We will see Him then. Matthew 5:8 says, "They shall see God." In that city we will be engulfed in His presence. We will be exposed to the full blaze of His eternal glory. Christ will be the radiant focal point of that manifestation. Christ will be the centerpiece, if there is such a thing, of that diamond blazing glory of God. (source)
We will be consumed with the glory of God!
And this then really is the joy of heaven. The hymn writer said, "The bride eyes not her garment, but her dear bridegroom's face. I will not gaze at glory, but on my King of grace." In other words, the believer is going to follow the glory back to the face from which it radiates. (source)
 It is equally important to also to have the right heavenly perspective.

To that end, I am reminded of something Billy Graham once said about heaven. In Ken Garfield's biography, Billy Graham: A Life in Pictures, Graham is quoted,
“Somebody once asked me, ‘Will there be golf courses in heaven?’ I said, ‘If they’re necessary for our happiness, they’ll be there.’”
And that is precisely the wrong heavenly perspective.
Wiki CC, Herring Cove Golf Course, New Brunswick, Canada source

Readers of this blog know that I've written about Mr Graham a few times in the past. Mr Graham unfortunately is a liberal ecumenical who has a worldly perspective and has preached inconceivable contradictions. For example, preaching the Gospel at his conventions yet also declaring Muslims are in the body of Christ even if they don't know Jesus, or that Mormons are not a cult outside Christian orthodoxy or that the Pope is a fine Christian and a terrific evangelist.

Mr Graham is famous for his interview with Robert Schuller in 1997 whereupon Mr Graham said he believes people can attain heaven without knowing Christ. He said the same in an interview in McCall's magazine in 1978 and again before that in his own Decisions Magazine in 1960. His apostasy can be traced far back, even to his youth, when Graham was rejected for membership in a youth group due to him being too worldly, and later when chafing under Bob Jones' University biblical standards, he transferred to the less strict Florida Bible Institute. Here Mr Graham is quoted as saying,
"I used to play God, but I can’t do that anymore. I used to believe that pagans in far-of countries were lost – were going to hell – if they did not have the gospel of Jesus Christ preached to them. I no longer believe that. I believe that there are other ways of recognizing the existence of God – through nature, for instance – and plenty of other opportunities, therefore, of saying “yes” to God. (James Michael Beam, "I Can’t Play God Anymore," McCall’s (January 1978)

Compared to the glories of heaven as described in scripture, and compared to those glories as summarized above, Mr Graham's worldly perspective about golf needing to be in heaven for him to be happy is certainly disappointing.
The hope of heaven should fill us with a joy of anticipation that loosens us from this transitory world. It's easy to become so attached to the world that we spend our energy consuming things that will perish rather than accumulating treasure in heaven (Source)
If, as Mr Graham said, whatever is necessary for our happiness will be in heaven, I ask, what if sex is necessary for our happiness? Will it be there?

The bible says no. (Matthew 22:30).

What if my happiness in heaven depends on my unsaved mother being there, will I then be unhappy? The bible says no. (Isaiah 65:17)

The perspective that whatever made us happy on this earth is what we "need" to make us happy in heaven gives short shrift to the incomparable riches of His grace, His holy habitation, and His personal presence. JESUS is what is necessary for our happiness in heaven, and we will have it. No earthly game, activity, or item we enjoyed on this earth will be missed.

Creative Commons, source

And just kidding now, what if Basketball was necessary for my happiness, and bowing to my 'needs', our Exalted God created heaven around my need to throw a bouncy ball into a net? Won't every shot be a basket? Won't every golf swing result in a hole-in-one, every baseball swing a home run? Because everything in heaven is perfect. Does Mr Graham believe that he won't make par in heaven? If so, then there will be disappointment, and heaven is not a disappointing place.

Hinging our heavenly 'happiness' on the needs of our earthly desires is small minded. Expecting our God to create a place for us based on the activities we enjoyed while on the cursed earth, fails to keep in mind that what we do here is only a shadow of things to come. (Colossians 2:17).

Praise God that heaven is so stupendous, that He chose us for salvation, and that we will be with Him!!

Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. No longer will there be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. And night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever. (Revelation 22:1-5)


12 comments :

  1. Being a 2 handicap at one time in my life, I asked my former Pastor if there were golf courses in heaven. He said, "let me get back to you on that".

    And the next Sunday he did. He told me there was good news and not so good news. The good news was that there were thousands of courses that would make Augusta National pale in comparison. And tee times were never a problem.

    However, he said, "the not so good news is that you have a tee time tomorrow at 9AM!

    ReplyDelete
  2. BTW, on a more serious note, many people think Billy Graham's recent and publicly exposed heresy is due to his age. But this is simply not true. His universalism goes way back in his ministry and his "partnership" with the like-minded Roman Catholic Church has been well documented.

    Anyone believing that Satan wasn't involved in the rise of Graham as the most recognized and respected evangelist ever to draw breath is not sufficiently educated in the power evil has in this world.

    What is truly amazing and frightening at the same time, is those who defend Graham. Is he such a sacred cow that even his own denomination is intimidated to the degree that they refuse to expose him for the wolf he is?



    ReplyDelete
  3. Fantastic post!!! Again centering around "us" and NOT Him, and therein lies the problem with the church today. The church has created a "god" to their liking, in their own image, why not heaven?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ali you expressed my thoughts exactly!!!
      Great post Elizabeth
      Jennifer

      Delete
  4. I actually make a conscious effort *not* to think too awfully hard about the details of what heaven will be like. I try to pull the plug on musings such as "Will our Maltese poodle Taffi be there?" or "Will they have rhubarb pie?" etc., etc. Obviously, the temptation is unavoidable. We're human--we can't help it, and I am certainly not suggesting there is anything wrong with it, because there most certainly isn't.

    That said, however, my personal rationale for trying hard not to do so goes something like this:

    In 1 Corinthians 2:9, Paul writes that "But as it is written, 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." (By the way, he was apparently referring to Isaiah 64:4.)

    That tells me three things: Whatever heaven is like, or whatever we can have or do there, it's beyond anything we've ever (a) seen, (b) heard, or (c) imagined.

    I'd say that pretty much covers it. So, when I stop to wonder if there will be A there, or if we'll be able to do B there, those are obviously all things I can see, hear, and imagine. And in the case of rhubarb pie, taste. So, whatever thoughts enter my mind, I remind myself that God's Word says *IT WILL BE W-A-A-Y BEYOND THAT!!*

    The point is that I'm basically wasting my time. Whatever puny little fleshly speculations come popping out of my puny little fleshly pea-brain can never begin to do justice to what God has prepared for us. To the extent that I give serious thought to the details of heaven, to that extent I am almost diminishing it--I'm bringing it down to my level.

    For example, we will move and operate in multiple dimensions. Ever think about that? Oh, how do I know that, you ask? Simple: the Word says so.

    "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*." (1 John 3:2)

    And how is Jesus? He moved and operated in multiple dimensions (John 20). Oh, and don't forget the next verse:

    "And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure." (1 John 3:3)

    We will be *multidimensional beings*, and somebody is fretting about golf...or rhubarb pie?! See what I mean? See what we do to our future heavenly home by our fleshly speculation?

    We almost spoil it.

    When I think about heaven, I like to pray a simple prayer:

    "Lord, surprise me."

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello Greg,

      Yes, I've often thought about how it will be that we will move in multiple dimensions, lol. It is one of my favorite things to think about :)

      I admire your unwillingness to go beyond scripture! It is an admirable thing. It is good to be reminded of that.

      If I can be so bold as to share something with you? Please consider this and see what you think. The 1 Cor verse is surely an interesting and important verse, but we need to pair verse 10 with it or the full meaning will not come through. Using only verse 9 means that we may indeed be interpreting it as the opposite of how it is meant to be interpreted. Verse 10 says

      these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God.

      The full verse means that we can know and understand. And we should. Speculation about our home is not merely a fruitless exercise, because as Randy Alcorn says, God has revealed it. Not exhaustively, but accurately. Here is Alcorn's quote,

      If “No Eye Has Seen,” How Can We Know? A pastor visiting my office asked what I was writing. “A big book on Heaven,” I said. “Well,” he replied, “since Scripture says ‘No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him,’ what will you be talking about? Obviously, we can’t know what God has prepared for us in Heaven.” (He was referring to 1 Corinthians 2:9.) Page 8 I said to him what I always say: “You didn’t complete the sentence. You also have to read verse ten.” Here’s how the complete sentence reads: “‘No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him’—but God has revealed it to us by his Spirit” (emphasis added). The context makes it clear that this revelation is God’s Word (v. 13), which tells us what God has prepared for us. After reading a few dozen books about Heaven, I came to instinctively cringe whenever I saw 1 Corinthians 2:9. It’s a wonderful verse; it’s just that it’s nearly always misused. It says precisely the opposite of what it’s cited to prove! What we otherwise could not have known about Heaven, because we’re unable to see it, God says he has revealed to us through his Spirit. This means that God has explained to us what Heaven is like. Not exhaustively, but accurately. God tells us about Heaven in his Word, not so we can shrug our shoulders and remain ignorant, but because he wants us to understand and anticipate what awaits us."

      -------------------

      Isn't that great news! I agree with you that ignorant speculation about the heavenly home we're destined for diminishes it. But so does *any* ignorant speculation about anything in the bible. Any ignorant speculation will always reduce Hie exalted doctrines but any Spirit-filled pondering about them always exalts Him.

      He *has* revealed it by His Spirit, and we *can* know. Not everything, but of what He has revealed is and should be a point of discussion, pondering, and further curiosity. Personally I do not believe it is wasting my time, because he put details in the bible for us and talked about it so often. Yes, Colton Burpo's ignorant speculations about heaven reduced it and actually blasphemed it and made a mockery of it. But Charles Spurgeon's biblical exegesis of the angels with wheels within wheels was an enthralling study, Randy Alcorn's questions and answers about heaven based on the bible were fruitful, John MacArthur's sermons on the heaven passages were exciting. Not pointless. What do you think?

      Delete
    2. Thank you, Elizabeth! That's what I love about your blog--I can always gain something from you. I hadn't thought of that whole passage in that way before, but I see what you mean and your point is well made.

      Yes, the Bible *does* tell us some things about heaven, and the Spirit illuminates our understanding--I know God doesn't want us to be totally ignorant of what awaits us.

      As far as my "wasting time" comment is concerned, I was actually thinking a little more along the lines of the kind of foolish speculation that can become a distraction; speculation that goes beyond (and in some cases contradicts) what the Word actually *does* tell us. (And I'm not looking to step on any toes, but don't even get me started on the celestial tourism books.)

      Speaking of which...I hate to admit it, but I think the celestial tourism books so soured me toward *any* book about heaven that I tend to instinctively avoid them all--and unfortunately that includes the few legit ones out there such as Randy Alcorn's. I know of it, but haven't read it. Maybe now I will.

      I *have* listened to a couple of John MacArthur's sermons on heaven, and yes, I agree. Terrific...as is everything he teaches. I love what he said about us being able to serve God in intimacy there--and about our reward being tied to our capacity to serve Him in heaven, rather than a bigger mansion, stripes on our robes, etc.

      Delete
  5. His son seems legit, though, unlike his dad. He never ceases to give the Gosoel of Christ EVERYTIME he is interviewed. He also was banned from giving the prayer at Obama's inauguration ceremony because he is not inclusive of all beliefs..... Any thoughts on Franklin Graham?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Anonymous,

      Thank you for your question. I haven't looked into Franklin Graham's doctrine and I don't have any opinions or thoughts about him...sorry :)

      Delete
  6. The main difference between goofing and golfing is the letter (L).

    ReplyDelete
  7. Elizabeth: When are you going to write something that I don't like? You are gifted, dear sister. Love ya' stuff.

    Stephen, SA

    ReplyDelete
  8. Speaking of sex in heaven, with the idea that a) sex won't be part of heaven and b) it is one of the most ecstatic and enjoyable experiences that can be had on earth, and c) everything which is pure on earth will be surpassed in heaven,

    I decided to explore what that may be like in a post I just made a week ago. Mostly philosophical, not so heavy on speculation. http://singlechristian1.blogspot.com/2014/06/intimacy-in-heaven.html

    ReplyDelete