These all died in faith without having received the promises, but they saw them from a distance, greeted them, and confessed that they were foreigners and temporary residents on the earth….But they now aspire to a better land—a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them. Hebrews 11:13,16
Have you ever witnessed the last stages of life for a Christian who was ready to go home to heaven? It’s quite a surreal picture when you think of it. Quite often, he or she has a countenance about them and a certainty that there is nothing left in this life. They have run the race and are finishing well; leaving this world knowing that spending eternity with Jesus is all they desire.
I find it interesting to hear these stories and to even witness first-hand, the home-going of certain individuals I’ve been blessed to cross paths with. There is no greater legacy than seeing someone who knows that as they pass on, Jesus is there and “a better land—a heavenly one” will meet them after their last breath. Wow. Simply pause for a moment and take that in.
Faith points to a joyful hope and it is a reminder that this life is not over when we die.
All of what we experience, through mountaintops, valleys, and everything in between is simply preparation for the afterlife. If we are in Christ, we have a hope that this world can never possibly bring. Every hero’s story within Hebrews 11 is a story of faith pointing to a promise that God gave them. For many, this life was only a foreshadow of God’s ultimate call—to receive each one into glory. For their lives and ours, there are several takeaways as we consider that faith points us heavenward.
1. We have reason to be joyful because of heaven
Last week we talked about faith having to endure episodes of pain and strife. There is nowhere in Scripture that says life will be easy because we choose to follow Christ. In fact, I would argue that life as a Christian only becomes more difficult! But our true joy must be in Jesus, not our circumstances. I believe we come to expect trials but we must know that one day trials will cease. The promise of heaven means a place reunited with our Savior and I cannot think of anything more joyful and more worthy of anticipation than being with Him. Beyond the day-to-day and the ups and downs, we allow our faith not to be shaken as we live for eternity and not this life.
“He will wipe away every tear from their eyes. Death will be no more; grief, crying, and pain will be no more, because the previous things have passed away.” Revelation 21:4
2. We do not fear what the world fears
Biblical scholars and teachers much wiser than I are in the business of debating whether or not we are truly living in “the last days”. I’ve had times in my life where I’ve honestly been caught up in those debates and have even allowed them to become an idol in my thinking. I may not speak for everyone, but for me this thought pattern is not healthy. When I get too caught up in the current events playing out, I tend to get weighed down with a burden of fear.
Will or won’t this country attack the US?
Is some terroristic plot going to take the lives of me or my family?
Is this disease going to come here and wipe out millions?
As I start to get bogged down with the “what-if’s” of life, I realize that my fear overrides my faith and these thoughts are no different than those of the unbelieving world around me. No, as Christians we must not fear what this world fears because what non-Christians fear is rooted in unbelief and uncertainty. What I have in Christ is certain and unshakeable. The world does not have the truth and will always succumb to fear.
3. We must share our joy with others
Taking this last point into application, there is a need to share what we have with those around us. I’ve seen too many Christians within too many churches play the game of “us four and no more” meaning “let's not evangelize, let’s not tell others about Jesus because we have Him and that’s enough.” It’s a sad reality because each believer and each church that does this has turned inward. The Great Commission is not part of their mission. They have no vision and are simply dying. To be honest, fear again is a factor because the unknown world is too scary and too depraved to want to set foot in. Dear Christian brother and sister: as long as we have blood pumping in our veins and air in our lungs, we are called to share Christ! There is no expiration to the call. The joy that we have must be shared. It’s too much to keep it bottled up and locked inside. Pray for boldness and the ability to speak without fear. God will honor your prayer!
“In him we have boldness and confident access through faith in him.” Ephesians 3:12
I want to conclude this 4-part series by encouraging you in your journey of faith in Christ. My attempt and I believe God’s will in this past month, was simply to give some context to this very expansive topic of faith. My hope is to always make things practical and allow ideas from the Bible to become the moments where “the rubber meets the road” in your life and mine. I know God does that if I take the time to read the Bible and pray. I trust that He does that as well for you and as you approach Him in boldness, He is revealing His heart for you on a continual basis.
Faith really does begin with a promise and that promise leads us all the way into eternity. When the Holy Spirit first pricked your heart with the recognition of your own sin but also the remedy of the Savior’s blood, you were given access to a promise. Faith is what keeps you and holds you through each moment and it must be allowed to stretch your boundaries. It also must endure through the pain of hard times as difficulties point us to heaven; a place were pain is no more. Our hope is in Jesus and our lives are meant to display Him in everything we do.
I’m always grateful for the opportunity to take this journey with you! Please reach out and continue the conversation through email or online. God bless.
Other blogs in this series: