Intent and Reality
Christís dying proclamation, ďIt is finished.Ē, changed the history of the world, for the new covenant of salvation was complete. God had sent His son, Jesus Christ, to become man and shed His blood on the cross to atone for the sins of all mankind. We now receive the forgiveness of sins as a free gift of grace. Do we believe in Jesus, are we sorry for our sins, is our primary desire to follow our Lordís commands, to put Jesus Christ first in everything we do? Symbolism is over and we have entered into the reality of the new covenant. The reality that even when we love the Lord with all of our hearts, we will still sin because of our human flesh. The reality that Jesus freed us from sin through His death on the cross. The reality that freedom from sin depends only on the intent and desire in our hearts.
The intent in oneís heart is an open book to our Master only. Two thieves were crucified with Jesus. One thief ridiculed Jesus, telling him to use His power to save them. The second thief simply asked Jesus to remember him. One thief was thinking of only what Jesus could do for him on earth, the other thief believed in our Savior and wanted to be with Him in His Kingdom. Many people watching the executions believed both thieves would soon wake up in hell. Even the thief who recanted to Jesus had not done anything that was worthy of receiving Godís blessings. This man had been the scum of the earth and openly admitted he deserved the punishment that was being administered to him. Only Jesus knew the thiefís heart had changed, that his faith was real. Because of this change, the gates of Paradise were opened to this forgiven thief. Reality had begun, it doesnít matter who you are, it doesnít matter what you have done, it doesnít matter if you find Christ with your dying breath. There is nothing you have to do to be saved, except open your heart to Jesus and truly accept Him. Our Savior knows our intent and this alone will save or condemn us.
The hardest concept to fathom is that there are two elements that make up our existence, the physical world and the spiritual realm. The importance of these elements is reversed in the sentence above, just as most of the world views it today. It is hard to bring the spiritual realm into daily reality because it is an emotion, an intent, a feeling in your heart. It is your soul that lives within your physical body, the spirit of life you possess. This spirit will live forever, once on earth and then through all eternity in either Heaven or hell. Jesus told us to seek His Kingdom first and then all other things will be given us. Measure yourself in the spiritual world of our Lord, not in the physical world of man. This physical world was created by God, and when itís purpose has been fulfilled the world will be no more. We are all at varying levels in our earthly lives. Many are so immersed with the pleasures of life they believe these enjoyments will never end for them. On the other end of the spectrum are those with seemingly insurmountable problems, some believing the only answer is suicide. In between is the majority trying to climb the status ladder of an enjoyable life. But many are so busy concentrating on the next rung up that they lose all perspective of their lives. There is one common denominator between all people. We let physical desires control our spiritual needs. It is so easy to lose oneís soul to the temptations and pleasures of this world. The only cure is to get away from this earthly domain where Satanís snares entrap us. We must spiritually come and be healed by the grace of Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit wants to bring us into our Masterís Spiritual Kingdom, wants to introduce us to the love of Jesus Christ. This unbelievable love enables us to totally submit to our Savior. To save your soul you must find it first, then humbly give it to Jesus Christ.
The most important truth man can ever learn is Christís Church is a spiritual kingdom, not a physical kingdom on earth. Christís one Holy Church is the souls of all Christians, those living and those already in Heaven. This church in not physical nor can it be contained in any building. It is spiritual, spanning both Heaven and earth. We comprehend the spiritual and physical domains by visualizing our spirit leaving our body and ascending into Heaven. Here we can look down on the world and the physical shell our body lives in. We can see all the evil in the world, the sinful cravings of our body. We escape to our Lordís Spiritual Kingdom to rejuvenate our spirit for the worldly battle still ahead. Here we worship our Savior with all the heavenly hosts. Here we can talk quietly, intimately, and privately with Jesus. We trust Him to guide us through our mortal lives. We understand the reality that the earth and our physical body are just a temporary residing place for our eternal soul. We understand how Satan tries to use our bodyís physical desires, ambition and pleasures to divert us from heavenly solitude with our Master. The reality that we are too weak to fight these evil desires without our Saviorís help. We feel the reality of the Holy Spirit entering our hearts through baptism, giving us the faith to believe in Jesus Christ. We spiritually eat and drink the reality of Christís body and blood in the bread and wine we partake in the Lordís Supper. We are strengthened with the reality that Christís body makes us one with all Christendom. We are relieved with the reality that His blood has forgiven us all our sins, our slate is clean once more. We comprehend the reality that faith is the most important ingredient in our lives, in our worship, in baptism and the Lordís Supper, not ceremonial symbolism or rules. As our faith matures we are able to live more and more in the spiritual world, forsaking the physical world. This spiritual faith enables us to do what our Master intended, but also to know we will not always do what is right. Faith to know we will be always forgiven by the intentions of a Christian heart, faith to know our sins are washed away by the grace of a loving Savior.
There are many realities that must be understood to maintain a Christian life. Letís start with the basic reality of identifying who a Christian really is. Is one a Christian because they can tell us what church they are a member of, elaborate about all the good they do for others, or proudly proclaim what a good life they live? Maybe we can recognize Christian leaders by the clerical collar they wear. Then there are those who complain about all of the trouble going on in the world, all the problems that have happened in their life. Surely we can assume they are Christians, for bad things bother them. Or we can take a look at the opposite side of the road, those who go along with the flow. Is one a Christian because they are energetic and full of life, letting all know it is not boring being a Christian? Never letting their beliefs block some relief from the dreariness of the world for others, for those they care about. But if you know Jesus Christ, people will not notice you at all. They will only see the love of your Savior coming through you, the peace and contentment the Lord spiritually provides you. Christís love is shown daily through your life as you love and help others, even those who do wrong to you. When you do more than your share without complaining. In your happiness for all the blessings the Lord bestows on you. As you accept the many sorrows and troubles in your life, overcoming them with a faith that returns the smile on your face. This Christian lifestyle can only be maintained when it is spiritually fed by escaping to be with our Master, His Holy Church.
The reality that the believerís body is the temple of the Holy Spirit. All the worldly church buildings, altars, crosses, special places, are just a convenience, a quiet spot for reflection, but of no spiritual consequence. The temple and the altar were needed until Jesus became the sacrificial lamb upon the altar. But we donít celebrate Christís death, He is no longer on the altar. We celebrate His resurrection, the altar is needed no more. We look up to Heaven for our Savior, humbly and reverently bowing our heads to Him. We are in the spiritual reality of the grace of Jesus Christ. Where Jesus can come directly into our lives, directly into our hearts. The reality that Jesus knows the motives behind our actions before we can even commit them. For all of our intentions pass directly in front of Jesus if He lives in our hearts. Forgiveness and blessing are given instantly by a loving Savior according to the spiritual sincerity in our hearts. Holiness now evolves from the spiritual world. God is holy, His heavenly entourage is holy, and the forgiven souls of contrite sinners are holy. The physical world can do nothing to save us. There is nothing physical we can do to earn blessings. For only that which is done out of spiritual love to Jesus is pleasing to our God. There is nothing physical the world has to offer a Christian, except a body which the Lord will glorify for all believers immortal souls to live in His glorious Kingdom.
The reality the true church meets when two or more are gathered in His name. Christís church meets anytime believing sinners come into His spiritual realm. Whether it is for forgiveness, thankfulness, strength to carry on, help with problems, or merely encouragement for all our individual challenges ahead. Whether it be specific or general requests, or just the pleasure of spiritually being united with others in Christ. Christians use the power of Christís spiritual love to do His physical mission on earth. This love provides physical healing for our bodies, the world. This love provides us the physical necessities needed to carry on our existence. This love opens our hearts to help the needy, to give to the poor, to visit the sick, those in prison, to spread our Masterís love to all.
The reality that the leaders who live spiritually in the Lord should lead the church. We pray that our Master would grant us leaders who live in the spiritual grace of Jesus Christ. Leaders who follow the Bible, not allowing human reason to creep into the truth, the beliefs of the church. Leaders who present the spiritual message of our Lord, bypassing traditions, and societyís pressure to conform. Leaders who avoid quarrels, who are willing to step down if others can settle matter with less bickering. Leaders who extol the simplicity of our Masterís plan to save us, refusing the temptation to make it more exciting, more appealing. Leaders who encourage all to discretely give out of love, with no expectations of receiving anything in return. Leaders who understand that the intention in oneís heart is more spiritually binding than a pledge at the altar, a pledge at any church, a pledge at any other important place. Leaderís who understand humility and remorse for oneís sins are more acceptable to our Master than all physical actions denoting reverence that can be performed. Leaders who willingly become servants to all, assisting them in their search for the truth of Jesus Christ. Leaders who never exploit their position, their importance, their power. Leaders who understand the most important message of all. That as all struggle through this physical world, we can only be freed when all are one spiritual body with Jesus Christ.
The reality that our Master gave us a command. Go tell all people about Jesus Christ. There are many who believe they are not qualified, or do not know how to reach out to people. I have a few questions for you. Do you really believe in Jesus, do you really believe that He arose from the grave? Do you really believe that He has the power to stop the wind, calm the sea, heal the sick, make the dead come back to life, give men the gift of the Holy Spirit to enlighten the world? We all know the Lord has the power to give us the courage to talk to others about His love. The ability to grant us the words to help others open their hearts to the Holy Spirit. One can go to many training sessions becoming equipped to tell others about Christ. Or one may simply open their heart to the Holy Spirit and find the words already on their tongue. Words to tell others how great our Savior is. We must also remember that our daily life is a sermon to all around. The best representatives are ones who believe in what they say. The conversion to faith in Jesus Christ requires an emotional commitment. We must openly tell others how Jesus Christ has affected our lives. All Christians have an experience, a story of how our Saviorís love has given them joy, peace, and contentment. How Christís love has pulled them through their troubles and sorrows. Christians can relate how simple it is for the Holy Spirit to open our hearts and allow Jesus to enter in. But how hard it is to follow in Christís footsteps. That all will struggle to obey His commands, that all fall short. But Jesus will forgive our sins, offering to those who persevere the keys to Paradise. The more we tell others about Jesus, the more it becomes part of our own personality. A personality that shows the love of Jesus shining through us.
Then there is the greatest reality of all. The reality of Heaven. There are three questions one has to answer honestly in order to absorb the reality of Heaven. Do we really believe that being with Jesus Christ is the greatest gift one can have? Our Master said we must love Him more than our self, spouse, sons, daughters, anyone else, or any other thing. The greatest place to be is in His loving care. The second question is do we really believe Heaven is a much greater place to live than earth? Jesus told us that He is preparing an eternal home for us, such a beautiful place that man could not even fathom its glories. Where there would be no pain or suffering, where the trials and tribulations of the world are no more. The third question is do we have Christís love in our hearts so we genuinely love others as much as ourselves? With Christian love we want what is best for our children, our families, friends, and all people, not just ourselves. Those in Christ will strive to answer these three questions in the affirmative, knowing they may need Christís loving care when their faith is tested by losing a loved one.
†Dying is just about a soul leaving its temporary living place in oneís body, and the body temporarily put to rest on earth. Just as the angel told the women who came to Christís tomb not to fear, Jesus has risen. We also should have no fear of death. For death is the fulfillment of our lives, when we are able to go directly to our home in Heaven. Heaven, where spiritually we have already been worshiping with Jesus and His Church. Heaven, where we will live in such a glorious setting that we canít even comprehend its beauty. Heaven, where we will live beyond our ultimate dreams of perfection, contentment, satisfaction. Heaven where we will be together with all the family of Jesus Christ. And most important of all, we will all be with Jesus, we will all be covered with His love. When a believer dies the only pain and sorrow is for the loved ones left behind on earth, the ones who desire more time on earth with those Jesus has called home. Even Jesus was moved by the pain of the family left behind by Lazarus. For those who have a very tough time when Jesus takes home a young child, remember they are going into the loving care of Jesus. Try and imagine what the child would say when they are reunited with their loved ones once more in Heaven.
ď I am so glad to see you. It is so much fun being up here in Heaven. I donít have any chores to do, no homework to catch up on. I never get sick and there is no pain up here. Jesus has taken such good care of me and I enjoy His company so much. He has given me peace and contentment by allowing me to understand His will. There are so many of our family and friends to be with. This is such a great place to be.
I am sorry I didnít have more time to be with you on earth. But I am so glad you brought me to the Lord. Jesus knew me right away and gently took me in His arms while telling me my job on earth was done, that He now needed me here with Him in Heaven.
Iím sorry that you were sad that Jesus called me home so soon. Iím so glad you didnít get mad at Him for taking me, that you were able to accept His will. For what is 50 years on earth when we can live together eternally with Jesus in Heaven. We will have a million, even a billion earthly years here. I canít even comprehend this much earthly time, but no longer have to worry about it. For there is no time in Heaven, itís just forever. I knew deep down with the faith you have in our Lord, you would understand. For you would never deprive me of any time I could have with Jesus. Itís so good to be with you again. Let me show you around Godís great Kingdom.Ē
In concluding this book I realize how my human nature has made me slow to complete my Masterís work here on earth. That it has cost me many of the blessings my Savior wanted to give me. But I know the Lord still has a small quiet corner laid away in Heaven for me. A corner that will be beyond all expectations of joy that I could ever imagine. Do not play any sad or morbid music for me after I am with my Maker. Just sing praises to our Lord and stand in awe of Christí love that can save such a fool as I am And last but not least, never visit any Christianís grave and look down at their burial plot to give them last respects, to talk to them, or feel close to them. They are not there. Look up to Heaven, that is where their residence is. They have not left you behind. They are patiently waiting to rejoice with you when Jesus calls you home to Heaven. Believe in the reality of our Savior, for all believers have been freed by Jesus Christ. Freed to live with Him forever.