Posts belonging to Category Heaven



Jonathan Edwards on Degrees of Reward in heaven

John Piper writes:

I have recorded a section of Jonathan Edwards’ sermon on Romans 2:10. It lasts about seven minutes. The reason I recorded it is that I regard this section as the best thing I have ever read on the issue of varying degrees of reward and happiness and holiness in heaven. It is vintage Edwards. He has thought this through in an amazing way. It opens our eyes to the possibilities of heaven that we have never thought of before.

I listened to this selection from Edwards’ message yesterday and enjoyed it so much that I chased down the written version of the sermon on the internet for my own reference. You can listen to John Piper’s recording here, or you can read the actual passage below. (Or you can read along while listening if you prefer!)

I love reading Jonathan Edwards, and I like how Edwards explains the varying degrees of glory and reward in heaven, that there will be no envy in heaven to disrupt one person’s happiness over another person’s reward. Rather, because we will be perfected in love, we will be glad for the other person that he or she has received a greater reward.

However, I must admit I am struggling with Edwards’ statement that there will not only be varying degrees of glory and reward in heaven, but also varying degrees of happiness and holiness. Will one person really be happier in heaven than another? Will one person be holier than another? If Christ died not only to forgive our sins but also to make us holy, will he not make us all perfectly holy upon entering into heaven? (Philippians 1:6) Aren’t happiness and holiness different issues from glory and reward?

Anyways, those were some of my thoughts as I meditated on this portion of Edwards’ sermon. What do you think? (Click “continue reading” below to read the selection from Edwards’ message. Or, click here to read the full message at a different website.)

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The Power of a Question: “If you died today . . .”

Having been trained in Evangelism Explosion and as a frequent listener to WAFG radio when I lived in South Florida, I found the following paragraphs from the Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church press release on Dr. D. James Kennedy’s death very interesting:

Dr. Kennedy was born Nov. 3, 1930, but his Christian life did not begin until 1953. Sleeping late on a Sunday morning, his radio alarm went off and a preacher’s booming voice invaded his slumber. “Suppose you were to die today and stand before God and He were to ask you, ‘What right do you have to enter into My heaven?’—what would you say?”

Dr. Kennedy soon discovered that answer was to trust in Christ alone for eternal life, and shortly after he made that commitment was called into the Gospel ministry. Crediting this radio program for hearing the call to Christianity, he founded WAFG (90.3 FM) in 1974 as an outreach for Christ to the South Florida community.

Anyone who has taken E.E. (Evangelism Explosion) knows the two diagnostic questions that help you transition a conversation into sharing the gospel:

  1. “Have you come to the place in your spiritual life where you know for certain that if you were to die today you would go to heaven, or is that something you would say you’re still working on?”
  2. “Suppose you were to die today and stand before God and He were to say to you, ‘Why should I let you into My heaven?’ what would you say?”

I have personally seen the power of asking these questions to many people over the years. What I didn’t know is that God used a variation of these questions to bring Dr. Kennedy to faith! I also did not know that God used the medium of radio to bring this question to bear on Dr. Kennedy’s life, and that this was part of what inspired him to launch WAFG so many years later. What a wonderful testimony to God’s grace and how he works in our lives to advance his kingdom!

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3 Freedoms from Sin That All Christians Share

Here are three freedoms from sin that all Christians share:

1) Freedom from the penalty of sin. This freedom is rooted in the Christian’s past and relates to the believer’s justification. The penalty for sin is death, both physical death and spiritual death (i.e. separation from God). When we put our faith in Jesus Christ who died on the cross for our sin, however, we were justified – that is, declared righteous in God’s sight by faith. We were thus freed from the penalty for sin and granted new life with God. “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:23)

2) Freedom from the power of sin. This freedom is operational in the Christian’s present and relates to the believer’s sanctification. Before we come to Christ, we are dead in transgressions and sins and are in fact slaves to sin. When we receive new life in Christ, however, we are sanctified – that is, set apart for God and holiness rather than for sin and death. We are thus set free from the power of sin and through the Holy Spirit are given the ability to live a holy life. “When you were slaves to sin, you were free from the control of righteousness. What benefit did you reap at that time from the things you are now ashamed of? Those things result in death! But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves to God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life.” (Romans 6:20-22)

3) Freedom from the presence of sin. This freedom will be fulfilled in the Christian’s future and relates to the believer’s glorification. Although we may be free from the power of sin in the present, we still struggle with a sinful nature in the midst of a sinful world. When we enter God’s presence in heaven, however, we will be glorified – that is, changed to be like Jesus Christ in true righteousness and placed in a perfect environment of righteousness and holiness. We will thus be free from the presence of sin both within us and around us. “Our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.” (Philippians 3:20-21)

Praise God for the freedoms we share as believers in Jesus Christ!