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Welcome to week 3 of my asinine questions.
I brought the following question up during a Wednesday night men’s bible study that I have belonged to for about 3 years now. The question:
When we reach heaven, will we still have freewill to choose?
That question needs a little fleshing out to make more sense, so consider these points:
- This question is about the ability to choose to obey or not
- Heaven in our minds is purportedly perfect and free from sin
- Angels appear to have freewill as Lucifer and the third of the heavens that were cast out should attest
- What do our thoughts on this question say about our beliefs on the character of God?
So, do we lose freewill? Or is it more of the fact of having lived a life here on the fallen earth that by comparison there really is no choice as it would be like choosing between a plate of dog feces or brownies for dessert?
Feel free to weigh in on your thoughts. Don’t be afraid to tell me if you feel this is a silly question that needs no answer.
Yesterday morning as I was driving to meet with a friend for breakfast, I hit the CD button on my radio and a Phil Wickham song began playing. While I was enjoying the song, I was also wishing that for just a moment I could sing like Phil.
But then I had this thought, one day the personalities will disappear and there will be a great throng that will worship as one before God’s throne.
No more big name worship leaders.
No more famous pastors.
No more published philosophers making the media circuit.
No more TV programs hyping their brand of Jesus.
In short, no more cult of personality.
Just one throng worshiping for the one reason that unites them.
The end of chapter 20 in Revelations details how the dead in Christ will one day stand before the Great White Throne in judgment. The books will be laid out and the details of the lives of those who lived a life apart from Christ will be used to pronounce a sentence that is hard to fathom.
I began the class I was teaching with this question:
Do you believe in a literal heaven and a literal hell as detailed in the bible?
There were about 20 adults in attendance and everyone of them said, “Yes”.
Chapter 21 of the same book begins with a description of the new heaven and earth that those alive in Christ will enter. I don’t think its an accident that those two different views are juxtaposed so closely together. As believers we can sit and daydream about what heaven will be like and know with a certainty that our expectations aren’t even a hint of the beauty and perfection that we will witness one day. We will be in the presence of God, the provider of everything Good. There will be no more sorrow, tears, or pain. We will have gained everything.
But before those set of verses that bring us such joy are those verses that detail how the souls of the lost will be cast into the lake of fire. We can’t soften it or philosophize it away. Eternal suffering instead of eternal joy awaits those who have rejected Christ. They will never experience anything good again…. EVER. They will spend eternity dying in the misery of knowing that they missed eternal joy. I believe that they will also dwell on the pain of standing before a righteous and holy God with no excuse for the sins committed in their lives. As much as we cannot fathom the perfection of heaven, I don’t believe we can fathom the complete and utter horror of standing before God in that moment knowing the wretchedness of our sins.
I also don’t think we can fathom the hopelessness that hell will be.
Christ had this to say about believers:
“He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.’ “
How many people that we claim friendship with or are family to, are walking the path that leads to eternal damnation? Their futures are on a collision course with fire and we have the ability to impact them because we contain ‘rivers of living water’.
Are our hearts broken before God for those we love? Or those we meet on a day-to-day basis? Truly, are we justly moved to action by a factual belief of what awaits those who will face God guilty in their own sins?
Here is the thing, our motivation is not about helping people escape the fires of hell, though that is a great blessing, nor is it about gaining the splendors of heaven. Revelations chapter 21 verse 7 says this:
He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son.
Do we live like we believe that we hold rivers of living water that lead to an inheritance of all things? Do we reflect the joy that should envelop us when we consider that last phrase, ‘and I will be his God, and he shall be my son’?
We can offer everything, through Christ, to those who have nothing.
We have a white lilac bush that we planted just outside a window in the living room. We planted it there because we knew one day that we would be able to enjoy their fragrance as we sat relaxing there. This morning my wife opened that window and what a lovely reminder that beauty comes in so many forms. Touch.Smell.Taste.Sound.Sight.
Lilacs – beautiful to see but even more beautiful to smell.
I want you to think about the worst smell you have ever encountered. For me it is either the wall of odor that I walked into while entering the men’s restroom yesterday or the odor of the fruit known as Durian. Trust me, if you have ever smelled durian you would see why those two go together so well.
Maybe you have a lot of odors that just make you cringe. What would happen if you could collect all those odors at one time and throw them in a bag? How awful would that be?
Imagine a life form that lived in that plastic bag and all it knew was those different odors. Its whole experience was wrapped up in what it could encounter in that plastic bag. To it, some of the odors that we would detest would seem like sweet perfume compared to another. Take that life form out of its world and let it experience just one whiff of a lilac bush and try to imagine the thoughts it would have and the struggle it would go through to explain to the other lifeforms in the bag what it had experienced.
I think heaven is like that. One whiff would be more than our ability to describe.