22 October 2014

In Heaven

When you consider the Christian view of Heaven it is interesting to note the place of the fruit of the Tree of Life in it. There is an accepted belief that when Christians come to Heaven (whether that be at the moment of death, or at the subsequent second coming of Christ) they will live their without tears, unhappiness or heartache forever.

In part this immortality seems dependent upon the fruit of the Tree of Life – the one that Adam and Eve were prevented from eating when cast out of the Garden of Eden. Now, either humans were more robust then, or the fruit had some lingering effect, because those two worthies lived to ripe old ages in the hundreds of years, as did the few generations after them.

And the LORD God said, "The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil. He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever."

Genesis 3:22 (NIV)

Heaven it seems will be built on the banks of the river of life that has the fruit growing alongside it.

Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations.

Revelation 22:1-2 (NIV)

Now of course this could all be metaphor, but it is a metaphor that has a powerful purpose as it speaks of dependency.

Many religions seem to think Heaven is all about unlimited power and eternal life without limits. Scientology thinks we become gods, as does Hinduism, Buddhism places us at one with the universe (god?) and it seems tempting to imagine ourselves attaining some level of perfection that makes us immune to normal issues.

But Christianity imagines, or at least paints the picture, of an eternal heaven where we are dependent upon the fruit of the Tree of of Life for our immortality.

He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.

Revelation 2:7 (NIV)

It seems ludicrous – what if we forgot to eat some for a week or two? How much can you eat, and what if some glutton gets more than their fair share?

There are certainly all sorts of potential issues with it, but we must remember this was part of a vision and not something given to us to take as a literal prediction of our future experience of Heaven.

What it does give us is an important idea, that even in Heaven we are still reliant upon God for succour and protection. Such dependence is not to be escaped from, but rather is to be embraced!

The Bible talks of what we can take to Heaven with us.

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

1 Corinthians 13:13

Love is the greatest thing we take with us to Heaven, and it turns out love is the thing we rely on in the kingdom of Heaven.

If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in him and he in God. And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him.

1 John 4:16 (NIV)

Jesus himself backed up the primacy of love, for God and each other, within the commandments when asked about this by a Pharisee.

One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: "Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?" Jesus replied: "'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.

Matthew 22:35-40 (NIV)

So we find that in Heaven we need to love and trust God, because we will rely on His blessings, and that our relationship with Him is the central pillar of our future as men and women made perfect and living forever by the banks of the river of the water of life.

05 January 2009

My Story - Jeff & Kylie

My good mate Jeff, and his wife Kylie, share their story about why they come to church:

23 July 2008

Real Men Life is on this week!

Real Men Life the 2008 men's conference for C3 Oxford Falls is on this Friday night and Saturday. Conferences like this are part of the reason mega-churches are so popular and successful. I'm part of the Real Men team, so I'd like to encourage anyone who can make it to go along. Friday night is free, and Saturday is only $85 if you register before Friday (otherwise $95) - writing material, drinks and food are included.

This is what the leader of Real Men, Greg French, has to say about the Life conference:

The irony of our time is that we have taller buildings but shorter tempers, bigger cities and less friends, wider roads but narrower viewpoints. We have larger houses and smaller families, more money but less time, more knowledge but less judgement, more experts yet more problems.

We’ve learned how to make a living but not a life, added years to life not life to years, been to the moon and back but not crossed the street to meet a neighbour.

We’ve conquered outer space but not inner space, have more degrees but less sense, talked too much and listened too little, loved seldom and hated too often. We’ve cleaned the air but polluted the soul, written more but learnt less, planned more but accomplished less, learned to rush but not to wait. We laugh little, drive fast, stay up late, get tired, read little, watch TV too much, and pray too seldom.

These are the days of fast foods and poor digestion, big men with small characters, steep profits and shallow relationships, disposable nappies and throwaway morality.

That can be the sum total of a man’s life. The colour and meaning of LIFE can be lost because we lose our perspective about what really matters. ‘Doing LIFE well’ doesn’t just happen. REALMEN ’08 conference ‘LIFE’ will help men adjust their worlds so as to enjoy the journey and do LIFE well. Look forward to seeing you there. It will be LIFE transforming!

Greg French

Here is the story of how one man's life has been transformed, through marriage, divorce and then eventually re-marrying his wife. The key? A relationship with Jesus Christ, and most importantly, with men he could learn from and relate to:

22 July 2008

A parable of 4 investments

I entered this presentation into SlideShare's World's Best Presentation Contest. If you like it then go and give it a vote!

Bless those who persecute you ...

It is great seeing a little church really living out the commandment of "bless those who persecute you" - Romans 12:14. Kinetic Church had a bunch of their stuff stolen earlier this year and went out of their way to launch a set of billboards addressed to the thief. The culmination of their campaign was this video:

from: ThinkChristian

09 July 2008

Change your nature, not your rules

I came across this great article Why Christians do not believe in morality today by Peter Sellick, an Anglican associate deacon:

I have said before that Christianity is not primarily a system of ethics, unlike Islam. Rather, it is a practice that transforms the individual by situating him in the story of God. It is this transformation that produces the moral life which we know we could not live if left by ourselves.


This is because the gospel forms our desires. We find that greed and the exercise of power have disappeared from our repertoire and we look forward to becoming people of peace, not people who are for peace but a people who are by their nature peaceable.

The point is that Christianity, because it involves an encounter with God, changes our nature, which trumps any planned change in the rules we live by. As the Bible puts it:

“I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.”

Ezekiel 36:26

This is the heart of Christianity, and actually forms one of the great criticisms of it, that the church is full of hypocrites (as my pastor has said, “It's best place for them!”). The point is that the transformation has an element of continuity to it:

“And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord's glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit. ”

2 Corinthians 3:18

Obviously this is classic Christian theology (actually basic knowledge for any believer), but it's rare to see it so well explained, and that in a secular source. Well done Peter!

20 June 2008

The best worship song. Ever.

OK, I may be a bit biased, but I love this one, it really sums up where we are all at with regards to Jesus:

We can all help ...