I believe in the life everlasting – The right attitude

When you attend a memorial service, do you ponder about your own mortality? When someone shares with you about his or her illness, do you imagine how you would handle yourself in that situation? When you hear about the unexpected death of people healthier and younger than you, do you think about how we have no control of our life and death? 

What should we do? How should we behave? Is there anything that we should do or say? When we join with the universal church and declare that we believe in the life everlasting, we are doing exactly what we are supposed to do. We are not doing something just for us; we are doing something for the others who are listening. That is the right attitude that we should have

Paul ends this topic with these words, “Therefore encourage each other with these words. 1Thessalonians 4:18.”When we have knowledge and hope in the life everlasting the next step is to share that with other people.

That belief and assurance comforts me, and it should comfort others. This last element is the consequence of the first two before, knowledge and hope. Because we know what is going on, because we know who is in control of everything, because we hope that things will be all right, we not only have comfort but also we can comfort other people.

We become the instruments of God to bring comfort to those who are suffering with doubts and fears about the life everlasting. This is what the apostle Paul has to say, “[3] Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, [4] who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. 2 Corinthians 1:3-4.”

Our attitude is to bring comfort to those who are heartbroken. It does not mean that we will preach and teach during the grieving time, but they will know that we have the answers for their doubts and fears. Maybe we will just be there beside them, listening, crying, and mourning. They will know, they will feel, they will understand.

But we have to be ready at any time to give answers to questions about our hope in the life everlasting. This is what Peter wrote: “1Pet. 3:15But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for thehopethat you have. But do this with gentleness and respect,”During those sad and dark times people will look for explanations, some light at the end of the tunnel. We should be able to share with them what we believe, what we know, and where our hope is.

If you have the right knowledge, the right hope, and the right attitude, you will not have fear or doubts when you recite the Apostles’ Creed saying: “I believe in the life everlasting.”You will be filled with a sound conviction and an exuberant joy.

Have a blessed week,Pastor Lucas

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I believe in the life everlasting – The right hope

Despair – when we lose all hope; when we do not see a way out; when we feel that our options are gone. Every time that we talk about the life everlasting a few people have questions and doubts about what is coming after death.

In the survey by the Barna Research Group we find that only 64% believe they will go to Heaven. The challenge is, when asked how they will get there, these are the answers that they gave:

43% believe they will go to Heaven because they have “confessed their sins and accepted Jesus Christ as their savior.”

15% believe they will go to Heaven because “they tried to obey the 10 Commandments.”

15% believe they will go to Heaven because “they are basically a good person.”

6% believe that “God loves all people and will not let them perish.”

They want to give the right answer, but they are still not sure how they will get there, if they will get there at all.

When Paul wrote to the Thessalonians about the life everlasting he made clear that they should have not only the right knowledge but also the right hope.

The second element that Paul mentioned in that text is the right hope. This is what he wrote in the 1Thessalonians 4:13 “Brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep, or to grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope.”He did not want them to grieve like everybody else who have no hope. He wanted then to have the right hope.

It is important for us to know that hope is not wishful thinking. Hope is not positive thinking. Hope is based on faith and knowledge. Hope is in something that I do not have yet, but I know that I will have it. Hope is closely related to faith, because faith gives the certainty for our hopes.

Without hope grief will turn into desperation. We will not know what to expect. We will not know if our beloved ones are all right. We will not know if we will see our beloved ones again. As you can see hope is a very important element in our belief in life everlasting.

Job adds to our knowledge of hope. Here is the whole text where he affirms his belief in the life everlasting: “[25] I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand upon the earth. [26] And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God; [27] I myself will see him with my own eyes–I, and not another. How my heart yearns within me! Job 19: 25a – 27.”He knows that his redeemer lives and he has hope that one day he will stand up before God, with his resurrected body. Job had hope in the resurrection of the body.

My friend, do not despair, our hope does not depend on us, or in what we do. Our hope depends on Him who lives in us, Christ Jesus Himself. This is what Paul wrote: To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. Colossians 1:27.”

Have a blessed week,

Pastor Lucas

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I believe in the life everlasting – The right knowledge

Ignorance – This is the first hurdle that we face when we talk about the everlasting life. People just do not know what is on the other side, and this is why they feel uncomfortable when we talk about that.

These are other results of the survey by the Barna Research Group about the Destination after death:

76% believe that Heaven exists.

71% believe that Hell exists.

64% believe they will go to Heaven.

5% believe that they will come back as another life form.

5% believe they will simply cease to exist.

24% admitted that they have “no idea” what will happen after they die.

As you can see 24% have no clue what is going to happen. This is why the apostle Paul began his text to the Thessalonians with this verse: “1Thessalonians 4:13 – Brothers, we do not want you to be ignorantabout those who fall asleep,”The first element that Paul mentions is the right knowledge.

He did not want them to be ignorant. He knew that the lack of knowledge was their biggest problem to understanding what is going to happen after death. Knowledge is the light that dissipates the darkness of doubts and fears.

The amount of doubt that we see in our churches and in Christianity nowadays is caused by ignorance. We do not know, and we do not want to know the truth. 

And then, when a crisis comes along we grab the first theology and idea that we find to make us feel good. It does not matter if those ideas are contradictory, we will hang on to them as long as we can until we feel better.

Next time, maybe we will grab something totally different and do the same. We just need something to appease the disturbance in our soul and in our heart. The challenge with this attitude is that deep in our hearts we know that those ideas do not give us real answers to our questions. They only make us feel better for a while. They work like painkillers of the soul. They do not resolve the problem, but just alleviate the pain. 

If we want to deal with the real questions and want to get real answers we must know the truth. We need a foundation, a resource that we can trust. 

It was in a desperate situation when Job had lost everything and everyone and was about to die with a terrible illness that he declared, “[25] I know that my Redeemer lives, Job 19:25a.”His faith and belief was authenticated by the knowledge of his Redeemer. The apostle Paul wrote something like that, when he was condemned to death. He wrote to Timothy, his pupil, this beautiful text: “2Tim. 1:12That is whyI am suffering asI am. YetI am not ashamed, becauseI knowwhomI have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard whatIhave entrusted to him for that day.”

We need to know that there is Someone, beyond and above us, Someone who has control of both sides of history. Job calls Him “my Redeemer”, Paul says that he put his faith in Him, and “He is able to guard what I have entrusted to him for that day.”

Do you know Him? Do you trust Him?

Have a blessed week,

Pastor Lucas

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I believe in the life everlasting

Every Sunday people all over the world recite the Apostles’ Creed during the service. During that special moment in our worship service we affirm, “I believe in the resurrection of the body; and the life everlasting. Amen.” This is a very important declaration that has been made by the church throughout history – The belief in the life after death.

We have been experiencing so many deaths in our churches, in our communities, in our country, and in our world, that I firmly believe that we should not avoid talking about this subject. Even though people, sometimes, do not like to talk about it, they still have their beliefs on this topic.

I would like to share with you some results of a survey by the Barna Research Group:

The Afterlife

81% believe in an afterlife of some sort.

9% said life after death may exist.

10% contend that there is no form of life after one dies on earth.

79% agreed with the statement “every person has a soul that will live forever, either in God’s presence or absence.”

As you can see, the majority believes that there is some sort of afterlife. They just are not sure what kind it is. It is interesting that people believe, but are not sure. They have many doubts about what is going to happen after we die.

That is the biggest challenge that we face, when we have that doubt it will produce fear and insecurity about our destiny. Our beliefs become just a wishful thinking. We can only hope for the best.

We are not alone in this kind of feeling. In the New Testament there was a church that was facing this same struggle. Because of that Paul wrote a letter to them to help to elucidate those doubts.  They were not sure about their final destination. They wanted to know what happened with their loved ones that died. Paul, then, decided to help them to understand things about the life everlasting. 

Here is the text: “[13] Brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep, or to grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope. 

[14] We believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. 

[15] According to the Lord’s own word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left till the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. 

[16] For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 

[17] After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. 

[18] Therefore encourage each other with these words. 1Thessalonians 4: 13-18.”

This text is extremely rich about this topic. It is so rich that we will come back to it again in the weeks to come.

In Brazil we have a proverb that goes like this: “Para morrer basta estar vivo.”The best translation would be: “All you need to die is to be alive.” It means that you cannot do anything about death, the only thing that you can do is to be alive. Death will find us all.

This is why it is so important to be sure that what you confess in the Apostles’ Creed reflects the belief of your heart.

Have a blessed week,

Pastor Lucas

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Who will be in Heaven? – Human Beings

“Will I see and recognize my family and friends in Heaven?” This is a question that many people ask when we talk about Heaven. The answer is a strong and resounding YES! We will see and recognize our family and friends in Heaven, but not only them. John in his vision gives us a glimpse of who else will be there.

            A – People From Every Time and Every Place

We will see people from every time and from every place on the earth. This is what he saw: “And they sang a new song: “You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased men for God from every tribe and language and people and nation.” Revelation 5:9.” 

That does not mean that everybody from everywhere will be saved. It means that God has disciples and followers in every generation and in every part of the world.

In 1986, I was invited to attend a Billy Graham conference for Itinerant Evangelists in Amsterdam. There were more than 100 countries represented in that event. The part that most marked that event for me was the worship. Each one of us received the songs in our own languages, so when we started singing we were able to hear the song with different sounds, tones, and in different languages. It was something extraordinary. For me it was something like an anteroom of Heaven. We knew what everyone was singing, but we were praising God and singing in our own languages.

            B – Saved By the Blood of Christ

John makes clear for us that people will be there not because they were good or religious. The people that will be there are the ones saved by the Blood of Christ. This is what John wrote: “I answered, “Sir, you know.” And he said, “These are they who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.” Revelation 7:14.” And in the text mentioned earlier: “and with your blood you purchased men for God” Revelation 5:9.”

They were saved by the sacrifice of Christ. They were born again, redeemed by the works of Christ in their favor. They are the ones who accepted Jesus as their Lord and Savior, and followed Him.

It is very important for us to know that it is not everybody that will be there. The Bible states clearly that some people will stay out. Here are a few texts that states that truth in a very plain way:

“and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.” Galatians 5:21.”

“For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person–such a man is an idolater–has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.” Ephesians 5:5.”

“Outside are the dogs, those who practice magic arts, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idolaters and everyone who loves and practices falsehood.” Revelation 22:15.”

They will not be there because they did not want to believe in God, they did not want to accept what Jesus did for them, and they did not want to obey the Gospel.

What is important for us to understand is that everyone who will be in Heaven will be there only because of the grace and mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ, and that mercy and grace are still available for everyone who really wants to go there.

Have a blessed week,

Pastor Lucas

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Who will be in Heaven? – Heavenly Beings

“Will my pet be in Heaven?” This is a very common question that we are asked when the subject is Heaven. Those who love their dogs, cats, and other animals, always question if they will be in Heaven with them.

The answer to that question is a little bit complicated, since we do not have a lot of information about the subject. For those who believe that the pets will not be there they reference the text in Ecclesiastes 3:21. They think that the text states the different destination between the human spirit and the spirits of the beasts or animals. We certainly cannot be sure about that.

John saw many incredible creatures in Heaven. I believe that we also will be able to see those Heavenly beings. Beings that we never saw now will be visible to our eyes. They are tremendous creatures that are there to serve and adore God.

            A – Angels

The first creatures that we will see there are the Angels. We will see mighty ones and not just a few of them, but millions of them. Look what John has to say about that: “Then I looked and heard the voice of many angels, numbering thousands upon thousands, and ten thousand times ten thousand. They encircled the throne and the living creatures and the elders. Revelation 5:11.” If you read the Book of Revelation you will find them talking with John, worshiping, singing, and serving. It will be a tremendous experience to see those creatures.

            B – Living Creatures

With the Angels we will see the Living Creatures. They are beings that look totally different. We do not know for sure if they are just symbols or they are real beings, but John mentions them many times. Here are some of the texts: “[6] Also before the throne there was what looked like a sea of glass, clear as crystal. In the center, around the throne, were four living creatures, and they were covered with eyes, in front and in back. [7] The first living creature was like a lion, the second was like an ox, the third had a face like a man, the fourth was like a flying eagle. [8] Each of the four living creatures had six wings and was covered with eyes all around, even under his wings. Day and night they never stop saying: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come. Revelation 4:6-8” In another text he mentions them: “Then I saw a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain, standing in the center of the throne, encircled by the four living creatures and the elders. He had seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth. Revelation 5:6.”

When we talk about those creatures the important question is: Did John really see them? Or was he just trying to interpret what he saw for the rest of us? I believe that many things in the Book of Revelation are symbolic, but I also believe that John saw things that were beyond his imagination, and we will be able to see them too. Our eyes will be opened and we will be astonished to see the beauty of Heaven.

Have a blessed week,

Pastor Lucas

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Who will be in Heaven? – God

So far, in our human experience, we are experiencing just glimpses of God, His person, His grace, power, and mercy. Most of what we learn about Him is in His Word. In Heaven it will be different. We will be able to experience His fullness. Don’t you look forward to that? It will be wonderful! No, it will be more than that. Our vocabulary will need to be rebuilt to describe the manifestation of God.

God dwells in Heaven: “Hear the supplication of your servant and of your people Israel when they pray toward this place. Hear from heaven, your dwelling place, and when you hear, forgive. 1 Kings 8:30.”The Bible tells us that God is everywhere, so it would not be a big surprise to find out that God is in Heaven. 

Heaven is where His throne is located. When we read what John wrote in the book of Revelation the first person identified in Heaven is God. Here is the text: “[6] Then I saw a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain, standing in the center of the throne, encircled by the four living creatures and the elders. He had seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth. [7] He came and took the scroll from the right hand of him who sat on the throne. Rev. 5: 6-7.”

That means the whole Trinity will be there. 

            A – The Father

The Father will be there, even though we will not be able to see Him. Jesus made clear that the Father was in Heaven: “At that time Jesus said, “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. Matthew 11:25.”In the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus made clear that the Father is in Heaven: “This, then, is how you should pray:” ‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, Matthew 6:9.”

            B – The Holy Spirit

The other person of the Trinity that will be there is the Holy Spirit. We also will not be able to see Him. In the text that we cited above we have John describing Jesus, the Lamb of God, and His Spirit. This is how he described Him: He had seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth. Vr.6.” In another place he writes: “The Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let him who hears say, “Come!” Whoever is thirsty, let him come; and whoever wishes, let him take the free gift of the water of life. Revelation 22:17.”

            C – The Son, Jesus Christ

Jesus Christ, the Son of God also will be there. He is the manifestation of God, the image of God. He is the One that we will see there. The Bible makes clear that Jesus is in Heaven, and will be there to welcome us. “For Christ did not enter a man-made sanctuary that was only a copy of the true one; he entered heaven itself, now to appear for us in God’s presence. Hebrews 9:24.”Peter confirms this statement in his letter, “who has gone into heaven and is at God’s right hand–with angels, authorities and powers in submission to him. 1 Peter 3:22.”

When Stephen was about to be stoned to death because of his testimony, something extraordinary happened. This is how Luke in the Book of Acts tells us: “But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God.“Look,” he said, “I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of GodActs 7:55-56.”Some people believe that Jesus was standing to welcome Stephen in Heaven. Yes, Jesus will be there to welcome His children home.

Have a blessed week,

Pastor Lucas

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Who will be in Heaven?

33 times. This is the number of times that John wrote: “I saw”in the book of Revelation. The vision that the apostle John had in Heaven must have been something extraordinary. The colors, the sound, the people, and the creatures must have been incredible.

In chapter four we have this invitation: “Rev. 4:1After this I looked, and there before me was a door standing open in heaven. And the voice I had first heard speaking to me like a trumpet said, “Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after this.”John accepted the invitation, as if he could decline it. When he got there he described in the best way that he could what Heaven looks like, what would happen in the future, and who was there.

If you could make a list of people that would be in Heaven, who would be on that list? Well someone made a survey and here is a partial list:

  1. Those who have lived a good life.
  2. Those who have always tried to do their best.
  3. Those who believe in God.
  4. Those who believe in any God.
  5. Those who believe that Jesus died and rose again.
  6. Good Protestants.
  7. Good Catholics.
  8. Good Muslims.
  9. Nobody – there isn’t a heaven!
  10. My dear old Mum.
  11. My dear old Dad.

Maybe you are thinking that one or more of these people are going to be in heaven. But we cannot guarantee their presence there just  based on one of these aspects. Some of them we would love to have there, and some of them we don’t. This is why it is so important to know that the decision is not in our hands, but in God’s hands. His hands are hands of grace and mercy, but also just and righteous. He knows best.

In Revelation chapter 5, verses 6-14, John shares with us the first things that he saw in Heaven. This text helps us to know who will be in Heaven. The text tells us what the Apostle John saw there, and not only that, it helps us to understand what will be the first things that we will see there when we arrive. Here is the text:

“[6] Then I saw a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain, standing in the center of the throne, encircled by the four living creatures and the elders. He had seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth. [7] He came and took the scroll from the right hand of him who sat on the throne. [8] And when he had taken it, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. Each one had a harp and they were holding golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. [9] And they sang a new song: “You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased men for God from every tribe and language and people and nation. [10] You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God, and they will reign on the earth.”

[11] Then I looked and heard the voice of many angels, numbering thousands upon thousands, and ten thousand times ten thousand. They encircled the throne and the living creatures and the elders. [12] In a loud voice they sang: “Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!”

[13] Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them, singing: “To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honor and glory and power, for ever and ever!” [14] The four living creatures said, “Amen,” and the elders fell down and worshiped.”

Have a blessed week,

Pastor Lucas

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