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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Packing for Heaven – I have kept the faith

“Curse God and died!”This is what Job’s wife said to him when she saw his insistence on believing in God even in the middle of terrible losses and extreme pain (Job 2:9). Today, we are watching, through the Internet, thousands and thousands of brothers and sisters losing their house, churches, and being slaughtered because of their faith.

How far should they go? How far should we go, living and proclaiming our faith? With all of the opposition that we are facing because of Christ, with all the philosophies and religions bombarding our minds and trying to conquer our hearts, this question is not too absurd.

With all the philosophies and religions in his world Paul made clear that his faith and beliefs stayed intact all the way to the end. Keeping his faith was one thing that he would take with him in his final journey. But what does keeping the faith involve? Let us see what the Scriptures has to tell us.

            A – It Involves Obedience

Keeping the faith means that we will obey God and His Word and be faithful to Him. If we believe that there is a God and He is powerful, gracious and merciful, among other things, it would be wise for us to obey Him. Jesus saved us, paying a tremendous price for our redemption. We should in return be faithful and obedient to Him. This is what we learn in the book of Revelations: “This calls for patient endurance on the part of the saints who obey God’s commandments and remain faithful to Jesus. Revelation 14:12.”

            B – It Involves Courage

To keep the faith now as was then, involves a lot of courage. To stand up for what you believe means that you are willing to risk your comfort, job, friends, etc. Paul was about to be executed because of his faith. I pray that God will spare me from those terrible situations, but I also pray that if that time comes He will strengthen my faith and make me a witness of His grace and power. This is what Paul wrote to the Corinthians: “Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be men of courage; be strong. 1Corinthians 16:13.”

            C – It Involves Faith and Good Conscience

If you do not keep your faith and good conscience you will not be able to survive in this world. Paul incentivizes Timothy not only to hold on to faith, but to hold on to faith and good conscience. This is what he wrote: “holding on to faith and a good conscience. Some have rejected these and so have shipwrecked their faith. 1Timothy 1:19.” Faith is that trust that we have inside of us that manifests outside in obedience, proclamation, and service. Bengel said that “Faithis like a very precious liquor;a good conscienceis the clean, pure glass that contains it.”

Maybe you are thinking you will take many things to heaven with you. Here we have a man who knew his time was coming. He could look back on his life and see what really matters in heaven: The Good Fight for God and the Gospel; The Race that God had for him; The Faith intact at the end of his life. Those are what really matter at the end.

Are you packing for heaven?

If not, this is the time to begin!

Have a blessed week,

Pastor Lucas

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Packing for Heaven – I have finished the race

We all remember the scene from the 2004 Athens Olympic Games, when the Brazilian marathon runner, Vanderlei Cordeiro de Lima, was accosted by a priest with four miles to finish the race. He was leading the race, but because of that he got the bronze medal. What impressed everybody and made the whole Olympic Stadium stand up and cheer was Vanderlei’s attitude. When he entered the stadium he was happy and celebrating because he was able to finish the race.

When Paul wrote to Timothy he mentioned another thing that he was packing for Heaven: “[7]… I have finished the race… 2Timothy 4:7.”He knew that he was about to die and he wanted to take this with him. He told Timothy that he was able to finish the race. The race is the course, the path, the purpose that every one of us has for our lives. For Paul, his race was connected with his ministry and the church. This is what he said to the elders of Ephesus church: “However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me–the task of testifying to the gospel of God’s grace. Acts 20:24.”

There are a few things that we should know about our race.

            A – The Right Race

The first thing is that God has a course and race for each one of us. God has a purpose for you and me; our goal is to find it and race it. In the text above Paul told the elders that he was doing everything to complete the task the Lord Jesus had given him. In his case he was to share the gospel of God’s grace. Believe it or not, the proclamation of the Gospel is the most important race that we have. Lives will be changed forever because of that.

            B – The Race with the Church

The second thing of which we should be aware is that we cannot do that by ourselves. There is no “Lone Ranger” in the Christian race. We need each other to fulfill our purpose and finish our race. Paul sought support and approval from the church for the race that God had for him. This is what he wrote: “I went in response to a revelation and set before them the gospel that I preach among the Gentiles. But I did this privately to those who seemed to be leaders, for fear that I was running or had run my race in vain. Galatians 2:2.”

            C – The Race for the Church

During Paul’s life and ministry he saw many people coming and going in the church. He was always concerned with them. Paul shared his preoccupation many times with those that stopped running the race. He was racing not only with the church but also for the church. He wanted to see the church racing with him. We see this preoccupation when he writes to the Galatians: “You were running a good race. Who cut in on you and kept you from obeying the truth? Galatians 5:7.”He also mentions this when he wrote to the Philippians: “…as you hold out the word of life–in order that I may boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor for nothing. Philippians 2:16.”

As you can see God has a race for you and me, and that race is related to the proclamation of the Gospel. But that race also involves the whole church. No matter how many obstacles we had, are having or will have in our race, we just need to finish, and finish it well.

Have a blessed week,

Pastor Lucas

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Packing for Heaven – I have fought the good fight

Have you ever packed the wrong thing for a trip? We men, “sometimes”, are accused of not being good savvy packers. We just throw our stuff in the luggage and hope for the best. Some guys out there would not agree with me. We put only the essentials in our luggage. Yeah, right. How many times have we brought the wrong thing for a vacation or trip? Too many, I would say.

When we are talking about Heaven it is totally different. We will not bring thingsthere, we will bring what we did in our lives. This is what Paul wrote to Timothy: “I have fought the good fight… 2Timothy 4:7.”The first thing that he is bringing is his fight. He calls it “The Good Fight.” The word fight means “Athletic wrestling.” It involves discipline, energy, and willingness. 

The question is: what is the good fight that Paul is mentioning here? We know that he is not talking about violence, blood, and things like that. Paul put his energy, discipline, and efforts toward other things. Let me share with you some of them.

A – Fight for the Faith

The first fight that we could mention is the fight for what he believed. Paul fought his entire life for his faith. This is what he wrote to Timothy in his first letter: “Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses. 1Timothy 6:12.”He made every effort to educate the church on the Faith, and correct those who were deviating from the right belief.

B – Fight for the Church

The second aspect of that fight was the fight for the good of the church. He had an intense desire to see the church grow. He wanted to see the church grow in knowledge of the Lord and His Word. He wanted to see the church fulfill her mission, and he put a lot of effort on it. This is what he wrote to the church of Colossae: “I want you to know how much I am struggling for you and for those at Laodicea, and for all who have not met me personally. Colossians 2:1.”Unfortunately, church today is not a priority in our lives.

C – Fight for the Gospel

Finally, the third aspect of that fight is the fight for the message, the struggle to make the message known. Paul not only struggled for the right message, which is very important and crucial for the church, but he made every effort to propagate that message, even risking his life. This is what he wrote to the Thessalonians: “We had previously suffered and been insulted in Philippi, as you know, but with the help of our God we dared to tell you his gospel in spite of strong opposition. 1 Thessalonians 2:2.”

Paul did not back down from those fights, nor should we. Even though today we have to deal with the politically correct mentality, where it is not appropriate to have strong beliefs, to fight for a religious group, or to proclaim the Good News of the Gospel.

Have a blessed week,

Pastor Lucas

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