“Behold, He is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see Him, even those who pierced Him, and all the tribes of the earth will mourn over Him. Even so, amen” (Revelation 1:7).
I’m going to go out on a limb here and make a few predictions about Heaven.
As with every religious charlatan who ever came down the pike, there’s no way to prove me wrong for the time being. But unlike the con men, I’m just thinking out loud here. After all, who among us does not like thinking about Heaven, our abode forever and forever?
The first surprise, I have no doubt, will be to find yourself awake. “Wow,” you think. “I died. I really did. I remember everyone gathering around the hospital bed and them all crying. And I recall that last surge of pain and then everything went black. And lo and behold, I wake up. How wonderful is that?”
“As for me, I shall behold Thy face in righteousness. I will be satisfied with Thy likeness when I awaken.” (Psalm 17:15)
When I awaken. A given fact. It’s going to happen. But as much as we say we believe that, I’m confident the first sensation we will have on the other side of that curtain is to find our eyes open and the new realities of our situation setting in.
“Be thou humble, preacher.” (Stated and repeated and reinforced one way or the other in a hundred scriptures such as Isaiah 57:15, Micah 6:8, and I Peter 5:7.)
It’s a personality type, I suppose. If Mr. Hotshot were not a preacher, but were a bus driver or school principal or insurance agent, he would still be full of himself and cocky. But as unpleasant as that trait is in any profession, it’s ugliest and deadliest in a man of God.
You’re sitting in his church listening to him preach. He’s not five minutes into the message before you realize Mr. Hotshot is appearing before you in the flesh. His words and mannerisms give him away. Listen to him:
— “I told my…I want my…My convictions are…I believe…I insist that my staff….” All church employees are “my staff” and the new program is “something God told me to do.” It’s all about him.
–Listen to his Bible expositions: “The translators have this wrong. Any first year Greek student knows this word always means….” and “Scholars say otherwise, but they can be wrong if they want to. What this verse really means is….”
–He alone has the truth. He alone knows how to lead the church. He wants lots of time in the worship service because what he has to say is more important than things like actual worship and praise.
How the Lord ever got things done before he came along is the mystery of the ages.
Every disciple of Jesus has to have become humble at some point. It’s how you enter the Kingdom: “as a little child.” (Matthew 18:3)
It’s not a stretch, therefore to expect those called as role models and examples (I Peter 5:3) to be shining exhibits of the grace of humility.
And some are. Some of the greatest preachers I know, some of the finest pastors and best success stories, are genuinely humble.
“(The devil) was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature, for he is a liar, and the father of lies” (John 8:44).
If I were the devil, I would do everything in my power to keep you from the Word of God. I would say anything I could think of, anything I thought you would believe, anything that works, to get you to read other things.
As Paul said, “We are not ignorant of his devices” (2 Corinthians 2:11). We know how he works. And here are some of the lies we have noticed pouring out of his factory, all geared toward destroying confidence in God’s Word.
One. “You already know it, so don’t read it.”
He’s lying to you. You do not know it. I’ve studied the Bible all my life and in no way could I say I “know” it. I know a great deal about it, but there is so much more. For the typical church member to shun the Bible because “I’ve been there and done that” is laughable.