Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rather rejoice because your names are written in heaven. (Luke 10:20, NKJV)
We must remember to rejoice in the right things. Jesus had sent out seventy of His followers to the cities where He was about to go, giving them miraculous powers to accompany their preaching of the kingdom of God (Luke 10:1, 9). They returned with joy that “even the demons are subject to us in Your name” (Luke 10:17). Jesus rejoiced with them in seeing the power of Satan being overwhelmed by the power of God as they did His work (Luke 10:18-19). Then, He quickly turned their attention to why they should rejoice. By doing so, He turned their joy away from the potential of pride in themselves (“subject to us,” Luke 10:17) to the humble faith needed to do heaven’s work (“your names are written in heaven”). As you do the work of God and rejoice in the gospel’s power, remember you are not the source of your joy, God is. He is the One who makes your victory over Satan and sin possible. You do not write your name in heaven, God does that when you faithfully do the work He gives you to do (Philippians 4:3; Revelation 3:5; 20:12, 15).
1 I will lift up my eyes to the hills—From whence comes my help? 2 My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth. (Psalm 121:1–2, NKJV)
The psalmist exhorted Israel to lift her eyes heavenward when faced with hardship and calamity, and with the eyes of faith, see her Helper. The hills and mountains gave only temporary protection from their enemies. The idols, whose worshipers had erected shrines on the hilltops, could not see them or hear them when they cried out for help (1 Kings 18:24-29). The Lord, who made the hills (the heaven and the earth), is the ever-vigilant protector of His people (Psalm 121:3-6). The secular world looks to organizations of men, to lawmakers, and to philosophers in times of trial and trouble. They think these will solve their problems. People of faith keep our eyes fixed upon the Lord, who preserves our souls to the day of eternity. We live for heaven (not this earth); that’s where our treasure is (Matthew 6:19-21). The Lord is our Helper day and night. Keep your eyes fixed on Him. Do not be overwhelmed with discouragement and despair: “For He Himself has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’ So we may boldly say: ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?’” (Hebrews 13:5-6)
23 Then Jesus said to His disciples, “Assuredly, I say to you that it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. 24 And again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” 25 When His disciples heard it, they were greatly astonished, saying, “Who then can be saved?” 26 But Jesus looked at them and said to them, “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” (Matthew 19:23–26, NKJV)
It is not riches that will keep a person out of heaven, but how one views and uses his wealth. Just before Jesus said these words, a rich young man had turned away from following Him after Jesus told him to sell all he had and give to the poor (Matt. 19:21-22). His love of money prevented him from following Jesus. When we love money and material things more than putting Jesus first and obeying Him, then we will not be saved (1 Tim. 6:10). You had just as soon try to pass a camel through a needle’s eye, as try to get to heaven serving riches. God has and will save rich people (Abraham, for example, Gen. 24:35). Jesus is not saying wealth is evil. But, it is evil to love money more than God. Godliness with contentment is the lesson we must all learn and live, whether we are rich or poor (1 Tim. 6:6-10).
Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells. (2 Peter 3:13, NKJV)
The basic meaning of the expression “heavens and the earth” is that of a dwelling place, a habitation. In Genesis 1:1, God created the physical world – “the heavens and the earth” – for humanity to inhabit (Gen. 1:26-28). We later find a similar expression used with a spiritual meaning (Isa. 65:17; 66:22). Isaiah spoke of God creating “new heavens and a new earth” in which people would come to worship before Him (Isa. 65:17; 66:23). Isaiah was speaking of the church – the habitation or dwelling place of God’s people (Isa. 2:1-4). God dwells with His people (the church), and they with Him (2 Cor. 6:16-18). Christians are raised out of the death of sin to sit “in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus” (Eph. 2:5-6). We become citizens of a new kingdom when we are saved in Christ (Col. 1:13). Christians inhabit a new and spiritual realm, the church (Acts 2:47). Our citizenship is in heaven (Phil. 3:20). When Peter used the expression “new heavens and a new earth” in 2 Peter 3:13, he was looking forward to yet another dwelling place of God’s people – the eternal kingdom, our heavenly home (2 Pet. 1:11). In visionary form, John saw this “new heaven and a new earth” where righteousness dwells (Rev. 21:1). Entrance into it will be abundantly given to faithful Christians (2 Pet. 1:10-11).
Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does corruption inherit incorruption. (1 Corinthians 15:50, NKJV)
Even though Jesus taught plainly that His kingdom “is not of this world” in John 18:36, many souls continue to believe His kingdom will be established as a future world government, with Jesus ensconced on His throne in Jerusalem. However, Jesus said His kingdom would come into existence “with power” during the lifetime of those who heard Him teach (Mk. 9:1). His kingdom was established through the powerful events recorded in Acts 2. His kingdom is His church (Dan. 2:44; Matt. 16:18-19). When Jesus returns on resurrection day, He will deliver the kingdom to God the Father, not set it up on the earth (1 Cor. 15:23-26). At that time, with resurrected, immortal bodies, we will enter the heavenly kingdom (2 Tim. 4:18). Our mortal, corruptible bodies will not inherit heaven. The kingdom of God is incorruptible and not of this world. Even so, only with resurrected, immortal bodies will God’s people pass into eternal life (1 Cor. 15:52-56). “Thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Cor. 15:57).
1 Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, 2 saying, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him.” (Matthew 2:1–2, NKJV)
Let us ask and answer the question posed by the wise men to Herod: “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews?” The Scriptures tell us Jesus arose from the dead and ascended into heaven (Matt. 28:1-6; Acts 1:9-11). In heaven, Jesus is at the right hand of God, having been given all authority in heaven and on earth (Matt. 28:18; Acts 2:33). At God’s right hand, Jesus is the head of His body, His church (Eph. 1:20-23). There, Jesus sits on the throne of David over His kingdom, just as God had promised (Lk. 1:32; Dan. 2:44; Mk. 9:1; Acts 2:30-31). He is there as High Priest, having presented Himself an offering for the sins of the world. Now, He ministers on behalf of the people of God (Heb. 8:1; 9:24-26; 4:14-16). Where is the King? Why, He is in heaven on His throne, ruling by His truth and blessing with salvation all who believe and obey Him. One day He will return, and judge us all in righteousness (Acts 17:21; 2 Cor. 5:10). The question is: Will you worship Him like those wise men of old? Or, will you deny where He is?
9 There remains therefore a rest for the people of God. 10 For he who has entered His rest has himself also ceased from his works as God did from His. 11 Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest, lest anyone fall according to the same example of disobedience. (Hebrews 4:9–11, NKJV)
Jesus reminded His disciples that now is the time for diligent work in the service of God (Jno. 9:3-4). Now is not the time to rest. God has created good works in which we must walk (Eph. 2:10). So, we must not be sluggish and neglectful, but energetically obedient in doing the will of God. Notice in verse 11 that obedience is equivalent to being “diligent to enter that rest” that awaits us, since not to be diligent amounts to disobedience. Here is another place where faithful obedience is defined as the “work” we do – not to earn heaven, but as our dutiful, faithful obedience to our Master. Death brings blessed rest “from their labors” to those who die in the Lord, and “their works follow them” (Rev. 14:13). Please do not confuse the diligent work of obedience with an attempt to earn one’s way into heaven. Obedience to the Lord is our faith doing His works, all the while anticipating our eternal rest.