“7 Therefore Jesus said again, “Very truly I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep. 8 All who have come before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep have not listened to them. 9 I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. They will come in and go out, and find pasture. 10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”John 10:7-10
One of the things I miss about church growing up is the emphasis on Heaven. I don’t hear much about heaven anymore. We don’t sing “when we all get to heaven” or spend much time talking about “The Day” of Christ’s return. And that’s something we need to change.
But, there was a downside to that. There was a lot of talk about heaven and how all things would be perfect someday. But there was little to no talk about the redemption God wanted to bring to the world in our day.
And yet, Jesus himself spoke of giving us life to the full, not just eternity. Yes, he spoke of us enjoying eternity with himself and the Father. But, when people came in through him he explained that the purpose for his coming was to give us life to the full. Actually, the world means overflowing and abundant. So at least part of the reason Jesus came was to give us true, overflowing life.
Much of Jesus’ ministry was healing diseases, restoring hearing and sight and helping people walk and live. As I shared earlier this week, this was Jesus restoring things that were broken. As miraculous as they are to us, to Jesus it was restoration. He was fixing in these people what the curse had broken. (Mk 8:22, Matt 9:2-8, Mk 7:31-37, Lk 5:12-25)
Part of the argument Keller makes in a sermon series for “The Reason for God” for why Christianity is different from other religions is that God is working to bring restoration. He cites the fact that Christ’s resurrected body and the appearances he made after his resurrection show us that God has a plan to bring total restoration to the broken order of our society. We shared earlier this week from 1 Jn 3:2-3 “We know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. All who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure.” We also see in Revelation that God isn’t going to do away with the earth but he is going to make it all new. New heavens, new earth, new Jerusalem.
In the end, God’s dwelling place will be with his people as He has wanted all along: “And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. 4 ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” Rev 21:3-4
Should we be longing for eternity? Absolutely. Paul told the church in Philippi: “For, as I have often told you before and now tell you again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. 19 Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is set on earthly things. 20 But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21 who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.” Phil 3:18-21.
Our citizenship is in heaven. That means that for now, we are exiles. We are outsiders. We aren’t living in our permanent home. So, yes we should long for home. But Paul also said to the same church in the same letter: “continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.” (Phil 2:12-13) God is at work in us today. God is transforming us today. “Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 18 And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.” (2 Cor 3:17-18)
We long for home but we seek God’s redemption and restoration while we’re here. Our desire is to see more and more people experience the abundant overflowing life of Christ they were originally designed for. But too many people have embraced the lies of this present darkness. Too many are embracing more and more of the ideologies of the foreigners who are worshipping other gods.
Acts 4:12 says “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.” 1 Tim 2:5 says: “For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus.” It may not be popular, but the truth is there is only one way to eternity with the Father and it’s through Jesus. It’s only through Jesus that we have any hope at the life we were designed for. It’s only through Jesus that the world has any hope at all.
When God first gave the command to Love Him with all our heart, our soul and our strength He first said this: “4 Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 5 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.” Deut 6:4-5. The word for Lord is Yahweh. There is a great video by the Bible Project about the origin of the name Yahweh for God. It comes from God saying that his name is “I am.” The reason this is significant is the same reason there is only one way to God. That’s because there is only one true God. The other “gods” are fabricated beings. Some of them as silly as images carved of wood and stone by the hands of men. Others of them created by other spiritual forces that have also rebelled against God. None of them are God. There is only one God. God is the only God that can say “I am” because He is the only God that is.
So, there is only one way to God and it’s the way that God created through His Son, Jesus Christ. Is it narrow-minded? You may think so, but I don’t. I think it’s gracious. Why? Because there is A way. There may only be one, but there is one.
And that’s all we need.