Preparing for Heaven

Building the Eternal Phase of Your Life

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We hardly realize the marvelous depths of our faith. But, this faith of ours should be so treasured that we will want to stand by it every moment of our lives. We live in the material world as redeemed people possessing a spiritual reality that makes us capable of living with God and one another and privileged to fight evil. We can do righteous things and be attacked for doing them because we are already in the kingdom of heaven and will soon arrive there.
In a nutshell, we should want to live increasingly within spiritual reality by a faith for which we must contend.

Contending for faith together now will in heaven have wonderful consequences. Right now, our faith can allow us to be sure of heaven even though we cannot see it. After death, our faith will be useful for all that will be in heaven to anticipate.

And, so, we want to contend for the faith together. And, that is what God wants also. In the briefest book in the Bible, Jude in the third verse in his letter of just one chapter says, “Beloved, although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints.”

Those apostles who wrote the New Testament letters to churches were not telling believers to fight those who held other beliefs. Other religions and philosophies of unbelievers were not the concern. Contending for the faith meant keeping unbiblical things out of the churches, which met in homes at that time. Therefore, the instruction should be recognized as applying to the smaller and more intimate and honest Christian relationships of friendships, families and marriages.

Someone once said, “the way to love something is to realize that it might be lost”. The faith that springs from saving faith through the growth of our spirits can diminish. To keep it growing, we must cherish this fantastic faith because we realize it can be lost. We must battle for it, contend for it, and hold on to it.

We Christians are to fend off beliefs and lifestyles that do not fit with true Christian faith. Together, Christians need to see that things contrary to the Christian faith stay out of our lives. This is why most contending for the faith must be done in our Christian Inner Circles where we learn of challenges to the biblical faith of our friends and families. In our conversations and observations, we can see when beliefs waver and ways of living and handling life are contrary to our faith.

The smaller, unorganized forms of the church, namely Christian friendships, Christian families and Christian marriages are where contending for the faith must be done. It is absolutely disastrous that these potent forms of the church are not taught their responsibilities to contend for the faith in one another’s lives.

Unfortunately, this battle to contend for the faith together cannot be adequately dealt with by organized churches and their programs. It is where “boots are on the ground” that we must stand up for the faith when the lives of our Christian friends and family members are impacted by attitudes contrary to a life of faith. Since none of us come even close to living up to our faith and its benefits and power, there is much work for us to do. God urges us to contend for the faith He has made available to us. We are to do this together.

We protect what we value. And, then, the act of protecting it makes us value it more. Thus, contending for our faith raises its value. How much we appreciate faith the moment we die will be what goes with us to heaven. How much we honor faith, how much we cling to faith, how much we embrace faith when we die is logically where we will be with faith as we enter heaven. Growth in heaven in appreciating, honoring, clinging to, and embracing faith will occur much more slowly without the need to defend and protect it. Remember, contending for our faith now against the resistance of sin increases our sense of its value.

How sad it is, then, that we can so easily coast along in life without considering faith beyond saving faith. The belief in Jesus as our Savior is paramount, but it is then to infiltrate our lives with faith for living with Jesus as Lord. Salvation should get obedience started. Intellectual belief and understanding must grow into faith in action through the process of sanctification.

This faith, if we grasp it within our spirits, is so very valuable that we want to contend for it in our Christian friendships, families, and marriages. Women know vinegar to be useful for so many cooking and cleaning tasks, and men consider duct tape similarly. Sadly, we are probably not so aware of the usefulness of our faith. We must study faith until we see its incredible value and let it grow in the power of the Holy Spirit.

Trust emanates from faith. If we can trust God for safety and direction for a day, we want to let that grow to a week, then a month, then for all of our lives. Consider how valuable faith is when we are relieved of worry about life for a month at a time or longer.

Once we understand the depth of faith possible for loving God and neighbor and facing life’s challenges, Christian friendships and families and marriages will be more conscious of its useful application to the situations friends, families and spouses face, especially the hard things where faith overcomes struggle and suffering.

Take for example a few of the most difficult situations to face: a spouse divorces us, we become handicapped and our lives become limited, a good friend turns against us. There is no way to cope with such loses without faith.

On the other hand, believers with the help of their Christian Inner Circles can deal with divorce and the rejection of a good friend with reality that goes beyond the grave. God will heal the hurt of rejection by the certainty through faith that Jesus loves and is constantly present, and that the ex-spouse had the help of Satan to divorce. Faith will reassure that life is far more than being married and service to God will make it meaningful again, and that finally all pain will be forgotten when life in heaven begins.

Handicapped believers can deal with the drastic change in their lives if they and their Christian Inner Circles contend for the faith so that it stays alive and increases. Then that faith can assure them that God will be using their situation to change their spirits for benefits in heaven that believers with able bodies will probably miss.

Heb 11:1 defines faith, and this definition shows how in heaven we will still need faith. “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” In heaven, we will still need to have “assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen”. Heaven will be so big that in no way will we know all that is available or how it will all come to pass. We will still need to hope for heaven’s fantastic things. We will have assurance that those things will happen to the extent of the faith we brought to heaven.

Have we ever been with people who are more sure something good will happen than we were? We still had faith that the “something” would happen, just not as strong as they did. That is the way it will likely be in heaven. Each of us will have allowed the Holy Spirit to take our spirit to some level of faith that we will have had to fight to keep strong. Contending for the faith within our Christian relationships will strengthen our faith to higher and higher degrees.

Most likely, we have known Christians with more joy and contentment in life because their faith is stronger. They have struggled against opposition to their faith and protected it from diminishing. It will also be like that in heaven. We each will have some level of faith that enables us to appreciate the life of faith there – but at different intensities based on the success of our contending for faith against opposition to living it now.

Foolishly underestimate heaven’s opportunities to be only ten thousand. That is the number of fantastic things we will want to have high hope for and conviction that they are authentic possibilities when we get to heaven. It will be really good to go to heaven with faith that all ten thousand will eventually happen. This will require strength in faith that some will have and some will not. It is not that some will not be able to have faith in opportunities. But, in learning of them from some catalog of heaven’s gifts, they will react with more than indifference but less than strong, excited expectancy.

Imagine the hopeful faith we now have when we think we just might be able to take some trip of which we have only dreamed. Each time we think of this adventure, we feel joyful anticipation. If we honestly consider this illustration, we know that some have less faith that such a trip will happen, and, thus, less excitement. We also know that some would have more faith, more hope, and more excitement. In heaven we will have faith, hope, and excitement proportionate to the value we placed on faith before death. If we contended with others for things of faith, we will have strong faith, hope, and excitement. If we were complacent about faith and its value, we will not go to heaven equipped with such strong faith and hope and excitement.

Faith must be valued for us to contend together to keep it strong. If we help one another to value faith a lot, we will go to heaven full of the ability to be assured of things hoped for in heaven and convinced about things not yet seen there. Even now some of us are filled with more faith that heaven exists and that heaven will be exciting. We will carry that faith full of excited anticipation to heaven. How good it will be to enter heaven with eyes wide, searching for God and all of His wonderment.

Let’s hold on to those future mysterious adventures by contending for our faith together and resisting anything that can dilute it. As a result, in heaven we will be filled with faith that God and His Kingdom will always have something unseen to excitedly look forward to.
If God has given us the gift of faith, let’s realize that how precious we consider our faith is an indicator of how we cherish God. Doesn’t it make sense that the more we held on to and expanded faith, the better the relationship with God will be in heaven? We need to consider that in heaven God may not want to visit us very often if we did not value His gift of faith. He loves unconditionally, as does any good parent, but that does not translate to lack of negative consequences for treating His gift of faith carelessly.

We do not really know how God will visit us in heaven. One thing seems to be sure, we will sense His presence with us. We can do that now to the degree that we pay attention to Him, but it will be much easier in heaven without sin subduing the awareness. It is likely that in heaven, just as now, some Christians will be aware of His presence in their lives more than others. It will not be that God will be with us less, but that each of us will be aware of His presence at different levels of clarity.

In any case, those who had treasured faith, contended for it, and protected it, will probably have greater faith in heaven than others who did not so treasure faith before going to heaven. And, that will likely affect the personal relationship with God.

It is understandable why we want to think of God as treating us all equally in heaven no matter how we have treated Him. It allows us to treat God and His gift of faith lightly because we think, “God won’t mind”. However, we know from the history of Israel in the Bible that God treated His people differently dependent upon the honor they gave to the faith He imparted to them. For just one example, when they refused to go into the Promised Land just after God parted the waters so they could escape Egypt, He made them walk around in the desert for 40 years!

Standing up for the true faith of the Bible together, we keep one another from both distorting the faith and neglecting it. Since sin still impacts us, we have much work to do with one another in the way of contending for the faith and its many qualities and advantages. Many of the Togethers are specific ways in which we are to contend for the faith. For example, in spurring one another on to love and good works, we push one another further into many aspects of faith not yet fully grasped, such things as service for God and trusting in His provision.

Each time we contend for our faith, our spirits become a little more inseparable from true faith. We grow in Christlikeness when we stand up for the faith by not only contending for doctrine and Bible knowledge but also for living our faith more than superficially.

We contend for our faith when we help one another in our Christian Inner Circles live what we say we believe. When we contend for the faith, we try to block anything that can make us insecure, afraid of death, and lose sight of our eternal future with God in His heaven.

Here is an example. Materialism sneaks into our friendship group. Before we received promotions and higher salaries, lunchtime conversations tended to be about people and their welfare. Now they are about buying expensive items, many of which are for vanity or excess recreation. Hopefully, one of us in our group of friends would recognize that materialism had invaded our faith. If that person speaks up, that person has taken a step toward being more like Jesus. If that person meets resistance from the rest of us and does not waver in contending for the lifestyle of the Christian faith, he or she is really becoming more like Jesus.
Let’s stand up for the faith with one another. Let’s make certain that truth is not distorted or merely given lip-service. Let’s contend for the faith that is much larger than we understand and hold on tightly. Let’s be like Jesus in pushing one another further into our faith.

Treasuring faith now means valuing it highly and fighting for it. Let’s do this together. Let’s help one another value our faith more and more and highlight it as a wonderful gift from God. It is not just cold doctrine or intellectual belief, faith is powered by God to enable us to trust Him, among many other critical things for living with God and one another.