Preparing for Heaven

Building the Eternal Phase of Your Life

Face Discipline and Judgment Together

by Dick Wulf | Course Three

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We Christians are to accept God’s judgment of what needs to change and the discipline He sends our way for those changes to take place. Together with close Christian friends and relatives we are to face this judgment and discipline for the growth of our spirits into the likeness of Jesus. This growth in our spirits – this spiritual growth – will have many benefits for our lives in heaven.

Facing judgment and discipline together focuses on cooperating with God’s redemptive process in each of us and, occasionally, all of us corporately. It does not have to do with facing the difficulties of everyday living and serving God, which is the Together “Face and Endure Hardship Together”. And, it does not have to do with helping one another face the consequences of our sins, which is the Together “Carry One Another’s Burdens”. However, beyond the consequences of our sins will eventually come God’s discipline to help us repent of them.

However, God’s judgment and discipline does not usually come as a result of our sin, but from His love that wants to conform us to the image of His Son Jesus. God judges, or decides, where our spirits need to grow. Then He disciplines us by creating or allowing situations, that if dealt with biblically, will change us more into the image of Jesus.

When we were children, we probably did not understand discipline. Our parents disciplined us and we may have thought they were mean or unreasonable. Now we are adults and understand discipline differently. Some of us have children and know that discipline is love, not meanness or punishment.

We also know that discipline is not meant to be easy or comfortable. So we find ourselves saying we are open to God’s correction and discipline while we hope we don’t have to endure it. Yet, because He loves us and is preparing us for the very best life in heaven that lasts infinitely longer than this life, God disciplines us to get us ready.

In light of this, we might as well accept God’s judgment and discipline as best we can. And that best way is together. 1 Peter 4:17 tells us, “For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God.”

Facing judgment and discipline together is all about our sanctification! Imagine if God did not take stock of our spiritual condition with regard to our final destination in heaven. That would be like a Sherpa guide not assessing what someone they would be leading up Mt. Everest needed in order to survive and enjoy the trip. We are very fortunate to have God scrutinize our unrighteousness so that He can give whatever help is needed now before it is too late. He is preparing us for heaven.

Everything about facing judgment and discipline together is about becoming the best God wants us to be for His glory and for our fullest life in heaven.

There is no specific benefit for heaven by facing God’s judgment and discipline together. It relates to every possible benefit in heaven for which we can prepare. It relates to every possible change into the image of Jesus.

Judgment and discipline now for Christians only makes sense in light of a heaven where the focus is on God. It is His home and ours only secondarily. We go through refinement into the image of Christ through the work of the Holy Spirit for God. Only when we want things for God more than for ourselves are we truly fit for heaven!

But, the other side of the coin is that when we allow ourselves to be changed into Christlikeness for God, we are at the same time opening up for ourselves a better quality of life in heaven. The more we are like Jesus the more we will glorify God and the more of heaven we will enjoy.

When we embrace together God’s judgment and discipline, we will recognize His working in situations to make us more like His Son. And when we do what the Holy Spirit urges us to do in those circumstances, we will be changed. If we resist, God will have to send something more painful our way to get us moving in the right direction. Others in our Christian Inner Circles can often recognize more easily what God is perfecting in us, and help us not to resist the purifying process. That is why it is so critical to face judgment and discipline with those Christians we trust. Knowing what God is doing makes all the difference.

Together in our Christian relationships we can welcome God’s judgment and discipline, knowing that we will support one another for the glory of God. We will want what He wants us to be, how He wants our spirits to transform. And our open arms to His judgment and discipline will probably lessen the need for it to be painful.

Thus, we can see the necessity of being more seriously involved with one another and the development by God of Christlikeness in our spirits. When we recognize that our loving Father will discipline, we can help one another make some discipline unnecessary. Just like children who teach one another truths about their parents and how to keep out of trouble and avoid discipline, we can take this responsibility more seriously.

Here is a story I wrote to help us understand this.

The Davidson Family enjoys many times together, but they also take time for growing to be more like Jesus. They hope to become more of what God wants them to be now and for whatever He plans for them in heaven. Therefore, once a month they set aside a whole Saturday morning as a “retreat” where they look at one another’s lives to identify what God is up to in the way of getting them ready for heaven by creating opportunities for growth in their faith.

On this past Saturday the family prayed to tune in to God’s game plan. They decided that God was giving the family many problems that interrupted family outings and recreation. Tree limbs and fences were blowing down, drains were clogging – one thing after another. Recognizing that God is sovereign and that He might be allowing these things to direct spiritual growth, the family began to wonder if God was correcting the way they spent so much time on themselves. Perhaps He wanted them to do more for other people and not fill up all of their weekends with their own pleasure. They could see that such self-focus would not fit well into heaven where God would want them to include others in their fun.

Sissy had a very good friend move away and the family considered how God might use this to prepare her for heaven. She is a shy person who is very particular about her friends in the fourth grade. One of her brothers mentioned that maybe Jesus wanted her to be more outgoing and friendly so she would have more friends and one friend moving away would not leave her so alone at school. That stimulated a thought in Mom Davidson who said that one of the great joys in heaven would be meeting all kinds of different people. She mentioned to her daughter Sissy that perhaps God was interested in her joy in heaven and so that she would have a more loving impact on others throughout eternity. The family offered to help Sissy be more open and friendly with other kids.

God looked on that Saturday family retreat with satisfaction that his judgment and discipline was working and the Davidson family was facing it together.

When we can figure out what God’s discipline is for, we can make the appropriate changes more quickly and bring to an end the discipline. This is “getting with God’s program”. When a Christian friendship group, Christian family or Christian married couple experiences what feels like God’s judgment rather blessing, they can go to prayer to discover what growing opportunity God is presenting. Once they know what the judgment is all about, they can work hard to let the Holy Spirit change them. They can accept the difficult assignment that will bring wonderful growth to their spirits, even if they do not know what the end benefit will be, but only the change God wants.

In heaven, each of our lives will fit precisely to where God places us. That will be pure joy. However, because God gave us free will, we do not now always follow God’s leading to gain the best possible place for us in heaven. Still, by watching one another’s lives and implementing the Togethers, the place we end up in heaven as our reward of service will be better than if we try to go our faith alone. There is unmeasurable joy in heaven in ending up serving God near to where He hoped we would end up.

Here is another story that might help us see the eternal value of God’s judgment and discipline in light of our quality of life in heaven. This takes place in heaven.

In the New Jerusalem there is a district God named Crystal Springs. It includes five small towns, one of which is Cold Springs Village. There is a man named George who is a very capable and dynamic mayor of Cold Springs Village.

Long before he arrived in heaven, God wanted George to be mayor of Cold Springs Village. Therefore, God knew that He would have to make a lot of judgments, or decisions, about George’s progress in purity regarding people. Thus, He would use much discipline to drive George to the proper sanctification. The Lord placed George with a group of Christian friends who would help him see that the trials that came into his life were allowed, some even designed, by God to prepare him for some specific assignment in heaven. George cooperated with his Christian Inner Circle to face God’s assessment of his life and accept the discipline of God. Of course, he did not know it was to steer him toward being the mayor of Cold Springs Village.

George’s friends were nudged by God through very different kinds of problems and opportunities because God had different designs for them in heaven. But, George’s challenges were uniquely designed to refine his spirit in being able to see God’s vision for people. Before death, George was placed by God into predicaments where he had to access God’s vision for troubled people.

This developed in George’s spirit a strong ability to see what God wanted in people’s lives. Later in heaven where things were not complicated by sin and troubles, this very spiritual quality would be adequate for any city planning God would want done by His mayor of Cold Springs Village.

There is another way in which facing judgment and discipline prepares us for heaven. In the sense where God’s judgment and discipline is not tied to sin, it may continue in heaven. In heaven God will likely still be identifying where our spirits can grow, just not in opposition to sin which will be absent.

In heaven there will be new things to try and new skills to learn. There will be new things in heaven to praise God for, and some of those things will be opportunities that are challenging. Some challenges and opportunities might require that we become even more like Jesus and will require God’s deciding how we need to grow (which is judgment) and what we need to do for our spirits to make the need changes (which is discipline).

Therefore, in heaven we may very well still be in the business of facing God’s judgment and discipline together.

Based on Jesus saying that with faith we can move mountains, what if in heaven we can create things with our minds? Imagine landscaping a park in this way. Wouldn’t it be fun! However before giving us such an assignment in heaven, God will have to prepare us. If we remember that judging can mean assessment and decision, then being sized up by God for the task of creating a park through thoughts and words rather than actions is obviously necessary. And, if we remember that discipline can mean education, preparation and practice (we speak of religious disciplines and the discipline of physics, for example), then discipline has a likely place in heaven and sure would be needed to create things just by thinking.

Facing judgment and discipline together now will make us better at it in heaven. If we before death explained situations other Christians faced that were God’s wonderful judgment and discipline, it will be great fun in heaven to help others see what God is doing inside of their spirits for something wonderful waiting for them in heaven.