Preparing for Heaven

Building the Eternal Phase of Your Life

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When doubts come, Christians are to help one another regain trust in God and return to a life of faith.

Christians need to be ready to restore one another’s faith. Sometimes weakening faith comes from our own rebellious or naive choices. But most of the time faith declines in reaction to God’s process to increase our faith.

Remember grade school to understand these two causes of threatened faith. There were times when beginning math skills were hard because we wanted to play instead of practice. And there were times when we were trying to learn the next math thing and could not understand. The first dip in mathematical performance was of our own doing, we wanted to play. The second just part of the growth process. In either case, the teacher had to come and get us back on track.

The Apostle Paul, speaking to the Philippian church as recorded in Phil 3:16 said, “Only let us live up to what we have already attained.” So, just like that teacher, when anything threatens another’s faith, Christians are to reach out to restore that individual’s faith before it is seriously damaged.

Faith grows normally by being challenged. God either allows or brings issues into our lives to take our faith beyond its present limits. Situations demanding more faith than we have stretch faith and it grows. Because life takes us to the edge of our faith and then a little beyond, every Christian fails in his or her faith from time to time. This is not dangerous as long as we continually restore one another in faith.

We are to pay attention to the instruction of Heb 3:12: “See to it, brothers and sisters, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God.”

Let’s recognize that faith is far more than Bible knowledge, much more than what we say we believe. Faith is living God’s truth, not just knowing it. Therefore, faith should never stop growing. We are to restore one another’s faith both when it has been weakened by our wrong choices and when the requirement of greater faith has discouraged us and shaken our steadfast walk with God.

But, most important is to recognize God’s joy when He sees faith restored in one of his children. We want to have some sense of this now when we and others work together to restore someone’s faith. This will prepare us to go to heaven with the ability to sense God’s joy at a higher level.

In heaven we will not have to restore a person’s faith. Nothing there will challenge it. There will be no sin, so no bending the truth of Scripture to do what God does not want us to do. And, things requiring growth in faith will not be discouraging and lower our faith. And, yet, we will see those we restored in faith before their deaths living at higher levels. And, every time our heart will jump with joy.

But, if in this life before death we did not care enough about the crises of faith of others, in heaven we will miss some of the joy in the testimonies of others. We will miss rejoicing when we meet those we knew who overcame lack of faith, even though we did not care or notice.

Even more sadly, we will miss out on some level of rejoicing for all of the other citizens of heaven from other countries and centuries. Their very many testimonies will tell of others helping restore their faith and how it led on to victories. But, if we were not involved in restoring others in their faith or watching those in our Christian Inner Circles carefully to see if their faith was wavering, we will not go to heaven with the capacity to experience much joy at these millions of testimonies.

Here is a short story that might help us understand this. It takes place in heaven.

I am in heaven and every day is a wonderful time of fellowship with other citizens from all walks of life, all nationalities and ethnic groups, across many centuries. We sit around tables, stroll in beautiful meadows, sit by the clear river of life, and at dining tables to listen to one another’s stories of faith. I particularly love to hear testimonies by those whose faith was tested and others came alongside to help keep their faith strong. Others in our conversation smile and nod, but I can tell that they don’t get as excited. I wish they did, but they just do not have the ability. My excitement is stronger because back before death I fought the sin of indifference to be able to restore the faith of others when life discouraged them.

Here is another benefit for heaven. If we have been active in restoring broken faith in others, in heaven we will be more helpful in helping others, not regain lost faith, but grow in their faith. It is quite likely that faith will grow in heaven by being given jobs by God that requires a little more faith or by taking on the challenges of heaven’s opportunities that require a growth in faith. We will not be restoring the faith of others, but because we helped others do so before death, we will be more equipped to encourage others to have faith to give heaven’s challenges a try.

I will admit it. I cry in movies every time things turn out good for someone who has been mistreated or disadvantaged. Why, I cry when a lost dog finds her way home! And, I want to cry out of joy this way in heaven.

So, imagine being able to find joy in the victories of faith in the testimonies of the billions of other citizens of heaven. Now we hurt with our persecuted brothers and sisters in the faith around the world. How wonderful it will be to see them so happy in heaven in light of what they went through back before death. Those of us who restored faith in others and have seen what has to be overcome, the trials and pain and discouragement, will rejoice at the victories won by saints because other Christians cared about their faith and raised them back up when faith floundered.

In my work, I have counseled mentally ill people who were enslaved in human trafficking and escaped prostitution. I have been the therapist of convicts who turned their lives around. I have seen husbands and wives escape vicious behavior because of fear of closeness and being hurt again to finally experience safe love. It has always raised my spirits and my soul has rejoiced. While in heaven the pain will be gone, we will still be able to feel great joy at such triumphs when we hear of them around a campfire or banqueting table.

Restoring other Christians in their faith also opens up an opportunity for a closer relationship with God throughout eternity.

God will appreciate those who brought people back to Him more than those who did not care so much that people’s faith was failing. He will count such Christians as loyal to Him and joyfully put them in positions of spiritual leadership. As a result, God’s presence will be more potent in their lives in some way.

When we restore someone’s faith, we bring that person back to the family of God. That person may have been estranged from the family of God almost totally, or estranged partially through a bad attitude toward God and/or the church. God will deeply appreciate anyone who restores that person’s faith and, by doing so, reconnects the person with God and the fellowship of believers.
Behavior validates belief. Faith without matching faithfulness is not true faith. So, think of weakening faith as thinking and behaviors that contradict what we have believed and acted on up to this point, faithful behavior diminishing from what it has been in our lives previously. A regression in faithfulness signals a weakening faith.

Like when in grade school we wanted to play rather than do our homework and our education stalled or went backward, so every Christian’s faith sputters or regresses once in a while. As the battle between our old self and new self in Jesus goes on, there are times when all of us dismisses some aspect of our faith to do something we want to do but God’s truth would stand in the way.

God’s smaller configurations of the church are well-positioned to restore Christians in their faith before things get way out of hand. Christian friends may see the loosening of self-control and a waning loyalty to Scripture in the single who wants to go too far in love-making. A Christian spouse, children in a Christian family, or godly friends will be in a position to speak up and halt an overindulgent purchase. And those in a person’s Christian Inner Circle will see a lessening of allegiance to some scripture that prompts a person to some biblical responsibility. This is where most of the action of restoring Christians in their faith must happen: within Christian friendships, Christian families, and Christian marriages.

Self-serving indulgences that tear down faith require one or more Christians to act to restore faithfulness to its previous level. It may take a long time, but it must be done. If it can be caught early enough by those in closest relationship, serious disobedience can be prevented and the person’s faith will suffer much less. But, if a person has denied faith for some time to be able to do whatever he or she wants, restoration of faith may take patient intervention over a long time.
The closer a relationship, the stronger this process of restoring faith will be. Restoration may call for confrontation and test loyalty within the relationship. The closer the relationship, the more power available to restore a person to a level of previous faith. There is greater desire to not let down a good friend or a loving spouse or adoring children. Just a “Please don’t do that!” may be all it takes.

If that does not work or if the relationship is not that cherished, then other measures will need to be employed. Going through the list of Togethers will likely point to what might be done. One that will almost always be applicable is “Examine One Another’s Faith”, especially by asking a lot of questions with a curious rather than condescending or corrective attitude and tone of voice.

However, most of the time our faith deteriorates because God is stretching our faith. Our faith falters because it needs to become stronger and we begin resisting. God will bring or allow something to come into our lives that requires more faith than we yet have obtained. In this case, it is not that our faith should have been stronger, but that it is being pushed to become stronger.

When that happens, we sometimes begin to distrust the faith we had. We may say, “I don’t have the faith to do that.” But, if we recognize that challenges to the level of our faith come because faith is never strong enough for all that life throws at us, our present faith does not need to be questioned or be discouraging. Then, being comfortable that we don’t have enough faith, we trust that God will give us enough faith and we step out on faith to let it grow.

We should avoid wanting the Christian life to go smoothly. Within an easy, comfortable life faith barely grows. We often feel frustration at difficulties, but we can quickly recognize the opportunity for faith to grow. Larger faith attained in this life will result in greater benefits in heaven. We will enter heaven more like Jesus with more spiritual qualities and skills to serve and enjoy God and His kingdom.

It is primarily for God that we restore one another in the faith when we falter. Every time someone goes backward in their faith, Satan is taking something from God. We don’t want to let that happen, and we stop it by restoring one another in their faith over and over again.

There are three beneficiaries when a Christian is restored to a previously higher level of faith. First, it is for God so that Satan does not dishonor Him. Second, it is for the Christian who has slipped in his or her walk of faith. Not only is it beneficial for that person to continue to glorify God with the level of faith they had achieved beforehand, but it makes possible further growth in faith, better rewards in heaven, and a higher quality of life forever after death.

Third, restoring the faith of Christians is for the benefit of each of us, as well as for the church. Many of us will need something of faith from the one restored. If the one restored is in our own Christian Inner Circle, then others will also gain from that person’s restored faith. Then, we will gain a great deal more from everyone in our Christian Inner Circles for months and years to come.

When we hear in heaven of how faith was restored by the love of other believers and the wonderful results, we will rejoice in heaven to the extent that we grew sensitive to the joy of victorious faith before death.

So, let’s care about one another’s faith now. Let’s rescue them when their faith waivers. Let’s allow them to help us when our faith falters. Let’s have the joy of restoring faith in others as well as having our own faith restored. Let’s go to heaven with joy in our own stories of faith and its triumphs as well as similar tales of others.