By David Stahl

A few weeks ago Karen and I attended a local church with some friends who attend our Home Group Meeting and before the pastor delivered his sermon a trio got up to minister in song.  They sang great, but before they sang one of the singers said, “we all are waiting for Jesus to come back and take us out of this world.”  Then at about the same time I had this thought in my spirit and wrote down these words, “I wonder what will happen to the church if God does not take us out of this world?  Nowhere in the Bible did God ever deliver anyone without first developing them. Daniel went into the lion’s den. The three Hebrew Children went into the fiery furnace, Jesus went to the cross, and do we think we are any better than them?  Just delivering someone from hard situations and circumstances just makes them soft spiritually and a weaker sailor (I was in the US Navy) in God’s end time army.  My friend it is hard training and difficult lessons to learn that make us fit for battle to overcome areas in our lives.  If God has to deliver us from troubles and problems in our lives it is because He knows the work of God in our lives is in jeopardy of being lost so He moves us along only to be planted in another field for maturing and spiritual growth. To me, it seems with all of the songs we sing in church and plans we do not make the church is making plans to run out on God before the work on earth is done. How can we all want to go heaven when our family and neighbors are dying and going to hell?  Something just is not right here.  To me this seems rather selfish and self-seeking. Now do not get me wrong here I do want (I will and hope I see you there) to go to heaven, but NOT at the sake of my family and friends going to hell.  We must be the salt and light to them “speaking the truth in love” until God says it is time for us to come home.  It is not ours to want a mansion over the hilltop at the cost of sinners lost for all eternity. Let us not be so fast to want to run out of here before our job on earth is done. And there is another danger in this thinking Jesus is coming back to get us and that is Jesus has left us, but how can Jesus come back and get us if He has never left? Many Christians think Jesus has left us, checked out, and will return to someday in the sweet by and by to take us all to heaven, but that is not what the Bible says. In other words believing Jesus is coming back for us means that Jesus has left us, but that has never been the case not for one second has Jesus left mankind.  Understanding this point is something like trying (difficult unless the Spirit give you revelation) to understand the Trinity:  the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are one.  I think the closest explanation of this I have seen or heard was a slice of Neapolitan ice cream:  chocolate, white, and strawberry ice cream also three in one.  At the end of Matthew Jesus promised us, “Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.”  (Matthew 28:20)  Now when Jesus used the words “I am with you always” He meant it.  Jesus promised and He always keeps His word.  Well if Jesus is always with us how can He come back and get us?  Karen and I have four kids.  Our first two were David and Daniel.  I would take David and Daniel to the park when we lived on base in 1984-87.  When we would go to the park I would put the boys in a swing side-by-side and push them.  First David and then Daniel would say “faster and faster, higher and higher, wheee what a wonderful time we are having.”  David would look over at Daniel and say daddy really loves us (what we say to God when all is going well in our lives) what a wonderful expression on their faces as they would go faster and higher, but just when they were at the extent of the swing I would jump behind a tree.  At first they did not notice I disappeared all was well, but as they got slower and slower they noticed I was not pushing them and that I disappeared, well you should have seen the look on their face and heard them cry, Daniel daddy disappeared he does not love us (what we say to God when things are not going well in our lives) anymore.  The slower they got the louder they cried (does this not sound like us when we first get saved) until the swing almost stopped and then I would jump out from behind the tree and say, “David Daniel” and they would say “daddy” and I would start pushing them again. Well here is the point of this wonderful story; did I leave my boys? No I was right there the entire time, but they could not see me.  Jesus did not leave us He promised He would not leave us just like my boys we cannot see Jesus, but He is right here with us.  If He is here how can He come back?  To think He has to come back means we believe in our heart He has left us, a real danger indeed.  You know I wonder why many Christians call Jesus’ return to earth His second coming when in reality it will be Jesus’ third coming.  Now read your Bible on this one. The first time Jesus came to earth was when He came as a baby.  The second time He came to earth was after He was crucified and went to hell to give people a chance to be saved who has never heard the Gospel message before Jesus died, “He seeing this before spake of the resurrection of Christ, that his soul was not left in hell, neither his flesh did see corruption.”  (Acts 2:31), but arose on the third day in great victory for us as He said He would do.  So then when He comes back in the clouds of glory as the Angels said, “Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.”  (Acts 1:11) it will be His third time.  I wonder why we call His next coming the second coming?  Maybe because we do not know our Bible well enough to be able to state the facts as the Bible represents them.  But this is nothing new.  We have so many misconceptions regarding heaven and things to come in the future.  I think a lot of our misapplications of thought are due to songs we sing and books we write on how we want things to be and not what we know it will be. We must be careful not to lead people astray in spiritual matters if we really do not know what we are talking about or have never experienced something in God.  I have never spoken to someone who went to heaven or hell and came back to earth (and was not selling a book or DVD) to tell people of their experience and the ones who said they did their words do not line up with the Bible which makes them false teachers.  Take heed my brothers and sisters here.  It is far better to encourage someone to do the things they need to do to make it to heaven than to tell (really guessing) people what heaven is going to be like hoping the grandeur of heaven will be good enough to help them make it there.  We have no idea what heaven is going to be like, but I know it is going to be wonderful (beyond my wildest thoughts) not because of the streets of gold, gates, and walls are made of precious stones, but because Jesus will be there. I am not into heaven I am in to Him!                

 The true hallmark of us wanting to go to heaven or even of our faith is not believing for a miracle, but joy in hard times, joy in difficulties, joy in trials, and joy in the dealings and judgments of God.  Funny how many Christians blame God for things that are not His fault. I hear many Christians say God is dealing and bringing judgments into their lives, but in reality the hard and difficult times they are experiencing is not from God, but of their own handy work.  God’s dealings and judgments in our lives yields spiritual growth and development when we have learned the lesson God desires to teach us.  Jesus Himself said, “Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.”  (2 Timothy 3:12) What a wonderful promise from God. Trials, difficulties, and tribulations are the normal life experiences for Christians.  Peter encourages us, “Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: 13But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy.”  (1 Peter 4:12-13) I need to keep reminding myself of these verses when I am going through difficult times, but we must also remember Jesus said He would never leave us nor forsake us.  Hard times, bad situations, and difficulties in our lives if not tempered by the Holy Spirit yields bitterness, an anguished spirit, and rebellion to God and man.  Our greatest need is not more of “things” or even more trials, difficulties, and tribulations because our need does not move God’s heart oh no what moves God’s heart is our obedience to Him and His word to us.  Some day heaven will be a wonderful time and a wonderful place, for how long I do not know.  What will we be going? I do not know.  When we all get to heaven, well we know that will not happen.  Sadly there will be many (probably more will not make it than those that do) who do not make it to heaven.  Let us labor now for them.  Let us do and say the things we need to do to be the example of integrity, honesty, and righteousness before God and man.  Heaven is a wonderful word to my ears and heart.  My hope is my father (3 Jan 2010), mother (5 June 2014), sister (1 April 1961), other family members, and friends who have closed their eyes in death in this world are waiting for me there.  This is my hope that keeps me going until I come to know the truth for myself about heaven and all that God has in store for me and all that have done the things they needed to do in God go to heaven.