The Great Reveal: Our Epic Journey Through Time, Space and Eternity – Part 16

God’s eternal plan for time and space is underway. First, we saw creation. Next, we saw corruption. The third and final part of God’s plan is redemption.

How would God introduce the idea of redemption into His plan? He already did –

So the Lord God said to the serpent: ‘Because you have done this, You are cursed more than all cattle, And more than every beast of the field; On your belly you shall go, And you shall eat dust All the days of your life. And I will put enmity Between you and the woman, And between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, And you shall bruise His heel.” Genesis 3:14-15

Adam and Eve sinned against God and plunged creation into corruption. God immediately introduced redemption. It was an eternal plan based on the Son of God’s death and resurrection that would be carried out in time and space –

“… who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began, but has now been revealed by the appearing of our Savior Jesus Christ, who has abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.’ 2 Timothy 1:9-10

Continue reading “The Great Reveal: Our Epic Journey Through Time, Space and Eternity – Part 16”

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Why Doesn’t God Just Take Me To Heaven?

Way to heaven

Have you ever asked yourself that question? “Why doesn’t God just take me to Heaven?” Christians ask that question for many reasons. Some are excited to see Jesus. Others suffer from disease and pain and want eternal relief. Some just can’t stand living in this world any longer and want to get out of it and go to a place where they are loved and welcomed. Whatever the reason for asking that question, it’s important we consider it.

The answer lies in our understanding of God’s design for Creation and Redemption. In the beginning, God Created the heavens and the earth. On the 6th day of Creation, God made the first human beings.

“Then God said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.’ So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.” Genesis 1:26-27

God chose to Create humans in “Our image, according to Our likeness.” The words “image” and “likeness” in Hebrew mean “strong likeness to the person or thing it represents, strong resemblance, similar in form, to be like something else in action or appearance.” God Created many things during six days of Creation, but He created only one being that was in His “image” and “likeness.” God Created humans to be like Him in having dominion over Creation – “let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” The word “dominion” means “to rule, tread down, subjugate, dominate.” Even as God ruled the universe, He Created man to rule the earth with Him. That is a part of man being Created in the “image” and “likeness” of God.

Unfortunately, humanity’s dominion was short and ended badly. The first man and woman disobeyed God and fell into a position far from their original place with Him. However, God did not give up on humans and had a plan to redeem them. His purpose? To once again be in His “image” and “likeness” and rule with Him.

“And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.” Romans 8:28-30

God predetermined that those He foreknew and called would be “conformed to the image of His Son.” The word “conformed” means “having the same form as another.” The word “image” speaks to both the ideas of representation and manifestation. Christians know that they’ll be “like Christ” when they get to Heaven, but what does this have to do with now?

The Apostle Paul was a leading advocate of the idea of God doing a special work in the lives of His children “before” they left earth for Heaven. Let’s see what else Paul said that might help us understand why we’re still here.

“But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith; that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.” Philippians 3:7-11

Paul spoke about his own struggles in this life. It was important to him that he would understand the righteousness which comes through faith in Jesus Christ. He wanted to have an intimate knowledge of Christ and experience His power, and the fellowship of His sufferings, “being conformed to His death.” Was that something Paul would experience when he arrived in Heaven? He went on to write, “if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.” This is a deep truth. Paul, through faith in Christ and sharing in the sufferings of Christ, would be fashioned into both the representation and manifestation of Christ. And that comes before “the resurrection from the dead.” If God took us straight to Heaven after we were saved, we would not experience the great power and change in our lives described by the Apostle Paul. We would miss out on an amazing experience of the depth of God’s Love for us.

God is doing a special work in the lives of His children on earth. He is forming us – through faith and sharing in both Christ’s power and His suffering – into the sweet image of His Son. God is preparing us to rule with Him. This life is a training ground. The lessons we learn here – the experiences we have here and now – will benefit us greatly through eternity. But most of all – this life is what we have to please Him from our free will and love for Him. How we live our lives now is of great consequence to how we will live our lives in Heaven. The time is soon coming for all of us when God will complete His Redemption and take us to be with Him where we will rule and reign forever and ever and ever.

“Brethren, join in following my example, and note those who so walk, as you have us for a pattern. For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: whose end is destruction, whose god is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame—who set their mind on earthly things. For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself.” Philippians 3:17-22

In Christ’s Love and Grace,

Mark McGee

GraceLife Ministries

“Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.”


Words For A New Life

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One of the things I remember from my first year as a Christian is a lot of big words — words like salvation, regeneration, redemption, justification, sanctification, predestination, glorification, dispensation, among many others. I could tell the words were important because older Christians were obviously taken with their importance. I was blessed to be able to look after and live in the house of a Bible teacher for a few weeks while he and his family were traveling. I had access to his large library of theological writings. I spent almost all of my spare time at the house reading from his library and learning about these beautiful and powerful words.

What I learned was that every true believer in Christ inherits all of these spiritual blessings at the nano-second they are saved.

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved. In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace which He made to abound toward us in all wisdom and prudence, having made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He purposed in Himself, that in the dispensation of the fullness of the times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth—in Him. In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will, that we who first trusted in Christ should be to the praise of His glory. In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory.” Ephesians 1:3-14

I didn’t know it when I was “born from above,” but I had inherited thousands of spiritual blessings explained through special words passed down to us for thousands of years. Here are some of the “words for a new life” just from this one small portion of the Apostle Paul’s writings.

  1. blessed
  2. spiritual blessing
  3. heavenly places
  4. chose in Him
  5. foundation of the world
  6. holy
  7. without blame
  8. love
  9. predestined
  10. adoption
  11. sons
  12. good pleasure
  13. His will
  14. praise
  15. glory
  16. grace
  17. accepted
  18. Beloved
  19. redemption
  20. His blood
  21. forgiveness of sins
  22. riches of His grace
  23. abound toward us
  24. wisdom
  25. prudence
  26. mystery of His will
  27. purposed in Himself
  28. dispensation of the fullness of the times
  29. all things in Christ
  30. inheritance
  31. works all things
  32. counsel of His will
  33. trusted in Christ
  34. Word of truth
  35. Gospel of your salvation
  36. having believed
  37. sealed
  38. Holy Spirit of promise
  39. guarantee of our inheritance
  40. redemption of the purchased possession

And that was just the beginning! God placed several mentors into my life during my first year as a “baby” Christian that prepared me for God’s calling in my life. Two of them were Bible teachers who introduced me to the great treasure of studying God’s Word from the Greek and Hebrew. The other two were pastors who had a great burden for shepherding God’s people and reaching the lost sheep in their community. I smile as I write this because God gave me the dominant spiritual gifts of teaching and shepherding and the mentors who were in my life during my first year as a Christian were men who had similar dominant gifts.

It’s just one small reminder that God chose us before the foundation of the world. It reminds me of what parents do before their children are born. They prepare for the arrival of the new bundle of joy. They buy clothing, furniture, diapers and other necessities for a newborn. They sometimes remodel a room and get it ready for the new baby. The birth of a child is no surprise to the parents and their family and friends. That’s why we say that a woman is “expecting.” They are expecting the child to be born, so they prepare. God did the same thing. He chose us in Christ from before the foundation of the world and made all the necessary preparations for our birth. Everything we needed was in place and ready. Nothing in our lives is by chance. God knew it long ago.

My guess is that you could say the same thing as me about your first year as a Christian. God knew you were going to be born and He prepared everything and everyone for you. Who did God put into your life as mentors that first year? Who were the Christians who ministered to you most? Did they have similar spiritual gifts as you? How has God worked in your life to prepare you for worship and ministry? It’s often through other Christians. I believe we are drawn by the Spirit of God to the people He will use to train us for ministry. Take a look around. Who is in your life now? What Christians are you drawn to spend time with? Who do you think like and want to be with in your local church and other Christian groups and organizations? What ministries are most important to you? That’s often a big clue to your primary spiritual gift and ministry.

The Bible is filled with words – 783,137 to be exact. More than three-quarters-of-a-million words, each one having great and eternal importance because they are the “Words of God.” These are words of eternal life. They teach us, guide us, protect us, answer our hardest questions, meet our deepest needs. I pray that all Christians will fall deeply in love with the Word of God and make Bible study a major part of their lives every day, year after year. The Word of God is our salvation, our hope,  just like Peter said to Jesus: “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. Also we have come to believe and know that You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”

Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior, has the Words of eternal life. No one else does. No other religion, no other philosophy, no other teacher or leader. Only Jesus has the Words of eternal life. We are most blessed to have these Words available to us to read, study, memorize, and internalize. The Word of God is not a book of literature to be read and put on a shelf. The Bible is alive with principles and precepts that save souls and guide the greatest living organism in the universe – the Body of Christ.

In Christ’s Love and Grace,

Mark McGee

GraceLife Ministries