There is an old hymn I used to sing as a boy going to Baptist churches. It is “When We All Get To Heaven.” I like the picture of paradise this hymn gave to me. Let me explain.
I recently spent some time with a daughter and her family that live out of town. I felt badly when I left because I wasn’t going to see them for a while. To be with my daughter that lives near me, I had to leave the daughter that lives in another state. I like the picture of Heaven that says a day is coming when the whole family is going to be together, forever.
Of course, those of us that sang that hymn back then did not really mean all. We really were singing about all of us good Baptists getting to Heaven. We never specifically excluded other born again denominations, but underneath, I think we thought that we were the only ones making it for sure.
Denominations that were like The Baptists were probably OK. Pentecostals were more questionable. We talked about some Catholics actually being saved. Liberal Christians were definitely left out. Forget about non-believers.
We purposely did not bring to mind all the poor souls burning in Hell while we were singing about getting to heaven. To think directly about those unfortunate people would have dampened our enthusiasm and ruined our celebration. However, we were very glad it wasn’t going to be us suffering the eternal fires.
These days I see things differently. I now believe the Christian message is that the work of Christ on the cross is completely sufficient and ultimately irresistible. In other words, a day is coming when we ALL get to Heaven. I believe that no one ever born will fail to reach Heaven.
Furthermore, I believe that each and every person ever born had eternal life their entire life. I do not need to get eternal life, I need to realize that I already have eternal life. You do not need to get eternal life. You need to realize that you already have eternal life.God’s grace is totally sufficient for everyone. In my mind, there are no exceptions.
You and I are already swimming in God’s grace. We neither fully know it or fully utilize it, but we do have it. Unfortunately, sometimes, we are like people living a life of miserable hunger when we have millions in the bank.
No one has to pray God in from Chicago. God is in us and around us every second of every day. The Apostle Paul goes so far as to say that God’s word is near, it’s in your mouth, it’s in your heart.
That’s why I think the so called battlefield conversions are real. The terror of battle strips away the defenses a person has erected against God’s love. With the defenses destroyed, the person on the battlefield, comes face to face with the reality of a God who truly cares.
I have heard program people make the same observation. They have said things like, “I found out that God loved me while I was puking in a toilet.”
Here is what happened. The stress of drunken living finally knocked down ego, the person surrendered and then made the decision to turn his will and his life over to God’s care. In response, God in his love and power began to build into us, the very things we had wanted and needed all our lives up to that point.
Some unfortunate folks live and die without seeing God and his love. We may fight God off until we have died, but ultimately God’s love wins. In the end, everyone surrenders, everyone goes to Heaven.
There is also this point. A man that lived on the street that I met at the mission, once said to me, ” Who wants to live forever. I certainly don’t.”
I could see what he meant. Who wants to live an empty, lonely, painful, suffering life that lasts forever. But what we call eternal life is not only unending life, it is also God’s fulfilled,totally love filled, joyful, fun, life. Most of us would like that life to last a very long time.
Now think about that song. When we all get to heaven. When I sing that song today, it talks to me about the day when every last living, breathing soul ever born gets to heaven.
And it is not just people. The Bible tells me that God’s entire creation, [animals, plants, galaxies, rivers, oceans] is going to come into its full potential in heaven.
Now lets add the next line:
“When we all get to heaven, What a day of rejoicing that will be.”
That is a day that merits some real rejoicing. Can’t wait to see the dinosaurs and other prehistoric animals. Then how about my ancestors. I would love to meet my grandmother fifty times removed, the one that lived three hundred years before Christ. Sounds like cause for a first rate celebration to me.
Maybe I will have the joy of being with my girls and the joy of my solitude all at the same time. Maybe, without the limitations of space and time, I will be able to enjoy things a billion times more than today and enjoy things in a million different ways than today; ways I can not even imagine now.
That’s what I believe awaits us all.
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