Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Elizabeth and I had lunch with a family after church on Sunday and the wife asked me if I enjoy preaching through Revelation (we're on Rev 20:11-15: the Great White Throne Judgment tonight). I responded with this lengthy answer expressing my gratitude for the opportunity to study about the end times. As most preachers would say, my favorite book of the Bible is the one I'm currently preaching through--and for me, one of those books is Revelation. Over the past year or so, I've been immersed in this final book of the Bible thinking, praying, meditating and musing on the final events that God has ordained in human history.

I find that as I study more--especially recently as I've been drawing closer to the Lake of Fire and the New Heavens and the New Earth--I, consequently, live my life with an awareness that my life could end any moment (Prov 27:1) and that my life is a vapor (James 4:14) which could be taken from me at any moment. The recognition that eternal happiness in the presence of God in heaven or the eternal torment in the presence of God in hell are constant thoughts that race through my mind. Even as I ride the bus to seminary, I find myself praying for the Lord to open conversations to share the gospel. You can only imagine what kind of looks (some good, most bad, a handful bewildered) I get when people on the bus see me reading a book with the title "The Torments of Hell" in large-print on the front cover. I find the all-too-real truth is that many people think they're going to heaven or they believe that this life is it--therefore believing in annihilationism.

Therefore, do I enjoy studying about heaven and hell? Have I enjoyed my labors in preaching and teaching through this book, chapter by chapter, verse by verse? Of course! I am grateful to God for the awesome privilege I've had to be all the more aware of eternity. It is as Jonathan Edwards resolved in his heart, to constantly have one eye on heaven and one eye on hell as he lived life. He stated it similarly in Resolution #55:

Resolved, to endeavor to my utmost to act as I can think I should do, if I had already seen the happiness of heaven, and hell torments.

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