Why Do We Want to Go to Heaven?

C.S. Lewis in his book (The Problem with Pain, 150), stated “There have been times when I think we do not desire heaven; but more often I find myself wondering whether, in our heart of hearts, we have ever desired anything else”.  What he’s talking about is the desire at the core of all our desiring, the thirst that is never quenched by anything we find in this world: our desire for God. 

Lewis calls this core desire “the secret signature of each soul, the incommunicable and unappeasable want, the thing we desired before we met our wives or made our friends or chose our work, and which we shall still desire on our deathbeds, when the mind no longer knows wife or friend or work” (152). 

This “unappeasable want” is a daily experience for us to lesser or greater degrees. Its presence is pervasive in our pursuits. Yet quenching this thirst eludes us in every earthly well we drink from. And nothing in this material life, or even a heavenly mansion will satisfy it either. Only One Thing will. As Randy Alcorn says, 

We may imagine we want a thousand different things, but God is the one we really long for. His presence brings satisfaction; his absence brings thirst and longing. Our longing for Heaven is a longing for God. (Heaven, 165) 

God himself is “the fountain of living waters”; apart from him every other cistern we dig will leave us dry (Jeremiah 2:13). Only he can give us the drink that will forever end our deepest thirst (John 4:14). Our unquenchable thirst, our unappeasable want, is a desire for God (Psalm 63:1–2). This is what the Bible reveals from cover to cover. 

Taken from an article by John Bloom, Staff Writer, desiringGod.org 

Faith or Faith

Draw a horizontal line and refer to it as the ‘line of anthropology’.  Below this line is the area of ‘man’. And everything above the line would be true revelation and knowledge of God, the truth of the existence of God. If you place all of the new age ideas related to meaning, cause, and source of existence above the line, at best, all you can come up with is a “philosophic other,” a metaphysical infinite, which is unknown and unknowable.  In the end, such a system can only fall below the line of anthropology. The reason it falls below the line is because it does not value or have experiential knowledge of man being created in the image of God, nor of God revealing Himself truly in the Scriptures.  

The important thing to note is that while for them nothing can be known above the line, yet nevertheless they go on using the word god to create a ‘theistic’ relevance.  Even though they deny and reject the God of the bible who created the natural world and man in his image, their system ends up being its own religious ideology.   

Probably the best way to describe this concept of modern theology is to say that it is faith in faith, rather than faith directed to an object which is actually there.   In Christianity, one places and directs their faith to the person of Jesus Christ who can be known and who is there.

Thoughts developed and/or taken from the works of Dr. Francis A. Schaeffer, Trilogy – The God Who Is There 

Either Right or Wrong

(Antithesis) If a thing is true, the opposite is not true; if a thing is right, the opposite is wrong.   

In the modern era, the word god is often used semantically in a connotation and relationship to universal ‘presence’ or universal ‘essence’ and it has no base or definition.  It is not used in relationship to ‘the God’ of the bible and the true God, Creator of life, who is there.  The use of the word ‘god’ is used by many voices in a ‘mystical’ sense to create a universal reality of a spiritual realm that is ‘out there’ and available to all if we can just open our minds and ‘hear and feel’ and connect to this ‘essence’.  It is a false reality. 

The use of the word ‘god’ to create a theistic sense or universal reality of some cosmic force that is available to all…in itself is meaningless until given content.  The bible gives very clear content to the God who is Creator and who is there.   

Christianity alone provides the objective answer to the modern era’s sense of meaninglessness, that the rebellion of each person against the God who is there has separated them from the God who exists, and thus gives them the true explanation of the position to which they have come. 

Christianity demands antithesis, not as some abstract concept of truth, but in the fact that God exists, and in personal justification. The biblical concept of justification is a total, personal antithesis. Before justification, we were dead in the kingdom of darkness. The Bible says that in the moment that we accept Christ we pass from death to life. This is total antithesis at the level of the individual man. 

Once we begin to slip over into the other methodology, we begin to lose hold on the only universal and absolute which can be known by the whole man, including what is logical and rational in him.   We were created and wired to ‘know’ the God who is there.

Thoughts developed and/or taken from the works of Dr. Francis A. Schaeffer, Trilogy – The God Who Is There 

Truth and Hope

Only Christianity, of all the world’s religions, has produced a real interest in man. Christianity is not romantic; it is realistic. Christianity is realistic because it says that if there is no truth, there is also no hope; and there can be no truth if there is no adequate base. It is prepared to face the consequences of being proved false and say with The Apostle Paul: If you find the body of Christ, the discussion is finished; let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die. (1) 

It leaves absolutely no room for a romantic answer. For example, in the realm of morals, Christianity does not look over this tired and burdened world and say that it is slightly flawed, a little chipped, but easily mended. Christianity is realistic and says the world is marked with evil and man is truly guilty all along the line. Christianity refuses to say that you can be hopeful for the future if you are basing your hope on evidence of change for the better in mankind. The Christian agrees with the people in genuine despair that the world must be looked at realistically, whether in the area of Being or in morals.   

Christianity is the only religion that has a God who God who put on human skin and lived a sinless life ‘so that’ He could serve as a substitutionary sacrifice to die a death that you and I deserve in order to make full payment for a penalty that we owed.  He paid our penalty.  His resurrection is our ‘proof of life’. (2) 

The bible says He did this because He loves us.  The God who is there is a personal God who loves us.  From beginning to end.  He is love.  We love because He is love. (3) 

(1)  (I Corinthians 15:12-19 ESV   12 Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13 But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. 14 And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. 15 We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified about God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised. 16 For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised. 17 And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. 18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. 19 If in Christ we have hope[a] in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied.) 

(2)  (John 3:16 ESV    16 “For God so loved the world,[a] that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.) 

(3) (1 John 4:19 ESV   19 We love because he first loved us.)

Thoughts developed and/or taken from the works of Dr. Francis A. Schaeffer, Trilogy – The God Who Is There 

About Meaning and Purpose

(This is a comment posted on our blog site yesterday from Scott Jeffries.  Scott is a Physical Therapist who resides in Indiana).

I think it was C.S Lewis who pointed out that if your mind is nothing but the product of accidents, (evolution) then you cannot trust your own thoughts, therefore you can’t trust your own thoughts about atheism. It is self-refuting. Along that line. in an evolutionary frame work, if the beginning of your life has no meaning or purpose and the end of your life has no meaning or purpose (you die you rot). Then the middle of your life has no meaning or purpose either.  The scientific problems with evolution are astounding. Too bad they are not taught. So grateful to God and his word .

Abandoning Cause and Source

The modern ideas of secular humanism as to Cause and Source are a direct opposite (antithesis)to the Judeo-Christian view which declares there is a God who is Creator of the external world.  It is a direct opposite to the objective reality of the God who created man in His image and created order in design and purpose and meaning for existence. 

The ideas and language of the modern man do not speak of God as the cause, source, and purpose of life.  The objective reality of the ‘God Who Is There’ is viewed as simply a philosophical notion that is an out dated idea belonging to an out dated system contained to people who need an organized system of religion in order to function and cope.   

There is an increasing embrace of ideas that lead to hopelessness.  That everything is chance. Chance, the nothingness, is not just shut up in a framed picture, but it is the entire structure of life. You are in the chance, in the nothingness All is relative, nothing is sure, nothing is fixed, all is in flux.  

The new message is that ‘we’ the people can have unity and love and world peace without regard or contact with the cause and source of love and peace.  The new language is mixed with ‘theistic’ and spiritual connotations that have religious sound. But they are void of objective truth and they have no answer or explanation for an objective reality as to cause and source of life or meaning and purpose of life.  And such is the new synthesis of ideas of modern man.  

We are seeing an increasing antithesis to the belief in a Creator God Who Is There and who has designed a precise order for meaning and purpose to life.  Modern man is increasingly being told that this incredible external world with all of its complexity and diversity is a chance universe.  And we are being told that ‘man’ with his unique capacity for ‘knowing’, awareness, objective morality, who communicates and verbalizes, that ‘all of this’ arose by chance in a chance universe with only a future of chance ahead of him.   

God as Creator and source and cause of life is the antithesis to the modern ideas that deny Him as source and cause.  We who believe in God and know God must seek to share the truth and light of God , especially in this modern era where relativism is increasing and it seeks to not allow for the possibility of finding any universal and absolute truth that God is cause and source of life.  Francis Schaeffer said “this is the consensus of the cultural environment, and this is that world-spirit which we must reject and into which we must speak.”    

There is a God Who Is There.  We can ‘know’ Him at a deep personal level because He is personal.  He alone is truth and light and love.  He is Cause and Source.  

Thoughts developed and/or taken from the works of Dr. Francis A. Schaeffer, Trilogy – The God Who Is There 

‘Seeing’ The Light

‘Seeing’ The Light 

In this modern era of thinking, there are many people who look for purpose and meaning to life neither sure the external world is Created by God the Creator or that man is special in that he is created in the Image of God.  But despite their intellectual doubts, many of them have had a true ‘experience’ of the reality of the external world that exists, and/or the “mannishness” of man that exists. They can do this precisely because this is how God has made man, in His own image, able to experience the real world and man’s “mannishness.” 

Thus they have hit upon something which exists, and it is neither nothing, nor is it God. We might sum up thier experience by saying that when they experience the “redness” of a rose, they are having the experience of the external world, as is the farmer who plows his field. They are both touching the world that is. 

In the same way, lovers on the left bank of the Seine in Paris experience the “mannishness” of man when they fall in love and yet cry because they do not understand the source of love because they are not sure that love exists.

In his writing, Dr. Francis A. Schaeffer says “If I met any of these people who are having an ‘experience’, I would put my hand gently on their shoulders and say, “You are separated from God if you do not accept Christ as your Savior, but at this moment you understand something real about the universe.” Though their system may not be able to explain the source of love or that love exists, their own experience shows that it does. They have not touched the personal God who exists, but for a fleeting moment they have touched the existence of true personality in their love. This is indeed an objective reality, because God has made their personalities in this way. 

It is true that in these experiences man has touched something, not nothing; but what he has touched is not God, but the objective reality of the external world and the “mannishness” of man that God has created.  They experience the objective reality of what God has designed and created for man to experience ‘so that’ it leads them to experience a personal knowledge and relationship with the personal God who is there.  

Thoughts developed and/or taken from the works of Dr. Francis A. Schaeffer, Trilogy – The God Who Is There 

Seeing The Light

God has created a real, external world. 

It is not an extension of His essence. 

The real, external world exists. 

God has also created man as a real, personal being, and he possesses a distinct and particular “mannishness” from which he can never escape.  

We are designed and wired to ‘know’ an objective and rational experience of the reality of the external world that exists, and/or the “mannishness” that exists. 

We can know this reality precisely because this is how God has made man, in His own image, able to experience the real world and man’s “mannishness.”   We have ‘personality’ because God is personal.  

We are hard-wired to ‘know’ the personal ‘God who Is’.  

Your ultimate life meaning and purpose is to ‘know’ God at the deepest personal level of experience.   

He has revealed Himself to us through the external world that exist.  

He has revealed Himself to us in our ‘internal’ wiring…our sense of ‘knowing’ is hard-wired to give us ‘knowledge’ and relationship with Him.

And He has manifested Himself to all men through the God-man Jesus Christ.    

Thoughts developed from the works of Dr. Francis A. Schaeffer, Trilogy. 

How To Read Genesis 1-3

The Nature of God 

Who God Is 

How To Read Genesis 1-3

Part 5  (Final Part)

Use of Analogies in Genesis 1–3 

Finally, it is wise to take into account the ordinary way that God uses in speaking to his people in Genesis 1–3. He does not need to impress anyone with some highly technical display of scientific knowledge. After all, he is God. All the technical knowledge, like all human knowledge whatsoever, ultimately comes from him. What he does in Genesis is to speak to ordinary people about what they most need to know. They need to know that he is the almighty God. They need to know that he created everything that they can see, and even what they cannot see. He created things at least partly for the benefit and blessing of human beings. The creation displays his power and his glory (Psalm 19:1–6). 

So in Genesis 1–2, God largely describes what he did by using analogies with providential works that he continues to do today. For instance, he created the whole system by which plants reproduce according to their kinds (Genesis 1:11–12). He did it in an initial, once-for-all act of creation. But the pattern of making new plants continues in his providential work today. These analogies between today and the events of creation help ordinary people to understand what God did. 

If we take into account God’s address to ordinary people, it helps to steer us away from either overreading or underreading Genesis 1–3. We overread it if we try to find technical detail about exactly how God did what he did. What he did in Genesis 1 is analogous to what he does day by day in providential control now. But because this description involves analogy rather than identity, we cannot infer the details beyond what the analogies give us. 

We also should beware of the danger of underreading Genesis 1–3. This underreading takes place if we merely focus on the main point — God is God, and he made everything. That is true enough. But whatever God says in Genesis 1–3, including each detail, offers something to learn. Nothing is to be merely discarded or set aside merely because it is not the main point. 

Events in Space and Time 

The basic guidelines for interpreting Genesis 1–3 derive from Scripture itself. If we follow the guide of Scripture, we will read Genesis 1–3 with understanding. We will not have all our questions answered, because Genesis 1–3 does not say everything that could be said about the details of how God did things. Much remains mysterious. But we do gain from Genesis 1–3 a true understanding of reality. God created the world and mankind. Adam and Eve rebelled in the garden. Those were real events in space and time.   (end)

Taken from an article from the works of Vern Poythressauthor and professor of New Testament interpretation at Westminster Theological Seminary. His most recent books include Knowing and the Trinity: How Perspectives in Human Knowledge Imitate the Trinity (P&R Publishing, 2018) and The Mystery of the Trinity: A Trinitarian Approach to the Attributes of God (P&R Publishing, 2020). He has degrees from Westminster, Cambridge, Harvard, and Caltech. 

What to Do with Modern Science?

The Nature of God

 Who God Is

 How To Read Genesis 1-3

Part 4

What to Do with Modern Science? 

Next, let us ask how we deal with claims coming from modern science. The upset over some of these claims is undoubtedly one of the motivations for people who search for new interpretations of Genesis 1–3. Some people are looking for ways to make peace with modern scientific claims by reinterpreting Genesis 1–3 in such a way that it then fits within the framework of modern science. 

We cannot in a short article deal with every aspect of this complex, challenging issue. For thoroughness, it needs book-length treatment.1 But we can make some brief observations. 

First, modern scientific research and reflection has many benefits. But it is not immune from influence from the surrounding cultural atmosphere. In particular, philosophical materialism has an influence. It puts pressure on scientists to treat the world as reducible to matter and motion, and to deny the existence of God in practice. Clearly, the implications of this framework are inevitably going to clash with the Bible, because the two worldviews, the modern one and the biblical one, are in conflict. 

Second, as a result of the influence of worldview, Christians need to inspect critically claims coming from scientists, rather than blindly accepting everything that waves the banner of the prestige of science. It does not mean that scientists are deliberately concealing the truth. But they are typically not consciously inspecting the influence of their own worldview assumptions. They may take for granted assumptions (such as philosophical materialism) that are not in fact true. 

Moreover, in many areas of the sciences, as investigation continues to develop, scientists dispute among themselves. It is easy to ignore minority voices, but not wise to do so. 

Third, it is wise to distinguish experimental sciences from historical sciences. In experimental sciences, as the label suggests, scientists conduct experiments. They postulate regularities on the basis of repeated observation under controlled laboratory conditions. The impressive practical benefits of the sciences derive almost wholly from experimental sciences. 

Historical sciences, by contrast, are investigations that try to reconstruct the past. Direct experiments cannot be conducted on the past, because the past is permanently gone. And here it gets challenging, because there are key events in the past that occurred only once in the whole history of the universe. Man came on the scene once. Each new kind of animal appeared once. The universe itself came into being once. These events are exceptional. And, since God exists, they may be miraculous events. They may be outside the scope of the regularities that experimental scientists can currently observe. 

The main takeaway principle here is not too quickly to decide that current scientific opinion about the past is completely aligned with what actually happened, nor that investigations into current regularities (“scientific laws”) will ever be able to explain unique past events brought about by God. We should be patient, rather than panicked, if we hear of some apparent discrepancy between the claims in the Bible and the claims being made by some modern scientists.  (Part 5 tomorrow)

Taken from an article from the works of Vern Poythressauthor and professor of New Testament interpretation at Westminster Theological Seminary. His most recent books include Knowing and the Trinity: How Perspectives in Human Knowledge Imitate the Trinity (P&R Publishing, 2018) and The Mystery of the Trinity: A Trinitarian Approach to the Attributes of God (P&R Publishing, 2020). He has degrees from Westminster, Cambridge, Harvard, and Caltech.