The image that I use in this article is from a painting called ‘First Day In Heaven’, and it truly captures the incredible joy that awaits the born again Christian in Heaven. It has nothing to do with anything that the physical place of Heaven contains, as amazing as all that will be, and everything to do with Who is waiting there to receive us there. It’s all about Jesus.
Do you remember what it was like the moment you called out to Him in your anguish of soul, asking nothing more than to be cleansed of your sin, and the overflowing joy that followed when Jesus saved you?
The only place in the New Testament where it talks about an actual church building is found in the book of Revelation, in the message from Jesus to the angel of the Church at Laodicea. Laodicea is a very busy church, materially prosperous, and it represents in type the end of the Church Age where we now find ourselves. But it is also the church of the ‘closed door’, and on the other side stands the One whom we claim to follow, asking for anyone who cares enough to open the door and let Him in. How sadly ironic for the One who is The Door to be relegated to the outside of the very thing He shed His blood to create.
“Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me. To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.” Revelation 3:20-22 (KJV)
Revelation 3, in verses 14 through 22, shows us the state of the Body of Christ at end of the Church Age, that is about to experience the Pre-tribulation Rapture, described to us in type starting in chapter 4. But the Church Age is not ending in triumph, it is ending corporately in lukewarm apostasy, self-seeking and self-enrichment. We’ve become callous and religiously hardened, having reduced the love of Jesus Christ and the love for Jesus Christ, to a series of bullet point presentations that purports to show us how to have a ‘better life’ but actually do nothing of the kind.
“And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood,” Revelation 1:5 (KJV)
In short, we have fallen out of love with the very One who has redeemed our souls with His own blood. The same One who at this very moment stands at the door, knocking, asking to be let in. Asking you and asking me to let Him in. Why would He bother to patiently stand and knock when He could simply speak and start everything all over again? Why does He love us so much?
Do you remember what it was like when you first got saved, back when you didn’t know much more about the the Bible than John 3:16? Do you remember what it was like the moment you called out to Him in your anguish of soul, asking nothing more than to be cleansed of your sin, and then the overflowing joy that followed when Jesus saved you?
“But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” Ephesians 2:4-9 (KJV)
The true message to the Laodicean Church Age
I remember when that day was for me 27 years ago, on my knees in my bedroom, with a King James Bible open to John 3:16, asking God to save me with tears streaming down my face. I had come face to face with Jesus, and felt the burden of sin peeled away from me like so much old wallpaper being removed from the parlour. It was exhilarating, it was liberating, and most of all I was in head over heels in love with a Jewish Saviour, Jesus of Nazareth.
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” John 3:16 (KJV)
I immediately began to witness to anyone who would listen, or not listen, so excited to show them the freedom that I had found in Jesus Christ. My message wasn’t about ‘religion’, it wasn’t about trying to get anyone to church, and it wasn’t about trying to show people how to ‘improve their lives’ with a new way of thinking. No, my only message was to tell people about a Person, a Man, an actual Individual with whom they were invited to have a relationship with who just happened to be the God of the entire universe.
But if God would have back then showed me the future that yes, would include amazing victories, souls saved and mountain top experiences, but also the times where I would functionally deny His Name and return to living for myself and the world, I would have ran screaming out of the room. How could I ever turn away from such amazing love? How could you? Yet according to Jesus in Revelation, somehow we did. Peter asked the same question.
“And the Lord turned, and looked upon Peter. And Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how he had said unto him, Before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice. And Peter went out, and wept bitterly.” Luke 22:61,62 (KJV)
This I believe is the message to the angel of the church of Laodicea, a church that had replaced the love of a living Saviour with the lukewarm outer vestiges of religion. The true church is not a building, it’s the redeemed people who make up the Body of Christ. We’re not called to church building programs and membership drives, or even about ‘sharing the message’. We are called to tell a lost and dying world about a person, Jesus Christ, and to invite them to have a saving relationship with Him. And while we do that, to personally open the door to let Jesus back in to our own lives as individuals.
The true joy and beauty of Heaven is Jesus
The image that I use in this article is from a painting called ‘First Day In Heaven‘, and to me it really captures the incredible joy that awaits the born again Christians – made up of both Jew and Gentile – in Heaven. It has nothing to do with anything that the physical place of Heaven contains, as amazing as all that will be, and everything to do with Who is waiting there to receive us. Safe in His arms, never again to be apart, all tears wiped away forever more.
“Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not. Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.” 1 John 3:1,2 (KJV)
Look at the expression on the girl’s face in the painting, she is finally with the One who loves her more than anyone else could possibly love her, and her soul is filled to overflowing. What inexpressible joy we will know in that day! In that moment she knows that the only thing that mattered in this life, or will matter in the life to come, is a relationship with Jesus Christ.
As the Church Age comes to a close, we are reminded that while it will end in failure corporately, the invitation to each and every one of us individually to ‘open the door’ to Jesus Christ remains in gloriously full effect. And when we do, Jesus promises to come in and ‘sup’ with us in intimate fellowship.
“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.” John 10:27,28 (KJV)
Return to your first love while time remains
Christian, ask yourself this. Where is Jesus in your life right now? Does He occupy the place He did when you first got saved, or has He faded into the dull routine of your daily life? Listen to see if you can hear Him knocking on the door of your own heart, inviting you in to eat with Him and be restored to true fellowship. Throwing off the shackles of Laodicea and returning to your first love. Taking worthless religion and throwing it in the trash where it belongs, the true Christian life is about Jesus who gives us the victory in Himself.
Over the past 8 and a half years on NTEB we have talked about an amazingly-wide range of topics covering differing religions, politics, the Bible and issues related to the Last Days. But there is nothing more important than opening the door to Jesus as He knocks for us. To the getting away from creeds and rituals, and getting back to the One that saved us and redeemed us with His own blood. Going forward this ministry will seek to make sure that Jesus occupies the place He so rightly deserves.
He is worthy of praise, His mercy endures forever, and He loved you and I so much that He took our punishment on Himself and paid for our ransom in full. He is Jesus of Nazareth, and He loves us more than we have the ability to understand it. Revelation 3 and the message to Laodicea was not written to lost people, it was written to redeemed people who had lost their way. It’s not about anything we can do for Him, and everything about what He has already done for us.
Listen as He stands knocking, open the door and let Him in. It’s all about Jesus.
“For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:28,29 (KJV)