The Early Christians Experienced Happiness in Christ Despite Suffering; So Can We

Recently Nanci and I saw the movie Paul, Apostle of Christ. We were both surprised at how dark it was, focusing almost exclusively on Rome’s brutal violence done against Christians and their children. Paul is suffering in prison nearly all the movie, and even the flashbacks are either him suffering or inflicting suffering on others.

Of course, historically there was plenty of such violence, and we don’t want it whitewashed! That’s not my concern. But Paul’s life contained many events that were beautiful—including strong relationships, miracles, healings, demons cast out, and radical conversions with infusions of happiness. We wished for a few happy flashbacks of the joy he experienced knowing and serving Jesus, as seen throughout the book of Acts. (Given the good reviews I read, no doubt God is using the movie in some people’s lives. And if you’re among them, that’s great!)

It also seemed odd to show the community of faith’s suffering endlessly without depicting their joy. In the movie, the believers in hiding are portrayed as divided and squabbling and nearly always distraught. I’m all for realistic portrayals of suffering and hardship (I’ve written three books on the problem of evil and suffering), and certainly first-century Christians experienced much heartbreak and persecution. But they also experienced happiness, celebration, and the abundant life in the midst of difficulty. Their lives were punctuated by feasting and singing and laughing and rejoicing. (It almost feels like there’s an underlying assumption in this movie that God has called His people to

Continue: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/randyalcorn/2018/04/early-christians-happiness-despite-suffering/

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Will We Have Our Own Homes in Heaven?

Perhaps you’re familiar with Christ’s promise in John 14: “In my Father’s house are many mansions. . . . I go to prepare a place for you” (v. 2, KJV). The Vulgate, the Latin Bible, used the word mansiones in that verse, and the King James Version followed by using mansions. Unfortunately, that rendering is misleading if it makes us envision having massive lodgings on separate estates. The intended meaning seems to be that we’ll have separate dwelling places on a single estate or even separate rooms within the same house.

New Testament scholar D. A. Carson says, “Since heaven is here pictured as the Father’s house, it is more natural to think of ‘dwelling-places’ within a house as rooms or suites. . . . The simplest explanation is best: my Father’s house refers to heaven, and in heaven are many rooms, many dwelling-places. The point is not the lavishness of each apartment, but the fact that such ample provision has been made that there is more than enough space for every one of Jesus’ disciples to join him in his Father’s home.” [1]

The New International Version rendering of John 14:2 is this: “In my Father’s house are many rooms. . . . I am going there to prepare a place for you.” Placeis singular, but rooms is plural. This suggests Jesus has in mind for each of us an individual dwelling that’s a smaller part of the larger place. This place will be home to us in the most unique sense.

There is more at: https://www.epm.org/blog/2018/Feb/16/own-homes-heaven

Answering Claims That the Bible Contains Errors, and Why It Matters That It Doesn’t

http://www.epm.org/blog/2017/Dec/13/claims-bible-contains-errors

No More Boredom

~ Randy Alcorn

Science fiction writer Isaac Asimov said, “I don’t believe in an afterlife, so I don’t have to spend my whole life fearing hell, or fearing heaven even more. For whatever the tortures of hell, I think the boredom of heaven would be even worse.”

Sadly, even among Christians, it’s a prevalent myth that Heaven will be boring. Sometimes we can’t envision anything beyond strumming a harp and polishing streets of gold. We’ve succumbed to Satan’s strategies “to blaspheme God, and to slander his name and his dwelling place” (Revelation 13:6).

People sometimes say, “I’d rather be having a good time in Hell than be bored out of my mind in Heaven.” Many imagine Hell as a place where they’ll hang around and shoot pool and joke with friends. That could happen on the New Earth, but not in Hell.

Read more: http://www.epm.org/blog/2017/Sep/20/no-more-boredom

Giving Might Be the Most Neglected and Least Modeled Spiritual Gift in the Western Church

http://www.epm.org/blog/2017/Aug/7/giving-neglected-spiritual-gift

Will All People Be Equal in Heaven

All people are equal in worth, but they differ in gifting and performance. God is the creator of diversity, and diversity means “inequality” of gifting (1 Corinthians 12:14-20). Because God promises to reward people differently according to their differing levels of faithfulness in this life, we should not expect equality of possessions and positions in Heaven.

If everyone were equal in Heaven in all respects, it would mean we’d have no role models, no heroes, no one to look up to, no thrill of hearing wise words from someone we deeply admire. I’m not equal to Hudson Taylor, Susanna Wesley, George Mueller, or C. S. Lewis. I want to follow their examples, but I don’t need to be their equals.

Continue: http://www.epm.org/blog/2017/Jun/23/people-equal-heaven

If I Have Enough Faith, Will God Heal Me?

Okay, first let me say this: if you don’t have much time, just skip through what I’ve written below and go to the video at the end where Joni Eareckson Tada is interviewed by Todd Wagner. What Joni says in this video is more important than what I say below (though I wouldn’t say it if I didn’t think it was also important).

When I became insulin-dependent in 1985, I wondered who wanted me ill, Satan or God. The obvious answer? Satan. But I’m also convinced, as was the apostle Paul, that the ultimate answer is God. Paul, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, saw God’s sovereignty, grace, and humbling purpose of his disease (see 2 Corinthians 12:7–10). I have clearly and repeatedly seen the same in my own life.

Upon learning of my disease, well-meaning people sometimes ask whether I have trusted God enough to heal me. I respond that when I was first diagnosed, I and others did ask God to heal me. After a while, when God chose not to answer our prayers that way, I stopped asking.

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