Jesus didn’t teach that people go to heaven, but that He will bring the Kingdom of God to earth at His second coming.
[Darris McNeely] When you die you're not going to heaven. God's going to bring heaven to earth.
The crowds around Jesus were buzzing with excitement. For days the talk among those that were following Jesus to Jerusalem from the small town of Jericho, they had grown stronger in excitement and anticipation of what might occur. As Jesus was making His way from Jericho up the hill to Jerusalem the crowds continued to increase and the excitement mounted. They thought that Christ was going to enter Jerusalem in triumph and that the coming of the Kingdom of God was at hand. They thought that Christ would overthrow the hated Romans and establish the kingdom to Israel.
And it was at that moment Jesus realized that He had to say something and He gave one of the most important parables that perhaps we could read from the scriptures. Not that any one parable is any more important than the other but this one had a unique message that I think still creates a bit of a puzzle for people who perhaps don't have all the dots connected to understand. Because in that message of that parable Christ revealed the real purpose for their calling and for our calling today as a disciple. The Kingdom of God was not going to appear in their time. That's what He told them. They still had work to do. They still had things to do, and they now faced a lifetime ahead of them of preparing, preparing to rule in that kingdom. They had a lifetime of preparing ahead of them.
You see Christ's message from that parable really applies to us today as well because we have a lifetime of preparing for the Kingdom of God in our life today and for all who accept that calling from God just as they did at that time. But what Christ wanted them to understand is this message. The Kingdom of God is coming to earth and they and we have an opportunity now in this life to prepare to be with Christ when He restores this earth. Another way to say that for us today as we think about it, because of the beliefs that so many people have today about the purpose of life and what happens with death is this. That heaven, the divine realm of the Father and the Son and of all the angelic hosts that we read about in the Bible, heaven is going to come to this earth. When you die, you're not going to heaven. God's going to bring heaven to earth. I'm going to say that several times here so that it is emphasized and we understand that today but so many times that just goes right over the heads of people.
You see our life today is really meant as a time to prepare to reign with Christ as a co-heir in that coming Kingdom. That's what this life is about and that's what Jesus wanted to get across to His disciples on that day that He entered Jerusalem. Now that idea is not what many people hear today when they go to church, when they read their Bible, or because of what they've been taught about what they think the Bible says, what they've been told the Bible says by others. Yet it is what the Bible teaches. The key truth, this very important truth of scripture, does reveal God's purpose for our life. And when we believe it, it really does make all the difference between a life that is half lived and a life that is fully lived. One of the greatest tragedies could happen to any of us is to live a life that's only half or partial in the purpose that God has given to us.
So to understand this, what I'd like to do is first look at a couple of commonly-held ideas that people have about the future of our earth and about human life in general. I've already mentioned one of them, but let's look at one that I haven't talked about that is a generally held idea and belief today and how it translates into this topic. Let's talk for a moment about something called climate change, or global warming known by another name as well. It's a threat to earth as it is taught and believed by scientists and by people in the know, in the media, even to the point that human caused climate change could cause life on this earth to be impossible. And as one voice has said, it could end possibly in 12 years. Human life could end in 12 years because of climate change. Not anything else that we might think about.
Now people who study this topic and people who think about the future of this earth may even take it to the point where they feel that mankind's future might lie someplace out in space on the moon or in Mars because humans will alter climate on the earth so much that we can't live here. And it'll bring about a very real destruction catastrophe. The present level of climate change can cause the sea levels to rise, resource depletion, and on and on and on and on and on. To where we've got to get them the moon, we've got to colonize the moon or Mars. Now that's one idea. But the second one more faith-based commonly held by people is that at death the soul goes to heaven and lives in the presence of God for eternity, what I've already mentioned that is that at death one goes to heaven and is with God, in the presence of God, is before their maker, with the Creator. We all know the phrases to comfort, to help to try to assuage the pains of death and yet the Bible does not teach that. The Bible does not teach that at death you go to heaven nor does it teach that you're going to be raptured off to heaven as well which is another form of that that we're going to be just taken swept away from trials and the tribulation.
This truth is what your Bible teaches. That is that heaven is going to come to earth. One of the things I've seen through the years that many honest people who will take a good hard look at what the Bible says and be honest with the scriptures, to one degree or the other they will pull out nuggets of truth about the Bible. And I've read scholars and Bible teachers who know this idea that what I'm talking about, that heaven is going to come to earth and at death you don't go to heaven. I don't know how they get away with teaching that in their churches and their congregations but they write about it and they teach that. But it is what we should focus on in terms of what the Bible tells us, because it is the truth.
God did not create this earth to be destroyed nor did He create it to be left behind by His human creation. We're told in Isaiah 66:1 God says, "The heavens are my throne and earth is my footstool. Where is the place you will build for me?" The earth, He says, is His footstool, which means that God controls what's going to happen on this earth. It has a use and a future purpose for His plan. Heaven is coming to earth and earth is going to be ground zero for God and for His spiritual family. The Bible shows that earth is not going to be destroyed, not by climate change. So we don't have to worry about that. Nor is it going to be destroyed by nuclear war, which is another part of that equation as well. Man is not going to leave earth to live in some place called heaven. Heaven will come to this earth.
So what does that mean? Well it means a lot of very important things but one thing it does mean is very practical. Since I've talked a little bit about climate change, lest anybody think that I want to just abuse the earth, that's not what God tells us to do. You know there's a couple of scriptures in the book of Genesis that tell us that man is to have dominion over the earth, Genesis 1:28, and over all that is here we're responsible for it. And in Genesis 2:15 God says to the first humans that He put into this garden, He said, "Tend and keep it." Tend and keep it. We don't abuse it, we don't need to harm it. That's not our approach. And frankly it comes down to if we do have a godly approach to our responsibilities on this earth that it will then translate into the way we treat one another. If we tend and care for the earth we're going to tend and care for those relationships that we have with other people to respect them, to honor them, to care for them, and to love them. So they both go hand in hand and God wants us to reflect His will in how we approach His creation and how we approach one another.
We all know the prayer that was asked of Christ, "Teach us how to pray," and the Sermon on the Mount and He gives this prayer. He says, "After this manner, you should pray." And what does He say in that? He said, "Pray in this manner," He says, "Your kingdom come, your will be done," where? On earth, yeah. "On Earth, as it is in heaven." Heaven's coming to Earth and that tells us something so vital and important about our purpose in life about why we were born. Now this is a big subject in recognizing that Christ is going to reign on earth. We put together this study aid that I think is a very good informative introduction to a lot of the topics that I'm talking about today that takes us through many scriptures that show this truth of what it will be like when Christ reigns on earth. You want to know how to begin to prepare for this time? Well this study guide will give an essential key that God will help you with, all of us. As I was going through and looking at it and reviewing it for this program, I'm amazed at how certain things just we take for granted really bring us back to a focus and a grounding about what God is going to do.
So those of you that are watching the program, be sure to call the number on your screen or go to beyondtoday.tv to receive your free copy of “Christ’s Reign on Earth.” You're going to be glad that you did. Now here's the truth. Heaven as I said is coming to earth which means we need to get ready. We need to prepare for that. When we look at a scripture in the book of Revelation 20:4-6 the scene is after the return of Jesus Christ. And something is said here again that is quite profound, because as John sees this in his vision, he says in verse 4 of Revelation 20, "I saw thrones and they sat on them, and judgment was committed to them. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their witness to Jesus and for the word of God, who had not worshiped the beast or his image and had not received his mark on their foreheads or in their hands." This is the end time power that dominates the world scene before Christ's return. And it says, "They lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years." Where is Christ? He's on the earth. He's just landed on the Mount of Olives in the sequence of events that the Bible shows, He's on this earth. "Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection over such, the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ and shall reign with him a thousand years."
That's what the scripture says. Again it's one of those profound thoughts that when you begin to just focus on that it really does tell us something. Not only that we don't go to heaven when we die, that there's no afterlife or departed spirits in that realm, nothing like that. You know that idea was not taught by the prophets that God sent to His people and that we read like Jeremiah or Isaiah. It wasn't taught by Jesus Christ. It was not taught by the church that Jesus founded as well. The message that was proclaimed by the church was that the resurrected Christ was going to return to this earth and the power and the glory of the Heavens to restore to this earth something that had been taken away and put in place the Kingdom of God. And Jesus taught his followers that they were to prepare for that day by the way that they live their life in this life.
We prepare for that future event that we just read about of living with Christ for a thousand years by how we live today. And that brings supreme importance to our life, the value of our life, and what God wants us to do. God through Christ taught that He would return and bring that kingdom to Earth that heaven would come to Earth. And if you believe that you're going to heaven when you die, well you're wrong because that's not found in the Bible. Now that doesn't question one's sincerity but we do have to understand what the Bible really is saying and check the Bible and to read the Bible and believe what God reveals to us.
And again as I mentioned honest Bible teachers, some of them do teach that, at least this part of it. Now what we are to do is something far better as we look at our life today and focus upon that. Humans are to rule and to do what God always intended even in this life today. Again to go back to the scriptures in Genesis to have dominion over this earth. We have to make no apologies for the fact that human life does have a purpose over this earth. God say you have responsibility over the life forms that are upon the earth. That's good. God created everything, and He said, "It is all good." It's sin, it's human nature that can corrupt a lot of things.
God also reminds us again to dress and to keep this earth. To dress and to keep life. And that is a positive approach to everything. What does it mean? Well, it means that we focus on making the most of our life today living a successful, positive, motivated, goal-oriented life, filled with hope and joy with expectation. Even in the midst of the problems, the stresses, the pain, the sorrow that life does bring with us. Without that hope, without that understanding of what life is all about, all of it is so much drudgery and pain and sorrow. But God's word gives us something different and we understand that it means that we are to live a life in preparation for an even greater purpose in the future when heaven does come to this earth. It means that we use every day now to live our life and to get ready for what God is bringing to earth. And what God is bringing to earth is His Kingdom.
The Bible talks about the Kingdom of God and that's going to come to this earth. You know again just bring up the booklet that we are offering, the study guide, “Christ’s Reign on Earth, What it Will Be Like.” It's not a big one. That's a several, just a few pages. I was looking at it. It's got lots of pictures in it for all those of us that like pictures and maybe not want to be bogged down with a lot of text but there are some very key scriptures in this booklet to point us in that direction. So it's informative. It's a guide that's going to take you through certain scriptures. So again those that of you that are watching and want to know how to begin preparing for this time, this study guide will give you an essential key that God can help you in helping prepare your life today for what He has in mind with us for the future. So again be sure to call the number that's on your screen or go to beyondtoday.tv and write to receive your free copy.
Now let's go back to that parable that I talked about at the beginning. When Christ's disciples thought that He would restore the kingdom at that moment, He knew that He wasn't. He knew that there had to be a lot of preparation ahead of time and He had that in mind for them and He had to tell them that the life was a preparation of that life that was to come when heaven comes to Earth. And so with that thought in mind we focus on that meaning that God has given to us as we study the scripture and as we prepare for the time when Christ returns. It gives a daily meaning to every job and responsibility that we have.
Christ had something to say about that in the day that they wished that their hard life would go away, that their stress and their troubles would disappear. What He said was, "Get busy and start living." And life can sometimes get us to the point that we give up but what He taught in this parable, and it's in Luke chapter 19, and it bears us going into it in a bit of detail just to read through it carefully to see what Christ says. It's very helpful. Let me begin in Luke chapter 19:11 it says, "The crowd was listening to everything Jesus said. Because he was nearing Jerusalem, he told them a story to correct the impression that the Kingdom of God would begin right away. He said, 'A nobleman was called away to a distant empire to be crowned king and to return'." Now, in this parable, which is really a story that has a spiritual, profound spiritual lesson that it imparts, Christ is this nobleman and he's going away to receive a kingdom. That's what the Bible shows in many other verses. But it says in verse 13, "Before he left, he called together 10 of his servants and he divided among them 10 pounds of silver saying, 'Invest this for me, you, while I am gone.' But as people hated him and they sent a delegation after him to say, 'We do not want him to be our king'." Now, Christ is also giving some historical information because within just a few days He was killed by His own people. They refused Him. But He's telling His disciples in a sense, "I'm going to be like that king. I'm going to receive a kingdom and I will return. But I'm giving you something, and I expect you to do something with it."
It goes on, "After he was crown king, he returned," which is referring to the return of Christ to this earth. "And he called the servants to whom he had given the money. He wanted to find out what the profits were." Profits with an F. Did you earn some money back for what I had given to you? And so up steps the first servant and he says, "Master, I've invested your money and I've made 10 times what you gave me." 10 times. "Well done," the king said. "You are a good servant. You've been faithful with a little. I entrusted you with a little, you're going to be governor of 10 cities as your reward." 10 Times increase, 10 cities. Interesting statement. Up steps the second servant, "Master, I've invested your money and I've made five times the original amount. Well done. The king said you'll be govern over cities."
Christ is explaining through this parable that there is a time of accounting for life. That's a little bit hard sometimes to really consider, but it's true that our life will come to an accounting. Another word for that is judgment. And a modern ear doesn't like to think about the word judgment but that's what the scripture says. But the parable now as we go back to it, there's a third servant that steps forward. He brought back just the one talent, the one amount of money that he had been given, and he said, "Master, I hid your money. And I kept it because you're a hard man to deal with, taking what isn't yours and in harvesting crops you didn't plant." He had a whole different mindset about God and about life. "You wicked servant," the king roared, ‘Your own words, condemn you. If you knew that I'm a hard man who takes in what isn't mine and harvest crops I didn't plant, why didn't you deposit my money in the bank? At least I could've gotten some interest from it.’” Not much by today's interest rates, but maybe they had better ones back at that time.
Then he turned to the others and he said, "Take the money from the servant, give it to the one who has 10 pounds. And they said, ‘Well, Master, he's already got 10 pounds. And yes, the king replied, ‘And to those who use well what they are given even more will be given, but from those who do nothing, even what little they have will be taken away. And ask for these enemies of mine who didn't want me to be their king, bring them in and execute them here right in front of me.’”
It's an interesting parable. And I think after reading it here you find out what I mean when I say it's really one of the most significant that Christ talked about. Think about it as we translate it down to our life and what's in it for us. What's the main key, the main point, for us to learn here as we've read this parable and we apply it to us today? Look at it this way. Christ was saying something to them that I think that is very important. He said live a 10-city life. Live a five city life. Live a life where you produce, where you take what you've been given, the talents that we may be born with, add it to what gifts God gives as well, and we produce fruit, change, good abundant living for that coming kingdom. That's what He's saying, "Live a 10-city life."
Our manner of life today should reflect a deeply held conviction that there is a God and that He has revealed His will for mankind. That's how we should live our life and really believe it that we live our life with profound positive consequences. The fully realized life of a disciple is one where we live truly what we believe. It's not a halfway effort. Let me tell you something. Think about this very carefully. To live a halfway Christian life, "Well, I profess, but I don't always do. I know I should do this, but I don't always do it." To live as a halfway Christian, it's a subtle form of atheism where we show by our actions that we do not really believe God means what He says.
Do you believe that? Do you live like that? Do you take the knowledge that you may be learning from Beyond Today and live that way? God holds us responsible. And I've observed through the years that people are very sincere in their profession of belief but sometimes fall very short. I've been in pastoral ministry for a number of years, more than four decades of my life. I've worked with a lot of people in a lot of different ways. I understand human frailties. And I've not always lived a 10-city life as well. But the more I read this parable and go back over it and began to explain it I recognize that that story is true. And the question is where do we want to be? Who among these, the 10-city, the 5-city, or the wicked servant, do we want to be? We should all strive to do the most we can with what we've been given.
Christ offers us a reward for how we live this life. You may never have thought about that in terms of your relationship with God in this way but it's what the parable says. Christ expects no less than a full commitment to Him. A 10-city commitment, a 5-city commitment that we might receive a reward that is commensurate with the reward that He has in mind for us. Don't confuse this. Salvation is a free gift by grace, but we are rewarded in the coming kingdom according to our works. That's what we've just read in this parable, and that's what we should understand. It's a profound thought. It's a profound parable for us to remember.
Our study guide that we're offering “Christ’s Reign on Earth” helps us go into this far better than I can in this very short program. So those of you that are watching online be sure to order a copy, begin reading it, or call the number that is on your screen. You're going to want a hard copy of this because you may want to give this to someone else and share this good news with them. We were all born to make a life that God can use in His coming kingdom. That's why we were born. That is our purpose. Let's make sure that we are using that life now to prepare when heaven comes to this earth.
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