Do You Genuinely Desire Heaven?
By Minister Raymond D. Sopp
What would happen if I went into the streets and asked a multitude of people, both the general public and professing Christians, the question: Do you genuinely desire heaven? Without question, I'm sure the majority answer would be a wholehearted and enthusiastic -- YES! But do we really understand the question? Can we really know within our heart of hearts that we would genuinely desire heaven if we do not first understand God's image of heaven, the very image that makes heaven so heavenly? After all, without that knowledge you may indeed be saying yes with your lips, but in actuality within your heart of hearts despise -- even abhor -- heaven. Do you think it's impossible for anyone to despise or abhor heaven? Well, maybe after reading this commentary you'll find out it's not only possible, but probable!
None of us can truly imagine what heaven is actually like, because it is impossible to embrace infinite heaven through the eyes of our finite earthly experiences. Yet, many will try to do just that as they clutter their image of heaven with all their impulsive desires, and simultaneously, devoid it of all their vexing dislikes. Even the angelic being, Lucifer, tried to create his own image of heaven by placing himself upon the throne of heaven; but the only thing he achieved in doing was discovering and initiating hell. Hence, God changed his name to Satan -- the adversary -- or you could say, one who is opposed (in rebellion) to heaven. There is only one possible image of heaven as every other image only results in hell. Yet, we do not despair, because the Holy Scriptures give us enough information to understand the image which is heaven indeed -- the image that makes heaven so heavenly. Therefore, let us proceed to see if you genuinely desire the Holy Scripture's image of heaven, also known as God's image of heaven. But beware, you may be surprised at your answer.
First of all, in God's image of heaven, there must be complete unity; otherwise, heaven would cease to be heaven and end up falling into utter chaos and darkness, i.e., hell. Therefore, ALL who genuinely desire heaven MUST be of one mind and heart in their image of heaven. John 17:20-23: "I do not ask in behalf of these alone, but for those also who believe in Me through their word; that they may all be one; even as Thou, Father, art in Me, and I in Thee, that they also may be in Us; that the world may believe that Thou didst send Me. And the glory which Thou hast given Me I have given to them; that they may be one, just as We are one; I in them, and Thou in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, that the world may know that Thou didst send Me, and didst love them, even as Thou didst love Me." Consequently, one of the essential ingredients of God's image of heaven is complete, consummate, and undisputed unity.
Printed on the coins of the United States of America is the Latin phrase, E Pluribus Unum, which when translated means -- Out Of Many, One. This Christian (heavenly) concept is one of the pillars that has made the USA a great nation. Imagine my horror when I heard an ex-vice president of the United States, in a publicized speech, misquote E Pluribus Unum as -- Many Out Of One. Although, I'm sure this ex-vice president did not mean to misquote E Pluribus Unum, yet he did continue on in his speech to extol the "virtues" of this concept of "many out of one" as being paradisiacal. However, in reality, it is not paradisiacal nor virtuous, but is hellish in nature, producing not only the fruit of rebellion, but the flames of chaos. This so-called paradisiacal and virtuous image of "many out of one" was originally birthed by Satan, and now it seems to be working overtime within the USA as we now have entrenched within our society the much vaunted hyphenated Americans, i.e., African-American, Mexican-American, and so on. Should not our identity just simply be Americans?
But wait, before anyone tries to condemn this ex-vice president, or anyone else, know that these same hellish forces of darkness -- forces of separation -- are at work (if not in speech -- in action) within the best of our churches as we, the bride of Christ, also extol this hellish concept of many out of one. How? By extolling and entrenching within God's church our own concept of "many out of one" by hyphenating the name of God's bride as in Christian-Baptist, Christian-Presbyterian, and so on. Should not our identity just simply be Christians? But we did not stop there, as we now find this hellish concept within our marriages when a bride chooses to hyphenate her last name in order to maintain a sense of her individually -- her separation. Should not a husband and wife become as one flesh?
All I can pray is that this is done in ignorance, and not in knowledge, because in God's eyes it is impossible to say, I genuinely desire heaven, and at the same time say, I genuinely desire many out of one. Why? Because in heaven there is complete, consummate, and undisputed unity, also known as "out of many, one." John 17:22-23: "And the glory which Thou hast given Me I have given to them; that they may be one, just as We are one; I in them, and Thou in Me, that they may be perfected in UNITY, that the world may KNOW that Thou didst send Me, and didst love them, even as Thou didst love Me." So let me now ask you another question, what does the world KNOW about God, Jesus, and heaven through our hellish acts of separation?
What else makes heaven so heavenly? Many believe it's found in Revelation 21:18-21, "And the material of the wall was jasper; and the city was pure gold, like clear glass. The foundation stones of the city wall were adorned with every kind of precious stone. The first foundation stone was jasper; the second, sapphire; the third, chalcedony; the fourth, emerald; the fifth, sardonyx; the sixth, sardius; the seventh, chrysolite; the eighth, beryl; the ninth, topaz; the tenth, chrysoprase; the eleventh, jacinth; the twelfth, amethyst. And the twelve gates were twelve pearls; each one of the gates was a single pearl. And the street of the city was pure gold, like transparent glass."
Many who remain influenced by this earthly economy may look at the exoteric (external) beauty of heaven as being an essential ingredient in making heaven so heavenly, but nothing could be further from the truth. Can a precious stone reflect its beauty in darkness? Can gold have any value in chaos? NO! But what is essential to both the beauty and value of heaven is God Himself. Revelation 21:10-11: "And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me the holy city, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, having the glory of God. Her brilliance was like a very costly stone, as a stone of crystal-clear jasper." And Revelation 21:23: "And the city has no need of the sun or of the moon to shine upon it, for the glory of God has illumined it, and its lamp is the Lamb." Yes, God Himself is the essential ingredient -- the essential essence -- which causes heaven to be so heavenly in both beauty and majesty. The gold and precious stones in heaven are only the instruments God chooses to use to reflect His glory, just as the moon has no glory within itself, but is only an instrument to reflect the glory of the sun.
So who is this God who brings the glory which is so essential to making heaven so heavenly? 1 John 4:16: "And we have come to know and have believed the love which God has for us. God is love, and the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him." Inasmuch as the essence of God is love, it is God's love that makes heaven so heavenly. Did you notice the unity in the word "abides" repeated in 1 John 4:16? Therefore, we MUST be in complete, consummate, and undisputed unity with the essence of God's love. A love which we must fully embrace as our own before we can truly answer yes to the question: Do you genuinely desire heaven? As it is impossible to say, you genuinely desire heaven, without also genuinely desiring that which makes heaven so heavenly -- God's love. So how is God's love manifested in our everyday lives, thereby proving our genuine desire for heaven? 1 Corinthians 13:4-7: "Love is patient, love is kind, and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things."
Do you genuinely desire heaven? If so, then you MUST genuinely desire the following: You MUST genuinely desire to be patient and kind. You MUST genuinely desire to rejoice with, and eagerly embrace, the truth. You MUST genuinely desire to be willing to bear and endure all things, even the qualities or nature of someone who seems unbearable. Why? Because, your innermost desire for everyone is restoration and salvation -- not judgment. You must genuinely desire NOT to be one who remembers or seeks revenge for a wrong which was inflicted upon you. You must genuinely desire NOT to be braggadocios, nor arrogant. You must genuinely desire NOT to seek after your own interests over and above someone else's, nor be jealous of anyone. You must genuinely desire NOT to act in any manner which is contrary to God's view of morality. You must genuinely desire NOT to be one who would accept, rejoice, or laugh at any kind of unrighteousness. You must genuinely desire NOT to be one who can be provoked, or inflamed.
1 John 4:17: "By this, love is perfected with us, that we may have confidence in the day of judgment; because as He is, so also are we in this world." The only way we can say with CONFIDENCE that we genuinely desire heaven, is to reflect heaven in our daily lives now in this world. In other words, to be a citizen -- an ambassador -- of heaven while we are living in the hostile environment of this world; showing by our conduct, that our citizenship is NOW recorded in heaven. 1 John 3:1-3: "See how great a love the Father has bestowed upon us, that we should be called children of God; and such we are. For this reason the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. Beloved, NOW we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we shall be. We know that, when He appears, we shall be like Him, because we shall see Him just as He is. And EVERYONE who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure."
Throughout this commentary I have carefully chosen to use the word desire, inasmuch as, desire can only be produced from within; hence, desire is the essence of the real you, an essence which cannot be diluted by external forces, making it impossible for us to quit or give up, even if we encounter much external resistance. For example, if we desire heaven, we will eventually forgive a wrong done against us, even if our emotions continue to scream NO. Why? Because it is impossible to betray who we really are within, unless we have deceived ourselves and our heavenly traits are actually only skin deep -- fashioned and designed for external consumption only. The book of 1 John puts this concept very well in 1 John 3:9-10, "NO ONE who is born of God practices sin, because His seed (God's Holy Spirit) abides in him; and he cannot sin, because he is born of God. By this the children of God and the children of the devil are obvious: anyone who does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor the one who does not LOVE his brother."
Now the question becomes, can we genuinely desire heaven and still falter or stumble in our heavenly traits? Yes! But the desire -- the Holy Seed within -- will not allow us to remain in our transgression (sin). But now you may ask, "How could we falter if the heavenly desire is truly genuine?" Because, the heavenly desire must still battle the corruptible flesh which needs to be put to death daily, sometimes even moment by moment, by our inward heavenly desire (seed) until our redemption becomes complete when the corruptible flesh puts on the incorruptible.
The Apostle Paul brings this concept alive in the book of Romans. Romans 7:14-21: "For we know that the Law is spiritual; but I am of flesh, sold into bondage to sin. For that which I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I would like (desire) to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate. But if I do the very thing I do not wish (desire) to do, I agree with the Law, confessing that it is good. So now, no longer am I the one doing it, but sin which indwells me. For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the wishing (desire) is present in me, but the doing of the good is not. For the good that I wish (desire), I do not do; but I practice the very evil that I do not wish. But if I am doing the very thing I do not wish (desire), I am no longer the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me. I find then the principle that evil is present in me, the one who wishes (desires) to do good."
Did you notice that the Apostle Paul in Romans 7:14-21 was making reference to a genuine desire which can only be birthed from within? How absurd it would be to think that we could obtain entrance to heaven by "acting" good if the genuine desire (Holy Spirit) was not present. If you are just "acting" heavenly you will always be looking for an excuse to act unheavenly -- ungodly. Why? Because you still genuinely desire the unheavenly, although for a time you may see a self-serving benefit for "acting" heavenly. On the other hand, those who genuinely desire heaven will display heavenly traits even if there is no earthly benefit. Why? Because they are already citizens of heaven, and therefore, genuinely desire the heavenly. Do you now see that it is impossible to "act" your way into heaven? You MUST have a genuine desire for heaven!
So I ask the question again, do you genuinely desire heaven? Only you and God know that answer. All I'm trying to do is to make you ask yourself that question before it's too late. If through the eyes of this commentary you now know you cannot truly say, "Yes, I genuinely desire heaven," please also know that it's not too late to change your answer to a yes. There is only one way anyone can truly answer yes to the question: Do you genuinely desire heaven? How? By being reborn from within with God's Holy Spirit, and thereby, bringing back the unity of spirit and desire we once had in the Garden of Eden when God originally fashioned us for heaven by making us in His own image, the image we lost when Adam broke his unity with God. Adam, with the help of Satan's deception, desired to be a god too, and embraced the hellish concept of "many out of one." Hence, our desire -- our nature -- our essence -- was now forever corrupted by inheritance.
If you cannot say I genuinely desire heaven but you want to, you have just made the first step. By you professing a desire to have within you -- the nature -- the essence -- the love -- that makes heaven so heavenly, you are in fact saying, I desire God's nature, God's essence, God's love over your own, which is what God calls repentance. Repentance is nothing more than turning away from the desires you inherited from Adam, to embrace the heavenly desires of God. You are saying, "God I agree with You, and I now know that I have sinned (missed the mark) against You and heaven and I ask for Your forgiveness."
But now we have another problem. God would stop being God if He was not also a God of justice, so He cannot let you or me go unpunished, for it is written, "The wages of sin is death." So what can God do as we already know His heavenly nature -- His innermost desire -- compels Him to not only forgive, but to also bring about restoration? Well, to the praise of God's glory and wisdom, He solved this seemly unsolvable dilemma by allowing His Son Jesus to be born into this world by a virgin (and thereby, free from the corrupt inheritance of Adam) to pay the penalty for our sin by experiencing hell and death for us. And yet, hell and death had no right to hold Him (Jesus) as He was sinless by virtue of His virgin birth, conceived by the Holy Spirit, which was confirmed by His historically provable resurrection, thus our broken unity with God could be lawfully restored.
Now, through repentance, you are made new (clean) by accepting the death and resurrection of God's only Son Jesus for the forgiveness of your debt of sin. Now cleansed, you can ask God to replace your old corruptible spirit with His own Holy Spirit and be literally born-again. Now you can answer the question, "Do you genuinely desire heaven?" with a genuine YES and AMEN. Although, for a time, we must all wait for the perfect to come, the redemption of our corruptible body (flesh), you can now enthusiastically join the spiritual warfare for control of your earthly body (flesh) by means of your heavenly born-again nature or desire. A desire which may indeed lose a battle from time to time, but will never lose the war. Why? Because you are now a new creature, born-again with God's Holy Spirit -- a holy fire -- an innermost desire -- which cannot be quenched.
Now is the time to look up and make sure your salvation is genuine. Do not harden your heart, but answer the question from your heart: Do you genuinely desire heaven? God's age of grace will not last forever. Even now we see the signs that this age of grace is about over. Please, I beg you, having God's Spirit within me, before it's too late, accept God's gracious offer of restored unity and heaven; as your only other alternative is hell, and then finally, for eternity, the Lake of Fire which was designed for Satan and those who despise, abhor, and reject heaven's unity, and God's kind of love. You'll only end up in the Lake of Fire for eternity if you harden your heart and insist on your own desires even as Satan did, and thereby, you are establishing a unity with Satan's desire of "many out of one" which will lead to complete chaos, lovelessness, and hell.
Please accept God's most gracious invitation to live in heaven with Him before it's too late. Proverbs 29:1: "A man who hardens his neck after much reproof will suddenly be broken beyond remedy." 1 Thessalonians 5:2-3: "For you yourselves know full well that the day of the Lord will come just like a thief in the night. While they are saying, 'peace and safety!' then destruction will come upon them suddenly like birth pangs upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape."
It is my heartfelt prayer that after reading this commentary, everyone who is willing to accept God's gracious offer of redemption -- His heavenly invitation -- would be able to say with me, "My desire for heaven is absolutely -- unequivocally -- undoubtedly -- indisputably GENUINE!"
From my heart to yours,
Raymond D. Sopp
All above Bible references are from The New American Standard Bible, (La Habra, California: The Lockman Foundation) 1977.
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