Just recently the Spirit of God commissioned me to resurrect the doctrine of heaven for the Body of Christ. Over the past few
decades the Lord has directed us to minister to the saints the dynamic truths that have to do with this life and the age in which we
now live; truths such as being led by the Spirit, the gifts of the Spirit, prayer, prosperity, healing, etc. This, I believe, was at least in
part due to the imbalance from the pulpits that dealt primarily with the hereafter. This mindset in the Church developed a heavenly
attitude at the expense of the many truths that speak of our triumphant life in Christ Jesus in this life.
I do not advocate abandoning our teaching on the “here-and-now” doctrines that the people of God so desperately need to live
an overcoming life and to fully enjoy our rich covenant with God, but evidence shows that the saints are weakened by not
possessing a sound doctrinal basis of heaven. It is true that nowhere in Scripture are we promised by God that tough times won’t
happen; on the contrary Jesus even speaks of tribulations that will challenge our faith. My observation as a pastor over a many
years is that the absence of this strong “hope” that Paul speaks about has left Christians needing something to hold onto when
these difficult times happen. (Hebrews 6:17-20) People need hope. This hope is not some weak, small wishing that often defines the
use of the word hope; biblical hope is defined as the certainty of a future event. This hope is certain because God is the One who
promised it would happen. That promise gives us something to hold onto that keeps us on track with our eyes ever upward knowing
we will enjoy our final reward.
The question arose within me as to why I had abandoned preaching about heaven. I suppose my primary reason is that as a boy
growing up in church that was about the sum total of what I remember. It was also because I had not been properly instructed on
the “here-and-now” truths that I wanted to make sure I trained our people in them. Also, even though we preachers do not want to
admit it, we may tend to preach on the hot topics at the time, so as to maintain interest and keep the folks attention. Regardless of
the reason(s) why we have failed in this regard, let us take up the mantle once again and establish our people in the hope of their
It goes without saying that any full and thorough discussion on heaven mandates at least some mention given to hell. Indeed
there is a “Heaven to gain and a hell to shun,” as the old timers used to say. I am not for the use of fear-tactics since fear is in direct
opposition to the nature of God; fear has no place in our pulpit tool chest. Back in the day it was as if this young boy could feel the
hot flames of hell leaping at my feet as the fire-breathing evangelist would preach until his veins popped out! I would run to the
altar (again) just to get re-saved just in case the first few hundreds times didn’t take. No matter what, I was not going to hell! There
is a better way to present hell to our people. They do need to understand clearly how horrible it will be. They should know beyond
any doubt that hell is real and it is bad and it is forever and ever; but they should also know beyond any doubt that when at the
White Throne judgment God apportions the lost to their eternal torment that they themselves (as born again children of God) are
nowhere to be found. The saints must understand their “judgment” happened in the instant they received the gift of righteousness
and entered into salvation.
What was missing when this young boy sat there trembling by the fearful explanations of hell was the truth that God’s grace was
applied to me at my new birth. That grace is so powerful that it is literally my fire insurance policy that assures me of an eternity of
bliss in the presence of my God. I needed to have mixed with this fear of hell the powerful truth of the love of God for me and that
He has given me THE hope of heaven, and that hope would keep me on track throughout my life. That hope is a very powerful thing
– it is the anchor of my soul.
Pastor, preach the whole counsel of God. Resist the temptation to follow the crowd and focus on whatever is the hot topic of the
day. Remember this: whatever truth you avoid, is the entry-point Satan will use to infiltrate your flock; he will steal from them, kill
them if he can, and destroy their dreams and any aspect of their lives that are exposed. Your job is to guard their souls, (Hebrews
13:17) and the way this is carried out is to feed them truth, all of the truth, so help you God. Amen.
|The Hope Of His Calling
By Bishop Randy Barnett
“…For we were saved in this hope, but hope that is seen is
not hope; for why does one still hope for what he sees? But if we
hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with perseverance.