If This Isn't Heaven, I Don't Know What Is
Biblical Reasons Why We Should
And Practical Suggestions on How We Can
Create Heaven on Earth
This book begins with Jesus' command to pray, "Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven." It argues we are to work as well as pray for a world in which everyone is obedient to God's Commandments. It concludes that our fundamental purpose in life is to create heaven on earth, and to praise God
and give God the glory wherever and whenever earth mirrors heaven.
This idea -- and this part of the Lord's Prayer -- is at odds with millions of churches. These churches teach that the fundamental purpose of human beings is to "get saved and go to heaven," and until we get raptured, to get others saved so they will go to heaven.
It is not the purpose of this book to be controversial, but to be edifying, to build up, to strengthen the faith of Christians, and make the life of each one of us more pleasing to God.
That sounds very uncontroversial until you ask, "Build up into what?" "What kind of life pleases God?"
- Since at least days of the Scope's "Monkey" Trial in 1925, Bible-believing Christians have concluded that "social action" did not please God as much as "soul-winning."
- The best-selling book in the 1970's was a book that suggested that God was pleased by Christians who were expecting to be raptured by 1981 (40 years after the State of Israel was formed in 1948, minus the 7 years of "the Great Tribulation"). Many Christians at this time believed God would not be pleased if they went to college or had children or made any long-term plans, because Christ was going to "rapture His church" at any moment.
- But by the mid-1980's, this view had temporarily been reversed.
- Soon after 1973, when the U.S. Supreme Court legalized the killing of babies, a growing number of Christians concluded that God was pleased when we protested the killing of babies. In 1980 millions of Christians believed that God was pleased when they voted for Ronald Reagan. I did not vote for Reagan, but at that time I was writing a regular column for the Chalcedon Report, the monthly publication of a California organization Newsweek magazine
identified as the "think tank" of "the Religious Right."
- Looking at all this Christian political action prompted Dave Hunt to write, "What Ever Happened to Heaven?" The pendulum has returned to the days of "rapture fever," as millions are now reading a series of books called "Left Behind."
So you can see, just because the purpose of an author is to write a book which is "not to be controversial, but to be edifying, to build up, to strengthen the faith of Christians, and make the life of each one of us more pleasing to God," does not at all mean the book will not be "controversial." There are widely differing opinions as to what pleases God.
Controversy is created by passion. If two people held differing opinions on issues that didn't matter to either of them, there wouldn't be any real controversy. They might disagree with each other, but they don't care.
True Christians realize on a gut level that passion is better than apathy, even if you're wrong. Jesus endorsed "extremism."
|"I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot. So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth."
The Apostle Paul respected zeal, even if it was without knowledge:
|For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge.
So disagree with me if you wish, but do it with passion! Email me. But make sure you combine your passion with a "Berean" spirit. Study the Scriptures I cite with as much passion as you disagree with the ideas.
Let me put it another way. I'm not trying to write a book about a controversial subject, to leave you saying, "Wow, that was sure controversial. I wonder if theologians will ever figure this out." I want to leave you with a feeling of comfort and hope, but also saying, "Of course! This is so obvious! Why didn't I see this before?" Or maybe, "You know, I've always thought this. But nobody else was saying it." I want you to finish
this book with a sense of confidence and optimism as you live your life "coram deo" -- in the presence of God.
To be sure, nobody else is talking about the subject of this book. You hear only the opposite point of view from TV evangelists. And part of the controversy of this book is that it goes against the mainstream. But Jesus went against the mainstream, and He said our duty as couriers of the Kingdom was to be a small amount of leaven in a big loaf of bread many times our size, and to permeate the entire loaf, giving it a new character.
So what is the point of this book, and why is it so controversial?
They say "bad publicity is better than no publicity at all." So I don't mind when people say (and you may have heard it said) that this book denies the believers go to heaven when they die, and even more astoundingly, claims that we're already in heaven now. This book doesn't say anything about where a person goes when they die.
This book is the introduction to a series of books I hope to write on Micah's "Vine & Fig Tree" vision.
And it will come about in the last days
That the mountain of the House of the LORD
Will be established as the chief of the mountains
And it will be raised above the hills
And the peoples will stream to it.
And many nations will come and say,
"Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD
And to the House of the God of Jacob,
That He may teach us about His ways
And that we may walk in His paths."
For from Zion will go forth the Law
Even the Word of the LORD from Jerusalem.
And He will judge between many peoples
And render decisions for mighty, distant nations.
Then they will hammer their
swords into plowshares
And their spears into pruning hooks;
Nation will not lift up sword against nation
And never again will they train for war.
And each of them will sit under his
Vine and under his fig tree,
With no one to make them afraid.
For the LORD of hosts has spoken.
I believe this is a beautiful prophecy, and it should energize us to leaven the loaf, and give us confidence about the future. But this is a very controversial point of view. Here are some of the controversies surrounding this passage; some of them may require an entire chapter to resolve:
- It is my conviction that we ought to be working to bring this prophecy to more complete fulfillment.
- Many Christians do not agree.
- America's Founding Fathers were motivated to fulfill this prophecy.
- The ACLU does not want you to believe this.
- Micah's prophecy has been fulfilled in America to a degree the Apostles could not have imagined.
- Most Americans don't appreciate this.
- Micah's prophecy foretells a day of liberty and self-government under God.
- Many Christians look for a day of imposed government under a glorified police state.
- We are in the first days of the Kingdom of Heaven, not "the last days" of the Old Covenant.
- Many Christians believe "the last days" means "the last days of planet earth," not "the last days of the Old Covenant."
- All prophecies which must be fulfilled before Micah's prophecy can be fulfilled have already been fulfilled.
- Most Christians believe most of these prophecies have yet to be fulfilled, thus postponing the fulfillment of Micah's prophecy to the distant future, or at least until after an unbridgeable discontinuity like death or the Second Coming.
- The Church (by which I mean God's People, the Body of Christ, not priests and popes) should be working to make the world better and better.
- Many Christians believe the world is predestined to get worse and worse.
- The church should be working to create heaven on earth.
- Many Christians believe our goal can only be achieved after the rapture, and by their silence and inaction are helping create hell on earth.
- The Bible says very little about life after death or after the Rapture.
- Most sermons today say more about heaven than they do about our social duties during this life.
- The Bible says more about our social relationships than about our personal feelings.
- Most sermons today say more about "feeling good about ourselves" than about healing our culture and society ("social action," or "political activism").
- Christians should be thinking as much about their community as their own personal destiny.
- Most Christians think more about themselves going to heaven than serving the needs of their community (then they complain that there's so much wrong with the world).
- Most Christians have never thought much about why God created human beings and what we're supposed to be doing on earth.
- If more Christians thought about it, they wouldn't find earth to be so dismal and heaven to be so attractive in comparison.
- Most Christians who spend most of their time longing for heaven have not seriously considered the requirements for getting there in the first place.
- Most Christians believe in justification by mere belief alone.
- Most Christians who spend most of their time longing for heaven would not want to go there if they really thought about it.
- Heaven is a place where all of our sins and rationalizations are exposed, and we cannot escape our duty to obey God completely.
- The things most people think we'll be doing for all eternity in heaven are mythological: playing harps, bouncing on clouds.
- The more realistic things most people think we'll be doing for all eternity in heaven are things we should be doing now, in this life.
- We should be loving the Lord with all our heart, mind, soul and strength, and praying "Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven."
- Why should people who aren't devoting their lives -- heart, mind, soul, and strength -- to creating heaven on earth be interested in going to heaven when they leave this earth?
- There are many deceived people who are in for a rude awakening.
There are thus two very controversial things about our approach to this prophecy: timing and content.
- Timing: Most Christians believe Micah is speaking about a day that will not come to pass until after the Second Coming of Christ. We disagree.
- Micah says the days when we will "beat swords into plowshares" and live safely under our Vine & Fig Tree will begin in "the last days." We believe this speaks of the last days of the Old Covenant. A substantial number of Bible-believing Christians don't believe their Bibles on this point. Although the writers of the New Testament continuously and repeatedly said they were in
"the last days" of the Old Covenant, many Christians believe that we are in the last days today, 2,000 years after the Apostles said that they were in "the last days." Investments have been made based on the forecast that we are in the last days of the entire planet earth. Micah's vision of a "Vine & Fig Tree" world has also been called "the
millennium" or "the New Heavens and the New Earth." We believe the New Heavens and New Earth were inaugurated by Jesus at His First Advent. We are not waiting for a Second Coming for wonderful things to happen. Wonderful things have already happened, and there's more in store.
- Content: This same huge group of Christians who believe we must wait for a Second Coming to see the promises of Micah and other Old Testament prophets, also believe that God, speaking through those prophets, was teaching us to wait for a Kingdom rather work for a Kingdom.
We disagree. Rather than work for a Kingdom that grows out of a Christ-like response to evil and suffering, they want us to wait for a Kingdom that will be imposed by a kind of military force, top-down, held in place by the physical coercion of a glorified police state. We completely disagree.
|When enthusiastic followers of Christ tried to make Him a king, He fled (John 6:15). From cover to cover, the Bible teaches that we can only enter the Kingdom through:
| Most Christians are looking for an entirely different kind of Kingdom:
||one handed to them on a silver platter;
||one which has no requirements, only entitlements;
||one which promises self-gratification, not service of others;
||one which conquers evil with physical coercion rather than spiritual conversion;
||an eternally static Kingdom, not one that grows.
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Do you just want to hear "good news?" The word "Gospel" means "good news," but not everyone considers the Biblical Gospel to be good news. Some even doubt the message entirely. Find out more.