Whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him. (Hebrews 11:6)
At the root of the Christian life lies belief in the invisible. The object of the Christian’s faith is unseen reality.
For apprehending this reality, the soul has eyes with which to see and ears with which to hear. Feeble they may be from long disuse, but by the life-giving of Christ they are now alive and capable of sharpest sight and most sensitive hearing.
If we would rise into the region of light and power plainly beckoning us through the Scriptures of truth, we must break the evil habit of ignoring the spiritual. We must shift our interest from the seen to the unseen. For the great unseen Reality is God. “He that cometh to God must believe that he is and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him” (Hebrews 11:6) This is basic in the life of faith. From there we can rise to unlimited heights. “He believe in God”, said our Lord Jesus Christ, “believe also we in me.”(John 14:1) Without the first there can be no second.
If we truly want to follow God we must seek to be otherworldly. This I say knowing well that that word has been used with scorn by the sons of this world and applied to the Christian as a badge of reproach. So be it. Every man must choose his world. If we who follow Christ, with all the facts before us and knowing what we are about, deliberately choose the kingdom of God as our sphere of interest I see no reason why anyone should object. If we lose by it, the loss is our own; if we gain, we rob no one by doing so. The “other world”, which is the object of this world’s disdain and the subject of the drunkard’s mocking song, is our carefully chosen goal and the object of our holiest longing.
The Jews and the disciples both thought of the of the Messiah and the kingdom of God as earthly. The Messiah would be some sort of a superhuman who would reestablish the kingdom of David. In their minds, his purpose would be to overthrow the oppressors and elevate Israel once again to a world empire. The disciples imagined they would somehow become rulers with the Messiah. Over the years of occupation several individuals had risen up to proclaim themselves as the Messiah only to fail and bring harsh punishment to the Jews. For the Pharisees and Sadducees, the ruling body of Israel, to have another Messiah was unthinkable, for they had accepted the domination of Rome and were fearful that another failed revolt would end in total destruction of Israel and they like their ancestors would be taken from their homeland and scattered. All the way to the cross, the disciples mostly saw Jesus as the earthly Messiah they had imagined. James and John are asking to sit at the right and left hand of Christ when his kingdom is established. Judas believes that Christ will become the icon that will recruit Israelites to the cause of the Zealots. The Sanhedrin sees Him as a threat to their way of life. Even Pilate sees Him in an earthly view.
Jesus, on the other hand, speaks constantly of an otherworld kingdom. This world He says is invisible to the human senses. It lies within the spiritual realm. This kingdom will not be established on the earth to rule the hearts of men but it will be established in the hearts on men to rule the earth. In His reply to Pilate, Jesus plainly tells him and us that His kingdom is not of this world.
We too have a difficult time seeing the kingdom of God as otherworldly. We focus on the church and all its visible activities, we often make events out of a journey. For example we make salvation an event followed by the event of baptism and membership rather than seeing that receiving Christ is becoming a citizen of heaven. As long as we attempt to make our relationship with God earthly events, we will miss the glory of being citizens of another world, the kingdom of God.
We read of the otherworld as though it is some imaginary place that can only be experienced once we pass from this life and earth. We believe to some degree that heaven exists and that God is. Like Thomas we question where it is and how do we get there. Like Peter, James, and John we often confuse Christ as just a superhuman.
When we speak of the spiritual realm, we do so with an unease, not really sure if there is a reality. I often hear people say things like, “Something told me to…..; or “I felt goosebumps”; or “I had this weird feeling or dreamed a weird dream” when they try to describe that otherworldly encounter. Like Nicodemus, we want the spiritual to make sense in earthly terms. When Jesus tells him that he must be born again, Nicodemus immediately goes to the earthly thinking of how he as an adult could become a baby in his mother’s womb.
The beginning of faith it to believe that God is. The acceptance of the reality that Christ was God, clothed in the flesh is the condition of salvation. The conviction that the Holy Spirit dwells in the believer is the foundation of our righteousness.The belief of the existence of heaven is the root of our hope. The trust in the promises of God is the seat of our peace. These are truths that the believer must embrace. These influence our thinking and impact our decisions. When we embrace the idea that we are otherworldly, we march to the beat of a different drummer. We understand what Jesus was saying when He said that “we are in the world but not of the world.” Being otherworldly brings a different perception to life and the things that confront us. Our view becomes a biblical worldview rather than a human led social worldview. It seems to me that even the church is becoming influenced by the non- biblical worldview rather than being influenced by heaven’s view. For example, the biblical worldview is that life begins at conception.
“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you [and approved of you as My chosen instrument], And before you were born I consecrated you [to Myself as My own]; I have appointed you as a prophet to the nations.”
Biblical worldview insists that every life is created by God and every human is loved by Him.
16 “For God so [greatly] loved and dearly prized the world, that He [even] gave His [One and] only begotten Son, so that whoever believes and trusts in Him [as Savior] shall not perish, but have eternal life.”
Biblical worldview teaches that there is only one- not many- but one way to receive eternal life in heaven.
“Jesus said to him, “I am the [only] Way [to God] and the [real] Truth and the [real] Life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.”
Biblical worldview provides two choices of eternity, heaven and hell.
“And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the Book of Life; and the dead were judged according to what they had done as written in the books [that is, everything done while on earth]. And the sea gave up the dead who were in it, and death and Hades (the realm of the dead) surrendered the dead who were in them; and they were judged and sentenced, every one according to their deeds. Then death and Hades [the realm of the dead] were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire [the eternal separation from God]. And if anyone’s name was not found written in the Book of Life, he was hurled into the lake of fire. Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away (vanished), and there is no longer any sea. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, arrayed like a bride adorned for her husband; and then I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, “See! The tabernacle of God is among men, and He will live among them, and they will be His people, and God Himself will be with them [as their God,] and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be death; there will no longer be sorrow and anguish, or crying, or pain; for the former order of things has passed away.”
This is our task as believers that we live in this otherworld; this otherworld directs our thinking and controls our conduct in such a way that those who haven’t yet met this incredible Savior and God will have themselves so influenced by our actions and attitude they will become interested in becoming citizens of our otherworld.
Dr. John Thompson