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Friday, October 19, 2007

Is this it? or, 'No more Tears'

Most people, when faced with the view that we are in 'Heaven Now', laugh it off as a ridiculous idea. One of the first questions that a believer in this 'idea' is asked is; 'if this is so, why do we still have sickness and death: why do we still suffer and why are there still tears?' The funny thing is, and it's really not funny at all, is that this question is most often asked during a 'discussion' about the 'Return' of Christ, or 'the Second Coming'. The interesting thing about this is that the view that we now 'inhabit' the heavenlies, even 'Heaven' ( as the abode of God ) itself, is the 'logical conclusion' of a fully, consistently applied preteristic ( past-fulfillment ) hermeneutic.

Unfortunately; there are actually some believers in 'Fulfilled Eschatology' that believe that, although Christ has come, and we now inhabit the 'new heavens and new earth' in a spiritual New Jerusalem ( Hebrews 12:18-23 ), even that God now dwells with, and in us ( His Church ), they seemingly refuse, whether out of fear of being called a 'heretic ( even, God forbid, a non-Christian )', or out of self-imposed ignorance; to take this belief to its 'logical conclusion' and see that we do indeed, as Paul said in his letter to the Ephesians, 'have every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ'!

Most people that I hear talking about it, say that it's preposterous that we are in the new heavens and new earth because there is still sickness and death, the wolf has not yet lain down with the lamb, the swords have not yet been beat into plowshares, etc., etc., so forth and so forth. I agree with them to a point, that these things ( on a physical scale ) have not come to fruition in actuality; but gradually, I think, these things, and greater ( John 14:12 ), are happening ( even on a physical scale ) as our lives, and society ( nature even ) are being conformed to His will. The promises, or ( Promise ) of God were NEVER meant to be understood in a ( primarily ) physical sense: although they often promised a physical blessing as a 'perk' of obedience ( Exodus 20:12 ), they ALWAYS pointed ( typologically ) to some greater spiritual truth 'under' the New Covenant ( John 11:25,26, etc. )!

The problem, I think; when one purports that we now inhabit 'the new heavens and new earth'; is that there is a general misunderstanding of what we mean by this phrase. Most of those who believe this, fail to clarify ( I'm guilty of this too! ) that it is only those 'in' Christ who 'inhabit' this 'new', spiritual creation, the new, or holy Jerusalem. Not even a fundamentalist, dispensational Independent Baptist will try to posit that the New Jerusalem is not a part of the new creation ( heavens and earth ), but equate the New Jerusalem with the abode of God ( true ), or 'Heaven'.

When Jesus 'gave up the ghost' ( died ) on the cross at Calvary, uttering those famous last words, 'It is finished', many people like to say that He was 'merely' saying that the purpose for which He came had been accomplished: I agree; but our differences show themselves when we try to define that purpose. I've heard from some that 'Jesus came to die for sin': true enough, most gloriously true, in fact; but it goes so much further than that: Christ came to redeem His people from their sins ( Matthew 1:21 )!

The 'logical conclusion' of saying that Christ came only to proffer salvation is not only astounding, but outright depressing, any way that you look at it!

I've quoted Isaiah 55:11 many times already, to show that when God sends forth His Word ( Jesus ) for a certain Purpose, that His Purpose IS fulfilled; His Word CANNOT return to Him Void, or not having fulfilled that Purpose!

With that said; I think it is abundantly clear that when Jesus uttered those famous last words; He was not saying 'merely' that the possibility of redemption for all men had been manifested, but that His People, for whom He had just suffered the cruelest, most ignominious of deaths, the death of the cross; had been redeemed ( saved ) from their sins!

Here's a question: of how much worth do you suppose God reckoned the precious blood of His only ( begotten ) Son?

One could ( assumably ) argue, "Well, aren't we ALL His people, every single human being on planet earth?' I would answer: yes, and no: in this sense, and only in this sense; all people belong to Him ( are His ) because they are His handiwork ( Compare Psalm 19:1 & Isaiah 45:9 ), and as Paul postulates in his letter to the Romans ( Romans 9:17-23 ), 'What if God, wanting to show His wrath, and make His power ( sovereignty ?) known, endured.............the vessels ( creations ) of wrath, prepared ( created ) for destruction?'

Getting back to the subject at hand: the phrase in question, 'no more tears', is, of course, taken from the famous passages in Isaiah and The Revelation, that 'the Lord their God shall wipe away tears from all faces', and 'God will wipe away every tear from their eyes'. Taken by themselves, these verses could indeed, almost be viewed in a strict literal sense; but in context, even immediately, both passages connect the cessation of death, even of rebuke, with the renewal, or reconciliation, of all things. When read in connexion with passages such as II Corinthians 5:17 and Galatians 6:15, it is not hard to see that this phrase is not to be read in the physical, and woodenly literal sense in which it is most often viewed, I'm afraid.

Looking through the OT prophets, we see that David was want to use this terminology to describe, among other things, a deep spiritual longing for restoration to communion with God
( Psalm 42:3 ); in Psalm 80, he reminds his people ( and God ) of the curse of disassociation with Him, that He placed upon Adam and through him, his progeny ( Genesis 3:19 ): in Psalm 116:8, he realizes ( prophetically ) that God has delivered 'my soul from death, my eyes from tears................': Jeremiah, in the context of the New Covenant/New Heavens and Earth, records God as saying 'refrain your voice from weeping, your eyes from tears.............' ( Jeremiah 31:16 ).
Malachi says that the 'tears' of 'God's people' ( Israel ) were not a good thing, but were, in essence what finally separated them from God ( Malachi 2:13 ), in fact, along these lines; the writer of Hebrews reminded them that Esau, though he 'sought it ( repentance ) diligently with tears', he found no place for repentance.

A brother of mine in Arizona has written much on this subject, and I do not wish to 'steal his thunder', but this subject is something that I've thought about lately; the need for clarification, first, when the subject of the presence of God's Kingdom; indeed, God Himself, comes up, and second, when we read, or think of, the phrase 'no more tears'.

There are many instances here, where the word 'tears' is used in a primarily physical sense, but as I've said before: I believe that ALL physical 'pictures' that transpired 'under' the Old Covenant ( including the life, death, burial, and resurrection of Christ ) were but significant of the greater spiritual 'reality' that we have in Christ, through His conquest of death.

As always; I encourage you to be a Berean, and search 'the Scriptures daily', to see if 'these things' are so. Again, better men ( and women ) than I have written articles on the subject at hand, and I encourage you to peruse those, in conjunction with the understanding granted by the Holy Spirit of Christ.

In His Name,
and in the 'heavenlies',
Charles Shank

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