This might come as a shock to some people, but there are no baby angels. So cute little pictures of angel children are just a fantasy; they don’t exist.
Jesus spoke about angels: “They neither marry nor are given in marriage” (Mark 12:25). They do not procreate. There are no angel dads or moms. Angels are created individually by God, and they cannot die (Luke 20:36).
Jesus taught about angels because it had a direct bearing on the issue of eternal life. In referring to the resurrection of men and women from the dead, Jesus said: “For when they rise from the dead, they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven.” No matter what your marital status was on earth, in heaven, you will not be married.
That also comes as a shock to some people. Marriage is to be for a lifetime on earth but only on earth. In heaven we will maintain our identity, whether it be male or female. But living in eternal bodies that do not die, there is no need for procreation. So no marriage, no sex, no children. Jesus said we will live like the angels in heaven in this regard.
While on a hospice visit, I had a woman ask me directly if she would be married to her dying husband when she too died. I said that Jesus said she would not. First in shock and then in anger, she said, “Then I don’t want to go to heaven.”
Marriage is God’s idea. He ordained it for the first man and first woman to live on earth. But he has ordained something different in heaven, something suited for eternal life in his presence.
“Since you have in obedience to the truth purified your souls for a sincere love of the brethren, fervently love one another from the heart” (1 Peter 1:22).
Love for one another in the church should be described as “sincere” and expressed “fervently.” First, let’s dig deeper into the word translated “sincere.” It means the opposite of a hypocrite, an actor, of one playing a role. The love we have for one another is real, genuine. If it isn’t, then your soul has not been purified through the Word of God. If your smile is fake and your concern phony, alarm bells should go off in your soul that the problem is you.
The word translated “fervently” has the idea of stretching or straining, of exhibiting intensity. It is not a passive love but an energetic, moving love.
This verse, 1 Peter 1:22, is the key to the future of Clark Avenue Church of Christ. Over the past year we have seen sincere love expressed fervently for one another, and it is making a difference. You see it in the greeting time in the assembly, in the calls, cards, visits, and invitations, and in the Baby Bank. We are seeing genuine love that stretches us out of ourselves and strains to bring others into the family. It is an extension of the love of our Lord who stretched out his hands to be nailed and endured the strain placed on his body to bring us into his family. Our future is secure in only one thing: sincere love fervently expressed to one another in every meeting, every call, every visit, every activity.
This is the famous painting by Antonio Ciseri of Jesus and Pilate, “Ecce Homo,” “Behold the man!” Pilate found no guilt in Jesus. He was prepared to release him. But the crowd turned riotous and shouted, “Crucify him! Crucify him!”
What caused such hatred? Was it guilt? Or was it goodness? Do not underestimate the power of goodness to enrage evil hearts.
Perhaps you have witnessed this yourself. You are stumbling along through life, living for yourself and for the moment. You hurt people and hurt yourself. Then you meet Jesus. You become a Christian and start living differently. You want to do the right thing. You want to share this new life with family and friends. And instead of being happy for you, some in your family or friends are angry with you. You are condemned for trying to live a good life.
Stand with Jesus and you become an indictment upon those who do not believe. Jesus said, “This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light” (John 3:19-20). Do not underestimate the push-back Christians get simply for being Christians. It is not about us. It is about Christ, the Light of the World. “Everyone who does evil hates the light.”
Don’t give up or quit, but “overcome evil with good” (Rom. 12:21). Remember, “The one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world” (1 John 4:4).
For people who do not follow Jesus, my advice is enjoy everything you can right now. Take as many vacations as you can. Travel to as many exotic places as you can afford. Enjoy all the pleasures of life and soak it all in.
This is as close to Heaven as you are going to get. Without a living faith in Christ, you have no hope of Heaven. When you pass from this world into the next, it will be a shocker. In some ways it should not come as a surprise. Jesus was crystal clear about that destination is his description of being “thrown outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth" (Matthew 8:12).
What is a “living” faith? Is there a “dead” faith? As a matter of fact, there is. James wrote: “So faith without works is dead.” (James 2:26). There are two types of faith - one that saves and one that doesn’t. Dead faith is lip-service faith. It’s a faith that does nothing to expand the Kingdom of God. If “dead” faith doesn’t help you get to Heaven, what’s the point of having it? It helps people delude themselves into thinking they can continue their self-indulgent lifestyle right through death into eternity.
Whether you have living faith or dead faith, you will one day die. Ecclesiastes 7:2 says, “Better to spend your time at funerals than at parties. After all, everyone dies--so the living should take this to heart” (New Living Translation).
If you have dead faith and are having second thoughts about this being your heaven on earth, let’s talk. Jesus can help you.
“Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him if a great millstone were hung around his neck and he were thrown into the sea.” - Jesus (Mark 9:42)
The “little ones” Jesus is referring to come in all ages. They can be 9 or 99. These spiritual “little ones” are young in the faith, don’t desire authority, are teachable, and are dependent on their Father, like a child.
Jesus totally identified with “little ones”: “Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me” (Mark 9:37). He encouraged the “little ones” who may not have it all together but are heading in his direction: “For the one who is not against us is for us” (9:40). And Jesus was radical in protecting “little ones.” He said the one who leads a “little one” into sin would be better off drowned in the ocean compared to the punishment Jesus will administer. In view of that, what did Jesus say we should do?
“And if your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life crippled than with two hands to go to hell, to the unquenchable fire” (v. 43). He said the same about your foot (v.45) and your eye (v.47).
Some who claim to follow Christ don’t get it. They keep their hands and feet and eyes comfortably at home in bed or on the golf course or going out to breakfast on the first day of the week. Any excuse is adequate to miss the assembly. They forget the “little ones” are watching. Those “little ones” might be their own children or grandchildren.
Jesus is saying if the example you are setting is causing “little ones” to sin like you, he takes it personal. Do you understand that? If you do, what are you going to do about it?