What Is the Beatific Vision?
The main way we are to think of the beatific vision is God has made Himself visible in the most perfect way that human beings are capable of apprehending, that is, in Jesus Christ. For example, the New Testament speaks about seeing the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
The beatific vision is the fulfillment of Jesus’ promise that we will see God. That is the essence of it. Then, we have to ask, “What does Jesus mean by seeing God?” We have to say that it is not a matter of physical sight for the simple reason that God is invisible. He is the invisible God. Many Christians tend to think that when we die, we will see God because He will become visible. However, He is not going to change because we die. This is the sheer mystery of His being. He is not the kind of being who is in His own nature visible. But, He makes Himself visible.
John Calvin has a beautiful way of speaking about creation as the invisible God putting on the clothes He wears to go outside so that we can see what He is like. I think that is part of what it means for us to see God. We see Him in this world, and we will see Him more fully in the world to come.
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Amos, A Laity Model and Prophet for Our TimesBy Helen Louise Herndon — 2 months ago
Unfortunately, there are some who have succumbed to the lure of secular culture and promote those values as if biblical. And gladly in the midst of this, many lay elders, deacons, and congregational members remain faithful and speak to the current issues. They need to be heard, heeded, and respected. Their “prophesying,” like Amos, on behalf of God’s Word and Christ’s commands deserves careful attention.
Amos is considered a minor prophet in the canon of Scripture. However, Amos asserted he is not a prophet: “I am not a prophet, nor am I the son of a prophet; for I am a herdsman and a grower of sycamore figs. But the Lord took me from following the flock and the Lord said to me, ‘Go prophesy to the people of Israel” (Amos 7: 14-15).
Amos had been accused by Amaziah, the priest of Bethel to King Jeroboam, king of Israel, saying, “Amos has conspired against you in the midst of the house of Israel . . . Then Amaziah said to Amos, ‘Go, you seer, flee away to the land of Judah and there eat bread and there do your prophesying! But no longer prophesy at Bethel, for it is a sanctuary of the king and a royal residence.”
Then Amos replied to Amaziah, “I am not a prophet, nor am I the son of a prophet; for I am a herdsman and a grower of a sycamore figs. But the Lord took me from following the flock and the Lord said to me, ‘Go prophesy to My people Israel.”
In today’s language here is a layman addressing a warning to the people of God, and he is then rebuked by a cleric. Does that not speak to some similar situations in the church today? Many clerics are coming out of what are considered conservative, orthodox seminaries, yet with cultural ideologies that are counter to biblical principles and truth. And so it is left to lay leaders to stand up for maintaining biblical principles and truths.
The book of Amos is applicable to today and a reminder that God is sovereign and will choose whom he wills to address serious issues confronting his covenant people both in the Old Testament and in the universal Church today.
The Church in every generation is confronted with false teachings of every type. The present time is no exception where specific issues like race and sexual identity are front and center. By whom are these issues usually framed? Sadly, mostly by those who are clergy and the seminaries that influenced them. As a result, it falls to lay leaders lay church members to resist these incursions into the church. They desire to remain steadfast to the divine revelation of God regarding human depravity, that all, regardless of race or sexual identities, “…have fallen short of the glory of God.” And further, that God created male and female and instituted marriage by which they would express sexual relationships.
There is no intent here to discount the importance of clergy in the life of the church; many are faithful to God’s divine revelation and historic, orthodox Christianity. Unfortunately, there are some who have succumbed to the lure of secular culture and promote those values as if biblical. And gladly in the midst of this, many lay elders, deacons, and congregational members remain faithful and speak to the current issues. They need to be heard, heeded, and respected. Their “prophesying,” like Amos, on behalf of God’s Word and Christ’s commands deserves careful attention.
Here is my plea to church leaders: recognize the voices of the laity, don’t silence them; listen to them. They too are God’s instruments and servants to keep Christ’s Bride faithful to her Groom.
The message for us today is listen to Amos, a simple herdsman and grower of sycamore figs, not to Amaziah, the priest and the cleric; Amos is a forerunner and model for today’s Church. And to lay leaders: be faithful as Amos to your churches today.
Helen Louise Herndon is a member of Central Presbyterian Church (EPC) in St. Louis, Missouri. She is freelance writer and served as a missionary to the Arab/Muslim world in France and North Africa.
Love Is From GodBy Sarah Ivill — 1 year ago
God is love and He has loved us. In a self-centered society, God transforms love from selfishness to selflessness. Where many churches sound the call to love without doctrine and obedience, John sounds the call for love, obedience and doctrine. When we think it easier to love God than to love our neighbor, beginning with our own family members, John reminds us that to love God means to love those around us.
One of the greatest memories I have of Valentine’s Day is from my time in seminary when my friends and I helped each other focus on the love of God. We were in an accountability group together and all single at the time. Far different from the romantic cards, chocolates, jewelry, and flowers being promoted by the stores for gifts, we gave each other the reminder that God loves us.
In 1 John 4:7-21 the apostle John focuses the minds of believers on the truth that God is love. Significantly, John does not call his readers to “love one another” without telling them from where this love comes, “for love is from God” (1 John 4:7). Only those who have been born again spiritually and know God in an intimate, affectionate way, can extend true love to others.
The greatest expression of God’s love came in the incarnation. God loved us so much that He sent His only Son into the world to live a life of perfect obedience on our behalf and to satisfy God’s wrath on the cross. In light of His great love for us, we should love others. In fact, since God is invisible, we have the responsibility and the privilege to reflect His love to those around us. As He “abides in us” and “his love is perfected in us” we display His love to those around us (1 John 4:12).
The Spirit of God assures our hearts that we abide in God and He abides in us. Since our blind eyes have been opened by God’s grace to know the truth, we should be witnesses, teaching the gospel of Christ to those around us and confessing “that Jesus is the Son of God” (1 John 4:15). God’s abiding in the believer is transformational. He is perfecting His love in us and will bring it to full completion when we are glorified.
Lessons In Becoming a Better ListenerBy Tim Challies — 7 months ago
“Good listening is a great means of grace in the dynamic of true Christian fellowship. Not only is it a channel through which God continues to pour his grace into our lives, but it’s also his way of using us as his means of grace in the lives of others.”
It is one thing to hear, but another thing to listen. Good communication and healthy relationships depend upon not only hearing the words other people say, but on carefully listening to what they mean to communicate. To listen is to love.
But if we are honest, few of us are good listeners. It’s easy enough to hear others, but very difficult to truly listen to them. That may be particularly true and particularly important in the context of the local church where we are called to love one another, to care for one another, and to bear one another’s burdens. None of this is possible without good listening. David Mathis addresses this problem in his excellent book Habits of Grace and offers six lessons in good listening.
Good listening requires patience. We must not succumb to hasty or inattentive listening, but be willing to listen patiently and thoroughly. We must focus on the speaker and not on the inevitable distractions in our minds or in our environment. We must listen in such a way that we are not already planning what we will say to combat the speaker or to defend ourselves. “Good listening,” says Mathis, “silences the smartphone and doesn’t stop the story, but is attentive and patient.”
Good listening is key to fulfilling so many of the ethical commands of the Bible, the greatest of which is love.
Good listening is an act of love. When we listen poorly, we are just waiting for the opportunity to cut off the other person so we can move on with our lives. “Poor listening rejects; good listening embraces. Poor listening diminishes others, while good listening invites them to exist, and to matter.” Good listening is key to fulfilling so many of the ethical commands of the Bible, the greatest of which is love.