What might change in your life if you lived every moment as if Heaven were real?
A Tragic Accident
I recall realizing, a number of years ago, that the notion of a resurrection hope had not yet fully taken hold of my life. I was certainly devoted to Jesus Christ, but when my friend’s wife died, leaving him with three young children to raise, I discovered that the notion of Heaven was not as real to me as it should have been.
Bruce Corley was a great friend and even a theological mentor to me in those days at Southwestern Seminary. We were faculty colleagues there for three years, beginning just shortly after his first wife, Lois, died in a tragic accident.
Lois was recovering from a routine surgery when she developed a mild infection. She ran a low-grade fever for a few days, and she returned to the hospital so that they could treat the infection with antibiotics.
An unexpected blood clot passed through her heart, and suddenly Lois was gone.
Putting Death Behind and Resurrection Before
Bruce and I talked a lot about his dealing with Lois’ death during the three years that I taught at Southwestern Seminary. I remember one conversation in particular, in which he told me about a conversation he’d had with a Christian psychologist. Bruce is one of the sanest people I have ever known, and he was quite unashamed to go to a Christian psychologist so that he could get some perspective in dealing with Lois’ death.
I remember thinking to myself, “I’d hate to be the Christian psychologist who had to deal with this brilliant New Testament theologian.” One day this Christian psychologist said to Bruce, “You need to reach the point in your life when you can get Lois behind you.”
Bruce thought for a moment and responded, “Don’t you mean I have to get Lois in front of me?”
What he meant by that was that he needed to stop dwelling upon Lois as someone from his past and focus upon the fact that one day he would see her again. He was taking very seriously the resurrection hope that is ours.
Resurrection Is Coming
I recall, on another occasion, Bruce telling me that some forms of modern theology gave him absolutely no joy. Those forms of modern theology that try to de-mythologize or explain away the central Christian belief in the resurrection from the dead gave my friend no comfort. He was and is utterly convinced of the resurrection from the grave.
The New Testament does not hide the notion of Heaven. It is part and parcel of the faith that we preach. We have been promised that, though each of us will experience the processes of death and dying, the day will come when the death and corruptibility that so overwhelmed our bodies will be reversed.
God will miraculously raise us from the dead and grant us everlasting life in a new creation, a new heaven and a new earth. This is promised to all those who have heard and believed the message of the Crucified and Risen Jesus.
You and I are supposed to live in light of that hope. The hope of the gospel is the hope of the resurrection of the dead. It is that kind of hope that gives us courage to live life here and now.
- How to Love Like Jesus
- So You’ve Died and Gone to Heaven. Now what?
- Are you a beacon of hope in the world?
The preceding was adapted by Rachel Motte from a sermon Dr. Robert Sloan delivered on March 4, 1990, at Tallowood Baptist Church.