Journey to Heaven – part 2

With a little help from the book City of God by St. Augustine, translated by Marcus Dods:

For, though Himself eternal, and without beginning, yet He caused time to have a beginning; and man, whom He had not previously made He made in time, not from a new and sudden resolution, but by His unchangeable and eternal design – St. Augustine

 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us before the foundation of the world… Eph. 1:3, 4. NKJV

 “Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come you blessed of My Father [you favored of God, appointed to eternal salvation], inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.” Mt. 25:34 AMP

 The reason we’re here is because God chose us, loves us, and we are a part of his eternal plan. We are also the epitome of His design for living beings – the closest to being like Him:

 God then made man in His own image. For He created for him a soul endowed with reason and intelligence, so that he might excel all the creatures of earth, air, and sea, which were not so gifted – St. Augustine.

 It is God’s desire to eternally commune with His children – those, as we saw last time, that align their will with His.

 We are born for a journey to heaven. And as soon as we become aware of our Creator and His salvation plan, we must receive this free gift by accepting His Son as our Savior – followed by doing our best to live as Jesus did.

God planned out who we would be and what kind of life He wanted us to have before we were conceived in the womb. That kind of life is our journey to heaven, the quality of which will be dependent upon our free-will choices. We are born, grow to our physical potential, and then begin a dying process.

However, that process is not one to be feared or to be a source of sadness. It is a progression towards our eternal home – filled with promises of love, joy and peace everlasting. Dying and death are two different things.

When the faithful children of God reach the end of their mortal clock on this earth, they pass through death:

…since you have been set free from sin and have become the [willing] slaves of God, you have your present benefit, resulting in sanctification [being made holy and set apart for God’s purpose, and the outcome [of this] is eternal life. Rm. 6:22 AMP

“Most assuredly, I say to you, if anyone keeps My word he shall never see death.” Jn. 8:51 NKJV

 We are blessed.  The death suffered by those who reject God is the polar opposite:

…the human soul is truly affirmed to be immortal…because in a sense, it does not cease to live…while the body is called mortal because it can be forsaken of all life, and cannot by itself live at all. The death, then, of the soul takes place when God forsakes it, as the death of the body when the soul forsakes it….And this death of the whole man is followed by…the second death…For in that penal and everlasting punishment…the soul is justly said to die, because it does not live in connection with God – St. Augustine

The children of God’s version of death is a glorious transition:

Thus, by the unutterable mercy of God, even the very punishment of wickedness has become the armor of virtue, and the penalty of the sinner becomes the reward of the righteous. For then death was incurred by sinning, now righteousness is fulfilled by dying.

Not that death, which was before an evil, has become something good, but only that God has granted to faith this grace, that death, which is the admitted opposite to life, should become the instrument by which life is reached – St. Augustine

…the day of one’s death is better than the day of one’s birth. Eccl. 7:1 NASB

Precious in  the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints. Ps. 116:15 NKJV

Again, let’s look at the contrast:

…death is good to the good, and evil to the evil. For the disembodied spirits of the just are at rest; but those of the wicked suffer punishment till their bodies rise again – those of the just to life everlasting, and of the others to death eternal, which is called the second death…of all the evils the worst, since it consists not in the separation of soul and body, but in the uniting of both in death eternal…always in death; and thus never living, never dead, but endlessly dying – St. Augustine

Strong case for being on the side of God, yes? We all have to go through death because of Adam’s original sin, but thanks be to the saving grace of God that as His obedient children, we get to leave that death behind.

Before Adam’s transgression, we weren’t meant to die in any fashion. That was forced upon us by Adam’s disobedience:

…we are subject to the death of the body, not by the law of nature, by which God ordained no death for man, but by His righteous infliction on account of sin; for God, taking vengeance on sin, said to the man, in whom we all then were, “Dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.” St. Augustine

Again however, that condition is only transitory for those who accept God through Christ:

…the souls of the just and holy dead live in peaceful rest…and further, that the saints will in the resurrection inhabit those very bodies in which they have here toiled, but in such a sort that neither corruption of unwieldiness be suffered to attach to their flesh…Thus the souls of the departed saints are not affected by the death which dismisses them from their bodies, because their flesh rests in hope – St. Augustine

For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection… Rm. 6:5 NASB

It is sown a perishable body, it is raised an imperishable body; it is sown in dishonor, it is rated in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. 1 Cor. 15:42 – 44. NASB

We gain a ‘spiritual’ body because it is one that is finally in total subjection to our spirit. It will be totally self-sufficient and immortal. We will be able to dine on heavenly delicacies, but it won’t be necessary to eat if we don’t want to. No disease, no sorrow, no death – only joy…

Goodnight and God bless.

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