Strict//EN" ""> EAGLES' REST: Now Hold On Just a Cotton-Pickin' Minute...

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Now Hold On Just a Cotton-Pickin' Minute...

Let's put'er in Reverse, back up a ways, and look at what we may have driven right past.

What's the purpose of all this stuff that's going on down here on earth, anyway? Is it just so we can live out history and leave some folks behind so they can live out some more history? Did God go to all that trouble creating all this stuff so we could have our 60 or 70 or 80 years of fun and then die? Is breathing all this oxygen and having all this fun that big a deal?

I don't think so. I think the real objective of everything here is eternity. Heaven. The perfection the Bible speaks of that will come one day. If that's true, there are some things that really don't matter one whit down here. A few pop into my mind right off.

One of them is precision in our interpretation and preaching. Sure, accuracy is required, but how far does that have to reach? Do we have to take a stand for or against every statement someone tosses out about how he or she views some passage or idea of scripture? Paul said that the doctrine of Christ, and Him crucified, was so vital that those who preached something else were to be accursed, but does that apply to all these issues that divide people?

I think not.

In Sunday School at Parkview Baptist Church last weekend, I asked just who the Bible was written for. Sure, I know that Paul wrote 1 & 2 Timothy to Timothy, 1 and 2 Corinthians to the Church at Corinth, etc. But who's it for, now? My personal opinion is that it wasn't written for theologians who can exegete all them original languages 'til the cows come home, it was written for folks who seek the truth and want to know God.

You and me, in other words.

So why does He want us to have it .. to know Him .. to allow our lives to be molded into Jesus' image? Personally, I don't think the objective is so we can be Spiritually neat. Whatever level of neatness we achieve here is going to be lost when we lose this earthly body and gain that new home in Heaven. I think the reason .. the motivation .. the objective, must be to impact the number of folks who get to Heaven.

Another thing that won't matter one bit in Heaven is whether the guy that Baptized us believed this or that about eternal security. The Bible teaches that we are to be baptized as an act of obedience after we're saved, and if we did that, I don't think the other details will be important in heaven.

I just don't think our perfection of doctrine will matter much, at all. We see through a glass darkly now, remember? I think that means we're stumbling around in the dark, with only the light He gives us to do the task He sics us on. That's enough for down here, but it ain't much when you contemplate eternity.

Prayer language? Hey ... we'll all be speakin' weird stuff in Heaven, if I'm right, and English or Greek won't be of much use anyway.

I know Monte and Janet Erwin. They're fallible human beings like the rest of us, but I have no doubts whatever that they were called to be the missionaries they were, first in the Caribbean and then in Latvia. Did their service there add to the Kingdom? I betcha it did. So I assume, allowing some reservations of course, that other called candidates have been disqualified or forced out some way or other, over similar (and in my mind) inconsequential issues. I ask you: does that positively or negatively impact eternity?

I think negatively.

We've been told to lay up treasures in Heaven, where those bad things won't happen to them, as opposed to here on earth, where everything's in peril. But the only thing I've ever heard from the pulpit is the comparison with that to giving. But I don't think there will be any money in Heaven. So how does one lay up a treasure in Heaven, in a practical down-to-earth way?

Simple. You invest in something that's going to go to heaven. And that's people. Souls. Everything, and I mean EVERYTHING that's going on down here must drive toward that ultimate goal. And when we see people issuing new rules or standards or prohibitions, I have to ask if that adds to, or subtracts from, that goal.

Not does it contribute to purity of doctrine, not does it honor our heritage, not will it be popular with this or that group, not will it be politically correct. Will it contribute to the church's task of adding (in our sight) to the population of Heaven in eternity?

One thing that'll do it for sure, IMO? Unity and love shown by the church. Of the sort shown recently in Arlington. Folks who disagree agreeably are apt to get some attention, as that's not a normal human trait.

You know, I can't think of any reference in the Bible that the end times will come, that Jesus will make that trip down here, when we get our doctrine to a pre-determined level of perfection. When we understand this or that. When we finally get church "just right". I seem to recall His saying He'd come back in the fullness of times. I also recall someone saying that means when the work is finished and all are won to Christ, that will be won.

Shouldn't that be the first and last things in our mind?


At 11:02 AM, May 03, 2007, Anonymous OC Mom said...

Bob, I enjoyed reading your post. It saddens me that so many Christians are worried about "right doctrine" and less worried about living out Christ. I include myself in that group - not because I'm a nit-picker about the finer points of doctrine, but because I tend to rest on Christ's laurels instead of living out my faith. Thanks for the thought-provoking message.

At 12:58 PM, May 03, 2007, Blogger GuyMuse said...

You invest in something that's going to go to heaven.

What a refreshing way to measure all the various issues we contend with as Christians. If it seeks to add to the Kingdom, go for it. If it seeks to subtract from the Kingdom, don't go there.

Jesus told Martha that she was worried about a lot of stuff that really didn't matter. What Mary had chosen would not be taken away from her. Mary had chosen to sit at the feet of Jesus.

At 2:38 PM, May 03, 2007, Blogger Bob Cleveland said...

OCM: Thanks for commenting.

Guy: Mary was Worshiping the Lord, which is what's going to happen in Heaven. In abundance. I think that story in the Bible has enhanced a lot of folks' worship, and helped turn our focus from what we DO for Jesus, to Jesus Himself.

At 8:15 PM, May 05, 2007, Blogger Bob Cleveland said...

TLG: How about dropping me an email? I don't know as I'd have a whole post on that subject but would be happy to share my thoughts.

You can get to my email through my profile.

At 2:55 PM, May 08, 2007, Anonymous Lee said...

I've long since discovered that what most Christians declare to be "correct doctrine" is generally their own perception or interpretation of scripture, or that of their favorite preacher.

Do you think it is possible that we can get so caught up in trying to achieve doctrinal perfection through absolutely correct hermeneutics that we create doctrine that isn't really there, or miss the truth that is?

I think so.

Maybe Southern Baptists need just a few more 68 year old semi-retired insurance agents without seminary degrees to give us some theological balance. ;-)

At 3:31 PM, May 08, 2007, Blogger Bob Cleveland said...

Lee: I prefer to think of our needing more resident idiots. If they can understand something, chances are preachers can preach it and members can understand and apply it to their lives; SS teachers will be able to teach it, class members can live it, children can aspire to it, etc.

I figure we already have an overabundance of geniuses...

At 9:32 AM, May 10, 2007, Blogger Gary Snowden said...


Your insights and well-balanced perspective are deeply appreciated.

At 5:31 PM, May 10, 2007, Blogger Bob Cleveland said...

Thanks for the kind words and thoughts, Gary. Please do stop in any time.

At 8:48 PM, May 12, 2007, Anonymous tim walker said...

Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I agree so much that a great deal of what we baptists spend time debating and dissecting here on earth won't be so important in heaven.
I had the happy privilege to be Monte and Janet Erwin's pastor for a brief time. They were in the process of wraping up their sevice in the church when I arrived. They are great folks with wonderful boys and I understand they are enjoying their work for the Lord in the great state of Alabama.
Have a great evening and a powerful Sunday in worship.

At 12:43 PM, May 13, 2007, Blogger CB Scott said...


Happy and blessed Mother's Day from me and the Mother of many children from our home.

cb & Karen

At 7:39 PM, May 13, 2007, Anonymous said...

It is stunning to think about the Bible being as true now as then. Another great post, Bob Cleveland. Your Holy Spirit conference left you full of inspiration - thanks for sharing!

At 8:52 PM, May 13, 2007, Blogger Bob Cleveland said...

Tim: I really am enjoying getting to know Monte and Janet, and in fact I'm having lunch with Monte next Friday. We do that now and then, even though he lives a short block away!

Thanks for looking in and commenting.

At 8:53 PM, May 13, 2007, Blogger Bob Cleveland said...

CB & Karen: Hope your Sunday and Mother's Day were both splendid, too. I'm really enjoying the new additions to our family!

At 8:54 PM, May 13, 2007, Blogger Bob Cleveland said...

Cyndi: Thanks for the kind words. I think we'll see evidences of that conference in folks' lives for quite some time, or I miss my guess.


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