FRIDAY MORNING MANNA
December 12, 2014
Biblical Numerology: NUMBER TWO – Part XIV
TWO WORLDS, TWO SCHOOLS, THE HERE AND HEREAFTER
“If you would be a saint in heaven, you must first be a saint on earth.” And no one need die first and wait for the church-invented process for sainthood to kick in, for, “Heaven is to begin on this earth. When the Lord’s people are filled with meekness and tenderness, they will realize that His banner over them is love, and His fruit will be sweet to their taste. They will make a heaven below in which to prepare for heaven above.” (Words in quotes by E. G. White, Sons & Daughters, p. 112)
In the real, eternity-determining grand scheme of things, according to God’s Word, this fallen, cursed world of ours—the one planet in rebellion throughout the perfect universe, is not a grand parade-ground, a dream-like stroll through the park, a glitzy fashion show, a pull-out-the-stops party place, a global carnival, a romantic cruise through the warm tourists spots, or a winter wonderland—although the master deceiver wants it so perceived and imagined. Ask all who are suffering; they’ll tell you the stark truth by experience.
The wonder of it all, especially among those who profess to be followers of the meek and humble Jesus Christ, is, in spite of the still-available religious liberty and overabundance of the truth to the contrary, both practical and scriptural, rational minds are still willing to subscribe to Satan’s lies, deceptions, and schemes. Inspiration warns that far too many will wake up too late to escape the snares set by Satan.
Rather, it is a battle field where, daily, characters are being shaped and formed for eternal salvation or eternal oblivion. We are either one or the other by our understanding of the true nature of the great controversy and the plan of redemption, and the motives, priorities, plans, activities, deeds, and choices proceeding from it.
“A well-balanced character is formed by single acts well performed. One defect, cultivated instead of overcome, makes the man imperfect, and closes against him the gate of the Holy City. He who enters heaven must have a character that is without spot or wrinkle or any such thing [Eph. 5: 27]. Nothing that defileth can ever enter there. In all the redeemed host not one defect will be seen.” Messages to Young People, p. 144.
In God’s love and wisdom, He converted fallen earth, included in the comprehensive plan of redemption prepared before the foundation of the earth, into a fitting-up place, a pre-school as it were, for heaven. It is the lower school where those who accept Him as personal Savior and “follow the Lamb wherever He goes” (Rev. 14: 4) are being educated and prepared, with the Holy Spirit as their teacher and the Holy Scriptures as their textbook for the higher school where Christ Himself is the personal Instructor of the eternally redeemed of the ages.
Inspiration says that the very same Bible will be our textbook in heaven. There are countless and amazing revelations of truth and divine mysteries contained in the Word that will not be understood now but in the school above. We are admonished: “The secret things belong to God but those things which are revealed are for us and our children” (Deut. 29: 29), and encouraged: “Seek ye the Lord while He may be found; call ye upon Him while He is near.” Isa. 55:6.
Living the life of Eden here on earth in preparation for the Heavenly School
“Heaven is a school; its field of study, the universe; its teacher, the Infinite one. A branch of this school was established in Eden and, the plan of redemption accomplished, education will again be taken up in the Eden school.
The prophet of Patmos thus describes the location of the school of the hereafter:
‘I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away. . . . And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.” Rev, 21: 1, 2 . . . .
The giving of the tree of life in Eden was conditional, and it was finally withdrawn.
But the gifts of the future life are absolute and eternal. . . .Restored to His presence, man will again, as at the beginning, be taught by God: ‘My people shall know my name: . . . they shall know in that day that I am He that doth speak: behold, it is I.’ Isa. 52: 5.
All the treasures of the universe will be open to the study of God’s children. With unutterable delight we shall enter into the joy and wisdom of unfallen beings. We shall share the treasures gained through ages upon ages spent in contemplation of God’s handiwork. [See Ps. 19: 1-6]. And the years of eternity, as they roll, will continue to bring more glorious revelations. ‘Exceedingly, abundantly above all that we ask or think’ (Eph. 3: 20) will be forever and forever, the impartation of the gifts of God. . . The life on earth is the beginning of the life in heaven; education on earth is an initiation into the principles of heaven; the lifework here is a training for the life work there. What we now are, in character and holy service, is the sure foreshadowing of what we shall be.”- E. G. White, Faith I Live By, p. 360.
HOW TO BEGIN HEAVEN HERE ON EARTH
First, we must “crucify the flesh with its passions and desires” (Gal. 5: 24), acquire and grow the faith that the moral heroes mentioned in the famous faith Chapter of Hebrews 11—possessed. Like them, we must “desire a better country, that is, a heavenly country. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them.” Heb. 11: 16. Our affections must not be “set on things of this earth but on things above”(Col. 3: 2), and not to “love the things of the world ”(1 John 2: 15-17).
“We want to cultivate living faith in God. We want to have our eyes turned away from the attractions of this earth and centered upon heaven and heavenly things.
We do not want the earth to intervene between us and God but we want an eye single to the glory of God. We talk of heaven and of its blessing, and it would be a great loss to lose it. Well then, if it be so lovely, so desirable, bring it into this life, bring it into your families and educate your children not to live for this world but for the future, immortal life. . . .You can have a little heaven here below, if you will only get your eyes fixed upon God—not looking at Christ half of the time and at the world the other half. When you live for God, He will put His everlasting arms beneath you, and then He says, ‘My yoke is easy, and My burden is light.’ (Matt. 11: 30). Do you believe it?” – This Day with God, p. 271.
The Creator planted the tree of life in the middle of the Garden of Eden, investing its fruits with power to perpetuate life. As long as our first parents, Adam and Eve in their unfallen and sinless state partook of it they were guaranteed life. But after their transgression of disobedience “the Lord God said . . .lest he put out his hand and take also of the tree of life, and eat and live forever—therefore the Lord God sent him out of the garden of Eden to till the ground from which he was taken. So He drove out the man; and He placed cherubim at the east of the garden of Eden [its entrance point], and a flaming sword which turned every way, to guard the way to the tree of life.” Gen. 3: 22-24, N.K.J.V.
We are thus assured that there is no such thing as immortal sin and immortalized sinners who, according to the doctrine of the Romish Church, are burning eternally in Dante’s “hell.” Rather, the Bible clearly teaches that Adam and Eve and their posterity became subject to death and decay after their transgression. Paul says: “Wherefore, as by one man [Adam], sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for all have sinned . . . Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam’s transgression.”
Rom. 5: 12, 14. At the end of the great controversy and the beginning of life eternal in the new heavens and new earth, the same tree of life, together with the water of life will be restored to the redeemed of the ages, “bearing twelve manner of fruit every month.” Rev. 22: 2. Verse 14 says, “Blessed are they that do His commandments, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city [that is, the New Jerusalem from above, Rev. 21: 2, KJV].
Between the fall of man six thousand years ago and the restoration of the tree of life with its life-perpetuating properties, all who will regain the right of access to its fruits and leaves will have acquired it here and now on earth, while alive. How?
“To those who obey, the Word of God is the tree of life. It is the word of salvation, received unto eternal life. Those who follow its teachings eat the flesh and drink the blood of the Son of God [John 6: 48-58]. On the effect which this word produces on us, depends our destiny for eternity. It possesses the elements necessary for the formation of a perfect character. The Christian is appointed to connect with God in such close relationship that his life [on earth] is bound up with the life of Christ in the eternal life of God. . . . The word of life is that by which the Christian is to live. From this word we are to receive a continually increasing knowledge of truth. From it we are to gain light, purity, goodness, and a faith which works by love and purifies the soul. It is given us that we may be redeemed and presented faultless before the throne of divine glory. Wondrous victory, gained by Christ in man’s behalf!” – This Day with God, p. 120.
(To be continued next week)