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Dr Tow's Letter 23 Jul 2017

My dear readers,
(Extracts from “HEAVEN – a place, a city, a home” by E M Bounds in RPG December 1991, Edited by Dr SH Tow)

(Isa 40:9-11, Rev 19:1-9)

Samuel Rutherford, the great saint of God of the 16th century, magnified his Saviour from his prison cell with these words: “I never believed till now that there was so much to be found in Christ on this side of heaven. O the delights of heavenly joy which may be had here, in the small tokens and comforts that fall from Christ!”

If Jesus meant so much to the gifted and holy Samuel Rutherford, languishing in banishment, what must He be to those in Heaven? What unspeakable joy and overwhelming delight are in store for His redeemed people on that glad day when they shall be ushered into His presence, to behold Him “face to face.” Then shall all tears be wiped away and all of earth’s sorrows be erased.

What material blessings accompany the heavenly life we cannot tell, but whatever they be, they will be of the purest and most exquisite nature. But these and other comforts are not the essence of Heaven. The focus of life and joy in Heaven will be the person and presence of the exalted Christ, our ascended Lord and Redeemer. He who gave Himself a ransom to buy us back to God will be the centre of delight in Heaven. Without Him, no Heaven!

There in the magnificence and splendour of Heaven, Jesus the Great Shepherd of the sheep will be with us, to lead and to feed us in a way we cannot now even begin to appreciate. But we are sure that He will show us new and living fountains of bliss and knowledge which earth knows nothing of. To live with Jesus, who loved us and gave Himself for us, will be the crowning glory and happiness of all eternity. In Heaven we shall see the beauty of the King.

HYMN BY CHARLES BUTLER: “Where Jesus is, 'Tis Heaven there!" Sing it.

PRAYER: Lord, lead me onward and upward day by day.

(1 Cor 9:24-27)

Paul the Apostle compared the Christian experience to the self-denial and extreme efforts of competitors in the Isthmian games -- forerunner of our modern Olympics. How greatly were those athletes of ancient Greece excited and motivated by the floral crown. To win those perishable crowns no toils were deemed too hard, no efforts too demanding. Those men, women and youths had noble ambition and high purpose. They were followers of the cult of physical fitness and excellence.

Now we are followers of the Lord of life, the King of the everlasting kingdom. How goes our discipleship in comparison? For us is promised a better crown, an incorruptible crown, a crown of lasting glory. The Apostle, having that imperishable crown in view, said, “I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air. But I keep under my body and bring it into subjection ..." (1 Cor 9:26-27).

We are entered into the same race. Do we also see the promised crown and press forward to obtain it? The race is uphill and long. It is not won in a day, or by half-hearted effort. But the prize makes it worthwhile. The Apostles saw it that way, and after them countless others have completed the race with honour. They are our best encouragement. “Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith …” (Heb 12:1-2). For Jesus, it was the way of the cross. For us can it be anything less? Let us press on!

THOUGHT: Following Jesus means “cross before crown.”

PRAYER: Lord, help me to deny self and take up my cross daily, and follow Thee.

3. HEAVEN IS “THE LIFE” (Rom 5:12-21)

Life in all its fulness -- the abundant life -- is unknown this side of Heaven. On earth we speak of the “good life” and “quality of life” in earthling terms, under the shadow of approaching death. We are reminded by the words of wisdom: “Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away” (James 4:14). Moses the man of God summed up the good life of “threescore years and ten” as “labour and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away” (Ps 90:10). How true!

In all thy quest for life, then, seek ardently and urgently the life above! Be wise, and “seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth ... When Christ, who is your life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory” (Col 3:1-4). This “life” is the central theme of Heaven, its fundamental concept. It promises untiring enjoyments, ever-satisfying employments and unspeakable blessings in the presence of God.

Today we declare the Gospel message, urging men and women to come to Jesus, “the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6). The Saviour makes this incomparable offer: “I am come that ye might have life, and that ye might have it more abundantly” (John 10:10). What it shall be is not revealed today. But God’s Word gives assurance and comfort: “Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is” (1 John 3:2). In that day, we shall be changed to be like Him, to have a share in His life, “the life.”

THOUGHT: “Quality Life” is only in Heaven.

QUESTION: Do you have it?

God bless you readers.

Yours faithfully in the Saviour’s Service,

Dr SH Tow