You don’t have to wait until you die to experience heaven; you can start to enjoy it now – even in the middle of whatever circumstances life on this fallen Earth throws at you. Heaven’s benefits are available to you right now, because Jesus has promised that the kingdom of God is within you, not just in an external place you have to wait to visit.
Someday, in God’s time, your soul will leave your physical body and cross through dimensions to go to the actual place called heaven. But while you can’t yet make a physical trip there, you can go there spiritually by awakening your spiritual senses to take in heaven’s goodness. Here how:
- Feel the freedom of grace. Since Jesus has given you grace, you can celebrate the eternal security that your relationship with Jesus gives you. You don’t have to worry about trying to earn Jesus’ love by following rules or performing rituals; you already have His love. You don’t need to worry that the mistakes you make will cause you to lose His love; nothing can separate you from it. Recognize God’s purpose for His law: to make people aware of their sin and teach them how much they need relationships with Him. You’re bound to fail if you try to live by a perfect law as an imperfect person living in a fallen world. But if you choose to live by the Spirit – relying on God’s power working through you – you can keep growing into the person God wants you to become. Through grace, God has given you freedom, but rather than using that freedom to sin, let your gratitude for God’s gift of grace motivate you to live faithfully. You’ll enjoy a life of abundant blessings when you do. Thank Jesus for forgiving you, cleansing you, and making you right with God. The grace that Jesus gives you makes it possible for you to live without fear, pressure, or guilt now, even before you get to heaven.
Hear the Holy Spirit bearing witness. The Holy Spirit, who lives inside your spirit after you become a Christian, bears witness that your true identity is one of God’s beloved children who is a new creation. You’ve been changed at your core so that your old, sinful self has been replaced by the Holy Spirit’s residence within you, calling you to live faithfully. You can rest assured that you’re 100 percent okay with God, no matter what, because of the righteousness that Jesus gave you through His sacrifice for all sin on the Cross. While you can still choose to sin, if you do so now, you’ll experience an internal resistance to sin that will trouble you until you deal with it through confession and repentance. In contrast, if you make right choices, the Holy Spirit will empower you to carry through with them well. Sin is an outside agent that can still influence your mind and emotions, but you can master sin through the power of the Holy Spirit at work in you. When you consistently choose to follow the Spirit’s leading, you can experience complete peace, even while you’re still living in this fallen world.
See the finished work of Jesus. The sacrifice that Jesus made for all sin on the Cross completed everything that was necessary for sinful people to connect to a holy God. Thanks to Jesus’ finished work, you were forgiven for all of your sins once and for all when you chose to trust in His sacrifice to save you. So, while it’s helpful for your spiritual growth to regularly confess your sins and repent of them, you can enjoy the peace of knowing that God has already forgiven you for them. Thanks to Jesus’ work, God will not condemn you for your sins, but will offer you mercy and grace instead. Jesus’ perfect love for you drives out fear in your life. The more you reflect on your unbreakable union with Jesus, the more you’ll want to make faithful choices, which will then help you experience God’s best for you. Jesus’ finished work makes it possible for you to experience the peace and confidence of heaven right now on Earth.
Smell the fragrant aroma of Christ. As a Christian, you don’t have to settle for living in the stench of sin; you can develop a holy life that will be like a fragrant offering to God. Jesus’ Resurrection power is available to you to tap into, empowering you to change for the better by growing to become more like Jesus. So rather than trying to live the Christian life through your own, limited power (which will only lead to failure and disappointment), rely on God’s power working through you. Pray for the specific kinds of help you need in every situation, and trust God to answer by helping you. Surrender your own agenda for each day to God and invite Him to show you His purposes for you and empower you to fulfill them. Invite the risen Jesus Christ, who lives within you as the Holy Spirit, to express Himself in and through your own unique personality. When you shift your focus from your own performance to your relationship with Jesus, He will help you do more than you could possibly ask for or imagine before you even get to heaven.
- Taste the goodness of the Lord.You never have to worry about missing out on God’s will for your life, as long as you follow his simple principles that will lead to good things happening for you: having a relationship with God, talking with Him regularly, and bearing the fruit of a close relationship with Him. You can do those things in a wide variety of situations, so you’re free to choose any number of possible jobs, potential spouses, or other opportunities, as long as they help you love God and love others more, not less. As you open Jesus’ good gifts of freedom, identity, forgiveness, and life by letting the principles of biblical love guide your decisions, you can taste God’s goodness right now and look forward to more of the same in heaven.
Adapted from Heaven is Now: Awakening Your Five Spiritual Senses to the Wonders of Grace, copyright 2012 by Andrew Farley. Published by Baker Books, a division of Baker Publishing Group, Grand Rapids, Mich., www.bakerbooks.com.
Andrew Farley is the bestselling author of "The Naked Gospel" and lead teaching pastor of Ecclesia, a growing church on the high plains of west Texas. Andrew co-hosts "Real Life in Christ," a thought-provoking TV program that airs every Wednesday morning on ABC-TV in west Texas and New Mexico. Andrew lives in Texas with his wife Katharine and their son, Gavin. To watch or listen to some of Andrew's teaching, visit www.ChurchWithoutReligion.com.
Whitney Hopler is a freelance writer and editor who serves as both a Crosswalk.com contributing writer and the editor of About.com’s site on angels and miracles, at: http://angels.about.com/. Contact Whitney at: firstname.lastname@example.org send in a true story of an angelic encounter or a miraculous experience like an answered prayer.