King's Business - 1949-09

Fourth and Final in a Series o f Messages

By Louis T. Talbot, D.D.

I N three previous articles I have en­ deavored to answer questions about Heaven from the Word of God per­ taining to its reality, its location, its na­ ture, and its enjoyments and employ­ ments. Now we bring under the lens of Holy Writ three final questions, the last of which is the most important: “How Can One Go to Heaven ?” We trust that if we have one reader who does not know the way, he may find it ere he completes the reading of this message. Is There an Intermediary State? The question may be asked: “ Does a believer go immediately to Heaven at the moment of death?” The Lord said to the believing thief on the cross, “ To day shalt thou be with me in paradise” (Lk. 23:43). When the stones were crushing the life from the body of Stephen, the first Christian martyr, to him the Heav­ ens were opened, and he saw his Saviour “ standing on the right hand of God” (Acts 7:56). He then cried out in joyful certainty of being at once with Him: “ Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” The Scriptures plainly teach that the passing of the redeemed spirit from the body does not for one moment arrest consciousness, but that, immediately one is “ absent from the body,” he is “pres­ ent with the Lord” (2 Cor. 5:8). This text disposes of a whole brood of un­ wholesome, unscriptural surmises, theo­ ries, fears, and doubts: “ Absent frpm . . . ¿resent with.” There is no room here for the theory of soul sleeping or of purgatory. And, beloved, this teaching is in ac­ cord with all the Scriptures. There is, for example, no waiting in order to re­ ceive salvation: “He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life” (John 5:24). Consider another illustration. A poor beggar, covered with sores, dies at a rich man’s gate. The body is hurried away to the potter’s field, no doubt, but nothing is said of the body, because the Lord is so eager to tell us where the beggar himself is! We read in Luke 16:22: “ The beggar died,” — that is what any passer-by might observe. But look! The veil is parted, for we continue to read, “ and was carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom.” One in­ stant he was a despised beggar with only the dogs to pity him; the next, he was regnant, with angels as his willing servitors! And then the word comes like clear, sweet music: “ Lazarus . . . is com­ forted.” “Absent from . . . present with.” Page Ten

His was an immediate entrance into the presence of the Lord. In Philippians 1:23, Paul declares: “ For I am in a strait betwixt two, hav­ ing a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better.” Note those words, “ depart, and to be” —where? Is he to be in a state of soul sleep, or to enter for a period of soul purification into the flames of purga- tery? No, no! For Paul, to depart from this life meant “ to be with Christ.” And for you, to depart from your beloved fellow-believers means the same thing— “to be with Christ.”

tanic. The evening of the catastrophe, Dr. Harper was standing on the deck with a friend, watching the sunset. The heavens were aglow and the picture they presented was one that only God could paint. Harper turned to his friend and said, “ It will be beautiful in the morn­ ing!” The words were almost prophetic. A few hours later, the great liner struck an iceberg, and Dr. Harper went into the Saviour’s presence from the deck of the sinking ship. But for him, “ the morning” was indeed “ beautiful.” And there is a glad and glorious morning ahead for every child of God. It will dawn when the Lord shall descend, when the bodies of believers that sleep in Christ shall awake, and when we which are alive and remain shall be caught up to meet the Lord (1 Thess. 4:13-19). “ It will be beautiful in the morning!” W hy Does Not God Permit The Saved on Earth to Communicate with The Saved in Heaven? We believe that Heaven is real. We believe also that the believers who die go to be with a real Lord in a real place. Why, then, does God not strength­ en our faith by giving us a realistic touch and contact with those saints who have left this earth? Spiritism claims to answer this ques­ tion and professes that the living may have communication with the dead. Se­ ances are held and actual “ appearances” are claimed to have occurred. Christian people usually mock at these spiritual­ istic claims, saying that there is nothing to them but fraud and trickery. But God would not have given us the warn­ ings that He has given in the Bible against spiritism if it were harmless (cf. Deut. 18:9-12; Isa. 8:19, 20; 1 John 4:1-3). What is in it? We answer that the devil is in it, and his demons are a part of it. Satan is an impersonator. He will de-. vise all kinds of lying wonders, and signs, and miracles to deceive, if possi­ ble, the very elect. We cannot now dis­ cuss at length the ruination of mind and health that have come to many who have tried to pierce the veil that hides things after death. This much we do say: All such attempts bring the seek­ ers into contact with Satan and his powers of the air—an experience which cannot but create disastrous effects to the person who indulges in it. There­ fore, let us beware of necromancers, wizards, spiritualistic mediums, all of whom seek to enter forbidden realms. (Continued on Page 16) T H E K I N G ' S B U S I N E S S

The expression, “ soul sleep,” is not in the Bible, and what it implies is not taught in the Bible, either. The word “ sleep” applies only to the body of a believer which awaits the return of the Lord to be raised and fashioned like unto His glorious body. Our loved ones are in the presence of the Lord now— conscious, glad, praiseful. When the Lord Jesus Christ descends from Heaven with a shout, the departed spirits of be­ lievers will descend with Him. Their bodies will be raised—immortal, glori­ fied—and they will assume these bodies. At the same time, living believers shall be “ caught up”, their bodies also in­ stantly changed, and all will meet the Lord in the air. What a morning that will be! When John Harper, the well known English evangelist, was journeying to America to conduct an evangelistic cam­ paign in the Moody Church of Chicago, he was a passenger on the ill-fated Ti­

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