All posts by Paul Harlan

Will My Dog Be In Heaven?

We’ve all been there. We’ve been on the receiving end of a question we have no clue what the answer is. What makes it more difficult is when it’s a spiritual question and you are seen as the spiritual person. Many times the world wants us as Christians to answer questions that quite honestly the Bible doesn’t answer. As the Church, we have often marketed the Bible as the book that answers all of life’s questions, but I’m a Bible guy and I still have questions.

Just recently a question like this came up in my weekly discipleship group. A friend said he had trouble sharing the Gospel with others because he wasn’t sure he could answer people’s questions. For instance what do we say to people when they want to know if their dog will be in Heaven?

I mean when Jesus come’s back and restores all things will dogs be there? I believe so, but will your dog be there? I don’t know.

I looked back at him and said, “That’s when we look at them and tell them. I don’t know if your dog will be in Heaven or not. The Bible doesn’t answer that, because the Bible isn’t a book that answers all our questions but rather tells us the story of mankind’s redemption thru Jesus Christ.”

I drove home that night very intrigued by that answer because honestly it’s very freeing. Many times as believers we are scared to say “I don’t know”. But I think as believers we need to understand the purpose of the Bible and what it is really telling us. I’m not sure about you but I have felt pressure to answer all kinds of questions. But thankfully because I know what story the Bible is telling, I know what questions it answers. Anything outside that I’m free to say “I don’t know”.

Don’t get me wrong, the Bible does answer lots of questions that impact all areas of life. It tells me that no amount of good works or righteous living will make me right with God, rather it is faith/trust in Jesus righteous living and substitutionary death that will make me right with God. The Bible answers a whole list of questions. I just don’t think it tells me whether or not your dog will be in heaven.

Make It Look Like You Live Here

“Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling,” Philippians 2:12

I mean I’m pretty sure we’ve all been there. We’ve packed up an entire home, hauled all of our stuff across town or the country and into a new home. Most of us are relieved to have all the boxes off the truck and in the house. You probably went through a lengthy mortgage process to get into this house so it seems like all the work is done, but its not. It’s now time to make it look like you live here.

In salvation, the Holy Spirit has done a great work in giving us new life so that we might put our faith in Christ’s work. The Bible says we have been adopted, transferred from the Kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of Jesus, no longer an enemy but now a son. It seems like just in our adventure to move into a new home, a lot has already been done and seems to be finished, but it is quite the opposite, it is just the beginning.

Paul in the beginning of the verse references their past obedience, and you can infer what he is about to reference is also an act of obedience. He asks them to work out their salvation with fear and trembling. Paul is saying, with a degree of seriousness, live out this salvation in order for others to see its effects as well. As with our new home analogy, we unpack our boxes to show others that we live in this new home and that it is ours.

According to Paul its not enough for us to live in God’s kingdom with unpacked boxes. We are called to obedience by spiritually unpacking our salvation for all to see. At my church we call this living in light of the Gospel. It means letting our actions and life be informed by Jesus work.

For example, earlier in Chapter 2 Paul says we should be humble and seek the interests of others because Christ, even though he was equal with God, made himself a servant of all. Paul is calling us to be humble and is motivating that behavior by Christ’s work. This is the obedience we are called to, submitting our entire life and it’s decisions to the gospel message.

But brother/sister don’t let this weight fall squarely on your shoulders alone because Paul also says in Philippians 2:13 “for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.”

Friends, know that the Spirit is at work to bring about your obedience to the gospel, not only to believe it but also to live in light of it.

An On Time Word

My church is currently preaching through 1 Corinthians. We just finished looking at the manifestations of the Spirit otherwise known as the gifts of the Spirit. If you are not familiar with what Im speaking about read 1 Corinthians 12-14.

One of these gifts is prophecy. Now prophecy is simply a message that is divinely inspired by the Holy Spirit for you to share with someone that is to encourage them, comfort them and build them up.

Continue reading An On Time Word

Stories

Over the last several months I’ve been participating in something new at our church called Community Bible Reading (CBR, you can find it in your app store). You may be like me in that I struggle to maintain a regular rhythm of scripture reading, but my experience with the CBR has been very helpful and insightful. I would like to share a short thought with you about it.  Continue reading Stories

Maturity in the Church

In my last post (click here to read) you saw where I talked about how over the last year I have examined the centrality of the gospel. I’m convinced that our discipleship efforts are not about getting people to duplicate certain behaviors, no matter how noble they are, such as prayer, church attendance, giving and so on. But rather our discipleship efforts should center on convincing people of the Gospel.

Continue reading Maturity in the Church