The idolatry of Salvation has a trickle down effect towards misappropriating a crucial spiritual tenet – that is, of the nature of Heaven and The Kingdom. When we view life through a Salvation lens – we see things and read Scripture with a focus on getting ourselves, and then others, to Heaven. We read the Bible and see words about proclaiming Jesus as Lord, following Jesus, taking up your cross, eternal reward, inheriting the Kingdom, life in the Spirit, faithful living, and on and on and often equate this with “eternal life” as a place, Heaven, a future destination that importantly is NOT Hell, where those who believe in Jesus will one day go.
In Acts, the Angels ask the disciples a profound question following the Ascension of Christ,
“Why do you stand here looking up into heaven?”
The disciples were being directed by the Angels to look around, forward, to watch and see and join in the work of Jesus that was ongoing, here and now – the Kingdom of God.
We easily forget that Scripture, especially most of the New Testament, was written to believers – those who already had eternal life as a destination, Heaven.
What exactly is it we are to be “seeking first?” Heaven? Salvation? No! “The Kingdom of God.”
In making this mental shift, we begin to view Life from a different lens, a Kingdom lens – one in which we see things and read Scripture with a focus on Living by a Life that indwells us, seeing, declaring and Living in rule and reign in a Kingdom that is among us, at hand.
We begin to see how Scripture shows us how we should Live as followers of Jesus so that we can realize the Freedom of His Life that God meant for us to live in the earth.
This is the essence of the Highest Life of God intended through the Tree of Life in the Garden. This is the Superlative Life of the Triune Fellowship that we have been invited to partake of by way of Christ.
This is Zōē Perissos – the Abundant Life – Life to the full that Jesus said He came to bring. It goes beyond eternal life as in getting to Heaven. It speaks of Eternal Life as getting Heaven into us – and then overflowing from us into the earth.
The Lord’s Prayer is a prophetic call for the Will of God to be done on earth, as it is in Heaven. This Will is Eternal, ever expanding, present and at hand – by Christ in those who Live to express His indwelling Life within.
Heaven as eternal life is a free gift of God. The Abundant Life in the Kingdom of God is a prize to be won.
Receiving Heaven as an eternal destination is through faith alone, one time, for all time. Living an Abundant Life in the Kingdom of God is through faithful living, every day, the rest of our lives on earth.
Heaven is ours through justification. The Kingdom of God is ours through sanctification.
Jesus paid the price in death on the Cross for our ticket to Heaven. Followers of Christ pay the price in death to Self by the in-working of the Cross for Abundance in Life in the Kingdom of God.
Eternal life as Heaven requires belief in Jesus, as Savior. Eternal Life as Abundant in the Kingdom of God requires belief in Jesus, and following Him, as Lord.
So, eternal life as going to Heaven is something far different from Eternal, Abundant, Kingdom of God/Heaven, Zōē Perissos Life.
The question is, do we have eyes to see that there is Life beyond getting to Heaven? Do we see that there is Life beyond The Gate? Do we see that realizing this Life requires receiving Jesus as The Path as well?
Our seeing more of the Freedom inherent in that Abundant Life depends on it.
Brandon Chase is a baseball player at heart; a practicing Crossfitter, golfer, hooper and guitarist; fueled by meat, cappuccinos and chocolate. He writes about Life, Love and Church – and how Jesus is all of these – on his blog Zōē Perissos (www.brandonchase.net). He is the author of the eBook The Path Of Freedom: Few find it. Fewer walk it. Be one of the few. He is married to his high school sweetheart, Marie, and has two daughters McKinley and Delaney. They live in Fort Worth, TX. You can connect with Brandon on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/brandon.chase.184) or Twitter (@ZoePerissos).