November 20, 2017

Heaven Is My Home

By Wayne S. Walker

My family and I, along with the church where I labor, recently encountered a rather strange situation that was, to say the least, a bit unnerving. The brethren decided to sell the preachers' house that the church had owned, because of its age, condition and location, and allow us to purchase our own. Everything seemed to be moving along smoothly. However, less than twenty-four hours before the closing on the church's house and just a few days before the closing on the house that we were hoping to buy, the title company informed us of a thorny legal problem.

The church had never formally incorporated. And according to state law, a non-incorporated entity cannot sell a piece of property without first filing a petition with the Common Pleas Court, publishing a notice of that petition in a newspaper for four weeks, and then having the court rule in favor of the petition, a process that can take anywhere from eight to twelve weeks and even longer if any further difficulties are encountered. Since neither the buyers for the church's house nor the sellers of the house that we had made an offer on were willing to wait that long, the whole process was effectively canceled for the time being.

However, this is not an article about real estate law. There is a spiritual application that I want to make. The experience of being so close to owning a home and having a deal fall through due to last-minute, unforeseen circumstances beyond our control has helped me to appreciate better an important biblical truth. "For here we have no continuing city, but we seek the one to come" (Heb. 13:14). Certainly there is nothing wrong with a person owning his own home here on earth. In fact, it can be a good thing. However, we must never become so wrapped up in the things of this world, including our property, that we fail to remember some vital concepts taught in Scripture.

First, we are but pilgrims and strangers here on this earth. Even the patriarchs of old recognize this fact (Heb. 11:13). How much more should we, who live with the blessed hope made possible by the death and resurrection of Christ, be impressed with the temporariness of our sojourn here (Jas. 4:13-16). Mrs. M.S.B. Dana wrote,

I'm a pilgrim and I'm a stranger;

I can tarry, I can tarry but a night.

Do not detain me, for I am going

To where the fountains are ever flowing.

I'm a pilgrim and I'm a stranger;

I can tarry, I can tarry but a night.

As a pilgrims and strangers, we are taught to "abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul, having your conduct honorable among the Gentiles, that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may, by your good works which they observe, glorify God in the day of visitation" (1 Pet. 2:11-2).

Second, the reason that we are but pilgrims and strangers is that our primary citizenship is not with some nation in this world but in heaven. Paul wrote, "For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ" (Phil. 3:20). I.N. Carman wrote,

Yonder over the rolling river,

Where the shining mansions rise,

Soon will be our home forever,

And the smile of the blessed Giver

Gladdens all our longing eyes.

The reason why our citizenship is in heaven is that our hope is there (Col. 1:3-5). And the reason why our hope is in heaven is that our Savior has already entered there to make atonement for us and to prepare us a home with him (Heb. 6:17-20, 9:11-14).

Third, as a result of the fact that our citizenship is in heaven, we must be careful not to look upon our homes and other physical possessions of this life as having any degree of permanence. Jesus teaches us, "Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal" (Matt. 6:19-20). H.B. Hartzler wrote,

The treasures of earth are not mine;

I hold not its silver and gold,

But a treasure far greater is mine:

I have riches of value untold.

We should place much more emphasis in our lives upon making sure that we lay up treasures in heaven rather than treasures on earth. Ultimately, everything on earth that we or anyone else will have labored to obtain will be burned up when Christ returns (2 Pet. 3:10-13). Only in the holy city, New Jerusalem of the new heaven and the new earth, will there by anything of eternal value (Rev. 22:15).

With regard to material things - house, lands, goods the old saying, although trite, is true that, "You can't take it with you." Or, as others have observed, you never see any U-Haul trucks behind hearses. As pertaining to the congregation here selling the preacher's house and allowing us to buy our own, the brethren decided to consult an attorney to see what our options are. Someday my family and I may own our own house. But whether we ever do or not, we are working toward a better home, "a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens" (2 Cor. 5:1). What about you? Are you laying up treasures in heaven rather than just on earth?

Guardian of Truth XXXVI: 23, p. 722
December 3, 1992

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