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The Pilgrimage to HeavenHow to Have Eternal Life and Enter Heaven
By John C. T. Kim
iUniverse, Inc.Copyright © 2012 John C. T. Kim
All right reserved.
Chapter OneMan's Thoughts in Unbelief
The Revelations of God to Man
The Symptoms of Unbelief
The Nearsighted and Blind
The Ignorant and Speculating
The Wise of the World
No Knowledge of the Lord God
No Knowledge of the World
No Knowledge of Life
Speculating in the Darkened Heart
The Misguided and Separated
The Misguided by the World
The Deceived by Sin
The Separated from God
The Exiled from the Life of God
This chapter examines man's unbelieving heart and considers the unbeliever's thoughts on God, the world, man, and life.
The Revelations of God to Man
Since the beginning of the world, the God of heaven has performed His signs and manifested His glory before all men and women. Opening the Bible, we hear an amazing thing about God: "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth." The Bible declares that God made the world.
The world clearly reveals the divine nature of the Creator God. Look at the world of God's creation and see His signs as the Lord God. The natural world displays the eternal wisdom and power of God. When the majestic mountains and grand valleys of the Canadian Rockies call us to honor and worship the God of creation, we stand in awe of the Creator. We see the wonders of God in nature and say with the sense of mystery, "Wonderful!"
Indeed, God made us wonderfully. Ask a medical doctor about how human body is made in the forms and functions of its many parts, an ophthalmologist about human eyes, and a dentist about human teeth. They will bear witnesses of the greatness of God's wisdom and power. And you will marvel at the wonders of God.
God has revealed His glory in the creation of the world, so that we might seek Him, find the Lord (the sovereign Master as the Maker of the world) of creation, and know that the Lord is our God.
In addition to His revelations in the natural world, the God of heaven has shown His righteousness and justice in His judgments against man's sinfulness. When Adam and Eve disobeyed the word of God, they were exiled from the Garden of Eden and suffered death. At the time of Noah, God judged the ancient world of the ungodly with a great flood. He destroyed the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to ashes when the citizens sinned. He punished the sinful people of Israel at the times of the Old Testament of the Bible with foreign occupations and exiles.
When Jonah, a prophet of Israel, fl ed from the presence of God on a ship, the Lord of the world raised up a great storm on the sea. He and the sailors became extremely frightened and perceived the presence of God in the calamity. When we see such a storm as we have never seen before, that our souls melt away in our peril, we fear the wrath of God on our sins. The storm of an unusual magnitude brings our sinfulness to remembrance. We come to know that sinners will not escape the righteous judgment of God.
The judgments of God abide on not only murderers and adulterers but also the scoffers and mockers saying, "Where is the judgment of God?" T ere are pain and distress for all evildoers. All over on the earth, we see sufferings and death and hear mourning and crying.
In His judgments for our sins, God remembers His promise of life in Jesus Christ. He has revealed His grace for sinners through Jesus Christ. Our hope for eternal life has been revealed by the appearing of our Savior Jesus. He performed many miracles and manifested the glory of God for us to know the Lord and Savior and believe in Him for the salvation of God.
This is the word of God we hear. We respond to it with either belief or unbelief. The believers rejoice in the God of salvation because their sins are forgiven and they have eternal life. In contrast, the unbelievers suppress the word of God and reject the gift of eternal life and heaven in Jesus Christ.
Despite all the miraculous signs that God has performed before our eyes, we would not believe in the Lord our God. We saw the glory of God in the natural world and the judgments of God on the earth and heard the word of God's salvation. But we refused to repent and turn to our God for the forgiveness of sin and eternal life. We made our hearts harder than stone and disbelieved Jesus Christ. And we despised the precious word of God without knowledge.
God has made Himself known in His works, so that we might honor, worship, and serve the Lord our God for His blessed life. Nevertheless, we worship and serve other gods in our own ways. The nations of the world make their own gods and serve them according to their cultures and traditions. Generally, Westerners serve the Judeo-Christian God; the Arabs, Allah; and Asians, Buddha or Brahman.
I was born in Busan, Korea, in November 1941. My father seemed to me to have need of nothing from God for his life. My mother was a cultural Buddhist and visited the temples in the mountains twice a year. It was impressive for me to watch from a distance her washing herself in the stream in the mountains to appear before Buddha. Early in the mornings, she used to go to the altar prepared in the back garden of our house with a bowl of clean water. Looking up to the heaven, she offered prayers to her god for me to have success in the world.
My parents taught me nothing about the God of heaven. Instead, they brought me up in the discipline and instruction of manliness. They used to teach me by saying, "Man shall be like man and live unlike animals." My father loved me so much that he did not spare me from the rod of discipline when I went my ways of curiosity and carelessness. It was a humbling experience to prepare my own rods from the branches of poplars near our house. My mother diligently trained me to discern personal characters from the styles of walking. I have two sisters and one brother. We have never had any conflictive experiences with our parents or one another.
My grandmother served the god of the mountain. She loved to take me to her place of worship in the deep mountains. An altar was built in front of two large boulders standing tall and leaning against each other. She declared that the mighty spirit of her god dwells in the tiger living in the cave of the boulders. While she prepared her sacrifices of food on the altar and worshiped her god, I, a small boy, trembled with extreme vigilance in the fear of a tiger.
The people of the community called my grandmother "tiger grandma." The nickname was given partly because she worshiped the tiger in her holy mountain and partly because she was a tiger-eyed disciplinarian in the community. She was stern and fearsome in disciplining the community people and her grandson. By her example and instructions, she taught me about fearing her god and about human behaviors from good table manners to uprightness in both body and mind.
While I was still a boy, I used to hear the church bells ringing from some distance. But they were no more than a reminder that it was Sunday. When I heard the word of Jesus saying, "If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also," I could not understand His strange teaching. It was quite contrary to my nature. I did not believe the word of Jesus; it was foolishness to me.
The Symptoms of Unbelief
Now, what happens to us when we do not believe in Jesus Christ, the word of God? We are condemned to death. We die spiritually and later physically. Our dead hearts are hard and senseless like calluses.
The unbelieving heart is hearing-impaired. The ears of the heart are stopped with the plug of unbelief, which disables them from hearing the word of God. We are deaf spiritually. We keep on hearing the word of God with our ears, but it cannot enter our stopped hearts. And we do not understand the word of God with our hearts.
The hardened heart is also dull of spiritual perception. It is covered with the veil of unbelief. The light of God's glory cannot enter our hearts; there is deep darkness in our hearts. The eyes of our hearts abide in the blinding darkness of death. Although we have eyes, we cannot see the revelations of God. We are unable to see the wonderful things of God. We keep on looking at the signs of God but cannot see the glory of God with our hearts. While seeing the miracles of God, we do not perceive His signs. We are visually impaired. We are on the journey to life and heaven but do not know where we are going.
Furthermore, our senseless hearts are obstinate. The doors of our hearts are tightly shut by the disobedience of unbelief. With the stronghold of unbelief, we stubbornly refuse to listen to the word of God. We are determined not to acknowledge God. In fact, we are hostile toward God.
For this reason, we could not believe.
The Nearsighted and Blind
The unbelievers, having the darkened heart, are nearsighted and blind. They can see as far as their physical eyes seethat is, the nearsighted see only the visible side of the world. The invisible side of the world is beyond the range of their eyesight. The nearsighted can see the natural things of the world, but the blind cannot see the spiritual things of God; earthly things, but not heavenly things; and the appearance of the world, but not the reality of God. They are unable to perceive the things the eyes of the heart see, for example, the way, the truth, and the life of God. They are blind spiritually. The nearsighted see in part and know in part.
In my boyhood, I enjoyed observing the sky, the mountains, and the ocean in my beautiful hometown, Busan. I heard of other cities behind the mountains, foreign countries over the ocean, and heaven beyond the sky, but I could not see them. My eyesight ended where the mountains met the sky and ships vanished beneath the far horizon. My heart longed to see the unseen world yonder, and the only thing I could do was to dream about the world beyond the limit of my vision.
The world I knew was what I could see with my eyes. The bounds of my view of the world were the end of my comprehension. Like a frog in a deep well, I was closed up to my small world. I could not see the wide world outside of my vision. The world beyond my sight was an enigma.
I perceived things as they appeared. I viewed the world as a small boy and thought childish things. I believed the earth is flat like a playground; that was the way the earth appeared to me on the horizon. The concept that the earth is round like a ball was a puzzle for me. I was not yet able to see the globe as astronauts see it. My small mind was baffled with the notion that the enormous globe, with all things on it, floats in space and revolves around the sun while rotating by itself. My mind inquired in amazement and perplexity, "How is it possible for the rotating earth to contain the ocean water? With the earth upside-down, how can I still stand on the top of the earth?" The earth was beyond my comprehension and imagination. Great was the mystery of the world.
Time is a straight line having a beginning and an end. Time runs its course towards its end. Therefore, all things of the world are temporal and perishable. A person's life on the earth ends. The time line has the past, the present, and the future. A particular period of time (e.g., a day, a year, a century) is a point on the time line. The repeating rounds of days and years are the points in the linear course of time. The connected points make a line of time.
Nevertheless, I, a nearsighted boy, watched the repeating rounds of days, seasons, and years, and thought the world as an endless cycle to be everlasting. I had no prospect of the day of my death and the end of the world and thought that I will live on for a long, long time, perhaps five hundred years.
Observing that the people around me loved me, I, a naïve boy, assumed that the world is all about me. I thought that I was the center of the world, and that people should pay attention to me only. I, a spoiled boy, expected that people should serve me, and looked out for my own interests only. I, a nearsighted and blind boy, could see no one beyond myself. I was self-centered and selfish.
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The nearsighted by unbelief have their views about almost everything. They believe they have insight and understanding, but they do not know that they are nearsighted and blind. While seeing the things perceptible to their physical senses, they cannot see the truth and life of God.
Unbelieving scientists think that the truth will be found in nature, as they see further and deeper into nature than common people do. They have insight into their fields, but their insight has the limit of nearsightedness. They look at things as they appear, and they cannot see the true reality beyond scientific facts observable by their physical senses. Since scientific discoveries are gained through natural, empirical observations, scientists have nearsighted knowledge of the truth. Scientific researchers suggest theories, not the truth, to explain natural phenomena. They deny the truth of God, which is beyond their sights and scientific evidences. They would not accept the things of God, which are beyond their understanding. The scientists without the knowledge of the truth grope in darkness with the dim lamp of their theses and hypotheses.
Nearsighted scientists keep on observing nature, but they cannot perceive the supernatural things such as the Lord God and creation. They look into the earth, the sky, the ocean, plants, animals, and humans, but do not see the Lord of all these things. They explore the creation of God but cannot catch a glimpse of the God of creation. Nature points to the One who created it, but the blind scientists cannot see the Creator God beyond the nature. Some scientists believe the existence of God but are troubled with His creation. Anything beyond the apparent evidences established by scientific methods is a mystery to them.
Nature appears evolution by sight, but it is creation in truth. Nearsighted biologists observe evolution but do not perceive creation. Scientific perception is not capable of observing the whole of things. The creation of God is beyond their sight and is a mystery to them.
Creation and evolution are simply two ways of looking at the same object of the nature. One way is by spiritual eyes through faith; the other, by natural eyes through scientific methods. While scientists look at the phenomena of evolution in nature, the eyes of the believers see the reality of God the Creator beyond the nature. The different perspectives are considered mutually exclusive and have caused worthless antagonism between creationists and evolutionists. Both sides should realize that evolution is a scientific fact and creation is a transcendent truth. Science tells us about the outward appearance of things, whereas the truth shows us the ultimate nature of things. Therefore, there is no need for controversies and arguments to prove their one-sided views. And Christian faith should not be shaken by scientificdiscoveries,norshouldscientistsbeskepticalaboutthetruth of God.
Biochemists experiment with living things but do not discover eternal life in them. Physicists can split an atom to see mighty energy but cannot make the power of God for godliness and life. Astronomers observe the sky but cannot see heaven through their scientific methods.
I myself was a student of science. Trees were the objects of my observation. I beheld many wonderful things about trees: the new life from seeding, cutting, and grafting; the beauty of a tree and the forest in changing seasons; the perfect arrangement of branches, leaves, and flowers; and deciduous trees losing their colorful leaves before winter and coniferous leaves surviving the frigid winter. In my many years of researching trees and wood, I observed the intricacies of how all things work in the life of a tree and the complexities of how wood was physically and chemically linked. The physical structure and chemical distribution giving a tree enough strength to stand under gravity and the wind kept me marveling. I was amazed by the wonders of trees and wood, and used to exclaim in awe, "Marvelous!"
Despite all the evidences of God's creation, I could not see the God of the wonders. I kept observing the creatures of God but could not perceive the Creator who is behind nature. Nature displayed the almighty works of God before my eyes, but I, being blinded by unbelief, could not see God.
The desire of my heart throughout my scientific researches was to find something nobody else had discovered before. But that was hard for me, a blind man. I researched nature to find the truth along my theses, feeling about aimlessly for my way in darkness. Struggling with the truth and nature of wood, I was lost in the unapproachable wisdom and power of God.
While watching seasons come and go and trees grow taller, I could not see my personal growth. I thought I had a vision of life, but in reality I was nearsighted and blind. Without insight into the mystery of life, I looked for the way to life in the wrong placein nature. I walked in the dark and had no idea where I was going. I groped in deep darkness to feel my way to life.
Excerpted from The Pilgrimage to Heaven by John C. T. Kim Copyright © 2012 by John C. T. Kim. Excerpted by permission of iUniverse, Inc.. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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