1997-05-19 - A New Translation
"Then it came about as they were going along and talking, that behold,
a chariot of fire and horses of fire, which separated the two of them. And
Elijah went up by a whirlwind to heaven." 2 Kings 2:11
Throughout the history of the Christian church the story of Elijah going
up to heaven in a chariot has been called his being translated. I was reminded
of this on Sunday when I heard a sermon on this verse. It occurred to me
that I will probably never have an experience like this. At some point the
righteous and the wicked will be translated, but the chariot is a nice touch
that I am not expecting. But as the sermon continued on, I thought, "I know
how I can be translated", "I know how, on a daily basis, I too can be, as
it were, translated". If being translated means coming in to the presence
of a holy God, then, it seems there are at least two ways that now, Christians
can be translated.
- The first is painfully obvious: prayer. Prayer brings us into God's presence
and brings God's presence to us. The golden bowls in Revelation 5:8 ought
to give us great encouragement to pray because they, "are the prayers of
the saints". And let us remind ourselves where these golden bowls are; they
are, "before the Lamb". There is no doubt that prayer translates us into
- The second (and the one I was thinking about in church), is a little less
obvious. In Matthew 5:48, we are exhorted to be perfect. This is not given
as something that we can obtain, but rather as something that we must aim
at. But in that sanctifying process of confession of sin and seeking after
righteousness, is there not a kind of translation? I think there is. There
is, in pursuing righteousness, an element of becoming more and more Christlike.
Even more than an element, that is the very heart of it. And this is nothing
less than preparation for heaven, for our translation. Nothing that is unholy
can stand before God, and one day, all those who rest in Christ will stand
in the presence of God, translated, and clothed in the righteousness of Christ.
The process that we begin here, will then be complete.
"When the heart truly repents, it dies to sin. Repentance is compared unto
death in the word of God." Jonathan Edwards in a sermon on 1 Peter 2:9.
Soli Deo Gloria,