Pastor’s Pen: Surrounded by Heaven

Rev Ivan McIlhinney.
Rev Ivan McIlhinney.

By Rev Ivan McIlhinney

Sunday, November 1 was All Saints Day, so I’d like to share a few thoughts on the Church Triumphant.

Chapter 11 of the Book of Hebrews recounts the heroic stories of the battles of faith fought and won by the Old Testament saints long before Christ came and then it goes on to say: “Since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and sin which clings so closely and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith.” (Heb. ch. 12 v 1 & 2.)

As the early Christians faced persecution, they felt encouraged by the patriarchs and prophets of former times.

The battle is on in every Christian’s life against evil, sin and wrong. A moral war rages in our world because of crooked corruption, injustice, hatred and fatal division in the human family.

St Paul recognised that the forces of evil are formidable when he wrote: “Put on the whole armour of God that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we are not contending against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.” (Ephesians ch. 6 v 11-12.)

There is an active, destructive power at work in the spiritual realm to drag us down to degradation and ruin all goodness. But all is not lost, because we have a great hope! The support behind us in this spiritual warfare is tremendous.

In 2 Kings ch. 6 we read about a war which raged between Syria and Israel. The King of Syria came to realise that his greatest problem wasn’t the army of Israel as such, but the high morale and spiritual strength the Israelites were getting from the prophet Elisha. Heavenly help was at hand, spiritual might, the power of God to deliver. Elisha did miraculously escape.

As we fight temptation, and struggle to do what is good and right, we have all around us the spiritual reinforcements of eternity and all the dynamic of God.

The Church Triumphant, the saints of ages past who have won the victory already and all the angelic host of Heaven are cheering us on.

With such encouragement and support we must surely win our way through - until we too join the glorious throng!