Awana: Revisiting “Here and Now”, “Then and There”, and “Eternal Life”

Two of my Awana posts mentioned “Here and Now” and “Then and There”. In another post, Awana/CC, I talked about the misuse of the phrase “Eternal Life” which was substituted for Jesus’ sacrifice for sins.

I may have found the source of the unbiblical use of these phrases in a book written by the Dutch-Catholic Priest, Henri J. M. Nowen, Here and Now:
Living in the Spirit.

This post will be comparing some quotes of Henri J. M. Nouwen’s in his book, Here and Now: Living in the Spirit, with what the Bible says. Henri’s writing sounds very spiritual. Don’t be misled by Henri’s enticing words. The Spirit mentioned in the title cannot be the Holy Spirit as the book is NOT based on the Bible even though he talks of God and Jesus, references the Bible, and talks of Spiritual living. In fact, Henri’s book is full of deceit and lies, but are packaged nicely. It is so sad to me to read what Henri says as it sounds like he never knew Jesus Christ as his Saviour or had assurance that his sins were forgiven and would live with the Lord forever when he died.

GOD’s WORD

    “And this I say, lest any man should beguile you with enticing words.”—Colossians 2:4

    “And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power:”—1 Corinthians 2:4

from Henri J. M. Nouwen’s Here and Now: Living in the Spirit
Inside front jacket cover
(bolded emphasis mine):
The spiritual life is not a life then and there, but a life here and now.

Chapter I Living in the Present
Meditation One: A New Beginning
[p.16]
“… We must learn to live each day, each hour, yes, each minute as a new beginning, as a unique opportunity to make everything new. Imagine that we could live each moment as a moment pregnant with new life. Imagine that we could live each day as a day full of promises. Imagine that we could walk through the new year always listening to a voice saying to us: “I have a gift for you and can’t wait for you to see it!” Imagine. Is it possible that our imagination can lead us to the truth of our lives? Yes, it can!

My Comment: On what is he basing his comments? It sounds like his spirituality depends on the person and has nothing to do with how the Lord can give us a new heart. Imagination does NOT lead us to the truth. That is a flat out lie if God’s Word is true.

God’s WORD

    “Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.”—John 16:13

    “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.”
    —2 Corinthians 5:17

    “And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful.”—Revelation 21:5

    “But they hearkened not, nor inclined their ear, but walked in the counsels and in the imagination of their evil heart, and went backward, and not forward.”—Jeremiah 7:24

    “Yet they obeyed not, nor inclined their ear, but walked every one in the imagination of their evil heart…”—Jeremiah 11:8

    “And ye have done worse than your fathers; for, behold, ye walk every one after the imagination of his evil heart, that they may not hearken unto me.”—Jeremiah 16:12

    “And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”—John 8:32

Meditation Two: Without “Oughts” and “Ifs” [p.17, 18]
The real enemies of our life are the “oughts” and the “ifs.” They pull us backward into the unalterable past and forward into the unpredictable future. But real life takes place in the here and the now. God is a God of the present. God is always in the moment…When Jesus spoke about God, he always spoke about God as being where and when we are…God is not someone who was or will be, but the One who is, and who is for me in the present moment. That’s why Jesus came… He wants us to discover God right where we are, here and now.

My Comment: The Bible says the real problem is our sin nature and Satan. We need to repent! Then we can know God, the God Who the Bible says is eternal. God was in the past (that’s when Jesus died), He is and He is in the future.

The BIBLE

    “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?”—Jeremiah 17:9

    “And they went out, and preached that men should repent.”
    —Mark 6:12

    “The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.”—John 10:10

    “But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.”—John 20:31

    “I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty.”—Revelation 1:8

Meditation Four: Here and Now [p. 19, 20]
To live in the present, we must believe deeply that what is most important is the here and now…It is not easy to remain focused on the present. Our mind is hard to master and keeps pulling us away from the moment…If we could just be, for a few minutes each day, fully where we are, we would indeed discover that we are not alone and that the One who is with us wants only one thing: to give us love.

My Comment: What is Henri’s focus/bottom line? Why is his goal to live in the present and the “here and now”? That was not Paul’s goal.

GOD’s BOOK

    “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.”
    —Philippians 1:21

    “Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.”—Hebrews 13:5

    “Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ.”—Titus 2:13

    “And he said unto me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely.”
    — Revelation 21:6

Chapter V Disciplined Living Meditation Three: Eternal Life [p.69 ]
Eternal life. Where is it? When is it? For a long time I have thought about eternal life as a life after all my birthdays have run out…But the older I become, the less interest my “afterlife” holds for me. Worrying not only about tomorrow, next year, and the next decade, but even about the next life seems a false preoccupation. Wondering how things will be for me after I die seems, for the most part, a distraction. When my clear goal is the eternal life, that life must be reachable right now, where I am, because eternal life is life in and with God, and God is where I am here and now.

The great mystery of the spiritual life—the life in God—is that we don’t have to wait for it as something that will happen later. Jesus says: “Dwell in me as I dwell in you.” It is this divine in-dwelling that is eternal life. It is the active presence of God at the center of my living—the movement of God’s Spirit within us—that gives us the eternal life.

My Comment: I don’t understand what Henri is trying to say. He is talking about eternal life apart from the One Who gives us forgiveness of sins and a hope for the future. Eternal life is NOT our goal. The Lord Jesus, the One Who we love because He first loved us, died in our place so that we might have eternal life. It is our goal to be with Him, and one day, not here and now, but when the Lord calls us home or Raptures/Redeems us from this life, we will live with Him forever. But Jesus Christ is our focus and Who we love and serve.

GOD’s WORD

    “Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.”
    —John 5:39

    “And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.”
    —John 17:3

    “And this is the promise that he hath promised us, even eternal life.”—1 John 2:25

    “And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.”—1 John 5:11

    “These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.”—1 John 5:13

    “And we know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know him that is true, and we are in him that is true, even in his Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life.”—1 John 5:20

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