And take…the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Ephesians 6:17
Vol 13, Num 30, 08/29/2010
In this issue:
Mt. Baker Church of Christ
Invites you to our
October 3-8, 2010
Monday-Friday at 7:00 PM
(From I-5 take Exit # 255 and go East 4.2 miles)
The constraints of the flesh compel us to be cautious whenever trying to describe heaven. Many people have made their expectation of heaven after their own wishes, desires and fantasies. If they love baseball, they believe heaven will be an endless game on the diamond. If one favors the sun and the sea, he views heaven as an unending vacation in a tropical paradise. And so it goes. Heaven is frequently viewed through the eyeglasses of the worldly and not with eyes of faith.
The Bible not only teaches us heaven is real, it also teaches us what to expect there. As with all other matters of the soul, we will let the word of God teach us about heaven so our faith rests in God and not in ourselves.
Heaven is a place we have never seen, but we are sure God’s throne is there (Rev 4:2). Heaven is the Christian’s hope (Col 1:5). It is a place of unquestioned purity, breathtaking beauty, never ending light and abundant provisions for the righteous. There God is eternally praised. All these descriptions and more are depicted with vivid figures in Revelation 21-22, where heaven presented as the culmination of God’s great eternal purpose of redemption of His people.
As we grow older and approach the end of our earthly lives the reality of our mortality compels us to consider immortality. Those who are wise fix their sights on heaven and live with firm faith not to choose any path of life that strays from the one leading to the eternal home of the soul (Heb 11:13-16). As we sing of heaven the expectation of its glory and grandeur grows more brilliant. As we learn and teach the gospel its lessons of redemption secure our faith in the future home of the soul (Col 1:5; 2 Tim 4:6-8).
The holiness, purity, security, beauty, glory, provisions and service of heaven are portrayed in Revelation 21:1-22:5. Three particular aspects of heaven detailed there warrant our reflection, thanksgiving and preparation.
Heaven is a place of fellowship with God (Rev 21:1-8). From the earliest days of creation God arranged for man to dwell with Him (Gen 3:8-9). Man’s sin corrupted this communion and thus began God’s purposeful plan to redeem sinners and bring “many sons to glory” (Gen 3:15; Heb 2:10). During the Patriarchal age there were men like Enoch who “walked with God” (Gen 5:24). God set His tabernacle among men during the Mosaic age and dwelt with His people Israel (Lev 26:11-12). In Christ God’s dwelling place is the church (Eph 2:19-22). Similarly and in ultimate fulfillment of this divine purpose, heaven’s reward is eternal fellowship between God and His people (Rev 21:3). In this fellowship God removes everything that brings tears and death and sorrow, for sin and death have been banished to the lake of fire (Rev 21:4-8). There, all things are new. There, refreshment from the water of life is free.
To inherit eternal fellowship with God we must “overcome” sin and death in Christ (Rev 21:7; 12:11). Live for Jesus in truth and this heavenly fellowship will be your reward.
Heaven is a place of protection by God (Rev 21:9-27). Heaven is here viewed as a great city filled with the glory of God (Rev 21:10). As Ezekiel saw the church as a city and a temple “in the visions of God”, now John is given a glimpse of heaven, the eternal city (Ezek 40-48; Heb 11:16). In John’s vision the city of heaven has perfect security (“a great and high wall with twelve gates”, 21:12). Heaven is a perfection habitation that is spacious, secure and splendidly beautiful (21:15-21). In heaven there is eternal protection from sin and death – from everything that destroys close communion with God. Nothing that defiles shall enter heaven (Rev 21:27).
God’s presence is the defining glory of heaven, which is filled with His worship (Rev 21:22-26). One’s name must be “written in the Lamb’s Book of Life” in order to obtain the reward of heaven’s eternal security (Rev 21:27).
Heaven is a place of provisions from God (Rev 22:1-5). When God created man He placed him in a garden watered by a river that sustained nourished life in Eden (Gen 2:10). From that event comes the figure of “a pure river of water of life” in heaven that proceeds from the throne of God (Rev 22:1). The tree of life (which we first find in Eden and from which man, having sinned, is barred) is bearing constant fruit. The redeemed are nourished eternally by its fruit (Rev 22:2). The curse of sin is gone; the servants of God serve before His throne (Rev 22:3). The servants of God will see His face. Because they belong to God they will reign with Him forever and ever (Rev 22:4-5).
Heaven is the reward of the righteous. Those who live in sin have no right to expect it; their future is eternal death, darkness and despair (Rev 20:11-15; 21:8). Prepare for heaven. Repent and obey the gospel of Christ and inherit eternal life (Rom 2:4-11; Mk 16:15-16; 1 Pet 1:3-5).
You can find the complete outline of this sermon plus PowerPoint and MP3 Audio files at BIBLE ANSWERS
Scripture Reading: Psalm 103:8-14
God’s forgiveness is the greatest act of love and grace we will ever
experience, Psa 32:1-2; Rom 5:8-9; Eph 2:8-9.
I. UNDERSTANDING FORGIVENESS.
A. To Send Away, to Release, Matt 18:35; cf. 1 Cor 7:11. (Luke 23:34; Mark 2:5)
II. WHAT FORGIVENESS LOOKS LIKE.
A. Forgiveness Acknowledges the Hurt
Caused by Sin, Exo 34:6-7.
When People Don’t Know Your Faith
A poll earlier this month showed 18% of Americans believe President Barack Obama is a Muslim, up from 11% in March 2009. 43% of people say they don’t know his religion. “’The president is obviously a Christian. He prays every day,’ said White House spokesman Bill Burton’” (White House says Obama is Christian, prays daily, Alan Fram, AP Writer).
Well, that settles it; praying every day makes you a Christian! (Not so, remember Cornelius, Acts 10:1-2.) Should we conclude from this statement that all praying people are Christians? No. Burton could have just as logically said, “The president is obviously a Muslim. He prays every day”! People with all sorts of faith pray. Shall we conclude that since Muslims pray five times a day they are really Christians? Foolishness! The President and his spokesman should learn about what it means to be a Christian before claiming to be one.
Claiming to be a Christian does not make it so. One is a disciple of Jesus Christ by abiding in His word (Jno 8:31-32). This person is a “Christian” (Acts 11:26).
When people know you but do not know your faith it says several things about you:
1. You are not living what you profess to believe. Why call Jesus your Lord if you are not going to do what He says (Lk 6:46)? Your claim is hollow and hypocritical.
2. You are not being a light in the world (Matt 5:14-16). Light is made to give light to others, not hidden from view. It is not hypocritical to live a faithful life that shows Christ to the world; it is what Christians do.
3. You are hindering others from believing and becoming Christians. Your conduct ought to prompt others to turn to God in Christ (1 Pet 2:11-12). When people do not even know whether you are a Christian you have become a stumbling block to their salvation.
Some will say being a Christian is not about “being seen” by others. True, that is not our motive. But, people will see your faith in action (Matt 6:1, 5, 16). Are you a Christian? People will know it by what they see in you.
Created by Chuck Sibbing. 08/29/2010
The Spirit's Sword is a free,
weekly publication of the Mt. Baker church of Christ, Bellingham, WA