THE LIVING WORD TRANSCRIPT

Program Air Date - 10-5-03

LESSON TITLE: FINAL THINGS: "THE PROMISE OF HEAVEN"

WELCOME

Good morning! Let me welcome each of you to our program this morning. It is always a privilege to have you with us to hear the Living Word of God. We are excited that you have chosen to give this time of sacrifice to our God. Won't you take advantage of every opportunity this morning to give your own reverence to God, as we together offer this time of worship to Him. May all things be done, to God, for God and unto His glory. Let's begin our offering to God with a prayer!

(PRAYER)

All of us in this life get used to having our own way. We are brought up in a society that says this is possible and so we very quickly have bought into this concept. However, the Bible tells us that someone else is suppose to be in command of our lives. You guessed it - Jesus! This morning we are going to begin with a song that tells us to turn things over to Christ. So, won't you join in with the congregation at this time as we sing together, "Let Him Have His Way With Thee."

(SONG # 1)

DEVOTIONAL THOUGHTS

The Bible talks a lot about division and how we are to be those who are unified in the things of Christ. At the same time the Bible tells us that we are to be willing to give up anything for the sake of Christ. One such verse is in the words of Christ Himself, found in Luke 12:51-53. There we read, "Do you suppose that I came to give peace on earth? I tell you, not at all, but rather division. For from now on five in one house will be divided: three against two, and two against three. Father will be divided against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law." What on earth is Jesus talking about here? Why are we to be willing to give up these things? On the other hand we read verses like Luke 9:56, where Jesus said, "For the Son of Man did not come to destroy men's lives but to save them." So what is the point Jesus is trying to make in these verses? The real question is what are we willing to give up for Christ? Not that we will have to give them up or put them aside, but are we willing to if need be? What is it that truly comes first and foremost in our lives? Do we really put God first? Will we follow Him at any cost.

No doubt this is why Jesus commanded us to, "But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you." God has always been a jealous God and expects His followers to put Him first in all things, even if it means giving up things of this life for His sake. Just what are we willing to give up for Jesus?

Ultimately, Jesus came with the message proclaimed by Paul in 1 Corinthians 14:33. There we read, "For God is not the author of confusion but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints." God does want His followers to have a good and peaceful life, but not at any cost! In the end, we are to be those who are willing to do whatever it takes to serve our God, even if it means giving our very lives for His cause. So, just how far are you willing to go in your service to God?

Today we are excited to have brother Kevin Patterson with us as our guest speaker. Brother Patterson is the minister for the Bolivar Church of Christ, in Bolivar Missouri. We appreciate him taking his time to be here today and look forward to him leading our study in God's Word.

As far as our topic, we will be concluding our short discussion of "Final Things." Today our specific lesson will be entitled, "The Promise of Heaven." So stay with us and after our next song together, brother Kevin will be leading us in our main thoughts of the day. But for now let's join together in our second song of the morning. The name of this hymn, "Tis So Sweet To Trust In Jesus."

(SONG # 2)

LESSON

Speaker: Kevin Patterson

Good morning and thank you for staying with us. As always, it's a privilege to be with you this morning and I appreciate the opportunity to be able to be here and to share with you a portion of God's Word.

Two weeks ago, we began a series of lessons entitled "Final Things." This theme addresses the numerous questions that people often ask concerning where they will go or what will happen to them when they die or when the end comes. Now this end of course is either death because Hebrews 9:27 teaches us "it's appointed for men to die once and after that the judgment," or else this end is referring to the second coming of Jesus Christ.

In John chapter 14 and the first three verses Jesus told His disciples, "Let not your heart be troubled. You believe in God. Believe also in me. In my father's house are many mansions. If it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you and if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to myself that where I am, there ye may be also."

Thus far in our series, we have examined two topics: "What Happens After Death?" and then last week "The Reality of Hell." This week we're going to conclude our series of study by taking a look at "The Promise of Heaven." In examining "The Promise of Heaven" let's start off by asking the question, "What is a promise?" I know that in this day and age that may be a really good question to ask seeing that people's words no longer seem to be their bond and promises are not maybe what they used to be. But as Webster's Dictionary defines this word, "A promise is a declaration that one will do or refrain from doing something specified. A legally binding declaration that gives the person to whom it is made a right to expect or to claim the performance or forbearance of a specified act." In other words, if I make a promise to you, then I should fulfill that promise. I should do exactly what I tell you that I am going to do. If you make a promise to me, I should expect you to deliver based upon the terms of the agreement.

Certainly it is easy to understand in principle at least what a promise is, but let's examine for a moment, let's compare the promise of man versus the promises of God. Is there really a comparison? And I would suggest to you that really there is not because you know as well as I do that man's word is not always true. Sometimes people say, "Yes" when they mean "No." Sometimes they say, "No" when they mean "Yes." They say that their word is their bond, but in fact it ends up not being so. We even hear little kids when they're on the playground playing and one of them says, "Will you do something for me?" and the other one says, "Yes." They say, "Do you promise?" And the second one will say, "Yes, I do promise." Then the famous phrase, "Do you promise, cross your heart, hope to die, stick a needle in your eye?" That may be a painful way to promise something, but we hear those kinds of things because often times our word, our yes or our no, is not often sufficient because we're not very often trustworthy and so we tend to want to layer more things upon that to try to bolster our trustworthiness. God is not that way. When God says that He's going to do something, He does it. When God makes a promise, He always fulfills it.

If you take a look at Hebrews chapter 6 and verse 18, you will read this phrase. "It is impossible for God to lie." Now somebody says real quickly, "But Kevin, I thought that God could do anything. I thought that He is God and part of the nature of God is that He is omnipotent. He has the power to do anything." Well that is true as long as it's according to His nature. God cannot go against His nature anymore than we can go against our nature or an animal could go against its nature. If you consider a bird for a moment, a bird by design, by its very nature has the ability to fly, but no matter how much I want to fly, no matter how much I try to fly, it is not within my nature to fly. Well, when we talk about God, it is not within the nature of God to sin. There is nothing in Him that responds to sin. There is nothing in Him that desires to sin. He is perfect goodness, and as a result of that, when God says that He's going to do something, then you always know that that is going to be the case because God cannot lie.

What has God promised to us? Well, if you take a look at Paul's letter to Titus in Titus chapter 1, verses 1-3, Paul writes, "Paul, a bondservant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ according to the faith of God's elect and the acknowledgement of the truth which accords with godliness in hope of eternal life which God who cannot lie promised before time began, but has in due time manifested His word through preaching which was committed to me according to the commandment of God, our savior." Paul describes here that even before time began, it was God's desire to grant us eternal life. He wanted us to live forever.

But why would we need eternal life? Well, because of two very familiar passages of scripture. Romans chapter 3 and verse 23 teaches us that "all have sinned and have fallen short of the glory of God." What does that mean when we sin, when we become tainted with error, with wrong, with falsehood, something that is contrary to God? We're separated from God. We are alienated from Him and we need something to bring us back into that relationship with Him. Of course, we know that that something or more accurately that someone is Jesus Christ. But God gave us Christ so that we would have the ability to have that life eternal because since we have all sinned, Romans 6:23 says that the payoff for that sin or "the wages of sin is death." So we deserve when we sin even once to be separated from God and to be so for all eternity. That is reminiscent of Ray's lesson last week on "The Reality of Hell." This is an eternal destination that we want to avoid at all costs because there is no time off for good behavior. There is no pardon after doing a good job for a thousand years or so. When we enter into our eternal destination, that is where we are going to be forever. So since we have sinned, and since the payoff of that sin is death, God sent His son so that we might have the hope of coming back into a relationship with the Father and living with Him forever.

Where do we find eternal life? Well you might remember the passage that we read a moment ago from John 14. Jesus said, "In my father's house are many mansions." He said He was going there to prepare a place for His disciples, those who would follow Him and when He came again He would receive them to Himself so that they could be where He was.

Well what is this Father's house that we're talking about? 2 Corinthians chapter 5 and verse 1 says that "for we know that if our earthly house, this tent (talking about our mortal body), if this is destroyed we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens."

Hebrews chapter 12, verse 22 describes this eternal house, this eternal building as "the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem." and when Jesus was preaching in His Sermon on the Mount in Matthew chapter 5 and verse 16, He said to those people who would follow Him, "Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify your Father who is in heaven." So heaven is that place where we find eternal life. That is the eternal destination that we all want to find ourselves in someday.

Matthew chapter 3, verses 16-17, do you remember when Jesus was being baptized by John the baptizer? We read that when He had been baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water and behold the heavens were open to Him and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and lighting upon Him and suddenly a voice came from heaven saying, 'This is my beloved son in whom I am well pleased.'" So we see that the Father's house, this heavenly Jerusalem, this city of the Living God, this place where God resides and wants us to reside with Him is a place called heaven.

What is heaven like? I will tell you that I could not ever describe for you in any kind of semblance that would describe for you what heaven is really like because having never been there I cannot say from firsthand experience what it is like and considering that I am a finite, mortal man understanding only mostly physical terms, it is difficult for me to explain the residence of an infinitely perfect God and what heaven is really like in those spiritual terms.

We read in John 4 that "God is a spirit and those who worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth." Well as a result, heaven is also a spiritual place. It is the spiritual home of God and hopefully our spiritual home in the life to come.

Revelation chapter 21, verses 16-27 gives a very interesting description using human terms to somehow give us an idea of how glorious heaven is. It talks about the construction being like Jasper, the city being like pure gold, like clear glass. It talks about the foundation of the wall of the city being adorned with all kinds of precious stones. It gives a great deal of beautiful detail trying to help us to truly appreciate in some limited fashion how absolutely beautiful heaven must be. You know we sing a song "How Beautiful Heaven Must Be" and how indeed beautiful it must be and we want to live our lives in such a way so that we can be there one day.

Revelation chapter 21 and verse 4 describes heaven as being a place where God will wipe away every tear from our eyes. It teaches us that there will be no more death, no more sorrow, no more crying and there will be no more pain. All of the problems that we have in this life will be removed in the eternal life to come.

Hebrews chapter 4 verses 9-11 reads, "There remains therefore a rest for the people of God. He who has entered his rest has himself also ceased from his works as God did from His. Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest lest anyone fall according to the same examples of disobedience." So we know that there is going to be a place of rest from the troubles of the world.

We also read in 1 Peter chapter 1 verses 3-4 that "the inheritance that we will receive in heaven is an incorruptible inheritance. It is undefiled and it will never fade away. It is eternal."

I would have you share with me Romans chapter 2 and if you happen to have your Bibles I would encourage you to follow along as we read this statement. Paul writes, "Therefore you are inexcusable oh man whoever you are, who judge, for in whatever you judge another you condemn yourself for you who judge practice the same things. But we know that the judgment of God is according to truth against those who practice such things and do you think this oh man, you who judge those practicing such things and doing the same that you will escape the judgment of God or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance and long-suffering not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance but in accordance with your hardness and (inaudible) heart you are treasuring up for yourself wrath in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God who will render to each one according to His deeds, eternal life to those who by patience continuance in doing good seek for glory, honor and immortality, but to those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish on every soul of man who does evil of the Jew first and also of the Greek." But verses 10-11 read, "But glory, honor and peace to everyone who works what is good to the Jew first and also to the Greek for there is no partiality with God."

The Bible teaches us that there is an eternal destination for each and every one of us. The Bible also teaches us that we will find ourselves in one of those two places. Certainly we will find ourselves in a place of eternal destruction in eternal agony if we do not live in this life according to the Will of God and thus receive His grace in the end. But if we obey God's Will and if we walk in the footsteps of Jesus and if we find ourselves in an eternal life with God and heaven above forever and ever enjoying His company.

So I conclude this morning by leaving you with Revelation chapter 22 and verse 14. "Blessed are those who do His commandments that they may have the right to the tree of life and may enter through the gates into the city."

I want to encourage you this morning to live according to the commandments of God so that you, too, can enjoy that life eternal in heaven one day.

(SONG # 3 - "Seeking The Lost!")

CLOSING COMMENTS

Thank you again for choosing to be with us today, in giving this time to God. I hope our time together has been an encouragement and blessing to all of us. We invite you back every Sunday morning at 7:30, as we commit ourselves to this service of God!

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How wondrous it is to know that our God has prepared for us an eternal home in Heaven. Are you doing what He requires to see that a mansion has been made ready for you?

(Program closing)