“HEAVEN IS A WONDERFUL PLACE!”

Read John 14:1-6
 
There is an old legend of a swan and a crane. A beautiful swan alighted by the banks of the water in which a crane was wading about seeking snails. For a few moments the crane viewed the swan in stupid wonder and then inquired: “Where do you come from?” “I come from heaven!” replied the swan. “And where is heaven?” asked the crane. “Heaven!” said the swan, “Heaven! have you never heard of heaven?” And the beautiful bird went on to describe the grandeur of the Eternal City. She told of streets of gold, and the gates and walls made of precious stones; of the river of life, pure as crystal, upon whose banks is the tree whose leaves shall be for the healing of the nations. In eloquent terms the swan sought to describe the hosts who live in the other world, but without arousing the slightest interest on the part of the crane. Finally the crane asked: “Are there any snails there?” “Snails!” repeated the swan; “no! Of course there are not.” “Then,” said the crane, as it continued its search along the slimy banks of the pool, “you can have your heaven. I want snails!” This fable has a deep truth underlying it. How many a young person to whom God has granted the advantages of a Christian home, has turned his back upon it and searched for snails! How many a man will sacrifice his wife, his family, his all, for the snails of sin! How many a girl has deliberately turned from the love of parents and home to learn too late that heaven has been forfeited for snails! Moody’s Anecdotes, pp. 125-126.

“HEAVEN IS A WONDERFUL PLACE!”

For the next four day, we are going to look at this place called, Heaven, don’t miss it.
 
John 14:1-6
 
Though it is difficult to see a loved-one pass on; it is a blessing to see the grace of God in action. It also helps us to call to remembrance all the good and pleasant memories in a family, but also makes us mindful of our own eventual destination. It is for this reason that I have chosen the title, “Heaven is a wonderful place.”
We are very shy nowadays of even mentioning Heaven. We are afraid of the jeer about “pie in the sky,” and of being told that we are trying to “escape from the duty of making a happy world here and now into dreams of a happy world elsewhere.” But either there is “pie in the sky” or there is not. If there is not, then Christianity is false, for this doctrine is woven into its whole fabric. If there is, then this truth, like any other, must be faced, whether it is useful at political meetings or no. C.S. Lewis in The Problem of Pain.
In 1991 a Gallup poll showed that 78 percent of Americans expect to go to heaven when they die. However, many of them hardly ever pray, read the Bible, or attend church. They admit that they live to please themselves instead of God. I wonder why these people would want to go to heaven. Think of it, this was in 1991!
In an article title, “Are We Ready for Heaven?” Maurice R. Irwin points out that only 34 percent of the American people who call themselves Christians attend church at least once a week. He says, ” We sing, “When all my labors and trials are o’er, and I am safe on that beautiful shore, just to be near the dear Lord I adore will through the ages be glory for me.” However, unless our attitudes toward the Lord and our appreciation of Him change greatly, heaven may be more of a shock than a glory.” Daily Bread, July 31, 1992.

“WHY CHRIST’S SACRIFICE IS SUPERIOR” CONCLUSION!

Thank you for your patience and faithfulness in sticking with this topic, but it is too important a subject to cut it short. Thank you.
 
Read Hebrews 10 again, if time permits.
 
The careless Christian starts to drift through neglect; then he doubts the Word; then he grows dull toward the Word; and the next step is deliberately sinning and despising his spiritual heritage. Note the important facts about this particular sin.
 
It is not one sin committed once; “sin willfully” in verse 26 it means he “willingly goes on sinning.” It is the same continuous tense of the verb as in 1 John 3:4-10 – “Whosoever continually and habitually sins are not born of God.”
 
So, this passage is not dealing with an “unpardonable sin;” it is talking about an attitude toward the Word of God that God calls willful rebellion.
 
There were no sacrifices in the Old Testament for deliberate, presumptuous sins (see Exodus 21:14; Numbers15:30). Sins of ignorance (Leviticus 4) and of sudden passion were covered; but willful sins merited only punishment.
 
Verse 29 reminds us that our salvation (and the shed blood that purchased it) are held in high regard by God. The Father values His Son; the Son shed His blood; the Spirit applies the merits of the cross to the believer.
 
For us to sin willfully is to sin against the Father, Son, and Spirit. Paul quotes Deuteronomy 32:35-36 to show that God, in the Old Testament, saw to it that His people (not unbelievers) reaped what they sowed and were judged when they disobeyed willfully.
 
The fact that they were His covenant people made their obligations that much greater (Amos 3:2). God judges His people: Romans 2:16; 1 Corinthians 11:31-32; 1 Peter 1:17, etc. Of course, this is not eternal judgment, but rather His chastening in this life, and loss of reward in the next.
 
Note verses 34-35 where the emphasis is on reward for faithfulness, not salvation. See also 1 Corinthians 3:14-15; 5:5; 9:27; 11:30

“WHY CHRIST’S SACRIFICE IS SUPERIOR” PART 4.

Read Hebrews 10.

We said, I. OUR SIN HAS BEEN FORGIVEN FOREVER. II. IT IS FOREVER SETTLED.

III. IT OPENS THE WAY TO GOD – 10:19-39

A. Explanation (19-21).

He reviews the blessings that the believer has because of Christ’s once-for-all death. Because we have a perfect standing in Christ, we can have boldness (literally “freedom of speech”) to come into His presence! No veil stands between us and God.

The tabernacle veil symbolized Christ’s human body, for it covered the glory of God (1:14). When His body was offered, the veil was torn. We have a new way, because it is based on the new covenant; and a living way, because we have a living high priest (7:25). The house of God (the church) has a great high priest in glory!

B. Invitation (22-25).

There are three “Let us”statements (see 6:1 also):

(1) “Let us draw near” instead of drifting away;

(2) “Let us hold fast”our confession, our testimony of faith (or hope), not wavering because of trials.

(3) “Let us consider”other believers and, by our example, encourage them to be true to Christ.

If we provoke each other, it should be unto Love (see 1 Corinthians 13:5)! The boldness we have in heaven ought to lead to spiritual growth and dedication on earth. It seems that these believers, because of trials, were neglecting Christian fellowship and the mutual encouragement that believers need from each other.

Since Christ is our High priest, and we are a kingdom of priests (I Pt. 2:9), we ought to assemble together for common worship, teaching, and service. Going to church is important!

The OT Jew could not enter the tabernacle, and the high priest could not enter the holy of holies whenever he pleased. But, through Christ’s sacrifice, we have a living way into heaven! We can come to God at any time! Do we take advantage of this privilege?

C. Exhortation (26-39).

This is the fourth of the five exhortations. It warns against willful sin. Please remember that this exhortation is to believers, not unsaved people; and that it follows the previous three exhortations.

TO BE CONTINUED MONDAY!

“WHY CHRIST’S SACRIFICE IS SUPERIOR” PART 3!

Please read Hebrews 10 again.

II. IT IS SETTELED FOREVER 10:11-18

Note the contrasts: the OT priest stands daily, but Christ has sat down; the Old Testament priest offered the same sacrifices often; Christ offered one sacrifice (Himself) once. By one offering God has given a right standing (perfected) forever to those who have been set apart through faith in Christ. (In v. 10, we are once-for-all sanctified; in vs. 14 we are being sanctified daily. This is positional and progressive sanctification.) The OT sacrifices produced a remembrance of sins, but Christ’s sacrifice makes possible remission of sins (v. 18). “Remission”means “sending away.” Our sins have been pardoned and sent away forever (Psalm 103:12; Micah 7:19)! In the annual Day of Atonement (Leviticus 16), the high priest confessed the sins of the nation over the head of the scapegoat, and then the goat was led off to be lost in the wilderness.

This is what Christ did with our sins. There is “no more suffering for sin”because there is “no more remembrance of sin”! The Holy Spirit witnesses in our hearts, and we have the blessing of that promised New Covenant (14-17, Jeremiah 31:33).

 TOMORROW WE WILL SEE # 3

“WHY CHRIST’S SACRIFICE IS SUPERIOR” PART 2

Read Hebrews 10
 
He gives three reasons why Christ’s sacrifice is superior to those in the Old Testament.
 
I. IT TAKES AWAY SIN FOREVER 10:1-10
 
A. The OT sacrifices were ineffective (1-4).
 
For one thing, they belonged to the age of types and shadows, and therefore could never change the heart.
 
They were repeated “year by year” (v. 1) and “day by day” (v. 11), thus proving that they could not do away with sin. Otherwise the high priest and his helpers would not have had to repeat them! As 9:10-14 explained, the Old Testament rituals dealt only with fleshly things and ceremonial uncleanness; they could never reach the heart or the conscience. They produced a “remembrance of sins” but not a remission of sins (see 9:22). In the Lord’s Supper, we remember Christ, not our sins (1 Corinthians 11:24; Lk. 22:19); because He has forgotten our sins (8:12)!
B. Christ’s sacrifice is effective (5-20).
 
Here he quotes Psalm 40:6-8, and the Holy Spirit changes “mine ears hast Thou opened” to “a body hast Thou prepared me.” The reference here is probably to Exodus. 21:1-6. In the year of release, the Jew was required to set his Hebrew servant free. But if the servant loved his master and wanted to remain with him, he was marked with a hole through his ear lobe. From that moment on, his body belonged to his master.
 
When Christ came into the world, the Spirit prepared Him a body, and He was completely dedicated to His Father’s will. That body would be sacrificed on the cross for the sins of the world. Passages such as Psalm 51:10 and 16; 1 Samuel 15:22; and Isaiah 1:11, made it clear that God saw no finished work in the blood of animals; He wanted the believer’s heart. In verses. 8-9, he takes the words of Christ to show that God, through Christ, set aside the first covenant with its animal sacrifices, and established a new covenant in His Own blood. By His surrender to the will of God, we have been set apart for Him (sanctified)
once and for all.
 
TOMORROW WE WILL SEE # 2

“WHY CHRIST’S SACRIFICE IS SUPERIOR!”

Please read Hebrews 10

Someone said, “Hebrews starts out like a sermon and ends like a letter. The main lesson of Hebrews is found in 6:1, “Let us go on unto perfection,”that is spiritual maturity. These Hebrew Christians were not mature Christians, because when God spoke His Word they were not faithful in keeping it. They neglected and drifted from it.

In verse 1, “for”means He is giving further explanation on the finality of Jesus “One”Sacrifice being superior over the sacrifices under the law. “Image”(Eikon) gives through representation of what it images. “Make perfect”(Teleiou) to bring to state of completeness (remember that “without sin unto salvation”in 9:28 means complete deliverance). The idea here is that the law could not actually save the believer because it was always short of completeness. Wow!

Verse 2, “remembrance” is a calling to mind. The memory of sin is constantly revived.

Verse 10, the “will”refers to the will of God which Jesus came to do.

Verse 11, the priests were still ministering in the Temple of Jerusalem which shows the book was written before 70 AD when Jerusalem was destroyed by Rome.

Verses 13-14, “perfected”again (Teleiou), to bring to state of completeness and “forever”ties in with perfected. A perfect state of completeness is what we have in our salvation.

Verse 15, here he quotes Jeremiah in verses 16-18. He declares the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. In Old Testament, God wrote His laws on stone and in the New Testament on the heart. God “remembers sin no more”under the New Testament it is done away, put away forever.

This chapter closes the section on THE SUPERIOR PRIESTHOOD (7-10) by pointing out that the priesthood of Christ is based on a superior sacrifice – the sacrifice of Himself.