Jesus Will Be Standing to Receive You into Heaven

For Lord’s Day, January 24, 2016Christiana

Dear Saints,

While my family finished the end of Book II of Pilgrim’s Progress together, we were quite moved to read about Christiana and many of her travel companions being called upon by Christ at different moments to join Him at His heavenly feast.  They were each so very gloriously happy.

This led us to read about Stephen on earth seeing Christ in heaven waiting to receive him as he was about to pass through the valley of the shadow of death.  Something stood out to us we had never noticed before: Jesus was standing.

But he, being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up stedfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God, And said, Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God. (Acts 7:55-56)

The New Testament Scriptures often speak of Jesus being exalted at God’s right hand, but any time they specifically mention His posture, He is sitting.  This image of sitting is important, because it communicates that Jesus presently reigns as King and that His salvation work is completely finished for Christians.

But here and here alone we see Jesus standing at the right hand of God, because He is about to take Stephen by the hand and into heaven.  King Solomon showed his mother honor by rising up to receive her when she entered into his earthly throne room (1 Kings 2:19).  Acts 7 reveals that King Jesus similarly stands up to receive Christians at their death as His honorable guests while entering into the heavenly throne room of God!

Let that bless our souls as we lay our heads down this evening to prepare to enter into God’s throne room with Jesus in worship tomorrow (Ephesians 2:6; Colossians 3:1-3; Hebrews 12:22-28).

Semper Reformanda,

Pastor Grant

Heaven Rejoices When You Repent

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(Image source: https://newwaysministryblog.files.wordpress.com/2013/12/dbb2a-jump_for_joy_910.jpg)

For Lord’s Day, July 5, 2015

Dear Saints,

Like a father and mother and grandfather and grandmother and uncle and aunt and brother and sister rejoiced in the hospital at your birth, so did the angels celebrate in heaven when you were spiritually delivered.  And so they do every time you are delivered from evil.

Jesus says, I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance. (Luke 15:7).  Again, Jesus says, Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth. (Luke 15:10)

Beloved, be encouraged to know that not only did the angels rejoice over the salvation of other people, but they actually praised God when you repented toward Him and had faith toward the Lord Jesus Christ. There was actually a moment when there was a party in heaven in your honor!

The “likewise” in the texts above refer to how the woman responded to being reunited to her lost coin as did the shepherd when reunited to his lost sheep. The series concludes with the father being reunited to his lost son who was restored to him because the young man came to his senses and repented and returned home (vss. 17-20).

As we study the sixth petition of the Lord’s Prayer tomorrow evening and learn to ask that we be kept from doing evil, be prayerfully motivated not to toy with temptation, as well as to be rescued from wickedness, by knowing that there is heavenly, angelic adulation over you every time you repent of a wicked thought or deed or life!  What’s more, the joy of God’s salvation will be restored to you (Psalm 51:8, 12).

Semper Reformanda,

Pastor Grant

The Narrow Way is Always Obvious

 

90425_jumboFor Lord’s Day, May 10, 2015

Dear Saints,

At our Homemakers Movie Night last month, something really stood out to me as helpful for our own Christian Pilgrimage that I’d like to review with you.  In the modern retelling of Pilgrim’s Progress, “Journey to Heaven”, a great pearl of wisdom was shared for how to make morally sound and safe choices that steer clear of temptation’s potholes.

While Christian regained his footing toward the Celestial city after getting lost and nearly dying several times along broader roads, he asked, “How will I know which way to go?”  He was answered, “You will always know which way to go. It will always be the narrow way.”

This is such a simple and important principle for our sanctified survival, brethren: when you need to choose what to do, don’t do what everyone else does or says to do.  You will always know which way to go.  It will always be the narrow way.

Satan will constantly tempt you to leave God’s path of walking with Jesus.  He will never cease to present you with an alluring alternative where majority rules.  Two ways will always stare you in the face. One will be well-worn by many a worldly boot.  Satan says, “Go that way!” and you will want to.  Myriad crowds rush by to get ahead of you and spin through its turnstiles.  You would be going with the flow — but at the end of the road it spills over a cliff into hot liquid rock.

Jesus says, “I am the Way” (John 14:6).  Very few find or follow Him.  And many who say they do prove instead to be driving by the world’s roadmap because they hug the same curves, pack the same bags, and talk about the same points of interest as they hang out at the same rest stops.

Choosing which way to go is not a complicated decision. But it is a hard one.  Yet it is the right one.  When you follow the Light, in stead of walking with the living dead your feet will be in step with those who live forever at the Resurrection.  Jesus says:

Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it. (Matthew 7:13-14)

Don’t let the Serpent seduce you.  You always will know which way to step if you are soberly and spiritually seeking first God’s Kingdom and His righteousness (Matthew 6:33).  Look for the narrow way.  Look for the path that is least traveled and of the greatest resistance.  That is always the way to go!  Whatever ethical choice you face in this life, always look for the small but sincere line of advancing and always go that way.

Don’t trick yourself into saying, “I don’t know what to do! I don’t know where to turn!” Yes you do, Pilgrim.  The decision is always clear. There are two choices: one is sinful and one is Biblical.  You will always know for sure what to do.  If at times your eyes strain a bit when the sky grows dim and the air thickens around you, simply ask, “What are most people doing?” and then do the opposite.  Listen to which way the the multitudes are trotting and let them leave you in their dust.  Watch which way the masses point and let them wag their fingers at you as you solemnly wave goodbye and turn around to go the other direction.  You will always know which way to go. It will always be the narrow way.

Follow the footprints of Noah and Enoch!  Walk with the wise and you will find even along the way that you have chosen wisely and are becoming wiser (Proverb 13:20).  Beloved, your gait will quicken when you lighten your load and begin to hear the cloud of witnesses that chose this same path earlier on now cheering you on (Hebrews 12:1).  They will be worshipping with you tomorrow in God’s heavenly throne room, where Jesus will remind you that in truth you are never traveling alone (Hebrews 13:5).

Semper Reformanda,

Pastor Grant

Jesus Came Down from Heaven to Give us Heaven While Throwing Satan Further Down to Hell

IMG_9869For Lord’s Day, April 21, 2013

Dear Saints,

In my personal devotions this morning, something stood out to me I’ve found beneficial to meditate on today that I hope you too will find meaningful.

In John 6:38, Jesus says, “For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me.”

This verse jumped out at me when the Jews murmured in verse 42 about Jesus saying that He came down from heaven.  Recently in our study of Revelation 9, we considered what Jesus said in Luke 10:18 to the disciples: ” … I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven.”

It’s such a stunning contrast to think about.  Satan was cast down; Jesus came down: that’s a huge difference.  The Father threw out Satan.  The Father sent Jesus.  Satan is the Deceiver.  Jesus is the Truth. Satan is the Destroyer.  Jesus is the Deliverer.  Satan is a created, fallen being.  Jesus is the Creator and exalted Lord.

Note that I am not highlighting this contrast to put Satan and Jesus on the same level.  Quite the contrary.  As the pre-incarnate Second Person of the Trinity, did Jesus not Himself throw Satan out of heaven?  And now as the incarnate God-Man, has He not since been throwing Satan out of his stronghold here on Earth?  In his sermon on Revelation 9:1-12, Joel Beeke said that in Luke 10:18, it is possible to understand Jesus as saying to his disciples, who were rejoicing that the devils were subject to them through His name, that He was literally watching the spiritual battle of Ephesians 6:12 happening through their ministry — that He was observing the Kingdom of Heaven that was at hand in Him advancing through them while Satan and his forces and his fiefdom fell at their feet.  Verse 19 would seem to at least allow that sense of the text as part of its meaning.  Either way, Jesus says in verse 20 not to rejoice in victory over demons so much as the fact that their names are written in heaven through their victory in Jesus.

This thought of heaven brings us back to John 6.  Jesus Christ, God’s own Son, is so very much above Satan, as powerful and destructive as he is.  Jesus Christ, the King of Glory of Psalm 2, 24, 45, 72, 110, etc., not only threw out Satan from heaven, but in the fulness of time, He came to overthrown the Devil’s dominion on Earth and give us heaven.  We know from our study in Revelation that Jesus is presently finishing the job through our ministry, and He will finish it in total on the Last Day!  Satan keeps trying to be God, and the Son of God keeps pummeling him for it.  In the end, Jesus will cast Satan further and finally into the Lake of Fire (Revelation 20:10).  But what we rejoice in most is its result for us: being lifted up out of the Devil’s clutches and laid down in the bosom of Abraham where we will enjoy eternal life.

“Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Moses gave you not that bread from heaven; but my Father giveth you the true bread from heaven.  For the bread of God is he which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world … I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst … I am that bread of life … This is the bread which cometh down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof, and not die. I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.” (John 6:32-35, 48, 50-51).

Praise the Lord that by God’s grace, we have eaten of Christ that we may live and no longer be strung along by the Damned One who is nothing compared to the Holy One (Psalm 16:10; Acts 2:27)!

Semper Reformanda,

Pastor Grant

Fullness of Joy in the Presence of God

For Lord’s Day May 27, 2012:

Dear Saints,

This Lord’s Day evening we will hear Jesus say to the thief next to Him on the cross, “Verily (truly) … Today shalt thou be with me in Paradise”. In union with Christ by faith (looking to Jesus and asking to be with Him in His Kingdom), we go immediately to a blissful place upon our death. We leave this world of sin and misery behind us. And we go into a more glorious communion with Christ, face-to-face with our blessed Redeemer.

These thoughts have me thinking again of Psalm 16:11: “ … in thy presence is fullness of joy …”. This verse proclaims something we no doubt experience as we approach God in personal and family worship. And what we especially experience as we come together as God’s spiritual temple and Christ’s body in Sabbath worship in the heavenlies on the Lord’s Day. But we will experience this joy so much more when we leave this earth and immediately enter paradise: God’s most direct comfortable presence.

This is why Paul, who actually got an unusual glimpse of paradise first hand (2 Corinthians 12:4) couldn’t wait to go back there: “… having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better:” (Philippians 1:23).

To be with Christ in the presence of the Holy Father, even waiting for our resurrected bodies on the Last Day, is far better than being here, beloved. To be next to Christ in His flesh, is far better than slowly dying here in our own corrupted flesh. In God’s presence is fullness of joy, and the closer we get to His glory, the better off we are. It makes me think of what one of my daughters spontaneously proclaimed in family worship one evening around the dinner table a while back after we talked about what heaven would be like: “I can’t wait to go to heaven!” Amen, sister, says Paul.

Let us consider God’s attributes to excite our expectations for Paradise on the Hill of the Lord. The Westminster Confession, chapter 2, and the Shorter Catechism Q&A 4, guide us in contemplating some of God’s attributes that should make us look forward to being closer to Him in heaven in a way we can’t fully enjoy here. I encourage you to meditate on His attributes to prepare for worship, and heaven:

God is: Glorious. A Spirit. Living. Perfect. Pure. Invisible. Immense. Almighty. Free. Gracious. Merciful. Long-suffering. Abundant. Forgiving. Transcendent. Blessed. Sovereign. Autonomously self-existing. Wise. Powerful. Holy. Just. Good. True. And God is all of His attributes infinitely, eternally, and unchangeably! As well, God is all of His attributes absolutely: all at once. He has and always will be all these things, and more. Remember, we will be in God’s presence basking in His wonderful attributes by our union with Jesus, Who is Himself the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. All things are to Him, through Him, and for Him. So He says to the thief, you will be in paradise today, because you will be “with Me”.

Let us indeed “Be preoccupied with paradise”, beloved. Our heavenly home where Christ prepares a place for you and me. For as Paul knows (now firsthand once again and this time forever), it is far better to be with Christ! As this comes up in relation to WLC Q&A 85 this Lord’s Day evening, we can rest assured that for the Christian, death is no longer a punishment, but a glorious transition. Death for us is God’s loving deliverance. We need not fear death as Christians, but look forward to it when we learn our Christ-ordained mission is finished and He is ready to immediately let us rest in fullness of joy: His own heavenly presence!

Semper Reformanda,

Pastor Grant