From Grace to Glory
Dear Lord Jesus, as I join my fellow believers in worship during this final week of the church year, cause me both to understand and rejoice in the truths that You are my King and that You alone are to rule in my heart. Lead me, O Lord, to genuine repentance over my sins, to a confident faith in Your forgiveness, to a joyous worship in Your house, and to faithful service in Your kingdom. It is in Your saving name that I pray. Amen.
Text: 1 Timothy 1:14-17
And the grace of our Lord was exceedingly abundant, with faith and love which are in Christ Jesus. This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief. However, for this reason I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might show all longsuffering, as a pattern to those who are going to believe on Him for everlasting life. Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, to God who alone is wise, be honor and glory forever and ever Amen.
In Christ Jesus, in whose grace we abide, dear fellow redeemed:
We are all very different, and yet at the same time we are also all very much alike! We are all different in our sizes and shapes, in the color of our hair and the color of our eyes, in our likes and in our dislikes, in many of our life experiences—yet, in many respects we remain very much alike. In spite of all of our outward, physical differences, for instance, over 99.8% of our genetic materials—our DNA—is the same! But I am really not interested in talking about our physical similarities this morning, but rather I want to concentrate on the spiritual truths which unite us.
The apostle Paul, in his Epistle to the Ephesians speaks of these unifying, spiritual truths when he writes: “I…beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in the one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all” (4:1-6).
We have all been called by God to faith in His dear Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. As such we are members of His Kingdom of Grace. We live in a world filled with sin and we remain subject to its temptations. Consequently, Paul urges us to “walk…with all lowliness and gentleness,” to be “longsuffering,” to bear with one another’s weaknesses “endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” That will not always be easy—yet we are united by so much…“one Spirit,…one hope (of everlasting life)…, one Lord (Jesus Christ), one faith, one baptism; one God and Father!” Yes, we are all members of Christ’s Kingdom of Grace! As such we are not only united with one another, but we are united also with the apostle Paul. We can confess with him, that we too have been saved by grace; we too are to be a pattern to those who will yet believe; and we too are to live our lives to the honor and glory of God!
Paul confessed: “The grace of our Lord was exceedingly abundant, with faith and love which are in Christ Jesus. This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief.” We have confessed our sins! We have prayed for restoration! We have requested the assurance of the Spirit’s presence in our daily lives! We have sung of God’s amazing grace! It is that amazing grace of God which assures us of God’s forgiveness. It is that amazing grace of God that announces to us that we need not fear for our futures, for we are “complete in Him (Jesus), who is the head of all principality and power!” (Col. 2:10) There is nothing we can do, or need do to become God’s children and members of Christ’s kingdom, for it has all been done! What remains is that we indeed “walk worthy of that calling,” (Eph. 4:1) as Paul encourages us to do and as we are desirous to do!
Such a faithful walk is important, for we are indeed, as the apostle Paul before us, to serve as patterns to those who will yet believe. My dear friends, God has graciously chosen us to be the ones through whom the message of His Son’s Kingdom of Grace is to be proclaimed. We surely do that each time we meet corporately in worship, but we also do that every time we interact with others, for whether we speak directly of Christ, or simply live the life of love Christ moves us to live we are testifying to the very truths, which the Spirit will use to lead others to faith—a faith leading to eternal life! Our words and actions every day have the potential of bringing life to those who are lost—that is a kingdom truth that unites us and I pray will excite us!
For, as with the apostle, so we too are to live our lives to the honor and glory of God! God wants us to be immersed in our lives! We are, after all, to be “the salt of the earth” (Mt. 5:13). Salt does not do anyone any good, if it remains in its container. Consequently, let us with joy pursue using our every God-given gift at all times and in every way God permits. Are you in business—pursue your business with drive…but to the glory of God! Are you an athlete—play your sport with enthusiasm—in a way that honors God and brings Him glory! Are you a parent…take every opportunity to instill within your children’s hearts the love of their Lord, so that they will go on to honor God always in their lives! As Paul once told the Colossian Christians: “Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him!” (3:17)
Yes, we are members of Christ’s Kingdom of Grace! There will be challenges, for we are opposed by Satan and his hosts in this wicked world in a battle for life, but rest assured the rewards are great and the outcome certain as we trust in our King of kings—Jesus Christ! Hallelujah!
Text: Revelation 7:9-17
After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could number, of all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, saying, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” All the angels stood around the throne and the elders and the four living creatures, and fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, saying: “Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom, thanksgiving and honor and power and might, be to our God forever and ever. Amen.” Then one of the elders answered, saying to me, “Who are these arrayed in white robes, and where did they come from?” And I said to him, “Sir, you know.” So he said to me, “These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation, and washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Therefore they are before the throne of God, and serve Him day and night in His temple. And He who sits on the throne will dwell among them. They shall neither hunger anymore nor thirst anymore; the sun shall not strike them, nor any heat; for the Lamb who is in the midst of the throne will shepherd them and lead them to living fountains of waters. And God will wipe away every tear from their eye.”
In Christ Jesus, to whom be glory forever and ever, dear fellow redeemed:
From grace to glory—that is the overall theme of our worship service this morning. We who live in the Kingdom of Grace can live now in this world with confidence, but we must always be on guard, because Satan is always seeking ways of undermining our faith and therefore our hope. We, however, are God’s people—“chosen…holy…special” objects of God’s “mercy” (1 Pet. 2:9-10). We live, therefore, in the confident hope of our final redemption out of this world and our entrance into the Kingdom of Glory!
What will it be like? We cannot possibly know exactly what it will be like, for that would be as difficult for us to understand, as it would for a child who has grown up in the tropics to know the joy making snow angels or sledding down hills covered with snow. The Lord Jesus, however, gives us some glimpses of the Kingdom of Glory through the eyes of John who was given the Revelation.
What can we deduce about the Kingdom of Glory from the vision John saw? We can conclude that the Kingdom of Glory will be enjoyed by everyone who believes in Jesus as his or her Savior! We can also conclude that it will involve the worship of God in His very presence! Finally, we can conclude that the Kingdom of Glory will involve inconceivable joy, for there we will experience none of the pain, sorrow, or suffering we presently endure in this life!
Yes, everyone who believes in Jesus as his or her Savior will experience the Kingdom of Glory. John saw “a great multitude which no one could number, of all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues.” There will be people in Jesus’ Kingdom of Glory from every nation on earth. There is no discrimination based on race or color or language in heaven. Everyone whose “robes” have been “washed” and “made…white” in the “blood of the Lamb” will be in heaven! What does that mean? It means that everyone who confesses himself to be a sinner, repents of that sin, and believes in Jesus as his Savior from sin will enjoy the Kingdom of Glory.
There they will stand in the presence of God the Father and the Lamb—Jesus Christ together with all of the saints, with all of the angelic hosts, and with all other created beings. There we will all be, as members of that kingdom, singing our praises to our Savior God, saying, “Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom, thanksgiving and honor and power and might, be to our God forever and ever. Amen.” It is a delight to sing together with our fellow believers here in this sanctuary of God. Imagine the delight—the power and the brilliance that will be the music sung and played in heaven!
The Psalmist David once wrote of our future in heaven: “You (referring to God) will show me the path of life; in Your presence is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore” (16:11). It is rather interesting that the inspired writers never get much more specific than this when they talk about heaven. I would imagine that is because who among us can imagine perfection! However, we do often hear heaven described in terms of what will not be there, and so it was for John in this section of the Revelation. He tells us that in heaven God will dwell among us. Consequently, he says: “They (referring to each of us who in view of our faith will be there) shall neither hunger anymore nor thirst anymore; the sun shall not strike them, nor any heat; for the Lamb who is in the midst of the throne will shepherd them and lead them to living fountains of waters. And God will wipe away every tear from their eye.” Imagine that—none of the things that can hurt us, or bring us sorrow, or make us cry will exist in heaven! No more accidents, no more natural disasters, no more cancer, no more AIDS, no more abuse of any kind, no more bullying, no more tantrums or need for them. No, Christ’s Kingdom of Glory will be…well, glorious!
My dear friends, may we all, who now praise our God and Savior here in the Kingdom of Grace, ultimately join each other again in praise within the Kingdom of Glory! From grace to glory—that is our goal…that is God’s eternal plan! Hallelujah and Amen!
—Pastor Paul D. Nolting