Sunday, January 08, 2012

Thoughts on this morning’s sermon, 01/08/12


We are made in the image of God. Down through the ages, good men have given different definitions of what it means to have been made in the image of God, and just how badly sin corrupted that image. I do know that sin corrupted me completely, and that, but for the grace of God, I would have no opportunity of ever redeeming that image, since all that I seek to achieve and do in life is from my sin nature.

God somehow sees that sin nature, but also sees past it, perhaps to the image He placed there to begin with, and has chosen to offer us redemption. Spurgeon tells a story about John Newton, who saw it differently: “John Newton used to tell a whimsical story and laugh at it, too, of a good woman who said, in order to prove the doctrine of Election—“Ah, Sir, the Lord must have loved me before I was born, or else He would not have seen anything in me to love afterwards.”” I laugh at such a tale, and there is a great deal of truth in it. But, I ask, why did the Lord love me? It is not because of any goodness in me, for Romans teaches me that there is nothing good. I do want to suggest that God saw fit to rescue that which He made, and perhaps, I suggest it was in part because He had made us in His image.

But, if I look ahead, somehow all of the past becomes eclipsed by what is coming. The inheritance which is promised to me is greater than anything I could envision. What then are the chief characteristics of this inheritance?
1) I have been given the Holy Spirit. Not just a piece of the Holy Spirit, but in a glorious sense in which I can barely understand, I have God indwelling me. What a gift! It is a gift for all of eternity, and I daresay to have Him filling up all of me not only changes me now, but after I have been made like Him, will leave me with a nature that no longer struggles with God, but becomes perfectly what God desires me to be.
2) I will spend the rest of eternity with Jesus, some say at his feet. But Jesus lifts our estate: “I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead I have called you friends, for everything that I have learned from my Father I have made known unto you.” (Jn. 15) To be truthful with you, I figure my place to be near the back in heaven, and my job, which I will be something like shoveling out sewers, because I deem myself scarcely worthy to serve Him in the least capacity. But Jesus terms me his “friend”. What a glorious estate that will be—whatever I am given to do.
3) I have a place specially prepared for me by Jesus himself. (John 14:2) God loves me so much that He has prepared something special for me, tailored to what I will need to glorify and worship my God in every way. If I suffer with Him, says the Scripture, then will I also be glorified with Him.
4) My old nature will pass away, having been put to death once for all by His crucifixion and resurrection. Temporally speaking that happens when I receive my new body, when the trumpet of God sounds, and the voices of the archangels call me from the four corners of the earth. Behold, all things are become new!
5) I will live forever. My friends, forever is not a long time—it is more than that. We step into eternity, walking by the side of Jesus, being filled with the Spirit, and spending our eternity giving thanks to the Father who has made us. Can my inheritance be any richer? O death where is thy victory? (1 Cor. 15:52)
6) I will be at the wedding supper of the Lamb. (Rev. 19) When Christ returns to earth he will bring us back with Him. I believe that the bread and the cup that the church has been passing around is a commemoration of the cross and in a sense, the rehearsal dinner for what is to come. “Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!”
Walvoord, in his commentary on Revelation gives this important background to the wedding feast: “Though marriage customs varied in the ancient world, usually there were three major aspects: (1) The marriage contract was often consummated by the parents when the parties to the marriage were still children and not ready to assume adult responsibility. The payment of a suitable dowry was often a feature of the contract. When consummated, the contract meant that the couple were legally married. (2) At a later time when a couple had reached a suitable age, the second step in the wedding took place. This was a ceremony in which the bridegroom accompanied by his friends would go to the house of the bride and escort her to his home. This is the background of the parable of the virgins in Matthew 25:1-13. (3) Then the bridegroom would bring his bride to his home and the marriage supper, to which guests were invited, would take place. It was such a wedding feast that Christ attended at Cana as recorded in John 2:1-12.”
That is a beautiful picture of the church being married to the Lord. The marriage contract was made at our conversion, if not earlier. The marriage takes place when we are lifted up to heaven. Finally we go to Jerusalem, where the marriage supper is given as the bride, or the church, is brought to the bridegroom’s home.
7) Heaven and earth will pass away, but the Lord will make a new place for me called “The New Jerusalem”. I will be with Him forever!

These seven things I found out in a short Bible study. Being made in His image has a double meaning for those of us who have been reborn. We were created in His image, and then we are reborn in His image. In my study of the gospel of John, I do find the Triune God invests Himself mightily in me. Who am I that God should care for me? The evidence points to a rich estate that God has given me, that is without measure, and above and beyond all my expectations. If I truly have my eyes on Him nothing should dissuade me for proclaiming Jesus.

Elsewhere I said:
“I need to remember that I have the highest standing before God, but my calling is from the lowest station. Woe unto me for I am a captive of sin (my station), and yet I have cause for much joy as I am cleansed of all my sin, and called to live with the holy God himself (my standing). I am determined this day to answer this highest calling to pursue my standing rather than my station.”

Of interest to me are the 7 beatitudes of Revelation:
1) Rev. 1:3 Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it, because the time is near.
2) Rev. 14:13 Then I heard a voice from heaven say, “Write this: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.”
3) Rev. 16:15 “Look, I come like a thief! Blessed is the one who stays awake and remains clothed, so as not to go naked and be shamefully exposed.”
4) Rev. 19:9 Then the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!” And he added, “These are the true words of God.”
5) Rev. 20:6 Blessed and holy are those who share in the first resurrection. The second death has no power over them, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with him for a thousand years.
6) Rev. 22:7 “Look, I am coming soon! Blessed is the one who keeps the words of the prophecy written in this scroll.”
7) Rev. 22:14 “Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city.

Walvoord, John (1989-03-01). The Revelation of Jesus Christ (p. 271). Moody Publishers. Kindle Edition.

Spurgeon, Charles H. (2010-04-15). Spurgeon's Sermons Volume 1: 1855 (Kindle Locations 330-332). Unknown. Kindle Edition.

Walvoord, John (1989-03-01). The Revelation of Jesus Christ (p. 336). Moody Publishers. Kindle Edition.

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