May the face of our Lord Jesus Christ shine upon you all and give you peace. May the Spirit so embolden and entangle your heart that bow humbly before your Lord Jesus and praise Him without ceasing. May the Father convict and comfort you that you know no righteousness but Jesus.
Filling up the edges
John 5:28–29 Do not marvel at this, for an hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice and come out, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment.
This is called, traditionally, the last things or by some, eschatology. And most of us think the last things take place in a remote time. In a nondescript, enigmatic future era: distant and unknowable. But eschatology, can be understood in two different ways. The end of the world is far off and unknowable, but the end of your life can be reasonably guessed with a fair amount of accuracy by a good doctor or a life insurance agent.
C.S. Lewis again fromWeight of Glory; “When any man comes into the presence of God he will find, whether he wishes it or not, that all those things which seemed to make him so different from the men of other times or even from His earlier self, have fallen off him. He is back where he always was, where every man always is….do not let us deceive ourselves. No possible complexity which we can give to our picture of the universe can hide us from God: there is not copse, no forest, no jungle thick enough to provide cover. It will happen to all of us in the blink of an eye. In a breath, in a time too small to be measured, at any time and in any place, all that seems to divide you from God and from other men, will flee away, vanish leaving you naked before Him, like the first man, like the only man, as if nothing but He and you existed. And since that contact cannot be avoided and since it means either bliss or horror, the business of life is to learn to love it. That is the first and greatest commandment.”
The business of life is to learn to love it. Because the Lord Jesus will call you forth from your grave and you will stand before Him. Everyone will be resurrected – those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment.
And that separation into two groups is the end of a long line of decisions. A long line of works. Actions. Words. Things done and left undone.
Because you stand before His gaze every day. But because we don’t see Him, we act as if each moment isn’t happening before His very eyes.
The business of life is to learn to love to stand in His gaze. Loving it is what leads to heaven. Not loving it leads to hell.
Hebrews 4:13 And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account.
Loving the one who gazes upon us is what leads to Him – heaven.
The law is not a list of impersonal rules. God is love. Love is a person. Sin and obedience are functions of a relationship. Sin is against someone – the God who is love. Sin is not a violation of an impersonal rule – it is a lack of love for God.
Rules do not exist without a rule giver. The rules, what we call the law is the description of what love between the rule giver and rule keeper looks like when it is rightly ordered.
Obedience and disobedience are not instances of moral bookkeeping. It’s a matter of relationship. Who are you in relation to Jesus? Are you loving Him or not?
In all our moral choices – obedience, sinning, repenting, refusing to repent, self-justifying – they are a matter of loving God or not. It’s a process of becoming like Him or not. Of wanting to stand in His gaze or not.
At the end of the process, salvation and damnation will be seen as functions of fellowship or estrangement. Salvation is being in fellowship with the God of all that is, and damnation is being estranged from everyone and everything.
That is why the end result of a life of sin, the final destination of all sin, is described as the outer darkness.
Jesus is light. So, hell is a place without light. C.S. Lewis again from the Weight of Glory states it quite powerfully, “in some sense as dark to the intellect as it is unendurable to the feelings, we can be both banished form the presence of Him who is present everywhere and erased from the knowledge of Him who knows all. We can be left utterly and absolutely outside – repelled, exiled, estranged, finally and unspeakably ignored.
There is a great parting of ways that lies ahead of us. But that destination is not determined at the end. It was decided this morning at the breakfast table. It will be confirmed or denied during tomorrow evening’s interaction with your spouse. The final destination is chosen when you open your mouth and from your heart pours forth speech.
Day after day after day when you choose to ignore Him in His word, that is a path you are choosing that leads to His ignoring you, forever.
Our final destination is a person; John 17:3And this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.
Are you choosing to know Him, every day, more or are you choosing to ignore Him? Your final destination is the result of a trip you are on – today.
Do you go to him in His word and prayer? Or are you avoiding Him? One decision leads to His eternal presence, the other to the outer darkness.
You are with Him or ignoring Him, today. And that will determine in the end whether he welcomes you by His side or ignores you.
Matthew 10:32–33 So everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven, but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven.
C.S. Lewis, in Mere Christianity, states, “Every time you make a choice you are turning the central part of you, the part of you that chooses, into something a little different from what it was before….All your life long you are slowly turning this central thing into a heavenly creature or into a hellish creature….each of us, at each moment, is progressing to the one state or the other.
But careful…. Lewis we don’t turn ourselves into anything. As we are in our natural fallen state we are a thing horrid and without love for God and will continue on that path unless there is a great intervention.
A great breaking in. Unless the darkness is driven away by the Light of the World and we are remade to love Him. But once that Grace comes it isn’t static. That Grace becomes a way of life or is utterly rejected and if that is the case- that grace will utterly reject you in the end.
You are drawing closer to Him or further from Him. You are receiving the king, you are standing before His throne, like David or like Michal.
One day, we all will be called from our tombs and we will have become, what we are even now, becoming. Vessels for mercy will be fitted for mercy. Vessels of wrath will be fitted for wrath.
But to be fit then, you must be fitted now. When we arrive at our final destination, post-resurrection we will be fit for that place. You are either working with Jesus to prepare you or you are not.
When the temple was being constructed under Solomon in Jerusalem, there was not a single chisel heard.
1 Kings 6:7 When the house was built, it was with stone prepared at the quarry, so that neither hammer nor axe nor any tool of iron was heard in the house while it was being built.
The rock was prepared before it reached the temple. There will be no chisels heard in heaven. We will all have been constructed in the quarry of life, fitted for our final destination.
Ephesians 2:19–22 So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.
We wonder How God is going to fit us into heaven. But He is doing it right now. We look around and think we see, “our little lives.” But this, yesterday, today, tomorrow. This is Jesus’ workbench.
We are the living stones of the new temple. We arrive from our tombs just the size and shape God intends each of us to be, fit for the finished temple.
1 Peter 2:4–5As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.
Being built up by the master craftsmen. How? By dying to yourself and living for Him. By confessing and repenting, forgiving and reconciling, but obeying and loving Him.
John 14:23 Jesus answered him, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.
Those who choose Him, not once, but who choose Jesus and stagger down that road of self-denial, the path of the cross, of self-defeat, of worship and obedience to Christ – on that path of obedience, grace trains you and you are shaped and molded by Him into the a creature God will dwell with forever.
FOR A GRATEFUL HEART – 1 Cor. 1:9
Most Merciful Father,
I give you all praise and thanks and glory, for you have been pleased to give me, a miserable sinner, so excellent a gift and treasure, as to be received into the fellowship and company of your dear Son Jesus Christ, my Lord. I pray now that you would grant this request – that you would never allow me to grow so callous as to forget your many blessings, but rather, imprint and fix them firmly in my heart, that I may grow and increase daily, more and more, in true faith.
Postponed until May.
CHURCH AT PLANNED PARENTHOOD EVENT
Wednesday, April 24 at the Everett Planned Parenthood (1509 32nd St., Everett). 5:30-7pm. This is a worship service and not a protest event. Children are welcome to attend. The Bakkens have also offered their home for child care from 5-7:30. See Chris or Kristin for more details.
JOINT EASTERN EUROPE PROJECT UPDATE
Pastor Bogumil will be joining us from Poland and preaching on April 28. He will give us an update on the JEEP project over lunch on the 28th. Please RSVP to Mike, via email, for food planning purposes.
MONTHLY PRAYER MEETING
Sunday, May 5, 9:30-9:50am in the church office. Men and Women welcome.