The Perfection of Heaven

Steve Viars December 23, 2007 Psalms 24:3-4

 

- Thank you for attending our Christmas Eve candlelight service...

- I’d like to begin by asking you a couple of very important questions...

1. Do you want to go to heaven?...

- is that where you would like to spend eternity?...

- at our church this Christmas Season we’ve been talking about Reaching the Ultimate Height – what the Bible tells us about heaven...

- now, I would be surprised if there were many people here who would answer the question I’ve posed with an outright “no”...

- I’m sure there might be some who would say – to be honest, I’m not sure I believe there really is such a place...

- or others who would say...well, I want to go there just not right away...

- but if the question is...do you want to go to heaven”...I assume the answer for most if not everyone here would be “yes”...

2. What is required to go to heaven?...

- how does God make that determination?...

- I would suggest to you that even in enlightened America...that is one of the most misunderstood issues in our culture...

- because here’s how most people would answer that...either by saying...

- everybody goes to heaven, don’t they?...

- or by believing, God makes that decision on the basis of ones works...

- therefore, the average person would say...I’ve tried to live a good life...I’ve tried to be a good person...I think I will go to heaven because of the way I have lived...

- let’s let the Bible answer that question...

- Psalm 24:3-4 - Who may ascend into the hill of the Lord? And who may stand in His holy place?  He who has clean hands and a pure heart.

- see, heaven is a holy place...and the only way a person can get to heaven is by being perfect.

- sin is to heaven what germs are to an operating room...you can’t have any of it...

- that is why Isaiah said...Isaiah 59:2 - But your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden His face from you so that He does not hear.

- so, who may ascend to the hill of the Lord --- he who has clean hands and a pure heart...

- now, if we’re honest tonight, I hope we would say...if that’s the requirement, then I’m in trouble...I can’t meet that standard on my own...

- maybe Christmas has something to do with that, huh?...

- see, friend, God has made a way for you to be perfect...please hear me out on that...that’s true...

- not in some fuddy-duddy sense...not some syrupy, pious sense...

- not so you’ll become a monk, or a nun...

- but it is true...God has made a way for you to be perfect...

- that’s why I’d like to speak to you tonight about The Perfection of Heaven...

- let’s take a few moments and think about 3 ways God wants to perfect you.

I. He Wants To Perfect You Positionally.

- Here’s what that means...

- we all know what it is like to ask of someone else in our life....where do I stand with that person?...

- you might be wondering that about someone right now....

- where do I stand with my boss?...am I going to get a raise next year or be fired?...

- where do I stand with my boyfriend?...are we going to get engaged or is he just holding on to see what I buy him for Christmas?...

- where do I stand with my mother-in-law?...is she going to be nice to me at Christmas dinner or is she going to poison my pudding?...

- when we ask that question...we are really asking....what is my position?...where do I stand with them?....

- do you realize that every person here has a position with God?...you have some kind of a stand before Him...He views you in a particular way, or through a particular grid...

- and I need to be honest with you...it does not start out perfect...

- it starts out estranged...

- Romans 3:23 - for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,

- that is why the Bible would describe our position before God as being...

- estranged in need of reconciliation...

- enemies in need of peace...

- outside the family in need of adoption...

- that is why as I pastor I just cringe when I hear someone talk about going to heaven on their own works...

- that would be like going to the hospital and your surgeon saying to you just before you’re put to sleep...I’ve been really busy so I hope you don’t mind, but I didn’t have time to wash my hands...

- or the custodian’s been out sick...sorry the operating room hasn’t been cleaned lately...

- the only way any person will get to heaven is by experiencing a fundamental change in their position before God...

- now, let’s face it...

A. That’s a tall order.

- because we’re not talking about a little problem here...

- this isn’t, well, I need to clean up my language a little bit...

- this is an issue of the heart...

- Jeremiah 17:9 - The heart is more deceitful than all else And is desperately sick; Who can understand it?

- see, God doesn’t just know what we do, or what we say---He knows what we think, and what we want...

- the apostle Paul was even willing to cry out and say...Romans 7:24 - Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death?

- how do you go from that...to being perfect...

B. That is why Jesus came.

- the key persons involved in the first Christmas all understood that the key issue wasn’t just a sweet manger scene...it was the birth of the one who had been sent to address the issue of our sin...that’s what makes the gift so precious...

- Angel to Joseph – Call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins (Matthew 1:21).

- Mary – My soul exalts the Lord, and my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior (Luke 1:46-47).

- Zacharias (John the Baptist’s father) - Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, For He has visited us and accomplished redemption for His people (Luke 1:68).

- Zacharias (speaking of his son) - And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High; For you will go on before the Lord to prepare His ways;  To give to His people the knowledge of salvation By the forgiveness of their sins (Luke 1:76-77).

- Angel to the shepherds - for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord (Luke 2:11).

- Simeon – (an elderly man who was present when baby Jesus was brought to the temple said)Now Lord, You are releasing Your bond-servant to depart in peace, According to Your word; For my eyes have seen Your salvation, Which You have prepared in the presence of all peoples, A Light of revelation to the Gentiles, And the glory of Your people Israel (Luke 2:29-32).

- Anna - At that very moment she came up and began giving thanks to God, and continued to speak of Him to all those who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem (Luke 2:38).

- John the Baptist - as it is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, ‘Make ready the way of the Lord, Make His paths straight. Every ravine will be filled, And every mountain and hill will be brought low; The crooked will become straight, And the rough roads smooth; And all flesh will see the salvation of God (Luke 3:4-6).

- how was that accomplished?...it’s when Christ went to the cross in our place...

- and when a person chooses to admit their sin, and then place their faith in what Jesus did on the cross for them...2 marvelous things happen in relationship to your position before God...

1.  You sin is forgiven – which is why the Psalmist spoke of it being cast as far as the east is from the west...

2. But that is not all – the Bible says that simultaneously, the righteousness of Christ is placed on your account...

- in other words, your stand before God dramatically changes...

- 2 Corinthians 5:21 - He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

- theologians speak about the as the doctrine of imputation...where the righteousness of Christ is placed on your account...

- this is beautifully pictured in many different ways in the Bible...here’s one of them...

- Revelation 7:14 - ...they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.

- if there has been a definite time in your life where you decided to admit your need, and then accept the gift of salvation available only through the shed blood of Christ...the Bible is telling us that when God looks at you today...

- He doesn’t see you in your weaknesses and imperfections...he sees you clothed in the righteousness of His Son...He has perfected your position...

- one of my concerns as a pastor in a community like this is that there are so many people who in many ways are good...that some may never see their need of becoming perfect...

- here’s what I mean...I honestly believe that if I pulled my car over on the edge of SR 26 tonight and turned on my emergency flashers...it wouldn’t be long at all before someone would stop to help...[cf. people stopping to take you to the airport in Lebanon]...

- but wouldn’t it be tragic if some persons were here tonight and the truth is...what they are trusting to get to heaven is their own goodness...their own righteousness...

- instead of understanding that good isn’t enough...not for a God who is holy...

- what is required to get to heaven?...perfection...God has made a way for that to be true of you positionally...

II. He Wants to Perfect You Practically.

- you might ask...how can I know for sure that this has happened to me?...

- the answer is...there will be a change...

- you will be growing in godliness...you will be growing in practical holiness...

A. You will delight in the law of God in the inner man.

Paul said -Romans 7:22 - For I joyfully concur with the law of God in the inner man,

- there are many people here tonight who could honestly say – I am allowing God to bring my practice in line with my position...I am growing in righteousness...

- I am developing a growing love for God’s Word and I am seeking to live by it more and more each day...that’s a critical part of the process of being perfected...

B. You will be freed from the bondage of sin.

- Romans 6:22 - But now having been freed from sin and enslaved to God, you derive your benefit, resulting in sanctification...

- the word sanctify literally means...make holy

- some of you have family members here and as you think back over this past year, you could honestly say...

- my husband has taken significant steps of growth this year...my wife is different...

- may parents are growing...my kids are growing...

- Merry Christmas --- that’s why God sent His Son...to over time bring you into greater conformity to His perfect Son.

- if that is happening, it also means that....

C. You will increasingly bring glory to God.

- do you remember when Moses came down from Mount Sinai---what did he have to put over his face?...a veil, a covering...why?...

- because after he had met with God, his face was glowing...you could literally look at him and know that something had happened?...

- well, why did they have to put the veil over his face?...

- the answer is – because it was fading away...

- 2 Corinthians 3:13 - and are not like Moses, who used to put a veil over his face so that the sons of Israel would not look intently at the end of what was fading away.

- but if you’ve trusted Christ, here’s what Scripture... 2 Corinthians 3:18 - But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.

- here’s the principle --- people who are genuinely on their way to heaven...who have genuinely been perfected in their position before God...that will be demonstrated by their growing righteousness practically every day...

- and that practical righteousness is not what will get them to heaven...but it is proof that they truly have come to Christ...

- what should I do if that evidence is not there?...Develop...cf. recent counseling situation]

- now, I realize that I will be speaking to many people here tonight who would say...

- PV, I know that I have trusted Christ as my Savior and my Lord...

- and I’ve seen changes...others have too...

- but....there’s so much further to go...

- it seems like the more I grow, the more ways I see that I still need to...

- we all know about that, don’t we?...even a man as mature and authentic as the apostle Paul uttered the words I mentioned earlier...Romans 7:24 - Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death?

- what’s the answer to that question?...the perfecting God...

- He wants to perfect you positionally...and he wants to perfect you practically...

III. He Wants to Perfect You Eternally.

- do you get tired of struggling with sin?...

- do you get tired of being sinned against?...

- if the Bible says anything it says this---there won’t be any of that in heaven...

A. We will be like Christ.

1 John 3:2 - Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is.

- Scripture also describes it like this:

B. We will no longer see in a mirror dimly

1 Corinthians 13:12 - For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known.

- Because that’s true...

C. We will be the righteous made perfect.

Hebrews 12:22-24 - But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to myriads of angels, to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the Judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect.

- no wonder the Psalmist would say...Psalm 16:11 - In Your presence is fullness of joy; In Your right hand there are pleasures forever.

Steve Viars

B.S. - Bible, Baptist Bible College
M.Div. - Grace Theological Seminary
D.Min. - Westminster Theological Seminary

Pastor Steve Viars has served at Faith Church since 1987. He and his wife Kris were married in 1982 and have two married daughters, a son, and two grandchildren. Pastor Viars’ gifted teaching ministry, enthusiasm for the Word of God, and organizational skills are instrumental in equipping Faith Church. He oversees the staff, deacons, and all Faith ministries and serves on the boards of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors, Biblical Counseling Coalition, Vision of Hope, and the Faith Community Development Corporation.

Read Steve Viars’ Journey to Faith for the full account of how the Lord led Pastor Viars to Faith Church.

View Pastor Viars' Salvation Testimony Video